Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Restaurant De Kroon, Amsterdam

I had dinner today with UO, a colleague from Asia who is in Amsterdam for a project. Nice to catch up and to share thoughts and opinions about the demise of our department. He doesn't like Holland which he says is "one notch above Mongolia" so fortunately the food and service tonight at De Kroon were very good. De Kroon is still one of my favourite places to hang out for drinks and/or food in Amsterdam. Service can be a bit slow (as everywhere in the Netherlands), but tonight we were lucky and the waiter and waitresses couldn't have been nicer.

Place or character?

Those of us who have lived outside our home country will probably know that some expats adjust well to wherever they live, and others will have endless complaints. So why is this? I am a firm believer that the character of the individual determines whether he/she will adjust well to a new environment, or will join the chorus of those who complain about every single detail of their new life.

I was reminded of this today when I read the following on

After 7years of being part of every debate under the sun re: merits of Singapore, Australia, UK, USA, Europe our summary is: each location has tonnes of great things and not so great! Enjoy what's good and if that's all you have to worry about, things ain't that bad! End of sermon!!

I couldn't agree more!

Place or character?

Those of us who have lived outside our home country will probably know that some expats adjust well to wherever they live, and others will have endless complaints. So why is this? I am a firm believer that the character of the individual determines whether he/she will adjust well to a new environment, or will join the chorus of those who complain about every single detail of their new life.

I was reminded of this today when I read the following on

After 7years of being part of every debate under the sun re: merits of Singapore, Australia, UK, USA, Europe our summary is: each location has tonnes of great things and not so great! Enjoy what's good and if that's all you have to worry about, things ain't that bad! End of sermon!!

I couldn't agree more!

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands is celebrating her 69th birthday today. Here she is seen with her 7 grand children, 6 girls and one boy. It seems the next generation of the royal family will be dominated by females. The Queen has 3 sisters, but their offspring is mainly male. So far, the Dutch royal family has behaved relatively well and compared to the UK our scandals are small and boring. Approval ratings are very high and only very few Dutch people would want to get rid of the Royals. They don't have much real power so as far as I am concerned as long as they behave they can stay. Congratulations Majesty!

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Spuiten en slikken

Spuiten en Slikken (translated in English as Shoot-up and Swallow, referring to the different methods of taking drugs, as well as referring to the male orgasm and the act of swallowing during sex) is a Dutch television program on public television. It is a program about sexuality and drugs.

It was introduced while I was away and as many of my friends had told me it is quite interesting, yesterday I watched it for the first time (late at night). They do life testing of drugs as well as demonstrations of unusual sex on life TV. Yesterday's episode included a cook who uses hashish in his dishes (making a weed capuccino and hashish creme brulee), as well as a comparative study with 3 nude men using different products (Viagra, Spanish Fly, Yacuba) to get a hard-on.

If you want, you can watch this show on Youtube. Just enter Spuiten en slikken in the search bar.

Only in Holland.........

Monday, 29 January 2007

Collateral Damage

After all this talking with women I needed some real male action, so I watched Collateral Damage tonight on TV.

In one fleeting moment, L.A. firefighter Gordy Brewer loses everything he ever cared about. Running late to meet his wife and young son at a downtown high-rise, the devoted family man arrives in time to witness a bomb explode, showering the area with debris and shattered glass. The explosion is credited to 'El Lobo, The Wolf', an infamous rebel leader in Colombia's decades-long civil war. The intended targets were members of the Colombian consulate and American intelligence agents; its casualties included one civilian woman and one small boy--Gordy's family, innocent people who lost their lives for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Gordy's only consolation for the loss of his family is the hope that the Wolf will be stopped before he has a chance to strike again. When the official U.S. investigation into the Wolf stalls, Gordy realizes that bringing the terrorist to justice is no longer a priority to anyone but himself. Gordy heads to war-torn Colombia to track him down alone.

A bad movie in which Schwarzenegger single-handedly kills hundreds of guerillas.

The movie is partially set in Colombia and I remembered my trip to that beautiful country where I met so many friendly and nice people. Such a pity that left wing and right wing terrorists are killing each other to keep the profits of the drug trade. There is only one solution to the drug "problem": legalize all drugs.

