torsdag 28. august 2008

Erik's traveller magazine, part 1

Munich + Füssen, Germany

Germany (Munich, Füssen)

The main objective of the trip lies in Füssen, the Swan castle or in German, Schloss Neuschwanstein. Before that we decide to spend a few hours in Munich for their famous Schweinshank (pig leg). It failed but we managed to find it on our way back. The trains that will provide the majority of the transportations are quite comfortable and are always ontime to the dot. I will count on it in this trip.

The great view from the train ride is very useful to keep me awake through the long rides (usually 3 hours plus). Füssen is even further south from Munich and is actually close to the border of Germany and Austria. Their main source of income will be tourism for the tourists who come to see the two swan castles (the new and the old one). We got to Füssen at around 7pm and our hostel had a really interesting way of measuring distance in their direction. First we saw the sign of the hostel is 100 meters ahead and then 5 minutes of walking later we saw the sign saying the hostel is 50 meters ahead. We found it at the end. The hostel is clean and simple. It seems to me someone had just bought a house and converted it to a hostel. The bathroom is shared but I never had to wait for anyone so I am perfectly fine with that.

We woke up early to try to avoid the ticket line. We reserved the tickets online so that we can guarantee the ticket and the time of entry. It turned out to be a wasted effort since they only open one window to help the reserved tickets while there are 5 windows for the regular visitors. Coco was complaining about the 10 minute wait, but later we found out that we are the lucky ones. We reserved the time for 9:45 entry but the salesperson told us that there are no way we can make it to the front door of the castle ontime so instead she gave us the 10:15 ticket. She was right since the line for the bus was too long so we decided to walk up the path instead. According to the map they gave us it was suppose to take 30 minutes. We made it up in 20 and there are stores with open arms waiting for our money while we were trying to catch our breath. I was restrained by Coco thus the store owners didn't got anything from me, but that was just the beginning though.

The castle looks ordinary from the outside. In fact, we later learned that the construction of the castle was never finished as Ludwig II died before the castle was finished and the construction work stopped at his death. We took some pictures from the outside and then it was already 10:15 so we entered the castle. The tour basically described the interior of the castle but we were not allowed to take pictures. It wasn't particularly fancy and I definitely expected something more from a castle that was built just more than a hundred years ago. There are a few nice rooms, his bedroom, office and the meeting room is nice. The phone in his office was considered one of the first private telephone and is connected directly to the local telephone center at the bottom of the mountain.

After the tour we went through 2 more souvenier stores and my wallet broke open for a few things. Since I collect playing cards I bought 3 decks. 2 for castles and 1 for sights in Germany. After we got out of the castle we went to the nearby bridge for the most complete view of the whole castle in hope of taking some nice pictures. We were disappointed because the castle was under some remodelling and there were fence built on the wall of the castle (the side that face the bridge). Nonetheless the view was great. We walked by the ticket center on the way back and we noticed the 10 minute line had turned to an 1 hour line (if Coco had to wait on that line she would have gone crazy for sure). We went back to Füssen by noon and catch the first train back to Munich to continue the hunt for the pig leg. We eventually found one restaurant that has it and ordered it. It was big and Coco only managed to finish half while of course I have to finish the rest for her. Good that I ordered something small for myself (pork chop). It comes with a ball of sticky rice mixing with potato. Kind of tasteless but goes pretty good with the pork. We still got some time after the late lunch so we walked around a main street in Munich and did some minor shopping. The camera stand was proven money well spent in our later destinations. Our next stop is Salzburg and to avoid getting there too late we board the 4pm train and head out for our next destination.

Overall I am just excited about the trip and the view of the castles. Although we didn't got inside the old castle but it looks pretty good from the outside. Still don't understand why Ludwig II wants to build a whole new one when he could have just live in the one his father has built (one explanation we came up with was that the old castle was not built high enough on the mountain so he would rather build one higher up the mountains for a greater view). There are other cities in Germany that I have not been to but would love to go. I would definitely be back to this place. Hopefully my German will be good enough by next time so that I don't have to play blind deaf and mute.

Belated Olympic

Not that Olympic is already over. Don't forget we still have the olympic for the handicaps. So before the olympic hype is over, let me list a few things to cheer and boo for. I don't make it a top 10 list because I wasn't sure how many I got for each side, and they are not in a particular order either......

