Thursday, December 31, 2009

Touching base

20091228 AdS

My previous employer in the Netherlands (LVNL) asked me to write an article for their internal magazine updating them with what’s been going on with us since we left.

I really enjoyed my time working there, and this is a way of touching base with my previous work and colleagues.
(hallo LVNLers (and all others!), post a reply or send an email, let us know how you’re doing!)

They allowed me to publish the article on the blog, have a read if your Dutch is up to scratch :)

(for people on our mailing list, if you don’t see the picture in this post, go to the blog to read it)

(P.S. changed the link to a bigger picture...)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

How to stake an Emirati tree

Did anyone else notice the odd-looking three-legged trees around Abu Dhabi?

The featured trees have been this way for at least the past year and half, and this is what happened when a thunderstorm hit:

In my humble opinion, they provide a very good illustration of relationships of Emiraties and expats in the country's development. Enough said.

FYI, the following are some Facts about Staking a Tree:

"Tree staking is never done with the intention of harming a tree. Staking is usually done with love and with a desire to promote root and trunk growth and protect a young tree from harm.

"What some tree planters do not understand is, rather than helping a tree develop root and trunk growth, improper tree staking replaces a supportive trunk and root system with an artificial support that causes the tree to put its resources into growing taller but not growing wider.

"If and when the stakes are removed, the lack of trunk and root development makes these trees prime candidates for breakage or blow-down. In the first good windstorm, down these trees come. They have lost the supportive protection of natural development."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

From Abu Dhabi: Christmas Carol, Bedspace Ads and Liquor Store

Some random things to share with you of our life in Abu Dhabi.

- I crashed a private function to watch our friend Meg sing Christmas carol. The backdrop is a giant light display of UAE flag, left beaming from the UAE National Day celebration back in early December.


- Bedspace ads posted on a random bus shelter, which is not in use and simply acts as sand collector.


20091210174     - Although I’ve never visited an adult video shop in Toronto, somehow I reckon the experience would be similar to that of visiting a liquor store in Abu Dhabi, except there are really only a handful of them. As you can see below, the shop windows are all blacked out, and after your purchase, you carry your bottles in black unmarked bags… not to mention the mandatory liquor license!

GMP img source:


From the local liquor store, Merry Christmas and drink up, everyone! :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Always Welcome in Jordan"

"Welcome, welcome!" Just about every Jordanian we met in Jordan repeated the simple yet warm word to us while we were there for 11 days last week. It turned out the word can be used loosely as "hi", "bye", "thank you", "okay", or filler for moment of awkward silence. During a typical quick conversation, you can hear the word muttered at least a dozen times. It's essentially the duct tape of Jordanian's English vocabulary.

So what did we do while we were there. Let's see. My top highlights would be...

- Camping in a Bedouin tent in the middle of desert:

- Driving in the mountain range

- Sleeping in an ancient cave next to Petra:

- Selfishly and gladly having Petra's Treasury all to ourselves in a beautiful early morning:

- Mudding ourselves at the Dead Sea:

- Diving/snorkelling in the the Red Sea at Aqaba.

- Moon walking in the dark night under full moon in Wadi Rum:

- Riding very spirited Arabian horse:

- Camel Riding!! (Smell you later!)

Special thanks to our couchsurfing hosts for helping make such a memorable trip: Akram and Bianca in Amman and Nawaf in Petra!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Crossing Expats' Boundaries

Q and I are wexpats - expats who came from western countries. And that essentially defines our "environment" long before we even landed in Abu Dhabi: from what type of car we would drive, to what range of accomodation we would choose, to what type of friends we would hang out with, etc, etc, and surely and naturally we did just that - settled very comfortably in our wexpat environment. But once in a while we venture out of our comfort zone and into other expats' "environments". And the result? It's always surprisingly pleasant. One such example was watching the Pakistan v.s. New Zealand cricket match in the Cricket Stadium last Saturday.

The first thing we noticed was that bad traffic jam leading to the stadium turned a two-lane side street into a four-lane. Some Pakistanis opted for parking further away and made up the lost time by running towards the stadium. I can't recall the last time I saw even one person running towards a sporting event, let alone crowds. The enthusiasm caught on me before we even reached the parking lot.

