Friday, December 7, 2012

Formula 1 no more

When I still lived in Germany, back in the mid 90s, I would watch EVERY Formula 1 race. Now, I am living in Asia and some races are as cheap as 30 Euro to get into. But I have stopped to watch the Formula 1 altogehter. Why?

Simple: These constant rule changes by the FIA. Here the latest:

"next season drivers will only be able to utilise the Drag Reduction System (DRS) overtaking aid within designated DRS zones during practice and qualifying for safety reasons. Previously drivers had been free to deploy the system as they pleased in these sessions."
What the Foot???? Is this about racing or what??

To me, racing means you put the pedal to the metal and whoever is fastest wins. None of that: he will be penalised because he used the CIA system 3 seconds prior to the FBI advancement being deployed, allowing the Total Quality Control System to take over ahead of the No-Non overtaking barring system to kick in in conjunction with the RFID monitoring...

I race to the bar now. 1 RM beers on offer. VERY happy hour.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fly with me

"So, how was the flight?" Good question. Or at least it used to be. There are some 3000 starts and landings per day in Germany alone. I think air-travel has become the new bus trip. With millions of people flying everywhere and all the time, things have changed.

I remember times when it was allowed to smoke in the plane. And you could sit in the non-smoking section. As it THAT would make any difference. People would applaud when the plane landed. I am so glad that that is over and done...

So, how was my flight? Typical as per the following:
- Go to airport, check in
- Lounge around at McD, check emails
- Board the plane, try to figure out the inflight entertainment.
- Food, some more coffee? No thanks, I am on diet. Hahahaha.
- Landing, everyone eager to get out of the thing

So, yeah. My flight was, well. Just that.

But every now and then, there is some excitement. Like on the trip to Japan. When some fella couldn't help it and absolutely needed to have a smoke in the toilet. Man, did that create a stirr. With passengers being interrogated as to who dunnit and the offender being escorted off the plane. Well, or like this Wednesday, when the announcement came that a doctor is needed, because a passenger felt sick. Poor sod. 35 000 feet high and no where to go.

I was just completely scared because that (announcement) usually marked the beginning of a horrifying journey in the 1980s plane crash movies.

This blog post will now take off, have food and land.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Open house!


Posting that you are leaving the house / country BEFORE you leave is dangerous. I don't understand why people broadcast to the whole world that they are on vacation for 2 weeks and hope that everything will be alright since the friend has no time this time to look after the place. May as well post a note that the key is under the mat, as always.

During our recent stay in Germany we went to Hamburg. Imagine that: in broad daylight! The Reeperbahn was not only empty, but non-happening. Guess 3pm is a bit too early for all the birds to come out and prey. But then again, it was a great day to just walk around and explore the city. Starting from the old "Speicherstadt", we made our way to the Alster, had a look at a Japanese brand store (Sure, as if we don't have any Asian brands here in KL...) and onwards to the Rapper Bahn.

Next I want to head to anything with a beach again, or to Vietnam.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Asian Invasion

Currently I am in Germany, visiting the IAA in Hannover. A bunch of friends from Kuala Lumpur joined. It feels a little like an Asian Invasion with 3 of them wondering around the town of Bad Muender trying to order stuff in English, which no one understands here.

The visit to the IAA was good so far as we have met with lots of clients, people that we know from Asia and new folks that we haven't met before. Some exhibits are exciting. All in all, one can see a lot of very functional booths. I thought the Daimler booth (entire hall) was a bit over the top, but hey!

The weather is a blast, temperatures around 17 Degrees and sleeping with the window open.
Lots of Schnitzel is being consumed. I need a beer now.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Doomed?


"Klank" it goes this morning. The sound is familiar. It is the sound that you hear when you accidentially drop your motorbike when standing at the traffic light (Embarrassing yourself. Typically happens to those 1,50 tall folks that think a KTM off-road bike is a good idea). Anyway, when I look out of the window, there is a big on the street (In the yellow box, on the far right). I see no rider. I am waiting, scanning the area for the driver to limp out behind the car at the traffic light. Takes me several minutes to see that there is a body about 75 meters back on the road (where the group of people is gathered). It took me to take the wide-angle lens to get the scene in. Driver died while waiting for the ambulance.

