Bruggenloop Rotterdam

20121209-212630.jpgToday we ran the bruggenloop in Rotterdam. The run, a humble 15 km but with nice views on the skyline of Rotterdam, with about 5000 participants had a good vibe even though it was windy, 4 degrees C and rainy! The days running in warm Asia seem long gone… Anyway, we came in at the Feyenoord stadium 1 hr early, the christmas themed warmup suddenly turned to Suna be20121209-212650.jpging interviewed by local television. She managed to suppress giggling while explaining the interviewer that she came from south korea especially for the event. At the second “really?” she has to oblige. It was very funny to see. Quickly after, we were ready to run! 20121209-214202.jpgThe run itself was a round from the stadium to the Erasmus bridge, which for me was the best part, it’s not often that you can walk over there! Then we continued 7km along the maas and then to the van Brienennoord bridge. I tried to walk calmly until the last three kilometers. I finished the 15km in 1hr 15m, exactly what i was aiming for today! Now i had enough of running, let the holiday season come!

How is it to be back in Holland?

607 grotere
I keep hearing the same question: “How is it to be back in Holland after living abroad for over five years?”

We worked hard to get here, then explored opportunities and took residence in the middle of the country. Right now I’m preparing to start working full time soon and we are very excited about the time ahead!

Takes three weeks to get Internet but good to be back!

With the typhoon behind us we left China for Holland. Before we could move into our final destination we stayed with my parents for a few days. Ofcourse it’s also immigrating back; Living in the Netherlands is different than China; Holland is more organized/formal we have to get used to that! We have a few stories but one of the first realizations came to me when I applied for Internet: The largest ISP’s in the Netherlands say they can deliver my modem in 3 weeks! Apparently, there is added time to change your mind about your purchase… Even though the Internet in China has it’s perks at least China Telecom could come the same day that you call! This is just one event which is easy to overcome; but things do go more formal around here. Writing and posting letters and making appointments. It’s no problem, we just start planning ahead and we will do adapt in the other things as well! I won’t compare Holland to China too much, I’m not annoyed but it’s a clear difference! Last week, we focused on moving to our new house, but had time for some activities too! The after-summers in my hometown haven’t changed much; Everybody seems happy with the warm days and they enjoy their time outside. The day we arrived there was some rain, we even saw a rainbow while walking my parents dogs. In the evening we were treated for a French dinner at Os and Paard (Ox and Horse) with the entire family. During the weekend the temperature rose, we even had a barbecue. We even visited a festival and enjoyed a metal performance from a band called Bush. I found time to do some running as well, it’s nice to run in these neighborhoods. Just last Sunday, we found a completely deserted beach along the Waal river. We enjoyed a picknick and took a dive with the dogs swimming along. The coming days we will be focusing on organizing and getting back to a rhythm.

Leaving China, going to the Netherlands

As I write this I’m on my way to the netherlands after a total of three years in China. We grew comfortable in Shanghai, made many friends and learned a lot about Chinese and our own culture. We are now open for a next step.

Expats have been leaving for various reasons, including food quality and the air pollution. For me, I came here straight out of university on a three year contract. The contract expired when I became cofounder of a startup but that three year deadline somehow stuck to me. I want to thank everybody who lended a helping hand and trust for us to stay here.

Before China we lived in Korea and Sweden, now we will move to a city in the center of the Netherlands.

Flight cancelled due to typhoon Bolaven

20120828-130531.jpgWe would fly out to Shanghai from Seoul yesterday but our flight got cancelled due to a typhoon. While the typhoon positioned itself between Korea and China, Shanghai airlines cancelled all flights for the day. Surprisingly Asiana and Korean Air still had flights Leaving at 4pm. Luckily we can stay with family in Seoul and ride the storm out comfortably. Right now Korea is preparing for what the news is saying to be the strongest storm in a decade. It was cat 3 earlier but slowing down to a tropical storm. Strong winds takes grasp of the lighter objects in the street already and the power went off briefly just now. The height of the storm is expected in four hours. We’re keeping a close eye to typhoon path projections and rebooked our flight for what we think is the earliest possible return, tomorrow afternoon. The extra days in Korea have no repercussions for us yet but the extreme weather also played a part in the beginning of our trip, as a previous typhoon Haikui hit China just before Suna would fly here in the first place. I hope damage will be limited for people in the region. Perhaps some invention like this could prevent all this.

