TL:DR Many travels in 2015 and 2016 and way to long from writing until the final release
Over the last 20 month I have done a lot of travels, but due to time constraints and other influences, I was not able to always blog about the adventures and things that I have seen while being abroad. The things I have done relatively short after or sometimes even while being on the trip, is editing of pictures and videos. Therefore, I want to use this post to highlight the few things I have done in more or less chronological order, that I can start fresh in the coming year with a clean sheet. The entire backlog of post that I wanted to write goes back to spring 2015 and this is simply too far back to adequately remember interesting details. Starting from next year, without any major backlog, I’ll post recent events and travels more quickly and try not to build up such a big backlog.
In the early June of 2015, I attended the PADS Conference in London, UK. The venue was in one of the buildings of the University of Westminster in their Cavendish campus.
It wasn’t the nicest of buildings in London, but visibly an university building. It reminded me of some of the buildings we used to have at OvGU. I stayed in a nice hotel close to Hyde park in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Since the hotel was fairly close, the commute in the morning was either by a couple stops of the tube or by renting a bike. This was very convenient since there was a renting station right outside the Hotel as well as outside the university building. Unfortunately, my talk was the very last of the entire conference and since I additionally presented a paper for a colleague as well, I was basically closing the conference.
In the evenings and afternoons, I wondered around London and explored the area. I wanted to finally explore the inside of St. Pauls Cathedral, but it was somehow closed on one day and there was a rehearsal on the other day I tried. On the weekend after the conference, the Queens Birthday Parade was about to happen and therefore “The Mall” and “Horse Guards Parade” were well decorated.
I was very fortunate that of the days I spent in London, only one day I experienced some rain. It was mostly sunny but the evenings were rather cool. My favorite spots during this trip were walking or biking on the Thames’ River banks with its artists and hipster cafes on the south side and its historically important buildings on the north side. Additionally, I visited the British Museum, which should be on everyone’s list when coming to London. I am very much looking forward to visiting again, maybe next time with Xiu Fen.
I can be quite certain that she wouldn’t have liked my day trip outside of London to the historical site of Bletchley Park. This was part one of my three-part goal of visiting all major dedicated computer history museums in the World. The second one I visited later in 2015 when I was in California. The third one is back in Germany. Bletchley Park was the site, where famous Alan Turning and his team worked with several hundred others to decipher the German ENIGMA -encoded messages. The Story has been told very recently in the movie The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. From London, I took the train, on the only rainy day to Bletchley, which is about a 1-hour ride. From the train station there is not much to miss and during the 10-minute walk through the English small village countryside, in the rain, of course, the feeling of dull days during WW2 came into mind and set the right mood for the museums’ visit. The vast areal depicts all areas of the endeavor of working in this secretive mission. You could easily spend 2 days there to ingest the very lively exhibition in its fullest.
But in addition to seeing the ENIGMA breaking machine BOMBE and how it was broken, I also wanted to visit the National Museum of Computing which is located right next door to the Bletchley Park. Unfortunately, I was a little late and the museum was closing at 5 pm. The place it very small, but the people working there are experts in the machines and their working, I was talking to some of the members and they even fired up one of their very very old computers, which is the size of an entire room and explained the inner workings.
On the next day, I had to leave London. Since my next stop on this Euro-trip was located close to Aachen, close to the Belgian border, I opted for taking the eurostar train directly from London to Brussels and then a local train to Aachen. This was the best decision since you don’t need to travel far to one of London’s airports, which saves a lot of valuable time. Additionally, you then don’t have to travel from another airport to the final destination, since train stations are usually located in the center of the cities. The 15-minute ride below the ocean floor through the tunnel is more than underwhelming and I almost didn’t notice it. When entering the train you have to go through similar security checks as boarding a plane. More pictures from the London trip can but found in this flickr Album.
Germany Spring 2015
The second stop on this trip was Aachen, from where I visited the Jülich Forschungszentrum to have some business discussions. On from there, I took another train towards my family’s home in Burg, but I stopped 150 km short in the city Brunswick, where my good friends Daniel and Maria had just moved to. I inspected their new apartment and we had a lovely time BBQ’ing on the balcony and just spending some quality time together. On the next day I already had to leave Brunswick, and this time I took a bus to Magdeburg where my mom picked me up. I didn’t have much time, so I visited my family and fulfilled my duties as tech support for my extended family before I had to leave for Singapore. Food-wise, I arrived during the asparagus season and took full advantage of it.
