Posts Categorized: The Netherlands
I forced myself to run in 2008 to get in shape for a fun run. I didn’t like it at all. However, soon I enlisted in a half marathon and the habit of training and running a few kilometers stuck to me. Runs that stand out are the Marathon in Seoul , Shanghai  , and small runs on holiday in Hong Kong and San Francisco. After arrival in a different country, running can be a great way to get over a jet lag and to explore the area around your hotel. Back home, I’ve made it a habit to run a few kilometers every weekend. I don’t necessarily join big events but run because I like it. Especially early Sunday mornings; as there aren’t that many people out yet and I found a perfect round from my house straight to a river dike (I am in the Netherlands after all). Looking over the Lek river in either sunny, stormy or rainy weather is always serene experience. When I finished my Sunday jogging session today I noticed that I’ve already logged a moderate 800km on dailymile. I haven’t logged all my runs on this site, but try to do so to keep track of my progress. It’s fun to see those numbers accumulate over time.
Due to Suna’s business trip in the UK, I’ve decided to have some time off with friends. So we organized a ‘back to basic’ evening where we would camp outside. It was fun setting up the camp, go for a swim and build a fire to prepare food on. We chatted away into the evening and I was so tired I slept very deeply. The next morning I woke up by the sound of birds and a ship that was passing by. Even though of all the trouble, I was very relaxed from the camping experience!
We took it easy in the morning and headed back, actually just in time because a huge thunderstorm broke loose as soon as we came home. We enjoyed this summer storm with a coffee at the shack in the backyard. When my friends left I went to see a football match in Amsterdam with my family; the first half was quite boring so I nearly fell asleep but the second half was very exciting!
A new habit. Instead of going to the supermarket, Suna and I decided we wanted to buy fresh meat from the farmer. We had three reasons for this:
- Horse meat scandal: Over the last year, European supermarkets sold horse meat to customers intending to buy beef. It seems like supermakets have no idea, or do not care about where their food comes from. The farmer we located has his cows graze 10km from our house.
- Price: This one is a bit hard to calculate but I tried. I took the price of 1kg of ground beef from the supermarket compared that to the stack we had. Turns out, the price of our meat is about 20% less of the supermarket’s. It’s a hard calculation but i’m pretty sure it’s cheaper generally. We had to portion the meat ourselves and purchase a freezer to store it in.
- Changing eating habits: After half a decade of restaurant food, the last year was full of making dishes in our kitchen. Now that we are cooking every day, we found that there are a few dishes we can make well. We found that we tend to vary our vegetables but not our meats. Our farmer source delivered various parts, from soup bone to round steak. It forces us to cook a diverse meal every day.
I put the story above on Facebook and got mixed replies. Some responded with repulsion, others got curious and wanted to try ordering for themselves. It seemed to me that my friends who grew up on a farm were least appalled by the idea of sourcing your own meat. Perhaps some don’t realize that eating meat means killing an animal. It’s a sad thing but it’s true. Yesterday Suna and me watched cows graze while we took a walk, we agreed that at least our cow was able to walk freely outside.
As the Dutch winter is dragging on, we’re happy that spring is luring around the corner. A few weeks ago, we bought some seeds and started a small project in our own back yard to grow some vegetables. However, my parents asked for help for a bigger project today. They were about to plant 80 trees! Even though we had a small crane, we worked from sunrise to sunset. At first we dug holes, put the trees in, then we put a gate around it so the sheep will leave them alone until they are grown. It was fun seeing Suna plant her first tree. Also rewarding to see the result of the work at the end of the day. But for Suna and me, we will now focus on our own small vegetable project for the moment.
Yesterday I went to Amstelveen in the early morning to take the Korean Intermediate 2 exam. For the past few months, I have been studying Korean sentences in the train but I wasn’t sure if it would be enough. At this level, the exam includes speaking, listening, writing and reading. Enough to say that I got a bit nervous and studied a lot in the past week. But good news, already one day after the exam I was told that I passed, so I’m very happy to join the next level: Korean Intermediate level 3! Looking back, I have been studying Korean for three years now, starting in Shanghai. Although, during that time studied both Chinese and Korean, which became to confusing to me. However, during the Korean classes in Shanghai, I was only non-Chinese in the class and learning Korean from a Chinese/Korean workbook. But now in Holland, I can finally learn from an English explained Korean book in Amstelveen. Every day I try to spend some time learning the language. After three years, I now am able to grasp some context from conversations and form very simple sentences in dialogue. An advantage of moving countries is that due to my fellow Dutch students that have similar culture, I get lot’s of good Korean movie-house recommendations. These days I try to watch more movies from Korea; it’s a fun way to learn the language. However, it wouldn’t be possible without a weekly rhythm. Going to class every week really helps. So for me, these Korean language institutes make this all possible. It seems that Korean government has some sort of program to promote their language and culture. In China they are free to attend, in Holland it’s just 150 euro’s for a semester. Teachers are usually in the country due to working or studying abroad. However, seeing the amount of effort they put in the lessons is amazing. I’m really grateful for the effort of the teachers. In a way, South Korea is pushing soft-power in both culture and language to a lot of countries this way. It would be interesting to think if/how Dutch people could setup a program to promote language and culture. For example… would a volunteer based Dutch language institute in Shanghai be able to persevere?
