Friday, September 21, 2007

Kuching this weekend

At the end, I go to Kuching ("Cat city", full of tasteless sculptures of cats, but I will have a challenge to see life ones, monkeys are more likely) - Malaysia, Borneo island, Sarawak. Historical city (size of Vilnius), some jungle trekking around... not wildly wild, but must be more than Singaporean "jungle" :) News and views will come Monday evening. Enjoy your weekend, and let me know how you guys are doing!

Tioman might be next :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sun and beach at work

Doesn't feel like working after lunch... read news? No, there is something better - get out of the lab where it's colder and darker than in winter, enjoy sun, warm water, and palm trees. Just did that:) Wow, like this I don't mind to have long "working" hours! In this case, I was classified as "staff" and can use all the sports center for free. Who said students have huge pressure here?

Weekend in Singapore

This time I did not go anywhere, need to socialise here as well :) Saturday we did artificial beach with Pontus, his girlfriend Ellen, and Swedish friends. The rest were few hours late (as usual), did not get to see them. Cool bar, swimming pool, loud music and all that stuff, that's how I imagine look resorts in far-away paradise places, "all included", stay in hotel, drink, eat, at the end did not even know where you actually were. Just would be no oil tankers in the horison :)

After, mid-autum festival in chinese gardens. In china it's huge celebration. Stay with family, eat mooncakes, light latterns. Nobody could exactly explain why latterns and why mooncakes, but seems the latter ones were used to pass secret messages... now you can find wishes inside. Commercial like christmas... for few dollars you can get big golden "coins" to drop on a whish tree and have your wishes fulfilled. Disney kind of stuff for kids, crowds of people. Performance, to which (of course) we were late, but doubt would be anything good. We found a quited corner with HC-ers (hospitality club guys), and had a cosy family evening :) (Aalborg family, don't worry, you are still the true one:))

Sunday was a jungle day in Bukit Timah nature reserve, as much jungle as you can get in Singapore. Again, some got lost, some did not come... Pontus and Ellen joined me later, but before I had few hours up-and-down, even if it's not real jungle, was goood exercise. Just before leaving, finally it was a crowd of monkeys! That's what the park is famous for. After all, in the evening I could not even crawl to bed, so stayed chatting a bit with Karen, american couchsurfer teaching english in Japan. She likes veggies just like me, so the next day we went to little india (again!) for yummy food, with an indian CS-er from my department. Kind of pancakes with veg sauces. Just like in an indian joke about a guy who eats his pancake and has sauce left... then he orders another pancake and needs more sauce... well at least I did all day tracking before :)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Ladies Nite

Like to drink? Stay in Singapore will cost you a good piece, does not matter if you do it out or home. Cheapest wine in a supermarket - ~10 euros. That's all taxes, no drunkards wanted here. In a bar - similar prices, might be cheaper, or even free! Wednesdays are special. Many bars/clubs are having Ladies Nite, when entrance and drinks for girls are free. Obviously, guys pay both. The one we explored, ~12 euros entrance, but drinks as cheap as in cambodia, ~2 euro for a BIG JAR of something like juice and rome. Or, just find a girl who will queue for you.

Business strategy?
- where are girls, are also guys (yes, that's a sexist strategy, and all guys complain)
- see our nice bar, and come on weekend
- stay late, free drinks are only until certain hour, which is late enough for a wednesday to be followed by a working thursday, but free drinks can help you forget that

We tried it out, totally unprepared, with beach dresses and flip-flops, but for foreigners everything is forgiven. Farah took as there, a girl who has a special tallent to get people drunk (thanks to her, a birthday boy did not even reach his surprise birthday party previous weekend, hehe). I was resistant :) But, they don't even give juice, it MUST be with a good portion of something 40%. As juice will not force you to buy more juice later. yayi, a girl staying with us was less resistant, but let's finish the story here :)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Weekend in Cambodia

Last week a met I Lithuanian girl, she was going for 4 days to Cambodia, Siem Reap/Angkor Wat. I also want!!! Have to go to work on monday, can have 2 days there. Too short? At least something. I get tickets, and the next day we go - me, Ruta, and her chinese friend.

Angkor Wat - the area of antient temples, and the most touristic part of Cambodia. But you can still see a bit of "real" local life (not for long, I guess). So far, it's the most poor and the most exotic place I've seen. There are quite some 5* hotels, or you can sleep in a guesthouse 5$ per room as well, what we did. Everyone lives from tourism, many speek english, but most are still very poor, there are people earning 20$ per month. Of course, they get different prices. Bars have menus for tourists, and 4-10 times lower prices for locals, you can rent a room for 50$ per month and squeeze with the whole family. If you come for short time like I did, that's gonna be one of the most expensive trips. Have to pay visa, exit fee, ticket to the temples, transport, and of course at least a bit support kids that surround you at every temple selling cheap scarfs (good, but cannot have 100 of them) and all nonsences like "christmas decorations". Merry christmas to you too, but no, thank you, no, no, no, noooo.... some can have patience to follow you for kilometers. We had a "car" to run away at the end.