Germany Summer 2015
At then end of July 2015, I was back in Germany for an extended 6 weeks stay with some working in the meantime. This time I brought Xie Fen with me. We rented a small apartment in Munich for the time but ended up not staying there for too long. I had some appointments in the black forest area and Xiu Fen was visiting a friend in Berlin for two weeks. Nonetheless, it was good to have a home-base to come back to for the time being in Germany.
Apart from working on my thesis, which still isn’t done at the time of writing, we had a tight schedule. We were doing a short trip through Austria with my good friend Gesine as well as a birthday trip to Prague and then finally home to see my parents and attend a wedding. After all that traveling, we only had a couple of days back in Munich to enjoy the particularly hot European summer.
When Xiu Fen was back in Berlin, I was back in Munich by myself. But for my Birthday weekend, we planned to stay a couple of days in Prague. Incidentally, this was also the Singaporean National day, the 50th incarnation of the National Day Parade. Which we attended in 2014 (NDP 2014).
I took the Bus from Munich and Xiu Fen took the train from Berlin. I arrived before Xiu Fen in Prague and made my ways towards the train station where her train was to be expected. Unfortunately, her train was delayed and rerouted along the way, and therefore late.
After a little food right in the railway station, we made our way towards the AirBnB we had booked beforehand. It was located a couple of Bus stops away from the center in a very quite neighborhood. Our host Hana was very nice and her small room perfect for spending a couple of days in one of my favorite cities. Close by there were some restaurants and several bus stations to walk to. The only problem, when having a little more luggage was, that the route we chose was up a steep hill to get to the house. But later we figured out a different route that involved less climbing, which was especially dreadful on the hot August day.
On my and Singapore’s Birthday, we started off the day with a visit to the Prague TV Tower. Where we watched part of the Singaporean National Day Parade due to the Wifi that was very reliable in such height.
The view was again very nice and the futuristic look from the outside as well the inside made the visit very memorable. Afterward, we took the public transport to go to the Strahov Monastery which holds one of the most beautiful libraries with paintings and decorations I have ever seen. Picture taking was only allowed once you purchase a special photography ticket. Xiu Fen did so and therefore all of the beautiful pictures in the flickr-Album are taken her.
All day we were wearing the I <3 SG t-shirts, which I bought back in Singapore to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Xie Fen’s home country. Once we found a nice spot with a great view over the city we also pulled out the scarf we got a year earlier and posed with it.
After a stroll down from the Monastery, our evening program included a nice dinner as well as a classical concert in one of the many churches around the old town area. Trying to avoid the hordes of tourists as well possible, we managed to reach the church. But sitting down after a day of walking around had its toll on me and the tiredness made it hard to concentrate on the performance. Luckily, the concert wasn’t very long.
On the next day, we already left Prague and our next destination was Burg. We traveled by train, and again there was a problem with the wagon we were in. This time the air conditioning was broken (Czech train) and we had to wait a very long time in Prague before leaving and then we were not routed via Berlin as planned, but rather via Halle (an der Saale) and then to Magdeburg. In the train, we had a minor incident with which Xie Fen still makes me feel bad. I placed a water bottle in the overhead rack in the train and at the bump, the bottle fell down and on to Xiu Fen’s head and the salad she was eating at the time. Evidence of this exists to this day.
Back at home, there were again a lot of family visits as well as a short visit to Daniel and Maria together with my other best friends Eric and Janine. Since we are living in SG and they in LA, this was such a nice coincidence and very lucky to catch them while being in Germany. The reason why we were all in Germany was a wedding of our mutual friend Franz and his now wife Mona. Also, we visited some friends on their farm, which was very exciting for Xiu Fen, since she likes to interact with those animals that you normally don’t find in Singapore.
Things you also don’t find back in Singapore, are strawberries. Together with Gesine, we visited Karls Erdbeerhof near Berlin. Close to the Erdbeerhof was also the B5 Center, which we visited afterward to buy cheap’ish clothes.
The Erdbeerdorf is a small theme park focussing on everything strawberry. This starts with a large hall where you can try and of course buy products make of or around the strawberry. Hourly cooking of fresh strawberry jam just in front of your eyes included. The outside area has a petting zoo with goats and some other kids-friendly activities. This includes potato-sack sliding as well as a small zip-lining area. As an extra exhibition, they had a sand sculpture artist design some realistic looking art pieces made of nothing but sand.
