Category Archives: Travel

World-Map

American World Cup

Traditional Wisdom: If South American is the host, then South American has a higher chance in #WorldCup.

So far in #WorldCup2014, almost ALL teams from South American region go to the next round: Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Uruguay, except Ecuador, which is now 2nd in the group (but since they are facing France tonight, although they have equal points as the Swiss, their chances are slimmer).

You might say, what about Honduras? In geography, you are correct, but in FIFA, they are counted as the member of the North and Central American region, which is the same group with USA, Costa Rica and Mexico. And yes, most of them are in the next round (USA can proceed to next round as long as Klinsmann is able to at least get a draw from his motherland Germany).

South, North & Central American, combined 2 regions, out of the total 10 teams go to the World Cup, 7,8 or even 9 teams can make to the next round. Amazing.

How about other regions as a comparison? Europe seems bad, but they started with 13 teams, and still have Netherlands, France, Germany, Greece and Belgium. Swiss has a good chance, Russian needs to beat Algerian, and Portuguese has 2% chance. Nonetheless, it is still almost half of the region.

African and Asian are worse. Out of the 9 teams combined, it seems that the only reasonable hope is Algerian to beat Russian for one spot, and Iranian to fight the last spot with Nigerian (but they are not playing against each other).

Of course, the WORST region is the Oceania. There were 12 teams to fight for 0.5 spot. At the end New Zealand was the one, but they lost to Mexico at the play off game and so the region has zero presence in the Brazil 2014 (Australia is counted as Asian country now, just so that you know).

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Day 2 — Din Tai Fung & Lufthansa

I promise the story for Day 2 would be shorter. After all, I don’t think there have been too many people who had finished my Day 1 story anyway, given it was a bit too long as a “first chapter”.

As you would imagine, after all these crazy fight, I managed to sleep till next morning 9:00 AM. Meetings and works as usual. But not much to look around as a tourist. Not that I knew Singapore inside out already, but just that there were more important things for me to crack which require my present in front of the screen.

I stayed the whole day indoor except lunch at Din Tai Fung at Raffles City, again. Yes I already had my dinner there at the previous night. I have to confess that I have an obsession with Din Tai Fung. Like a curse. So if I know there is a Din Tai Fung near by, then I have to go. I have to. No escape. I used to go to Taipei for a weekend just for this reason. Now I don’t have to. There are in Hong Kong, Singapore, California, Japan, Sydney and more. The only regret is that it just has no store in Melbourne yet that’s all.

Let’s cut the crap. I promised to stay short. So let’s jump on it. I did a late check out from the hotel at late afternoon and when towards the airport. There was a bus waiting outside going to the airport. The driver said 10 Sing Dollars. Fair enough. A taxi trip would cost me almost 30. But I told the guy I didn’t have cash, in Mandarin (yes, as the story in Day 1, I never had Singaporean cash). But he said “don’t worry, just get on the bus first.” It was just one more proof of how poor my Mandarin is: they must had heard me saying “no change” instead of “no cash”. I ended up paying the mainland China driver a HK$100 note. He was extremely happy, and I am still better off. Win win.

It was lucky that I was early at the airport. The KLM early check in counter just opened at 7:00 PM as I arrived. Perhaps I arrived too early, they decided to traded me away. You see, I bet there must be around 100,000 people going to Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress. Anything connected to Barcelona was overbooked. So as my fight (and my accommodation). They offered me USD 75 as the bait for me to say yes. I said yes, not because of that cash, but because of the fact that I was then with Lufthansa’s A380 (still economy) and was one hour earlier to leave Singapore and one hour short in transit waiting. I took it. It sounded good. But after all I wasn’t sure if this was the best idea. You see, midnight flight, early arrival in the airport, you knew the story, and it ain’t pretty.

Just to jump to the end of the story as promised. It turned out just fine. The only thing I missed on Day 2 was that I didn’t get the chance to taste Din Tai Fung again, as they are in Terminal 1 (so as KLM), but I got transferred to Lufthansa in Terminal 2. Damn. What a close miss.

