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Dutch travelers share cultural stories

Updated: 2023-02-08 08:28 ( XINHUA )
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THE HAGUE — Dutchman Igor Nuijten speaks fluent Chinese and likes tea from Southwest China's Yunnan province, known for its natural landscape and cultural diversity.

With the reopening of outbound travel, more and more Chinese tourists are going abroad. Nuijten and many other Dutch people who are interested in Chinese culture are looking forward to revisiting China after a long pause caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a recent Yunnan cultural and tourism promotion event held in Chinatown in The Hague, Nuijten and some of his compatriots shared stories of their travels in China and said they wished to return there soon.

"Let's go back to the early 1990s," Nuijten says, recalling his student days, when he worked as a part-time tour guide and accompanied a group of about 20 Dutch tourists to Yunnan.

In Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan, the visitors tasted apple in hot toffee, beer, tea and veal. "Chinese food was delicious and inexpensive, and we all had a great time," he said.

In Dali, a city surrounded by mountains, they strolled in the downtown area, watched cormorants catching fish in Erhai Lake, visited an open-air market, and tasted spicy Yunnan cuisine.

Dali has a pleasant climate, with "the four seasons like spring," he said in Chinese.

Nuijten also shared how he understood the meaning of the three-course tea, a local delicacy in Dali. The three courses of tea represent the three stages of life, he said, when you work hard as a young person, the taste is bitter; when you enjoy your life in middle age, the taste is sweet; when you look back on life in old age, the taste is both bitter and sweet.

Hans Doets, who once worked as a marketing officer in the tourist information office in The Hague, said he visited China for the first time 20 years ago.

Over the years, he has been to Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Shenzhen and many other cities, and witnessed the changes that China has experienced. He said he was impressed by the modern urban architecture, the ancient cities with historical heritage, and the Yangtze River, the Pearl River and the West Lake. But what impressed him the most was Chinese people, he said. "They are hardworking. They are friendly. They will always help you and it's very nice to meet them."

Henk Kool, former deputy mayor of The Hague and former chair of the Netherlands-China Association, said he has visited China more than 30 times, and has been to many places in the country. The last time he was there was in 2019, and he looks forward to returning as soon as possible, he said. He has not yet been to Dali and hoped to make up for it next time.

"I miss China very, very much, because I traveled many, many times to China and I like China very, very much," Kool said.

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