It was our first cricket match ever, and it was a "50-overs" "one-day match", i.e. a long form, and long it was - the match started at 3 pm and we left at 10 pm - an almost-herotic SEVEN hours, and it still had another good hour to go by the time we left! It was an all-around wholesome experience: the crowd, the teams, the stadium, the friends, and the poster! Okay, some may argue beer was missing. :)

I can't quite describe it but the level of dedication and enthusiasm somehow made me respect the Pakistani expats much more so than before. A lot of them may be alone here, they may not earn much, and they may not be able to afford many hobbies, but for what they can manage, they really make the most out of. The cricket match was quite a display of such spirit.

I wish I had something more intelligent to say about this boundary-crossing experience, but really at the end of the day I felt truly happy, for the people surrounded me at the stadium were truly happy - and that is something I don't get when walking into the fancy hotel bars of Abu Dhabi.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wastas + Abu Dhabi = ?

Wastas are "connections" in Arabic - they are about who you know to help make *things* happen. Think them as wheel teeth that keep the clocks ticking, and in the case of Abu Dhabi, often for free!

These are what Wastas have got us during the past two days: Beyonce concert last night, F1 Grand Prix practice at the circuit this afternoon and Jamiroquai concert tonight - all for free! A little background on these F1 concerts - AD organizers made an interesting decision that they were only available to race pass holders, and not available for purchase by general public. It turned out for the Jamiroquai concert alone, a total of 15 friends/acquaintences attended mostly, if not all, without ever purchasing any race passes. Oh yeah, the arrangements were all quite last minute as well. So even though three days ago we didn't plan on having anything to do with Abu Dhabi F1, already we've been to three events at the fresh-paint-scented venue!

Yas F1 Circuit from West Grandstand-that's RedBull car racing across on the bottom there.

Jamiroquai was only 20 meters away!

I don't think Q and I quite get the hang of this cultural phenomenon, but why should we even bother. Sometimes, it is easier to just go with the free flow.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mistakes and Passports Don't Mix!

The following are the stories that both Q and I have gotten tired of repeating over the past month or so. Our mission was to get me a replacement UAE residency visa since my passport got stolen while traveling in China. Now that I typed it all up, I can see how tricky the situation was and that it would take a miracle for any UAE immigration office to understand, not to mention helping us.

The Story of Four Passports

Every single immigration counter we went - and trust me, there are many of them - we had to explain that my passports #1 and #2 were stolen in China, while holding a mint #4 backed up by a certified copy of #3.

#1: Regular Canadian passport issued in Toronto. I moved to Abu Dhabi with it in 2007, so it has my residency visa. It had to be replaced back in April this year because it ran out of blank pages for visa stamps, but I still kept it for the residency visa page.

#2: Regular Canadian passport issued in Abu Dhabi. It was a replacement for Passport #1. It had my Chinese tourist visa and was what I used to enter China.

#3: Temporary Canadian passport issued in Shanghai after #1 and #2 were stolen. It was issued and given to me in Shanghai on 26 August - ahh, what a glorious day! It also contained the replacement tourist visa for China – it was "zero entry" as I only needed it for leaving the country. This is the passport I entered UAE with.

#4: Regular Canadian passport issued in Shanghai but picked up in Abu Dhabi. I had to return #3 in order to get #4. For some odd reason, we were not allowed to keep temporary passports. I had a certified photocopy of #3 including the UAE entry stamp. It was essentially blank and this is where the replacement UAE residency visa should go. The problem is…

The Story of One Mistake

When I left China with Passport #3, I got an exit stamp of “31 August 2009”. It was all good until I entered UAE after the overnight flight. Instead of “1 Sept 2009” the stamp I got “1 August 2009”! Unfortunately I didn't notice the error until several days later when staring at a certified copy of #3.

Of course this whole thing didn’t make sense and we all thought it was obvious to the UAE Custom that they made the mistake, but I was so wrong. Essentially it appeared that I was in UAE without any paper record - in anther word, illegal.

The Story of Two Residence Visas

In order to make my Edinburgh and Italy trip, we had to pull a last-minute Mission-Impossible stunts on the day of my flight. It was pure drama and I only wish we weren't doing it. Doing one of those door-to-door car switches at highway pit stop and zooming down highway at lightening speed definitely pushed our adrenaline to a new high.

In the end we had to cancel my old residence visa on passport #1, so I could leave UAE at all. While I was in Italy, Q worked with his company to get me a new residence visa, so now #4 is on its way to be completed with a visa sticker.

