Interview with the Consul General of the Netherlands Chongqing

17th August 2018


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The CQ Expat Guide are honored to have interviewed Mr. Koen Sizzo (孔思哲), the Consul-General of Netherlands in Chongqing. Enjoy the interview and feel free to contact us if you have any more questions!

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1.How many times have you and your family traveled to China?

Quite a few times because I used to work in shanghai for 4 years in the early 2000’s, and then came back to Chongqing again in 2016.

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2.What impresses you the most about Chongqing?

It is such an enormously big city, and I think it’s also a very special city in China. Most Chinese cities are very similar, they are big and flat, and they look a little bit alike, but Chongqing is a city of mountains and rivers, bridges, of mist if you go outside, sometimes it looks like a science fiction city that’s floating in the clouds, all these islands floating in the clouds connected by bridges, so I think it’s one of the most spectacular Chinese cities I’ve ever seen.

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3.How do you like the local food?

The food is very special too, I happen to like spicy food, I’ve already eaten it before I came here, so I have no trouble eating Chongqing’s food, the Sichuan cuisine, and lots of that here in Chongqing.

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4.Which one do you like the most?

This was even before I came to Chongqing, even before I knew I was going to Chongqing my favorite dish was Chongqing Laziji, so I know I’ve come to the right place.

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5.Holland is one of the best places to live in the world, could you please share with us the main reasons?

Holland is half the size of Chongqing, in both population and territory, so it’s a very small country. It has high economic development, it’s got a long history, and quite an interesting culture, which is also unique in Europe. It’s not as hot as Chongqing, well, these days it’s been a bit hotter because the last two weeks we’ve had a tropical heat wave in the Netherlands, but still not quite as hot as Chongqing. It’s just a very nice, agreeable place to live with a good climate, and everything works very well.

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6.We all know that Holland is a country of tulips. Do they sell tulips to Chongqing?

There are lot of tulips being exported to China, and they also come to Chongqing. There are quite a few shops selling tulips. The tulips are always from the Netherlands. It’s one of our national flowers and one of the icons in the Netherlands. When people think of tulips, they think of the Netherlands, when they think of the Netherlands, they think of tulips. There are a few other things, but flowers are definitely in all those colors, even one that was named after the Chinese president’s wife during their visit to the Netherlands a few years back.

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7.Why is the windmill so famous in Holland?

Traditionally, we are a country of the sea, so we have a lot of wind and the windmills were used to power machinery. As you may know, a lot of parts of the Netherlands were reclaimed from the sea, and to keep the water out a lot of energy is needed which is why windmills always came in, because there was always wind so they could be used to pump the water out of the country.

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8.It’s a country of canals, so do locals usually get aroma using canal boats? And, if we go there, can we hire canal boats?

In some cities, they do. There’s a very famous place in the north of the country, that a lot of Chinese tourists go where canals are always how the people get around, using canals for transport. In the city where I live myself, for instance, Leiden, there’s lots of canals, and they are being used, but they also use the roads, but sometimes, in the countryside close to where I live, people still use the canals to go to school in the morning and, of course, you can hire canal boats. In big cities, like Amsterdam or Leiden, there’s usually some services where you can get a canal boat. I’m not sure you can rent and drive one yourself because there’s a lot of traffic on the water, so you need to know what you are doing.

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9.How do most people do in Holland spend their leisure time?

We work hard but we like to have a good life too, so a lot of people spend time with their family, lots of people play sports in the winter when it’s cold, and the canals freeze over, people like to go ice skating. And they also like traveling around the world.

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10.I heard that you used to be a national fencer. Do you prefer fencing to being a consul general? What made you change your career?

Actually, I did both at the same time for a while, I started fencing when I went to university and I got better and better and better, and I ended up on the national team around the same time that I finished university. I got in at the ministry of foreign affairs about the same time that I went to the world championship with the national team. It’s a good to have something physical to do next to the normal work, I think it’s a good combination.

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11.What sites would you recommend to travelers to the Netherlands?

It’s a small country so it’s easy to travel, and there are many places you can go. We have already motioned Amsterdam, which is very popular with Chinese tourists, but you can go to the Friesland, which is extremely flat, very watery, very green also, a lot of cows there and, in the south of the country, we have Limburg, which is much different from other places, we have other cities besides those, like Rotterdam which is a modern city with modern architecture.

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12.Is it easy for travelers, such as Chinese, to navigate the cities and countryside?

The Netherlands, as a country, is smaller than Chongqing. Our biggest cities are Amsterdam and Rotterdam, but each of those cities is not even 1 million people so, to Chinese tourists, it’s not really a big city. We have excellent public transportation, so it’s quite easy to navigate without many problems, and most people speak English so, if people lose their way, there’s usually someone who can help you.

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