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Day 1 — Zombie @ Singapore

This was how I started my first serious blog post way way back: I went on to a trip to Bangalore, and I thought I might not be able to come back. So I decided that I had to write down my story somewhere online so that other people can know my story somehow.

I am not saying I might have the same adventure this time. At least not as miserable as the Bangalore situation. However according to my schedule it seemed like it was not too far either.

Let me tell you what just have happened on the Day 1, and later on I’ll come back to talk about my amazing schedule.

So I was on the midnight flight to Singapore. When I say midnight, it really was. SQ218, 1:05 AM boarding on Melbourne side, arriving at 5:45 AM on Singapore side. 7.5 hours, not too long. Just enough for 1 dinner, 2 movies, and 1 breakfast, and you are done. Touch down and you got a bright new day in front of you.

You heard me right. Yes, a 1:05 AM flight, but still serve you dinner, and that must have been almost 2:00 AM when they literally placed the meal on my foldable table. And I did finish them all, while watching my movies.

The first movie was Gravity. Originally I was hoping that a movie about one actress talking to herself for 2 hours in space should help me dived into deep sleep right away. But at the end it was the shooting (like hell) scene by Matt Damon in the second movie (which in theory is located at one layer down in the atmosphere compared with where Sandra Bullock was) Elysium that did the trick.

But you could have done the maths and realise by now that not too long afterwards I would have got waken back up again to take the breakfast at 3:45 AM local time. And that’s it. Slept 2 hours max, and done. Time-wise, very efficient, but productivity-wise, not quite. I felt like a zombie when I stepped into Changi Airport.

So now I was in Singapore. Well, Singapore Airport to start with. It was a short stay for me there. Just 2 days. So I didn’t bother to get a local sim card. Instead I just stayed at the arrival hall connecting to the Wifi@Changi for my connection. One thing I learn when I am on the road is to always juice up my power whenever I have a chance, or else i need to use my devices one at a time and swap them one by one like how Rambo always chuck away his emptied machine gun and pull a (pair of) pistol from his back (instead of reloading).

So for that I found a power point on a pillar with the lock of its cover already hacked by someone else. Of course I thanked him/her and plugged myself all in. Seriously I wished I could do that on my zombified body but at least my brain and my soul were saved (for now, at least that’s what I thought I was) when I was connected and powered. But I also realised that there was after all not much use to have a fuelled mind if my body had already turned into a zombie.

And there was exactly what happened. By the time of sunrise (which often something zombies don’t go too well with) and I decided to take a cab to the city, my human brain was completely gone. I towed my body out the airport building without getting any Sing Dollars exchanged, got into a taxi without knowing it was cash only, and when I arrived my office front gate I was only able to use my autopilot mode to deal with the annoyed (and annoying) cab driver about the cash (or lack of) issues.

So, 5 minutes later, I got off the cab, wandering around the front gate in and out a few loops, and finally realised that I got dropped off at the wrong tower. Reluctantly I tumbled down the stairs and tunneled through to the other side of the road. Hmm, that felt so weird…. How come the trip down the stairs walked like a breeze… …?

And that’s the exact point where the magic a-ha moment kicked in, and I knew my human brain was back, with fears (well, zombies have no fear…): “Oops, where the hell is my luggage?” “Damn it is still at the trunk of the taxi!” Well, it seems that my autopilot wasn’t able to pick THAT up!

The next thing I knew, I was back into full gear fighting mode again, like the typical hero in those Hollywood movies got beaten up like shit for a best second half of the movie, but then in the second last scene magically stood up again and crashed the bad guys with the last bullet. My last bullet was my fully charged phone and the cab receipt. I called up the cab company and waited for their Lost & Found line to answer, for 25 minutes.

That was quite a good 25 minutes because I got a chance to stayed at the taxi stand and observed hundreds of people got dropped off and walked into the building, with all different faces. Something that I usually don’t had a chance to do in my normal life.

So, these incoming people: Some obviously had a very tough overnight OT work and needed a thick makeup to cover up her black eyes. Some you can tell they were very much in love, especially last night, just by how they did their goodbye kisses. And some, you know just by how she looked at you (but at the same time not really looking at you) when she got off the cab, and how she then shook her hair and hips, you knew that this was exactly what she was looking for: to enjoy being checked out by strangers, like me, at the office tower entrance.

