North Sea Expedition

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The islands of Northern Netherlands has long been on my to go list before I come to this country. To me, the pristine and somewhat bleak landscape of the sand dunes, beaches and meadows by the North Sea is the polar opposite of the stereotypical ‘gezellig’ image of the Dutch row houses and tulips. This weekend I went to Texel, the biggest of the Friesian Islands.

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It was quite bit of a journey just to get there. We spent 5 hrs one way on train/bus/ferry/bus until we reached the part on Texel, De Slufter, that I wanted to go. It was a perfect weather on Saturday–funny that how while most Dutch fled to Scheveningen Beach in Den Haag, this primitive and sprawling landscape remained intact. It was a luxury to have this open landscape all to oneself, even though we only spent 2 hrs actually being there, and 10 hrs on the road.

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The meadow.

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I really like the effect when wind brushes over the meadow, the grass undulates rhythmically like waves in the ocean.

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Some of the landscape of the Friesian Island was even the remnant of the Ice Age, and because of the changing sea level, a lot of land used to be the basin of the ocean. Walking along the beach felt like an inviting lesson of underwater biology: algae  coral, and all kinds of water plants stuck out their heads curiously on the coast. It was actually kind of gross to step on them barefoot….altho I did. Quite interesting of a sensuous experience.

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The other side of the dunes–a more controlled landscape.

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Probably because of the frequent use of the train, I grew really fond of looking at the Dutch landscape. The flatness can be boring I guess, but at the same time there is a kind of tranquility that feels really fascinating. This is especially evident when the flat meadow meets the canals. For many times my landscape major housemate and I were wowed by the impeccability of the landscape every time we go jogging at our neighborhood forest, Haagse Bos. We joked how we think the trees, grass, water, and the animals here are perfect for future Photoshop renderings. My Dutch colleague said that gardeners would intentionally sprinkle  tree branches on lawns to make it look ‘untouched’. And also, the word ‘landscape’ came from the Middle age Dutch ‘Landscap’–“land” and “scap”, epitomize the love and hate relation this country has with its nature.

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A photo from my housemate. Look at these perfectly trimmed trees!

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