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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

These Boots are Made for

Security staff mainly. Used by every guard down at your condominium, the fellas the ensure everyone is alright in the malls and the amoured guards driving money around. They must make them by the millions. And I think that is the reason why they are also THAT cheap. How cheap?

Extremely cheap. So cheap in fact that I grabbed two pairs. One for the car, in case I need to stalk around some construction site or sumsuch and one to keep at home. You never know. They are RM 50 or EUR 10 a PAIR! How is that even possible? Surely, the shop selling them would take some of that. They need to be shipped and even if they are produced locally, the driver needs to get paid.

Are they also comfortable? Now, THAT is a bit of a lottery. One pair is totally fine, whereas the other gives you pain after 5 hours of walking like you wouldn't believe. Then again, 10 EURO! For a pair. Thes must be, in all my 46 years here, be the cheapest shoes I have ever had.

Pertzi's Honest Travel Hacks and Rants: Theft Protector

 Recently my wallet got lifted from my pocket. I have to admit, it was a weird situation as I typically leave everything in the safe except for the room key and just enough cash for the day. Or night. The robbers got away with a wallet that was falling apart, three old business cards and a work permit that isn’t much use unless you are balding and white as a bedsheet. What is hard to understand is how some people can advertise their wealth and then wonder why they are being mugged. If you carry a DSLR around your neck, display a wad of cash in your wallet when buying a coffee and displaying a Rolex in a country with an average income of a case of beer, then you shouldn’t be surprised that some characters would like to share your wealth. In many countries, a used camera sells for enough to feed a family for a month. That can be highly motivating for some, knowing that a foreigner has very little rights or means to enforce police action.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Obvious, innit?

A friend asked me what the story was with the Abacus in my pics. I said it is "Something I can count on!"...

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Keeping the Pace Up

Received a number of messages saying that people are enjoying our magazine(s) and that they appreciate Asian Trucker still being up and running. Such messages are a huge motivational boost on any normal day and in the current situation they weigh in double.

Anyone interested in the latest magazine can just download a PDF version here:
http://www.asiantrucker.com/images/banners/at52.pdf

Otherwise, my FitBit tells me I should move a little bit more. Very funny...

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Aspirations of Someone That has Become a Writer

When I was about 17, the "thing" that I thought I gotta have  was a bottle of Ballentines, 17 yo. At that time, I was a big fan of the 3 year old Ballentines, Dimple or Chivas Regal.

Age 20, the Suzuki GSX-R 750 was the object of desire and during studies I wanted a kick-ass stereo once the big bucks come in. Somehow, I must have missed that boat as I never got a job that paid as much as I needed to get that stereo. Anyway, my hearing isn't all that great anymore.

When I roam the hallways of the Eastern & Oriental nowadays, I stop at the wall with the pictures of all the famous people that once stayed there. Many were writers of sorts (Kipling, Hesse, Maugham...)

Meanwhile, the Ballentines has been replaced by a 19 year old Glenfiddich that I want to try. The moped isn't needed anymore. Having been awarded the "Editor of the Year" by MPAS in 2018 was one of many highlights in my career. Now might be the time to put all ambition towards getting a picture on that wall among the other writers. Having stayed there a few times, now I may just need to become famous...

Friday, April 3, 2020

The Home Office

Somehow, it just turned out that way. For the past 15 years I have had a home office and much of the work was / is done there. There are some aspects that I totally enjoy. For instance I can just wear a T-Shirt and shorts. Certain quarters suggest one should get dressed as if going to the office. Am I glad that sometimes I actually go to the office in T-Shirt and shorts. 

The other thing is the convenience of being able to start working right away, without a lenghty commute. Even on a good day, it would still take me some 30 minutes to get to the office. Naps are cool too as one just lumbers out of the office, into the living room and puts in a bit of shut-eye.

What I enjoy most is to get into the office at around 5:30 am. Coffee in hand one can attack the email, get ideas sorted and send out work to staff. By the time one would go to the office, others are busy handling these and the day takes a whole different pace. Over the years, this has proven to be highly effective and efficient. 

When it comes to a "after work drink" the home office is also a cool idea. Not having to worry about driving or display of embarrasing behaviour when the booze kicks in, the office supply of cold beers is having its advantages.

There are, of course, a lot of advantages in working in an office. I think I write about that soon too.



Thursday, April 2, 2020

Advertising that Works

I don't think that I will do a better job if I were to put on a necktie. Sure, you don't want an editor to show up in shorts and flip flops to an interview (that outfit is reserved for weddings in South East Asia. And you KNOW that there is always one like that at every wedding). You want an editor to look like, well, a journalist of some sort. Maybe on the geeky side. Might be hard to convey.

So, you gonna send your car for service to these fellas?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Loof erm Rooftop Bars

I like roof-top bars. There is something to the idea of seeing the city from a different perspective. Usually, stepping into a roof-top bar, one also leaves a lot of noise behind. The rush of the streets and the hectic stays at the bottom of the lift. The wind in the hair, closer to the elements, I like a drink in these places:

- Above 11 - Bangkok. On top of Fraser's Suites at the end of Soi 11 Sukhumvit, this is one place I cannot resist. I think it is a combination of being rather relaxed about reservations and not being overly posh and the amazing food

- Brewsky - Bangkok. This one has good beers and is facing in a direction different from most. Sitting at the edge, the view is that of a flatter, less skyscrapered city.

- Loof - Singapore. Not an obvious one, but I like the cosiness, the fact that this is a relatively small place. Hidden a bit, one would have to know it is there. Service is good since the crowd is not that huge. Well, at least not when I go.... Could be cos I am in bed by 10pm.

- Cedar on 15 - Malaysia Not strictly a roof-top bar, but I like the feeling of it. Set back a bit, and not way up, the 15th floor gives an nice high and full-width view of the Twin Towers. There are some others nearby, but I feel that the view is not as grand as one is too close and only gets a cut-out.

- Sala - Malaysia. Their opening promo was a shot of Jameson for RM 1 with a RM 1 beer. Now, that got people hooked. Stunning view towards the eastern side of the Klang valley with easy access to the place make it still a good spot even if prices have changed. If you have your marriage registered across the street, this is a phantastic spot to spend the night (and stay in the Sheraton) so you just lumber over to ROM at 7:45am.

I know, I know. There are more than these and some might be "better". Being a creature of habit, I typically stick with the places I find and like when I first try them.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Breaded

Nope, you CANNOT make this up:

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/517819

GARDEEEENIA !!! So good you can even steal it on its own!

Mongolian What?

The food equivalent to the Swiss Navy Boots: Mongolian Fish. If there is one thing that don't sound right, then it is a fish speciality from a land-locked country. However, it surprises more than with just a name.

Superlatively spicy AND tasty, this thing rocks! Not very common, it can be found in 2 places that we know of. One in Setia Alam and the other is in Yishun. Yes, that Yishun in Singapore. Who would have thought that the suburb is home to some amazing stuff like this?