I was having so much fun that I almost forgot I was on the waiting tone with that repetitive and flatted jazz music on. Finally someone picked up the line and hunted down that already annoyed taxi driver for me. Turned out he was already back at the airport waiting for the next pickup. I got the deal with him by paying the return trip back to me. Another 25 minutes later, I got back my luggage. Oh well, originally I had the chance to renew my entire wardrobe completely including underwears and ties. Now I just have to wait for my next excuse.

As you can tell, I was completely wracked by then. Subsequently after that I had 6 hours meeting including a business lunch, and all went well with good commercial outcome, but nothing really worth telling compared to my zombie story above.

Stay tuned for my Day 2 story.

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澳洲十日自由行之一:行程表

匆匆去了澳洲十日。匆匆,是一個相對的詞。相對於工作,去十日旅行簡直是博炒。但相對於生活,十日當然不夠體驗。我們到澳洲是去尋找生活而不是去逃避工作,故此十日也算匆匆。

我將會隨意記下遊記心得。但在這之前,讓我趁未忘記前記下我的行程,好讓自己有個記憶和別人有個參考。

第一天~
返工 ─ 放工 ─ 機場集合 ─ 直飛雪梨
晚餐於航機上。

第二天~
上午行程:清晨到達雪梨 ─ 雪梨漁市場
早/午餐於雪梨漁市場吃三打生蠔&炸魚薯條
下午行程:市內觀光 ─ University of Sydney ─ Pitt Street ─ Queen Victoria Building ─ Check-in Hotel ─ 午睡時間
晚餐於唐人街@金唐吃皇帝蟹+龍蝦宴(超貴但超值)
住宿 Quest World Square

第三天~
上午行程:Murray Farm Primary School ─ Carlingford Court 懷緬過去
午餐於 Carlingford Court@麥當勞吃 Angus Burger(唔掂)
下午行程:Home World Kellyville 睇示範單位 ─ Manly Beach ─ Ben & Jerry 雪糕
晚餐於 Manly Grill Seafood & Steakhouse 吃 wagyu 和 kangaroo meat
住宿 Quest World Square

第四天~
上午行程:達令港 ─ 漁市場買燒烤料 ─ 雪尼歌劇院
午餐於雪尼歌劇院@Guillaume at Bennelong(全程最好的西餐!)
下午行程:起程向南 ─ 4 hours drive to Batesman Bay
晚餐於房間騎樓對著海 BBQ,也吃了漁市場買的海鮮燒烤料
住宿 BIG4 Batemans Bay at East’s Riverside Holiday Park

第五天~
上午行程:Batesman Bay 鎮內觀光 ─ 購物
午餐於 Starfish Deli 吃好味 Pizza
下午行程:午睡時間 ─ 釣魚
晚餐於房間騎樓對著海 BBQ,也吃了鎮內觀光購物時買的牛柳(超正)
住宿 BIG4 Batemans Bay at East’s Riverside Holiday Park

第六天~
上午行程:起程向南 ─ From Batesman Bay 5 hours drive to Lakes Entrance
午餐於路途上
下午行程:繼續向南 ─ From Lakes Entrance 4 hours drive to Melbourne
晚餐於 Prahran@Mandala Restaurant & Bar
住宿 Quest Prahran

第七天~
早餐於 The Cullen
上午行程:Glen Waverley 睇示範單位 ─ Federation Square
Skipped 午餐
下午行程:市中心內步行觀光
晚餐於 Kitchen Cat(Fifteen Restaurant Melbourne 是其前身)
住宿 Quest Prahran

第八天~
上午行程:Queen Victoria Market
午餐於 St Kilda @Donovan’s
下午行程:South Wharf
晚餐於 Flower Drum
住宿 Quest Prahran

第九天~
上午行程:菲利普島 ─ 朱古力工廠
下午行程:Koala Conservation Center ─ Nibble Center ─ 企鵝上岸
晚餐於 Victoria Street
住宿 Quest Prahran

第十天~
上午行程:Chapel Street 購物
午餐於 South Yarra 胡同
下午行程:Centro The Glen 購物
晚餐於 Victoria Street 勇記吃越南粉
晚機直飛香港

迪士尼冰上世界之奇幻之旅

大家有否想過如何與你的孩子度過這攝氏九度的除夕週末?我有一個奇妙的建議:不如考慮到澳門威尼斯人《迪士尼冰上世界之奇幻之旅》啦!

