Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bon Voyage 2008

The year has gone by and I don’t usually do this but here is a take at reviewing what a year it has been.

The most exciting part was being able to return to the UK on a one year assignment in Southampton. I have to admit that I first found Southampton too quiet for my liking but slowly grew to love the calmness of this place compared to London where I spent roughly two years living in. As I enjoy doing day excursions, I managed to go to Winchester, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and a handful of towns while staying here.

That’s not all for my travels, I manage to go to Bangkok for a shopping spree, Paris, Dublin and Belfast City with Song Yia on holidays; Sardinia, Barcelona, Budapest, Brussels and Amsterdam on work and Munster, Ghent, Rhineland, Vienna & Luxembourg on a weekend day trip. Now, I am finally settled in Hamburg Germany. All of this did enough to quench my thirst for seeing the world this year. There should be more exciting locations and sites for me to visit next year which you bet that I am more than looking forward to.

From a career perspective, I rolled out a project in Southampton, an old unused factory which is subjected to a lot of physical security control. It was interesting to arrive at the site on weekends and socialize with the security officers sharing their experiences of past breaches and also acts of trying to smuggle products out of the bonded site.

It is sad though that I missed the chance to arrive earlier while it as an operating factory as all that are left now are empty factory floors. Working here was like a weight loss program from having to walk from different buildings. My experience of working on the project while I was in London certainly helped me a lot during this adventure.

I moved on to do a bit of Service Management and also got involved with the same project in Germany which turned out to be very different. This time, a lot of the activities and coordination was handled via the on site team with me being in Malaysia during the big roll out day.

I experienced my first flight cancellation which forced me to spend a night in Heathrow. I am hoping to get a first class upgrade on my next trip. If I spoke too soon, it won’t be long before my next flight cancellation for my return flight from Paris. I got home at about 2.00 in the morning on a flight to Birmingham with having to leave for the London office at 6.00 a.m. What a tiring day it was!

Now, I have my feet grounded in Hamburg, Germany which is going to be my adopted home for next year. I landed feeling energized and recharged for another great adventure and new chapter of my life. I look forward to all the challenges ahead for another rewarding year.

Come to think about it, reviewing the year is fun as it brings back all the good memories and also reminds me of what I have achieved. Perceived

To act consistently like what have been communicated with full visibility on why such decisions have been made and the logics behind the figures and facts.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hunting Down Broadband In Germany

Trying to hunt down a reasonable internet connection to suit my need in a non-english speaking country turned out to be quite challenging.All their websites and brochures are in their native language. (Even more reasons for me to learn German) On the first week of my arrival in Germany, I started the journey looking for the deal that will be suitable.

It is really hard to get a decent connection here as you are expected to sign on a 24 month contract. A very unfriendly deal to most people that are given assignments for under 2 years. Also, I am staying at a service apartment which does not allow you to install your own phone line which prevents you from getting cabled internet.

On the first week, I eyed a deal on O2 for mobile internet. I happily trialed this before in the UK using Vodafone so I am familiar with the technology. The shop that wanted to sell the subscription to me wanted us to be on a 3 month rolling contract with Euro 99.00 upfront fees. We did not sign on with the deal as we did not have the necessary documents. This turned out to work to our advantage later on.

Weeks passed on with the office colleagues trying to hunt down a reasonable deal. The most attractive was still o2 with the most generous unlimited surfing package with a download limit of 10 GB before the quality of service reduces. My mind has been made up on which provider but wasn't too sure with the commitment of a 3 month rolling contract.

Thank god I stumbled upon the same package while I was at Saturn (a large technology mall) for the same deal but at a much better price. It cost me 59 euros for a Hua Wei made, o2 branded surf stick with a month free subscription. The following months will only cost me 25 euros and it works like an prepaid mobile phone.

The speed turned out to be reliable and acceptable although not as fast as a cabled internet.

That's all for now! Till next time, take care!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Weekend In Berlin

The fact that I am in Germany will only mean that it will be just a matter of time before I make a return trip to the capital Berlin. It came much sooner than I thought it would as a result of a Christmas Run with the Berlin Hash group. If you are unaware, I got involved into hashing because of Song Yia and did it for the first time in Hamburg.
We took a car on Saturday morning and after about 3 hours drive, there we were. The run brought us through the Charlottenburg Castle where we made a stop for “Gluhwein� in the Christmas Market. Here are some pictures of me completely under dress for the weather and run.

Charlottenburg Castle

Charlottenburg Castle

 Charlottenburg Castle Christmas Market

The Gluhwein Stop At Charlottenburg Castle Christmas Market

Thanks to a dear friend, we stayed over in Hilton which is strategically located in the city center. It was just a stone throw away from “Unten der Linden� (Under The Lime Trees), the main shopping street. We stumbled across another Christmas Market at “Gendarmenmarkt�. This is the first time I have ever had to pay entrance fee to enter one. It did turn out to act a crowd control mechanism which meant smoother flow of human traffic between the stalls.

Christmas Market at Gendarmenmarkt

Christmas Market at Gendarmenmarkt

“Unten Der Linden� with Christmas Lights

“Unten Der Linden� with Christmas Lights

After the market, we continued on with some sightseeing and passed through locations that I was at about roughly 3 years ago. (Sweet Memories.....)

The day after, we woke up early to carry on with some more voyaging. Here are some pictures taken at typical tourist spots.

Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate

Holocaust Memorial

The Holocaust Memorial

There was also a modern area that I seem to have missed previously

Postdamer Platz

Postdamer Platz

I will end this post with a picture of Santa and a Snowman to give this blog it’s festive mood.

Lego Santa Claus and A Snowman

Saturday, December 13, 2008

2 Weeks In Hamburg

It has been two weeks now in Hamburg. It has been a fun affair with a handful of Malaysian colleagues in the office. This is very handy for group outings.

Since arriving, I have witness snow on the way to work in the morning. Experienced and drank Gluhwein in the German Christmas Market. I am sure this city has more to offer in due time.

I will be off to Berlin in a couple of hours time to join the Hash group there. This will be an additional experience and I have not been back to Berlin in ages.

Well, here are a few recent pics of my time in Hamburg. Enjoy!


Snowing On The Way To Work


In The Office Courtyard


In The Christmas Market at Rathaus

Hamburger Dom 3

The Hamburger Dom Near St Pauli (A Fun Fair)
Hamburger Dom 2

Being Cheeky In Front Of A Horror House at Dom

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Ego Has Landed In Hamburg

I landed in the not so unfamiliar grounds of Hamburg. I was fortunate to have been here a couple of time before due to a variety of work related reasons. It is however different now as it will be my adopted home for the next 12 months at least.

I am living in a service apartment about 20 minutes walk to the office which I treat as my daily exercise routine. It is heavily dependent on the weather as the journey took a bit longer when it snowed. I did take pictures of the eventful day.

Well, I have not set up my internet access at my apartment at the moment which will explain the irregular blog posts you will be seeing in the next couple of days. What I will do is to prepare the blog posts well in advance at my personal time and post it whenever I have got a chance.

As for the plans later today, a bunch of us will be crashing the Germany Christmas Market near the Town Hall. They had a similar one in Southampton before I left which was somewhat a teaser for my move to Hamburg. Going in a group of foreigners, you can bet we will be trigger happy with our cameras but I am not sure how the quality will turn out to be with the weather. I will upload some and you be the judge.

That’s all for now and till my next post. Take care!