This weekend was not only about lunar new year in Korea but also about carnival in the south of the Netherlands. We started friday in Breda with friends and today we drove down to Neerkant to celebrate with my family. It was great meeting up with them again and also celebrate this typical event with Suna. We watched the parade and then headed to the bar pretty much after that. Afterwards we ate typical food (erwtensoup and bacon) and shared memories.
With new year’s eve around the corner, business is a bit slower than usual. It allowed me to reflect a bit on the past year and think about the next. Here are some of the highlights of my year categorized by spring, summer, fall and winter, I wish you a happy new year in 2013!
Spring: A lot of sports activities – In the spring we spent some time in Austria where I did an 65km speed-skate marathon. Since then, Suna gotten some real speed skates and she’s getting very serious about it. This fall and winter we still skate almost every week.I also played my first game of table tennis with my father in law. Table tennis is incredibly fun and it inspired me to buy my own table-tennis bat and play at least once a week for the remainder of the year. Over the year we made a few trips and the trip to yellow mountain (黄山) was one of my favorites. We kept costs really low by travelling hours by bus and sleeping in a tent. The mountains are beautiful and the local people are very friendly. We gotten a ticket from Marc van der Chijs and family to visit the Shanghai formula 1 training with them. Not only did we enjoy the race sounds, we also got a ride in Hamiltons private Maserati and Suna got her picture with Porche cup drivers Ho Pin Tung and Alexandre Imperatori taken. A non sports related highlight was a DJ gig at the first Dutch carnival party in Shanghai wth DJ Angrybird. I discovered that being a DJ is very cool, the experience of putting on songs received with cheer is exhilarating. To hear what I mean check this youtube video.
Summer: With unitedstyles to Silicon valley – I am thankful for the opportunities that I’ve gotten though unitedstyles. Not only was launching the site in Russian and Chinese very exciting, I learned a lot about foreign payment systems and culture. Due to the business, I got to know some prominent people in the fashion and Internet industry. I’ve received an entrepreneurial prize from my former professors at a university gathering in Amsterdam. I also visited Singapore and Silicon valley. After visiting San Francisco too briefly in another business trip in 2009, I was happy that I booked some extra time to enjoy the city a few days as well. Fall: Moving to The Netherlands – For Suna and me the year of 2012 will go into the books as the year that we moved from China to The Netherlands, which is my home country. We moved here after being more then five years abroad. Still after all these months we miss our friends, food and our neighborhood in Shanghai. However, the few months here have been very good. I started working at Sanoma media, where I’m involved in a job where I meet a lot of interesting people and learn a lot from the way they deal, so I consider myself very lucky with these experiences. Suna and I live in the middle of the Netherlands and enjoy simple things like cooking and the fact that we have a garden, it’s great to meet with old friends and having family close again. Winter: Working hard and enjoying Holland
The winter isn’t over yet but we enjoyed a nice marathon in Rotterdam where Suna was interviewed by local tv. Furthermore I’m finalizing my first semester at the Korean school of Amsterdam. Besides that we celebrated the holiday season with my family. Suna and me also made a nice trip to a place called Valkenburg in the south of Holland. 2013 – new year resolutions – This last day of the year, you hear a lot about new years resolutions. I’ve been rewriting mine for the last day and realized that I’ve achieved 4 out of 5 goals of last year. I read a tip that it’s best to pick just one challenging goal and keep focussed at that, I can give a tip to write it down and stick them to your fridge. In any of your quests and goals, Although we didn’t really celebrate new years in Asia, we are celebrating with the family tonight with traditional oliebollen – I missed those the past couple of years. I’m wishing all my readers the best for 2013, not sure if you set goals but good luck with them if you do!