Hot as hell

The sun has been here longer than we have. It is also burning hot. The sun itself is, but also here on earth. Yes, of course we created this ourselves. With all the conveniences, low costs and high risks we want and take, this was bound to happen.

Everyone here already got around mostly covered when the sun shone. Large visors, long sleeves and pants, gloves, masks and hats. There are also images of other countries, basking in sunlight. Men and women in long, wide gowns. Most of us here wear pants. Seemingly the only difference would be that the sweat touches your thighs instead of the fabric in between.

Moving outside in broad daylight is becoming increasingly dangerous. The sun is literally scorching these days. The pavement is so hot that water literally instantly turns into steam and you could actually bake anything on it. That is, if it would be kept clean.

And even in these circumstances, there are more than enough people still working outside. Shuffling leaves together in the shade so that they do not start a fire. Watering the plants in the shadow or keeping an eye on the traffic from under a parasol. That is just as effective as it sounds.

It is said that several cities with extremely hot summers exist which were called ‘ovens’ before. Currently, all cities are real ovens. The concrete sucks up the heat and it permeates every structure. Steel pots and pans do not even need to be put on the gas anymore. We can just cook in them on the balcony if we wear fireproof gloves.

The well-of, rich people leave the city en mass during this time of the year. Pictures of luscious green fields, wide blue seas and bare skin flood the social media. But even outside the cities, temperatures are still at an all-time high. It makes censoring for nudity very easy, showing that much bare skin can simply lead to burns and is thus very rare.

Windows have since long been covered. It is still strange to wake up in the morning, seemingly at dusk. Before, you still had commercials where people opened their windows in the morning and let the sunlight in. Half of my stuff would directly catch on fire if you would do that in my room now.

There also used to be a buzz of insects outside when it was really hot. Old series on television would have that playing on the background to symbolize how hot it is. Apparently, if you go even hotter it turns quiet. Eerily quiet. Everyone seems to move in slow motion. The weight of the heat is instant whenever you go outside. Life is slowly turning into a real child’s play. Only move from shadow to shadow, step into the light and it is game over…

This is sick!

Actually, in Dutch we can also use the word ‘sick’ as a positive adverb. Once you are sick, it feels quite illogical to use it in that sense.

For me, being sick abroad is almost my second nature. I must have seen almost as many doctors and hospitals in my country as I have abroad. I must emphasize that in the Netherlands, going to the doctor or hospital is taken up as a more drastic measure. if you have a cold, the flu, or are just not feeling well, we might go to the GP but normally we just suck it up and huddle up in a blanket. As a consequence, most of our conversations about feeling sick are relatively low-profile. ‘I am not feeling very well.’ ‘Something’s been in the air lately so I think I caught that too.’ ‘My whole body feels listless, I need a good rest.’

In China, that is quite different. On the one hand, the chances of having food poisoning and/or diarrhea are much larger here. Therefore, you might just hear somebody say very casually: ‘That hotpot did not go well, I had diarrhea for 3 days.’ The dutch, not the most prudish but still, would feel a bit uncomfortable directly stating that in a casual conversation. The same goes for constipation.

Another difference, is the amount of medicine. I now happen to have a cough and a cold which has already kept me in the cough-sneeze-breathe state for almost a week. Almost all Chinese will ask me if I have taken any medicine, and if so Chinese or Western medicine. In the Netherlands, we almost tend to pride ourselves on our ‘toughness’ and ability to bear sicknesses without any medicines.

I do have a feeling in China apothecaries and/or doctors still receive commission over medicines. I recently was in the hospital for someone else who had a hole in his head and he received four different medicines for the next 4 or 5 days. It seemed like a bit of overkill. I had the same when I had ‘a simple’ pharyngitis and also received about 5 different medicines.

However, sticking to my Dutch roots and trying to survive on as less medicines as possible is also quite a challenge. But who does not like a challenge?

