Posts Categorized: 6. asides

Unitedstyles meeting in hot Shanghai

Software architect Lance explaining his new backend to the editing team. He improved efficiency a lot with a complete rewrite of the backend flow, making their job much easier!

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Honeymoon at Mutiara, Langkawi in Malaysia

Spent last week in Malaysia for our (belated) honeymoon. A full week of cold fruity cocktails on white beaches with palm trees. Yes, I could get used to the lifestyle. Besides some time at the beach, we tried to be active and do activities including coral riff snorkeling. I also unplugged from the Internet and feel I lived a generally healthier life style by eating healthy and a lot of swimming.

As we were almost half a year past the wedding, it was time to go on a honeymoon. Something I could cope up with all this time because of a mad bachelor party in both Barcelona and Milano with my friends, but was long due. As the destined country was set by generous (wedding-gift) givers, we only needed to narrow down the exact hotel we wanted to stay. Friends & Twitter pointed us at Langkawi Kedah an Island in the some 30 km off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia North west of malaysia, where we found the humble Mutaria resort.

This particular resort came with it’s own beach, live music bar, pool, palm trees, all for a reasonable price in the low season and we got upgraded to a sea view bungalow when we mentioned our honeymoon! Very kind staff who would deliver sangria to our beach chair and enjoy a dance with the guests late at night (but not in a corny way). During our stay on the island we visited other resorts including the Sheraton and the Datai but ours was definitely better aimed for European visitors and more fun for a mid twenties couple like us.

Chilling on the beach, reminds me of living in Barcelona. Never saw such a classic beach though.

The island is covered with palm trees, some jungle-ish mountains in the center and a mangrove forrest in the west, all surrounded by white beaches. Most people on the Langkawi island seemed very kind towards foreigners, who are intrinsically engaged in individuals. We visited a night market on our first night which opened the floodgates to try other local foods and culture for the rest of the week. Oh, food in Malaysia is great! Fusing Indonesian, Indian and Chinese cuisine.

The Langkawi island is full of wildlife. Before landing I told Suna that I wanted to see at least one animal in the wild, but we’ve seen many: monkeys, gekko’s, buffalo, bats, snakes, wild pigs, eagles and others. A true tropical paradise. Besides the night market, we’ve seen a cement factory and small shops, but didn’t see many other commercial activities besides tourism and nature.

There are two types of monkeys in Langkawi. This is the breakfast stealing one ;-)

At this point, both of us realized that a typical resort (swimming & reading) holiday isn’t something our personalities can handle. Instead, we rented a car and did activities everyday, followed by some swimming and reading on the beach. we also did some activity packages including mangrove forrest visiting and coral riff snorkeling. All interesting activities were great but can be done within a week. Trips that were less worth while mentioning were the cable car, the harbor city and commercial parks.

Trip to the waterfall (Temurun), snorkling (do you notice the small terrifying shark in the bottom?), and stingray feeding.

Another thing worth mentioning about the country is the special automotive culture. Besides the fact that car’s drive on the left lane, we’ve seen a lot of customized cars. I’ve heard that the island we were on has some tax exemption for local cars, so people are tweaking colors and accessories to be different. We’ve seen a lot of proton, Perodua and Japanese cars. Gas is very cheap, we could drive up to 300km with just 10 dollars worth of gasoline.

All and all, a great honeymoon. Above expectations. Slightly off topic but a realization for myself: Inspired by a book I haven’t even read yet, I didn’t use the Internet for a good week. This mission was set just a few days before the holiday and I loved that I decide to do this. The laptop I brought for emergencies luckily could stay in my bag and I read from a paper book. (my Kindle has gmail access!) The non internet thing was amazing – I noticed that time took longer as I wasn’t constantly checking my mail and generally had much more time on my hands. Unplugging feels great and I will try to implement that (somehow) in my lifestyle a little more. Now my energy is recharged, i’m ready for action back in Shanghai.