As we learnt from this experience, one of the fastest ways to learn the local government culture is to lose your passport. If you don’t believe us, try it. :)

To reward those of you brave souls who reached this point of the posting, here are some photos from our trips in China, Edinburgh and Italy. Enjoy - we certainly did! And do let us know how you are doing. We miss all of our family and friends dearly. Love from Abu Dhabi!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A breath of fresh air…

…well, relatively speaking, of course :)

This morning at 6 am, when I left work after my graveyard shift, it was a very amiable 27 degrees (81 Fahrenheit for you non-metric lot). It felt like a draw of fresh air!

It means the height of the summer is over and in a few weeks temperatures should be down enough during the day to be able to venture outside without being scorched to a crisp!


The visa saga continues meanwhile. Having spent another 4 1/2 hours at the immigration department, the new resident visa is on its way and I should have it tomorrow. That means Shu would be able to enter the country legally again! The rest of the work is mostly hers, getting all the tests required for a residence visa. But we’ll do that when she’s back next week.

The two accompanying photos have been shot at Sheikh Zayed Mosque here in Abu Dhabi. I guess the last photo sums up two important aspects in Abu Dhabi life quite well, religion and commercialism…

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Shu has left the country...

That's actually a good thing! We had a lot of issues trying to replace her residence visa when she got back from China. The visa was in the passport that got stolen in Shanghai. It's not resolved yet, but the situation was such that she also couldn't leave the country without it either! We managed to resolve the issue temporarily, but we'll have to work on the rest when she gets back... I'm sure Shu will inform you later on about the whole procedure (to give you a slight hint what we've been through, so far I've spent a good 15 hours at the Immigration Department....).

She's off to attend a wedding in Edinburgh before flying to Italy to tour over there together with a friend from Toronto! This was the message she sent me yesterday:

'I found the Mound and the Prince Street Garden, and sat on the grass, and walked on the grass in zigzag. I loved and missed how nice it felt. :)'

The Princes Street Gardens

The Princes Street Gardens, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Or as a friend put it: 'having actual weather again is interesting!', when commenting on her move to The Netherlands after having lived in the Middle East for several years.

Other than that all is well. We're experiencing full on Ramadan, and will end in just over a week from now. We went to an iftar celebration in the posh Emirates Palace . The food was hidiously expensive, but also very good. Still only did it for the occasion...

Later this month, one of my best friends arrives for a few days before we set of to fly to South Africa, where we'll rent to motorbikes and tour the country for two weeks!

Let us know how you're doing!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Dark Moment of Travelling

Honestly I think I've had my share of adventurous and bizarre travel situations, so it comes as quite a surprise to look at my current situation.

Here is the scoop. As Q mentioned in the last blog posting, we are taking a trip in China to visit relatives. Well, the trip came to a complete halt when my purse was stolen while dining with Q and family in Shanghai a couple days ago. Thankfully nobody was harmed or anything. Besides money and a few other gadgets, the most important travelling item was also gone missing - my passport. The damage control and police report aside, none of us could have imagined the trouble involved ahead to get me out of China. After tearing up Shanghai for the past two days, it finally dawned on me what it is:

- First, I need to get my courier package containing Canadian-government issued IDs required for my passport application. It's supposed to arrive in Shanghai tomorrow, but last time we checked it was still sitting in Hongkong for some odd reason.
- The Canadian consulate informed me that it takes THREE working days to get a temporary passport. (FIFTEEN for a regular one, which I will also apply at the same time and request to send to Abu Dhabi for pickup.)
- After getting the new passport, I would need to get a so-called "pink slip" for accommodation registration at local police station. Apparently all foreigners are supposed to do it, but nobody does. Well, not this time, because I was told that I'd need it for the next step.
- The Chinese government requires me to get a new visa in order to let me out. According to official and unofficial websites, this steps takes FIVE working days.

All this development has blown every bits of my travel plan out of water. It's not just bad. It's almost disastrous. As you can imagine, I do feel like quite trapped at the moment as I cannot travel anywhere in China without passport. At the moment, I am not even hoping for miracles, I am just hoping that I will be out of the woods soon. Never thought Abu Dhabi could look so attractive right now. On the positive side - there is always a positive side - it is China and I am staying with relatives (Thanks so much, K-Pam!), so we are trying to make the best out of this situation by doing loads shopping - who knew spending money after losing money was such a great therapy! :)

I remember reading a list of emergency services provided by Canadian government and mentally patting myself on the shoulder for not calling from a jail for legal service. Truth to be told, it could be worse.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My kinda place

A hole in the wall, filled with locals, smack in the middle of town, and not a foreigner to be seen. And the food is delicious!

