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Sunday, November 17, 2013

That black, dark hole

Five years. It started with Floyd saying "Assess what you have. Not in terms of money, but other things and your abilities!" From there sprung the idea to start Launchpad. What it meant was a lot of polishing door-knobs and meeting people and long hours on weekends. It also meant "entertaining" clients. Read "Getting drunk in the presence of people that may sign a cheque".

While the business took off, the fitness level nose-dived. The 5Km run previously used to wam up is now a major obstacle. However, as we are now settled, I am getting back into shape and out of that black dark hole. Went for a work-out with Kamlesh on my last trip to Hong Kong. What would have been an easy warm up routine a feew years back had me at the point where I was about to just walk out on the training...

New running shoes are ready and tomorrow morning I am breaking them in. Time to get back on track. But first we are going to have Mojitos on the front lawn of the house. Cheers!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A German lives here

After we decorated all the interior of our house, we are now busy with the outsite. Centerpiece is of course the Barbeque (Neighbors already asking "BBQ agaiiiinnn??"). Typically, the evenings are spend with the porch on a Gin + Tonic. Especially fun when the thunder rolls in from the nearby coast. No, I am not going to post my new address here so that anyone can scout the place and plan to steal my TV. Neither am I going to post dates when I am travelling. I leave that to teenage kids to post on their Facebook that they are alone at home.

Adding some German-ness to the place, we got us some of the Gartenzwerge for the outside grass patch. Looking cool and making sure no one dumps litter!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Now's the season again. I got myself a BBQ!
And it is not standing still. In the first 8 days after the purchase, we already had it fired up 4 times. While that is not a record for me, it is not a bad number.

We have now settled in and we are having fun being different. Everyone else is parking their car under the carport. We have hour dining table there. Hey, other people pay to have the "Al Fresco" feeling when they have their dinner...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

House: moved

We thought we arrive in Kuala Lumpur, rent a place for a year and then put down the money for an own place. Well, the World Economic Crisis had other plans and the one year went on to become 5. Finally, last year we plonked down all the money we had, pawned the family silver and we are now proud owners of a house.

The key ingredient still has to be obtained: the Barbeque. I am eying a steel-cylinder type thing that will light the sky and drive the neighborhood mad with the smell of steaks and Bratwurst.

House-warming party slated for mid July.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sleeping around - And coming back for more

Doing some projects, reviewing hotels on trips one makes is fun. Stayed in the "Chatrium Riverside" a few weeks back and this is the view from the restaurant outside. Some people sat inside to enjoy the airconditioning. Aeehhh, why?????

We are heading all back to this place in October to celebrate my birthday. Anyone wants to join let me know as I can get cheap rooms.

I published a review on this place in "Asian Journeys":

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Of hiking the Malaysian jungle and saving tigers

It might have been one of the shortest trips I have ever done in terms of actual distance covered: In 3 days a group of 16 hikers only covered only 12 kilometres in the pristine jungle of Malaysia. However, in this short period of time, one can see and learn more about Malaysia than in a week in the class-room. The trip, organised by Outdoor Gear Malaysia for some of their clients also served a higher purpose.
Tiger populations worldwide have seen a dramatic drop. What used to be 100 000 tigers world-wide has become a mere 3200 animals in the wild. One of the problems is poaching. Here the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) has taken an ingenious approach to protecting the animals. Poachers obviously don't like other people. To deter poaching, MYCAT organises trips to the rainforest areas that connect Taman Negara with the Malaysian Main Range. Obviously, when you populate the forests poachers will stay away as the area is becoming too hot for them. While on these trips, hikers are armed with a hotline to report any poaching (the 24-hour Wildlife Crime Hotline - 019 356 4194). Making noise is actually part of the program. Instead of stalking around the bushes, these trips under the Citizen Action for Tigers (CAT) program are meant to be fun. There are different grades of difficulty for these trips. Some are headed by volunteers and are more like a walk in the park as the idea is just to have people around the forests, while others are a bit more challenging as they lead deep into the undergrowth.

