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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Brief stay in Nordlingen, Germany

Nordlingen is reputedly one of the only remaining walled medieval town in Germany.

The city is unique in that it is surrounded by a wall, built in the 14th century.

It was really pleasant to have the opportunity to get away from  Munich and enjoy the serenity of a small town like Nordlingen.

As it is not a big town it was possible to tour the whole town on foot.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Shanghai Holiday

It was a package tour and with it happening during super peak period with Christmas and New Year in between, you guess right; it was also priced at a premium.

I am sure we know who this is.

So off we went, hoping for the best.

Arrive in Pudong Airport on a very cold early morning and was straight away taken to try out Shanghai’s technological marvel, the high speed Maglev Train. The tour guides boast that it can achieve in excess of 400 km/hr but we were only able to experience it at around 300 km/hr before the journey ended after 8 minutes. The experience was surprisingly not exciting, it was just like any other train ride until you realized that the train has no wheels but uses magnetic levitation and magnetism for propulsion.

Next was a visit to West Lake, a beautiful man make lake that is so huge it is difficult to imagine it is not a natural lake.
Night cruise in the Bund , Shanghai
The entire tour took 8 days with visits to Hangchow, Soochow, Nanjing, Wuxi and of course Shanghai.

Cute looking bun
The real authentic Chinese food (you cannot get it any more authentic than having it cooked by Chinese chefs using Chinese ingredients and eating it in a Chinese restaurant in China) we had was a bit disappointing as they somehow manage to taste alike after a few days. Don’t get me wrong, it is not that bad but somehow it did not meet our expectations but there is no doubt I can live with it.
The 3 Kingdom film set
As to the tour, I am now an expert in Jade, fine silk, pearls as ornaments or as a medicinal product, appreciation of all types of fine teas and of course Chinese herbal medicine. We were herded like sheep to these establishments where detail explanation was given without being asked with the final objective of off loading some very expensive products for us to take home at a price. To make things worse, this visits have no time limits unlike when we go to museums and so forth, visiting time is limited to usually for not more than an hour.

Places I ranked as must go, the Bund and the Pearl Tower in Shanghai including the little museum inside, the rest of the place I only have vague memories due to the very brief visits.
Sun Yat Sun's Mausoluem
Places to avoid are well established, fine tea house, silk factories, shop selling pearl products and Chinese herbal medicine as they are utterly boring. I find the stalls in flea market much more interesting but in general beware of highly inflated prices and prepare for bargaining. If you prefer not to bargain, you can try using body language, just walk away and you will find the prices drop by half, express interest but continue walking and the price may fall further. I was shown quite a few fake products that are difficult to distinguish from the genuine at less than one tenth of the original price.

Part of West Lake

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On assignment - Barr, Switzerland.

On work assignment again and this time it is taking me to Switzerland, one of the many destinations I always wanted to go to.

It was a long tedious flight from KL with a transit in Amsterdam and finally to Zurich, which took 16 hours.

Preconceived perception can always influence how you feel about a country and my first impression of Switzerland did not disappoint me. It was exactly what I think Switzerland would be.


Clear blue skies with picture perfect lakes and a background of snow top mountains. No, I am not dreaming , it really does exist! I suppose the experience is similar to an Eskimo looking at a lush tropical island with happy sun tanned naked natives running around.

Coming from haze filled KL, the contrast is striking, now I have doubts whether I really have bad eyesight or is it the pollution affecting my vision. I seem to be able to see clearer much further in Switzerland than KL.

The town I stayed in Switzerland is called Barr, quite near to Zurich.

I had the opportunity to use their train to travel between towns a few days and I must say the trains are impressive, you can hardly hear any sound during the journey. Till than I never realized that trains can be so quiet, almost silent.

Things that I like most in Switzerland are the climate, clean environment and chocolates. They have a fantastic range of chocolates available, from very high end to budget level chocolates and they all taste good.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Color Sergeant

A butterfly with a military rank, observe the three stripes spread across the wings and you will understand why.

Apparently the more common ones we often see are the males with white stripes. The females have wings that are marked with broad orange-brown stripes.

Some excellent specimens I came across.