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私の人生 , 私の旅行



Updated: 2018-04-16T19:41:09.029+08:00

 



Last Post: Drawing The Curtains

2017-11-05T17:21:17.499+08:00

Do people still write or read blogs in this new social media age? I think the answer is a clear no. Blogging has long been killed and replaced by the 4 social media giants; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. The old fart in me tried hanging onto this dying art and continued to write lame blog posts for the past few years. Can't fight the tide. It is so much easier to share on new social media platforms than the old fashioned blogging methods. Now, I've finally decided to call it quits. As of today, this blog is 13 years old and had documented almost a good quarter of my life. From a young naive university student to the exciting cadet pilot training and finally to an old fart whom probably is going through mid life crisis. As the curtains draw to a close, I certainly do feel sad and hard to let go. I will surely miss the blogging fun and my audiences. All my posts will be left as it is and accessible as long as this blog server is online. I'm sure my posts on my journey from a cadet pilot to a commercial pilot on the A380 will surely inspire and help many aspiring young pilots. Or if you would like to find travel tips around the world or just look at beautiful travel pictures, you can find them in the travel diaries archives. If you are my friend, you can still catch up and stay in contact via my Facebook account. All new travel pictures will only be uploaded onto Facebook.




So here I am, end of the line with the last sentence for my blog. I would like to thank all my loyal blog readers and followers. Would love to have you onboard my plane someday or perhaps our paths cross each other out there in the future.(image)



Palace of Versailles, France

2017-06-16T21:45:57.618+08:00

Palace of Versailles (pronounced as Ver-Sai) is a grand and beautiful palace/château just 20km south west of Paris. Foreign leaders and dignitaries are also often hosted here whenever they come for French official visit. It is actually very easy to get here by train from Paris but lack of maps and instructions in English may make it complicated for first timers. Versailles is accessible by RER C trains. There are various RER train stations in Paris all running in different directions. Depending on which station you enter, you may actually need to take the train in the opposite direction and then change again at the station few stops later. The best stations to board the RER C trains are at Invalides or Champs de Mars Tour Eiffel. Here, you don't have to change trains. You need to buy ticket at the vending machine. A round trip ticket only costs around 7 euro under the Paris (Outer Region) selection. Once you entered the gate, you have to look for the correct platform. Look out for RER C train platform going for the direction of Versailles Château (Rive Gauche). The same platform will have trains going in west directions like Versailles Chantiers or Versailles Droit. So make sure you check the arrival board on the platform and only board trains going to Versailles Château (Rive Gauche), also abbreviated as VICK on the same screen.

Versailles is just a short walk from the station once you arrive. You can safely follow the crowd, cross the road, turn right and there is a ticket office where you can purchase your tickets. Then you can follow the crowd again to the palace. If you missed the first ticket counter by turning left instead after crossing the road, you can still buy ticket from the building on the left at the palace itself. Remember only join the long queue at the entrance if you have tickets.

The palace is huge. If you would like to learn its' histories as much as possible, then I suggest you plan a whole day event here. Half day in the morning for palace interior, and then another half afternoon in the huge garden. You can have a picnic here if you would like.

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Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (4)

2017-06-18T15:35:40.119+08:00

Instead of the usual Statue of Liberty mainstream tour, this time I took the road lesser travelled. I explored to the east side of Manhattan. Right from midtown Times Square, I walked east until I reached the United Nations Headquarters. One would wonder such important building where world leaders meet is not open for any visitors due security reasons. I was wrong when I spotted the visitor pass office opposite the UN building. I took the chance to walk in and was happy to discover that the UN building does open for visitors. One only needs to provide an ID or passport for on-the-spot pass approval. However do note that on certain days, the building will be locked down from any visitors when there are any high level meetings between important world leaders. You are advised to check the UN website here: http://visit.un.org/content/tickets#individuals for dates of closure and also online ticket purchase if you would like.After going through security checks at the main gate, you are free to roam around the compound of General Assembly area. Inside the General Assembly building, you need to purchase the guided tour ticket for visit to the meeting rooms. Limited tickets are on sale at the counter for different timings and languages. Therefore you are advised to purchase them online or you could arrive earlier to purchase at the counter before it runs out of tickets of your preferred timing or language.The tour lasts about 40 minutes and depending on your luck, some meeting rooms are not open to the public if there is a meeting in progress. I was very lucky as the security council meeting had just concluded and I managed to visit the iconic Security Council room as well as the General Assembly room.I spent the rest of the afternoon by taking the Roosevelt tram to Roosevelt island. The tram station is just a few blocks away from the UN building. This iconic tram ride is one of the recommended attraction for visitors to New York. On Roosevelt island, you'll get a scenic skyline view of East Manhattan including the UN building. You can have a nice stroll at Four Freedoms Park at the south end tip of Roosevelt island. If you can spend longer time here, you'll get to watch the sunset as the city lights come to life.Also on this island at the southern tip, there is a Smallpox Hospital ruin which is also a heritage site. Some say this is the most haunted place in New York. So go visit if you dare. I was there on Tuesday and unfortunately it was closed. It is only open on Wednesdays till Sundays. Click on the image for picture galleryRelated link: Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (1)Related link: Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (2)Related link: Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (3)  [...]