首先,利益申報:我認識《迪士尼冰上世界之奇幻之旅》,因為上星期我們蒙威尼斯人誠意邀請與朗朗一家Jacob+Joelle一家一起過澳門去看首映。不過放心,雖然受得人恩惠,我也會堅持如實報道,不會只為主人家說好話。

時序上,未看《冰上世界》前,我們還有幾項「活動」可以一提。首先,單是坐飛翼船已夠 Jacob + Chester 興奮了好一會。對於 Jacob 來說,這與搭飛機沒有甚麼大分別:一樣有一排排可擺下的大椅和摺檯,一樣有迷你版坐廁水龍頭的不分男女洗手間,一樣晃到似地震,一樣有悶人的等候室和航程…… Jacob「發現」唯一的分別是沒有飛機餐吃!

到達酒店去拿房,原來主人家安排了我們到貴賓室 check-in。Jacob + Chester 當然很得很開心,可以坐在梳化上喝著橙汁等拿門匙。對我來說這也是一項不錯的安排,一來我不是賭徒,所以從未有機會享受過這些貴賓服務。更重要的是因為主人家早知我們有兩個小孩同行,故此讓我們在貴賓室 check-in 便方便得多。他們都算細心啊!

其實賭場酒店的貴賓一向都是賭錢的成人。但是次活動是招呼家庭客為主,對象不同,手法也須要一點微調。這一點,威尼斯人也在努力中。例如我們一進房便看到一隻用小孩浴巾摺成的小兔,Chester 和 Jacob 見到便開心得不亦樂乎!當然如果他們還可提供小孩版的拖鞋和浴袍便更呈細心。這些微小但重要的事,迪士尼酒店便做得很在行。如果威尼斯人想向這「家庭客」方向擴充市場,那他們可以向迪士尼學習一下,例如除了拖鞋浴袍外,也可以免費提供一些小孩喜歡的 welcome snacks and drinks,如鮮奶、曲奇之類。又例如可以安排一些要付費(以防被濫用)的托兒服務,讓成年人可在適當的時間有限度的到那些耍樂場所耍樂。

hard rock kidshard rock ball ball其實威尼斯人已有一個「歷險Q立方」可供小朋友遊樂,也變相是個付費的托兒服務。內有六米高的復合攀爬設施、垂直滑梯、V字形繩橋、繩網等等,也有機動遊戲、電腦遊戲、上網服務和桌球檯。如果嫌這個Q立方不夠玩,大家也可考慮過對面馬路 Hard Rock Hotel 內的室內遊樂場(如圖)。同樣都要收費,但 Hard Rock 那個新一點又大一點,而且有多些職員照顧孩子,兩歲如 Chester 也適合進內。不過要過一條大馬路,要當是托兒服務的話就不夠近便。

說回房間,威尼斯人出名房大。我們有兩張 Queen 加一張雙人梳化床,夠晒我們一家四口進住。前後廳之間有幾級樓梯,格調高了很多之餘又讓 Chester 覺得間房高了很多,不斷爬上爬落,好不忙碌!還有夾萬啦,電視遙控啦,廁所門啦…… 總之對於小孩來說,所有在家找不到的東西都是新奇的玩具!當然,如上面所說,如果威尼斯人可以預備更多 kids-friendly 的物件和設施的話,那便更能照顧到家庭市場。

晚飯過後,我們便到金光綜藝館看《冰上世界》表演。Jacob + Chester 事前都不知道他們是來看這 show,所以進場後驚喜非常。整個表演將四齣迪士尼動畫電影《獅子王》、《小魚仙》、《奇妙仙子》和《反斗車王》中的角色雲集於冰上舞台上。Jacob 最喜歡《獅子王》,媽咪覺得《奇妙仙子》跳得最靚,Chester 卻只對他認得的米奇高飛和唐鴨與及在冰上片車的麥坤與朋友感到興趣。我會覺得對於四歲下的小朋友這個表演是長了一點,長得須要中場休息!幸好同行的朗朗和另一位 Jacob 與我們玩包剪鎚也玩得興奮非常,所以等候時間很易過!

