Friday, August 26, 2011

Eindhoven Heroes

Eindhoven Heroes

This is a new project to create opportunities for me to speak Dutch. It’s early stages at the moment and from the first outing I definitely need more practice speaking Dutch. The people who stop and talk Dutch with me are Heroes in my mind because they are helping some one.

Here are the Heroes.



Yoram helped make my Dutch more comprehensible by reviewing some of the questions I wrote. He was also patience and spoke Dutch most of the time with me.

Eindhoven Hero



Dennis had just got some dancing shoes. He lives in Eindhoven and I think he was just going to some dance practice. He really likes dancing. Dennis also helped me rephrase a sentence.

Eindhoven Hero

Naomi and Eileen were out together. They live very close to the centre of Eindhoven and they like the atmosphere and life of the Eindhoven. It’s smaller than other cities, so the dynamics are different. Everyone, is interconnected in some way and that’s great. They were just going to do some shopping.



Eindhoven Hero



Eindhoven Hero

I’ve got someone to look over my questions again. So the Dutch will be better next time. This is just the start, so I don’t mind that the conversations reverted to English but as time goes on, I want the conversations to stay in Dutch. That’s something that I’ve got to work on.

Thanks to all the Heroes.

Tot ziens.

Original Eindhoven Heroes Idea

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dancer - Traditional Dance Day in Antwerp

French Dancer, from near Toulouse

These are from a weekend in Antwerp. My girlfriend had taken me to a bar on the Grote Markt. In the square, a group of people was attracting attention. People were getting their photos taken with people dressed in traditional costume. I thought it was an Antwerp thing.

Later, when I talked with them, they told me that they are part of a folk dance festival. They came from the mountains in SW France, somewhere near Toulouse. Their costumes look gorgeous!

And they loved having their photos taken, especially the young woman

French Dancers, Antwerp

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Mystery of Strangers

The Pool Player - Taipei 101 series

What do you know about him?

What is he like?

What does he do well?

What can’t he do?

What are his beliefs?

These questions can never be answered satisfactory, unless you actually made some sort of contact with the stranger. It can be fun to wonder about strangers. Crazy stories can be invented about them but they won’t answer the above questions. The only way to start answering those questions is to talk to them and then, and only gradually will some of those answers reveal themselves to you.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Eindhoven and collaboration with 'the Dossier'

Jenny and Nicole

This Wednesday I teamed up with Jane from ‘the Dossier – Dutch Creative Files’ to meet strangers on the streets of Eindhoven.

Jane runs ‘the Dossier – Dutch Creative Files’, which is a web magazine on creative people and happenings in Eindhoven. Jane wants to make the site more interactive and is experimenting on ways to do this. Meeting strangers on the street is one way she wants to explore.

Jane is also looking at other avenues to make ‘the Dossiers’ more interactive, such as events and meetups. So if you live in the Eindhoven area and are into ‘creativity’ keep an eye on ‘the Dossier’.

For the interviews click here.



Thursday, May 26, 2011

More Strangers from Taipei 101

The Jiu Bar Owner

Here are some more strangers from the Taipei 101 project that took place last year.

The photos remind me of the adventures we had doing the project. The first guy is an owner of a jiu bar (brothel) in Linsen North road. This area is famous for being a redlight district and we met this guy at a roadside restaurant in the area.

He was with mates and they were having a big seafood dinner with beer and whiskey. In the photo he is receiving a gift that Lewis donated. He gave us a lighter from his 'jiu bar'. There was some tense when we did the interview. We also met a Japanese architect who was with the party. He introduce us to the 'oldest' whore of the area, who was also at the restaurant. Unfortunely, she didn't want to be part of the project.

The Betelnut Girl

Betelnut girls are famous in Taiwan for wearing next to nothing. Unfortunately, we were in Taipei and they have laws against this (only for Betelnut girls, normal girls can be as sexy as they like). This one couldn't stop laughing at us. She thought we were mad.

The Coffee Shop Worker

A very helpful and friendly girl.

The Bus Driver receiving a gift

A very happy bus driver who made both Lewis and I laugh a lot.

The Bus Driver and Lewis

Monday, May 23, 2011

My first British Stranger


“As we left Christchurch, the roads were cracked and looking back, we saw fires burning there”

Mary was in Christchurch when the big one struck. Luckily she survived to tell the story and more importantly for us, to open her guesthouse.

Mary is a genuinely warm and charming woman, very chatty and worldly. She’s also a great cook and we loved her English breakfast. She runs the Gladstone Guesthouse, a homely place away from home. My girlfriend loved the room we stayed in, full of comfort and not at all like the sterile rooms you can get in some hotels.

If you ever need a place to stay in Faversham, Kent, than I'll definitely recommend the Gladstone Guesthouse for comfort and for Mary.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Queens Day and the Royals.


Unfortunately, I had to go to England on Queen's Day but because my girlfriend had such a time last year on Queen's Day I wanted to find out more.

Diane who runs a small coffee bar behind the town hall in Venlo, said that she had heard from the news that there’s a group in the UK who are against the Royal Family and have been banned from going out during the wedding. I said I didn’t know anything about them but in general most people don’t care. Though, the wedding might change this. I asked Diane ‘Are there many people who don’t like the Royal Family in the Netherlands, “No, there a small number who don’t like them but there are always people who don’t like something. It’s ok, it’s their life.”