Club Med Cherating

2017-05-16T23:11:22.466+08:00

I just had a holiday at Club Med Cherating with my family. Club Med Cherating is located in Kuantan which is about 3.5-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. This resort is fully self contained. The price that you paid during reservation includes all meals and drinks including beers and alcohols; though the more expensive liquors and cocktails are chargeable. It is full of energy and you can feel the warmth and friendly atmosphere the moment you set foot at the resort entrance. This is thanks to their energetic staff members (Gentil Organisateurs). During the day, the GOs have various duties ranging from reception to activity coordinators. You can always see their smiles as they make sure your stay is always above expectations. During the night, the GOs will even perform shows and other social activities. This resort is very child and family friendly. They have daycare and nurseries where you can put your kids and babies should you need some alone time. You can join all kinds of day activities for free ranging from archery, racquet sports, obstacle courses, jungle trekking and pool activities. Or, you can just laze around or get drunk by the pool/beach with their unlimited drinks. I must say the food at their restaurant is delicious with many varieties daily. During your meal, the GOs do come by to socialize, sometimes sharing your table if you don't mind for some pleasant conversations over a meal. Should you need more privacy, you can also take a train shuttle to the Zen pool for adults only relaxation pool overlooking the ocean. Here is also the place where you can have fine dining for dinner at the Rembulan restaurant. Rooms are a bit old but kept clean. Beware of monkeys so do make sure you lock your windows or refrain from leaving belongings unattended by the pool. Overall, my family and I had a wonderful time at Club Med Cherating. I do recommend this resort as a family holiday destination. Try book weekdays and avoid weekends as this resort is also popular among local companies to organize weekend getaways and team buildings for their staffs over the weekend.

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Mini Travel Log: London, UK (6)

2017-05-16T22:25:46.694+08:00

I was looking around for cherry blossom trees (sakura) during spring time in London. It is not easy to find as this is not their native tree and they prefer their magnolias, camellias, daffodils and crocuses. Kew Gardens has the largest concentration of cherry blossom trees, both the pink and the white blossoms. However if you prefer somewhere in central London, then you can find a couple in Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and Regent's Park. I only walked around Kensington Gardens and could only find the white blossoms. If you want to see the pink blossoms, then you may try in Regent's Park the next season.

(image) Click on the image for picture gallery

Related link: Mini Travel Log: London, UK (5)
Related link: Mini Travel Log: London, UK (4)
Related link: Mini Travel Log: London, UK (3)
Related link: Mini Travel Log: London, UK (2)
Related link: Mini Travel Log: London, UK (1)(image)



HUDLY: Drive Like Pilots Fly

2017-09-27T01:05:12.224+08:00

I bought myself a very cool birthday gift. The state-of-the-art heads up display by HUDLY. It displays vital information from your car and also mirrors your handphone screen in front of the windscreen. With less heads down and less distraction, it makes driving safer.

I hope you like this video review. If you would like to buy one for yourself or loved ones, use the referral code below for USD25 off retail. There is no better deal out there. Hurry up and don't miss out this deal.

Follow this link: https://gethudly.com/. At the check out page, you can apply this code: HOONGJI25



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Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (3)

2016-12-08T00:32:03.182+08:00

When I strolled down Central Park in New York during summer, I promised myself to come back here during autumn. There were rows of trees planted neatly along The Mall and Literary Walk towards Bethesda fountain. I knew it would look awesome during autumn. I was right when I had the chance to come back here last month. The golden leaves here are just out of this world.

