[dropcap size=big]E[/dropcap]ver tried getting away from the Dutch? Come on, just be honest, as an expat you have those moments when you just wish you can get away from the whole thing, the culture, the people, their ways. I mean you’ve paid your dues and put up with the indifference for long enough. You deserve a ‘getaway’.
As the enduring expat I get my hopes up and let my imagination runaway with me on the escape front. In my fantasy I’m off, I’m going somewhere where I can speak my own language (lingo and all), where I’m not going to stress about schedules or walk in sync with the crowd (that’s known as chilling, you know).
There’s only one glitch in this grand scheme. The Dutch are everywhere. Literally!
Kick off with a giant miscalculation
Whether you travel high into the mountains, deep into the jungle or half way across the globe you will run into a Dutch person somewhere along your journey and when you least expect it. I was in Thailand recently and my partner and I deliberately chose to visit places that were a bit off the beaten track. These were places with a remote location and less popular than the usual tourist hangouts.
Like Ao Khanom, where we went in search of pink dolphins. There were only 8 of us on the boat, and what do you know? On the day that we take the trip there are two other Dutch people who had exactly the same idea.
Dutch people are easier to spot than wildlife. They’re tall, averaging 1.8 metres on the scale and they speak English at the snap of a finger, switching to ‘their mother tongue’ when your back is turned.
The day we were coming back to the Netherlands the train we had taken from Chiang Mai to Bangkok was severely delayed because another train had been derailed. After several hours of slow motion travelling we enquired about the problem and who should we meet – fellow Dutch travellers who were already up-to-speed on the matter.
Next, eyeball the elephant in the room
So on my great Dutch escape I spotted the elusive dolphin, explored the rainforest and absorbed most of this rich culture shoulder-to-shoulder with Dutch people. Maybe they were in Thailand just to thwart my plans!
Dutch could be heard at many of the temples we visited, on the street in Chinatown, at stations. At times I literally thought how can I escape them? It’s like the universe is playing one long practical joke on me.
It’s pretty much been the same on most of my holidays. Like in Greece when we had Dutch next-door neighbours who we were obliged to greet each morning as we stepped out of the chalet and make friendly chitchat with at the breakfast table. Meanwhile we were all probably thinking: “Of all the darn holidaymakers to meet!”
There’s that time we went right through the Green Kalahari (southern extremities of Africa), where it’s bloody hot and desolate, to the trans-frontier. Even there amid the serenity of the bushveld we were greeted with the familiar Dutch expression ‘alles goed?’
Crawling under a rock might be my last remaining option. Although it’s quite likely that a Dutch person will be conducting research there too.