Monday, April 24, 2006

In the name of beauty salons

I admit. I am a part-time vain woman. I say part-time in there because although the Dutchman hates it when he has to wait for at least an hour for me to get ready, I am not always (I can hear him sighing and saying hallelujah) pre-occupied with myself 24 x 7.

I am also not the type of woman who will wage war, sulk and put on a silly tantrum if the weekly or monthly trip to the beauty salon was cancelled.

Oh, speaking of which, this is what I actually miss back home...

Beauty salons in the Philippines are an understatement in itself. They are not only dirt cheap but in this part of the world, I am treated like a princess on her daily royal spa routine service, complete with attendants doting me the attention and pampering I need. Ah, I want! I want!

Compared to the beauty salons here in the Netherlands, they are dull and well to begin with --- a rip off. A haircut with permanent dye + pedicure will already cost me at least a day’s wage.

Luckily, I never paint my fingernails and I hate them long. So I guess, in the fingernails department, I am not vain. I love my toenails painted though but ever since I have become partly Dutch-ed [read: I am frugal], I do self-pedicure at home. That also reminds me that I need to buy those foot spa kits soon. Its almost summer and its time to wear again those sexy open-toe sandals and wedges.

And of course, to have my hair done in the salon will cost a lot of € € €, so I made a very sober decision too [read again: I am frugal] to self-dye my hair. The hair dye kits costs €7.00 to €15.00 compared to the €120.00 to €180.00 ridiculous budget in the beauty salon.

Goodness gracious, all these D-I-Y [do it yourself] beauty treatments make me feel so IKEA-ish. I wonder what an IKEA beauty salon will be like?

Additionally, I buy the hair dye in Kruidvat or Trekpleister because they are cheaper. Yeah, I am Dutch-ed and I have ultimately become cheap just like the Dutch. I don’t give a damn anyway! (lol)

The only time I can’t say no to the beauty salon is when it’s the needed quarterly hair trimming maintenance. Since as of late I have been feeling like a horse with my full mane, I acquiesced and voila...

The before [flat long horsey hair] and after. My new haircut costs € 32.50 inclusive of wash and shampoo, hair cut and blow dry. Not bad. The Dutchman took this foto last Saturday before we went out.

One thing I learned in the Netherlands (forgive me Dutch women as this is one of my expatriation peeves): Never ever trust a Dutch beauty salon, especially if it’s a Dutch woman cutting your hair.

Experience tells me that most Dutch beauty salons have really no clue how to cut and style long types of hair, well unless you go to the more upscale salon services, then yes, you will definitely get your money’s worth. But like I said earlier, I am not that vain enough to let my wallet bleed.

My first Dutch beauty salon encounter was far from disaster but it was sadly very boring. And I mean boring to the dot, that when I came home, the Dutchman didn’t even notice I had a haircut. I had to point out to him that --- I had *dammit* a haircut. You know how we women are, aside from the usual affection and attention cravings we need, we also love some honest appreciation.

Anyway, for a year I had no choice but went to several Dutch beauty salons (it sucks being a newcomer), hoping that each time I try a new hairdresser, I might, just might, meet the right one who knows how to cut and style my crowning glory. But every time, just like a prediction, I always end up with the same boring hair result.

I hated it, really hated it.

Firstly, these Dutch women hairdressers can only trim. When I say trim, it’s really just trim without hair cut styling.

Secondly, their market is of course the Dutch women and incidentally they are NOT the physically fussy feminine type creatures. It’s not a secret anymore that the average Dutch woman is practical: she would prefer to chop down her beautiful blonde tresses and replace it with a short boy-cut hair. This is almost like a mandatory requirement when reaching the adulthood age of 30 in this country. Had they not have large breasts, I would have mistaken many Dutch women for a man.

Thirdly, they are not used to having customers in the salon with long hair [see second statement why], especially dark and exotic types.

Ah, this is my ever-loyal bestfriend at home.

Fourthly, they need to take lessons on how to blow dry! There were times that I badly wanted to snitch the dryer from their fruitless hands and do the task myself. Ugh, talk about major frustration.

