Where in the world is Scott today? Well somewhere near a Smart for Two. I loved mine (had it for a little over a year). Great cars. This one on the streets of Brussels. We were on a Saturday wandering Brussels. There were a few things we really needed to accomplish during our wandering. The second was we wanted to go to the Comic Book museum. That was more my co-worker than me at first. But then the notice that the creator of Tin-Tin, who was from Belgium, had a huge display in the museum. I had, as an 11 year old in Thailand, fallen in love with Tin-Tin. For many years in the US there was only one book store that would even carry the comics (The Book Nook) so I would go there frequently. I loved Tin-Tin, so the chance to see some of the creators early works made the Comic Book Museum suddenly a lot cooler. Well. to be fair, it was cool before I found out about the Tin-Tin display. That just pushed it over the top as far as places I really had to go. The museum is in an old converted building. It is laid out with an open center and the exhibits are on the outside wall. So you can walk around and see the evolution of many comic books and characters.
I was on a team that our manager had named Team Red Bull. So everywhere we went, we took pictures of a Red Bull can. It was a fun team to work on and a fun team to travel with. This can of Red Bull unopened, unused on the streets of Brussels. We ended up taking pictures of the cans all over the place. We stayed near the headquarters of NATO and the office of the company we were working at. Then wandered into the heart of Brussels that Saturday. The first thing stop was for our boss. He wanted to have a Godiva Chocolate, right from the place they were made. So we wandered there first, before our boss headed to the airport and we headed to the comic book museum. So we wandered to the Godiva Chocolatier and got our boss his Chocolate. Than we got him a cab to the airport. By the time our first task was done it was nearly time for lunch. So we wandered through the historic square and did a little sight seeing. Looking at the mix of old and new. The really fun area was where the high end brands had stores. Cartier and Rolex, new shiny shops sitting in old buildings. Kind of a cool mix of old and new.
So we sat down in a small little café. Two lessons were learned that day. The first was that neither myself or my co-worker spoke Belgian. This would later cause me a moment of discomfort. We ordered lunch, and it arrived. I without knowing what I was ordering, managed to order Calf’s brains and French fries (Pm Frites). I knew what the Pom Frites were. I have to say at first I was extremely put off but I tried the dish. The mustard dipping sauce brought out the flavor of the calf brain and actually it tasted quite good. I was more than a little squeamish about eating it, but once I got past the texture the dish was delightful. Then it was off to the Comic Book museum. After the comic book museum I had to make a family stop. I promised my kids that I would bring them chocolate form Belgium (it is world famous). We found a little shop that offered hand made Chocolates. I ended up picking a lot more than I thought I would (nearly 2 pounds) but it was after all Belgian Chocolate. I also found that Belgian beer, like Guinness is better there than it is here.
In 1972 my father had a meeting in Singapore. My mom and dad zipped off for that meeting and left us in Bangkok. So in all my time in Southeast Asia, I had never actually
been to Singapore. On my first trip to KL (Kuala Lumpur Malaysia) I stopped in Singapore to meet with some folks before heading over to KL.Singapore is a mix of English and Asia culture. It has in places the feel of London and in places the feel of Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur. It is bar none one of the cleanest cities I have ever wandered. I arrived late Friday evening. I ended up staying at a wonderful Hotel near the five fingers. Initially I wandered over to the Royal Cricket club, that is located near the center of the city/nation. I like watching cricket although not for a full day. There were four or five fields and probably 3 different matches going on as I wandered around. The yard was the most perfect grass I have ever seen. It made me sad to think how crappy my lawn was back in Indiana. I wandered around until a little after noon and headed over to the Raffles hotel. I have always wanted to sit in the Long Bar and have a Singapore Sling, so that was lunch.
I have to be honest and say I did go back to the Raffles the next day. Not for lunch, but to enjoy the scenery of the hotel and have another Sling!