If you can get your hands on one of these, I recommend it. However, you have been warned: It IS spicey in a way that will leave you numb, yet craving for more. I am wondering if they put something in it to make you addicted...

Monday, March 30, 2020

Toast - Post

Over the years, my breakfast toast-posts (on Facebook) have been commented on by many, oftentimes poking fun... Apparently, a Gardenia delivery truck has been hi-jacked in Malaysia. Wasn't me and I am now assured that I have always opted for the most sought-after product. Nom Nom Nom...

Enchanting Penang - An Educational Read

During my last stay in the Eastern & Oriental Hotel (https://www.eohotels.com/) in Penang, I stumbled into their gift shop. Besides many items that are not kitsch like you may find in other places, they have an impressive collection of books on offer. I couldn't help but getting a copy of the "Enchanting Penang" from David, who happens to be a friend. Yeah, THIS fella: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009323454686

Penang is a world-renowned holiday destination, famous for its soft sandy beaches and regarded by many as the food capital of Malaysia. Many visitors check into one of the first-class hotels and spend a wonderfully relaxing holiday chilling out on the beaches. But as Enchanting Penang reveals, there are many other attractions to explore. Parts of George Town, the state capital, are listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Here many of the traditional buildings are being restored, fusing the old with the new, to become cafés, restaurants, boutiques and hotels.

There are also many other sights around the island. Take the scenic and historic funicular railway to the summit of Penang Hill, for example, and revel in the view from the top. From here you might take a walking trail down to the expansive Botanical Gardens at the bottom of the hill. Other sights to discover include a tropical spice garden, a butterfly farm, a remote national park, Kek Lok Si Temple and a snake temple with live vipers. Penang’s beautiful beaches include the strip of bays and headlands stretching from Tanjung Bungah to Batu Ferringhi. All resorts have restaurants, bars, spas and an extensive list of watersport activities.

Be it stunning beaches, ornate temples, unique heritage buildings or scrumptious cuisine, Enchanting Penang introduces all of the must-see delights on what will be a truly exotic holiday.

In this book, I found a lot of interesting historical fact and new facettes of the island. Easy to read, yet highly informative, I can only recommend it to anyone that either wants to keep it as memory or to widen horizons.

The book is published by John Beaufoy Publishing, an independent non-fiction book publisher based in Oxford, England, specialising in the fields of natural history, history and travel. Within these categories, we have a strong subsidiary focus on publishing books about the Indo-Pacific region, including South Asia, Southeast Asia and Australasia. Their books are available from good booksellers around the world. You can see their other titles here: https://johnbeaufoy.com/

David Bowden is a freelance journalist based in Malaysia, specializing in travel and the environment. While Australian, he’s been living in Asia longer than he can remember, and returns to his home country as a tourist. When not travelling the world, he enjoys relaxing with his equally adventurous wife Maria and daughter Zoe.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Keeping tabs

This is how they keep track of beer consumption at the food court near me. What an awesome, yet simple way to gauge if the evening was a busy ($$$) or a slow one.

How Are You Today?

Might be a valid question after 12 days of restricted movement (STAY HOME!)...

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Celebrating International Wiskey Day

Having tried Glenfiddich for the first time when I was 16 (ups!), I took a liking to it and it is still my go-to drink if it is part of the line-up for the evening. What I did not know was that there is an International Wiskey Day. Which was yesterday, 27th of March. Geoff Siddle of Sid's Pub called for a "gathering" of like-minded spirits. 

As we are in "lockdown" this was done via Zoom call. Interesting. At some point, there were some 12 people in the session, all toasting, drinking and sharing images of their tipple. Some of the people I have met personally before. Others I might have seen in Sid's, but never talked to.

While I hope we do that again soon, I can't wait to actually go to a pub / bar / restaurant and sit down with people for a real meeting. Allocating a room at home for an office was one thing, but I don't want to make that room a boozer cum office. But for now, it is what it is. See you for Friday Drinks?

(In the context of just having fun I really don't bother about the correct spelling of Whiskey, Wiskey or Whisky. Not risky.)

Pertzi's Honest Travel Hacks and Rants: Passport Panic

When you realise your passport is actually state property and not yours, you might be a little less jittery with it. If you lose it, it can be replaced. If it is worn out, nobody will scold you. And while it is an important document, it can take a bit of abuse. When the plastic page of my passport started to come off I expertly fixed it with tape. Worked fine until the last four pages were filled. Not recommended though…

Friday, March 27, 2020

For me, the Lockdown is no Knockdown

Growing up, our parents were in either camp: you have one child cos that is enough or you have two children, so that the siblings can grow up together, learn from and with each other and also entertain / watch out for the other. I guess my parents did not want to risk another one like me so I ended up being an only child. 

Not only that, I was also a "Schluesselkind", a "key-child". Which means that from early on, I had a key to house and would be able to come and go as I needed to. When I got home, my parents would usually still be at work. 

Back then, some laughed about the only child of a family. We were meant to be spoilt brats. Since we would get ALL the attention and not just half. However, what we learned was a lot better than that.

For one, being alone has never been an issue. When you get home and the parents are still out, you need to keep yourself busy. Homework (Mostly I decided that was optional for me), then me-time. That could be reading or some other hobby. As the weather in Germany is mostly miserable, being at home was the only option for many days. Today, I might prefer being outside if I can (what with the nie weather here all the time), but I don't really mind being inside. 

One would be creative. One would fashion all sorts of things out of old boxes, cartons and broken down vacuum cleaners. The internet and cable TV were things we hadn't event dreamt of. A couple of bottles, a bucket and some other items now make up my home gym. 

One would be responsible. Sure, the parents would be at work, but who doesn't like a warm home and a proper dinner when the family is together. During winter, the job of getting the place warmed up was mine. We had wood-fired ovens. Getting some heat out of them was a time consuming affair. Household chores? Still not a fan, but a man gotta do, what a man gotta do.

One could argue that home furnishings are more important in Europe, thanks to the weather being such that one spends a lot of time inside. Be that as it may, we have always emphasised on having a cosy and functional home. Gladly, I have also made the entire apartment a bit of a mancave. Luckily, the wife likes my style. Wouldn't want to spend the lockdown in a cold, uninspiring place....

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Packaging. And Why it Matters

To me, the packaging is not just something to protect the actual product found within. It is part of the product and, in many cases, part of the actual user experience. It doesn't matter what price point something is at, packaging should be given its due consideration. With all that travelling, I am doing, packaging is helpful as I can get a vague idea of the contents. Might be helpful if you buy food items, as you don't want to end up with a selection of animal parts that are meant for reproduction, not refreshment.

Take for instance that bag of chips (or crisps depending on where you drinking) that is impossible to open. You tear and swear. You press and mess. And then, sometimes the pack rips apart all the way and the content spills. Fun looks different.