Fifthly, they are expensive as every little task, i.e., wash and shampoo, hair cut, blow dry, etcetera has an attached € sign to it. Back in the Philippines, they are a package already at a very cheap price. *Sigh*

Anyway, after all the frustrations with Dutch beauty salons and especially Dutch women cutting my hair, I developed a salon phobia. I even contracted a Polish girl one time, upon the recommendation of my Dutch sister in law, and had my hair done at home, yeah, special service. She was much better but still I was not satisfied.

The search for the -right- hairdresser, lead me to try other beauty salons, this time, the real exotic ones --- The Moroccan and Turks beauty salons.

My hair experience with them proved to be a surprising great success. I almost jumped with joy and shouted, “Ah, at long last! No more bad-Dutch-hair day!” (I mean it, really.)

The success formula was actually very simple.

My hair can relate to the dark, long, thick, curly-wavy and hard to manage locks of the Moroccan and Turks women. Since these types of hairs are very common to them, the Moroccan and Turks women hairdressers know what to expect, how to cut, style and manage - unlike with Dutch beauty salons and Dutch women hairdressers, they do not, because they mostly cater to the blonde, short, light and easy to manage hair.

Additionally, the Moroccan and Turks beauty salons are a tad cheaper than the Dutch ones. --- Ergo, value for money.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Expatica Column: My date with the inspection shelf

“I find it very disturbing that a part of my body, and in this case my most sensitive parts, are hanging exposed just a few inches above the excrement. For the life of me, I cannot get over the idea that it's just a few inches away! I know it's my own refuse but what can I do? Every time I am sitting in there, I feel like I have a dozen black ants crawling frenziedly under my veins. It’s just so icky; it makes me quiver and reach goose bump overdrive.”

“There is also another trivial but ubiquitous object I have noticed that can be found inside the Dutch bathroom. I have never been able to grasp the logic of why it's proudly hanging up in there, that is — the birthday calendar.”

To continue reading, click: Expatica - My date with the inspection shelf or click the Dutched Pinay logo on the side bar just below the shoutbox.

Tags: A closer toilet look (11/2004), Expatica Main, Expatica Netherlands, Netherlands Expat Blog

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Getting the Dutch Drivers License Part 1

Is one hell of an experience considering that I have already been driving for years in Manila!

I have lost count with my fingers and toes how many times I have cursed the CBR [Centraal Bureau Rijvaardigheidsbewijzen –the agency that tests and issues drivers license] and the Netherlands. I even blamed the Dutchman for kidnapping and bringing me into this freaked up exceptionally regulated country. Up to some point I felt pushed up to the wall, trapped with no where else to go, exhausted and very much frustrated with this getting the Dutch driver’s license mission turned paranoia.

The Dutchman have always told and warned me many times, “You are a spoiled and stubborn brat. You have been used to doing and getting things the easy way in the Philippines. Now, you are going to earn everything you want here in Holland. You must work hard and spend for your Dutch driver’s license, there is no short cut and there is no other way.”

Damnation! But... oh well. *Sigh*

Makati City [the central business district] where I used to work and drive every single day in Manila. I believe this is taken from the Greenbelt area. Foto from for Makati travel guide.

The root cause of this problem was not just my stubbornness, but my fearless and lawless Manila driving skills. I spent so many stressful sleepless nights, effort [years] and three driving instructors in this country just to UNLEARN my bad driving habits.

My first driving instructor was a dike. She actually had the gall to slap my hands while I was maneuvering behind the wheel. I was shocked, literally shocked by the threshold of her petulance --- ugh, the bitch dared! She reasoned out that I should never ever twist and put my hands underneath the wheel as they must be -on top- of the wheel. The next day I called the driving school and asked for a driving instructor replacement. Off she goes.

The second driving instructor I spent quite some time with, until our student-driver relationship deteriorated. His regular annoying during-the-driving-lesson remark is this, “I simply do not understand why you can’t see the traffic more than 3 meters away? How did you ever get a driver’s license in the Philippines?” - Huh, as if he knew what driving in Manila is all about! Well I had enough. I called the driving school again and asked for a driving instructor replacement. Doei! [Bye!]