Female colleagues

I just got home and feel tired. Did I work so hard today? Nope, I chatted most of the day with three female colleagues.

For some reason I always get along well with my female colleagues. We chat a lot about life in general, they come to seek advice and I also value their comments and advice. I also find that our attitude towards work is very similar, and at the same time different from the attitude of most of my male (straight) colleagues. Straight men are often full of bullshit and they spend more time on political games and their "position in the company" instead of just getting the job done. If I would ever start my own business I would only recruit women and gay men.

Today, first I chatted for two hours with IR mostly about which restaurants we like in Amsterdam. IR is a beautiful young woman who can handle the horny straight colleagues very well, but I think she still likes chatting to me as she is always very relaxed. She gave me some names of new restaurants that have opened in Amsterdam and I will certainly check them out as she has good taste.

After lunch AR came to my office with her dilemma: she has been offered two jobs and can't choose. We chatted for a long time and I hope I could give her some pointers to make her decision making process easier. She has also lived for a short time in Singapore so it was also good to share some thoughts about living there.

And finally GE visited me. We shared a room 5 years ago and have always kept in touch. Which pays off now as she approached me to do some high-profile work for higher management.

Now that I think of it, my first job back in 1986 I worked in a department with only female colleagues. After I left I hear hell broke lose. Hehe.

In other news I was pleasantly surprised to receive a bonus letter today. As our department has been closed I didn't expect anything, but my boss worked hard to convince senior management to give us something. It is less than last year, but when you don't expect anything any bonus is .....a bonus! Thanks boss.

Sunday, 28 January 2007

The weekend

Oh alcohol, the mother of all evils. I drank too much last night and I was out of order all day today.

I didn't do much this weekend. Watched an old movie, The Contender, on TV. The Contender is a political thriller about Laine Hanson, a senator who is nominated to become Vice President following the death of the previous office holder. During the confirmation process, Laine is the victim of a vicious attack on her personal life in which stories of sexual deviancy are spread. She is torn as to whether she should fight back, or stick to her high principles and refuse to comment on the allegations. Although it isn't easy, she sticks to her guns, and in the end she is rewarded for it.

Quite an OK movie starring Jeff Bridges, Gary Oldman and Joan Allen.

After the movie I decided to go to April. All were there and the beer flowed quickly - especially with all the happy quarters when they serve two drinks for the price of one. At 2am April was about to close and WI and MA convinced me to join them to Exit. More beers and suddenly it was 8am and I was in a taxi home. I vaguely remember chatting for a long time with a KLM flight attendant. Today: headaches and other inconveniences, and only now (8pm) I am beginning to feel OK again.

Now all repeat and sing after me: I will never drink again. (a 1972 Alexander Curley song)

I'll never drink again
I'll never smoke again
My throat is dry, my eyes are red
And there are needles inside of my head

Friday, 26 January 2007

Bar and Restaurant Dauphine, Amsterdam

My colleagues IR and PE have found new jobs, so today we had drinks to say goodbye to them and wish them well. Lots of former and current colleagues showed up and it was very nice to meet some of them again after a long time. The event was held at a new restaurant that I had not been to before. However, the location I knew very well as it was the former Renault garage and showroom where I bought my first two lease cars. An excellent idea to have a restaurant in a former car showroom with very high ceilings.

A nice day

I spent most of most of today with AA, who is in Amsterdam for the weekend. AA is a Singaporean (why did I know so many Singaporeans even before I moved there??) who lives in London. We met 4 (?) years ago in Amsterdam and have kept in touch ever since. Today while having coffee we decided to do something cultural so we went to the Rijksmuseum. The main part of the museum is still closed for renovation so we visited "The Master Pieces" exhibition in the Philips wing. Lots of Rembrandt, Hals and Vermeer paintings with all the main works on display. Of course the paintings are nice, but for some reason I always enjoy the doll houses. As a real lady would....hehe.