The beauty of the approach MYCAT has taken is that the "CAT Walks" can be anything, tailored to your own needs. Our trip was organised for a provider of outdoor gear, Outdoor Gear Malaysia. The company wanted to allow customers to try their tools in a real live environment. The party set out on Friday evening with a first overnight in a dorm at Taman Negara Sungai Relau, just south of Gua Musang town (GPS  4deg 40’50.18” 102deg 03’25.00”). The next morning, the group assembles at 7am to head into the rainforest. The assembly point is opposite possibly the world’s longest wildlife viaduct, that is being constructed to allow tigers and other wildlife to cross from Taman Negara into the main range. This has been made possible through the lobbying of conservation groups who worked closely with the Malaysian government. This particular stretch of road is elevated to form a ‘wildlife corridor’ for animals to pass from one side to the other and therefore crucial for the populations of various species.
Ashleigh, MYCAT Senior Programme Officer is our "guide". With a wealth of experience in trekking and vast knowledge of the outdoors, he starts with safety briefings and explanations on the environment found during the trip. As we head into the forest, we make regular stops for him to explain about animal trails, snares, traps, poaching and how to manoeuvre in the forest. As we cross a deforested area, the group sees with own eyes at what price economic growth comes. An hour later we are deep in the jungle. The canopy of the prime forest blocks a lot of sunlight and it is getting very humid as there is literally no wind movement on ground level (Didn't my wife say it was much colder in the forest?).
Progressing into the forest, we cross ravines (small ones, admitted) and rivers. We see traces of human activity (most likely poachers): discarded cigarette packs, wires and other tools needed to make traps for tigers and other animals. We move on as MYCAT is not out to escalate the situation. You may have been to Bukit Nanas in Kuala Lumpur, which is also prime forest, but what you will find here is completely different. The jungle is so dense that you will have no orientation, "visibility" is just a few meters. By noon the group rests on the banks of a river and the first people take a dip in the crystal clear water. We head further into the forest to find our first camp site.
At around 5pm we are setting up our first camp. Tasks are being handed out: someone is to start a fire, another one to set up clothes-lines to try our shirts. Tea is being prepared and the smell of food floats through the air. Camping takes on a different shape as tents are frowned upon. One sleeps in hammocks. One of the advantages is that you won't get washed away in case of heavy downpours. Also, most animals don't climb up trees. Lengthy swims are being taken at the river and equipment is being tried (Look, these ropes reflect light, but only when you shine directly onto them!). Fresh water is being "produced" by using a special canvas sack that filters sediment. The water quality would be good enough for consumption at this point, but most people are using either UV light or chemical treatment just to be sure. The 7pm Cicada, about fist-size, circles the camp. The cicada's sound is that of a Kancil honking while driving through our campsite. With no artificial light other than from our headlamps or the campfire, it gets very quiet around 8pm and most people retreat to get some sleep. Rain around midnight wakes me up. A thunderstorm is rolling in and heavy raindrops hit the canopy without seeming to reach the ground.
Coffee smell wakes up the group and within an hour the camp is broken down and everyone is ready to go. The trail is taking us through the forest to another site "just 1.5 kilometres from here". We will need all day to cover this distance. As we go along, Ashleigh explains why one should always walk along the ridges of hills, lets people try to eat specific leaves and explains how Orang Asli live and hunt in the forest. The Orang Asli tribe in the area support the CAT program as they understand that the aim is to protect the forest and wildlife.
MYCAT's office is located in Petaling Jaya, Selangor and anyone interested in a trip to the forest is encouraged to join them. There are trips happening all year around with most taking only two days while extended programs can take a few days. Companies may send staff as regular volunteers, thus making it a CSR activity.
Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT)
Challenges to tiger conservation are multi-faceted and finding solutions to the problems faced by the species requires an integrated conservation approach, which is the foundation of the establishment of MYCAT in September 2003.

MYCAT is an alliance of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia Programme and WWF-Malaysia, supported by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia for joint implementation of the National Tiger Conservation Action Plan for Malaysia.
A 22nd Century Malaysia in which viable populations of tigers thrive in the wild in perpetuity.

The recovery of tiger populations through collaboration and cooperation.

To provide a formal yet flexible platform for information exchange, collaboration and resource consolidation among conservation organisations united by the shared vision of achieving thriving wild tiger populations in Malaysia.

The roles of the MYCAT Secretariat’s Office are to:
1. Facilitate communication between the partners.
2. Coordinate collaborative efforts and manage joint projects
3. Assist the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in monitoring the
implementation of the National Tiger Conservation Action Plan
4. Consolidate information from the partners to disseminate to the public

See: or for more information, or contact MYCAT Secretariat’s Office at

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Food - not for everyone

If you have been following the Blair Toast Project of mine on Facebook, you know that my diet isn't exactly award winning. While on the ARN with TNT (Don't you love abbreviations?) I was eating at 7Eleven for 6 days in a row: breakfast, lunch and Dinner...

Here a snapshot of the alternative. Found this at a Shell station along the highway from Bangkok (Great food there at the end of the trip... Steak!).

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A different type of travel

My next trip reminds me a bit of my backpacking days back in the early 2000s. This time around TNT will be picking me up with a truck. For a couple of days I will be riding along with a load of goods to be delivered across borders.

The ride will start at Kuala Lumpur's International Airport, take me into Bangkok and then onwards into Laos. Got a visa (not the card) for Laos already. Another full page gone for a sticker!

From Laos the return trip terminates in Bangkok where I will be meeting business partners for discussions. I am scheduled to arrive at 4:00am. Any clubs still open?

Will be fund and a lot of coffee. Pictures later.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Life dictated by a website

"Unfriend" someone on Facebook whose posts you find annoying? A new study finds that that person may avoid you, forever.

I am sorry folks. Just because I don't really care about your eating habits or the poop your kid did this morning doesn't mean I can't be your "friend" anymore. It is sad to see how much influence the so called "modern communication" ha! has gained.

There are groups of people I am dealing with. There are some I would never go out with for a drink, others I would not want to go on a vacation with. And yet others don't need ot be on my "Facebook". But as for the latter, I may want to engage otherwise with them.

Whereever you look nowadays, there are groups of people sitting around tables, everyone engrossed in their own gadget. Sad.

This post was written while I was alone, waiting for 2 people that are NOT in my friends list on Facebook. We'll have a blast of a time. I promise.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Blair Toast Project

Facebook. Hate it or love it. I haven't decided yet. But what I know is that I am completely at a loss as to why people post food pictures. You ask me, your Curry Laksa looks like the next one.

For the past 35 years, my breakfast has been: 2 slices of toast and a coffee. I wake up and I am hungry. But not much. I just need to get started. And 2 slices of toast and a coffee do exactly that.
I thought, since everyone things people are interested in their dinners, someone might be interested in my breakfasts.

So I started The Blair Toast Project.A picture of my breakfast every morning, uploaded to Facebook. Right. It is the same every morning; Toast. And Coffee.Sometime the coffee gets a splash of milk. Sometimes it is cheese. On the toast, not in the coffee. Duh!!!

And please, don't try to tell me that this is all not healthy, or it is boring, that no one can eat the same thing every day. I'll bet an ice cream that you either don't have breakfast or have something VERY similar every morning too. Don't try to tell me that you have an elaborate breakfast before you go to work or that you have 24 different things to mix up every morning. My guess is that you have a bowl of cereal and a coffee.

Hope you enjoy my culinary journey through the years.