Having lived in Amsterdam and now Singapore, what would you say is the biggest difference between the two?
The layout of the city. In Singapore you have to know where you’re going, or else you’ll end up on a big road with nothing, but in Amsterdam, wherever you go, you’ll find the place. And it’s much easier to get around by cycling in Amsterdam. There are a lot of bikes available here, but there are no dedicated bike lanes on the roads.
What are some of your hobbies?
I read a lot. I’ve been able to do that a lot more now, because I travel by bus more than by bicycle, which gives me more time to read. That’s one of the things I love about Singapore.
It’s a recent favourite, but I enjoyed The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It’s about building cathedrals and it’s amazing. Even though it’s set in the Middle Ages, the characters feel like people you might meet today and it’s relevant even now. It has politics, love, treason, loyalty, devotion—all these themes that are so relevant to our lives no matter the period.
Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met while traveling?
In France there are a lot of refugees and people who immigrated when they were just children, so you meet people from different countries with all kinds of histories. I really like having conversations with taxi or Uber/Grab drivers; they always have amazing stories to tell. There was a Vietnamese man who fought during the war. He was in the forest on the border with Laos, waiting for his papers to find out if he could emigrate with his family, and he told me that while he chose to move to France, one of his brothers chose the United States, and yet another chose somewhere else. He just built his life anew from then. I’ve never lived through a war, and I’m thankful for that, but hearing that story was an emotional experience.
A dish that best describes you:
Maybe it’s because I’m French, but I really like cheese. My favourite cheese is Roquefort, it’s a blue cheese made from sheep’s milk instead of cow’s or goat’s milk.