After lunch, and I am sure my readers are shocked by this, I hopped on the Duck tour and headed out into the water of the Singapore Harbor. I first rode a Duck in Wisconsin Dells. They were vehicles built during WWII for moving around areas that were both rough terrain and water. We went out into the harbor, the city is glorious from the water, but few cities aren’t. The Duck tour was a romp. The guide was very funny and shared many cool stories of city of Singapore. Floating around the harbor was fantastic. I think the best city tours start out in the water, if the city is near enough to a body of water that you can. In this case the fun thing was actually just driving into the water. Ducks aren’t particularly good in traffic, nor are they very good on roads and frankly as a boat they are pretty bad as well. But it was fun to sit in a vehicle designed and used in WWII. I couldn’t see the utility of a vehicle that wasn’t good at any one thing, but as a tour boat, it is a grand vehicle to wander in. It can’t go very fast in the water so you get the slow tour around the harbor. It is big enough that you don’t get shaken by waves and wakes so overall a great experience.
The iconic fountain of Singapore. This picture taken from the Duck towards the city. Singapore as I said is a mix of the English (lion) and the Asian (dragon) cultures so it was fun to see, notice and sometimes remember to photograph the many clashes and combinations. Singapore sits on the end of the Malaysian Peninsula, the very tip of that peninsula in fact. A nation created by the United Kingdom and part of the Commonwealth. I bring that up only because it has that unique blend of cultures. As we came back to land, I was already missing the Duck. I was meeting some people I had worked with for years that evening for dinner and a trip to the other side of Singapore for the night market. I got hooked on night markets in Bangkok. Well my mother got hooked, and I devolved the love as well. Night markets are different than day markets. First of all, they are at night. So as Captain Obvious would say its a little darker. The other thing is because it is dark you have to be more careful about your wallet and camera’s. You don’t want to have anything on you that you aren’t willing to lose.
A business trip to Lisbon Portugal. On the weekend between the working week I wandered the city. I got to see the document signed by the pope that split the new world between Portugal and Spain. I also got to wander to Port, a city in Portugal and see the process of wine making. Every country has a slightly different view and process of wine making. Wine tastes a little different depending upon where it is from, what is in the soil and air, and the remainder of the process. Port of course, is a famous desert wine. That was a blast to watch and see how it was/has been/still is made.Portugal and in particular Lisbon is a wonderful mix of old and new. You can stand by aqueducts built by the Romans and at the base of the aqueduct is a McDonalds. The mix of old and new is fun to see. I learned a lesson about coffee in Lisbon. I have for many years when enjoying a fine meal had an espresso after dinner. It would help me stay awake a little longer than usual. But I can honestly say it wouldn’t keep me up past 11 pm. Ever. It was my tradition for many years to have that cup of espresso.
So I had a cup of Portuguese coffee one evening after dinner. My host told me not to, he said I would regret it. It is not like espresso, he said to me. I wish I had listened. At 3 am in the morning I was still wide awake. I got about 2 hours sleep that night. That was the bad news, the good news was the Portuguese coffee kept me awake all day. But by the end of the day I was back to Café American. While a little weaker, it was not likely to keep me awake all night. On my first full day (I arrived on a Saturday and relaxed on Sunday before the Monday start of the work week) the team took me to the main “fortress” that protected to harbor for many years. Portugal was and is a sea faring nation. A leader in the exploration of the “new” world. The beach seen in the photo is right by the fortress that is still armed with the cannons that were pointed towards the sea more than 200 years ago. It is both an impressive building and imposing. We had lunch right on the edge of the beach. Following my tradition (if you are not landlocked eat fish) I enjoyed the Portuguese tilapia. I did not partake of wine, as is often the custom in Europe for lunch but did enjoy the fish.