The opposite end of the spectrum might be luxury goods. Some may find it cringeworthy, but the process of "unboxing" has since become something the people document on video to express their excitement. For some, the unboxing video of an item that they want to acquire may swing their purchasing decision. I think that an item that is north of say EUR 500 deserves a package that is equally exciting. You want to run home and gather the family. Nothing worth than a completely somber and sober unpacking where the container is unceremoniously discarded. One company that does an excellent job in my view is www.laco.de Even though their entry level watches are what might be described as "affordable", the presentation of the entire combo is impeccable and make this watch feel like it is worth twice that.


I keep some packaging. For instance, the box the Royal Selangor Decanter came in. Should I ever move, I can put that thing back into it and transport it with ease. Other packaging might not have any more practical use, but sentimental value. That would be the case for the pack that the tickets for the Singapore 2008 Formula 1 race came in (I also have the SingPost Stamp set to it LOL). 



Some packaging can actually be re-purposed. Wine boxes make for a nice cabinet when corkscrewed together and stuck to a wall. The only thing that is totally incomprehensibel is plastic-wrapped bananas...


I Saw the Signs

Just some random signs I noticed while being out and about..

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Pertzi's Honest Travel Hacks and Rants: Light Switches

Some hotel rooms have more light switches than a three-story mansion. They can be confusing, inconvenient and occupy a guest for quite some time. There is a switch near the door that will toggle  the room light, but there is no switch at the bed that turns the lights off. But you can switch on the lights in the bathroom from the balcony. Why, ah? In some hotels the light switches are so hidden that you have to call for help. When that recently happened to me, the poor staffer made it sound like he was coming up to rooms to be greeted by confused guests at least nine times every night. When he showed me it was like "Duh!" A simple sticker would have saved a lad a lot of lumbering about. Management seemed to enjoy that, though. My suggestion for a sign, a sticker or a re-location of the switch was met with a shrug. As in “nobody ever finds that switch, but hey…"

Step into Chic Heritage with Ramada by Wyndham

Sometimes one doesn’t have to go very far to be able to combine style and substance as I find out during my stay at The Ramada by Wyndham in the heart of Balestier in Singapore.

As an area of interest and rich history, Balestier might have well been overlooked in recent times, but now it has much to offer. The Ramada by Wyndham is a great base for many explorations into a neighbourhood with historic character or for the business traveller. The 17-storey Ramada by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park, recipient for the fourth time the Best Mid-Range Hotel by travel professionals in Asia Pacific at the 25th, 26th, 28th and 29th Annual TTG Travel Awards (2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018). Once checked in, it becomes obvious why.

Centrally Located
Frequent travellers to Singapore may be familiar with other districts, while this heritage-rich community may not be on people’s radar. Coming from Malaysia, one can arrive at Seletar airport. If you take a taxi, the ride from Selatar to the Ramada by Wyndham will be almost half of what it would cost to get from Changi to a hotel downtown. And it is faster too.

The in-house shuttle bus makes it easy to get to the nearest MRT station, Novena. From the hotel it is easy to get to places like Orchard Road, Kallang or Marina Bay. Given Singapore’s fantastic public transportation system, connectivity to anywhere else is also an easy.


Uncomplicated
Checking into the hotel is made easy and the overall flair of the lobby is that of an uncomplicated, highly efficient place. Sometimes I like to throw challenges at the staff, but in the case of the Ramada by Wyndham, I think they have either been trained for any situation or they have seen it all. My tests were handled with a superior confidence that simply let one know that this is the right place to get things done and done right. The Heritage Lounge and the business centre on the same floor make it an ideal place to conduct meetings or to get work done in a conducive setting.

The Ramada by Wyndham is set up opposite its sister property and some of the facilities are either shared or complimentary. Instead of having to pack everything into one place, the two properties are offering the full range which guests can mix and match. For instance, the Days Hotel by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park houses a Halal certified restaurant. Muslim guests that seek enhanced facilities may stay in the Ramada but nip across the park between the two hotels for their meals.

Roomy
I liked the view from my room, looking north-west up the island. A lot of green in sight puts one in the right mood. Rooms are functional and thought through with design elements harking back to the surroundings and the heritage of the suburb.

There is always a first time for everything, and this time it was the unparalleled care for my experience. Just as I got settled in, I received a call to see if everything was in order and if I need anything. Then, a real surprise to me was to find a hand-written note on my second day. It was asking me how the experience had been so far. It could have been that this was just for me as I was in the hotel on a mission to write this article, but I found out that the staff would leave the same note, handwritten, for every guest.

Foody
Breakfast is the most important meal of my day and Ramada by Wyndham gets it right. The variety of food is good and the quality is better. However, it was learned that it is really the lunch and dinner that lets the in-house restaurant shine as they bring in the freshest catches. Originated from Pulau Ubin, New Ubin Seafood has retained its rustic roots and ‘kampong' essence through the years, while constantly discovering innovative dishes to suit the local taste buds. Expect signature dishes like USDA Black Angus "Choice" Rib Eye with Heart Attack Fried Rice, Live Seafood such as Mud Crabs, Tiger Prawns and Fishes prepared to your preferred cooking method, amidst other new creations that will only be available at the New Ubin Zhongshan Park.

In addition, this particular stretch of Balestier Road is lined with famous food stalls that sell chicken and duck rice, Bak Kut Teh and other traditional dishes. Many would claim this to be a food heaven for those that want authentic, no frills with lots of taste, food. There is also a wet market within walking distance of the hotel.

Sporty
A lot of travellers maintain that it is crucial to keep up a training regime when away from home. Many hotels offer recreational facilities for that reason. A gym and pool are usually standard. However, in places like Singapore, where space is expensive, a pool can sometimes be small to the point that it can measured in multiples of 2-breaststrokes. Not so here. This pool is a joy to dip into. Equally, the gym is roomy and offers a solid range of machines that ensure a good workout can be had, even for experienced and the more athletic guests.

The Ramada by Wyndham connects directly into a mall, one that is a charming little congregation of local brands, experiences and conveniences. It may not be the biggest or most up-market mall, but it blends perfectly into the neighbourhood and its heritage with the offerings on hand.

Educational
Ramada by Wyndham is nestled within the Zhongshan Park. The project by DP Architects adopts modern interpretations of Chinese architecture and garden landscape designs, in consideration of the surrounding Balestier context. Integrating the adjacent Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall within the project, an area covering 4,624sqm, has been dedicated as a public park, called “Zhongshan Park”, in honour of Dr Sun Yat Sen (the founding father of the Republic of China). The hotel offers maps with trails around the neighbourhood, showcasing the historic landmarks and highlighting its rich culture.

Pocket Guide
Ramada by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park
16 Ah Hood Rd
Singapore 329982
T: 6808 6888
W: wyndhamhotels.com

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Cruel People!

I stumbled (well, not really... if this drops you, you have a problem) upon this in Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan. That beer is rather tasty and we like it a lot over here at the epicentre of German Madness.