Seventeenth-century doll's houses were not children's toys, they were a hobby. In the 17th century, many wealthy Dutch merchants had collections of one sort or another, which they kept in display cabinets. The wives of these well-to-do gentlemen also had collections, which reflected their personal interests: often their homes. Some had large cupboards full of miniature furniture and dolls, replicas of a real home. These doll's houses were sometimes on a magnificent scale. Whenever an important visitor dropped by, the host and hostess would show their collections. The master of the house would open the drawers of his cabinet and explain the contents to his guests, while his wife gave a comprehensive demonstration of her doll's house. She would display the contents of the cupboards, reveal hidden spaces, light the lamps and would let real water gush from the fountain in the garden. Doll's house demonstrations sometimes went on for hours. for ladies, comparable to the cabinets in which gentlemen kept their collections. This is one of three seventeenth-century doll's houses that have survived intact. It was commissioned by Petronella Oortman, a wealthy Amsterdam lady. The house is remarkable in that all of the components are made exactly to scale. Petronella ordered miniature porcelain objects from China and commissioned furniture makers and artists to decorate the interior. It was extremely costly to create a model house like this. Petronella probably spent between twenty and thirty thousand guilders on her doll's house. In the seventeenth century she would have been able to buy a real house along one of the canals for that price.

After the museum we had lunch and a long talk at De Balie. It was good to catch up with AA.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Is this going too far? (2)

Some low-class TV station here is planning a dating show for ugly people. Read this:

The Netherlands, the country that has pioneered reality shows like "Big Brother," is planning a new first -- a dating program for the visibly disfigured. The broadcaster SBS 6 is seeking candidates for its "Love at Second Sight" show due to be launched on February 20.

"Do you have a visible serious handicap and are you looking for a partner?" says an appeal on its Web site. "The program is a platform for people with such problems to share experiences and feelings in a positive way with the rest of the Netherlands and to show that they are absolutely not pitiful," the broadcaster said.

"The main aim of the program is to remove prejudice about these people, to create more acceptance and respect and, of course, to find the love of their lives."

But the majority of Dutch viewers are turned off by the show that was initially set to be called "Monster Love." A poll by the mass circulation De Telegraaf daily showed 85 percent do not like the idea, with only 9 percent in favour.

They interviewed some .....uhhh.... visually less attractive people in another TV program and reactions were mixed: some welcomed the idea and would participate in the dating show ("I want to show the entire nation that I am a wonderful person"), others were afraid such a program would stigmatize people with disfigurements.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Dr Bobby's money machine

I just came home after seeing my doctor. While in Singapore, I was treated by a cardiologist (Dr Bobby) for high blood pressure and high cholestorol. He gave me two pills to take every day, and so far I have religiously followed Dr Bobby's instructions. By the way, I spent over Sing$ 2,500 on Dr Bobby's analysis and pills. Well, to be honest, the insurance company paid that amount.

Now my doctor here says that I can immediately stop with the blood pressure pills, and he is sending me to a laboratory to have my blood taken again to see if the cholestorol readings have improved.
He also mentioned that the type of cholestorol pills I have been taking are not the best available.
So it looks like Dr Bobby runs a little money printing operation there in Singapore. Of course, he may be proven right if I die within the next two weeks........

I never knew that my doctor here is gay until OS mentioned it to me recently. He asked me if I am having "homosexual contacts" and upon my affirmative answer he told me to get tested for Hepatitus B which apparently is a problem amongst gays in Amsterdam now.

Is this going too far?

Read this.

AMSTERDAM — Children have been the given the go-ahead to participate in Amsterdam's Gay Pride canal parade in the summer. The gay children will have their own boat with room for 30 gay children, news service NIS reported on Friday. Gay Pride involves groups of men and women going through the canals in countless boats, often scantily clad.

And with the support of gay rights organisation COC, a 14-year-old boy has taken the initiative to have a boat with homosexual children participate on 4 August. The minimum age for children to join him is 11. "From this age, there is already demand among young homos to have contacts with their peers of the same proclivity," COC said.