The thing that I found most interesting was all the renovations that were occurring in Lisbon. They were expanding, improving and growing rapidly. To do that they would carefully reinforce the front of old buildings, completely remove the rest of the building (keeping the historic front) and rebuild the building. The process was very interesting. Lisbon is famous for the mosaic front buildings, there were many of them. Each more ornate and impressive than the last. So keeping those ornate historical fronts was critical. I spent about three weeks overall wandering the city of Lisbon. A couple of evenings various team members from the local team took me out to see the city. We wandered the port of Lisbon and the historic section of the city. They took me to see the city. We had dinner in the most amazing restaurants. Other than the one time I did not end my meal with Portuguese coffee, instead after that we ended each meal with a glass of chilled port. I found that I had a taste for good Portuguese port after the first sip. It is the perfect end to a wonderful meal. I promise, it tastes better there and it travels well. But, sitting in a small cramped restaurant in Lisbon is just tastes better.
Family Historian, wander
The new Arc in Paris. We stayed in a Renaissance hotel that is literally just a 1/4 block on the other side of the new arc. The promenade between the new Arc and the old Arc right there. On the other side (through the new Arc) is a cemetery that honors the fallen. I have been to Paris many times over the years, it was often a meeting place of choice when we were pulling together global teams. The office of the company I worked for was just down the way a bit from where this picture was taken. My favorite part of Paris, just to visit and wander is the Latin Quarter. The café’s there feel more vibrant and alive than in some other parts of the city. My father and I climbed to the top of the original Arc De Triumph many years ago. So I had to do that again, but I’ve never been to the top of the new Arc. It makes, a nice walk though. Between the new Arc and the old Arc. They were filming a celebration movie of something while we were there so they even had a red carpet that was laid out, to follow from Arc to Arc. So I followed the carpet but did manage to stay out of the way of the film crew.
There is the Cemetery on the other side of the Arc. It honors those who gave their lives in various wars. Other than wandering Paris on foot, which is one of my very favorite activities. There are a few things I like to do as often as I can (I haven’t been able to do all of these things every time, work got in the way). The first thing is visit the Arc de Triumph. That was something my parents did with us when we were traveling to Thailand. We wandered around the Arc, climbed to the top (my father and I). So it is a memory that is important to me. I recreate that memory every trip I can. Heading to the Latin quarter for a meal is always high on the list. I love the French Café’s. Sitting on the side of the world, looking out over the majestic city as Hemingway did, I am struck by the wonder of Paris. The magical city of lights, seen from a café in the daytime, and then sometimes even the same café to see the magical city at night, is amazing. The symbol of the horrible bombing that occurred last year, the tower lit as a peace sign, touched me greatly.But the view of the city from a café at night, priceless.
On the left side of the image you see the red carpet. They were filming something, what I do not know. I could have asked, but the one thing about Paris, the people are not as friendly as London, or as friendly as Amsterdam. So I didn’t ask. Instead we wandered the city, wondering why the red carpet treatment between the two Arcs. Its kinds of fun to say between two Arcs. Although, if the two Arc’s were electricity I am not sure it would be as fun to be between them. In fact I suspect it would be painful at best. I realized the other day, I have flown in and out of Paris more than 6 times. In all those times of coming to Paris and landing and then heading into the city, I have no idea where Charles de Gaulle airport is in relation to the rest of the city. I know where Heathrow is, in relation to London. But in Paris I do not know where de Gaulle airport is in relation to the city. I’ve always landed gotten into a cab and headed towards the city. Usually I was in the traveling overnight from the US fog so I wasn’t very clear. I don’t know why I don’t know where the airport is in relation to the city but I don’t. Anyway, pictures from one of my trips to Paris the city of lights. More to come!.
I’ve wandered the world, wander with me!
Still wandering KL (Kuala Lumpur). As stated I had three trips there (each for more than 2 weeks). This is of the park that is behind or in front or to one side (depends on your perspective) of the KLCC and the Petronas towers. This taken from the one of the towers looking down. The office of the company I was working for, and the office of the company we were working with were in the Petronas Towers. So I spent a lot of time in the towers or near the towers (or walking in that part). One of the three trips crossed over a part of Ramadan that year. I learned a lot about eating along at lunch and respect for anyone that can go all day without eating. I felt guilty after the second day, so I ended up wandering to a place near the office and eating by myself with other non-Muslim’s. The dedication it takes to fast during the daylight hours is truly impressive. For the most part I would eat alone or the Australian project manager would come with me. He didn’t like Malaysian, or Asian food for that matter, so when he came alone we usually hit one of the western style restaurants in the mall area.
