Netherlands is one of European countries that speak Dutch. At first glance, this country was just similar to few other European countries such as Denmark where most of thing I have heard and know of is through the Prince and Me film. Well, I know this is no more relevant until I landed in this beautiful country and when I explored further about the nature of this society aside from my journey for the World Justice Forum.
The following are things that Netherlands impressed me the most and things that I wish Cambodians can enjoy the same way:
The world’s cycling leader
It is striking to see how cycling has been a way of life in Holland and it was recorded as the top country in the world in cycling. This country has developed a vast bike-friendly infrastructure to make cycling a practical and safe way to get on. With a wide route for cyclist, it also appears to me that cyclists are more prioritized than others on car or even pedestrians. While in Cambodia, the number of mobile phone penetration is surplus the number of population; Netherlands has more bikes than people. It was featured that “the 16 million Dutch inhabitants own 18 million bicycles.”
The friendliest people I have ever met
This assumption probably true as I was so fortunate to meet nice people in the Hague, Den Haag in Dutch—one of main cities of Netherlands and known as the city of justice and peace as the located in the city, including the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.
From a senator who are considered as one of the high official in legislative bodies and they are entitled as Excellency in my country, Cambodia—where some would accompanied by few body guards or at least one and often on luxurious car or cars)—the lady senator who I met in the Hague, in front of the Parliament building was too kind on her way returning home on feet pulling her language on her own voluntarily guided my group to the parliament building as we were wondering around in front of the gate and asked her if this was the right place that we are looking for which is the parliament building.
She was so kind while introducing other two members of her, but from different parties (which in my country, different party members hardly talked to each other) who were heading on the route we were walking on. We were chatting for a short moment as if we have known each other since long and seemingly no class or position barriers between us. I feel so much convinced in the way these positive attitude can bridge the gap between those who govern and governed and this is a key that senior officials in other countries such as my own should learn to behave so that they could earn much respect and in return our social trust can build.
Just after a while, when my group was wondering nearby a traffic section waiting for a taxi, a gentle man walking with his dog stopped by and asked if he could help anything as we looked lost to him. In response, I bowed down a bit and we thanked for his kindness.
The cities that full of nature connection and conservation
Similar to other European states, Netherlands also has a habit of cultural conservation for their old buildings with full of history and human connection and of course they are just connected to much of nature including forests (most of their roads are decorated with a long trees that one can feel to walk in a forest); and rivers along their buildings in town and almost throughout the way.
This quite opposite to Cambodia where we would fill the lakes for a so-called development plans such as Boeung Kak which I would not debate on the eviction issue, but on the way that natural lake is filled with no advance study on social and environmental impact assessment) and the old buildings such as in colonial area are destroyed or decorated in a weird and wrong perception such as building at Bokor resort or some colonial building in Phnom Penh city.
In all, I could say I am in love with these peaceful cities of the Netherlands. I do believe in the way that people express it as the city of peace and this is indeed true since this has trapped the peaceful mind of an ordinary citizen like me and I hope readers enjoyed reading this and if persons in either government or non-government position that can impact the city master planning or development, please do visit and get Netherlands as a sample, although I am sure no one is perfect but learn something good from others and avoid their bad for a better human-kind society.
Once may argue for the case of Cambodia for example that we had experienced the civil war, genocide, etc that most of infrastructure including human resource were destroyed and without this we could reach that level as other developed countries, my question would be “to when we think we are ready, out of that war explanation and why a personal attitude that can be accessible and respectful to each other need also time to make it happen?” By putting other factors into constant; however, can we start doing it now with a measurable time-frame to reach that level?