The third driving instructor was my saving grace. He was patient enough with me. He at least understood the challenge I was facing: my ruthless Manila driving skills ergo a Dutch driving disability. So between us, he took everything as a teamwork effort and it worked.

I am sure that in other countries I can pass a practical driving exam in a snap. Sadly, I live in the Netherlands where getting the drivers license is like aiming at the Holy Grail. The standards used are very high and this is not remotely an exaggeration: GETTING A DRIVERS LICENSE IN THE NETHERLANDS IS NOT EASY, IT IS HARD!!! But not impossible.

However Manila, my Manila...

The Manila traffic that crippled my driving acumen is a world of its own. There are of course road rules but they are most often than not - not observed. They are left to extinction.

Drivers join the traffic with the beastly instinct mentality, the defensive-aggressive behavior + no rules apply. Whoever is quick and has the nose of the car an inch further out... has the right of way.

Basically, driving in Manila is like watching an action-packed movie minus the casualties. And because of this, my eye vision and acuity in traffic participation is only limited to the first 3-meters around me. There is really no need to further look as most of the traffic in Manila transpires between a few inches to a 3-meter radius.

It’s all about reflex. A far cry from how driving is done here in Holland ;-(

My Philippines driver’s license which is already expired (need to renew it) and after all the stress and fuss, my laminated and computerized Philippines driver’s license is replaced with my almost € 3,000 Dutch driver’s license… in a measly pink paper? With this amount of money, I can probably buy a whole barangay’s [town] drivers license in the Philippines!

Facts: The Philippine driver’s license is renewed every 3 years and during the renewal, one must take a urine, drug and physical test. They even weigh and measure you, lol! The Dutch driver’s license though is renewed every 10 years and there are no tests during renewals, only when you reach 75, then physical and health checks are required.

The figure to stash out for a Dutch drivers license is between this: € 2,000 to € 4,000. Some even spend more than a whopping € 5,000. It’s indeed a full-blown business here because the ISO certified Dutch government has regulated every inch step of this driver’s license madness.

To practice driving, one must (and there is NO other way) enroll in a registered driving school and be assessed and taught by an official driving instructor. If caught self-driving, using a non-registered car with a non-official driving instructor, you will face penalty (and perhaps this will serve as grounds of not being issued a future drivers license).

Dutch Drivers License Exemptions:

The EU/EEC countries and the 5 only non-EU/EEC countries, thus foreign drivers licenses from these countries below are exempted and are exchangeable to a Dutch one.

(1) Israel
(2) Japan
(3) Singapore
(4) South Korea
(5) Taiwan

If you notice these countries are relatively small too and based from the reviews of a few friends living there, they say getting a drivers license is also very expensive and a nightmarish experience.

Another exemption is if you are living in the Netherlands temporarily and holding a work, student and business permit, then you can freely use your foreign driver’s license (best if translated to an international one). However, if you become an immigrant or you get naturalized, then you will automatically lose your foreign driver’s license and must therefore apply for a Dutch driver’s license, which means re-taking the theory and practical driving exams.

Anyway, I was furious when I found out that a Philippine driver’s license is actually valid and exchangeable in France? How can this be Chirac?!!! ARGH! Should I be mad that the Dutchman is not a French man?

Driving Theory and Exam

A simple advice: Study S-E-R-I-O-U-S-L-Y! Spend a few months studying and reviewing the Dutch traffic peculiarities. Memorize. It doesn’t hurt to buy the theory exercise books. There are also many free online driving theory exercises. Check this Rijbewijs Startpagina site.

This is the Uitslagformulier theorie-examen [Result of the theory exam]. On the side attached to this is the Theoriecertificaat [Theory certificate]. I scored 45 out of 50. Passing was 44 out of 50. Oops ha-ha I almost did not make it.