Two rapist (having had sex with 13 year olds) were let go in Malaysia. The judges ruled that the fellons had "a bright future and should be given a chance..". Aha. Here is the thing: if you want to commit murder then, it is ok, just make sure you have a seemingly bright future. You'll be alright.

Condoleeza Rice (Acklowledged, I didn't check the right spelling of her name. You know who I am talking about) was on TV giving a speech. In essence about how great the US is. Sure lot's of good things. But then she talked about how amazingly strong the people were and how they overcame the difficulties of the 2008 WFC (World Finance Crisis). Yeah right! We had this "amazing experience" BECAUSE OF THE US! Don't tell me how great the people were in uniting and working their way through it...

Ha! And the funny thing: In seventh grade we had a drawing competition: "how do you think the new European currency will look like?". I failed that assignment as I did not take it seriously. Today I am having a bit of a giggle when I read about the efforts to rescue the Euro. We are heading to Germany in 2 weeks time and for the first time since I am out in Asia the exchange rate isn't giving me rashes and a Curry Wurst is actually somewhere near the "affordable endulgence" bracket of things.

Robert de Niro seems to have lost the ability to pick great movies to play in...

And "Oppa Dunnam Style" (again not bothering with correct name) is a hit.

Why?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

And the winner is....


me! During the media trrip to Japan, organised by Isuzu Malaysia, 18 journalists had a go at being the most fuel efficient driver. Must be some Scottish blood in me as I was the one using the least fuel on the test round. We drove the Isuzu 8 x 4 Giga. Actually, except for the punch when you hit the accelerator, it is pretty much like driving a car.

Liked Hokkaido in Japan. Very much like Germany in Summer with farmers tending to their fields, long evenings and rolling hills. Just that the volcanos gave me a bit of the creeps. After all, they do erupt every now and then...

Friday, July 13, 2012

A differnt view of Hong Kong


This week I was in Hong Kong to speak at an event, organised by the Government, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China. Thanks to HKTDC I was flying Business class on Cathay Pacific. Now the problem is that I won't want to fly Economy Class again. The lounges were really cool: uninterrupted internet. Not to mention the free flow of coffee (and chanpagne of course).

The Grand Hyatt in Wan Chai offered an amazing view (see above) and easy access to the conference where I was speaking. The only issue was my delayed flight. Had to spend 10 hours in the said lounge on the way to Hong Kong.

Now back and working my way through tons of mail, email and things to do...
Ready for the next vacation!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

German and what?

I have had several people poking me because the German team lost in the Semi-finals. Wasn't it the same with the World-Cup? The Germans play great all the way, just that they fail when it counts. A bit like erectile dysfunction, no? All good until the moment when it get's really exciting.

Actually, I haven't see a single minute of the championship. Who wants to get up at 2 in the morning to get depressed?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Man! Hole



What I liked most about our Japan trip (Besides the obvious: it being a vacation and spending time with the better half??)? Well, interestingly I think it were the manholes in different cities, accessing the sewege systems. Every city seems to have a different, unique one. Which makes it exciting to sometimes look down as well. here the one from Osaka.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Touristas

A few days too late for Cherry Blossom, we have to make do with other blossom. This is a picture taken in Osaka on our arrival day (Sunday 27th). We are having a blast of a time, ordering food from vending machines, exploring local landscapes, feeding deer and figuring out the subway systems.

We stayed in a "temple lodging". Great surrounding up in Koyasan. The "hotel" was also great, but we did not like the vegetarion only food. There is a lot one can do with just veggies, but this one didn't work for us.

Later I will try the cream against "horny feet"...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Vacation - Finally

The hard work is now paying off. Finally, Nicole is looking at listings of houses fro sale and we should be able to plonk down the deposit for an own place any minute now.