Things to cheer for:

1. The drums at the opening ceremony:

It is hard to train so many people to perform something that require so much teamwork. The unity was executed to perfection in the close view and the technique and timing was amazing. They earned my praise.

2. Katerina Emmons

Not many people remember her. So how about this for an introduction: Katerina Emmons, the girl who won the first gold medal in 2008 olympics?

Consider the pressure and the situation, she did a fabulous job. She also successfully avenged the loss of her husband's big mistake 4 years ago (where he shot the wrong target and got 0 point for the last shot). Unluckily for her husband, he messed up again in the last shot and ended up getting 4th place.

3. Michael Phelps, USA

Yes, many people was either dying to see this name on the list. No need for explanation, he achieved something that I didn't think was possible. I am convinced that he is the swimmer who would stand at the summit of swimming history waiting for a new challenger.

4. Nino Salukvadze, Georgia

I wasn't even sure who she was until I saw this video. She has demostrated the true definition of sportsmanship and more importantly, love. Nino, who took bronze in the shooting competition, went over to embrace Natalia Paderina, Russia, the silver medalist after the award ceremony.

Your country is being attacked by Russia (well it was Georgia's fault in a way) and yet she showed no anger and not hatred. This world can use more of that.

5. The Chinese beach volleyball girls

Kelly Walsh and Misty May-Treanor had won 100+ games in a row together. So there was no doubt they would win gold. To my biggest surprise, the silver goes to Wang Jie/Tian Jia and bronze goes to Xue Chen/Zhang Xi. With many other volleyball powerhouses like Brazil and other US teams all chasing the medals. That's what I considered an major achievement.

6. Usain Bolt

This guy left the whole world wonder how fast he could run if he runs his heart out. His response to the showboating criticism by doing the same showboating earned my cheering for him.

Here are what we would throw tomatoes at:

1. The pretender (yes, the girl who pretended to sing a song)

Fake fake fake, why do they need to do that? I ran out of words to condemn them. Such a disgrace to the whole nation and race.

2. Ara Abrahamian, Sweden

Yes, you lost your match, you are pissed, but there are still no way to go crazy and act like a child. You came back and got a bronze medal that many other athletes are dying to get. If you don't even respect the olympic, don't even bother coming.

3. The protests in China

Or I should have put it better: "The LACK OF protests in China". The Chinese government was so kind to offer 3 protests areas and to the biggest surprise they were all empty. There were 77 applications and they were all turned down. Coincidence? I think not.

4. Roger Federer, Switzerland

You just lost 2 Grand Slam finals to the same guy who also took your #1 spot, something that belonged to you for 4 and a half years. You want to focus and choose to live in a hotel instead of the athletes housing. Despite all the preparation, you still lose and even worse, to a guy who has only gotten a set off you in 8 tries. Time to shape up man.

5. Ronaldinho, Brazil

You were the king of soccer in the mid 2000s, but now you are out of shape. You lost your leading role in Barcelona and had to move to Italy. The 3-0 loss to Argentina showed the world that the decision of keeping Lionel Messi and selling you is a correct one.

6. Liu Xiang, China

So you are injured, but why come out? It's not like you injured yourself in the false start. You made the people who spent a good chunk of money in hope of watching you disappointed. If you declared yourself injured earlier, perhaps these people would have bought their tickets to watch the sand volleyball game instead. At least seeing China take second is better than seeing a fake wimp limping off the stadium.

onsdag 27. august 2008

Preview of Erik's traveller's magazine

So I am back from the trip and I would be writing a few entries to share my trip with whoever having the spare time and bored enough to read this blog. My wife, Coco, is still fixing the pictures and the 1st entry of Munich, Füssen, Germany will be up tomorrow. Stay tuned.

mandag 18. august 2008


Will be heading out to honeymoon tomorrow. Be back in a week.