Dagboek van Moek: 19/20/21 mei

19 mei: WAAR BEN IK??? Ik ruik hier allemaal rare beesten en onbekende geluiden. Vanuit het raam wat in deze kamer is kan ik mens wel zien. Er staan allemaal vreemde dingen in deze kamer. En van die geuren gaat mijn haar gelijk overeind staan brrr…

Een klik en de deur gaat open. Het is mens maar, maar wie neemt ze mee? Een onbekende zwarte kat die totaal geen herkenning bij mij oproept. Bovendien ruikt ze helemaal niet als kat, maar als hond. En het eet van mijn voer! En poept in mijn bak! Een beetje geblaas houdt het tenminste op afstand. Hier zit een luchtje aan…

20 mei: Mens ruikt iedere keer weer raar en anders als ik haar zie. Hoe moet ik haar dan herkennen? Langzaam kom ik een beetje mijn kamer uit, maar het is nog steeds sluipen over de grond en terug sprinten voordat een grote boze hond mij kan opslokken. Gelukkig zijn er in deze kamers geen spullen waar ik niet op mag of niet mee mag spelen van mens.

Als ik naar beneden kijk zie ik daar ook vreemde vormen bewegen. Zolang het vrij rustig en stil is, kan ik ongehoord naar beneden sluipen. Maar die engerds beneden zijn haast net zo groot als ik in het geheel ben. Ze kennen vast hun eigen krachten niet. En ik kwam ook nog een andere katachtige tegen op de gang laatst. Die rook ook niet normaal, dus heb ik ook even direct duidelijk gemaakt. Hij loopt echter zonder problemen zo naar beneden, dus dat heeft hij wel voor op mij.

21 mei: Toen mens net thuiskwam dook ze weer een andere kamer in. Een witte en gladde kamer waaruit ineens een keihard geluid kwam. Het bleek water te zijn, dat in een grote kom ging waar mens toen hij vol zat gewoon in ging liggen. Geheel vrijwillig. En haar ogen sloot. Waarom? Ik zou het niet weten.

Dus toen ze er toch wel een tijdje langer in bleef liggen ging ik eens polshoogte nemen. Met mijn achterpoten tegen de rand en mijn voorpoten op de rand kon ik precies met mijn oogjes haar zien. En ik zette grote ogen op. Mens moest lachen, dus ik liet haar dan maar met rust. Als ze zelfs naakt en geheel ondergedompeld in water blij kan zijn, heeft ze duidelijk andere dingen die haar blij maken dan ik.

Biking Battles: Work never seemed so far away

So you accept your role as prey and see if you need to call on your other bunny friends. After putting down the foot on the pedal, you decide to go for it and join your fellow friends.

The start is a wide road, separated from the main car road. So it should be easy cruising through the sun (when it is there), however in reality it only means that you need to pay more attention to the cars trying to sneak into your biking lane. They are not even being sneaky. Acting like the predators they are (see The jungle road) they push you away while giving you the side eye to make sure you do not even touch their precious skin.

Furthermore, it is not entirely clear to you how much brain power bunnies have, but there are enough moments where it seems very low, yours included. The amount of curves you made along the road and scares you had by suddenly having scooters, cars or even buses making some or a lot of noise because of your maneuvers would make any normal person question your sanity. But adaptability is the highest means the ones lower down the pyramid have to make it, so you go along of course.

And then suddenly you have trees, shade and absolutely nothing else changes. The largest difference it makes is that you can play hide and seek with your opponents and startle innocent pedestrians. A real obstacle are the bus stops on the side. The people getting off seem like real mice crawling around, seemingly walking deliberately in front of your bike or freezing at your first sight. After toying with them for a bit, you decide to go for the last stretch.

It is a bridge. With two roads that need to be crossed, way too many traffic lights and very little patience. Whenever you see the chance, you just hop in between everything. This means paying most or your attention to where vehicles come from, not the stupid lights. You especially need to be careful when going against the (traffic) flow since everyone always seems to act as if this is a rarity. And if worse comes to worse and you need to cross the road without the traffic lights, just inch forward and try to look the drivers behind their wheels in the eye. You are one tough bunny!

You manage all that, and you will arrive at the oasis. Green everywhere, people fishing, cars slightly following the rules (since the military is watching or acting like they are) and silence. Oh and then you need to go to work. Nothing is perfect after all.

