Day 51 – Amsterdam

Press / Day 51 of 64 / 29 June

Day 2! I left the hostel at 9.45am and headed to the Nieuwe Kerk at Dam Square. The former church now serves as an exhibition space, and one of its most famous recurring exhibitions, the World Press Photo exhibition, was currently going on. The World Press Photo exhibition is a travelling exhibition that traditionally begins in Amsterdam before travelling to other cities in the world. It exhibits some of the best examples of photojournalism from the past year.

I’ve always been interested in journalism, in particular, photojournalism. I’ve always loved the idea of using photos to capture history, to invoke emotion, to enact change. As much as writing serves the same purpose, I prefer the simplicity of emotion that photos can create. As one of the videos at the exhibit mentioned, you must be able to feel a World Press Photo “in your stomach”.

Ever since the Iraq War, which I used to meticulously follow on Channel NewsAsia as a kid, I’ve been fascinated and enthralled with the role and duties of photojournalists or war correspondents. Visiting the World Press Photo exhibition has once again renewed that fire.

I left the exhibition at around 12.30pm and realised that I didn’t really have much scheduled for my day. I decided to visit two places: the headquarters of Armada Music, and VU University. Just as I was trying to come up with a plan to occupy my evening, Jeffery, a friend from my time in the Air Force, asked me if I wanted to attend a gathering on his friend’s houseboat. Jeffery was studying in The Hague, but he would be coming down to Amsterdam to attend the party tonight, so he asked if I would like to join. I said yes, and that I looked forward to setting foot in a houseboat.

Lunch and a stroll before setting off from Dam Square.

So, in the afternoon, I visited the headquarters of Armada Music, before visiting VU University’s campus after. Both were located some distance from the city centre, around a 30-minute tram and bus ride away.

After a long walk from the nearest bus stop, I arrived at Armada Music, located in a sleepy industrial area. Armada Music is the label owned by the Dutch Trance God, Armin van Buuren. Every Thursday, the headquarters is where he broadcasts his weekly “A State of Trance” podcast from. Although I couldn’t go inside the building, it still felt sort of surreal to finally see the building that made so many nua nights possible.

I don’t think you need to guess what I’m listening to.

I arrived at the campus of VU University after a short tram ride from Armada Music’s headquarters. VU is one of the universities that I’m considering going on exchange to. In fact, my entire time in Europe has been a sort of recce trip for exchange. There wasn’t a whole lot to see, so I left the campus and headed back to my hostel to rest before the gathering in the evening.

Jeffery and I arrived at the houseboat at around 7pm. Before that, we went to a supermarket to pick up some bottles of wine to give as gifts and some food for the BBQ. The houseboat was surprisingly stable, with none of the rocking I had expected. This was a good thing, considering there were more than 10 people at the gathering.

Jeffery introduced me to his friends, all students of Hotelschool The Hague. They were all very welcoming, and the owners of the houseboat were really hospitable. The group was extremely international, with Dutch, German, and Colombian being just some of the nationalities present. It was a great simple gathering of friends in an unconventional, at least to me, venue. Thanks Jeffery for the invite!

The man himself!

– Ryan

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