My bowl of noodles with spicy pork and soup - delicious!

Have a look at the hole in the wall

In Shanghai at the moment, Shu is about to board her plane in Abu Dhabi and will join me here tomorrow. Visiting family and friends, and the odd shopping and sight seeing here and there :)

Here's some more pics from my first few days here:

Tofu, veggies, meat with hot peppers and rice for lunch

Playing Mahjong on the street

All in all, seriously enjoying myself!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dhaka Madness

Q is in Dhaka, Bangladesh for a four-day trip - Because he can, okay? Get over it, you lot!

His first text message after just landed:"Bangladeshi
passport number of the guy I'm hitching a ride with. ######. Heavy rain on
arrival. Just adds to this excitement!"

Second message:"I don't think anything can prepare you for Dhaka. It's sheer madness! I'm doing okay. On my way to a village for the night with my CS host. ... Also already met up with Andi (N.B. friend from CS who inspired the trip in the first place). Meeting up with her again tomorrow. We also already have a couch in Cairo :)"

Third:"4 hrs by bus, 10 mins in rickshaw and 20 mins by motorcycle and we are in the middle of nowhere. Lightning everywhere, so no star gazing. But the rain sounds cool. :)"

Okay, I admit that we are a bit of adrenaline junkies. But just imagine for a moment, sitting in rickshaw cutting through the heavy rain just to get to a nowhere village in Bangladesh - it does make you smile, doesn't it? :)

p.s. Here are a few photos from our recent weekend road trip to Musandam, Oman. I treated Q to a fantastic birthday dinner in an Indian eatery for a grand total of 28 dhs (less than 6 euros or 8 dollars) - Sweet!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Do You **Bling**?

Introducing the latest addition to ultra-luxury lifestyle: Swarovski-crystal encrusted bottles of water at US$70 each! Like the 7Days article pointed out, that is the same amount of money that would supply a child in Africa with clean water for life! To the UAE distributor Harvey Nichols, I think this so-called "unique lifestyle product" is ultra-low, and it's time to uncool all the glitters!

Somebody Pinch Me!

Some days I just can't help but wondering, "where the heck am I???" Today I was briefly transported to India when I received the following email from an Indian colleague, J, who I have exchanged no more than a dozen hi's in the past year.
My dear friends,

Behold a copy of my marriage invitation attached. Proof that it is finally happening! It would give me immense pleasure if you could grace the occasion by your presence. Your prayers and blessings will be appreciated in any event.

However, it would give me equal pleasure if you could come to enjoy a lunch on Monday the 17th of August at our office at 1:00 pm. It is no coincidence that the marriage ceremony is also scheduled for that day in Cochin – India. Enjoy the lunch as I bid farewell to bachelorhood.

Apparently it is very common in certain Asian and African cultures to send out an office-wide wedding invitation. Personally I think they make some of the best social celebrations, but I'd feel weird not knowing the happy couple fairly well.

Culture shock aside, it also made me smile to read the bible verse quote on the invitation, "It is not good for a man to live alone, I will make a suitable companion for him. (Gen. 2:18)"

...I'm sure they love each other very much! :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

And One of Them is Mine...

Take a guess at the number of traffic fines that the Abu Dhabi police issued in the first half of 2009. Ready? *Drum roll, please!* A grand total of 705,377! In six months! According to The National report, that evens out to about "one traffic fine for every second person in the emirate"!

I'm embarrassed to admit that one of the 433,202 speeding fines is mine: a hefty AED 700 (equivalent to 140 euros or 190 dollars).

I will never speed again.
I will never speed again.
I will never speed again.
I will never speed again.
I will never speed again.
I will never speed again.
I will never speed again.
I will never speed again.
I will never speed again.
I will never speed again.

Monday, June 29, 2009

UAE's New Mercedez-Benz

When I first moved to Abu Dhabi two years ago, I refused to drive the Lexus Q bought, why? Because I was a new driver and I knew better to practice on something cheaper and more basic. And what do you know, three days after I got a rental, I had a fender-bender in the crazy parking lot!