My first reaction was: "Oh my god, this is going too far". But apparently the idea comes from a 14 year old, and we all know that children that age can already have homosexual feelings. To be honest, I don't know if I suppport this idea or not. What do you think?

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Gays and babies

I spent some time today with my gay friend DAZ and his son YU. For the longest time, DAZ really wanted a child so he searched for and found two lesbians who needed a donor. Long story short: they got along well, were able to make good arrangements about who was going to take care of the child, one shot and one of the girls got pregnant, and a little boy was born last July. A cute baby (mixed race Chinese - Dutch) and I managed to make him smile a few times. DAZ is very happy to be a dad and I must admit the way they made the arrangements sounds nice: dad takes care of the child one day a week and on alternate weekends. I am happy for DAZ, now his next project is to find a nice boyfriend!

Still a long way to go: 42 per cent of young Singaporeans find homosexuality unacceptable

Half of Singapore youths find homosexuality ''acceptable,'' says survey.

Exactly half of the 800 young people asked found homosexuality acceptable, according to a survey of young people aged 15-29. Conducted by students from Singapore Polytechnic’s School of Business over two months, 42 per cent of the respondents who found homosexuality unacceptable although no further details are available.

Containing only one question on homosexuality, the survey respondents were asked if they agreed or disagreed with he statement, "I find homosexuality acceptable."

Giving their views on various aspects of life, 45 per cent of the respondents disapproved of premarital sex while 46 per cent found it acceptable. More than half of respondents survey said that they would migrate overseas if they had the option.

Lecturer Kwa Lay Ping, who oversaw the survey, was quoted in Today newspaper attributing the youths' liberal views to the use of the Internet.

"They're more liberal in their outlook and more accepting of alternative lifestyles, such as homosexuality, and sex before marriage."

An earlier survey conducted by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports in 2001 however found that 71 per cent of the young people surveyed found homosexuality unacceptable.

Another survey conducted the same year by the government over a cross section of Singaporeans found that 29 per cent of Singaporeans under 30 years of age found homosexuality acceptable.

Monday, 22 January 2007

Asian Disco Night

After the movie I proceeded to the (in)famous Cockring (a bar/disco) where every 3rd Sunday of the month they have an Asian Disco Night. All the usual suspects (MA, JE, HE, RO, KE) were there. And the usual mix of mostly middle-aged Western guys (looking, as ER would say, "dorky") and younger Asian men. Most of the Asians I had never seen before, most of the guys who used to be there 2 years ago have found new hobbies apparently.

Mel Gibson's Apocalypto

I watched Mel Gibson's Apocalypto yesterday. Even with all the violence and bloody scenes it is a film worth watching. The film didn't bore me for a second during it's 140 minutes' duration. Watching the film it is easy to imagine that something like this (people from an ancient civilization going on a killing rampage) has actually happened.

Apocalypto is set during the last days of the ancient Mayan civilization in the 15th century. Our hero Jaguar Paw (played by newcomer Rudy Youngblood) belongs to a tribe of hunter-gatherers who are attacked by a warring sect. He is captured and taken to another city, where he is to be sacrificed in the name of his enemy's God. (How many innocent people have been killed in the name of God?) But Jaguar Paw manages to escape and goes to rescue his own family, while his enemies pursue him...

And for those who believe that these useless killings only happened long ago, please remember Hitler, Pol Pot, Rwanda, Sbrenica, Darfur, .......

The Romans already knew it: Homo homini lupus.

Sunday, 21 January 2007


Since 1984 or 1985, we (four friends who met at Groningen University) have been playing the card game "klaverjassen" regularly. When I was in Singapore we didn't play, but yesterday we started our routine of playing cards every three months or so on a Saturday evening. The group consists of ERV and HA, both married and fathers of 3 children, my gay good friend RE who also came to Singapore in November, and myself. Yesterday HA was the host. We usually meet around 7pm, chat a bit, have dinner, and start playing cards around 9pm. The older we get the earlier we finish (hehe), but still yesterday we managed to play until 2am. HA and I were the winners. It is good to have the same friends since more than 20 years, and to see the friends get fat, bald and grey.