Late nights produce interesting sights. Its funny when you go on a business trip and realize one or two days into the trip or five days into the trip that you have seen nothing of the country other than out the window of the car driving front he airport to the hotel. Or you’ve seen the traffic between the hotel and the Petronas towers and little else. I always took a moment to look around and see the beauty of where I was. KL is a vibrant growing city with so much to offer. I think my favorite part of KL was KL at night. This picture does not do the city justice. It is a beautiful city at night. Like N.Y.C. or Chicago there were places you didn’t go at night. Just not the best idea to visit those places in the dark. But there were many places you could wander and see the city at night. This is the lights of the fountain in the park behind the KLCC. I saw this light up many times as we worked late on our project. So I thought, sitting in the conference room staring at an excel spreadsheet filled with information, why not take the picture. The picture taken from above roughly 35 floors up so the lights are weak from this distance but glorious anyway.
I lived in Bangkok Thailand as a young man. So the climate, bustle and noise of KL was something I found reassuring and peaceful. I had felt the rain before. I knew when the sky turned dark that having your umbrella with you that day wasn’t an pain (adding weight to the bag you were carrying) but something you would use. The rain would start without warning. It would come down for 20 minutes in literal sheets of water and then stop. On the first trip to KL I found a great driver. He was waiting for me when I arrived the 2nd, 3rd and then three years later 4th time I visited KL. I simply texted him and he would be there. That was much less hassle than waiting in lien for a cab and actually in the end cost less than the cabs did. The KL airport is about 45 minutes away from the city with no traffic. Between the airport and the city is the F1 track. I spent a Saturday at the track when I was there the 2nd time, watching them practice for the upcoming grand prix of Malaysia. It is in the end, similar to watching Indy cars go round and rough. Although with F1 there are a lot more turns. It was fun to sit and relax in the luxury booth and enjoy the practice.
During 2004/2005 I spent a lot of time in Malaysia. We were focused on delivering a pre-assessment and then deliver an engagement with Petronas the Oil Company. There in the distance is the Petronas towers. KL, Kuala Lumpor is a wonderful city. First off the team of people I was working with was beyond amazing. The city of KL is a mix of old and new, as many cities are. The old is presented by traditional Malaysian buildings (I love their tourist slogan of a few years ago Malaysia, truly Asia). The new is represented by buildings that are going up very quickly. KL is also home to a Formula One track on the way out to the airport. Plus besides oil there are lots and lots of palm trees and palm oil to export. We went for lunch every day to various local places, and I came to love several Malaysian dishes. I am not a fan of the beef bacon, but the fish, chicken Tikka and several other dishes prepared in the traditional fashion were the best. Each day the team tried to take me for spicier food. I finally had to tell them I had lived in Thailand so the chances of food being too spicy were slim and none.
KLCC is the mall between the two Petronas towers. I wandered (walking) that mall many times. They have a movie theater (went to a few movies on the weekends, movies in English subtitles in Malaysian). As you can see form the image they also had Christmas decorations up (I was there the first time in the pre-Christmas season) KLCC is no different than any other mall in the world. Except that the electronics store still had small telephones. Well it had small telephones in 2004 and 2005 when I was there. I guess that is 11 years ago now, so things have changed. On the weekends (I would normally have at least one full weekend per trip if not two) I explored. I learned about the culture, I wandered the many places that tourists go. I actually wandered around with the project manager (he was from Australia). He preferred to eat only Western Food so we often split up for lunch and dinner. The worst meal (only time I got sick in Malaysia) was eating at the Hard Rock café of KL. The McDonalds lunch was cliché but it was ok. The French Fries were interesting and I love the hot sauce to cover the tasteless burger and dip the fries in!
