Welcome to the March edition of our newsletter featuring The Netherlands, a country of fascinating geography and architecture, friendly, open-minded people and laid-back lifestyle.
As always, your feedback is welcome.
The MyTripJournal team
FEATURED STORY:Do As You Like, It's Amsterdam!
Amsterdam is a beautiful city with its network of canals running outward like a spider's web from the city central and road systems connected by hundreds of bridges. It's very picturesque and has a lovely romantic feeling. Streets beside the canals are lined in the water with houseboats, and on land with beautifully decorated merchant's residences and warehouses from the 17th century, all with unique architectural design. House gables are all adorned with hoisting hooks which were, and still are, used to hoist furniture in and out of residences where narrow internal stairways would otherwise make moving impossible. Whether you tour around by canal boat, bus, tram, by foot or bicycle, the city of Amsterdam is a beauty to behold. With tons of bicycles, tulips, wooden shoes and windmills ... Amsterdam has it all.
Amsterdam also has a wonderful international and exotic feeling. It is not uncommon to hear a number of different languages being spoken while walking down the street, only some of which I understood.
People come to Amsterdam to experience its unique beauty, but there's no doubt that a lot of people are also drawn to Amsterdam out of curiosity and to experience their more liberal attitudes towards prostitution and the sale/usage of soft drugs. I personally think it's a very good attitude and great for the people of Amsterdam, but unfortunately it seems to attract people from other countries where similar attitudes do not exist (ie. the rest of the world!) and as a result I saw a lot of whacked out people wandering the streets, more here than I've seen anywhere else in my travels (well, maybe excluding the Rasta boys in the Caribbean!).
Anyway, I stayed right in the heart of Amsterdam at a place called - get this - the Flying Pig Hostel! I mean, who comes up with these names?? The rooms were very basic, but it was in a great location and within walking distance of anywhere I wanted to go. The hostel had a "Happy Room", a zen-like sit-on-the-floor-on-cushions-like-hippies kind of room where soft drugs could be smoked. Of course the Happy Room was on the main floor, right beside the main entrance/reception, internet area, bar and games room, so no matter where you were on the main floor, you were "happy"!!
You actually haven't seen Holland until you see a Windmill, and I saw a few as I booked myself on an excursion. Unfortunately many tourist who come to Holland come just to see Amsterdam as they try the drug and ladies scene. But there is such an expanse of beautiful country here that you real need to explore the country side before you get a real appreciation.
One place in particular called Marken was my favourite as it's traditonal here to paint your window frames white, so the whole town is a contrast of dark colours generally, blue and black with white window frames. Marken itself used to be an island but they have built a road to it now, no not a bridge because its only 3 meters deep so they just piled a lot of dirt and built a road to it now, so its actually turned the island into a penisula.
Holland has always interested me, mainly becasue I had no understanding why they called their people Dutch but the country is called either Holland or the Netherlands. Luckily for me the tour lady brought this to my attention as she explained that the name Holland originated from the words Woodlands as Holland was once plentiful with forests. They also called it The Netherlands which means Low lands because its the country in the world which has the most amount of land submersed under the sea at a a staggering 42%.
Eye care project sparks new community vision
in Fathenagar, India
Nagalaxmi (centre) directs
patients who have arrived
Fathenagar slum is located near the core of India’s sixth largest city,
Hyderabad. It’s home to more than 32,000 people and since 2008,
has been the focus of an Operation Eyesight eye care and community
With financial support from Standard Chartered Bank’s Seeing is
Believing program, the project is bringing eye and general health care,
education and economic development to the district – as well as a
new spirit of community activism.
Nagalaxmi is a young wife
and mother of three who
has lived all her life in
Fathenagar. Early on, she
recognized the benefits of
the new project and made
sure her family participated.
Noting her enthusiasm, a
project supervisor offered
Nagalaxmi the opportunity
to serve her own
neighbourhood as a trained
health care worker.
As part of her new job,
Nagalaxmi searched for
temporary locations for
health check ups and
eye screenings. She soon
realized the potential of a dilapidated old community hall, long
shut down for lack of repairs. Although her numerous appeals to
community leaders for support in refurbishing the hall were rebuffed,
Nagalaxmi persisted, rallying a group of local women who raised their
voices and lobbied local government officials for action.
Support for the project soon snowballed as other members of the
community stepped forward and offered to help.
“With combined funding
from Operation Eyesight
and local donations, the
hall reopened in November
2010,” says Lynda Cherry,
International Programs. “Today it is a vibrant
and busy hub of the
services and courses
ranging from eye
screening to child growth
monitoring and microskills
Connie decided to give up a great career, a nice home, a new car, and a comfortable lifestyle in Canada to go travelling. She quit her job, sold her house and car and put her belongings in storage and set out in August 2003 on her "adventures of a lifetime".
So far she's travelled through Southeast Asia, India, the Caribbean, Europe, South and Central America, and even Antarctica.
Connie says she's come to realize " how truly blessed and absolutely privileged my life has been. I've changed - travel does that to a person - and I like who I've become. It's been an amazing journey of discovery - both about others and about myself."
Trip Journal :
Where in the World is Connie?