Klaverjassen is one of the most popular card games in the Netherlands, traditionally played in cafes and social clubs, as well as at home. The game is for 4 players who play in pairs, sitting opposite each other. The game has a number of variants, named after the cities where they originated: Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht. We always play the Amsterdam system.

The object of the game is to score as many points as possible in 16 hands. In competition games the players on one table will rotate so as to have had each of the other three as a partner, so playing 3 sets of 16 hands.

In each hand the object of the game is for the player (and partner) who chooses trumps to collect more than half of the available points. If they fail to do this then they score nothing at all and the opposing pair receives all of the points.

Points are collected by taking tricks containing valuable cards, and also as bonus points during the play.

Friday, 19 January 2007

The Schnitzel Paradise

I watched a Dutch movie "The Schnitzel Paradise" yesterday.

The movie is mainly set in the kitchen of Restaurant "The Blue Vulture".

A second generation Dutch - Moroccan boy called Nordip works in the restaurant as a dishwasher. The kitchen there is a micro-cosmos of the Dutch multicultural society, with Nordip trying to make sense of it all but especially the cute waitress Agnes, who will one day inherit the restaurant.

"The Blue Vulture" is a intentionally badly-disguised reference to the chain of "Van der Valk" restaurants in the Netherlands. (valk in Dutch = falcon) Van der Valk is what Americans would call a "diner" or family restaurant, in other words a restaurant for the masses. Large portions and bad quality. Sophisticated people like me would never go to such a place, haha.

It is an OK movie with some funny moments.

Mounir Valentyn is good as Nordip, and Bracha van Doesburgh plays his girl friend Agnes well. However, there is too much Romeo and Juliet towards the end of the movie.

What a word: anopenetrative sex


Prominent Gay Opponent appointed to Singapore Parliament

One name in the recent appointment of Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) in Singapore stood out glaringly to anyone who follows the public debate of gay issues in Singapore: Thio Li-Ann. An Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Law Faculty, Thio Li-Ann, along with her mother Thio Su-Mein, is well-known for her views on homosexuality. Her appointment as one of the nine NMPs came as a rude shock to many in the gay community.

The NMP scheme in Singapore allows up to 9 unelected MPs for a term of two and a half years. The Straits Times reported that some of the issues Thio would pursue in her tenure as NMP include "civil virtues and public morality". She has a record of championing religious issues. Two of her articles published in the Straits Times stressed the role of religion in public policy debate.

At a forum ("Homosexuality: Myths and Truths") organised by Focus on the Family on 24 Nov 2003 at Wesley Methodist Church, Thio alleged that the gay community has an organised agenda. She implied that Singapore's newspapers were populated by biased liberals, whose unfair reporting paint the conservative Christians as homophobic fundamentalists, while portraying the pro-gay camp as progressive.

Her appointment as NMP could not have come at a worse time. One of the first bills to be debated in parliament is the revision to sexual crimes in the penal code, including the continued criminalisation of homosexual acts in Singapore. No representatives from the gay community were nominated, although there is no lack of prominent personalities who could sail through the NMP selection process.

Thio's presence in the parliament could perhaps bring out both conservative and liberal views on not just homosexuality but the role of religion in public policy. In this present global climate where religion is making a comeback in politics, even secular Singapore is no safe harbour.

In December 2004, Thio's mother Thio Su-Mein, a former dean of the NUS Law Faculty, wrote to the Straits Times lauding the police ban on gay parties: "As Straits Times Senior Writer Andy Ho noted recently: 'It is homosexuals who engaged in condomless anopenetrative sex that are culpable of spreading HIV in Singapore', causing the 'second wave of HIV here and worldwide.'

"To facilitate or allow such activities to carry on unchecked would constitute a gross breach of the public trust and be highly irresponsible. The Aids problem cannot be ignored.

"Blatant flaunting of homosexual activities is offensive to the conservative mainstream which wants to see enduring standards of public decency and morality upheld - it would be regressive to allow this to degenerate."


Thursday, 18 January 2007

Storm in Holland

Really bad storm today. 5 people died, many roads blocked for traffic as a result of fallen trees, and the trains stopped running around 6pm.