Our schedule:
Day 1: Munich, Füssen
Day 2: Füssen (Schloss Neuschwanstein), Salzburg
Day 3: Salzburg
Day 4: Venice
Day 5: Venice, Locarno
Day 6: Interlaken
Day 7: Geneva

Meanwhile I hope China manage to rack up as many medals as possible to shut the US up. Hopefully China will also have a more respectable closing ceremony with minimal fake stuff.

torsdag 14. august 2008

Head and Hat

There was this saying in Chinese: "If you don't have such a big head, don't wear such a big hat." Why? Because you will look stupid.

And that is exactly what China look to the world now after they admitted that the girl standing in the podium isn't actually the girl singing the song.

After the story leaked out there had been people bashing and people defending. I personally are very against it but I won't bash on it. Here I will simply say why it is not acceptable and how this perfectly served the purpose of showing how China is to the world which was the main purpose of the opening ceremony.

One blogger pointed out that the incident is simply a way to achieve perfection. Since they cannot find a girl who can score a 100 points on both look and singing and a girl who score a 90 points on look and 100 points on singing is not good enough for them, so they take the girl who score a 100 on look and put her on the podium while placing a girl who scored a 100 on singing below. Thus creating an illusion that China has this one girl who looks and sings like a baby angel.

Why? I mean, if you can't find one, then you can't find one. Then it is simply a decision making of which is more important, the look or the voice. Although I still find it hard to believe that out of 1.5 billion people who lives in China that they can't find one that fits.

I hate to think that way, but the girl who stood at the podium, being a childhood star, already have agents and contracts. Is probably rich enough to pay her way to the podium even though her voice stinks.

Going back to my point in my previous post. If you are not ready, you are not ready, and if you can't achieve perfection, don't fake it. It is real, it is live. People can always embrace flaws. You don't have to dress 2008 robots doing synchronous tai chi to earn applause. The 2008 people there doing tai chi may not be 100% synchronous but it sure looks very impressive. With the low expectations the westerner has, anything with honesty and creativity and its original culture is enough to blow them away.

So yeah, I am still rooting for China during the olympics but I sure isn't rooting for the people putting this together and I am definitely turning my back of that disgusting smiling face who accepted the praise for her voice like it was really her singing.

fredag 8. august 2008

Beijing 2888? 8888?

It's just less than 3 hours to the opening ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Looking back at the 4 years since the 2004 Athens olympics about how much manpower and efforts the Chinese government has put into this event. One must say that this is very important to them (when I see them, I meant of course not the people, I mean, what does people has to do with this right?).

Stadiums were built to host the games, factories were shut down, half of the cars were removed from the streets to clear the air. Even peoples were either asked to leave the city (the ones who are not residents of Beijing) or asked to stay at home so that the streets won't be too crowded. In front of the foreigners and the torch, everyone and everything has to make way.

Is that what olympics is about? An event to please the visitors? Why spend billions of tax payer's money on an event that they can't even enjoy?

If some country has to do so much in order to prepare themselves for the olympic games, the logical conclusion one can draw from this is: They are not ready.

Athens doesn't need to clean up the air, doesn't need to teach people to line up in the bus station. Doesn't need to buy thousand of buses to better the public transportation system. Why? These things are already implemented.

The Chinese people loves lucky numbers. 8 is a good number and that's why we want it on the 8th of August, 2008 at 8.08 pm. I think it is too early. Maybe China will have a better olympic if they host it on the 8th of August, 2888 at 8.08pm. or better yet, host it on the 8th of August, 8888 at 8.88pm.

torsdag 7. august 2008

Old School

There were a lot of good bands in the 80s. This one caught my attention because they are the first band of foreigners singing in Cantonese (with minimal accent too). Here are 2 of the ones I like most.

The band is called Citybeat with John Laudon as lead singer.



My favorite band is Beyond of course.


My wife somehow found a couple of people to rent my rooms a few days ago and they both seem pretty desperate as they were foreign people (one from China, one from Poland) who come to Norway to work as an intern and needed a place to stay. The program is for one year and that suits perfectly with us. Good extra source of income.

So for preparation we had to change the locks, buy furnitures to make sure every room has a bed, desk and chair, clean up cupboards to make some space for them (and that's when I realize I have a lot of crap). 没见官先打三十大板, the security deposit is pretty much already spent. However, it is worth it.

fredag 1. august 2008


After watching this video I just want to migrate to Samoa and be their national team goalkeeper. Maybe I could prevent a few of the goals?