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Holland Is Perfect

A perfect place, at least relative to everywhere else.

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I had this odd sort of sad feeling when in Holland. Kind of you get in the late afternoon of a crisp day in early autumn.

The place is just perfect.

The public transportation system is perfect.
The automobile types are perfect.
The bicycle lane coverage is perfect.

There is a perfect mix of old city and new city.
The houses are perfect.
The people are perfect social democrats.
The streets are perfect places to go for a stroll.
Everybody seems to have a perfect amount of money.
The social systems are perfect.
Everything works perfectly.
Their cities are designed perfectly.

Perfect, as in better than anywhere else in the world.

I saw a three year old boy with a deformed right ear and I cracked a smile — it was the first imperfect thing I’ve seen all day.

Holland is like a sci-fi movie about some future utopia where the people don’t know misery, deprivation, or annoyance. Relative to everywhere else in the world, the core problems here seem to have been engineered away.

Maybe that’s the reason there’s so many Dutch architects abroad: they’ve fixed all their own problems so now it’s time to move on to the rest of the world.

But there is something about all this perfection that makes me feel slightly melancholic.

Mexico City is totally fucked up but there is this energy there that makes you feel alive.

China is a monstrosity but at every turn there is something that makes you exclaim “What the fuck?”

In Haiti nobody seems to work but they spend their days hanging out in the streets joking with everybody who walks by.

There is a good feel in these places that comes from their imperfection. Maybe it’s just me, but I walked through the perfect streets of Amsterdam a the Hague and Rotterdam and just didn’t feel much of anything other than impressed.


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Filed under: Netherlands, Travel Diary

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3717 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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