A heartless society

Ever since becoming a Singapore Permanent Resident I am flooded with letters from various Singapore government agencies. Today I received a letter from the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board informing me that I will soon be covered by MediShield. Reading the information I found this:

"The following expenses are not covered by MediShield and cannot be claimed:
treatment of any illness, disability, injury or any condition arising from or due to the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) virus.

What a heartless society......I am sure my friends who are HIV+ are happy to be covered by a medical insurance system that helps everyone.

Restaurant Zussen, Utrecht

I had dinner yesterday with HJ in Restaurant Zussen in Utrecht. HJ is one of the few colleagues in Singapore with whom I socialized. He came back to Holland in September and we decided to meet up again. It was good to share experiences and stories about living in Singapore and coming back. The food was nice (Mediterranean) and the service good.

It was also nice to be back in Utrecht. I lived there in 1986 - 1987 and some old memories came back. It is a student city so there are many bars and cafes and lots of young people on the street.


Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Politics for beginners

I read this on Channelnews Asia today:

However, he did address perceptions about such unpopular moves being introduced after elections.

"That's not quite wrong. That's politics. That's the way campaigns should be fought. You concentrate on what you want to do – the positive parts. And of course, in some instances, you have to raise revenue to support the programmes. And after the election, you have got to translate your pledge into reality," said Mr Goh.

NO, NO, Mr. Goh, that is NOT politics. That's NOT the way campaigns should be fought in a DEMOCRACY.

In a democracy, the various parties will have plans to spend money, but THEY SHOULD ALSO HAVE PLANS HOW TO PAY FOR IT. And there will be independent economists, universities, etc., who will calculate if the government income will be enough for the government expenditures. And then the various political parties will try to convince the people that they have the best balanced plans for new expenditure and the way to pay for it. That's how a democracy works, Mr. Goh.

Why am I wasting my time on this?

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Restaurant Le Zinc... et les autres, Amsterdam

MA and JE did their registered partnership on 15 December. Unfortunately, I was still in Singapore at that time so I invited them for dinner tonight to celebrate.

We went to Le Zinc... et les autres, a restaurant that I had never been to before but has received great reviews.

We chose the "surprise menu". 4 courses.

Appetizer was pigeon and serrano ham. I really don't like pigeon but the ham was great. Next course was a Dutch fresh water fish which was OK, and the sauce and veggies accompanying the fish were great. The main course was veal with mushrooms which was really excellent, and the desert was creme brulee, white chocolate mousse and a pyramid of dark chocolat. Excellent. All in all a good meal and a great white wine to go with it.

It was a good evening and (I think) we all had a good time. We also decided to go to New York later this year.

Fun in the office

Didn't do much at work today, as our project assistant brought her 2 1/2 year old son in because she couldn't find anyone to take care of him. So my colleagues and I took turns to entertain the boy. We found a tennis ball for him to play with but the ball was too hard to throw around in an office environment. So the mother went to our boss' room (who was unaware that she brought the kid in) and asked "Bert, do you have a soft ball?" You should have seen the guy's face!

Monday, 15 January 2007

Older gay couples

One thing that doesn't "exist" in Singapore is seeing older gay couples. I never thought about it but here in Amsterdam you see them all the time. At the movies Saturday at least 3 couples in their 50's and 60's, and today in the supermarket another couple in their 60's.

Is it because the older gays in Singapore decided to get married to a woman? Remain single? Don't want to be seen in public as a couple? Probably a combination of all three reasons.

Flying swans

I was biking to work this morning and suddenly I heard a strange sound. At first I thought a large piece of plastic had gone loose (the wind was quite strong), but when I looked there were two large swans very close to me who had just taken off from a lawn. They crossed the bike path in front of me within two meters distance. Beautiful.