LET OP: This theory certificate is only valid for ONE FULL YEAR. If for example, you have not successfully passed the practical driving exam within a year from the date stated in the theory certificate, then the only option left is to RE-TAKE the theory exam. One must have a valid and up-to-date theory certificate when taking the practical driving exam.

The exam is computerized and timed. The person administering the activity will also act as the watcher. He or she will not hesitate to throw you out of the room if he or she will notice that you are cheating, so keep your wandering eyes to yourself. This isn’t a joke. I have seen 2 Dutch guys who were asked to stop and not continue with the exam because they were both busy with something else. Obviously they didn’t have any chance that day, they just wasted their money.

During the test, you have to bear in mind that the images and questions are very tricky. Pay attention to every single detail.

It’s always best to go with the first answer that registers in your mind. You can change your answer too but make sure you change it before the time is up. If you do not know the answer, its best to just choose any answer randomly. You never know if it’s the right one or not. As the Dutch saying goes, “Niet geschoten is altijd mis.” [means: if you do not try, you will never have a chance]

In principle, for you to pass, you must only have 6 mistakes out of the 50-item test.

TIP: If you have 7 to 9 mistakes, do not wait for a few more days or weeks to take the exam again. No need calling the CBR hotline for an appointment. Go back to the counter and check the exam schedules posted in the bulletin board. Find out if there is another exam on the next hour then wait for it. It has been proven that a statistics of 5%-10% of the scheduled examinees will not show up for the exam. Just make sure that you queue up real quick. In this case, you will be a chance examinee.

This is also the reason why it’s best to take the exam on the first hour of the morning. If you fail, you can always take the next exam, or the next or the other next of that day.

I believe though that these schedules may only apply to the CBR branches in the Ranstad area and that the CBR branches outside the Ranstad area may have fewer exams scheduled in a week.

If however you have more than 10 mistakes, then pack up and go home. You need to review and do more exercises.

REMINDER: Many people have to take 3-5 times the theory exam before they are able to successfully pass it. The ones who took the exam once and passed really spent a considerable amout of time studying. So learn from these people, don’t take this lightly.

Also, there is an English theory exam version but it is only available in CBR Sloterdijk, Amsterdam. The waiting list though is horribly long: about 2-3 months, and unless you have all the time in the world to go there and queue up as a chance examinee, then better polish your Dutch instead.

If in case your Dutch is already at level 3, then its best that you take the exam in Dutch. Though some words will be difficult, you should be able to follow the questions with lesser problems. The main advantage of taking the exam in Dutch is that there is a plethora of free online theory resources available. With English, there is none, you will be stuck with the paltry exercise book, which in my opinion is very limited and does not give a total representation of the driving theory exam.

I took mine in Dutch by the way.

Stay tuned for the -Getting the Dutch Drivers License Part 2- (the driving practice and practical driving exam).

Tags: CBR, Rijbewijs, Rijbewijs Startpagina

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Middelburg on an Easter Weekend

Middelburg on a Saturday

I was down south last Saturday to meet up with a friend, specifically in Middelburg, a charming city and the capital of the south western province of Zeeland.

See that black square down left of the map? That is where Middelburg is, near the Belgium border.

The Dutchman told me (with a huge sarcastic grin flashed fleetingly on his face) that Zeeland is already --- buiten het land, means its outside of the country. Hmm, must be an inside Dutch joke?

Since the trip was personal in nature, I didn’t get to take a lot of city pictures and most importantly, I won’t be boring people with my Middelburg-Zeeland history class in this blog. The weather wasn’t also that exciting as it was typically Dutch - dreary. I believe the sun was having the dreaded PMS attack and have made the sourly decision of hiding its glory from the face of Middelburg.

And did you know that in Zeeland, they speak another dialect called Zeeuws? The Zeeuwen (how the locals there are called) have a distinct culture of their own, or so they thought[?]. I have read an article in the past that the Zeeuws language council of some sort lobbied for their dialect to be recognized in the parliament as the third official language of the Netherlands. Helaas, a painful experience as it was turned down.

The Netherlands have two official languages: Nederlands [Dutch] and Fries.

Here are some photos of Middelburg that I took...