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Related link: Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (1)
Related link: Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (2) (image)



Mini Travel Log: Frankfurt, Germany (3)

2016-12-08T00:35:20.402+08:00

There is this park, Palmengarten that always intrigues me whenever I'm in Frankfurt. It requires an entrance fee of 7 euro which had turned me away everytime I was here. Few weeks ago, I arrived into Frankfurt during the golden autumn week. I would like to capture some golden autumn shots so I made the decision to visit this park. It was the best decision made and money well spent. The autumn color inside this park is really beautiful. I do recommend visitors to come here and see the golden leaves inside the park during autumn season.

(image) Click on the image for picture gallery

Related link: Mini Travel Log: Frankfurt, Germany (1)
Related link: Mini Travel Log: Frankfurt, Germany (2) (image)



Mini Travel Log: Sydney, Australia (3)

2016-11-20T17:16:59.753+08:00

When it is good weather in Sydney, it is really pleasant to walk around under the blue sunny skies. This is my second outing with my new Sony A6300 camera and I'm starting to get the hang of it. Seems like the trade off between camera size/weight to an unnoticeable downgrade of picture quality is worth it. I'll just keep my post short here and let the pictures do the talking.

(image) Click on the image for picture gallery

Related link: Mini Travel Log: Sydney, Australia (1)
Related link: Mini Travel Log: Sydney, Australia (2)
Related link: Vivid Sydney 2016 (image)



Mini Travel Log: Paris (Catacombs), France

2016-11-08T18:39:03.391+08:00

This is my first outing with my brand new camera, Sony A6300. A huge downgrade for me from Canon 5D Mk2 full frame DSLR to mirrorless camera. But I do think the time is ripe now to transition to mirrorless cameras. Although I did lose some dynamic range in my pictures, the gain from being able to travel light weight and shoot movie in 4K is more than enough to compensate this slight setback.

While Paris is known as the romantic city on the surface, there is a dark side of it that lies underground. This trip, I took a detour to visit the dark side which is the Catacombs. Under Paris, there are actually various networks of abandoned mines and tunnels. Starting from year 1738, bones were transferred from overflowing cemeteries to these underground tunnels. Soon over time, it grew to house almost 6 million bodies of former inhabitants of this city. The city above Paris now has 12 million people. This shows the enormous amount of bones and skeletons stored underground.

Do take note visit to the Catacombs is not recommended for children or people with faint heart. It leaves a huge impression seeing bones and skulls stacked to the brim under creepy and dark environment. There is also no wheelchair access and the only way down is through hundreds of steps. Entrance to the Catacombs is located at Denfert-Rochereau. This place actually attracts many visitors so if you arrive here and see a queue that formed a circle around the roundabout, then be prepared to queue at least 2-3 hours. You are advised to come here and queue before it opens at 10am. Take note it is closed every Mondays.

(image) Click on the image for picture gallery

Related link: Mini Travel Log: Paris, France (1)(image)



Mini Travel Log: Seven Sisters, Sussex

2016-10-08T22:15:18.781+08:00

Seven Sisters is situated between Seaford and Eastbourne in Sussex. It is a series of chalk cliffs and is a great place for hiking with its rolling hills and offers breathtaking pictures. There are no safety barriers and the cliffs can be as high as 20 over storeys. Children are not recommended at this place. Even adults have to take great care when standing at the very edge of the cliffs. The chalk composition of the cliffs is weathered over time and fragile. It can give way anytime without warning. There is also the element of strong winds. A moment of carelessness will result in a plunge to death.

If you are coming from London, you can take the train from Victoria Station to Eastbourne. A same day return ticket costs 31.60 pounds. You alight in Eastbourne. This town itself is beautiful and has nice beachfront. It is worth to spend half a day here if you can spare some time. Else you can go straight to the visitor's center not far from the train station and buy a day pass for bus. This day pass costs 4.50 pounds for unlimited rides on Brighton and Hove buses. What you are interested on is the 13X tourist trail bus from Eastbourne to Brighton. You can hop onto this bus near the visitor's center or you can hop from the first stop at the beachfront after your little sightseeing detour. Take note there are limited timings for this bus route on weekdays. Only during the weekends they have the hourly sessions. So I suggest you study the timings carefully here and download the correct timetable for weekdays or weekends.

I suggest you alight at Beachy Head so you can start your hiking. You'll be hiking along the cliffs through gentle rolling hills. A casual hike until Birling Gap probably takes around 1-2 hours depending on how long are your photo stops. Take some refreshments at the lodge at Birling Gap and after that you can head North following the road until Sheep Centre and East Dean village. That should wrap up your day and from East Dean, you can take the more regular buses plying on this main road either to Brighton or back to Eastbourne for your return train back to London.

