• Archive of "Travel" Category

    Home sweet Home – There’s no place like Home

    November 21, 2010 // No Comments »

    Am glad to be back home after a fantastic trip to Asia.  Even though the holiday in Koh Samui was more or less washed away, I am definitely putting Thailand back on my bucket list to return in the future.  On the top of my Thailand list is Krabi.  My parents had one of the best holidays there.

    My trip back home was a nightmare.  After having flown all over the world in the past 10 years through my work I can surely say this was by far my worst flight ever.  It was an evening flight that left H.K. with one hour delay at 8:10 p.m. I was planning on catching 4 – 6 hours of sleep on this 14 hour flight home, but unfortunately I had the loudest “snorer” next to me.  As soon as the seat belt sign went on this guy passed out and his snore drowned out the engine noise, and the worst part was, that he slept for a solid 10 hours.  I couldn’t find peace even with my noise cancellation earphones!  People around us were complaining to the Flight Attendants, but there was nothing they could do.  What a miserable flight and I am still feeling the aftermath.

    It is so good to be back home though.  Traveling always sounds so luxurious, however there is truly no place like home.  Your own couch, own bed, own bathroom, … all of this really matters.

    Posted in Travel

    Things we take for granted!

    November 14, 2010 // No Comments »

    On our second last day in Koh Samui instead of having breakfast in our hotel my wife and I had breakfast at a little deli store on the hotel compound.  Unfortunately we still couldn’t leave the hotel due to the heavy monsoon flooding.

    At this little deli store we grabbed a coffee and some sandwiches.  The lady serving us was extremely nice and she started chatting with us.

    I was curious, so I asked her where the local people usually live in Koh Samui.  She replied she lived in the hotel employee quarters, however she also mentioned, that she was from Bangkok and that she basically works 11 months a year and sends most of her money back home to her parents, who were raising her new born 10 month year old son.  If work was good, then she herself could afford one or two trips homes a year to visit parents and son.  The sad part for her was that her son didn’t even recognize her the last time she was home and only cried in her arms.

    This story really touched both of us and so it should.  We take so many things for granted nowadays and get upset about the little things in life, however we hardly think of the individuals who are less fortunate, even though these individuals are happy with the little they have, probably even happier than most of the individuals that have more.

    As Christmas is just around the corner, why no spend less on presents and give to the ones in need instead?  How many people would love to spend Christmas with their families, however are not able to do so due to lack of the financial means?

    How many times have you stopped to think about others?  Think about people in other countries? Think about how their lives are?  How fortunate or less fortunate they are?  Especially with Christmas around the corner, think of others …

    Posted in Travel

    In Asia Part 3 – Koh Samui

    November 13, 2010 // No Comments »

    The rest of the our week in Koh Samui was pretty uneventful.  We weren’t so lucky with the weather, which brought us streaks of monsoon rain downpours in between sunny stretches.  One day we were out of luck entirely, as it literally down poured the entire day and night, flooding the streets around our hotel, thus preventing us from exploring the surrounding area. Local residents on the other hand were not fazed, some pulled out kayaks to navigate the once was streets to get to where they needed to be. The flood pretty much forced us to relax on the hotel hotel beach, read some good books, enjoy some fantastic massages and get some long needed rest.

    Overall I was very happy with the holiday, even though I would have preferred to see more of Thailand.  We had planned to do a snorkeling trip on Thursday, however the guide refused to accept our money and told us not to book the trip as visibility was rotten.  Well, I guess we will have to come back to Thailand again in the future.

    Now we are off to Hong Kong again and naturally on the day of our departure blue sky all around without a single cloud in the sky.  Oh well, at least we got the well deserved time-off and I was able to read a few good books.

    Posted in Travel

    In Asia Part 2

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    Friday, November 5, 2010
    Woke up well rested this morning. Spent half the morning checking emails and then it’s off to two more meetings in Guangzhou.

    Definitely learning a lot about the Chinese domain market.  It is not the typical trends, that we see in North America or Europe.  Business is definitely different here.

    The second meeting this afternoon was spent at the Guangzhou DongFang Hotel.  This was the hotel where my parents stayed for our Chinese wedding reception last year in April.  It brought back some very fond memories.  The evening was spent with family at another fantastic restaurant with traditional Chinese food.
    After dinner we drove to the area, where the 2010 Asia Games would be held in Guangzhou.  The opening ceremony is going to be held in a new modern up and coming business district of Guangzhou.  I was stunned by the beauty of this area and you could see that China had spent a lot of money in making this a memorable Asia Games.