Also, we are now ready for a loooooong vacation. Mentally, we have been in that state for a while, but now we have the budget, reason and also the time to go for a week to Japan. Guess it will be a lot of Sushi, Sashimi and Teppanyaki! Bonsai!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Better sit still today

It is a very bizarre feeling in KL today. A bit like back in the days when the people in the "DDR" protested every Monday. A NGO has staged the third instalment of a rally to protest for clean and fair elections in the running up to the coming election. They are already gathering for a 2pm sit-down protest and letting balloons in "Angry Birds" shape fly.

Police hs responded by closing some 58 roads around the "Independance Square" and are out in full force. Last time (July 9th 2011) the protests where the most peaceful thing I have seen since my school graduation until the police decided to break up the protestors with teargas and watercannons. Apparently, they even fired tear gas into hospitals (Police denies this though).

Normally, this would be something I would want to be part of, get there, get involved. Soak up the atmosphere and talk to people. However, as I am not allowed to participate in any political activities as a holder of a work permit, I will be sitting still and watch the events unfold on Facebook, Youtube and in the news.

Personally, I think Malaysia is at a crossroads and today will be a very important day for this nation.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Carted off in Jakarta


Been to Jakarta last week. My second time. I must say, besides the horrendous traffic conditions, actually a nice place. The budget terminal is rather nice and clean. A great welcome. You can walk in the middle of a street in downtown and people will just skirt around you. No honking, no near-misses. At the end of the week, everyone in the street would holler "Salamat Pagi!" when I lumbered down the street to grab my breakfast.

People are very friendly and helpful. Ok, they may not hold masters in English, but one gets by. Here we see the "phone shop people" loading some credit onto my phone. What joy. Although I did not have a chance to ride one, I thought the grasshopper looking thingies were fun vehicles. 3-wheeled tuk-tuks. Berentengtengs.... Lots of noise and 2-stroke smoke. But apparently very cheap and given the size likely to go through the thickest traffic.

To top things, there were demonstrations. The government planned a 60% price hike for petrol. That did not sit well with the people and they took to the streets. Result: an empty exhibition hall were I was supposed to launch a new brand.

Maybe it is time to go back to Jakarta and have another look, make it a family trip.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Many firsts on a repeat visit

When you sit on a plane, you sometimes have a lot of time to reflect. It struck me that the last trip to Hong Kong had been one of "many firsts".  Some of those can be found in a write up that will soon be published in Asian Journeys. I came up with quite a list:

It was the first time I actually sat on an Egg Chair. This one was in my room in the Mira Hotel Hong Kong (www.themirahotel.com), the first Design Hotel I stayed in. My room theme was red as indicated by the sculpture in the lift lobby of my floor. Other rooms have different coloured Egg Chairs.

Later in the evening I had a chat with the bbartender of Room1 in the Mira Hotel. The request for a Gin tonic resulted in 2 firsts: The first time I had a "The London No 1" gin and a "Fevertree Tonic". Check out the colour of the Gin. Special!



Their inhouse restaurant Whisk then whipped up some wicked food: Chili butter. Ok, I knew Garlic butter, but Chili? Great stuff. Need to see if one can buy it someplace. It came with bread and a tomato soup, meant to be served cold and the first time I actually enjoyed cold soup.
Thanks to the Tokoro in Langham Place (hongkong.langhamplacehotels.com) I had my first Japanese Whiskey.

Sometimes you miscalculate, ending up having to buy an extra shirt. This was the first time I had to buy 2!

It is also the first time I am changing the font of my blog posts..

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Whisky Diary

Last week in Hong Kong was fun. Stayed in an amazing hotel and "had" to review a whiskey bar.
This weekend was and still is very liquid. Friday night I was over at the Vice President of MCBC for dinner. A lot of good food and drinks were had. At the end of the evening (well, morning really), I got home and the bed would not not be standing still when I tried to jump into it.

Last night we then went to celebrate Nadia's birtday, followed by a visit to the Backyeard. We sat out front.. :-). There I was re-enacting the rum diaries. Considering that I have a Sake night on Tuesday, I think the aim for the next 2 days is to stay away from any intoxicating drinks and give the body a chance to recover.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A lot of travel


These guys are already waiting for my return... Monday I am heading to Hong Kong. Asian Trucker mission and a hotel review to be done for Asian Trucker. This kind of stuff ensures that I get to see different hotels every time I go.