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Windows 10 Anniversary Update Crash/Hang

2016-10-03T11:53:45.554+08:00

For those having problems with Windows 10 Anniversary update which causes your PC to crash/hang, here's a solution for you. This problem existed when Windows 10 was first introduced and until now, Microsoft still did not fix this problem. This problem normally exists on desktop PCs with multiple hard drives and DVD/Blu Ray drives installed. When Windows 7/8 users tried to upgrade to Windows 10, they will end up with the same crash everytime. And subsequently with every major update which requires a fresh copy of Windows to be loaded, the same crash/hang problem occurs. I have written a detailed solution a year ago which can be found here. I reproduce it below so users can have an ease of reference.

[Quote]

After hearing all the buzz about Windows 10, I finally jumped into the bandwagon. But I hit a snag during installation. Initially I did not give a thought about it, thinking maybe it was a one off thing. Good thing is that the installation was smart enough to restore everything back after I had to hard reset the computer. So I launched the second time installation. No luck as it encountered the same problem. And so my endless install, reboot and re-install cycle began.

My PC is a self built desktop which passed all the requirement checks done by Windows 10 installation. I never had hardware failure nor crashes (BSOD) before during my last 2 years of running Windows 8. But every time I try to upgrade to Windows 10, it will always crash (BSOD with a sad smiley face) and shown together with the error code of MACHINE_CHECK_EXCEPTION. It always happens during the "Copying file" stage and overall progress at 22%. At this junction, the computer will not restart or do anything. I have to hard reset it and let the computer reboot back to Windows 8.

So I googled up regarding this error code. It returned many results for all the previous Windows versions, but not a single result for Windows 10. Really? No one else has had this problem in their Windows 10 installation? I must be the damn unlucky one. I read up on this specific MACHINE_CHECK_EXCEPTION error code and understand that it generally means there may be a hardware failure itself or caused by other factors like overheating. I recalled back the sequence in my installation and it always crashes during "Copying file" stage. So I presume it may be problems with my RAM, or overheating of motherboard chipsets or hard drive (as huge chunks of data are being copied before it crashes). With this diagnosis, I tried the installation one more time, but pulling out a stick of RAM (making it single channel), pulling off my unnecessary DVD and extra hard drives and then blasting my room air-conditioning to max. Voila! It worked and the installation proceeded smoothly.
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S’pore taxi uncle returns laptop bag with $235,500 cash to drunk Thai passenger

2016-09-03T04:33:00.628+08:00

If you are here regarding the taxi driver, then let yourself do your own conclusion. SMRT said they are investigating the case more than 2 months ago. With the current state of the art GPS logging, an immediate answer would be found in a day. But there was no news regarding the investigation until now. SMRT is presumed to let this embarrassing episode slide and fade away. Whoever faked the story, be it taxi driver or BCL, it doesn't matter. It's a reminder to readers not to believe everything they read from the Internet. Many online news are faked and sensationalized. Some are out there to sow hatred while vile website admins earn free ad money from your senseless clicking and sharing. Some are even setup to bait you into liking their FB or website, but in the background they phish all your personal data; either to sell or for criminal activities.

If you're here from external website, then you'll probably know the whole saga. Original CSI materials on this blog have been made private now as this is not the main purpose of this blog. The Internet should have an archive of this content somewhere. You can find it for any further research on your own.(image)



Vivid Sydney 2016

2016-06-05T23:48:39.190+08:00

So many cities in the world tried to organize a successful light festival, Sydney in my opinion is the only city that managed to hit the right note. This is by no means a simple feat. It requires city wide planning, coordination and cooperation. Vivid Sydney 2016 managed to bring together the whole city to participate in this grand light festival. Almost every building, streets and parks are lit up in dazzling light projections and exhibits.

All the light shows start from 6-11pm and each sequence lasts for about 10-15 minutes, then it will loop again. You will have ample time to hop around the city to catch other shows. Some light shows are outdoor projections onto buildings like the Opera House, Harbor Bridge and over the waters at Darling harbor. Some are exhibits at parks. Some streets are also turned into a fiesta zone with lights and exhibits. You may also find yourself walking unsuspectingly into some shopping malls with light shows inside as well. Do check out the official website Vivid Sydney for a list of locations and timetable. Vivid Sydney light festival for this year runs from 27th May to 18th June 2016.

