Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Gusty wind, enchanting canals

Somehow everytime I walk down the canals in Amsterdam I couldn't help but wonder why the wind here is so gusty and bitter. No wonder they invented the wind mill and used it to claim lands. 3 days of mad touring and I'm ready to leave Amsterdam for the next destination in the neighboring Brussels. But before that I shall take a day-trip to Leiden and hopefully will be able to catch some of the early-booming tulips!

In everywhere this city exhibits itself the charm of a northern European city. No bright blue/yellow colors like the Mediterranean, yet in the meanwhile the Dutch forever favor for tulips and numerous flowers that I've failed to know how to name somehow add in beautiful colors to the otherwise much gray and clouded sky. Perhaps I picked the good time to come, for the country is entering early spring and currently in transition out of the winter cold. What would winter be like here? I could only find out through some of the paintings in the museums that depicting ppl playing all sorts of winter sports on the frozen canals/waterways. Were those depictions accurate and still stand true today even though some of them were painted a few centuries earlier? Have people's style of life changed much since or some of the old-time sports never die out?

There's much that one could learn about history here too. Alas to the constraint of time I wasn't able to visit the Dutch resistance Museum. However, from the Ann Frank's old hiding house I was able to filter out some of the stories of Nazi Holocaust on the Dutch land. The canals and houses remain, but the people long gone. How the Nazi military raided the entire city and wiped out close to all the Jews in the city remains an enigma to me.

On a much lighter note, Amsterdam in some ways remind me of Tokyo where some of the finest arts and traditions in the world may be found yet in the meanwhile some of the most liberal and relaxed orders of sexual conducts or drug use are also readily available. A huge contrast to my eyes yet perhaps something that points to the Dutch spirit of tolerance? At least that seems to be what the Historic Museum is suggesting.

The failed batteries in my alarm clock woke me up to this early early hours of 5:30 am writing this post ... Now that I'm awake I wonder whether it'd be worthwhile to go back to sleep. Perhaps if I wait for another hour or so I could truly take an early-bird walk along the canals one last time before waving goodbye to this city of blue waterways.

Somehow one becomes so much more alert when traveling alone. More thoughts to share later.

梅ちゃん at 12:20:00 PM



at 3/30/06, 2:39 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was in the GIO, we donated some research funds to Leiden to do some research or purchase materials for its Chinese collections. The project was undertakenunder the guidance of prof. Zurcher. When you are at Leiden, please check things out for me to see what has been done from that grant. I visit Amsterdam and Leiden years ago and gave a lecture at both places. I also went to Hague, site of the International Court of Justice.


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