For a short weekend trip to Austria my good friend Gesine visited us in Munich and after some sightseeing and meeting up with some more friends on the first night, it was time to pick up the rental car on a Saturday morning and head towards Austria. Our itinerary was tight. We wanted to show Xiu Fen the Schloss Neuschwanstein as well as some snow. But Since it was summer, the only place that I could think of was the Zugspitze.
This was only my second visit to the Castle Neuschwanstein and the first time driving there myself. It wasn’t that far but we did anticipate the waiting time the ticket office and since we also wanted to go to the Zugspitze, we were in a hurry. Good that I remembered that the tour in the Castle was rather short and not very exciting. You feel like a herd of cattle and after 30 minutes you can leave through the gift shop. The castle itself was nice and the summer sun made it look especially nice. To our saddest realization was the best vantage point of the castle, the Marienbrücke, under renovation and could not be used to take some pictures. The most left picture above is taken from the said point, but a couple years back when I visited the castle during winter.
Eventually, we made it down in time and could leave towards Austria to take the cable car up the Austrian side of the Zugspitze. From there the tickets are a little cheaper and on the top, it doesn’t really matter where you come from. The scenic drive towards Germany’s highest mountain top was quite astonishing, haven’t been to the mountains for many years. Eventually, we made it to the base station where the last cable car was about to leave the station heading for the top. we caught it but knew at the same time that we can’t stay long. Due to the nice weather, we had a wonderful view but only seeing snow in the distance but not on top.
We wandered around the mountain top and welcomed the fresh breeze, took pictures and gazed into the distance before we had to descent down towards the parking lot of our car.
From there on, we drove a little more through the Austrian countryside until we reached our sleeping location of St. Anton am Arlberg, where I have been last in the early 90s when I was a small boy. That time with my grandparents, but today with my future wife and a good friend. After a good meal (of course Schnitzel) and some reflection of the day, we hit the hay and made preparations for the next day.
The itinerary for the next day was to drive more westwards towards the Bodensee and stop in Lichtenstein. The sun was very gracious on booth days and we have a nice time, the long drive back from the Bodensee towards Munich was not very eventful and eventually, we reached, ending the day with home-made salad dinner. The visit from Gesine ended one day later but was started with a Weiswurstfrühstück at my favorite weiswurst-place in Munich was conducted and later a chill out session at the Isar.
This concluded our trip (with the code name Silver Sparkle Fun Tour ) with Gesine around Bavaria and Austria and a week later we flew back home to Singapore.
The crazy Year with loads of traveling continued just a couple of weeks later. That time I was going to China for another conference trip. I got invited to give a talk there. This trip was already blogged about in this blog-post.
North America 2015
In the beginning of December 2015, the last trip for the year was happening, this time the destination was set for the west coast of the USA. Another conference trip. The Winter Simulation Conference (short WinterSim) had accepted a tutorial paper and I was there to give the 90-minute talk about Cloud Simulation Environment that I developed during my Ph.D. time. Since it was happening in Huntington Beach, CA. I could combine this with visiting my dear friends Eric and Janine.
I had booked a car prior to arriving at LAX and was therefore mobile from the first moment. Since I don’t drive in Singapore at all, the American highways can be quite challenging. I didn’t have to drive far, since I just wanted to meet up with Janine and Eric for a quick lunch, before heading down the 405 towards Huntington Beach, or better Costa Mesa, where my hotel was located. The drive was not long, but after the flight from Singapore with a stopover in Narita, took its toll on me and I had to stop and sleep in the car for a couple minutes.
The Conferences was a little too big and overwhelming for my taste, but I my talk was well received and attended by around 30 people which can be considered a success. I visited the largest mall on the west coast, South Coast Plaza and since it was already Christmas time, the decoration was enormous as was the size of the mall. I also had to run some errands to buy some cosmetics products for Xiu Fen while being in the US, having a vehicle was definitely a plus.
The day after the conference I had to leave the hotel and went back to meet up with Eric and Janine at their apartment before flying off the next day to my further destinations in Canada and the US Northwest. We did some more sightseeing in form of visiting the California Science Center, where the Space Shuttle Endeavor found its final resting place. Also, we went to the Petersen automobile museum before concluding at a large open-air mall with more Christmas-themed attractions. I have split the individual destinations on this trip into several Flickr Albums. The first one is called South California
From LAX I flew off to Vancouver for my first visit to Canada in over 10 years and the first time to the Canadian west coast.