(image) Click on the image for picture gallery



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Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (2)

2016-06-03T00:43:00.078+08:00

Well, if you have done a basic day tour of the Statue Liberty, Wall Street, Freedom Tower, Times Square, Empire State and Rockefeller, then perhaps you can refer to this alternative one day itinerary for your extra days in New York.You can start off the morning by heading to Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. This is the decommissioned USS Intrepid aircraft carrier that served in World War 2 and Vietnam War. It opens at 10am. The visit can include the submarine USS Growler. The aircraft carrier itself is huge with open deck, control tower and hangar. You can find all kinds of exhibits and aircraft on display. Notable ones are the SR71 Blackbird, F15 Tomcat, Concorde and even the Enterprise Space Shuttle. Your visit should be done by noon time just in time for a good lunch.After lunch, you can head off to Central Park. You should start from Columbus Circle. Walk east direction along the edge of the park to warm up until you reach the Gapstow Bridge for a beautiful view of the lake and city buildings reflection. From here, walk north direction along The Mall pathway. This pathway is lined with trees on both sides and it should be a wonderful sight during autumn. You will reach Bethesda Terrace, fountain and another lake. Another famous spot in various films and games. On a good day, you can rent a boat to row in the lake. From here, you can continue to walk north across another beautiful bridge called the Bow Bridge and then reach Belvedere Castle. This is almost halfway point of Central Park. Time check: it should be around 4-5pm now. Walking either east or west from here will bring you to the museums on both sides of the park. The east side is Metropolitan Museum of Arts and the west side is American Museum of Natural History. You may save this visit for your next day or trip.By 5pm, it is the perfect time to exit the park on the east side and hop onto subway 4 or 6 along Lexington St by 77th St. Take the southward bound train to Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall. From the station exit, you should be able to see the bridge and start your walk across this iconic bridge. The city skyscrapers and sunset will be behind you as you walk across. Once you're over the Brooklyn side, look for pedestrian exit on the left side. The staircase should lead you into Washington St. Walk back up north to the riverside park and a little distance to the left. You should reach Jane's Carousel. If you bring along kids, they will surely love the merry go round ride. Else, find a bench and enjoy the sunset here and watch the Manhattan skyscrapers light up once the sun is down. During summer, you may need to stay until 8-9pm here to see the golden view. So it is best done during spring or autumn when the sun sets earlier and you don't have to wait too long.After a long day walk, you may now hop onto either trains from High St or York St which is not far from the park to take you back to Manhattan. If you have energy left and keen on supper, you may also walk back via Brooklyn Bridge and head to Chinatown for a good meal before calling it a day.Click on the image for picture gallery allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="225" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/uB0Nrm9xuCk" width="400">Related link: Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (1)[...]



Mini Travel Log: Narita, Japan (2)

2016-04-08T11:45:44.817+08:00

It was an unexpected call up for me to operate a flight from Narita. I expected there isn't much sakura bloom for me to see in Narita so I did not bring my DSLR. I regret that decision after I visited the temple up on the hill and the adjacent Narita park. Little did I know there is such a beautiful garden on top of the hill and best of all, there are quite a number of sakura trees in the park which are already in 60-80% full bloom. Nevertheless, I whipped out my trusted Samsung S6 Edge to take some pictures. The quality turned out so well. Handphone technology has improved tremendously in just short period of time. If you were to compare pictures of Narita taken 5 years ago with my D90 DSLR and now, you would have thought the former was taken using a handphone instead.

(image) Click on the image for picture gallery

Related link: Mini Travel Log: Narita, Japan (1)(image)