    Saturday, November 6, 2010
    Still fighting jet lag a bit.  Both of us woke up early which meant that we basically had the breakfast room to ourselves, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I love traveling to China and spending time in China, however it usually takes me a few days to get used to the cacophony of loudness and noise, especially in the mornings.
    After breakfast we quickly checked out and headed to the HK airport to catch a direct flight to Koh Samui on Bangkok Airways.  Fantastic service, extremely friendly and I was pleasantly surprised that we received a full blown meal on a three hour flight.  Having traveled so much in North America over the past years, you get used to buying these nasty lunch boxes with no content for horrendous fees.  Definitely a nice change.  Since getting on the flight to Koh Samui and enjoying the excellent service I can start feeling the switch from business to holiday mode.
    Another 24 hours and I should be having an ice-cold beer on a fantastic beach in Koh Samui! Prost!

    Three hours later we landed in a tropical, humid Koh Samui, grabbed a cab and we were off to the hotel.

    Nothing anywhere near to what I had originally expected.  Small huts everywhere, cheap neon lights, no proper roads, and a ton of water due to the monsoon.

    Thankfully our hotel, the Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui, was nothing like the preview.  A little piece of oasis, whew, we called it an early night.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    Woke up to the sound of Thunder … Fantastic!!!!!  Opened our beach view balcony door and couldn’t even see the ocean due to a tremendous downpour. Oh well. It’s holiday, so who cares?
    After breakfast the sun was already peeking through the clouds, which allowed us to enjoy a nice cold local beer on the white sandy beach.  Water temperature approx. 26 degrees …. What more can you wish for?
    Spent the entire Sunday on the beach enjoying reading. At 5.30 p.m. I was off to my first ever “Shirodhara” – a type of head massage, where soothing oil flows in a steady stream on your forehead (the “third eye”) for  approx. 1. hour. Definitely a pleasant experience, which allowed me to relax entirely.  The first day on holiday slowly comes to an end and we were already thoroughly enjoying ourselves in monsoon paradise.

    Posted in Travel

    Off to ASIA Part 1

    November 4, 2010 // No Comments »

    Off to ASIA for a business trip combined with pleasure!

    Tuesday November 2, 2010

    Once again I am off to my favorite continent, ASIA.  Early start to the airport. Unfortunately for us our flight departs in the morning for H.K.  If we had flown 2 days earlier we would have had the luxury of departing at 2.00 a.m., definitely a better choice if flying to ASIA on a long haul.  Got lucky at check-in and got an exit row seat with ample leg room.

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Arrived over an hour late in H.K., after a dreadfully long flight of close to 14 hours. These long hauls economy cabins are definitely getting to me (mental note: must play lottery more often).  Due to a delay in getting into H.K. dinner plans were cancelled.  All we wanted to do is get the hotel relax, check emails and get some sleep.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    Didn’t sleep as well as I had hoped to. It didn’t really matter as this gave me enough time at 4.00 a.m. in the morning to catch up on my emails.  We were off to an early start as we needed to catch a train to Guangzhou, China.  I was amazed at how well the train station was organized.  Very efficient and quick handling of luggage and seat assignment.  Two hours later we were already in Guangzhou.  No time for a rest, quickly off to our first meeting.  A very interesting conversation and I learned a lot about the Chinese market, especially interesting insights into .CN and the additional restrictions imposed by the Chinese government.  Overall the meeting was a success and I was happy as this was time well spent. I was hoping for a Starbucks coffee in between, but we were already running late for our next meeting.  Finished the second meeting and then off to the hotel, quick shower and then early big family dinner.  After dinner, I could hardly move.  I constantly heard “Robbie, have some more, you look hungry”.   People who know me know that I most certainly do not look hungry.

    Posted in General, Travel

    The perils of traveling!

    December 21, 2009 // No Comments »

    2009 is coming to an end and I just finished my last business trip of the year.  On my way back home to Vancouver it dawned me that I used to love flying and that nowadays I simply hate it.  I attribute this to the fact that I am on the plane quite often and that I am simply fed-up of traveling.  I know that this sounds odd to many people, especially since their is a perception that flying to all these different countries on business is glamorous.  Believe me, it isn’t.  It is tiring and draining.  Yes it is good to see different countries and cultures, but one usually doesn’t have enough time to actually visit any places.

    While flying home on my last lag of the journey I thought I would write about the top things that bug me the most when flying and why.