A "Mass", the one litre beer mug, to me is not a desired size either as the beer gets warm and stale before you finish it. But this??? I mean, this hardly qualifies as a shooter. Who drinks this? Is this meant to be for 16 year olds to ease them into drinking?

Monday, March 23, 2020

Things I Learned in the Army that are STILL Useful Today

It was not so much the shouting by the officers. What annoyed me was that we were told to do things without an explanation as to why. There is actually a lot of things that make a lot of sense when you go through basic training. Being the nosy fella I am, I have asked (and thus set the path for my work today, maybe?)

- Clean equipement before you clean yourself. You get back from a three-day excursion to the forest and you just want to rinse off the mud. But before that, you have to clean the rifle and the other pieces of equipment. The reason is that one could fall sick / be disabled and not fit for combat. Then someone else can take over your equipment. Makes sense in business too, as it would be easy for others to fill in for you if you are not in the office

- All the wardrobes were to be set up the same. If you are hospitalised or you need something from your wardrobe, you can give your key to someone to get it. S/he would know where things are as they are in the same spot in his or her wardrobe. If you set up a filing system within a department, you can apply the same principle. If everyone is following the same structure, then you can go on leave and a colleague can answer most questions if you are not around, simply, they would look for it in the same spot as in their own filing

- To tie a tie. Never had to before I went to the army. But after that it came in handy. Not that it is the most elaborate knot, but it works.

- Preparing meals. Not that I would call it cooking, but the idea was to share the responsibility while in the field and to ensure we all had something to munch. I was known for using too much pepper.

- Teamwork. Yes, you read that right. When you start basic training, you are lumped into one room with 6 strangers and the officers tell you that you have to clean the room 3 times a day as well as a specific area of the building (Got lucky! Stairwells...No snow-shovelling!). If you are in the right gruop, a) a rotation is quickly established and b) there is no need to discuss what happens if the person who is supposed to clean the designated area is not around. Not that one has to like the people one is with, but it is about getting a collective job done as otherwise the superiours would just impose punishment for the whole room. In business, one may not want to have the colleagues over for a family reunion, but one has to be working together as the department will also be avaulated collectively.

- Staying in. The first few weeks of basic training demand that one stays in the barracks. No going home or for the pub... Today, I can stay in easily. Might be even easier as one might be with people that are not just random, but the ones we chose to be with. 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Hooked on being Eastern & Oriental

What many know is that the Eastern & Oriental hotel is an icon and that it was established by the Sarkies, who also founded the Raffles. This book, however, has so much to tell about the famous abode! I dove into it headfirst and found myself transported back into a time that was stunning, exciting, full of adventures in foreign countries and the smell of opportunity.

Some of the pictures in this book show the extravagant, the luxurious and the exhilarating lifestyle of the movers and shakers of a bygone time. Maybe we can learn from these B/W photos again how to be Ladies and Gentlemen instead of just "having a good time"? It also tells the story about how the owners sometimes made mistakes that could have wiped out the legacy of this hotel, something we should appreciate did not happen.

Although I have stayed in the E&O a few times, my next visit will be nothing like it after vaccuming up the content of this fantastic book.


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Stirred, not Shaken!


There is some really creative, although weird stuff that can be found in Asia. Usually, the best finds are in the restrooms. Just like this stirrer. Who comes up with ideas like that.

Usefulness - None
Entertainment - High

Friday, March 20, 2020

PR for startups; a journalist’s perspective

When setting up a new business, Public Relations is one of the many ways to generate interest for the newly hatched brand. Sharing insights, having set up a number of companies and having published magazines for over 10 years by now, I wanted to share some insights.

Wikipedia says PR “is the practice of deliberately managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the public.”

There are several ways to do so and working with the media is one. Whether media is online or printed publishers will generate content derived from various sources: own research and interviews or press releases that have been filed with a publication. This content published may influence the public and thus achieve the objective of PR. As an editor, I sometimes like to use press releases as they are easy to integrate into the magazines we publish.

So, now how?
The issue with a start-up is that nobody knows about the business as it is a new company and doesn’t have a track record, exposure or even clients. One turns to the media to get the start-up in front of the public. Using media, one will quickly and efficiently reach the desired audience. Having published over 150 issues of our magazines, I have worked with many companies that are engaged in “Public Relations”. Here are tips on how to make your PR efforts work, based on my experience.
The Managing Director of Blis provides insights into real world intelligence and ad-blocking

Build a relationship

We all have that one friend that only calls when s/he needs your help. They are never to be found when you need them. When dealing with media, try not to be that one friend. As I will discuss later on, media depends on income, and as a start-up you may not have a big budget for advertising. You don’t have to. There are always other ways you can return the favour to the media after they run your release or interview with your founder. If anything, one day a journalist may ask you to help with a story and then you can provide the needed input.

Personally, I hate one-way streets whereby a brand is only sending me their stuff to publish, but never even reply to my inquires. It is also a wise investment of time to actually sit with a journalist and pick their brain on how they work. And it does not have to be a tech journalist. Anyone will do. From dealing with my colleagues and other publishers, editors and writers I can say that the mindset is all very similar, no matter what topic they write about.

Same but different
If you state in your release to “contact me if you need further information”, I will. For two reasons. The first one is that I would want to know things that you have not addressed in your press release. More importantly though, I want to get some information that I can use that other outlets don’t have. There is no point in me publishing the exact same thing as a dozen others. I want something that makes my story worthwhile for someone to read it again with a different slant to it. Sending out a press release and media just using Control C + Control V is easy and gets your message out there, but it is not sustainable. You are more interested in your message than anyone else, so you need to find ways to keep them engaged.

Come prepared with additional information you can share. Don’t tell me that you have to check with your management about this or let this take two weeks to get me the answer. The absolute worst answer I can receive is “Our management has decided not to disclose this information.” Remember: YOU sent out the release in the first place.

Sometimes it cannot be avoided, and we copy / paste a release. But that is the last resort. If you want to get the best story ever, invite me to your launch and don’t just sent a release. There are instances where I get to know about a networking night AFTER it happened. Had I been there, I would interview people, post on Instgram, Facebook and even Tweet. That is an immense return on your investment in a few beers and a pasta dish! One client took me to Japan once during cherry blossom. As I said above, I do for you, please do for me. Said client got a massive story in return for that trip.

Hitting it right!
“Tech” is telling me that today we can send out highly targeted messages that reach the right audience, based on profiling, AI and all the other gizmos that there are. Considering that, it is astounding what my inbox will receive when it comes to press releases. My magazine deals with trucks. Why would anyone send me a press release about baby strollers, ferry schedules or an airline having received new planes? Sure, SOMEONE will be interested in this, just not me. The problem is that I read EVERY press release in order to figure out if it is relevant for me. If I receive 100 releases and there are 80 not relevant, I will have spent a good feature film length in reading and deleting them before I tell the people to not send me such irrelevant material. What this achieves is actually the contrary of what PR is to do: your release will upset me, because you waste my time and you haven’t done your homework.