Mini Travel Log: New York, USA

2016-01-31T01:15:14.145+08:00

This is my first time in New York and like any other tourists, I tried to maximize my time here because there are just so many things to do and see here. Is it possible to see the entire New York with 2 day itinerary? No it isn't. But 2 days are enough to warm up to this city and prepare you for your future visits.My hotel is at Times Square which has the best location and starting point for sightseeing. As I arrived in the afternoon and needed a quick nap, I woke up close to evening time around 5pm. A quick recce at Times Square and then off I go to the Rockefeller Center; few blocks away from where I started. I went up to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck to catch the best sunset and night view of New York City. Entrance fee is not cheap. It costs $32. So plan your trip wisely if you want to see the best sunset view. Choose a clear day to go up. I was short on time so I had no choice but to go up even on a cloudy and drizzling day. I still had a great time up there but I'd probably return again in the future on a clear day to capture more breathtaking shots of the city.After that, I returned to Times Square for some night shots. I couldn't stay awake much longer due to the jet lag so I called it a day afterwards. For info, Rockefeller Center is along 5th Avenue so you can actually do some night shopping there or save it for another day.My second day was burned due to rain. The only place I managed to visit was the Central Station. After Central Station, I walked along 5th Avenue for some window shopping while trying to avoid getting soaked now and then.Third day came with clear blue skies but chilly. I woke up early to rush down to Battery Park for the ferry to Liberty Island. From Times Square, I hopped onto subway no.1 at 50th St, South Ferry Loop. I didn't go down straight to South Ferry Station but made a detour by alighting at Chambers St. Reason being it was around 7am so I decided to see the 9/11 memorial and the new Freedom Tower. Bear in mind the memorial and tribute center only opens at 10am. I just wanted to see the 2 pools which was the former Twin Towers. It was a very sad feeling seeing the names of those sacrificed etched on the plaque around the pool.I continued to walk south along Broadway and reached the Wall Street area. This area is heavily guarded now but is still accessible to pedestrians. The iconic New York Stock Exchange is not to be missed. Back to Broadway and continuing south, I reached the Charging Bull. Touch it for a dose of good luck perhaps? Another reason I advise others to reach here early is for you to have the whole bull to yourself. If you're here late, the Chinese armies will reach here in bus loads and I guarantee you will not have any space left to touch the bull, let alone taking pictures.The Bull is just before the entrance to Battery Park. I bought my ferry ticket from Castle Clinton around 8am. Ferry departs at 8.30am and after going through airport styled scans, it is just about the right time. So my advise to you is to stick to your time schedule tight if you plan to do the 9/11 and Wall Street detour. Give yourself an hour for the detour starting from 7am and be at Castle Clinton ticket counter by 8am.Do take note that normal ticket to Liberty Island and Ellis Island includes both return ferry rides. It costs $18 and includes entrance to the Pedestal only. If you want to climb to the crown of Statue of Liberty, 99.9% you won't be able to buy it at the ticket counter. Buy it online from the official operator Statue Cruises and it runs 2-4 weeks in advance reservations. Meaning anything less than 2 weeks, tickets to the crown are most likely [...]



Mini Travel Log: Paris, France

2015-12-23T18:03:40.040+08:00

* Last entry for the year 2015. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Undeterred by the gun attacks in Paris, I ventured out to see the Christmas lights and decorations in Paris. It was indeed a rewarding and wonderful experience. With more presence of police, soldiers and more stringent checks, it may cause a bit of inconvenience but I felt much safer and it is necessary at times like this.

I found a place with the best view of Paris during sunset and night. It is at the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Ticket price is at 8 euros per person. Queues can be quite long just before sunset so do arrive at least half an hour to one hour earlier. Currently, the lift is out of order so you have to climb 384 steps to the top. As tripods are not allowed (probably to deny commercial photography and copyright reasons), remember to bring a high ISO and fast camera along or else you will need a very steady pair of hands to take the impossible night shots.

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Mini Travel Log: Zurich, Switzerland

2015-12-13T21:56:54.870+08:00

Now that I'm flying the A380, I'm going to a few more new places. I came back to Switzerland after my Swiss Mega Tour 5 years ago. This was a short 2-night stay and I couldn't venture to places further than Zurich itself. I took the opportunity to revisit the old town section along the river and walked towards Lake Zurich. It was a Sunday and unfortunately all stores in that section were closed. So a reminder to others visiting Zurich: do not visit the town on Sundays.

(image) Click on the image for picture gallery

Related link: Swiss Mega Tour(image)



Mini Travel Log: Oxford, UK

2015-10-14T22:04:58.516+08:00

When one mentions Oxford, the oldest and prestigious Oxford University and the list of famous graduates comes into mind. The old town itself houses the university with various faculties, colleges and departments spread all over the town; or you could say the whole university compound is the town itself; whichever way you want to see it. It is amazing that while you are walking in the town, you are actually walking inside the university. Many old and majestic medieval buildings are actually part of the university itself. Some colleges do charge a visitor fee for entrance and visiting time after 2pm. Famous colleges like the Christ Church and Merton College charge an exorbitant entrance fee of 5 pounds while some lesser colleges do have free entrance. I do recommend you to visit the Radcliffe Camera (restricted access library) and climb the tower of The University Church of St Mary the Virgin to have a fantastic 360 view of the town. You can check out the Botanic Garden east of the town next to the river. For a 5 pound entrance fee, I would suggest you visit the garden only in spring or summer time. As I visited during autumn, the garden was mostly neglected awaiting winter and I still had to pay the entrance fee. The river is alive with boat rides and punting during summer time.