While being on the trip, I already wrote a blog post about this part of the trip. Side note: I already wrote 3/4 of this section before realising that the blog-post called Vancouver 2015 might be about that trip.
I left Vancouver not by plane, but rather by Train. In the early morning hours, it was before the first light, I made my way to the train station and boarded the Amtrak bound for the Seattle, WA area.
The ride was very idyllic because, during the about 4-hour ride, we passed through Canadian wilderness as well as small fishing villages along the coastline, which consists of many small islands. The day was starting and the sun rose in the east, tinting the landscape in a peaceful color.
Once arrived in Seattle, I again had to make my way to the pre-booked AirBnB. This time it was located in the suburban region of the city, which still had access to the Sound Transit System. The around 10-minute walk from the station, located at the main road, lead me to a small American house, which looked quite Seattle-esque. My host was not home but she left the key in a number code locked compartment on the front porch. She lived there all by herself, with a cat of course, and rented out the spare room to AirBnB. The standard was not as high as the one in Vancouver, but that is not what you expect. She gave me some tips and information via text when I arrived. Since it was still morning I left the house and went back into the city. I wondered around the streets of downtown and had a snack here and there and eventually reached one of the most famous houses in all of Seattle, the first Starbucks. Opposite, I had a great view towards the mountains and since the sun sets early in the northern hemisphere in winter, the red and orange hues made the snow covered mountains reaching the clouds look magical.
Right next to this area Pike Place Market, a large covered market hall with various fresh fruits, fish, and vegetables as well as spices and souvenirs.
After some food and some short shopping errands from Xiu Fen, I went home and met my AirBnB host for the very first time. We chatted and I retired shortly after.
The next day was one of the highlights of my visit to Seattle, going to the EMP museum and the space needle. Spoilers, I didn’t go up the needle but I went to the museum. The Museum of Pop culture as it is also called, a museum where I lived for most of the things that are presented and have an actual connection. The Nirvana exhibition was one of my favorites, but also an entire floor on Hello Kitty satisfied my need for pink and plush for the rest of the year. There was also an exhibition area on aliens in film and TV as well as a DIY area for learning musical instruments. Of course, the Super-Bowl win of the Seattle Seahawks the year before was also celebrated with its own dedicated room with trophies as well as a small theater, showing the road to winning Super Bowl XLVIII.
After this exciting visit, I wondered around the Space Needle Area, which also houses an open community area where an ice skating ring was build up and a small Christmas market for kids was erected.
On the following day I wanted to visit the Boeing Factory, but since I didn’t have my own mode of transportation and all the tours were booked, I had to come up with an alternative plan. I went to the city and went to the living computers museum and lab which was a precursor to my visit to the real computer history museum a day later. Since it was a museum and lab, you were actually allowed to touch some of the still working exhibits. There I “used” my first Apple II and an original Macintosh. On my way there I passed by the Starbucks headquarters which is decorated very cleverly. Close to the Museum is also the Century Field, which is home to the aforementioned NFL Team Seahawks and the MLS Team Sounders. During my visit to many North American Cities with major sports teams, like Seattle (2), Los Angles (3+) and the SF Bay area (2+), I was not able to attend a sporting event. Mostly they had away games or their home game when I was in any of the other cities.
Since I had some time to kill in the evening, I wanted to see a movie and there was a theater close to the AirBnB, but since this was the first week of the new Start Wars: The Force Awakens being out, there was nothing else shown. And I already had tickets for the screening a couple days later back in LA.
This time I left via plane and since the house was located on the Sound Transit line that also connected the airport with the city, it was an easy travel. If flew off in the morning hours not just back to LA but to SFX to visit the Valley for a day. My original idea was to drive down from SF to Los Angles, but the car rental prices were ridiculously expensive. Though I opted for a one-day car rental and a night stay in the Valley and then flying back from SFX to LAX.
After landing in SFX I needed to pick up my rental car, and since I booked again with Sixt, who are not located next to the other rental car agencies, I had to take a shuttle but to the rental hotel nearby. I got the same model of car as I had earlier, a Hyundai Elantra. The first stop of the day was The Computer History Museum in Mountain View. This marked number 2 of the three above mentioned dedicated computer history museums. The last one is the Heinz Nixdorf Forum in Paderborn Germany). The guided tour of the museum was lead by an ex Google, Apple and HP employee (yes one person!) who is now volunteering and shows visitors around and explains many stories from the early days of the Silicon Valley.