On that note, these two news caught my attention and make me wonder why UAE doesn't have that common sense. One is on Abu Dhabi's bid to host the headquarter for IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency), and the other being the feasibility study for Dubai to host the 2020 Olympics and the World Expo.

So I am just going to be the dumb child in the Emperor's new clothes parade and say it flat out, "The UAE doesn't have relevant qualifications!" A quick search on "Germany renewable energy" returned 4.6 million results, whereas "UAE renewable energy" 322 thousands, that's 7%! Similarly "Canada sports" returned 1.76 billion results, whereas "UAE sports" only give me 6.8 million, that's less than 1%! Let's face it, with UAE being the most wasteful country and has far fewer sports facilities than shopping malls, I fail to see how these monuments can be erected on tooth picks. (All you nerds out there, don't even think about proving this.)

The main reason UAE wants them is publicity - the international gigs would make fancy show-off toys. I welcome their interests in the subject matters, but maybe they should consider practice in a Toyota first before bulldozing down the roads with their Mercedez-Benz.

Photo taken in AD traffic by a colleage. Can you tell how shiny the car was???

Monday, June 22, 2009

Abu Dhabi Moments

Just thought to share with everyone some of my, what I call, "Abu Dhabi Moments".

Moment #1: The following is from a recent The National article. Keep in mind that compared to her fellow young country men/women, this young Emirati woman is significantly more motivated - she has her own boutique store! Note I used the word *has*. I can't tell how much she *runs* it since all she talked about is how much fun it is to *buy* for the store. Yipee!

Image courtesy of The National

"When I was younger, I was really not into fashion. My sister used to wear this crazy silver lipstick – it was very 1990s – but I wasn’t interested. Then suddenly one day I had a problem and I just felt like letting go. I went and bought a bag from Louis Vuitton and I’ve been a shopaholic ever since. It was the turning point."

Moment #2: I saw this with my own eyes while walking home the other day. A guy had two cell phones against his ears, one on each side, driving car with his elbows. I was

Moment #3:

Oh, guess the car model correctly to prove you are an Abu Dhabian!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Search for a Perfect Accomodation in Damascus!

Here is a question that should surely get some reaction from just about everyone: Exactly how rewarding is *planning* for a trip? My answer? It is often more rewarding than you would have initially thought! Take this weekend trip to Syria for example. Q and I only have four days, so we decided to spend it all in the the ancient city of Damascus. The search for a "perfect" accommodation has proven to be quite exciting in itself.

Our first choice for accomodation was CouchSurfing (obviously!), but not so lucky this time. The CS community seems much smaller in Damascus, oh well, hopefully we made some contacts with locals who will be able to meet up and tell us about the city they live in, so that's always good.

Then I tried the traditional hotel search on the internet. Surprise, surprise, rooms in renovated boutique hotels ain't cheap - a decent one is easily $200 per night! Hmm... I guess the old town is UNESCO for a reason!

Luckily I came across a tip recommending, which mostly arranges accomodation for international students and long-term visitors. After some email exchanges, this is what was proposed to us...

A room in a traditional Arabic house with a fountain in the middle courtyard, for just under $40 per night! *Tada!* If that is not perfect, I don't know what is. *Tee hee hee!*

I love how much enjoyment I am getting out of this search without even leaving Abu Dhabi. :D It's true... Early bird does catch the worm, even if it has to work harder!


And on a separate note, I previously mentioned there's a special announcement that Q was going to make but he's busy, so he delegated the task to me, so here it is.

Congratulations to Wads (N.B. Q's mother) for receiving knighthood award from the Dutch government! It was a wonderful recognition for her 30+ years of volunteering work in the philipino community!

Bart (N.B. Q's father) managed to keep it all a surprise for Wads until they arrived at the reception theatre, and everyone had a blast! Here is a photo collage of all the flower bouquets in their living room afterwards. What a celebration!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

My Indian Visa Saga Continues...

As you may recall, I missed my trip to India back in April because I couldn't get a visa in time. Well, I continued to pursue since then, hoping to clear it for any future trip plans. All the government bureaucracy aside, I still find myself drawn to the country itself.

