Dubai

Travel

I finally made my trip to Dubai.

Dubai is built for rich people. The biggest shopping centre Dubai Mall – its gates are all in the car park, so the assumption is you have to have a car to go to the shopping centre. I can probably understand it because walking on the street in Dubai is horrible. There are no shades or grass anywhere. It is so hot to walk around and quite often on the sand directly.

I was lucky to stay at JW during my stay. There was a nice sports bar with big screens at the ground floor. I passed it the other day and saw live different football games on the wall and local people were drinking and chatting. The rich people’s life is nice no matter where they live.

It is a different experience to run in Dubai. They’ve built nice running track along the beach, but no one can run after 8 am during the day because of the heat. I tried to run a few times before the sunrise. It was actually pretty good.

The jetlag was always with me, so I followed Australian time. When the hotel provided the free breakfast, it was my dinner time, so I enjoyed the food a lot – especially after the run.

At one stage I think they should instal a huge aircon to cover the whole city to cool it down and stay away from the sand, but they didn’t, so Dubai is still dusty and hot. Anyway, Dubai is safe and modern, so I don’t mind coming back to visit again, but I don’t think I can live here for sure.

 

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Barcelona

Travel

I went to Barcelona over Easter. It was a short visit with four nights, but I enjoyed it.

I stayed in a hotel in the city right next to Casa Batlló and it was close to everything. My first impression to the city was it was so organised. The city was old but the original design was so good. There was a small square in each junction; the buildings around were pushed back so the square was big enough to be used as a small car park. Pedestrian crossings were at the sides of the square and there were bins along with them. I was also surprised by how people behaved in the city; almost all residents followed the traffic rules. I took the bus only twice and the bus driver used indicators properly. Compared the UK, the US, Australia, Asian, this place was much more civilised. People were also friendly as well. Most residents were white, occasionally I could see some Latinos. The language of Catalan was softer than Spanish and didn’t sound that rude in my opinion, but I still want to learn Spanish one day  as I want to be tough.

I was in Madrid three years ago and I also have friends from Barcelona who claim Catalonia is an independent country. Now I know why.

Hotel Rating and Ethical Standards

Sentiment, Travel

Last week I was in the big apple for a couple of days. I stayed in a hotel called Holiday Inn Express and it was quite nice.

I went to the restaurant of the hotel very early everyday due to the jet lag, so I was always the only one there. The staff in the restaurant were from a Caribbean island country that I could not remember the name. They were lovely and showed me how to make the fatty American pancake. I told the girls I was here for holiday and they were quite confused. Then I told them I was on vacation, which made sense to them. I was a bit surprised as the hotel was Holiday Inn, it was not a big word like Renaissance, so what would be the meaning of holiday in their minds?

Anyway, in the last day, I still had an interesting conversation with the girls and I told them I was going to leave in the evening. They went to the kitchen, came back and brought me a business card showing the website of the hotel on TripAdvisor and asked me to rate the hotel and mention them. I said yes to them and they told me their names.

After I checked out, I found this rating thing was quite annoying. I will normally rate all my hotels anyway but just to share my experience. If I write this rating just because they asked me to do so, am I still right? It should not be a question to anyone else, but just because I had received strict ethics educations from both CA and CFA programmes, I found I was in an ethical dilemma.

I don’t quite understand the expectation of the whole rating system on TripAdvisor, is it for simply sharing your opinions or can it be sued to send someone a compliment? Furthermore, the girls specifically told me I should mention them, and I would assume they could get some  sorts of benefits, so should I disclose it in my rating? It’s all getting complicated before I tried to rate the hotel.

In the end, I thought I was overcomplicating a simple issue, so I drafted this rating with my own justification: I gave this hotel a 5 star rating, I also mentioned those girls just as evidence to support my rating. As for what they could get as a result of my rating, I would not know, so there was no need to disclose it. In addition, I did not tip them (Yeah, fucking cheap Chinese), so I was meant to do something to show my thanks to them.

