Friday, November 16, 2007

Chet & Carmen

It's been way too long since I last posted some music. Here's something worth listening to any time of day

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bye bye Jakarta

How traffic jammed can a city be? Travelling from any A to B in Jakarta takes you at least 30 minutes, but it's better to count on an hour instead. The first thing the taxidriver says is 'maceeeet' or crowded, traffic jam. Yeah well, get used to it. The Indonesian newspaper Kompas runs a daily series on the issue. One of its conclusions is that the congested city is costing a whole lot of money. All these hours that highly paid staff spend inside their car are wasted - because it sure isn't advised to write a little something on your laptop with all those sudden stops. Since the expansion of the buslanes - which can only be used by the TransJakarta buses - the roads have gotten narrower which led to a lot of complaints. Only one of the many things to solve here... but it does make for a few nice pictures. Look here, Jakarta by night:

Friday, November 9, 2007

Sick of Jakarta?

Who would have thought I'd be caught with a flu in Indonesia? Well, from the huge amount of medicins available for this illness, it is not all that uncommon here. The typically Indonesian questions: "Sudah minum obat?" (Have you already taken medicine?) has of course been posed many times. I have taken some freaky colored tablets and mostly try to sleep a lot. My sister has come over to take care of me, so all will be well soon.

As I have not been so good in actually writing updates on all that I have been doing here, I refer to the blog of my (until recently) travel partner Marc Visch: Where he found the time for these reflections on Indonesia, I am not sure. For the Dutch readers among you, it is recommended reading material! Enjoy! For now, I am stuck here:

(c)Marc Visch

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Republic of dreams - Republik Mimpi

How to step into the republic of my dreams? Without being aware, I entered it last Sunday in Jakarta. In the studio of Metro TV, the leaders of this republic came together to spread their word of good governance. Even though they looked a lot like the politicians ruling Indonesia, their policies are very different. Suciwati, the widow of human rights activist Munir, reported to the president of the Republik Mimpi about the current situation in Indonesia, where impunity still reigns. Perhaps one day, Indonesia will be more like Republik Mimpi...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

View from my hotel in Jakarta

Hotel Le Grandeur... I am not complaining

Friday, October 12, 2007

Malaysiakini shows it like it is

“Ah, we just want to keep it confidential. I’m working very hard on it” says a well-known Malaysian lawyer over the phone while explaining how he would pull a few strings here and there to fix someone’s carrier. That ‘someone’ is believed to be Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, Malaysia’s current Chief Justice. I’m watching the tape of their conversation, which Free Voice partner Malaysiakini posted online on September 20th. As the video painfully shows the severe lack of integrity of Malaysia’s judiciary system, it has caused quite a stir. The video has already been viewed over 30.000 times. After a two-day silence, the Malaysian authorities respond by appointing a commission to assess the authenticity of the tape. On 26 September, during my first visit to Malaysiakini, over two thousand lawyers marched in protest calling for the establishment of a royal commission of inquiry. In the morning paper, which hung on my hotel room doorknob, there was no mention of Malaysiakini’s part in this whatsoever.

Nevertheless, this is a great example of how Malaysiakini is able to create a stir. For me personally, it was truly impressive to be around and observe how they operate. In July 2005 this scarce source of independent news in Malaysia started broadcasting video’s to supplement the articles posted in the online newspaper. Since then, video has evolved into an essential part of Malaysiakini’s work. Nowadays, the documentaries are not only posted on the (newly set up) website, but also on YouTube.

During the ‘grand tour’ of the Malaysiakini office, we got a chance to see the new edit room. In a ten square meter space six editors were working on their video material. The video’s they make mostly provide background information or illustrations to articles posted on the Malaysiakini website. The ten to fifteen minute features show unknown stories and taboos. They deal with topics such as police violence, the position of ethnic minorities or forced labor, which is still practiced in Malaysia today. The short documentary ‘She’s My Son’ about the life of a transsexual aid worker was awarded at the Freedom Film Fest 2007. Despite insecurity as to whether the government will continue to allow Malaysiakini to do what they do, the staff is determined to dig down to the bottom of things. Let there be no doubt about it; with Malaysiakini around no secret is safe!