Dutch and Singapore politics

I found myself defending the PAP on Saturday night. Yeah, really and I was surprised myself. I was in April and after a few beers I was discussing politics (we must be the only ones ever to discuss politics in a gay bar) with RO and a guy whose name I always forget. (let's call him XX) We were talking about our stupid Minister for Integration Ms. Rita Verdonk when I mentioned that there is one thing that we could learn from Singapore and that is the management of relations between the different races. As if he had been bitten by a snake XX started a rant against Singapore and that is the most unreal, fake, boring place that he has ever been to and it doesn't have character, culture etc., etc., etc. Turns out he has been there only once 10 years ago. I politely disagreed and gave him some examples where Singapore is not so bad. Anyway, you can't argue with the converted so XX insisted that Singapore is the worst place on earth and he will never visit again. His loss.

I had enough of politics and fortunately CU was also in April. He is such a happy guy, always smiling and joking, and cute, too. He is Singaporean living in Amsterdam and I saw him in Singapore a year ago. Unfortunately (haha), he is very faithful to his boyfriend who told me that they are going to get married soon. Congratulations guys!

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Restaurant New King, Amsterdam

After the movie we had dinner in my favourite Chinese restaurant in Amsterdam: New King on the Zeedijk. Nothing fancy but fantastic food. We always order the same two dishes: oysters in Chinese sauce and prawns with pepper and salt. Yummy, yummy. The place is extremely popular so you may have to wait. Was also happy to see that my favourite waiter was still there, a very good-looking tall Chinese guy. I think his younger brother is now also helping out, let's wait a few years and we will know if he can match his brother!

The Queen

Yesterday I went to see "The Queen", the Stephen Frears movie about the reaction of the British Royal Family to Lady Diana's death in 1997.

I liked the movie which has humour and character. Of course, the story is fiction, as no single normal mortal will ever know what exactly happened in Buckingham Palace, Balmoral Castle and Downing Street 10 during the week after Diana's death.

Helen Mirren plays a very genuine looking Queen, who as a result of her upbringing, 40 years on the throne and the typical British stiff upper lip has lost contact with "her" commoners. But I liked Michael Sheen even better as Tony Blair. When he first appeared my reaction was "very un-like Blair", but as the movie progresses you forget that Michael is not the real Blair. Excellent acting. In the movie, Blair has by far the best judgement of the situation and he comes accross as an excellent politician. It is a pity he was still in office in 2003 and had such bad judgement in supporting Bush's war in Iraq.

Good fun and money and time well spent.

I also remembered that on the Sunday morning that Diana died I woke OS up to tell him the news. (OS had been out late on Saturday night in iT). He opened one eye and said "I know already". He had come home late and had seen the news life on TV before he went to sleep. Where were you when Diana died?

Saturday, 13 January 2007

Thanks for all messages

KU messaged me from Cebu today! I am so happy that so many of my friends from Singapore and around the world remember me and send SMS and e-mail. Thanks!

My former flat in Singapore can be seen here:

My house in Amsterdam here:

Friday, 12 January 2007


For those who were wondering: my new car is a Peugeot 407. I like the design of French cars (had 3 Renaults since 1995) and so far (touch wood) they were reliable with little problems. Picked up my car this morning and it is a metallic dark blue one.

Had lunch with my colleague and friend AL. I almost did not recognize him as he had lost 15 kgs in the last 4 months. But not for good reasons as he suffered acute appendicites in September. He had stomach pain one evening, terrible stomach pain during the night, and went to the hospital the next morning. Three hours later he was on the operating table. Fortunately, after 4 operations he has recovered but the surgeon told him it was close. So to all: if you have extraordinary stomach pains don't wait and go to a doctor immediately. The scary thing is that AL did a long trip on the Trans-Siberia Express through Russia, Mongolia and China a few months earlier. So he was lucky to be home in Amsterdam when the appendicitis happened.

Just did my "gym" on the indoor bicycle in my bedroom. So far, since being back in Amsterdam I have had the discipline to exercise 4 or 5 times a week. Have to keep weight below 90 kg. Dr Bobby told me so!

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

My new car

Will get my new car tomorrow or Friday. Am so excited!