 

Mr Kim took six hours to brew me a cup of coffee

20120828-112642.jpgIn Korea, if you ask a barista for a ‘Dutch Coffee’ you get a brewed coffee with ice cubes. I was told Dutch people don’t like hot coffee. During this week’s trip in Korea, I met Mr. Kim. He knows I like Dutch coffee and he wanted to show his dutch coffee maker. A lot of Koreans take pride in creation of food like kimchi and soy sauce at home. Mr Kim seems to be a collector, from old portable Japanese radio’s to windup clocks. In the center of the living room stands a large coffee dripper. The device looks as if it came out of a chemistry lab, a glass instrument in a wooden frame. In the top, there is a water container, which drains to a 5 mm thick ceramic filter after which it is stored. Adding a liter of ice water in the top level water container, followed by about 100 grams of grounded coffee in the compartment below, he then simply let’s it run. Now, the ceramic filter is important, the total process for all the coffee to go through this stone filter takes about six hours, after some time, you can see coffee drip from the filter, drop by drop. When the container is full, Mr Kim puts it into vacuum bottles and stores it in the fridge. Contrary to warm Dutch coffee in the coffee shops, his coffee is entirely iced due to the long process of making it and storage in the fridge. He got some from the fridge to taste. We drank the coffee straight at first. It has the taste of a fresh brew but the spike from espresso. I thought it would be flat and heavy but it was quite rich of flavor. Because of its purity, mr. Kim usually serves his coffee as a dessert with decaf coffee. He made a nice creation in a glass with a scoop of vanilla ice for us. Looking at all the creations in the room, while enjoying the coffee asked if he was educated to be an engineer but turned out to be a retired journalist. I suppose that’s where his time and the love for coffee comes from.

Disturbed by phone use around me, trying to put mine away

a basket with a note 'Be with the friends who are here' as taken from Reddit, the topic raised a lot of questions about our mobile use at dinners and parties.We are left with a society pulling out phone’s all the time, and of-course we know that it’s changing lives and behavior. Seeing kids play their games on their parents iPads in restaurants, I wonder how they will look at their technology.
Picture a family dinner table discussion, a word is forgotten… Just a few years ago, each one at the table would start thinking really hard until one person remembered, and shouts it out, sometimes a few minutes later. Do you know that feeling? Today, usually someone grabs their shiny phone and start searching online. You can’t deny that a smartphone brings convenience – instant intelligence if you will – but isn’t this back-of-mind digging good for firing up the weakening neurons in our brains? (Let alone that conversations usually turn to that brand of smartphone at this point) I believe that remembering, let alone having a good conversation needs time away from the smartphone. This post derives from an event we had during a circus visit. While I have no opinion yet how to raise a child, I found something somewhat troubling: I’m talking about the parents who got into a conversation while waiting for the circus-show to start and handing their daughter a white iPhone. The girl started playing Angry birds. Soon a spectacular circus show started, but the little girl didn’t raise her head… for the entire evening. I started feeling very sorry for her generation there is a lot more out there then slinging a few birds on an iPhone. She is missing out! After that occurrence I start noticing it on flights and in restaurants; kids looking only to phones, missing out on the world and conversation. I started wondering how they look at these gadgets, I can imagine that at one point the novelty and coolness factor will disappear. Perhaps even a new subculture will start to exist that makes a point out of putting their phone technology down. Perhaps they might be praising the art of conversation and living in the moment. Disclaimer: I’m actually one of those heavy phone users. You know, the guy with the phone at the dinner-table but i’m starting to question my addiction.

Medical emergency in Shanghai

We found a Brit in a pool of blood this morning, on our way to the bakery. He was looking really ill, surrounded by people, but nobody did anything. At that point he wasn’t able to speak, or move around, later we discovered that he had cut his wrist by accident inside his apartment, where he lost a considerable amount of blood, made his way downstairs and basically fell on the curb where he was bleeding for 30 min. more. Ofcourse the group of bystanders, of which two Chinese/New Zealand students, had called an ambulance 30 min earlier but they were told that there were none. We called again but didn’t get through. Luckily, the police drove by and proposed to drop him off. We lifted him in the back of a police car, on our way he told me that he felt he was going to die. I identified his bloodtype in case he would pass out and we got him inside the ER and arranged the paperwork. He didn’t carry much on him but had some ID and insurance info in his pocket. I felt helpless trying to explain the English details to the Chinese staff, they couldn’t understand me. A few minutes later, the two New Zealand / Chinese bystanders arrived at the hospital with my wife to help out. The hospital was sure to confirm insurance before treating him after which he was properly taken care off. We stayed for a couple of hours and saw to it that he got the proper care. I also called the British consulate, who apparently put me though to the emergency call center in London. The operator didn’t speak Chinese so explaining him the Chinese hospital name and Chinese street details lead to a very confusing call. Seemed like a sluggish system, considering the amount of Brits that live in P.R.C.? I have to say that the Shanghai police really helped him out, first of all taking him into a car (taxi wouldn’t allow that) and trying to locate his friend. In a situation like this, you cannot depend on the ambulance to come and pick you up. I’ve seen pedestrians hit by cars and eventually put inside taxi’s to the hospitals. It’s not rare if bystanders don’t react. If you see an actual ambulance, they are poorly equipped and drive much slower then they should. My wife has studied Chinese for quite some time now, she mentioned they studied a lot about culture and history, but never did they talk about what to do in a medical emergency, something that would have been useful. All you foreigners abroad, be sure to carry your ID and insurance with you at all times.