 

Yangzhou half marathon 2011

20110424-082915.jpgI’m writing this a bit tired on my couch. Today I ran my fourth half marathon, not in Shanghai, not in Seoul but in Yangzhou. About two months ago, Marc mentioned the Yangzhou marathon. One month later, we subscribed together with Marc’s father. And yesterday we drove off. We headed out one day in advance because Yangxhou is a stunning 300km from Shanghai. That’s at least 4 to 5 hours depending on the traffic james.

Driving there, we also drove by the richest city of china, Huaxi.

Whilst I had never heard about Yangzhou before the marathon, its a (moderate Chinese) city with 4.5 million inhabitants. Arriving in the city, we noticed that everything is brand new. Everything, except some old artifacts in the center was less then 10 years old. Most of this city was demolished and rebuild to scale with wide roads and huge buildings everywhere. With some decorative lights around the rivers, it’s seems like quite a nice place.

 

Our hotel is right in the center of yangzhou. We checked in around dinner time but immediately left again to subscribe for the marathon. 20110424-083039.jpgThe subscription was quite well arranged, English speaking workers/volunteers that kindly helped us. Here is a big advantage to run in a smaller city: 20110424-083057.jpgless queues and much better mood. We decided to take a long walk back to the hotel and look around. Interestingly, besides the check in – we didn’t see anything marathon related. Back at the hotel, we had a ‘Italian party’ (In the west, the night before the marathon you would usually eat pasta) at the restaurant, which wasn’t related to the marathon but we got to eat tasty pasta for the protein we needed for the next day. In the morning I got up early to eat my breakfast and meet the team. We drove away to the start and were amazed how lively the city already was at 6:30 in the morning. Suddenly, the whole city was breathing the marathon.

Crowds of people all cheering happily

Whilst we couldn’t’ discover anything the night before, in the morning the whole track was build up. not only that, when we arrived at the start-line, we were amazed by the amount of people cheering. Thousands of people were chanting ‘fighting!’ all along the course. They put the foreigners (not many, mostly Kenyans who would run at about double my speed) at the start of the track. This was the first time I ha

Tried to do a ‘live’ blog style by taking pictures with iPhone

d such a great start location. We were supposed to start at 8 but we had to wait a little bit because we were broadcasted on the Chinese national tv. (CCTV 5) We realized the race was advertised as the national half marathon championship. The crowd counted down and we were off! 20110424-083141.jpgIt was a very fast track, but most of all, it was a track that lead us though green area’s, beautiful sceneries and touristic locations.
Looking back I have to say the marathon was very well organized, the vast amount of cheerful people at the lines kept me going! I didn’t ran a new record but really enjoyed this race. I can recommend it!

 

Seafood and vodka

20110404-003234.jpgAfter the outdoor run with Suna, we decide to celebrate the terrace season has opened! Seafood and vodka.

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Korean class

Today is Saturday but its a working day due to the Qing ming festival here in China. The weekly Korean class I follow still occurred but in a celebrating way. The day started with a kimchi theme sung by the Korean volunteers, and mothers prepared a nice (educational) lunch. For me, this holiday is mostly about Kimchi somehow.20110402-130304.jpg

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New office

Unitedstyles moved into a new office this week. We moved to a bigger and brighter place. Also, we had to move out of our old building since the old build would be ‘redeveloped’ in a few weeks. This means that the old building was planned to be demolished and would probably be replaced by a high rise some time soon. The new office is little far from my house but the new location simply rocks!

Etsy

Suna made me a scarf this week. She picked up knitting a week ago and it’s the result of her first efforts. She told me she will try a coaster for the dining table. She is a bit embarrased but I think it’s great. I’d rather wear this then a machine made soul-less-piece of wool. exaggeration? Perhaps, but I love Etsy.com – check out these 800 dollar scrafs for example – and maybe she will try to make me more advanced stuff later.