We arrived to the place 7am, after ~3 hours of sleeping. Just like our Aalborg trips:) Cab tothe city $5 - that's a flat rate, and we are in the most poor and at the same exotic town I've seen. The driver dropped us out at hte center, apparently few streets further than we asked, but everything is close. We took the first guesthouse on the way, it was good choice. Inside much cleaner than in the street, still "local" style. Nice owner, like everyone else. People are increadibly friendly, and not only for money. Kids will alays say hello, when we had a boat trip to a floating village quite far away from the city, everyone was waving and smiling to us. NOT asking for money. A common way to travel around - a tuk-tuk, that is a motorbike with a carriet attached behind. The driver is always with us, helping to shop, etc., telling about the country as much as his english allows.

Floating Village

The trip to the village and the views are amazing. It seems like it's 100s years ago, all food is made on fire, houses build of something tree-straw like, all have 4 legs, as there are floods in march and april. Plenty of kids. ~5-6 per family. Half of population - younger than 20, much more women due to the civil war and totalitarian regime some 10s years ago. Kids are all dirty, half naked, playing around. Free and happy, even if poor. Everyone seems to be happy. Of course, that's touristic area, and they can get some dollars. For selling food, souveniers (though in that village did not see any), taking around by boat. Water is brown, and of course that's the place where villagers put ALL waste. Kids are swimming around. Probably getting deseases as well. They also have floating "hospital" and floating school. Not much worries about education though. Young girls were taking us around by a small boat, on a school day. Very beautiful, taking in Khmer, singing, giving us to row the boat, singing Khmer national songs (that was the best part!), touching without shyness. At the end asking a dollar, but they deserver it! The agreed fee their mam is taking. Infinite smile and joyful screems with getting it. Actually, we gave sweets to some instead of money, and they were equally happy.

Sunset in Angkor Wat

In the evening we went to the temples to see sunset - standard procedure. You can get in after 5pm with tomorrows ticket. Ankor Wat - the biggest temple, impressive. Check wikipedia for more info, I am not good in remembering facts :) The area of the temples is huge, 100s of sq. km, I guess. Can go >30km from one area to another - these were antient, also from middle ages villages. Many from Khmer empire. Now protected by UNESCO, many countries support reconstruction. Plenty of package tour visitors.

The next day

Another procedure, but less standard - sunrise, coming to place 5am. That's what I did, again not more than 4h sleeping. Let me use this word again, AMAZING! Our tuk-tuk driver had to pick up the rest of our team 9pm, and I took a motorbike driver. Very romantic trip :)) Warm morning, clear sky. No city lights around - you see all stars and the moon. The driver being funny, telling about his family, teaching me Khmer, as I always ask that."tree" is three, all I remember. The rest does not associate with anything, only sound of vietnamese from hollywood war movies.

There were not that many people in the morning, and the view is worth cutting off half night, seing the sun rise right behind the temple. It's entrance is straight to the west, which is direction as death - as the temple was a tomb for one of empirors. A few kids offering coffee and a plastic chair to sit, but it's easy to step away and try to make some crapy photos (still too bad in that). After, 2kms walt to another ancient city, and another temple with many faces directed to the east. Should that mean birth? Just don't approach little "markets", as they don't let you pass by peacefully, and enjoy climbing on the stones - they let go in and on anywhere you want, plenty engravings - mostly faces of god(esses) and war scenes. Good to have some time alone and explore everything. After, still many hours with my travel mates, sauna-like feeling, sunset on one of tallest temples, and nice conversation with english-speeking guide. Nice and bright, can discuss politics, history, anything. Education - probably not more than primary school + some craft school in Singapore. Education, that's what we need, he sais. Volunteer teaches - educated people were killed during all stupid totalitarian times. Maybe that could be the place to go?:)

Local foreigners

to be continued:)

Monday, September 3, 2007

At work

That was my first day, quite exciting:) With getting lost a few times it took me a couple of hours to get there, but tomorrow I'll do better. Still need to get the documents done, but as I stay less than 5 months, don't have to do a HIV test, x-ray and other tests. I suppose, HIV-infected students are not welcome.

The place

I was threatened that there are 50 students working in my room, but it's nothing like that. I have a nice working place, and there are not that many of us. There is a sign "no drinks, no food" (I'd add no snoring, see later), going in and out only with access card. When you get wet in the rain outside, feels quite chilly. I have a nice indian collegue, chinese are having big problems with english. Just like Italians in Denmark :) But not that fast to improve, even after 5 years they don't understand much.


I've never felt so sleeepy... when the fun of traveling is over, reading papers reminds that it's long time ago I had more than 5 hours in bed. Even if its quite chilly in labs. There are no windows, feels like late at night. Oh, look to the right, my indian collegue feels the same. And listen what's the sound coming from the other end of the lab, isn't someone snoring? Must be something about this place, Rico (my danish collegue on the same exchange as me) said after lunch they all take a nap of an hour. Then stay here until very late, but I see them more walking around then really working at the table.


