Yesterday was the Dutch National Holiday of Queensday, basically a day to honor the royal family. The Queen and her family always visit one or more places in Holland and in most other towns and cities there are celebrations. Also Dutch embassies and consulates all over the world organize Queensday events, and because yesterday coincided with the opening of the World Expo 2010, this year a high-level Dutch government delegation was in Shanghai to join the celebrations.
In the morning some delegation members visited Tudou, where my wife and I gave them a tour of the office and we then both gave a presentation to the group. I mainly talked about Spil Games and my wife’s presentation was about Tudou’s development and business model. We had an interesting discussion about (among others) doing business for European companies in China with the group, that consisted of among others the head of the Dutch employers organization VNO-NCW (Mr. Bernhard Wientjes, who coinidentally is also a neighbor of my parents) and the Dutch vice-minister of foreign trade.
But they could not stay very long, because after the 1.5 hour discussion with them we all went to the Millenium Hotel for the Queensday lunch celebrations (my wife had meetings at Tudou so she couldn’t join). Prime minister Jan-Peter Balkenende also joined the lunch reception, and my colleague Joop Dorresteijn took a picture together with him. Both the prime minister and consul general Eric Verwaal gave good speeches: not long talks or dry remarks, but short speeches full of (Dutch) humor.
A pity was that for some reason the traditional herring was not available (as compensation Dutch licorice in the form of a fish was available, as Eric Verwaal remarked!), but the traditional bitterballen (small deep-fried meatballs with mustard) were there. There was also a lunch buffet (not Dutch but Chinese) and of course lots of drinks.
Many people from the Dutch community were present and I talked to lots of people that I hadn’t seen in a while. Among others I met the person who sat next to me during my flight back to China last week (a former ABN Amro banker turned entrepreneur)! I also met several people that I mainly know from Twitter, always nice to meet them in real life.
I enjoyed the lunch reception, but could not stay too long because I had other meetings in the afternoon. A pity, because the weather was fantastic (25 degrees and sunny) and the location (the garden of the Millenium hotel) was great as well.
After work I ended the week on the couch at home, watching the opening of the Expo 2010. I did not have tickets (I actually did not even try to get them), and I was glad I did not have them: I had expected a spectacle similar to the opening of the Beijing Olympics, but this event was far from that. Lots of singing and dancing, unimpressive graphics and even a speech of the French head of the International Expo Organization that was partly given in Chinese and therefore impossible to understand. The whole thing was so boring that I managed to fall asleep during the ceremony!
Even the fireworks were a bit disappointing, they were huge but to me they just didn’t seem very impressive on TV. They just caused a lot of smoke, that was not only visible on TV but that you could also still smell an hour later – when we arrived downtown to meet for drinks at a club. I certainly hope the rest of the Expo will be more successful!
All in all a different Queensday than usual: normally I don’t really celebrate it when in China, or when I’m in Holland I normally party in Amsterdam on the eve of Queensday. It certainly was an eventful day and I won’t forget about it soon.