I posted my rating on TripAdvisor. In a few days,  I received the manager’s response, so I think everyone is happy now. Phew, it is not easy to become a CA or CFA…

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Back to San Francisco.

Travel

San Francisco is a diversified city, I noticed that even from the airport – most immigration officers were Asians or Latinos. I saw an old Chinese couple who could only speak Chinese passed the customs successfully – the officer could speak Chinese, what a chance!

It was my third time in this city, but for the first time, the BART was not in service as the workers were on strike. I took a bus to the city, very very slow –  capitalism was so bad.

The place I visited this time was the cable car. The museum was actually only six blocks away from the hostel on the map, so I decided to walk there. However when I actually went there on the following day, I regretted not taking the hilly road into consideration. It was almost like climbing a mountain and took me half an hour to get the destination after an up-and-down. Looking at the steep road, I found it really necessary to have a sort of transport in this hilly area. For a long time I thought the cable car was like a tram, actually they were not pulled by the engine, but the moving cables under the track and the central control was right in the museum. As there were no wire network like the tram, the street looked quite tidy. The only disadvantage I thought was the continuous noise from the cable gears but I did not blame it, it was a great system. It was not cheap – around 5 dollars and the many riders chose the Indian way to take it- with only one leg standing on the car and the other hanging in the air.

Starting from the wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge, there was a beautiful walking track. It was a Monday afternoon and a bit windy, but so many people were running along the track. There are many reasons why people want to move to the Bay Area, for me it could be simply the running track and the healthy spirit. Yes on the way back from the bridge, I run.

In Chinese, San Francisco was translated to Old Gold Mountain, such a unique translation as Chinese seldom adopts these kind of “nickname” as a city’s official name. It’s all from the gold rush, many Chinese workers went for it in early days and named it gold mountain. Right after the gold rush in Melbourne, they started to call San Francisco old gold mountain. Nowadays the official Chinese name of Melbourne is still Melbourne but Old Gold Mountain as a name of San Francisco still remains, very strange.

It’s a bit dirty on the street, the homeless people are a bit aggressive and the bridge is always foggy, but I  like this city.

Pluto and me.

Travel

Just by accident, I found two pictures between Pluto and me.

The left one was taken is HK Disneyland in 2008. In those days I was busy with my work in Beijing and enjoyed my holidays in China. The right one was taken in LA Disneyland in 2013, and at that moment I did not even know what my next step would be.

I changed a lot in the past 5 years – older, maybe wiser but maybe not, whearas Pluto is the same – cute and lovely as in my childhood. I am kind of jealous of Pluto as it is forever, and I guess that is the charm that Disney brings to us. I hope in the near future, I could take another picture with you, my dearest Pluto.

Dar es Salaam

Travel

Dar es Salaam is a small town, but according to the people from my hotel it is full of cheaters. I asked them where is the post office, they told me it was near to the monument. So I looked for the monument for a long time and finally found a small statue holding a gun, so disappointing. It was even short than me, how can it be a monument. But I found the post office finally and I was glad I could buy some postcards to my friends, though not many choices.

The biggest challenge was to go to the fish market by myself, and it was also introduced by my the hotel as one of the attractions. I walked along the ocean road from the city to the corner and it took me a long time to find it. This market was full of black people, and they were yelling in their own language. When i walked in, all the people started staring at me very rudely, looked like I came to a place that I should not come. From one end to another, I didn’t buy anything and survived the strange atmosphere, though I really wanted to buy some food there.

The next places I went was the national museum, not so bad, but there was no air conditioning inside. I was very interested to their history but the went to hotel soon because of the heat, though my hotel room was another place without air conditioning.

Kilimanjaro day 6

Travel

Last night was so windy, my tent was like a boat in the steam, shaking all the time. I forced myself to sleep as my climb to the summit would be from midnight. However I failed, the sound of the wind was too loud and I didn’t sleep at all the whole night.

I got up in a very bad condition and started to prepare my day pack. I put on four layers of clothes for this very windy day, and I went to the peak like sleep walk. It was a 6 hours walk, from our camp to the peak. Very hard time especially in the last hour, I could see the lights from Stella point, but I couldn’t reach it. I was so sleepy, and took a nap on the way, maybe two, though my tour guide persuaded me not to do so as its very dangerous to sleep in the high altitude.