Now, you might have hired a PR agency to handle this for you and you could say it had nothing to do with you. It does. As the PR agency is just a forwarder of your message. You should insist on seeing the list of media titles that your release is going to. If in doubt, contact the media and check if the subject matter is one that they are interested in. PR companies want to show how hard they are working for you so often number of media hit is more important to them than the relevance of the media to their product or service.

Also note that within a media outlet there might be different “desks”, i.e. different people handling different matters. Ensure that your release is sent to the right person. Again, if unsure, ask.

What is in it for me?
I saved this for last, but it is actually an important point. I need press releases and articles, whitepapers and news from brands in my circle. Other publishers may see this differently, but I maintain the attitude that “If I think it is of interest to my readers, I will publish this.” I am happy to see how brands recognise my channels as valuable and that I can excite them to send me their material. Up to a point. As I said above, it needs to be a two-way street. I have blacklisted brands that would constantly send me press releases via an agency, but never engage in a dialogue or rattle the client for advertising money.

Here is the situation: the brand gets exposure and hopefully more business. The PR agency charges the brand a fee for their work (If the PR work is done in-house, then still someone is making money off it, in the form of a salary). I have to pay for the production of my publication, but the brand won’t place any ads. The end-result is a win-win-lose situation and eventually I would have to close shop. A publication is, with exceptions, a business just like yours and depends on revenue derived from the sales of services. Sever that and eventually, you will have no media to send your news to.

If you haven’t got a big budget, never mind. I can offer you something from as little as 10 USD to USD 80 000. Within that framework you simply cannot tell me that you have NO budget. Your RM 500 for an online banner goes a long way in paying the coffee we drink in the office, or for the Internet. And, if you cannot place any ads, sponsor our events, at least have the decency to invite me for a meal every now and then.

Short Pointers
•BCC: It may be hard to believe, but there are still people out there that don’t know how that works

•T + P: If you want something published, say Please. If a journo has done something for you, it is Thanks! It is amazing how few times we get to see this when we bend over backwards to publish something.

•What’s in a name: The biggest disaster for a journalist is to get names wrong or to have typo-s in their article. Keep it professional by getting the names of journalists 100% right. And don’t give them cute abbreviated names. Chances are you never met in person and have not established that level of comfort with each other.

•Ease off: Do not call a minute after you sent the release to ask if the press release was received. I am not glued to the screen and I have other things going on.

•Change is Inevitable: Be prepared that your article or release will be edited. There are house styles and an editor will reformat your material to suit it. And unless you paid for an advertorial, it is up the editor to decide what they use.

Article first published here: https://techcollectivesea.com/2019/09/11/pr-for-startups-a-journalists-perspective/

Pertzi's Honest Travel Hacks and Rants: Drawing the Line


Then there is the marking at the airport, just before the immigration officer’s booth. It asks you to ‘stand behind the line’. Behind / in front of are opposites. One should use behind when object A is farther away from you than object B. So, technically, the immigration wants us to stand in front of the line. If we were behind, then we would have already crossed it. For a place that is so obsessed with correct documentation, names and numbers, this is a mistake I cannot forgive.

(I do not own the copyright to the image. If it is yours and you would like me to delete it, please get in touch)

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Unexpected Ulanbaataar

Mongolia is certainly not one of the destinations that is on everyone’s mind or bucket list. Wedged between Russia and China, the country has exciting surprises in store. For starters, it is the least populated country on the planet. While being huge, there are only some three million Mongolians.

RUSSIAN INFLUENCE
Upon arrival at the cute airport, the next surprise awaits. One would think that China would have a huge influence that the language spoken, and signs used would be Chinese. However, it is Russia that has made its mark. It turns out that Mongolians are not in favour of Chinese influence, but are proud of their own culture. Over lunch, one joked that there must have been a reason the Chinese erected that wall. While Cyrillic may not be the first language for most, it is easy to navigate the city. English is widely spoken and many brands that we all know from home are present here. Strolling down Peace Avenue on the weekend is a breeze as the city council closes a stretch for revellers to dance the night away.

FUNKY SOCIALIST
Having been ruled by Russia for a long time, the architecture is distinct funky socialist. It is this architecture that gives the cityscape an exhilaratingly different atmosphere and feel from other cosmopolitan cities. Meanwhile, modern buildings are being sprinkled into the city, housing department stores and five-star hotels. Roof top bars are all the rage and the young population of Ulaanbaatar, or UB as they call it, are having a great time being out and about during the stunning summer. Once winter returns, the temperatures of around -20ºC drive activities back indoors. Grass covered hills encircle the city with stunningly blue skies dropped onto them. Being such a vast and empty country, there is barely any pollution. Admittedly, the power plant being located right smack in the city is unusual though. Even during daytime, the moon can be seen from town.

OFF ROAD FROM EUROPE
For some, Mongolia is the ultimate off-road destination and one can hear a lot of stories from people who have come all the way from Europe in their camper vans. In town for a few days was a German couple that needed their vehicle repaired following a short circuit. They recalled having many great evenings with the locals, drinking tea and making friends. Many people take the opportunity to get out of the city on the weekend for trekking, hiking or camping. Within half an hour one has left the city behind. Standing on top of a hill, looking over the vast landscape, the silence rushing in is giving it a calm that one can only dream of when living in a hectic city that is constantly buzzing. However, here too, modern buildings are being erected and it is apparent that the Mongolians are adapting a city live style, abandoning their traditional nomadic heritage.

NAADAM
July is a special month for Mongolia as it is the time of celebrations. Naadam is the most widely watched festival among Mongols, and is believed to have existed for centuries in one fashion or another. Naadam has its origin in the activities, such as military parades and sporting competitions such as archery, horse riding and wrestling, that followed the celebration of various occasions, including weddings or spiritual gatherings. It later served as a way to train soldiers for battle.  Naadam was also connected to the nomadic lifestyle of Mongols. The three games of wrestling, horse racing, and archery are recorded in the 13th century book The Secret History of the Mongols. During the Qing’s rule, Naadam became a festival officially held by sums - a type of administrative district used in Mongolia. Now it formally commemorates the 1921 Revolution when Mongolia declared itself independent of China. Naadam celebrates the achievements of the new state. Naadam was celebrated as a Buddhist and shaman holiday until secularization in the 1930s under the communist influence of the Soviet Union. In Mongolia, the biggest festival (National Naadam) is held in Ulaanbaatar during the National Holiday from July 11 to 13, in the National Sports Stadium. Naadam begins with an elaborate introduction ceremony featuring dancers, athletes, horse riders, and musicians. After the ceremony, the competitions begin.

LOCAL CUISINE
Mongolians are meat lovers. Beef, lamb, goat, camel and pork are staple items on every menu. Even noodle soups contain so much meat that the question has to be asked why there is a reference to noodles. Barbeques and kebab shops are abundant, but if someone craves for it, there are lots of Western food options. For the more adventurous types, there are Bulgogi pizzas. With an amazingly clean urban space, easy to navigate layout and plenty of walkways, Ulaanbaatar invites to be walked. Working up a thirst, there are lots of pubs and bars around town. Having shed socialism, Mongolians must have looked very far West at another small country as a role model: Irish Pubs are everywhere!