Diane went on to say that she didn’t think Queen’s day had changed that much since she was a child. “There are still markets, parties and lots of fun.” Venlo will also have a party in the Markt, the square in front of the town hall for Queen’s night. This sounded more preferable to Diane than then the huge parties that will be in Amsterdam.

She also said that children play lots of games, including the sack race.

Diane is working on Queen’s day so she won’t be wearing orange.

Pieter, who I've met before, runs the Petite Four cafe in Venlo and he said “What I like about Queen’s day is the tradition that you can setup stores on the street. You don’t need a licence to setup up a store. There are less rules and it’s easy to express yourself.”

Will you setup a store this year? No, it’s not for shops, children can setup stores and sell things, like old toys and cakes they make. Street musicians will play music and put out a hat and some children will do the same, or dance.

As a first timer to the Queen’s Day, is there anything I must know? “It’ll be good if you wear orange and you must try ‘oranje tompouces’, it’s a cake with icing on top and cream in the middle, normally it’s pink but on Queen’s day it’s orange.”

Has it changed over the years? Queen’s night, the night before Queen’s day and the big parties in Amsterdam are the main changes. Traditionally, it was very local and mainly for children and families, though we used to go to Amsterdam when we were kids.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Carnival Strangers

Some strangers from the carnival held earlier this month in Venlo. I love the creative touch from the first two. The hair is a stroke of genius, to me anyway and the egg shell on the nose is something that I might use in the future. Also, with these two, I felt the carnival atmosphere as I was invited to beer and jagermeister.

Overall, I was impressed with carnival, especially the extent that people dressed up.

This guy always does something special with is nose and this year it was egg shells

Another creative touch from the carnival! Love the hair, brilliantly creative!

Carnival Stranger

Carnival Stranger

Carnival Stranger

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chinese Pictures for Sale

This is not part of the 100 strangers series. I'm sorry but I need a place on the net to show off some Chinese pictures.

Bird and Moon on Red background. 2 in stock. 38cm * 24cm

Flowers on Red background. 2 in stock. 38cm * 24cm

Chinese carriage. 2 in stock. 23cm * 18.5cm

2 stocks in Landscape. 25cm * 18.5cm

Birds flying. 25cm * 18.5cm

Yellow rose like flowers. 25cm * 18.5cm

Ducks on water, under a tree. 25cm * 18.5cm

Stocks standing on a tree. Red background. 25cm * 18.5cm

We have many more Chinese pictures. They will be put up over the next few weeks. If you're interested in any of the pictures. You can email

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Aziz and Fatima - Malaccan Travel Helpers

Aziz and Fatima

Jonker 88 (restaurant with traditional Malaccan food) was full of Chinese but it also proved Jason right. On my table I was first joined by a Malay Tourist guide called ‘Andrew’ and a Hong Kongese tourist. After they had finished, two Malay students joined the table and the next leg of my Malaccan journey opened up.

Aziz and Fatima had a car and they showed me a Malay experience called ‘jalan, jalan’. I was staying at a hostel called ‘Jalan, jalan’ and I translated it as ‘road, road’ and then ‘crossroad’. They laughed. Like the sounds, ‘jalan, jalan’ is fun and describes many a traveller, whilst Aziz and Fatima also used it for ‘window-shopping’. To me, it meant travel for fun, without purpose.

Aziz drove us to the seaside first where lots of Malay were flying kites and then onto a beach. It was cooler and more spacious than the city. Aziz and Fatima were very bubbly and asked lots of questions about London. They both want to travel when they finished university.

Milik Ahmed, owner of the house

After, Aziz took us to a Malay Kampong (village) that’s within Malacca. We drove round and found an extraordinarily cute house. There, the house owner took us round his house, which was more like a living museum.

It was a fun few hours driving around with Aziz and Fatima.

Later that evening, I went to the weekend night market and ended up sitting at the karaoke end of Jonker Street. Next to me was a man who’s Gan Chinese (from SE China originally). He was an old guy who shared his satay and some Gan snacks. We talked about Malacca, life and China, to a backdrop of old Mandarin, Hakka, and Taiwanese songs sang live.

Life on the street is something that I miss, now I’m back in Europe. The UK is famed for its nightlife but it can be one-dimensional, based on drink and mostly for 20-30 somethings but the streets of Asia are for everyone, from the youngest kid to grandpas and grandmas. There’s food, games, shopping, lights and even some drink too, but I guess Asia has the weather for this kind of nightlife.

Traditional Malay House

Me sitting in a cute Malay house

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Eindhoven Hereos

Looking for Heroes

This is a new project where strangers I meet help me with Dutch. They talk about the surrounds and things that we can see. I listen and ask them questions in English. I use English because at the moment I'm learning the 'silent' way. So, I want lots of understandable listening input.

The people who help me are on the Hero's list. They're Heroes because they're took the time to help someone.

This is a BIG thank to the HEROES of Eindhoven

Jeromen, also learnt from him about the competition between Brabant and Limburg over who's more 'bourgondisch'

Sascha was having a break from work and took the time to help

Magdalong was on her way to the train station to go home.

Steye, is the TV presenter of the Dutch version of 'Man Liberation Front,' which will be out in a couple of months on Veronica. He's also a natural at describing the surrounds.