Oxford is easily accessible from London either by trains or buses. Many would have thought it is cheaper and faster by train. But this is not the case. If you choose train option and travel before 9am, you would have to pay 60 pounds for a same day return ticket! Trains after 9am cost 24.80 pounds and it is still expensive. Moreover, the train stops at Oxford station which is actually outside the town and you need another 5-10 minute walk to the town. The cheaper and hassle free option would be the direct London-Oxford buses. Currently there are 2 operators departing from different locations in London. One is the X90 and the other Oxford Tube. You can check out their websites to choose where to board from bus stops nearest to your hotel. I chose the Oxford Tube because I stay at Hilton Kensington nearby Sheperd's Bush. The bus stop is right outside the hotel. The bus runs at a frequency of 20-30 minutes. Ticket can be bought from the bus driver and it only costs 18 pounds for same day return. Journey time is just an hour, which is about the same as train. The best thing is that the bus stops inside the town at the old cinema. You can explore Oxford right away once you alight from the bus.

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Mini Travel Log: Amsterdam, Holland (5)

2015-10-08T14:57:10.299+08:00

This was my last working trip to Amsterdam on 777 as I have moved to 380. It was also the last week of summer so I had a nice stroll at Vondelpark. I am a fan of Tesla cars and there is a showroom just beside the park. While you can't drive the car out for test drive, the salesman is very courteous and helpful in explaining all the features of the car. You are allowed to sit in the car and play with the controls. The salesman is also kind enough to offer test drive on his personal Tesla to the countryside if you make arrangements with him before coming to Amsterdam. Sigh...too bad as I do not know when I will ever return to Amsterdam in the future.

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Mini Travel Log: Varenna, Italy

2015-09-29T20:04:00.085+08:00

Varenna is one of the many beautiful lake towns around Lake Como. It is accessible with a direct train from Milano Centrale to Varenna Esino. A single trip train ticket costs only 6.70 euro and the journey takes about 1 hour 5 minutes. From Varenna itself, you can actually do town hopping using boat services to visit other towns around Lake Como. It is recommended to stay overnight to enjoy the sights and sound of various towns.

On my visit, I made a mistake of planning only a day trip. The first day that I wasted in Milan was actually clear blue sky. And on the second day when I actually visited Varenna, it was a washed out rainy day that almost ruined the whole trip. I made the second mistake of not staying overnight for the third day, which was back to blue sky again. This picturesque lake town is famous for its blue sky and blue water. The photos that I have taken did not do any justice. This town will be on my return list in the future.

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Windows 10: MACHINE_CHECK_EXCEPTION error

2015-08-14T13:08:07.565+08:00

After hearing all the buzz about Windows 10, I finally jumped into the bandwagon. But I hit a snag during installation. Initially I did not give a thought about it, thinking maybe it was a one off thing. Good thing is that the installation was smart enough to restore everything back after I had to hard reset the computer. So I launched the second time installation. No luck as it encountered the same problem. And so my endless install, reboot and re-install cycle began.

My PC is a self built desktop which passed all the requirement checks done by Windows 10 installation. I never had hardware failure nor crashes (BSOD) before during my last 2 years of running Windows 8. But every time I try to upgrade to Windows 10, it will always crash (BSOD with a sad smiley face) and shown together with the error code of MACHINE_CHECK_EXCEPTION. It always happens during the "Copying file" stage and overall progress at 22%. At this junction, the computer will not restart or do anything. I have to hard reset it and let the computer reboot back to Windows 8.

So I googled up regarding this error code. It returned many results for all the previous Windows versions, but not a single result for Windows 10. Really? No one else has had this problem in their Windows 10 installation? I must be the damn unlucky one. I read up on this specific MACHINE_CHECK_EXCEPTION error code and understand that it generally means there may be a hardware failure itself or caused by other factors like overheating. I recalled back the sequence in my installation and it always crashes during "Copying file" stage. So I presume it may be problems with my RAM, or overheating of motherboard chipsets or hard drive (as huge chunks of data are being copied before it crashes). With this diagnosis, I tried the installation one more time, but pulling out a stick of RAM (making it single channel), pulling off my unnecessary DVD and extra hard drives and then blasting my room air-conditioning to max. Voila! It worked and the installation proceeded smoothly.

