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NSR Travels, Bout 4: Europe Begins

I’m back on the New Silk Road.

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I arrived in the Netherlands on Wednesday morning to continue the travel portion of the research for my New Silk Road book. I showed up on King’s day — a holiday where everybody floods out into the streets wearing orange wigs and hats and parties. I will have a post and video up about this soon.

I was able to meet with the Clingendael Institute a couple of days ago, then yesterday with a professor who assembled the largest collection of Chinese Communist propaganda posters in the world, then the highly regarded architect Zef Hemel (his brother Mark designed the Canton Tower), and today I traveled down to Rotterdam to meet with a university professor who is also an economic advisor to Rotterdam Port. All have been fascinating.

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However, I’ve been absolutely busy — I suppose that’s the way to put it. I kind of enjoy being busy to point that I always have a tick over too much to do at all times. This keeps me running, pushing content when I would otherwise be doing something slightly more unproductive, like sleeping. But when deadlines are pushed simply because there is not enough space in the day, I start to realize that I’ve pushed the boundaries of “too much.”

I still haven’t grown out of my vagabond mentality. I can’t turn down an op to generate funds; I can’t say no to an interesting project. I don’t say, “Sorry, I can’t take this $65 per hour job because I have too many other ones I’m running at the moment.” I say, “yes,” on faith that I will be able to pull it off somehow. Somehow, I know I will do it, and the more difficult it is the more fulfilling it feels. I like this. It keeps me active and, pragmatically speaking, it gives me the funds to keep moving forward.

I need more than a vagabond’s fare these days.

This time I made a one week miscalculation in planning and left to start a bout of research travels before clearing out some demanding projects. I thought I timed it all right, but the lure of a $420 round tripper between Boston and Amsterdam had me pinching it a little at the end. This proved to be a week’s pinch, rather than the day or two I estimated.

So for a week, the travel, the meetings, the articles, and a big editing project all overlapped on top of each other. So the start of my first foray into the Netherlands has felt like an endurance event — running between interviews and then running back to my hotel to sit in front of the laptop until late into the night.

But I almost have the roadway cleared.

I have one more big article to finish tomorrow then I believe I will be able to return to a more comfortable level of busy.


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Filed under: Netherlands, New Silk Road, 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 3715 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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