I SHALL RETURN
Ulaanbaatar surely was not on my bucket list, but after a week, UB will surely make it onto my list of places to be re-visited. The openness and friendliness, paired with the ease of navigating the area will make it easy for most to just slip under the blanket of the picture perfect sky and to find a lot of unexpected travel excitement.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Alcoholification

Movie vs Book? I think both have merits. When reading, it requires imagination to "see" what things, persons and situations would be like. In contrast, a movie will leave very little to the imagination. A book is more stimulus to me, while a (good) movie decompresses.

Many books written depict the consumption of alcohol. In one book I read, there were so many mentions of a particular brand of Whiskey, complete with the age of it, that I wrote to the author to ask how much such contract would pay. In movies, we often see the characters in bars, pubs, clubs, having a BBQ with Corona Beers (F & F). I like fiction to be as authentic and realistic as can be. People have drinks after work, during ceremonies etc. Don't ever erase that from storytelling!

There are two characters that stick out as being alcoholics and their addiction is part of the storyline. "Jack Taylor",... If you have worked in village pubs, you will agree: this is a person that CAN exist in real life. Acting is superb, portraying "the drunk". Love the grittiness of the flicks, the fact that the hero of the story struggles with all his feelings. From experience, I could tell that at the end of the third episode, after 7 months of being dry, he will get hit so hard. Three minutes in, I said "he will have a drink, he will succumb to the beast inside." Bang on.

Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux (pronounced "Row-bih-show") is another interesting character. In his books, the addiction is played out much more and it is an integral part of the plot. What I like about these books is the vivid and very tangible description of the landscapes and the way things look, feel and how one could almost smell the coming thunderstorm. Wrestling with his demons, Dave gets things done while brutally aware of his addiction...

While both are at the extreme end of the drinking spectrum, I think these two characters are some of the deepest, best developed in fiction. Hopefully, people will consume these stories and the description of the effects of too much of the good stuff will leave their marks.

That said, I am not advocating we all stop drinking. Simply, we need to be aware of what it CAN do to people.

(Images in this post not mine. If they are your copyright and you would like them removed, just let me know)

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Local Marketing

The night market in Setia Alam is (allegedly, as it goes) the biggest night market in Malaysia. I like to bring foreigners as the sights, sounds and smells are something from a different planet. I mean, why do you have to put the stinky tofu sellers right where you enter the street?

Then there are these "delicatessen". The pig trotters, the chicken livers and Durians. Paired with the sights of sweaty workers hauling the produce into the stalls, this is an adventure not to be missed. There is also a lot of creativity though: some interesting ways to prepare foods, ways of advertising and hand-made devices to keep the flies away.

Living in an area which is not a expat quarters has its advantages. Fella at the burger store knows me and has my whopper ready in no time. Double cheese, no egg. I just wish that there would be a beer pavillion where I could rest a while after lugging the fruits across half the town.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Fun & Games

Right. Knew it.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Stefan's Sane Summer Saturday Staying-in Sangria


Sometimes it is just better to drink at home. One doesn't have to worry about misbehaving in public. And one can just pass out on the sofa and not worry about being mugged.

Here a cool recipe for those sticky summer nights that are filled with the sound of crickets and the energy of a coming thunderstorm in the air:

- Start working on this right after breakfast
- Slice an Orange, half a lemon and a lime.
- Fruits in the jug and pour a cup of rum onto this
  I prefer brown rum
- Add 4 - 6 teaspoons of sugar
- Add a dash of Cointreau
- Put the cheapest red wine you can get in the fridge

Let that mixture rest in the fridge for the whole day.
After all, these ingredients went through a lot already.

- Have a beer around 4pm
- Check on mixture to make sure it is comfortable

To finally get things moving

- Have another beer
- Crush the fruits in the jug
- Add the (Cheap) red wine, stirr vigorously
- Let it breathe for 10 minutes

Yammmmmm Seng! (Chinese for Cheers)

My next one will be a pumkin punch with whole fruits.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Not Under the Influence

Maybe now is not the best or right time to be thinking about travel. Therefore, I wanted to just put some thoughts down on the idea of using so called "Influencers". Personally, I have been publishing material about commercial vehicles and travel for a decade now. While I would like to think that many of those reading the material, I am not so sure if anyone was ever "influenced" by my articles. Maybe they have been, but I am not aware of such thing happening. Maybe there are many cases where people have made informed decisions, following the consumption of not just my material, but reviewing other sources as well?

When preparing for our trip to Japan, we used two YouTube channels in particular to get to know all about the food we wanted to try. Did we try the food? Yes, we did and we considered what was said in these channels. However, we did not end up in a single restaurant these two recommended. The fresh seafood we sampled wasn't even in the same city as the people had said to go to...

I also consume a lot of things. I don't need a big apartment or a fancy address. That is not important to me. Shoes and Whiskey are things I spend on. And not once has anyone swayed my decision for something in these two categories by posting on social media or elsewhere. One of my most expensive purchases (in 2017) ever was something I had been thinking about since I was a child. Back then, there weren't even any influencers as we call them now. When I am visiting Singapore, I like to stay in one particular hotel. And I am sure not once has any influencer hightlighted the fact that said place has a speedbag in the gym.

So, now I am looking for the other 9 pictures I have to take when in Hong Kong: The Harbour Bridge, Great Wall, Great Barrier Reef...

Friday, March 13, 2020

Pertzi's Honest Travel Hacks and Rants:SHOCK FACTOR

We humans like the familiar. I believe this is why some fast food chains are massively successful. When in a different country, some of the food will fall into the category of ‘acquired taste’. I have eaten things I wouldn’t opt for when I am in Germany, but some I still shun. No matter how much you try to sell it to me, fried cockroaches, fish eyes or pigs’ tails, I skip. Perhaps we would be more adaptive if the locals eased us in a bit instead of trying to find out what would be the most revolting thing for a tourist for the welcome dinner.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Pertzi's Honest Travel Hacks and Rants: DIRTY LAUNDRY

Some people are artists when it comes to packing for a trip. They take a shirt from the luggage and it looks neat. However, as one goes along, there is more and more clothing that needs washing. At home, we all have a laundry basket. That is the recycling station of the modern household. But where to put your dirty laundry in a hotel room? Heaps of sweaty socks pile up in the corner of a room, ruining the Chi of any suite. I don’t want to mix those with fresh clothes in the luggage. So, dear hotel, please give me a basket, that you can buy cheaply at the local market, so I can keep my laundry in order

Glamming in Dubai


Dubai is a lot of fun in the sun, being it a stop-over, escape from the cold or to satisfy the need to for non-stop shopping. I have spent an extended lay-over to see what’s there to do in the Emirate.

