Holiday 1: Murals in Lisbon

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During my holiday in Lisbon I saw some beautiful wall paintings on a stretch of buildings. It takes some time to take in the painted figures. The painters tried to make them 3D by having them interact with the windows (for example pushing arms through them). Also remarkable is the beautiful Beaux-arts building next to them.

It is my third time visiting the city and it is just a very agreeable : ). Also the air in this capital–the most westward of the European mainland–is remarkable clean, partly due to its location on the Atlantic. Thankfully the bright sun is filtered through the magnificent Jacaranda trees in the city. Unfortunately they did not bloom when I visited.

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HK5: Big Wave Bay & Shopping Mall

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For my last day in Hong Kong I made a small hike to Big Wave Bay. For this I walked again through the cemetery, but instead of going right to Shek-O Beach I went left, a shorter route to the Bay. Such a nice bay it is! The village looks like it is totally isolated, but in fact it is also easily reachable by bus. Its peacefulness made for a big contrast when I went to dinner with a friend later on the day in a busy shopping centre! Suzhou is very relaxed compared to all this.
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HK1: Going to Hongkong

In May I booked a small holiday in Hong Kong. Primarily known as a finance and shopping centre I also found out that it was an excellent place for hiking. 28 percent of its area consists of natural parks. Perfect since I also wanted to see some nature! Websites showed fine hiking offerings on Hong Kong Island, as well as in the New Territories, all easily reached by public transport. The Dragon’s Back trail, which I wanted to walk, was even mentioned as best Urban trail in the world by Time Out magazine in 2004.

Lunch at Pudong

Lunch at Pudong

Mouth of Yangtze River

Mouth of Yangtze River

Lantau Island on Th.e foreground, Hong Kong Island at the horizon with in between Kowloon

Lantau Island on Th.e foreground, Hong Kong Island at the horizon with in between Kowloon

I booked the trip with low budget airline Spring Airlines. Risky since more expensive airlines seem to get more priority when it’s busy, and it can be busy at Pudong (the largest of two airports in Shanghai, the other being the more regional Hongchiao). Spring Airline’s plane definitely had the smallest seat pitch of any airplane I have ever sat on: I felt almost like standing instead of sitting…

The approach to Hong Kong International Airport provided beautiful views of the area. Showing multiple contrasts: that between high-rise apartment buildings and the green hills, and that of the islands of Hong Kong and the sea. Its blueness contrasted also nicely with the earth colors of the mouth of the Yangtse river, when leaving Pudong.

Living in China has made me increasingly aware that the relations between mainland Chinese and HK-Chinese can be politically and culturally tense at times. As a British colony Hong Kong fared better then the adjecent Chinese empire or state, which made some of its inhabitants doubt the advantages having been handed back to China 20 years ago.

In Hong Kong mainland Chinese are sometimes seen as underdeveloped and corrupt simpletons, whose growing influence can only spell out worse to come for their relatively open but also slightly stagnant society. The other way around Hong Kong people are often seen as arrogant snobs, admired for their shopping paradise, but on the other hand a part of China that never should have been given to a Western country in the first place.
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Taiwanese edition of ‘A Clear Dream’ published

The Taiwanes edition of ‘A Clear Dream’ on top of the Dutch edition.

The Taiwanes edition of ‘A Clear Dream’ on top of the Dutch edition.


Two weeks ago the Taiwanese edition of my book ‘A Clear Dream’ (Droom van Helderheid) was published as part of the ‘Source series’. It is surprising to see such an interest in Taiwan in the history of Dutch visual identity, modernism and design agencies.

The ‘Source series” is an imprint of Taiwanese designer Wang Zhi-Hong facilitated by Faces Publications. Luckely the print quality of the book seems better then the Chinese edition published last year. It is fascinating to see how Zhi-Hong uses social media to generate interest: the book has already been seen by over 11.000 people on Behance (featured graphic design), and by many more on Tumbler, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The book features a nice cover and a carefully composed layout that to a large degree is based upon the Dutch edition, that was designed by Piet Gerards Ontwerpers. It is not clear whether Zhi-Hong takes note of this.

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Houses for sale!

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Real estate sellers a plenty around Dianshan Lake. Dozens of young suited up boys & girls wander on highways, crossings and exits,handing out flyers advertising apartments and houses. They present a danger to themselves and car drivers.

Imagine people in a suit with a waving sign, walking up to you in the Netherlands just as you exit highway with 80 km an hour! Somehow they remind of the zombies from The Walking Dead. Connection between consumer society and zombies anyone? There are many unoccupied new houses around the area. The property market is in stagnation. God forbid what happens to the Chinese economy when it collapses. Continue reading

New York: Being there

Central Park

Central Park


New York is a nice city, unless you experience it during one of the more severe frost periods of this century. Average day temperature was -6, at night it was -15 degrees Celsius. Earlier I had imagined leisurely walking from my hotel through Central Park to the archive I worked at each day. It now became an slippery and icy adventure! Continue reading

‘Hello J-15’: jet-fighters & shopping

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China is proud of its new jet fighter, the J-15. A Suzhou shopping center–Emerald City–has a live sized model on exhibit with many festivities surrounding it. The J-15, also called the Flying Shark, made its first landing on the new Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning in 2012. Full scale production began in December 2013. Continue reading

Chinese package deliverer

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How to get back money from university without Fapiao (an official receipt)? You can’t, which I forgot when I ordered new materials for my department. The supplier had to make and sent a new receipt by mail. Since I was not in when it was delivered I had to pick it up at the transporters.

All transporters were holding court behind the shopping mall near the university. Some of them on the street, the more official in run down basements. It looks chaotic but somehow it works. It is still not clear to me how the delivery systems exactly functions. I got my receipt : ) Continue reading