The Stadhuis [City Hall] by the Damplein [Dam square] in Gothic architecture representation.

Tourist signs in Middelburg and posing with the horse carriage.

Two things I bitterly realized with this picture, (a) The frustrating diet has not worked, my face has become horribly round = apple shaped. May day 2x! Employ drastic measures ASAP! (b) Bad hair day: with my terrible flat pony hair I can join with the tourist carriage as their third missing horse in between. Uh, I badly need a haircut.

Café terraces by the Damplein [Dam square]

Backyard of the Nieuw Kerk [New Church] where the Adbij Toren de Lange Jan is. In English, it should be the Tower of Long John in Adbij? (ha-ha, I know, I have a kinky mind)

Adbij is supposed to be a monastery for monks which are often times used as beer breweries too.

A busy intersection in the Centrum and more café terraces

More of my wild pony hair extravaganza… and this sculpture set is supposedly a joke.

The joke is this --- you the unsuspecting tourist is invited to peek into the Middelburg city sewer system beneath. There are two holes on each side of this massive iron thing in the middle, but when you sit down on the chair to position yourself, out comes water underneath. It will look like you just made a public pissing spectacle, ha-ha. Can you see my pee? ;-)

This is a beautiful building across the river and we had no clue what it is for? There was no signage outside too. The next photo are cafes in typical Dutch architecture.

Another interesting fact: A few months ago, a Dutch integration quiz (a lift from the required integration program for foreigners in the Netherlands), was aired on TV and participated by different social groups in the country, locals and foreigners alike.

The results were amazing. The Afhaalchinezen [Chinese take-out] group, as they are popularly known because of their cuisine and restaurants, scored the highest and well, the epitome of Dutchheid (yeah, dressed in their traditional garb complete with props, i.e., dangling mirror head dresses and all!) Zeeuwen scored the lowest!

In short, the locals, the Dutch --- the Zeeuwen, failed the Dutch integration exam! Uh-Huh?! Now, what does that say?

I was also similarly surprised that many of the Dutch have no idea who Abel Tasman is? Wasn’t he the navigator who discovered Tasmania and New Zealand? And wasn’t he a Dutch man?

We never know these days eh? Such a scary thought indeed that I would know more about the Netherlands than the Dutchman would or should.

Easter Sunday

We spent Easter Sunday with the Dutch family in IJsselstein and had the usual lekker [yummy] coffee and tart rounds.

The chocolate bunnies and mother hens…

A typical Easter goody given to kids here is the chocolate bunnies and mother hens. They are sold all over in the Netherlands in supermarkets and candy shops. The kids had to search for their bunnies and hens and within seconds they found them!

After the coffee and tart, the first program on the Easter Sunday list was Egg Painting. The Dutch sisters in law are very creative in the entertainment and logistical departments for the kids, a domestic subject that I surely will fail.

The hollow egg shells and voila… the finished products!

I made that lone egg on the left side of the egg tray, the one with the face and huge red lips. I obliged after they pestered me to join. The kids did the rest of the eggs.

Next was the Easter Egg Hunt. When Dutch sister in law was done hiding the eggs, the children quickly went to work searching for them. They scoured the whole backyard garden and found these:

Chocolate eggs! And there’s one left hiding but a different kind of egg?

In the Netherlands, and in most countries in Europe, religious holidays are observed twice. Thus Sunday was the 1st day of Easter and Monday, the 2nd day of Easter. That also means no work on the 2nd day of Easter. No work on a Monday.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Dutched Pinay on Expatica

“We both knew that the time has arrived to take the relationship to the next step and living worlds apart was definitely not the answer.”

Click on the Dutched Pinay logo to read the introduction article of Dutched Pinay at Expatica Netherlands - Who is Dutched Pinay?

“Essentially, I consider myself a well assimilated expatriate in this country, hence my title, Dutched Pinay, or in other words, a Filipina who has partly become Dutch.”

The Dutched Pinay will be writing every week at Expatica about living and surviving Dutch life.