Biking battles: The jungle road

So before moving onto the long road, let us take a look at what kind of people are most often encountered on the Chinese roads. A comparison with the jungle is not strange, you have for example the predators:

  • The king of the jungle: Trucks, buses and any other vehicles which are heavy, large and intimidating. They cruise along, sometimes with people furiously shouting and/or honking but almost never stopping. They can suddenly lash out with their legs and doors, just to spite you. You know you should not challenge them too much. They have teeth and they bite. Although eating and hitting innocent people is still illegal of course…
  • Cheetahs: Very fast, lean and mean cars. Except, they belong on the Savannah or the open road. Not the clogged streets of Beijing. They roar loudly to let you know that they are dangerous, but barking dogs do not bite. Unless of course they suddenly have a precious piece of open road in front of them. Oh and you should not touch them. One scratch and you are gone.
  • Hyena’s: They are lagging behind, dealing with the leftovers. They are in great, huge numbers. Diverse, irritating and only slightly frightening. They are the ones tuktuks, scooters, bikers and even pedestrians dare to defy. When they hit, of course they hit hard. But as long as you stay out of reach…

So what about the prey?

  • Birds: You can go very fast, if you want to. You can almost manage to squeeze in between everything and anything. But just like some birds cannot fly, these birds often choose not to fly. Just carry on their daily business as they go excruciatingly slow and even slalom along the road while doing their best not to die multitasking. They do make a lot of noise however, whether they are moving or not. Would be nice if the sounds were as nice as birds’ twitter or songs.
  • Rabbits: They are quite harmless and with a growing number. They are usually a group of cyclists, some really put their foot down making noise, others are less brave and just sway from side to side. When they want to, speed is made and a lot of road covered. However, they are also quite single-minded. Just getting ahead already costs a lot of effort, so often following the rules or watching out are optional tasks.
  • Mice: When they are in a group, they have a lot of power. They can basically cross roads whenever they want, however they want. But if they move by themselves, they are the lowest on the foodchain. Literally everyone speeds past them and they are the first ones to take a hit. It also helps that they do not make it easy for themselves by being easily distracted by either eating, looking on their phone or checking their hair in the mirror.

In other words, the road to work is long, hard and dangerous. How to manage?

Ik verkies jou!

Ja, het is zover. De Tweede Kamer Verkiezingen vinden vandaag plaats in Nederland. Dit is het moment voor de burgers, om je plicht en recht te vervullen en te gaan stemmen. Okee, behalve als je braaf volgens de procedure je hebt geregistreerd maar niet je stembewijs en biljet hebt gekregen. Dan mág je niet eens je ding doen.

Tot een jaar of 2,3 geleden, was ik maar minimaal geïnteresseerd in de politiek. Ik heb wel in de verkiezingen van 2012 gestemd, relatief strategisch want ik had geen flauw benul waar de PVDA toen voor streed, maar niet de programma’s bestudeerd. Overigens ging het hele politieke speelveld grotendeels aan mij voorbij, nationaal en internationaal.

Nu is dat eigenlijk in deze politiek turbulente tijden vrijwel onmogelijk. Ik keek een tijdje geleden nog een filmpje van Zondag met Lubach terug waarin de draak wordt gestoken hoeveel Nederland met de Amerikaanse verkiezingen bezig was. Eraan terugdenkend, deelde ik ook wel ongeloof en een zekere verontrusting toen de winnaar bekend was. Maarja, Amerika is toch wel een stukje verder weg dan Nederland.

En zo beland je anno 2017 in een situatie waarin je actief politiek gaat volgen. Want ja, erg geruststellend is het allemaal niet natuurlijk. En nee, zelf doe je er niet echt specifiek iets aan onder het mom buitenlands uit te zien, in het buitenland te zijn en niet te kunnen stemmen. Laten we de balans opmaken:


  1. Je kunt meepraten. “Ja, Geert Wilders is een eikel. Maar hij is wel een van de weinige met een Limburgs accent regelmatig op de televisie, dus er is ook nog voor mij hoop!”
  2. Je hebt het gevoel iets toe te voegen. “Nee ik kan niet helpen. Ik ben politiek bewust onderzoek aan het doen om als zelfredzame burger een geïnformeerde stem uit te brengen.”
  3. Je hebt altijd iets om over te praten. “Ja. Laten we het anders over de verkiezingen hebben.”


  1. Je hebt het idee dat er veel mensen zijn met radicaal andere ideeën. “Nederland uit de EU? Hoe dan?”
  2. Je ziet overal politici die ergens iets van vinden. “Meer blauw op straat. Blauw is het nieuwe zwart.”
  3. Je wordt ongelukkig van alle extreme discussies en meningsverschillen. “Het is erin of eruit.”

Toch maar goed dat die verkiezingen er dus maar eens in de zoveel jaar zijn. Nederland zou nog eens te spannend worden.