    #1: Checking-In
    Checking in is painful, especially with a European Passport in Canada.  They nowadays have the electronic check-ins, where you have to scan your passport to get your boarding pass and put on your own luggage tags.  Every single time, I tell the lady that directs me to the machine, that the machine won’t read my passport, but no, I still get instructed to use these machines, even though they don’t work for foreign passports.  What a waste of time.  You would expect the airline personnel to know their machines and what works and what doesn’t.

    If it isn’t the electronic check-in machines, then it is the long check-in lines through economy, why are people are pushing and shoving.  Where is the common courtesy to respect people in line?  Are they afraid they will not make the flight?  If you are late and need to get by, then just ask!  Thankfully Airline have mileage programs, where if lucky you can avoid the long line-ups.

    #2: Airlines should enforce carry-on restrictions
    I am sure this happens elsewhere in the world very often and also with other airlines, but since I have been living in North America for the past 3 1/2 years, naturally I will rage about North American Airlines.  I understand the convenience of take your luggage on board the plane and disembark without having to worry about baggage claim of any sort.  I admit that I am the same and whenever I can I will try to take my luggage as carry-on.  That is a little carry-on and a notebook bag.  However what I can’t stand is when people actually take two huge carry-ons on board and by the time you get to your seat there is no space in the overhead, resulting in the innocent who stick to the rules having to put their carry-on luggage under the seat in front of them, as there isn’t enough room in the overhead bins.  Then when you ask around “excuse me are these your bags” nobody responds.  Where the heck has all the common courtesy gone?  If you take two carry-ons on board, then show some courtesy to the others on the plane and stuff one of your carry-ons under your own seat!

    Airlines:  If you have restrictions, then enforce them or at least charge for additional carry-ons and reduce your fees or offer the on-board food a bit cheaper!  Why do airlines have a hand-luggage size check right before boarding if it isn’t used?

    #3: Mileage Programs
    I am a member of Lufthansa Miles and More Program, but I am definitely starting to question it.  Lufthansa is a member of Star Alliance which is the global leading airline network, in terms of daily flights, destinations and countries flown to and amount of member airlines.  What good does all of this do, if you can’t upgrade your flight at one of the partner airlines?  Useless … I can’t upgrade with my Miles and More Card on an Air Canada flight, even though Air Canada is a member of Star Alliance. The same applies to other airlines as well, this is not the “Friendly Sky” you’ve promised.

    #4 Seat Space
    Fortunately/unfortunately I am very tall, meaning I am always cramped into the economy seat.   Passengers might consider taking into consideration the person sitting behind them before ramming their seat back or even ask if the person behind would mind, if they put their seat back.  Ultimately it’s the airlines who need to invest in newer fleets, built for humane travel.

    #5 Immigration
    Immigration is the worst.  Imagine the following picture.  You just got off a 12 hour flight cramped in economy and all you’re looking forward to is a hot shower, in a nice hotel room, and a decent meal.  Then it feels as if you got hit by an invisible fist, when you see the long line-up for immigration and only 2 counters are open … You then look for a shorter line and see 8 shorter lines with basically nobody standing there, but …. you can’t go their as this is only for “residents” or “citizens” … what is up with that?  People visiting your country for either business or leisure, willing to spend money and the first impression they get is that foreigners have to wait.

    Have you ever experienced any of the above?

    Posted in Travel

    Unforgettable trip to Victoria, B.C.

    September 13, 2009 // No Comments »

    This past weekend, I took my wife to Victoria, Vancouver Island as she had never been there even though she has now lived in B.C for about 1 1/2 years.

    I left work a bit earlier on Friday (this is the advantage of being on the West Coast.  You can leave work at 2 or 3 p.m. and it doesn’t really matter as the East Coast has already gone home).  Luck was with us as we just made the ferry at 2:00 p.m. to Swartz Bay.  What an amazing ferry ride over.  Blue sky and calm seas as far as you could see.  I was a bit disappointed, as I had hoped to see some Orcas…  We did however see some seals playing while the ferry navigated between the Islands.

    Saturday morning was spent strolling around downtown Victoria.  What a beautiful city with such British flair. During breakfast we decided to join a Whale Watching tour as I have always hoped to see Orcas in the wild.  We left Victoria harbour at 3.15 p.m. on a ship that was fully packed!  Before departing they took a head count of 74 people!  Wow!  I immediately started running the numbers, …. holy cow.

    74 people X 95.00 CAD$ (tax excl.) per person = 7,030 CAD$.