Check out, and for these video’s and more

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Talking with Tom Ole

Sometimes a good conversation doesn't take a lot of words...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Birthday treat!

Business trip

My view from the hotel in Siem Reap

My view from the hotel in Kuala Lumpur

My view from the hotel in Bangkok

Monday, September 3, 2007

That's how the cookie crumbles...

When we were on a holiday in Thailand two years ago, we saw these cookie cans on the market. The salesman didn't understand at first when we tried to explain that we wanted to buy the can, not the cookies. We paid 10 cents and were happy as can be. I asked my dear friend Elske to take the can to Bangkok, so that we didn't have to drag it around through Thailand on our further journeys. When we arrived in Bangkok three weeks later, we were scolded by Elske. Never again would she be embarrased like that. All Thai had laughed at her, especially the security guys who made her put the can through the x-ray. Well, who'd thought our cute idea, would become someone else's business plan. So, Elske, if your ever come to Holland again, bring some of these, will you?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Imagine this being your backyard...
My Norwegian friends Jannicke and Robert are the lucky ones.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cambodia - first impressions

Cambodia is not Indonesia. This much we all know, but still... I cannot help to compare. This country is a lot poorer. Even though people complain about traffic in the capital, Phnomh Penh equals a small city in Indonesia and traffic jams are still rare. People are harder to read, emotions difficult to grasp.

In Indonesia tourism is slick business; here it's still 'cute'. When travelling from Phnom Penh to Sihanouville with the Mekong Express Limousine bus, the stewardess directed us to our seats, handed us a wrapped, cold wet towel with a silver tool, gave us food and drinks (all separately) and took the microphone to share a story on the surrounding neighborhood. She had obviously studied a text by heart and does not practise her English often. It was completely incomprehensible! When a seven year old Dutch boy came back from the toilet, she asked him whether he had a problem. To his parents: "The last moment he went to toilet and now bad smell because of him". Think she meant to ask him if he was feeling okay, good thing kids don't have many taboos.

It's an adventure. We've already seen a lot and I'm still trying to put the pieces together.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Freaky insect

Just chilling on my balcony, when my eye spotted a weird looking creature. It sort of resembles a rabbit, only it's tiny. I just had to take a picture and ask you: any idea what this is??

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The marriage (not mine)

On friday the 25th of May, my mother married Pieter.
Now they can live happily ever after!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Last weekend, all 150 members of the Third Chamber gathered to talk more about international co-operation and discuss their proposals. A wide range of issues were debated with fervour; from water issues to world peace, from sister-cities to press freedom and from fair-flowers to solar energy. Despite the fact that we, as the Third Chamber, will not be able to change the world at large, it's so inspiring to be amongst a group of people that tries!

With my group, I am working on a proposal on fair clothing. We support the efforts of organisations like the Fair Wear Foundation and the Clean Clothes Campaign to stop childlabour and improve working conditions. Will go and watch China Blue as soon as I can - think you should as well! Visit for more info

Sunday, February 11, 2007

De derde kamer - Third Chamber

Hooray! The good news reached me last week: As of 9 February 2007, I will be a member of the Third Chamber. In the coming year, I will take part in this shadow parliament on development cooperation, consisting of 120 Dutch nationals and 30 representatives from developing countries. Together, we will work on proposals to improve international cooperation and try to get both politicians and the public to prioritize the issue.

Check out my profile on the Third Chamber website:

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

West Wing

Never thought I could be a fan of a tv series again , like I once was a fan of Ally McBeal. But I am, maybe even more so... A friend borrowed me the second season of the West Wing and I am completely hooked.

How different things could be, if only the US would have a highly intelligent, witty and 'good' president... Someone like President Bartlet for instance (great acting by Martin Sheen). There's nothing left for me to say, except: Watch that show and go out to change the world!!

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Chaka Khan

While browsing for videos of my favorite artists, I stumbled upon this wonderful account of the North Sea Jazz festival; The ultimate Queen of Soul doin' it.

Amy Winehouse - You Know Im No Good

This lady rocks! You should also check out her website Great lyrics, beautifull melodies, beatz: I am hooked.


We all have our personal heroes. People we look up to. People we'd like to be, if only for a day.
Above I'll feature some of them.