The funny thing about cities at night is they all look the same. So do hotel rooms. Many times I have awakened somewhere in the world at 3 in the morning and wondered where I was. Looking out the window and seeing city lights told me I wasn’t home right away. Then I had to remember where I was. I could then go back to sleep. I got to go to an Elephant Rescue place out in the Jungles (in the hills that surround KL) one Saturday. It was amazing to see the care and love given to the majestic animals that were rescued from abusive situations. Plus every day I got to read the greatest newspaper ever (The Strait Times) Frankly the paper was the best part of breakfast. It, in English shared stories that were fun and interesting. Plus I learned more about cricket and soccer. It was fun to read a sports section that was focused on American Football. The articles into he paper were interesting talking about lotteries for home phone lines. Not as many people had phone lines in and near KL, the infrastructure wasn’t there. Everyone carried a cellular phone. There was a time when I wondered about the reality of great cell service there. I had 5 bars on my phone, that back in the US never had better than 3 signal bars, ever.
Sydney Australia. Without a doubt one of the nicest cities I’ve ever been to. I rate a city as nice if I get lost, and someone stops without my asking and says can I help. In Oz, more than one person stopped because I was clearly lost. I took a lot of pictures of the Sydney Opera house, it is a family joke. My father went to Sydney a few years before me. He came back with a slide show that was 80% pictures and videos of the Sydney Opera house so the family made fun of him for that. As someone that arrives in a city and walks to clear my head, but also to see and discover I had a blast in Sydney. First off they were filming a Hollywood movie in the city while we were there (the second reboot of the Superman series) so it was fun to see all the old cars and watch the hub-bub for the movie. Secondly because there was time between meetings, so I got to wander more than I usually got to wander. Our meetings were originally Monday – Wednesday and then we were leaving. But in the week before the meetings things changed. We ended up having meetings on Tuesday – Thursday in Sydney, and then Monday, Tuesday in Canberra and Wednesday in Melbourne and the following Monday again in Sydney. So we wandered a lot of Australia in that little over two weeks period.
A close up picture of the Opera House for my mother. The first and possibly most amazing part of the trip was the chance to experience Oz. I have wondered about the land since I first visited Southeast Asia as a child. While in Bangkok most of my friends were either from Thailand, or from Australia so I learned a lot about the land, culture and lifestyle. There are many places that we visited. We wandered the botanical gardens (that are in the park attached to the Opera house). We wandered to the Market Quay. A place that mixed the concept I was familiar with (the Sunday/night market) with a covered building and lots of room to wander. So we wandered the night market. We actually walked 11 miles the first Saturday and another 8 miles the second Sunday exploring the city. I have a friend who says you have to walk before you eat supper. So we walked each day before we ate supper. We walked a lot on that trip. We were staying in a hotel (The Marriott) right next to the old post office. They were filming the Superman movie using the old post office as a back drop. I watched the movie twice just to relive that moment. I wasn’t, as walking by, asked to join the crew and be in the movie. Neither was my friend.
I took the Sydney Harbor tour of course. Being out on the water was amazing. I got to hear street performers that played the Didgeridoo. I know the spelling of that is correct because I googled it this morning. The instrument produces a haunting sound. Originally created by the natives of Australia (The Aborigines or Abo’s as they are sometimes called) the instrument mixes the sound of wind, rain and creates a unique sound. One that you will remember as you walk by. I stopped many times to listen to street performers. I would have brought one home but I had two more countries and two more stops to make before home, so carrying a large musical instrument would have been a bit tough. I did bring home two boomerangs that still hang as decorations in our house. We drove from Sydney to Canberra. That was an amazing trip in and of itself. Just heading down to the government center for Australia. The city of Canberra is a designed city, laid out in a grid. With each grid serving its purpose. We stayed in a wonderful hotel near the Government offices. We were actually in Canberra on Melbourne cup day.