結論嘛?讓我引述 Jacob 的評論來做總結。他說:「Daddy,你知不知道現在我最喜歡的酒店是那一家?就是這個威尼斯甚麼酒店啦!」雖然他總是貪新忘舊,而且也不是去過很多酒店,所以他的比較也未必可以作準。但威尼斯人絕對有潛質做他的「邁飛佛」:又有得坐船,Check-in 又有得喝橙汁,房間又大又多得意搞作,又有爬高爬低巨型滑梯的室內遊樂場,更有迪士尼滑冰表演(這當然不是常常有)!至於我呢,如果他們能考慮我那些小建議,使酒店房間內外的配套、擺設和用品更 kids-friendly,再加上若可以讓我們不用做賭徒也可被獲邀為 VIP,那我真的會考慮去威尼斯人而不去迪士尼酒店渡假啊!

我相信同行的家庭朋友會有更多旅途和表演的報導和靚相,大家不仿到她們的地盤欣賞一下!

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下面是是次表演的詳情:

日期: 2010年12月22日至2011年1月2日
場次: 下午3時及7時30分 (分別以粵語及英語演出)
地點: 澳門威尼斯人®-度假村-酒店金光綜藝館™
票價:
A區 ― 港幣 / 澳門幣$380
港幣 / 澳門幣$468 (連來回香港及澳門金光飛航船票)
B區 ― 港幣 / 澳門幣$280
港幣 / 澳門幣$368 (連來回香港及澳門金光飛航船票)
C區 ― 港幣 / 澳門幣$120

網上預訂:www.CotaiTicketing.com
電話預訂:澳門 (853) 2882 8818 / 香港 (852) 6333 6660
售票地點:澳門金光綜藝館™售票處,快達票售票處及香港各通利琴行售票處

查詢:澳門 (853) 2882 8818 / 香港 (852) 6333 6660 / 中國 4001 20 6618 (星期一至日,每日上午10時至晚上10時)
電郵:enquiries@cotaiticketing.com

東京六天瘦身遊之三:Running Chester and Standing Jacob

見到不斷疾走、追都追唔到的 Chester 和唔願行唔願郁、常常嚷著要抱抱的 Jacob,你就可以幻想得到為何我稱這次旅行為「瘦身遊」了!

(攝於六本木 Hill、六本木 Midtown 與御殿場平和公園)

東京六天瘦身遊之二:成田特急

今次日本遊因為多人同行,而且去偏遠地方時又有租車,所以比上次少搭了火車。唯一搭過的長途火車就是回程時坐的 Narita Express (N’EX,成田特急)。我們在新宿高島屋 Time Square 吃完午飯後便在直接於新南口入閘登車。到了月台才知道我們一向坐慣的紅、黑、銀色的253系列車剛於幾日前退役,剛在七月一日新上場的E259系顏色差不多,但更流線型,而且駕駛室移上,車頭正面可與前卡貫通,方便兩串列車連結時乘客可在列車間游走。

路線顯示改為 LCD Monitor,不再用地圖塊加固定 LED 閃燈。廁所比以前大,有透玻璃的男士企廁。坐位視乎需要可隨意前後轉動。我帶了 Jacob 上了那新穎的廁所,又參觀過有厚地毯的頭等卡,但最刺激的是和他跨過車卡之間的風琴接駁位,有點像在特務電影裡追逐敵人的情景(但 Jacob 與我混淆了我們究竟是在玩「追人」還是「被追」的角色……)!

車速不覺有任何改變,但今程感覺上卻像快了,可能是因為 Jacob 與 Chester 同時找我們玩,歡笑聲中時間過得特別快吧?

Jacob 的倦容是可以理解的:這是玩了六天和焗了六天桑拿後的樣子啊!