Expatica is the #1 English-language news & information source for expatriates living in, working in or moving to the Netherlands (Holland), Germany, France, Belgium or Spain. Expatica publishes eight websites and five country-oriented Survival Guides.

More information on Expatica below:

Main Expatica page: Expatica

Expatica Netherlands page: Expatica Netherlands

Expat Column in Expatica where Dutched Pinay blogs: Expat Blog: Dutched Pinay

Thanks Cormac and Expatica!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

A day in Scheveningen while renewing my passport

My passport validity is actually until September 2006, that’s roughly almost 6 months from now, which is still a stretch but since I might be traveling soon, I have decided to renew it early. Some countries require at least 6 months before expiry as part of the standard entry requirements.

Passport Renewal
The Philippine Embassy in NL is located in this long street name called, Laan Copes van Cattenburch 125 in Den Haag [The Hague], somewhere near the outskirts of Scheveningen. Getting there is easy by car and by public transport. Parking will however pose as a minor challenge but what’s new, this is always the case in the Netherlands anyway. If taking public transport, take Tram 9 from Den Haag Centraal Station and get off at the Laan Copes van Cattenburch stop. Quite handy, the tram stop is the same name of the street of the embassy.

After ringing the doorbell and hearing the buzz sound of the door, I entered the red carpeted hall, turned right to the big open salon where the consular office is and was greeted cordially in Tagalog by one of the embassy workers. In the other adjacent office, I heard people talking in Tagalog too. I felt the tinge chill of familiarity. It’s like having that odd feeling of being home but not quite.

Although I chat with a few friends on the internet in Tagalog and Cebuano, I’ve always been surrounded with Dutch and English speakers in real life, thus somehow affecting my native speaking skills.

The Philippine Embassy and Consulate Mission in Den Haag and to the right is its neighbor, the Thailand Embassy.

My Tagalog is rusty, always has been. Even my Cebuano has become a little bit too and I need a few days to simmer down with the language and become fluent again when I am back in Cebu. Clearly, I have been bastardized by the English language and now with the new happy addition of Dutch. But anyway, I spoke in Tagalog with patches of English and wondered if the Filipina lady in front of me can understand Cebuano.

She, the lady manning the counter was a curvy woman in her late 30’s I think. I told her the reason of my visit and handed over my documents which she checked meticulously one by one. She then asked me to fill up another form.

After I was done filling up the form and seeing that the lady I spoke to is still busy with someone else, a Dutch-Filipino couple, both in their 50’s who wanted to move back to the Philippines, I decided to take the liberty of surveying the embassy premises.

The embassy interiors are quite old, the building is probably built around the 18th century, its design I can’t quite put a finger on, perhaps classical something. The salon has high imposing ceilings, long flows of draperies adorned the tall windows and in the foyer by the entrance to the salon, was a flight of stairs going up to which looked like a mezzanine. The elegantly designed stairs were covered in red carpet and it trails back to the hallway and towards the massive entrance door of the embassy. Maybe the stairs lead to the ambassador’s office? There was also a shiny dark Mercedes Benz parked outside, the ambassador could be in.

The Dutch-Filipino couple smiled at me as they alight from the salon. I quickly moved forward to the counter, took out my documents and presented them again to the lady. She reviewed my documents again too: my passport, 4 picture ID’s, a copy of my passport [the front part] and a copy of my verblijsvergunning [Dutch residence permit], front and back, a filled up form which I have downloaded from their website and the form that I have just filled up awhile ago in the embassy.

Giving me a grin, she said, “I will cross the single box for your civil status. Geregistreerd partnerschap [registered partnership] and samenwonen [living together] are not recognized by Philippine law, only marriage.”

These are the only civil statuses acknowledged by the Philippines: Married, Single, Separated, Divorced/Annulled and Widowed.
“Ah, alright…” I replied sheepishly.

It’s so strange to see my civil status in the forms as SINGLE, when in reality I am not. Hey Dutchman, did you see that? I am single! Woohoo! Uh, yeah, weird indeed... he-he.