At the end of the tour, I had some time to wonder around by myself, but I just missed the presentation of a functional Difference Engine No. 2 which was recreated in the early 90s.
When driving deeper and deeper into the silicon valley the number of Teslas and also super-chargers increased significantly. Also, at every corner, you saw a building of a tech giant like Google, Apple, LinkedIn, Yahoo and so on. I have visited a couple of places, like the Apple Headquarters in Cupertino, where I also went in but didn’t buy anything in the gift shop.
This time I didn’t have an AirBnB but rather stayed in a Motel along one of the main roads in the valley. My flight to LAX wasn’t until the evening so I had some more locations on my list. Firstly, I wanted to visit the Intel Headquarters, where they also had a small and free museum as well as the Stanford University Campus. At the Intel headquarters I showed up just as the employees were slowly arriving and a group of school children had a field trip. While browsing through the small exhibition area I loosely followed the talk by two scientists for primary school children. Which was already quite deep and complex. At the exhibition area why explained the history of the company Moor’s Law and how Computer Chips are made, from Silicon.
There wasn’t much to explore and I also didn’t want to buy anything in the gift shop so I went my way up to the Stanford Campus, but before I stopped at the construction site of the new Apple headquarters.
Driving into the complex that is the Stanford Campus, I was immediately blown away by its size and sheer beauty. It was Christmas break, and therefore the number of students was very low and therefore also quite. I parked the car and just started wondering around. I didn’t really have a destination, I just wanted to soak it all in, thinking back to my university days and thought how nice it must by to study there. But then I also remembered the price tag that comes with a year of education there. The mediterranean-style of the buildings and the tones of sandstone, that all fits together too perfectly gave off a very calming feeling. The low morning sun did the rest to make it look magical.
All the buildings in the pictures are part either of living quarters or university buildings with labs or lecture halls. I found the Hoover Tower in the center of the campus and for a small fee, I could use the elevator to go to the top and have an even better view of the size and the beauty of the campus.
On the way to the airport, I also drove by THE Garage, where it all started. This is also called the birthplace of silicon valley. After dropping off the car that the airport and the short flight back to LAX almost concluded my North America trip in late 2015, but before I left for Asia, I had to watch the just released Star Wars VII movie together with Eric and Janine.
The remaining pictures from the silicon valley tour as also available in a Flick Album.
After this very travel intensive year 2015, I was glad to be back home and not having too much ahead in for 2016 and how it turned out I only had one large trip in the entire Year 2016, which contained a stop in Europe as well as another stop in Canada’s west.
Canada and Europe Spring 2016
In late May and early June, was bound to go to Europe for a short business visit as well as a family visit with a hidden motive, but I didn’t want to go back to Singapore before flying off to the only conference of the year in Canada, so I extended my stay by a couple days. About the stay in Germany 2016, I had already written a blog post about.
I was ending this post with my boarding the airplane in Munich to go to Calgary, Canada. There the problems already started. I tried to save some money, even though it was a business trip and booked a Condor flight from Munich via Frankfurt and Toronto to Calgary. During this trip, I had to endure a security screening at every destination because of that sucky airline. It started in Munich, where the Lufthansa check-in desk could not give me the boarding pass for the Condor flight from Frankfurt to Toronto and since there was no Condor transfer desk in the transit area of the Frankfurt airport, I had to leave the security area, queue again at the check-in counter with all the other passengers flying to Mallorca or Teneriffa and then queue again at the security screening to get back into the transit zone. I cut some lines and used the first class check-in counter and I was served because the lady probably saw that I was already angry.
This was no problem, time-wise and I made it to the gate on time and could board this cheap flight to Toronto. The entertainment selection on this flight consisted of exactly 2 movies; one normal movie and a cartoon for kids. For an additional $16 or so you could upgrade to some more, but it was just ridiculous.
