Essentials for Netherlands

Netherlands is a flat country, literally speaking. It has fields and fields of farmland, forestry and agriculture. So, it’s not surprising that it’s well-known for its tulips, windmills, wooden clog shoes and porcelain couple in traditional costumes. Here, I’d love to share some tips on the essentials when on a short or long trip to Netherlands:

1. Weather forecast
The Netherlands has very fertile flat lands for growing crops and flowers, thanks to its wet weather. It rains a lot here. Therefore, it’s vital to have updates on the weather. Best website is http://www.buienradar.nl. It’s a great site which shows the weather radar live. You can track how the weather will progress so hopefully you can avoid being caught in the rain. Sometimes, it rains so long that it’s helpful to check the least rain time window. Here comes tip 2.

2. Raingear
Make sure to get a full set of raingear especially when outdoors walking or cycling unless you plan to drive or stay indoors. Umbrellas are not so useful for cycling due to the windy. Oh, gum boots or waterproof boots are of course nice to have if you don’t want to have wet feet.

3. Windbreaker and warm clothing
A jacket will not keep one warm in windy conditions. Therefore, one needs to have a windproof jacket as well.

For long stays:

4. Cooking skills
Eating out in the Netherlands can be a rather challenging affair. Not only it’s expensive, good restaurants are very hard to come by. When it does, there’s always some cons like long waiting time aside the high cost. Best is to cook yourself even though you’ve never cook.

5. Bicycle
Cycling is one of the best way to get around. Remember it’s a flat country. It’s very safe following dedicated cyclist lanes. Watch out if walking. Drivers can be very reckless and dangerous.

6. Sense of humour
In my book, Netherlands can be a very dull, cold, and depressing place. Totally opposite from Australia’s sunny cloudless sky, warm and laid back attitude. Keep your chin up, stay bright and keep up the sense of humour.

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My Galaxy Note 10.1

Early this year, I was so excited when I got the 5.3″ Samsung Galaxy Note. It’s so light and the display is just the right size for portability. The S-pen was a joy to use. Since I love to draw and scribble, the Note was right for me. I have only one big complaint, the screen response somewhat lacks with the S-pen. When you pay so much for such a device, you expect a little bit more. For example it should not have annoying setbacks when it comes to its main features using the S-pen.

Last week, I just bought the Galaxy Note 10.1. It wasn’t a plan purchase. I was looking for a laptop replacement ever since my house was burglared this year one month after moving in. Most people have the mentality that Europe is safe in terms of security etc. However, Netherlands may not be one of them.

Anyway, as I was saying, I was looking for a laptop. I have spent weeks browsing through to see what’s in store. I was eyeing for an ultra book from the likes of Toshiba, Apple, and Lenovo. My choice was actually the Lenovo x230t, a convertible laptop where you can rotate the screen by 360 degrees to convert into a tablet and it comes with a digitiser pen. As usual, these devices are not sold in the Netherlands as with a lot of other thing I’d like to get. I had my shares of experiences buying from the US. The Dutch charges an exorbitant 50% tax on the total price of the goods and the shipping cost. So,in essence, I have to pay much more than 150% for the purchases I made from the US since the shipping fees are rather costly. Therefore, I was hunting for a device in the local store. The Wacom touch screen 24 inch or so is way too big. It’s tough to try choosing from the ultrabooks. There are so many of them. Suddenly, my eyes landed on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 which features S-pen and its ability to take notes, draw, doodle, whatever. Most cool is that we can have two screens open in the same window though it only works for some apps. The other exciting part is how it can detect equations and perform a web search for the solution. However, it was also tempting to get the new iPad since the price is comparable between the two. But, I was more keen on the S-pen features and capabilities and thus I got the Note instead.

After having a dedicated week to try out this tablet, the user ability is so much better that the first Note I got from Samsung. I only lament on the size and weight occasionally since I’m used to smaller, lighter devices. On the other hand, I really like the bigger screen especially for reading since I had my share of reading from the small screen of smartphones. Also it’s really nice that I can copy and paste from one app to another which is a bliss though it can’t yet compete with the laptop in this respect but it’s coming close. For instance, web browsing and word processing do not work as nice. On the plus side, I’m happy that it can edit Microsoft office and very excited that I can draw and write freehand on the office as well as on pdf which i still yet to explore further. Overall, I love using this Note 10.1 for reading news, magazine, books, playing games and listening to podcasts. I have yet to tap into the mighty pen features that it has to offer.