Of course, food culture also visible here. There are different stalls with chinese, japan, indian, vietnamese, vestern (the worst, I suppose). And 3 canteens around. For less than 1 euro you can get a delicious dish, just freshly made in front of you. Fruit and freshly pressed juice as well. No beers :)

At the end

Shopped in IKEA, still did not find supermarket, got home half past 9 (left at 8). But typed for you all this in a bus - have to be efficient.

First days in Singapore

It seems more things happened during the last couple of days than a month in Denmark, but from today it's going to settle down - I'll go to work, spend hours in buses, metro, and finding things. Normal supermarket I have not seen yet, and they hardly exist - people just do not cook. Now I understand why, after 12-15 hours of working day (!!!!) there's not much time left for anything else. Saturday I was talking with a taxi driver on the way home. He was a smart one, knew my street, what is GPS, and how his little device works (others don't even know how to turn it on). This tought me some malay, and told he has one sunday off every second week. Then he can have time with his kids. I like Denmark :)

The rest is great here, people are increadibly friendly (some too much though:)). Juana, a girl from CS and a friend of my flatmates, picked me up in airport, brough home, cleaned up the fridge from expired things, and happily ate my burned rice. It was also a day when I first time met a weird couchsurfer, but about that later. In the evening we ate in indian restaurant, using a right hand (left is reservered for other things:)), and went to couchsurfing meeting. That was so familiar... first wednesday in student house. What's your name, where are you from, what you are doing here. And like that with 30 people, mostly girls (finally!). It was supposed to be bd party, but the bd boy did not reach the destination thanks to considerable amount of beers. After we went to a real club with life music, performed by a huge transvestite.

There I found my first couchsurfer in SG, a guy from india that looks like chinese, lives in canada, and travels for a year in asia. Sunday was a getting lost day. We went to look for a national part that's supposed to be like real jungle. MRT passes a few kms from it, but noone knows how to get there. We did find a little park and eh, again chinese eating place. My "vegetarian" green stuff had little brown pork-like pieces. Rice was good:) After we got lost for few hours in the center looking for our bus, then got desperate and took a taxi, with which we got lost again. The driver was kind enough to take us to MRT and not take full price.

At the end I finally met one of my roommates, Pontus. He's cool. He's vegetarian, just like me :))) Has lived everywhere around the world, now I'm meeting people like that. Why a hell are we stuck in aalborg for so many years?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

HK specialities

Uh, that was a lot, and it was good. In two days you can see just a little part of what you can find in HK, and there is a lot - city life, NY-like skyscrapers, old streets, a bit of history, markets, nature.... most of people are squeezing around the center, and just half an hour by ferry can bring you to the wild nature. For which there was not time enough :(

I stayed with a girl from couchsurfing (CS for future references), and met a few more (obviously in Aalborg I was missing girls company:)). Everyone is incredibly friendly, kind, though by mentality exactly like Europeans. They feel to be chinese, happy to be part of China, but also with western influence. With people I met I have much more in common than with many Lithuanians.

They like food. I also liked some, actually eating was big part of this stay, and it was fun. Food is nearly always shared, you don't order personal portions. First day I had dim sum with my hosts - little dumplings and other tiny pieces. In the evening I had to end up in Chinese fast food, not much different than you can find around the world. First I said no to a grill bar with nothing much more but pork-like stuff and demanded vegetables. At the end had to give up - cannot be so picky when people are nice to me. Next day again fast food for breakfast (they do that every day - noodles with meat, sausages, eggs, and still stay tiny!), but I was saved - special portion of plain rice noodles for me with a piece of something green. At lunch time I decided it's now that I have to become 100% vegetarian - meal in a monastery was awsame. For dinner I met with a couple of funny girls, just returned from studies in Europe, and swiss guy. We had a huge spicy boiling pot on a table where we were adding small pieces of everything - vegetables, meat, fish (including delicious fish stomach), dumplings... lots of fun for a few hours. More people meet for lunch, more stuff you can add inside your pot. It's something for winter to get warm, but equally good in summer. Just turn on airconditioner :)

I like their names. Everyone has English names that they choose themselves at school in English classes. You can even have it on your ID, and it's cool to call each other like that. Only your parents would still remember the real chinese name. I suppose, new generation might not even have one.

I did not notice crazyness about money, at least not with people I met. No more superstitions in the new generation, not much religion. One thing they complain about, it's the weather. Haha, they should exchange it with danes and everyone would be happy. Btw, they are not crazy with airconditioning after a government campaign.

The last nice thing - free WiFi in airport :)

All you can see here:

Extremely positive to Cathay Pacific

I love international flights. Back to childhood! I always get entertained with all these little pillows, blankets, meals in little boxes - real hygge ("cosying yourself"). This time we also got funny sleeping socks, tiny toothpaste, there were even hand and face creams. And plenty of free drinks, you can have a real party:) Menu with many choices (including GOOD chinese food), cold and hot snacks, and, Daniel, get prepared - apples! Never again European airlines like Lufthansa if I can choose. At the end, you are rewarded with splended views of HK airport. US reminding queue for imigration, and here I am, in warm and wet air on the way to explore as much as possible in 2 days.