After arriving in Toronto, I had to pick up my luggage as I would when this was my final destination and transport it myself to the re-check-in desk inside the transit area. What I didn’t know was that afterward, I had to leave the transit area and queue again for 1.5h to go back to almost the same gate where I came from to just barely missing my connecting flight. The queue was so long that I couldn’t actually see where I was going when I started because the end was somewhere behind a corner. Eventually, I made it to the flight and was on my way to Calgary. This wasn’t my final destination, but I had to wait a day and a half for my ride to arrive as well and then we would go together to the final destination of Banff. This time I booked an AirBnB close to the public transport line in a suburban area. And damn Calgary you were disappointing. I strolled around the city and there was nothing really. My host even answered the question of what I can do in a day or so, with a long pause until she came up with a destination that required a car. Nevertheless, there are some pictures in the flickr Album and luckily the next destination was much nicer.
Located in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the small town is the center for the Banff National Park with its wonderful ski slopes in the winter and hiking tracks in the summer. Since it was summer, about to be at least, hiking was on the program. It is located around 2-hour drive from Calgary and you can feel the majestic rocky mountains building up right after leaving the inner city of Calgary. I was primarily in Banff for a conference. This time I presented a paper and wasn’t last, but rather early on the first day. My hotel was not at the conference site, but rather in the town center and therefore I had to do a little hike in the morning to get to the breakfast and the conference in time. The air was fresh and clean and the flowers started to bloom around that time. The town itself is made for tourists, winter sports and hiking and the one main street had a lot of timber houses, and there was also only one main street where everything happened. After the welcome reception, we (professor and I) decided we gonna do a quick hike to the small hill behind the conference center. This turned out to be more exercise than we expected, but at the top, we were rewarded with an amazing view over the entire plane and the surrounding mountains. On our way down we even saw a deer just standing on the side of the trail.
Each day after the conference was over, we used the time to explore the surrounding area. On one of the trips, we went to Lake Minnewanka and had a stroll along its shores. Nature is just astonishing around the evening time when the setting sun is shining against the snow topped mountains. I didn’t know that I had so much appreciation for nature but I guess after being in Austria the year before and the wilderness when riding the train from Vancouver to Seattle and now that, It somehow gets to me. During that visit, one of my best shots of 2016 was taken.
After the conference was over on the last day, I parted with my professor, whom I would see in two days time up north in Lake Louise and did a very tiresome hike up Sulphur Mountain. The course itself was not long, but I had already walked to the beginning of the trail a good 5km. Then I managed to climb 655m of elevation gain over the 5.5km long trail. Unfortunately, or fortunately, once I reached the top I didn’t have much time since I wanted to take the gondola back down because walking down wasn’t an option after the hike. Up the hill, it was around $40 but going down was free. While walking up there were a some quite chipmunks to be seen along the way. Overall there was a lot of wildlife to be seen where every I looked.
This already concluded my stay in Banff, but the time in the Rocky Mountains wasn’t over just yet. Since my ride had already left up north and we wanted to join in Lake Louise the following day, I took the Greyhound Bus, which was also late of course.
After the short 45-minute Bus ride to late Louise, which had like 3 hotels and a gas station as well as a campground, I checked into the hotel and then wanted to go on a walk along the Bow River which streams through this region. The day was a gloomy and half way through my walk it started to rain. I had an umbrella and underestimated the walking way, which turned out to be 7 km and the rain go stronger half way through. Especially the middle part where I decided to add the extra 3.5 km without really knowing where I would be able to cross the river next were a little stupid in retrospect. Furthermore, I walked along the river and didn’t see a single human the entire time I was walking.
I did a short time lapse of the walk which I started about 1 km into the trail and ended when I reached my hotel.
On the following day, I was supposed to meet up with the professor and we wanted to actually visit the famous Lake Louise, but in the morning I did another hiking tour all by myself. The weather was luckily better and the sun was out. During the morning I hiked through the woods and again not seeing a single soul on my way. I didn’t really know what to expect and where this path would lead me.
On the way I was greeted by many chipmunks, catching the warming sun.
Eventually, I reached a very shallow late with super clear water, but more than a couple of ducks and a single swan on the other end of the lake, there wasn’t much to see. I made my way back to the hotel. On the next day, I finally met up with my professor and it was also time to leave Lake Louise and go back to Calgary. But before driving back, we wanted to see the Lake Louise and damn was it worth it. When we reached in the morning the clouds were hanging very low and it was quite gloomy. The water of the lake is very very blue, almost surreal.
One of the small hiking trails around the lake area went up to a tea house. From the tail and also the destination at the tea house, the water of the looked even bluer. One reaching the tea house, we were looking forward to some warming tea. Unfortunately, the season at the house hadn’t started yet, but luckily the owner and his wife were already up and preparing the place and offered some tea in paper cups. The Lake Agnes, a super clear glacier lake was right next to the tea house. The partially frozen late with the snow covered mountains in the background made the second long-lasting impression of the day.