    3 fully booked tours a day 7,030 CAD$ * 3 = 21,090 CAD$

    … nice business.

    We were hitting the waves for more than 1 1/2 hours before we slowed down.  Our guide had spotted some Orcas.  Actually a pod of Orcas, approx 15 whales.  Our guide switched off the engines as the Orcas were swimming directly towards us.  I was speechless.  What amazing mammals!  They swam as close as 15 m. passed us.  We got some really nice shots.

    I remember visiting Sea World in Florida as a kid.  It’s one thing seeing an Orca in a tank and quite another seeing them in the wild.  What an unforgettable experience, it was worth every single penny.  After hanging out with the whales, we headed back to the Victoria harbour.  It was already getting late and the temperatures had dropped quite a bit.  We grabbed ourselves hot chocolates and listened to some wild stories the captain had to tell.  We had so much fun standing on upper level while the others huddled downstairs for warmth.  On the way back the waves started picking up and the boat started hitting the waves pretty heavily.  I was a bit concerned for my wife, but she was having a blast, thoroughly enjoying herself and laughed every single time we hit a wave!

    We finally got back to the harbour around 7.30 p.m. and both of us were frozen, but happy!  A quick hot dinner, a stop at the liquor store for a bottle of Merlot and off to the hotel.  We hardly finished 1/2 a glass of wine when both of us passed out.  We must have had spent the last of our energy staying warm on the boat.

    Anyone who visits Vancouver should stay a few days longer and take the time to visit Victoria.

    Posted in Travel

    Trip to New York

    September 25, 2008 // No Comments »

    So, Tuesday I left the hotel in Tokyo at approx. 1 p.m. to take the bus to the airport.  Plane left at 5 p.m. and was I dreading the 12 hour flight to Toronto. What a flight!

    Got into Toronto on time. Damn, had to go pick up my luggage and go through US customers, meaning had to fill out all these forms.  How I hate this.  Went through US customs, same old questions, what do you do, how long are you staying, you signing any contracts,  …etc.

    So by the time I got through had to actually run to my gate to catch the connection to N.Y. Thankfully I made it on time.  Just another quick hop and I would be in N.Y.

    Hadn’t been in N.Y. since 1985 so was actually looking forward to visiting again.  When we flew in, we actually flew directly over “Ground Zero”.  It was a weird feeling after having seen 911 on TV and following reports on this tragic day, especially as the plane went absolutely quiet and everyone was looking out their windows.  What a sight!

    Quick cab ride form the airport to hotel.  Quick check in and then off to a party.  The next two nights were the worst ever.  After having traveed the world on numerous occassions I can clearly say that this has been my worst ever jet-lag!  Do NOT fly from Asia to the US East Coast.  A nightmare.  I haven’t had a decent nights sleep since arriving here in N.Y.

    Posted in Travel

    Robbie in Asia Part#4

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    So my last day in Tokyo, before I head out to N.Y. tomorrow afternoon.

    Tokyo is definitely a fascinating city.  After dinner at a Japanese BBQ yesterday we hit the night life district.  I am still amazed at all the lights, monitors with advertising and the number of people that were on the streets on a Sunday evening.  The streets were simply plastered with advertising.  The advertising was vertical, meaning every floor of most buildings were plastered with flashy lights and banners or monitors.

    This is also something I noticed about the metro in Tokyo.  The metro trains are all full of advertising.  I was thinking that the Japanese Metro must be making a killing on ad-revenue.

    So,, on my way to N.Y.

    Posted in Travel

    Robbie in Asia Part #3

    September 20, 2008 // No Comments »

    So, yesterday I arrived in Tokyo, Japan.

    Had no idea that the airport was so far from the city, but that didn’t really matter as the information provided at the airport was more than sufficient.  I easily got a bus ticket and took a Limousine Bus from the airport directly to the hotel.

    At the hotel I was a a bit disappointed with the Sheraton Miyako, until I was told that most Hotels in Tokyo are old and have small rooms. Oh well, it’ll definitely do and is more than sufficient.

    Today we went exploring a bit and used the metro which is highly efficient.  We went to see the Asakusa Shrine, a Buddhist temple in Tokyo.

    In the afternoon we had to call it the day as it starting pouring.  This was ok with me, as it gave me the chance to take an afternoon nap. ;-)

    Tomorrow it is back to business and Tuesday I head to N.Y. to attend the Traffic Conference, where .ME will be having its first ever premium domain auction.

    Posted in Travel