Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Day 8 - Amsterdam, Netherlands


Wiki: "Amsterdam  is the capital city and most populous city of theKingdom of the Netherlands. Its status as the Dutch capital is mandated by the Constitution of the Netherlands[7]though it is not the seat of the Dutch government, which is The Hague.[8] Amsterdam has a population of 813,562 within the city-proper, 1,112,165 in the urban region and 1,575,263 in the greater metropolitan area.[9]

Amsterdam's name derives from Amstelredamme,[12] indicative of the city's origin as a dam of the river Amstel. Originating as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age (17th century), a result of its innovative developments in trade. During that time, the city was the leading center for finance and diamonds.[13] In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded, and many new neighborhoods and suburbs were planned and built. The 17th-century canals of Amsterdam and the 19–20th century Defence Line of Amsterdam are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
As the commercial capital of the Netherlands and one of the top financial centres in Europe, Amsterdam is considered an alpha world city by the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) study group. The city is also the cultural capital of the Netherlands.[14] Many large Dutch institutions have their headquarters there, and seven of the world's 500 largest companies, including Philips and ING, are based in the city.[15] In 2012, Amsterdam was ranked the second best city in which to live by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)[16] and 12th globally on quality of living by Mercer.[17] The city was previously ranked 3rd in innovation by 2thinknow in the Innovation Cities Index 2009.[18]

The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, the oldest stock exchange in the world, is located in the city center. Amsterdam's main attractions, including its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh MuseumStedelijk Museum,Hermitage AmsterdamAnne Frank HouseAmsterdam Museum, its red-light district, and its many cannabis coffee shops draw more than 3.66 million international visitors annually."

On the train from Brussels to Amsterdam.

Cows grazing...

These cows are really fortunate to graze in such nice environment. I have this new appreciation.
Prior to this trip, I was doing research of companies in the business of commercial milk production (and I was horrified to know the amount of milk that the cow in lactation has to produce each day). Producing almost 5% of its weight everyday!!!! Imagine if you are 60kg, you gotta produce 3litres of milk everyday in confined area cramped with many other cows.

One of the narrowest building in Amsterdam.
Yes, my good friend's place is just besides it.

View from the Living Room of PY's place.
My bedroom for the next 2 nights! =)

Always a nice feeling to meet with good friend in a foreign place, and I get to know Amsterdam a little better from PY. 

Lotsa selections for Marijuana/Weed

Weed is in the air.
You can literally smell weed on the street of Amsterdam. 
Kinda refreshing!

Lotsa Choices for 

Statue for the Sex Worker

Sex workers have lotsa of rights and is protected under the law. Basically, they are entrepreneurs who use their body to make money (ie. they rent the space, they negotiate with the clients, they can reject clients etc..). The sex workers pay taxes.

Prostitution in the Netherlands is legal and regulated. Operating a brothel is also legal. In the last few years, a significant number of brothels and "windows" have been closed because of suspected criminal activityDe Wallen, the largest and best-known red-light district in Amsterdam, is a destination for international sex tourism.

When the Dutch government legalized prostitution in 2000, it was to protect the women by giving them work permits, but authorities now fear that this business is out of control: "We've realized this is no longer about small-scale entrepreneurs, but that big crime organizations are involved here in trafficking women, drugs, killings and other criminal activities", said Job Cohen, the former mayor of Amsterdam.[6]

A law proposal[20] was introduced in the House of Representatives of the Netherlands in 2009 and amended in 2010 which would ban prostitution by people younger than 21. Prostitutes are required to register; they receive a registration pass with a photograph and a registration number, but no name or other personal data. Clients are required to check this pass. In addition to municipal rules a national rule is introduced requiring sex companies to have a license, including prostitution companies such as brothels and escort agencies, but also, for example, adult movie theaters. Under the proposed amendments, an advertisement of an individual prostitute should contain his or her registration number, an advertisement of a sex company should contain its license number. The premises for public access of a sex company (if any) should have on the outside a sign showing that the company is licensed, while inside a copy of the license has to be displayed. A vote on the law has been deferred to allow both sides to examine the matter more closely."

Love the liberal Amsterdam - recreational drugs, Same-sex marriage, legal prostitution, legalized Euthanasia etc...  It is very progressive in my opinion. It is also very safe.

Good ArticleWhy is Amsterdam so tolerant?:

"The Netherlands — that’s Holland to most Americans1 — is known the world over for its progressive attitude. Dutch policies on recreational drugs, prostitution, same-sex marriage and euthanasia, are among the most liberal in the world.

The sale and use of soft drugs, in so-called coffeeshops, has been tolerated for years.
Prostitution is legalized. The Netherlands has allowed same-sex marriage since April 1, 2001, the first country to do so.

Holland was also the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia.
Pragmatic Tolerance

Are the Dutch really that progressive?

First and foremost, they are pragmatic.
Take prostitution. The Dutch tend to think that it will happen anyway, whether they prohibit it or not.
So they legalise it – to prevent prostitution from going underground, to have access to the prostitutes, promote condoms and hygiene and to prevent mistreatment of women forced to work as prostitutes.

The logic is simple – tolerate it, rather than prohibit it and subsequently lose control.

The same line of reasoning applies to soft drugs and euthanasia: people will smoke soft drugs, so it might be better to educate them about it openly; doctors will be faced with requests from people who would prefer to end their suffering, so perhaps better be realistic about it.
- Source: Yashe Lange, BBC, Apr. 11, 2001"

Amsterdam Town Center

Street View


Wiki:Amsterdam is the most bicycle-friendly capital city in the world.[1] In Amsterdam, over 60% of trips are made by bike in the inner city and 38% of trips are made by bike overall in the greater city area.[2]
Although to people outside of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is considered one of most famous and important centres ofbicycle culture worldwide, the city itself is actually not at the top in terms of bike-friendliness compared to other, smaller Dutch cities."

I really like the idea of cycling in a city. 
It's green & no pollution! Very romantic too!!

Bargaining for a bicycle in the flea market. 

Clever PY suggested buying a second hand bicycle, instead of renting bicycle, and we could sell it after using it for 2 full days. =)

Cycling in Amsterdam

Nice buildings, no cars, everybody is cycling. 
Love it!!

More Cycling...

This is a wide bicycle lane!!!

For a family with young kids....

Children section of the public library. 
Really nice!

Amsterdam City

Amsterdam City

Historical Part of the City

Netherlands is quite an impressive country. My impression is that both Netherlands and Singapore are quite similar in the sense that both countries don't have much natural resources, and the most valuable asset is their human capital. Things are efficient, people are generally hardworking and relatively not corrupted. However, Netherlands are still way ahead of Singapore in many ways - being more liberal, more creative, more open etc...

Greenpeace!! The green activists!!
I remember seeing this ship on discovery channel!

Old vintage buses are converted into cafe!
Pretty cool... kinda reminded me of the hippie culture in San Francisco.

Love exploring in my bicycle

Art Gallery in a Ship.

Art Gallery in a Ship.

Great weather, great view.
Just chilling out! I can really live here...

Explored the canals with the couch-surfing community.

Interesting to meet so many people around the world with different background. 

Korean-American Photojournalist who is going to the Mediterranean/middle-east for an ad-hoc assignment about the illegal migrants from North Africa trying to get into Europe. Young nannies from Spain working in Amsterdam, due to high unemployment among the youth in Spain.

Boat house


Folks from the couch-surfing community.
Really enjoyed the company.

Time for business in the red-light district.

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