Stella point at sunrise time, though many people came back, we made it. After 6 days of hard time, nothing is better than this. I had a hug with my tour guide and Debbie, a tearful and happy hug.

There’s nothing special for this dinner, cucumber soup and rice. I talked a lot with Debbie about everything, she was quite happy too especially she made it after several days of a miserable stomach problem. We both asked a same question, what shall we do next? For me I don’t know, maybe a trip to Amazon or Egypt, but they won’t be as cool as Kilimanjaro. When I am in my small tent again, this is the last night I am staying in this home, outside those African people were talking as usual, but sounds quite happy, like us. Everyone felt relieved on this special day. If I can make Kilimanjaro true, then what else can’t I do?

Kilimanjaro day 5

Travel

It was very windy last night and I felt so cold in the sleeping bag, so I put on my thermal under-ware. It’s the first night I slept with clothes on and it wasn’t comfortable at all.
Debbie’s stomach problem became better after she met a doctor from England, and she started to eat some potatoes. It was a pretty short day, after about 3 hours walk, we reached our camp. We had dinner here and we could also see some people coming down from the summit. I saw two Denish guys who gave medicine to Debbie, also saw the American couple we met at the gate has finished the peak, and the Indian friend just came back from the summit. Some people gave up and it’s a pity that I don’t even have chances to say goodby to them. Those who made it shared us some tips, with an exhausted but happy tone. I can’t imagine what we will be like tonight.
From the base camp, there is a shortcut till the gate, and it only takes 5 hours, but this is a going down only route. I asked my guide why not have a climb of 2 days, that is just two nights at base camp. Surprisingly, he told me for income consideration, it’s not even an option for tourists. I think they must have asked suggestions from Americans before opening the routes, tricky business man.
It’s very sunny and windy in the camp in this area, and I feel like a burning pig inside. Tonight’s hike starts at 11:30pm, 7 hours walk to the peak, I hope we can make it, and I really miss a proper shower now.

Kilimanjaro day 4

Travel

I was wondering what would happen this morning as Debbie was so sick yesterday. Surprisingly she called me up this morning and asked me if I was okay.

It was a wonderful day, not so sunny, not so cold as well, as I wore enough clothes. First one hour was quite steep, but we managed it well. I saw some people come here with their family, like son and father, or daughter and mother. I would like to go somewhere with my dad someday when he is visiting me for my graduation ceremony in September.

Today I said goodbye to my two friends, one is a tour guide for two Japanese, the other is a guide for two Indians. Some African people are very nice to me, like these two people, but some obviously don’t like to talk to me. Today I also knew that many Tanzanians like China, for it brought cheap products to them, and also helped them to build roads or other infrastructures. It better to hear this from African people than hearing all negative comments from western media about China’s invasion to Africa.

Someone reminds me yesterday was Valentines day, and I am so happy that i can escape the commercial world for a while. Who cares what happens in the past few days, I can live very well without hearing any news or gossips. Tomorrow we will go to the base camp, then tomorrow evening we will climb to the summit, all amazing things will happen then,I can’t imagine how excited I will be at that time.

Kilimanjaro day 3

Travel

Debbie had some strange stomach problems this morning, since then it became a long day.

We need to go up and then down to our camp, almost 7 hours hike. We started pretty early but all the people behind us just came and passed us, I really don’t like the feeling but I really couldn’t do anything.

Lunch break was nice, Debbie had a nap and I ate lots of soup. But maybe because of too much food, I felt a bit headache in the afternoon. I asked the tour guide about the reaction, he said it was normal for this altitude. Strangely when I was in Tibet, I didn’t feel any headache but couldn’t breath well, but here all the reactions were new.

We spent about 4 hours in the afternoon till the camp and I was pretty exhausted. Some people are singing and having party outside of the camps and I am jealous of their attitude. Tomorrow is said to be another tough day, and I really need a good rest now.