We also had the chance to discuss the retention of Philippine citizenship. Basically, the message that came across to me was, it doesn’t matter if you have acquired citizenship from another country, and even if the country of your newly acquired citizenship does not allow dual citizenship; you will, and can, regain back your Philippine citizenship anytime. She also added that when going back to the Philippines, its best to show to the immigration in Manila or Cebu both passports.

I then paid at the cashier, which is located beside the entrance foyer. They do not have the PIN debit facility, so payments are made in cash. Here in the Netherlands, the popular payment method is PIN debiting through the normal ATM bank card. Cash is okay but credit card is not always handy. I paid € 63 for the new passport.

Since I’m a little bit paranoid, I preferred to wait for the passport issuance. And even though the post offices here in the Netherlands are 101% efficient and effective, I do not trust it. I guess my trauma of the Philippine postal system haunts me still. I shall never trust my passport with post mailing!

The woman then told me, “You may come back at 2PM.”

I have two hours to bum around, so I hit up Scheveningen further north, about a few minutes away. Scheveningen [and the beaches further to the north, Bloemendaal, Zandvoort, etcetera] to me is something like the Dutch version of the Mediterranean Riviera.


It was 13C but the strong sharp icy coastal wind made it feel like its 7C or colder.

Scheveningen [one of the hardest Dutch words to pronounce, the “sch” and the “g” in there are spoken with the gurgling sound, so let’s not attempt] is a popular Dutch public beach. Right, the Riviera of the north. The place is usually swarmed by locals in late spring to early autumn and many tourists also come here, mostly Germans and English.

Still empty, still cold! These are café and lounge terraces by the Scheveningen beach. Just imagine how this will look like when its full of people.

And this is the Scheveningen promenade, a long stretch lane, maybe a kilometer or so. The building that looks like a palace in the 2nd picture is the Kurhaus hotel.

The Dutch are certified beach lovers, though many come here not to swim... but to laze under the scorching heat of the sun, enjoy the glorious scenery around: sexy clad topless women in string bikinis [don’t drool] and the laid back atmosphere of relaxing and partying.

During summer, it is almost impossible to find a parking slot, a sun bed and a table in the café and lounge terraces. Golden advice: It’s always best to come early, before 9AM.

I had lunch in Westewind, a nice restaurant by the promenade and ordered a plate of Cesar salad, a glass of bitter lemon and later, a cup of coffee. When the salad arrived, I noticed that it did not look like the normal Cesar salad that I am familiar with. The good news is, it was tasty. I would surely come back for another serving!

Having cesar salad as lunch, and this is the view outside the restaurant’s window.

I also did some little business while in the restaurant, i.e., straightening out my agenda and making some calls. There were 3 Dutch guys sitting across me who kept looking towards my direction. Naturally, I wondered why. After I was done with my personal business, I eavesdropped on their conversation and found out that they were discussing about some South East Asian trip. One of the guys talked about his previous vacation stint in Indonesia. Ah fine, maybe seeing me live made their conversation more meaningful...

You see, my blow dried straight hair makes me look more Asian while my normal curly hair makes me look South European or Latina.

I left the restaurant and strutted off to the beach before going back to the Philippine embassy to pick up my new passport.

The beach coast facing the cold North Sea, uhh... bbrrr... cold.

Scheveningen Beach safety information board, basically the don’ts... and the view from the coast to the promenade.
Philippines - Netherlands Facts

There are about 20,000 Filipinos living and working in the Netherlands. This figure is only guesswork and includes all types of statuses, i.e. Filipinos that are already Dutch citizens, immigrants, Filipinos with work permit, students and the infamous TNT [illegal aliens].

The Netherlands too is the strongest economic partner of the Philippines in Europe and the 4th worldwide export partner of the country after, in order, Japan, USA and China. Who would expect? I would have thought of the bigger countries such as Germany, France or UK?

The international shipping and cargo industry in the Philippines are also dominated by Dutch flag ships.

And aside from the embassy in Den Haag [The Hague], there is also a presence of Philippine consulate offices in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Too bad there is none in Utrecht, but anyway, Amsterdam is near.


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