Thursday, January 31, 2008

Speed Limit

Ah, good to be back home even if it was a 29-hour day.

So....think this month had something like 27,000 miles in it. Let's see
27,000 / 31 / 24 = 36.3 mph
for an average speed for the month.

Makes me even more tired. Was hopefully a unique month, fun but not exactly something I want to repeat.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's like one big Chinatown!

Whew. Near the end of this journey. Hong Kong is pretty comfortable for me -- I don't speak Cantonese, but things are familiar enough. I managed to dive into a local bake shop and buy a breakfast bun without a fermented duck egg in it. Glad I retained that ability from all those years ago.

On Sunday a colleague met me at the airport and we went up to the peak of Lantau Island where there is a Chinese temple and apparently a huge Buddha.

It went something like this. Tram on the way up (and down). You can see what a lovely day it was.

And then somewhere up in the fog there are statues:

At least there was no fog inside the temple. Although we almost didn't see it in front of our face.

Oh yeah, got my fortune. Something about being patient. Poetically put, there was a phrase about fish and dragons: while fish don't normally become dragons, apparently in my future--if I don't do anything crazy--something great will come my way. Hard to say if this contradicts that Calcutta swami who read my palms ten years ago.

Anyways, work is on Hong Kong island, which is like any Chinatown on steroids. It's pretty cool. I love these dense vertical cities everything you could want is within two blocks.

Back on a plane tomorrow evening.....

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Day out in Tokyo

Had a good Saturday exploring the city a bit. Seems Tokyo must be a bit like LA -- very spread out. Unlike LA I guess, the transport system is good and I was able to get around ok.

Had quite a bit of Taiwan deja vu -- Asian countries are similar the way European ones are. I don't speak the language here, but recognize enough characters to not be too surprised when I eat. Smelled some good food in the shopping area around a temple. Took a couple of tries to get what I wanted -- first purchase was some fried salty things (the food is SALTY here). They were good, but not what I was looking for. So I queued up again and got some fresh sweet red bean paste cakes. Yum.

Of course the hot sake was good too:

Pictures from the day are in the usual place.

Off to Hong Kong in about 20 minutes -- this was an airport lounge post.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Clear Morning

Just as I was headed out for a walk, I noticed something in the view out my hotel room window:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Crashed in Tokyo

Am having good deja vu here in Asia, in particular small restaurants and bars that feel like home even if you've never been there before. First trip back since 1990(!!).

Apparently it's okay to just take a snooze here at the Bashi Bar here in Yebisu:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Home Leg

Off to Tokyo tomorrow morning -- SUNDAY morning. (Arriving Monday afternoon, should be at the hotel around 6pm -- yes, MONDAY night.)

Meant to add some photos from NYC this week, but I was down with the flu. (And now everyone in the house has had a turn. Not the most fun week.)

So here are some photos taken last week. They're "city" enough.

Being away again is not going to be easy for anybody. I did at least spend a few minutes with Ellie and Google Earth "flying" to the different cities, and showing her the office buildings where I'll be. And we have Skype to look forward to too.

Off to pack. See you from the land of the rising sun.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Sznow on the Danube (Leg 2) (*)

And so, on to Budapest for 2 days, where it's a bit colder.....

Here's the street in front of our office here. Not sure I qualify to work on Fashion Street.

(*) 'sz' is just plain old 's' in English, whereas 's' is our 'sh'. So with the westernization here you get signs having szex and szandwhich (not necessarily on the same sign). Takesz szome getting uszed to. Unfortunately these are the only sorts of recognizable words in Hungarian.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Leg 1

Seems this will be a month of much business travel. Here's Canary Wharf in London, looking at the Millennium Dome.

Though I've not managed to leave the Canary Wharf area on this trip, there were a few times on the short walk between the hotel and the office when I wished I'd had my camera. There's something about the angle of light at this lattitude -- fairly bright and golden light at midday with long shadows.

Then again, when I pointed out that the sun helped the jet lag on Monday, they did suggest taking a picture of it....

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Joy of Jetlag

The holidays are over, and that means there are no easy excuses to avoid business travel. So here I am in London at 3:30am wide awake after optimistically falling asleep a bit after midnight. Over the years I've learned to function with it, much like learning to function after spending 2-4am trying to coax a newborn back to sleep. But it seems that it cannot be skipped -- it really is physiological. Even if I sleep through the second night (cause I'm usually exhausted) I'll wake up on the third night. And this is just the routine for a five-hour time change. My few trips to Asia (all years ago when I presumably had more spunk) were very unpleasant for the first week.

It's not thrilling, obviously. So I when I read the "making lemonade out of lemons" NY Times blog post on jet lag, I scoffed and groused that the author clearly doesn't have a corporate job --- it can't be romanticized, and if you're only gone for a few days or a week, you can't simply patiently adapt.

Nonetheless, as good essays do, it resonated eventually. So I was reminiscing about the fine jet lag experiences I've had. Let's see....
  • Watching Dr. Ruth, eine prominente deutsch-amerikanische Sexualtherapeutin, in Budapest on German TV. At least now I know she's still alive. Her German isn't so different than her English in case you were wondering.
  • Being waaaay outclassed at the Savoy Hotel. This was in the days before there were any hotels near the office here in London, so one had to get up even earlier to get into the office. Jet lag isn't to solely to blame obviously, but being cranky in a swanky place where Sean Connery and Elizabeth Taylor filmed movies actually seemed to make matters worse.
  • Catching up on old movies that I've never really seen. Last year I watched Porky's and The Sting at the same time, flipping back and forth. It's fair to say that The Sting needed more careful attention, but I think I followed. Or maybe I was loopy.
  • Watching The Red Violin without subtitles. If you remember, there were scenes in Chinese, French and German as well as English. The Chinese and French were fun at least. The only German I know is my last name. And now Sexualtherapeutin.
  • Watching dialog-free candid camera in Budapest and getting a strong feeling of deja vu. There were signs in Cyrillic, so I had an obvious clue to work with. I came home convinced it was shot in Odessa, having recognized the art market in backgrounds. My family was doubtful, so I spent some time googling to find one I saw, and the proof -- this is clearly the top of the Potemkin steps. If you've followed the links, you'll find the humor has the subtlety that sixth grades boys devour. I remember mostly watching for background scenes after seeing the first few bloopers; even jet lag doesn't mush my mind that much.
  • After sleuthing out Odessa, on the trip home they showed Romancing the Stone (of all things!). If you remember the opening and closing scenes were filmed in NY. At the end, when sailboat is being driven down the avenue I must've still been in background mode. The intersection is 80th street and West End Avenue. It's no surprise I recognize all four corner buildings, as I walk by there every time the dog and I go to the park. Sure felt like some strange kink in spacetime.
Yawn. Going on 5am now. Time to get some sleep before looking for that double espresso in a just a few more hours. Or I could see what's on TV.....