Positioned as a playground for the rich, Dubai may not be the destination for backpackers that seek the thrills of stretching their last dollar to the max, but if you can spare a day or two while passing through, Dubai offers a lot of fun. To get an overview of the place, one can whisk up to the 125th floor of the Buj el Kalifa, which currently is the tallest building on the planet. It is recommended to make a reservation, but in a place where money talks, spontaneous visitors will be welcomed to the express lift for a slightly higher admission fee. Zooming up to the viewing platform at 456 meters, Level 125 offers a spacious deck tastefully decorated in Arabic mashrabiya for stunning 360-degree views. The ride only takes 60 seconds. For those that need a bit more, there is also another platform on the 148th story.


Burj el Kalifa can be accessed through the Dubai Mall. Celebrating it’s 10th anniversary this year, the mall offers some 1 200 shops, which open from 10 in the morning to midnight. Supplementing the shopping are an ice rink, cinemas, an aquarium and underwater zoo as well as restaurants and performances.  The Dubai Fountain is splashing around water several times a day and it is a world-class performance, only second to Las Vegas. Should you have a need to cool down, you could do so in Ski Dubai. It is an indoor ski resort with 22 500 square meters of indoor ski area. The park maintains the temperature of -1 degree Celsius to 2 degree Celsius throughout the year. It is a part of the Mall of the Emirates, one of the largest shopping malls in the world. Transiting from one place to another is easy as taxis are around in abundance and the main artery of Dubai is a highway with 6 (!!) lanes in each direction.

If you would want to experience the magic of the desert, you can turn to one of the operators for customised tours into the sandy emptiness. Platinum Heritage is one such provider that can set you up for a mystical tour of the desert, including hot air ballooning over the dunes of Dubai. It is recommended to take the wheel and to drive in the dunes for a while for some good fun. If the sun is just too much, perhaps an astronomy tour at night is the right idea then? As a compromise, a dinner under the stars with bellydancing performance will excite you while getting you to your bed early enough for a sleep-in.


Living it large, the Jumeirah Beach area has a string of the best hotels on offer. The Hotel Atlantis on The Palm Jumeirah is fabled for its aquarium and fine dining. If you ever wanted to try a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, the Bread Street Kitchen & Bar might wow your partner. Large is also the term that best describes the Jueirah Al Qasr, which boasts 40 restaurants, a Zouk and canals that you can tour with gondolas. It is so big a place that the staff will drive you to the gym in a buggy. Repeatedly voted the world's most luxurious hotel, this stunning destination offers you the finest service and experiences throughout - right down to an optional chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce, private beach access, a breathtaking terrace with pools and cabanas as well as some of the world’s best dining venues, including the highly acclaimed Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara.

However, if you chose to choose to spend your money rather on excitement and shopping than opulence, there are plenty of hotels around that still offer you a good night’s rest while not breaking the bank. All household names of travel are represented and try to vow you with stunning architecture.

If you want to read more about exciting destinations and things to do in Asia, I recommend you check this publication out:  https://asianjourneys.com.sg/magazine (Yeah, I am a contributor for it....)

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Investment? Theft protection? Recurring Theme?

Who would have thought that toilet paper is going to be such a hot topic? And suddenly it is precious!

Last year I came home with a "value pack" of 30 rolls. I was a little bit ridiclued. In all fairness... who buys 30 rolls of toilet paper in one go for a 2 person household? Well, now you know who would. Yes, you!

Meanwhile, we still have plenty of that stuff left. As well as canned food as we always keep luncheon meat handy. Goes well with salad.

Good thing: with that much toilet paper in the house, I am no longer worried anyone would break in and steal something that is of value to me. I will just leave a roll or two on the cabinet.

Seems that I am actually a lil obsessed with that hole subject anyway.

I posted this:
https://stefanpertz.blogspot.com/2011/07/art.html

And here:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=211250335591956&set=pb.100001209720169.-2207520000..&type=3&theater

Before that, the same roll was made famous here:
https://stefanpertz.blogspot.com/2009/09/modern-art.html

And then there is this gem of the world wide web:
http://klopapier.de/

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Something is Fishy!

In preparation for Tokyo, a daily check on the status of the shops around the old Tsukiji Fish Market was performed to ensure there would still be fish to be had. Being morning people, we got up before sunrise to catch the first train on the Toei Oedo line to Tsukijishijo station. Arriving at 7:00am, the sleepy neighbourhood was still devoid of people.

We found only a few shops open; an opportunity to start the day with a delicious artisan coffee offered by a small shop nestled among the seafood restaurants. It felt as if we had come to the wrong place as there wasn’t much happening. We learned that many of the established shops had decided to continue plying their trade in the historic location. Having scouted the area of the so called Tsukiji curb market shopping street, it was time for the first meal of the day. It is not often that one does it, but it is an experience we wouldn’t want to have missed: BBQ lobster and beer for breakfast.

Standing amidst a slowly growing number of visitors, we nibbled on freshly prepared lobsters that couldn’t have been out of the water for long. At only ¥1000 (SGD $12.00) per lobster, this was a steal. There is something for every budget and taste. One may stand and eat cheap or be seated in an expensive establishment. Exploring the small alleys and backyards we found scallops topped with sea urchin, sashimi and sushi bars, octopus on skewers and, surprisingly, BBQ Wagyu beef. The latter might appear a bit out of place, but it offered a bit of a palate cleanser amongst all the fish. Whatever one desires in terms of fresh seafood can be found here. From relatively normal salmon sashimi to fish heads that would fill an entire pot, from crab to fish eggs. In addition to all the pots in which the produce is prepared in, the Tsukiji Fish Market is a melting pot of nations. As we ate, more and more visitors arrived.

What started out as a slow Sunday morning turned into a carnival of smells, flavour, food and folks. By noon, the streets were heaving with every shop vying for customers, promotors shoving flyers at tourists and visitors looking in awe at the exotic (and sometimes strange) seafood. Being it a multifacetted experience, I am yet to determine what was more exciting: the fresh seafood in all its variety and tastes or how this icon of craft and trade morphed from what seemed to be a near miss as we were too early to a thumping celebration, akin to a pilgrimage.

Monday, March 9, 2020

It's not Cooking. It is Barbeque!

Maybe. Just "maybe" I have gone overboard when I went into "BBQ King" just before Christmas and spent the equivalent of Andorra's GDP on a new grill. But then again, if you to something, you do it right? Right? That's what they say. In the meantime, I have been back to the store to add more items that make the grilling and chilling even more exciting and easy. Do note that this is a grill for 2 persons! My neighbours also get to participate as we don't have a garden and I grill on our 1.20 x 1.00 meter balcony (after moving the washing mashine aside).

I must say, I have no idea how I have lived for so long without the "Chimney Firestarter". This must be the best invention ever around the grill. Just a piece of paper underneath the coal and you have proper embers in a jiffy. No more nonsense with hairdryers blowing onto the coal or fanning the fire with a paperplate till you have a shoulder like Arnold. 

