Reflections of 3 weeks in the Netherlands in 2014
After living almost 14 years in Thailand you start to take things in Thailand for granted, even worse you start to think life is normal here. On the other hand after living almost 14 years outside your home country in another culture you start to forget how life was and that there is another reality also. After 3 weeks back "home" in the Netherlands my primary reaction is "The Netherlands is a over regulated nanny state and I am actually waiting for a revolution. Well that will probably never happen as it seems that all people are brainwashed into robots for the consumption economy to fed the corporations." After coming home in Thailand I thought "They drive like total idiots on the road and the roads are bloody dangerous by design". But now in more balanced way ......
Arriving at Schiphol Airport at Amsterdam started with the biggest frustration of the all 3 weeks ... due to a "fire" in the train tunnel there were no train leaving (or arriving) at Schiphol. I had planned to travel by train to Rotterdam and even had bought tickets for it via internet. To put some oil on the fire the driver of a not moving train said "Well yes this happens once & while ... could take 30 min or all night before we are moving again". The not moving train was totally full as was the platform. While I left the platform after 10 min I heard the announcement that there would be buses going to the nearest other train station from where you might be able to catch a train to your destination.Yes, right! After 15 hours traveling I will wait in line for bus to bring me to a bus station where I can wait again to take a overloaded train to Rotterdam! No way dear Nederlands Spoorwegen! We walked out and passed the NS ticket selling office where I asked for a refund for my tickets. The only reaction of the staff was "No I cannot refund that, you have to contact customer service". Not "Sorry that our trains are not riding and sorry for the inconvenience but we will do all we can do to help you". So we just took a taxi back home. Expensive but comfortable. Hahaha for that price I could have traveled in Thailand for a all day! Our taxi driver was a kind of Schumacher as we did fly with about 130-150km/h to Rotterdam. So we actually arrived before scheduled time at our destination.
Wow highways in the Netherlands are great! Wide, good surface, straight, no u-turns, no houses along the roads, no same-level intersections, no people & dogs walking on the road, all cars have lights, no live police check-points and no scooters on the road. But as the road was not busy it is a total mystery to me why the maximum speed is sometimes 100km/h or 120km/h or sometimes 80km/h. So there are many electronic police check-points (cameras) to control all people in the Netherlands.
In Rotterdam we did stay in a B&B so we went out to the local shops to do some shopping for small food & drinks. What a great choice of food here! I did really missed some things like "karnemelk" and good cheese. But wow a lot of things here are really expensive! But really amazing good service of people in shops. Even the guy just refilling the stocks knows where to find everything. Much different as in Thailand where the easy answer is "Mai mi" (We do not have). And not only for violations but also just to register who has been where (and they keep those records for 4 weeks).
As motorbike rider I went to 2 motorbike shop and even my wife was surprised "Wow what a great collection of helmets, cloths, motorbikes and gear". Helmets in size's XS to XL. And on a average things are cheaper as in Thailand (although the staff in the Netherlands makes 10 times more salary and the VAT is 3 times as much). Great service & knowledge of the staff also.
While being in the Netherlands I realized that life is bloody expensive here. Going to Keukenhof the entrance fee is 15 Euro pp and 7.50 Euro for kids. So a family of 2 adults and 2 kids will spend 45 Euro on entrance only. Gasoline costs between 1.62 and 1.74 Euro per liter. Filling up my car in the Netherlands would cost about the double as in Thailand. On the other hand having dinner for 2 persons at a good restaurant eating the best beef would cost just a about 50% more, but here in the Netherlands you will get much better value for your money.
Did I mention already that I think the service & friendliness of people in shops and even in the public transport (except at the Nederlandse Spoorwegen) was really great? I do not remember that from long time before when living in the Netherlands. Are people realising that people come back for good & friendly service even if the shop is not the cheapest? Quality of life as of air pollution ... you realize that the air in western Europe is actually much cleaner as in dusty and smoggy Thailand. For at least 6 months a year all Thailand is covered under a blanket of smog and even worse up north in the Isaan and Lanna.
Choice of goods to buy as in motorbikes & cars is really fantastic in Europe. I wish we had that in Thailand for a reasonable price. And also food-wise, although I love Thai food it was very nice to have a wide range of kitchen from all over the word to choose from. Personal freedom ... that is gone in the Netherlands and nobody notice it. I used to joke about Singapore about ".... by law" but the Netherlands have become even worse. Every breath you take, every step you make is regulated by law. And checked by law-enforcement. Not because it is dangerous or whatever but just because it is the law.
It was a great holiday and the Netherlands is great & beautiful country but I could not live there anymore. Rules would drive me crazy. As said I am waiting for a revolution. Not the question IF but WHEN. Infrastructure is really very good in the Netherlands, maybe a little bit too good looking to the fact that the social security system is being taken down.
And I love living in Thailand but a bit more serious government assistance in the education sector and road safety would be really good for the Thai people. Let's be serious the results of bad education is not forthcoming for Thailand and the number of deaths on the Thai roads is really terrible and easy to bring down. Thai roads are dangerous by design. And for all people saying now "Why don't you leave Thailand?" I want to speak with you again after a beloved one of you has been killed at a u-turn on the roads of Thailand. Or shot dead by a punk with a gun.