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

What I like about being back in Amsterdam

- to re connect with my friends as if I have never been away
- good newspapers with real news and discussion
- to be openly gay in the office
- to be able to smoke pot
- to go everywhere on my bicycle
- the smell of good bread
- decent choice of cheeses in the shops
- even more Asian men in the bars than when I left
- the Italian sandwich shop close to work with the best sandwiches in the world
- cool nights without a need for air conditioning
- the canals in downtown Amsterdam
- to look forward to weekends to London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona and Rome
- some of my colleagues who are actually very nice people
- an employer who pays me a lot of money for doing nothing (well, for the time being)

Monday, 8 January 2007

What I miss about Singapore

I lived 21 months in Singapore and moved back to Amsterdam in late December.

Here are some things I miss about Singapore:

- talking, cuddling, kissing and having sex with the sweetest guy in the world ER
- playing tennis with AN
- the silliest propaganda in the world, a.k.a. The Straits Times
- leaving the house without having to wear sweaters, coats, gloves and scarfs
- the fat Indian reporter on Channel News Asia
- total strangers calling me "uncle"
- DA's cooking
- earning twice as much and spending half as much as back home
- hawker food at every corner
- weekend trips to Bali, Phuket, Samui, Cebu, Bangkok, KL and Hong Kong
- getting drunk at Backstage and Tantric
- getting attention from men half my age and twice my looks
- affordable taxis
- the cute black guy in my gym
- a gym "at home"
- a swimming pool "at home"
- the daily stream of silly SMS messages from AN
- hearing Singlish

Sunday, 7 January 2007

The weekend

Friday met up with my friend JE. Our meetings are kind of predictable: some beers, talk about our lifes for a while, talk about international politics (he is an even bigger news junkie than I), smoke some pot, long and slow sex with a few breaks. All at his friend's place where he always stays when he is in Amsterdam. I think we smoked one too many as we couldn't finish the sex in the preferred way.

Saturday I continued cleaning the house. I am a Cancerian so I find it difficult to throw away stuff which is now becoming a problem after living in this house for 13 years. The trash man is my best friend this month and another 5 large plastic bags were given to him. The house should be clean before Christmas.
GO, MA and RO all texted if I was coming to April (gay bar) tonight. It is GO's birthday and all the usual suspects were there. Drank too much, chatted with my friends and some new people. Why do straight couples go to gay bars and why are they so curious about how we do "it"? Ended the evening in Exit where RO hung around his new friend who is too young, too small and too prostitute.

Sunday was spent on dismantling the Christmas decorations that OS had put everywhere in the house. A very rainy miserable day anyway so it was good to do something useful indoors.


Small pieces of paper can tell a long story. That's the reason I like stamps. Furthermore, I like travel and communication, and before the age of the Internet we used to sent letters to keep in touch.

For all you children, a letter is a written message from one person to another. The role of letters in communication has changed significantly since the 19th century. Historically, letters were the only reliable means of communication between two persons in different locations. As communication technology has diversified, letters have become less important as routine communication. The development of the telegraph, telephone and the Internet have all had an impact on the writing and sending of letters. In modern industrialized nations, the exchange of personal letters has become less common, being replaced by technologies such as the telephone and e-mail.

Some stamps are just beautiful, others tell you a lot about a country, its political system, its culture and its history. I have a large collection of DDR (former East Germany) stamps with some beauties such as a stamp devoted to the "anti fascist defence wall" also known as the Berlin wall.

Dutch stamps are more interesting than beautiful. Modern designers create pieces of paper that reflect their mood and background more than it reflects the country. Which means that there is sometimes a lot of public discussion about new stamp issued in the Netherlands.

For instance the well-known Dutch designer Marte Roling was asked to design a stamp for Korfbal, a Dutch sport. All she could produce was this:

So don't you agree, collecting stamps is almost as good as sex?

Yes, yes, I think I am still young enough to start a blog

Hi all!

Welcome to my blog. I am a 45 year old man living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The year 2007 started with some changes to my life, and there will be more changes to come. What better way to keep the world informed than through a blog? Furthermore, I am vain enough to want to share some random thoughts with some random people.

There are a few friends whose blogs I read and soon I will share my blogspot address with them. So hi there: AN and CO from Singapore, SI from Hong Kong and AR from Adelaide!