Holland has mountains!
Today I took the day off and went to see one of the things on my must-see-while-in-Japan list: Huis Ten Bosch. It's a Dutch-themed theme park where a Dutch town is recreated in life-size. As a Dutch person it seemed ridiculous to me to have a theme park based on Holland, but after today I kind of understand it. Huis Ten Bosch is Holland, but then it isn't. It's like Disneyland, but without the fun. With that I mean that the atmosphere being created is very much that of a fairytale and everything looks clean and sweet and nice, but it lacks the attractions that Disneyland has. It's more of a place to stroll around and take photos. Everything is really beautiful, incredibly beautiful. Compared to the real Holland this place is at least three times as beautiful. Unreal. It's like they compressed Holland into a tiny little ball and then dropped it between some mountains.
It's funny: in the center of the park bicycles are not allowed, yet you're allowed to smoke in cafe's. The exact opposite of Holland. It's amazing how clean they keep everything. At one point I saw a horse and wagon walking by. The wagon stopped, the driver got out, grabbed a bucket and held it under the horse, which then proceeded to pee. Now that's clean.
I also encountered a fellow Dutchman and had my first real-life Dutch conversation in months. The guy showed me around a bit and told me how he ended up in Japan. His hobby was to tinker with bicycles, and he had created various interesting-looking bicycles, including a recumbent bicycle (ligfiets) and a classic-looking one with a huge wheel that you had to climb onto to get in.
I expected a lot of Japanese silliness and craziness, but it was a surprisingly normal place. Very theme-park-y, but not in an annoying way. I quite enjoyed myself and would go there again if I had a chance. Well, at least 5 years later, I guess.
On a tech note, my DSLR is having some serious problems. The 50D+18-200mm combination has serious trouble focusing unless all the focus points have something to focus on, or else it keeps seeking. The automatic focus point selection is not working, I guess, cause it seems to always select the worst possible point to focus on, like a clear blue sky. It then fails to focus (of course) and keeps on seeking before giving up. I tried fixing this in the menu's but nothing I do seems to work. Another minor issue is that the light metering seems to suck no matter what setting I put it on. Today in particular I never seemed to get the right exposure. I tried switching to spot metering, center avg etc. but that didn't make a difference. Or maybe it did, but it only got worse. Most photos I've taken today are the result of 2 or 3 of the same shots taken with different exposure. Guh. Oh, and ever since I dropped my camera on the day that I started my trip the shutter button is kinda broken: I have to push it really hard to take a photo. Double guh.
Tomorrow I am cycling to Nagasaki! The place where it all began. Three years ago, a sad sad rv went to Nagasaki and climbed on his touring bicycle for the first time. He went on a crazy adventure and ended up on the beautiful island of Yoron with his buddy Kamil. And his life would never be the same again..