Windows 10 works so beautifully now. When I logged in for the first time, everything was intact where I left off in Windows 8; down to the very icons and their placements in the desktop. All programs, games and apps work as they were in the old version. The best experience is the new Internet Explorer called the Edge browser. It is giving Google's Chrome a run of its money. Apart from the installation issues, I am all praises for this new Windows 10. I do not blame Microsoft for it because they really did a good job in the OS. The installation issue is just a one off thing. With so many different hardware parts in the PC market, it is beyond Microsoft's control to make it compatible with all machines; unlike Apple who only has one type of hardware to play with. So it will be unfair to compare.

I hope this sharing will help others who encounter the same problem like me. Do not fume if you encounter it. We do what we PC geeks do best. Troubleshoot and solve it. It's the fun and privilege that Apple users do not enjoy. And lastly, enjoy Windows 10. It's worth to upgrade.(image)



Mini Travel Log: Yokohama, Japan

2015-06-27T23:04:02.288+08:00

It has been 5 years since my last visit to Yokohama. On my last visit, I did not have the chance to visit the famous Ramen Museum here. This time, I was adamant to go there even though I was tired and it was a short trip.

This famous Ramen Museum is actually called the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum and they have a website in English here: http://www.raumen.co.jp/english/.  And as the name suggests, it is located at the Shin-Yokohama district, accessible by either the JR trains or Yokohama City Subway (Blue line). I stayed at Yokohama Minato Mirai area so I hopped onto the Blue Line at Sakuragicho subway station. I alighted at Shinyokohama station and took Exit 8. It was only a very short walk by turning left at the exit and then right.

This Ramen Museum features many famous ramen restaurants all over Japan; all under one roof. They charge a nominal entrance fee of 310 yen per person. The interior is a recreation of the old Tokyo which is very beautiful and unique. Each ramen restaurant offers mini ramen bowls so you can try out as many types of ramen as possible with the requirement of minimum one normal sized ramen bowl order. If you're too full and don't have space to try out all the ramen, keep the ticket and come again at night. The ticket is valid for one day.

*Pictures in the gallery below are taken by Lumia 1020 phone in RAW format.

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Milano Expo 2015

2015-06-09T14:51:11.918+08:00

The World Expo which is being held once every five years is currently ongoing in Milan, Italy. It opened its doors on the 1st of May and runs everyday until 31st October 2015. The theme for this expo is Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life which focuses on quality of food, science and technology behind food production and securing food to eradicate world hunger. However, not all countries follow the theme as some chose to promote their countries like tourism and business. Many middle eastern and oil producing countries also deviate far from the theme like showcasing their model cities and oil fields. In some pavilions, you'd be surprised to find weird objects being displayed like flying car, space age piano and nude arts. So it is a good mix of exhibition apart from just being food. This expo is like bringing the world to your doorstep where you can virtually travel and see many countries in one place.The Milano Expo 2015 is located at Rho-fieramilano where it is best accessed by the M2 red metro line. While expo tickets can be bought from official online website or onsite, there are many ticket resellers around Milan that sell at cheaper price. I was at the Milano Centrale FS and bought the ticket from a reseller tobacco shop for only 32 euro instead of the official price of 39 euro.I visited on a weekend so it was overcrowded. I reached at the opening time of 10am and there were already trains of people queuing up to go in. I made a mistake by following this train of people once inside. I had to queue for very long to go into each pavilion. Some queues were up to an hour long wait. From my experience, I would suggest a smart way to beat this queue. Once inside, you should walk all the way to the other end of the expo. The pavilions at the other end should be Oman and Indonesia. You should work your way back up in reverse of the train of people queuing from the start. By this way, you can avoid queuing at all to go inside the pavilions. Just a rough idea of how large the expo is, I visited from 10am until 8pm and still not manage to see all the pavilions.After my visit, I have mixed reaction about my experience here. People with architecture background should love this expo as it is a display of architecture marvels with so many artistically and futuristic built pavilions. Many pavilions spent a lot of money in high tech projections which are quite nice to watch but I felt they relied too much on technology. In some pavilions, you spend 10-15 minutes walking from one room to another room just watching videos and come out still with no idea what they want to present. Some pavilions still rely on the good old fashioned exhibits and I really find it informative as I can take my time to soak up the information and also admire the things that were on display.As this expo is themed around food, naturally all the countries try to showcase their local delicacies. But again I think it's a scam job and rip off. Many pavilions provide microwave packed food with lousy taste but exorbitant prices. There are some countries worth mentioning in providing freshly cooked food prepared from onsite kitchens. You should try the ones from Uruguay and Argentina. They really serve good meat and steak with wines. Else you can try the many food trucks selling hotdogs and other titbits especially from Holland or try the Belgian beer and waffles.Click on the image for pi[...]