Once back, we then help organising the 4th Las Vacas Steak Challenge. Then off to Kota Kinabalu and Jakarta. In between there may be a trip to Europe coming up.

Meanwhile, I am trying to find some time to get a vacation going with the Missus. Beach? City? City? Beach?? Well. Let's see. The first part of the year has been good, a lot of work so we deserve it.
Reminds me, I need a new swimming trunk. And have my diving mask fitted with perscription glasses so I can finally get some diving done. Last time I tried, it took me 2 hours to unsuccessfully insert my contact lenses. Looked like a bloody rabbit after that, with all the red eyes.

Tonight: Japanese buffet overdose. Salmon anyone...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Magnificent Malaysian Mangroves


Literally across the highway from Taiping is a huge area of mangroves. Apparently award winning and one of the largest intact areas on the planet.

We went to have a look and were even able to convince someone to get the boat going for a short tour. The captain told us that there are thousands of fireflies to see at night (Got to come back then, huh?) and there are also alligators (Sorry, no swimming then).

Not sure if it is a good or bad thing that this place is so totally unknown. The seafood restaurants overlooking the river made for an beautiful stop to fill up the energy reserves and offered a good view of the hustle and bustle. Then again, maybe a good thing that there aren't hordes of people rushing through.

Man, Groove in the mangrove...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Long weekend - Taiping

Having spend Chinese New Year on planes, I am taking the long weekend as an opportunity to relax a bit. We are up in Taiping, climbing mountains, jogging and relaxing in general.

If I had the right cable, I would also download some images from my phone to post here... ;-)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Urbanisation is so 1980s

When I was in school, 20 years ago, we would read and learn about Urbanisation. The concept being that (big) cities would be more attractive as there is more work, higher salaries and wages, generally more opportunities. People living on farmlands would migrate to the nearby / far cities to try their luck, hoping for a better, brighter future. While this worked for some, it did not for all. Unpleasant side effects are huge cities with traffic congestion, slums as not everyone would find work etc.

I think today this effect has escalated to something that I would call "Countrification". It is not the bigger, more wealthy city that attracts people, but a richer country. Whole populations are on the move to countries that offer a new perspective. Take the "Amah" or domestic helper. Half of the female population of Manila must be working in Malaysia, Singapore or Hong Kong as hired help around the house. Most waiters in restaurants here are from Burma. And I know a whole bundle of Malaysians that move to Singapore as they have better chances there.

One interesting and negative side effect: I cannot understand the waiters anymore. They know how to get to work, but no English... Ordering food becomes a lottery, but we are all happier with more money we make and a busy travel industry, shipping folks around the planet for new employments.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Do you miss the food from home?


Interestingly, I get asked a lot of times if I am missing the food from home or if I can get the same food as "back home". Yes, you can. Thanks to globalisation. Found this really great Confiture. Grabbed the strawberry and was overwhelmed by the taste.

Exactly what a Confiture should be: Not too sweet, yes with fruits, but not the entire fruit, making it hard to eat it. No sugary taste or traces of any preservatives etc. Just great strawberry taste. Haven't seen this in Germany though, which proves that "out here" you will sometimes some real gems.

Some information from their website (http://www.albertmenes.fr/confitures.html):
Albert Ménès jams are slow-cooked with high fruit content but not any strawberry makes the Albert Ménès mark.  Le premier critère de qualité est la variété du fruit : notre confiture de fraise utilise des fraises senga sengana, petites et au goût très concentré, les roses du confit sont des Centifolia en provenance de la région de Grasse.The first criterion in choosing fine, natural ingredients is about the fruit variety. Albert Ménès Strawberry Jam is made only with strawberries of the Senga Sengana species, chosen for their small size, flavour, strong taste and outstanding crunchiness. The strawberries are sorted and selected before being preserved whole in pure cane sugar to give a jam easily spreadable with the enjoyment of full strawberries.
Bon appetit!