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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Europe CNY 2012 - Day 1, Part 1 - Departure, Arrival

"A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." - Mark Twain (attributed)

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Europe CNY 2012
Day 1 - 19th January - Departure, Arrival
(Part 1)

Before commencing this travelogue (after exactly 6 months!) I would like to thank MFTTW who lent me her Canon Powershot S95 for this trip. Of course, she said not to let my sister touch it.


It took me 15 minutes to get a cab to the airport from my place. I was pondering the target wage theory.

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Japanese schoolkids in Changi Airport

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Asian Civilizations Museum ad. They forgot to make it multicultural.

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I had the whole row to myself on the flight to Frankfurt! Since it was the front row I got more leg room (or at least the illusion of it). The disadvantage though was that I couldn't lift the arm rests to use the rest of the seats on my row.

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I was amused that Lufthansa bothered to translate the blurb for a guide to Rhetoric in German. Note the incomplete localisation.

I thought Lufthansa's in-flight entertainment was 10 years behind because there were no forward/backward buttons. Turns out they were on the touchscreen interface. Oops (it was damn lousy, being unresponsive, though - they recognised this so games were played on another device). They also had USB and Firewire ports in the seat (though the USB port zabbed me twice).

Lufthansa had books available on the system but they were mostly in German. Gah.

A few stewardesses had blonde hair, but were brunette on their staff passes. Hurr hurr. Maybe the job made one hiao (vain). Or it was to fit the Aryan image.

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What the Germans use instead of Krimer - Kaffeesahne (Coffee Cream). Notice that there is one English word on the label.

I don't like to watch movies on planes because the aspect ratio is screwed and a lot is cut out.

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I was even more amused that they translated the blurb for Harmonia Mundi's Die Zauberflöte into Chinese. For some reason the text also amused me, though I only understood half of it.
Note the complete localisation. Arabic, Japanese and Korean got similar treatment, but not the European languages.

Annoyingly the CD tracks I listened to had their starts cut off, so it was very jarring.

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Lufthansa used a satellite photo to represent the plane on the ground. Note that the scale is wrong (it shows the plane on the grass). Unfortunately the view reverted to CGI when we were in the sky (I saw no city terrain even where cities were marked). We got a cockpit view too, which was a nice novelty.

They showed an image of a globe with dark and sunlit bits, which was a nice touch. The dark areas also had city lights like what you'd see from space; sub-Saharan Africa was dark except for the Nile and a bit of bulge on the West.

Asian airlines are supposed to give better service. Lufthansa and from memory KLM were not rude but they weren't friendly either, being a little cold. I think only one of them said "you're welcome" and "thank you" to me. I haven't flown a US airline for the longest time except for Northwest in 2008 so I can't really judge if they are the worst of the lot. In any case this doesn't really matter to me, as I choose the cheapest carrier.

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Camel: Inspiring Creativity in getting around the tobacco advertising ban

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10 of the 10 top governments run SPARC Solaris. Who does the government rankings?

Airport security threw away my water bottle even after I'd drunk all the water. Stupid Germans. Everywhere else they let me keep my empty bottle.

I considered having a McDonald's Bacon and Egg muffin (with REAL bacon) but I was full from the lousy omelette they'd served on the flight which I'd had no choice but to eat.

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"Hygiene-Box". That's certainly one way to put it... Otherwise, it's a great euphemism (the items for sale are all condoms).

The silence of early morning in Frankfurt Airport was shattered by a large group of noisy PRC men. Grr.

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Breakfast I got on the flight to London. The milk wasn't exactly milk - more like a sort-of cultured milk drink.

The UK Border Agency landing card was very funny.

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In French and German, it tells you to fill out the form in English

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"If you break UK laws you could face imprisonment and removal"
A very welcome warning

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Lots of space to write notes on undesirable foreigners. Ahh, Fortress Albion!

London has a taxi company with women drivers and a LGBT-friendly taxi company. Uhh. I'm not sure how being LGBT would be a problem if you didn't makeout in the cab. While there're LGBTs who are uncomfortable with allegedly LGBT-phobic cab drivers, I'm sure there're also cab drivers who are discomfited by their passengers (for example, certain demographic groups are more likely to rob the drivers or not pay their fares).

I was carrying my largest international haul ever: 12kg of stuff for other people. Lucky I didn't exceed the baggage limit, or I'd ahve had to dump the turnips I was carrying.

There's a loophole in EU customs procedures: if you want to smuggle in things like meat all you need to do is transit from one EU country to another - the transit country won't check you since you're not coming in, and the destination won't either since you're coming from an EU country.

I was driven to a Krispy Kreme that made fresh doughnuts. Unfortunately the red light was not on.

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No "Hot Krispy Kreme Now"

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Desolate and wet parking lot

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Frontage

They were making shells for filled doughnuts fresh. Maybe I should've tried buying one.

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KK Doughnuts

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Smart sign which changes when there's a danger of Black Ice

I think this was the first time I took the Overground. It was like Berlin's S-Bahn. Before each interchange with a possibility to transfer to another line they would announce if there was "good service" on the line hurr hurr

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Don Giovanni ad: "The most dangerous lover of all time. Part of the Mozart | Da Ponte Cycle"

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"Cycles chained to these railings will be removed by the police"

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"Take Sally and Harry to Sunday tea"
Meet the Elderly

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Cosi Fan Tutte ad. Also part of the Mozart | Da Ponte cycle.

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"Valentines Day Bookings Taken Now Special Menu £40.00"
What if you get dumped in the next month?

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I was not sure why they offered distances in both miles and kilometers. It couldn't have been for the Americans.

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Church green with Church of St Anne, Kew

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"Garage
No Parking"
I was amused.

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Church of St Anne, Kew


It is common travel advice to slow down and you will enjoy your trip more. On the other hand, I have a Need for Speed and enjoy sensory stimulation. Also I don't like missing things. So I find slowing down is only good selectively. And what is slow for me might be very fast for others.

I wasn't able to fit both Cosi Fan Tutte and Don Giovanni into my schedule in London because this was a bad time of the year for a holiday (one reason Lufthansa had a promo). In any case operas were not my priority, surtitles notwithstanding (so I wouldn't fall asleep again like during La bohème). It was also partly because of late planning, which wasn't totally my fault due to extenuating circumstances.

For some people, fine dining is a large part of their travel experience. Me, I prefer to see things and soak in the vibe and eat what I come across. That's simpler also. Also, fine dining alone is very awkward.
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