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The other bank

As the bus travelled along the highway throughout the whole Europe trip from one country to another, on and off I would be looking out of the window at the blue sky with layers of clouds floating above.

The scene outside the window is so much different from what I would see in the bus back in Singapore. Here, My view could reach very far away while in Singapore my sight is always blocked by the concrete jungle due to the scarce land that we have.

As I threw my sight to the vast land and grass patches, the trees from afar join the sky at the horizon and I could feel that men are indeed very small in this world, as small as a particle/dust in human eyes.

I love the sight of a huge green patch in front of me, I love the vastness that this place gives me, but this is not the first place that I felt this way.

When I was in Taiwan, I had the same feeling as the private car that I chartered wound through network of roads in the mountain. I can never forget the last trip to this paddy field with my whole family where all my sight was filled with golden paddies as they danced and waved in the wind.

When I decided to book for this Europe trip, it was just meant to fulfill the dream of my wife, who has always hoped to step into the land of Europe, a shopping heaven for ladies.

While I was very much aware that there will be beautiful sceneries and architectures to satisfy my photography hobby, I knew that it will be just a snap and go type of trip.

Being an amateur, I needed more time to take nice pictures, not forgetting that I will be missing all the golden hours as I would either be traveling in the bus or already settled down in the hotel.

I have seen and heard many stories about how nice Europe is and how captivating the sceneries are. It has been talked about so much that many have built a level of expectations for these countries.

Yes, I was kind of excited when I booked the trip, thinking in my mind that I will be killing two birds with one stone, first being fulfilling my wife’s dream, and second being able to practice my photography skills.

The point here is that we have always looked for greener pastures in our life, not knowing that we are actually leading a blessed life in our own homeland.

The only “highlights” for the whole trip for me was Switzerland as I had my first experience with snowing and also the beautiful and serene scenery of Switzerland.

Being a Singaporean who has never seen and experienced snow, snow has always been something that I hope to see, just like any other South East Asians who does not know what snow is. Through books, movies and even songs, I’ve co-related snow with purity, romantic and gracefulness.

Yes, I have finally experienced snow in Mount Jongfraujoch, where we stood at the “top of Europe”. I couldn’t be sure that it is really the snow that I saw and read in movies and book but I guess the temperature would not be too far away.

While I was excited by the falling of snow flakes on our bodies, heads, shoulders, and everywhere, I was also feeling so cold that there is simply nothing else we can do. Even when taking photographs, everything in the background just seems to be plain white, which definitely make my poor photography skills looks even worse.

So, that is what snow is and that is how one would feel like under the snow. Cold, frozen, layers and layers of clothing that make me so uncomfortable, stiff hands, just to name a few.

It wasn’t as romantic as I think it is. It wasn’t as soft as I think it is. It wasn’t as beautiful as it should be.

Just the night before we went to Mount Jongfraujoch, I was at the lakeside of Lucerne waiting for sunset in order to capture a nice view of the lake itself.

The night was cool and the lakeside was scarce of people, just a few passers by, as the park was wet after the afternoon rain.

I waited till the “golden hour” before the placement of my small little tripod and started snapping away. I wasn’t patient enough as it was getting late, close to 9pm and yet night has not fallen.

Anyway, when I reviewed the photo that I have taken, I was kind of satisfied but it also triggered my thoughts about the beautiful scene on the other bank.

From the picture, the city on the other side of the bank was lively, filled with colorful neon lights, luring men and women to its heart. No doubt, we can have fun in the city, but the moment we walked into the city, we lose sight of the beauty.

Beauty is best viewed from afar. The moment when we try to possess it, we lose that beauty that we wish for.
The next day, I wrote a Chinese poem on that experience:

“By The Lake of Lucerne”

The sentimental rain

Wet the souls of the passers by

By the lake of Lucerne

Just a few souls in sight

Peace and calmness

Filled the air of the rippled lake

The wooden chairs were vacant

And amongst them they whispered

Words of distant

The swan and ducks roamed freely

On the lake of Lucerne

Ripples followed as they swam

Crossing each other’s path

But sparkled nothing

Away from the busy city

Away from mankind’s troubles

But who knows what they are thinking

For they may be envying mankind

The freedom to roam around the streets

I threw my sight onto the other bank

The neon lights

Red, yellow and orange

Luring men and women

But I know

Behind all the happenings

And after all the drinking

What’s left behind

Are all but illusory

The night crawled

As the sun refused to set

The moon has had a rain check on me

She was nowhere to be found in the lake

The lonely traveller

Carelessly let his sentiments fall into the lake

Stirring circles of ripples

Blurring the mirrored city

Of the other bank….

Written by Francis Lim In Lucerne

It’s the same as the feeling I have had when I experienced snow, it is no longer as pure, as romantic or as graceful as I had imagined. In fact, the ground filled with snow has become dangerous grounds for people who cannot balance properly and is a hazard.

The other bank is always beautiful from afar but as we get close to it, it is not the way we imagine it to be.

I will be planning for my China trip pretty soon and I hope It will not disappoint me as I feel “so, it’s just like that?” I have had my fair share of disappointment and I guess I need to manage my expectations for certain things.

Having said that, there are things in this world that will catch us by surprise and unexpectedly become a beauty in our eyes.

These are moments and people that suddenly walk into our lives but we didn’t cherish and when we looked back at where we came from, we realise that we have taken the beauty that was with us all the while for granted.

There are also things that we fall in love at first sight and no matter how much time has gone by, the love still stay deeply in the heart and such beauty is the most precious of all. Time can never erode the love and nothing in this world can damage the beauty we see in our eyes.

We use our faith and trust to believe that what and who we love are really what they are.


Francis Lim


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