After we hiked down from Lake Agnes, we headed back to Calgary, where I stayed for one more night before flying back to Singapore to next morning. This time I flew further westwards with stops in Vancouver and Hong Kong. In the latter, I had to spend another night because the long intercontinental flight between Vancouver and Hong Kong was delayed. The hotel was again an airport hotel and therefore I didn’t see anything of the city. This concluded my only big travel of the year 2016 in which I circumvented the earth one time only going westwards, which was a first.
Koh Lanta 2016
A short vacation together with Xiu Fen did take place in November, but between the May travels and November, I turned 30 which I already wrote about and Xiu Fen and I got engaged, but this is a story for another blog entry.
We only went to Koh Lanta for a couple of days (an extended weekend). We flew to Krabi airport from Singapore and had to take a small minibus from the airport to Koh (thai: island) Lanta. This ride took another 2 hours and we finally reached the hotel. We didn’t want to bring much for just a couple of days, but since we both wanted to bring some photography equipment, which included laptops and my drone, we had quite a lot to carry.
After eating some local delights close to the hotel, which had a nice beach view, we took a tuk-tuk and met some of Xiu Fen’s friends for a small beach get-together. The following day was going to be a productive day but started off at the pool. After a while, it started to rain and we resorted to our room and I got some work done. In the afternoon, we rented a scooter and drove all the way to the south of the island to a very secluded beach. The island itself is maybe half the size of Singapore, but it still took us about 1 hour to get to the beach. We brought along our photography gear as well as our drone. After some food that we had at the only beach restaurant, we proceeded to picture and video taking until the sun had set for the day. The sun sets rather quickly at the equator, resulting in the road being pitch black on the way back. There are of course no street lights and the head light of the scooter wasn’t really great. But eventually, we mad it back to the Hotel. We picked up some food at the nearby market and spent the night in the hotel.
The entire next day was meant for a snorkeling tour. We got picked up from the hotel in the early morning and were transported across the island to the pier, where different tours meet to go on the snorkeling tours. We chose the cheap option in a Thai long-tail boat, which is basically made of a wooden body with a truck or car motor at the back and a long axis that had the propeller at the end. They make a lot of noise and we traveled quite swiftly, but we all got very wet on the boat since every wave splashed up a lot of water. Unfortunately for us was that Xiu Fen got seasick rather quickly and the rides in the boat weren’t any fun at all. We hopped between different snorkeling spots and an island, where we had some lunch. The snorkeling itself was always very short, due to the long travel times of the boat. I guess in total we go like 1 hour of time in the water. I hadn’t snorkeled in many years and without fins, it was even harder. We put our GoPro to good use and tried to take some video shooting of underwater life. The drone and GoPro footage have made it into a small video.
The in the evening of the snorkeling day, we meet up with some of the people currently staying in the Kohub co-working
They were on the way to the beach to release some kind of swimming offerings called krathongs to the gods. Since this is done again at sunset we got some more nice pictures at the beach side. After some nice Thai dinner, we prepared our departure on the next morning. Our flight wasn’t until one day later, but we wanted to spend one night in Krabi town, where the airport is located before flying off to Singapore. This time we didn’t take a mini-van, but rather took a ferry again. We were a little worried about Xiu Fen’s stomach, but the boat was big enough and there were almost no waves this time around. In Krabi town, we walked around the old town and had some street-food at the markets and Xiu Fen bought some gifts to bring back home. There is a giant crab sculpture in the city, that is been polished shiny by people touching it. On the next day, we went back to Singapore. I was a little worried about the weight and size of my cabin luggage. I had my big traveling backpack and my drone case. The backpack was not filled up, but the camera equipment and some of the gifts and extra cloth we bought made it definitely more than the 7kg that are allowed on an Air Asia flight. Luckily, no one said anything and about an hour later we were back in Singapore.
The flickr-Album is called Koh Lanta 2016
This concludes my catch up blog post for all the travels between mid-2015 and late 2016. This wasn’t even all that happened during that time and maybe I am going to write more detailed on the India wedding we went to or some other weddings back in Germany or even how I proposed to Xie Fen later on. I wouldn’t hold my breath for it for too long. Congratulation to everyone, who made it that far in reading through my longest blog post ever.