Keep in mind that my visa application was submitted back in the beginning of April, and I ran into a major obstacle for being born in China and was required to get an additional security clearance from New Delhi.

Today, when I called my friend Mr. Sashi at the embassy, to my delight he remembered my case right away, "oh yes, the Canadian!" then he continued on in the same tone, "Oh no, we have not heard from New Delhi!" After realizing that I didn't quite share his excitement, he suggested to escalate the matter to the First Secretary Consulate, Mr. Babu, since he has "the ultimate power" for visa issuing.

After dropping my first phone call (I am sure accidentally!), Mr. Babu put me on the speaker phone - I hate discussing private issues over a speaker phone since you just don't know who else might be listening on the other end. Oh well, not like I had any choice! After explaining my situation, Mr. Babu told me that "No problem, 15 days to one month." But it has been over a month. "From today." Oooh, *another* 15 days to one month. But what if still no response, "Well, we cannot give you a visa without the clearance from New Delhi."

It just dawned on me that there is a chance that I *may never* get a visa to India. Yuk. Well, at least this whole pursuit of visa experience is making me somewhat acceptive of failures! :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

My Reverse Culture Shock

Have you heard of Reverse Culture Shock before? According to Wikipedia, my new best friend after Google, "Returning to one's home culture after growing accustomed to a new one can produce the same effects as entering a foreign environment, which an affected person often finds more surprising and difficult to deal with as the original culture shock." Well, that explains all the mental flossing during my recent trip to Europe:

Munich, Germany

  • After living in Abu Dhabi, I am surprised to see that I have become really good at stealing traffic crossings, you know, like stealing bases in baseball games, when the traffic is light. In fact, maybe a little too good.

  • It's 8 pm on a Thursday night and the shops are closed! Where do people go? I think I'm experiencing culture shock, and I didn't think I would.

  • I had one of the best days of my life today.

  • There must be a book out there on how many ways to dissect a preztel! It's got such a peculiar shape. (N.B. Susi, my Couchsurfing host, told me that it resembles a man with arm crossed and hands on shoulders. :)

  • Eying a bunch of kids playing soccer in a huge open field, I can't help but feeling left out. How outdoor livable is Abu Dhabi?

  • I think I just accidentally drooled over myself when I saw two happy-happy girls riding bicycles passing by me, followed by their mother who had their younger sister on her back seat.

  • In the next 15 minutes, the world doesn't exist while taking a delicious nap surrounded by trees, grass, Alpen mountains and warmth of the sun. Peace!

  • For the first time in my life, I was transformed into a princess - in my jeans and walking shoes! The disney magic took place in a little cafe inside Neuschwanstein castle - I swear I saw sparkles flying off the distanced lake. (Video link here)

  • Watching trees rolling on and off the train window frame next to me is the ultimate Green Therapy.

  • Sitting in a BMW X6 is not the type of thing I'd ever admit to, but I'd do it just for kicks since I'm practically sitting in the home of BMWs (N.B. BMW Museum). It's like you have to try eating with chopsticks when in China!

  • How cool is it to see another underground train travelling in the same direction overtaking slowly. It's like watch a set of slow-motion movie frames in a pitch black space.

  • (N.B. After entering a brauhaus, i.e. pub) It felt like I just fell through the rabbit hole - halls of people drinking and talking and eating *at noon*. Such a contrast to the chilly and grey weather outside.

  • After Abu Dhabi, I think I would say "I can live here" to a lot of cities.

  • Cooking a super delicious food is the best way to make sure no food would go wasted!

    • Salzburg, Austria

      • I wish I were more enthusiastic about where I come from, i.e. Abu Dhabi, but I am not. And Toronto already seems so far away.

      • Cold water runs colder here, not warmer! Love it!

      • Sleeping on the balcony under the countless stars and surrounded by the Alpen mountains sounded quite stupid at first, but turned out very romantic! The only casualty were my glasses, which were blown off to the ground by wind and I ended up with a chipped lens as my souvenir.

      • How could one ever get tired of admiring the Alps?

      • I'm Debbie Downer from Abu Dhabi. Had to bite my tongue from starting sentences with "This is how it is like in Abu Dhabi..."

      Travelling solo in Munich and Salzburg accounted for the first half of my trip. Here are the trip photos. I spent the remainig trip in The Hague, The Netherlands with Q and his family for a very special occassion, which will be announced when Q is back tomorrow. :)