In my view, operating a BBQ is not cooking. Cooking means you can adjust and time things. When you put food on a grill, you need to know what you are doing and when you need to do it. Tough to adjust the temperature. Experience will tell you when to add coal before there is not enough heat under the food etc.

And maybe it is the excuse of me having a few beers while I "monitor the grill" when making ribs, which takes 2 - 3 hours.  

Friday, March 6, 2020

I remain sceptical

I don't wear any rings, chains, studs (except for a wedding band). Nor will one find a tattoo on me. I guess it is signs like this that really discourage me from giving it a try.Just call me a natural talent.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

So you are a "Gamer" - That's Cute!

It is amazing what computers have become. When I got my first home computer, at the age of 10, I was the only one in my year at school that had one of these things. There were a few others around and besides trading peeks and pokes, we swapped games. On casettes or on floppy disks. Nobody called us gamers. They called us weirdos. Not Weir DOS (Disk operating system). Several times I was told that "nobody needs that shit!" Look at you now...

Some of us gotten our hands on new games faster. And if you wanted a game, you had to be able to trade. One fella I was trading games with was to be met on a particular bus to school. Floppies were exchanged in that 10 minute ride from the station to school. Where one would then check the nautical maps for "Silent Service" to compare with other "Gamers" where the best tanker fleets were to be sunk in the pacific ocean.

During the final years at school, one had to do an intership. Work placement to see what the real world is like. And what better place to do so than the local computer store. Amazing place, packed with Ode to Joysticks and dustcovers and the rumors of a portable computer, a laptop. Witte Computers has since been closed and a fast food chain has taken that spot. 

Back in the days, the Commodore C64 was about 400 DM (200 EUR) and the floppy disk drive about the same. For easier pirating, one needed 2 (!) disk drives. Best with a switch installed to toggle between the device numbers 8 and 9. But I guess these times are long gone and have used their final cartridge. 

Here I am today, writing on a laptop that doesn't have a disk drive no more, thinking: maybe I should have done this instead with the money: Alternative to First Computer

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Swissôtel The Stamford Redefines Hospitality

Just like a Swiss Army knife, there is always one more helpful and unexpected functionality in this hotel, as Stefan Pertz finds out when he made the landmark the base for a stay.

In terms of reputation, the Swissôtel The Stamford, has a well-established name. Ranked among the best in town, it is located immediately on top of a subway station with underground access to the Suntec City Convention Centre and the Fountain of Wealth. Within the complex where the hotel is located is a shopping mall and nearby one can find anything from cheap eateries to high end restaurants, supermarkets to post office and the library as well as the CBD are just down the road.

When entering the hotel via the lobby it is immediately clear that the operators have taken a different approach, one that puts the guest first. While it is possible to have staff to assist with checking in, there are several computer terminals where arriving guests can manage their check in themselves. This solves the issue of having to wait for staff to check hotel guests in and also let’s people decide if they are just not in the mood for chit chat upon arrival. Personally, I like to have a word with the staff, but others may prefer to just handle the check-in themselves as part of the experience.

The room type for this stay was the “Vitality Suite”. This room is very much in line with the philosophy focused on general well-being and enjoying a high quality of life. First launched in March 2012, Swissôtel’s Vitality programme is inspired by travellers’ desires to maintain their mental and physical wellbeing as comfortably and easily on the road as they would at home. One of the most obvious manifestations of this philosophy is the gym that can be found in the room. Yes, that is right, the vitality suit offers guests a full workout without leaving the room. Now, that may seem a bit nerdy, but I would this highly motivating and practical. Sometimes you just don’t want to change, take the lift and get to the gym shared with others. In the vitality suite you can work in your sports attire and when the emails are all done just stand up and get a workout done.

The stunning view in this corner unit is another thing that mesmerised. Overlooking Marina Bay looking to the right and viewing the expanse of Singapore facing straight while sitting at the desk, working, there is an immediate flow of air an inspiration when opening the doors to the balcony. The room itself is spacious and allows for a separation of the various areas: gym, workstation, living room and bedroom. While it is one big room, the segmentation and design of the space makes it feel like there are indeed several rooms. The workstation features an electric height adjustment, which allows the user to instantaneously settle in and get things done.

Technology plays a big role and the air conditioning switches off when the balcony doors are opened. There are different light settings for the room and all lights are motion activated. This adds to an extremely satisfying experience. When getting up at night, there is no fumbling for switches and the light is only activated in the immediate area where one is moving, thus a partner still sleeping would not be hit with the full glare of the room light if one occupant would have to go to the bathroom. The TV is the size of a small swimming pool and is mounted on a bracket, so it flips out to offer maximum viewing pleasure from the various areas within the room. Dyson supplied the hair dryer and a standing fan for even more comfort enhancement.

Just like the hotel lobby offers various options to check in, hotel guests seem to have a choice for about everything. Besides the in-room gym, there is a shared one, which is fairly large and extremely well equipped. There is a tennis court and a swimming pool which is nearby the spa, in which one can get pampered. And if that isn’t one’s cup of tea, there is a printed guide that has jogging routes handy in the room.

I am huge on breakfast and I will always make it a point to eat before starting the day. Of course, the Swissôtel The Stamford offers culinary delights to set you out on the right course for the day, but again, it does so by offering different venues. The main breakfast room is a modern-designed and light flooded room that gets a bit of hubbub going in the morning as tourists and businesspeople prepare for a day on the road. Clean lines, light colours and a slightly industrial design dominate this area. However, right next to it is a “kampong” themed locale. Lending design elements from the villages found in the older Singapore, this is a more cosy, smaller and less corporate looking venue for a first meal of the day. While the selection and variety of the foods served is identical, the ambience is totally different; each with its own appeal.

Most of the time, when I travel, I am looking forward to heading back home. In the case of the stay in the Swissôtel The Stamford however, I wish I had the opportunity to stay a little longer. Many may claim that they are a home away from home, but this time around, I would love to take some of that Swissôtel The Stamford home. For instance, the motion sensors that ensure that I get safely through the room at night. Or the gym. Or maybe the balcony with the breath-taking view, whereby Swissôtel The Stamford is one of the few, if not the only hotel in Singapore that has balconies that are accessible from the room.

ABOUT SWISSÔTEL THE STAMFORD, SINGAPORE  
Swissôtel The Stamford is part of the Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts group. The hotel provides a wide range of amenities from a luxurious range of 1,252 guestrooms and suites, 15 restaurants and bars including Equinox Complex, Singapore’s most exciting dining and entertainment complex. It also houses the 70,000 sq ft Raffles City Convention Centre which comprises 31 meeting venues with technologically advanced business facilities and services. One of Southeast Asia’s tallest hotels and conveniently located in the heart of Singapore, Swissôtel The Stamford boasts panoramic views of Singapore, Malaysia and nearby islands of Indonesia. For more information or reservations, please call +65 6338 8585, visit www.swissotel.com/singapore-stamford or contact your local travel professional.