Quote

“I'd rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not.”
― Lucille Ball

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009


Just a week ago we moved from our house in a small village near to Nijmegen city to the center of Nijmegen, as our property was sold as part of the plan to emigrate and leave the Netherlands when I will retire next year.

It seems that we will have a white Christmas in many places since 28 years. That is why we decided to use a snowy picture as our Christmas card.

The picture was taken in front of the "Waag" (weighing building in the 15-17th centuries) in Nijmegen, close to our new home.

I would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a prosperous New year and hope to be able to publish more blogs next year than I did this year.


Friday, November 6, 2009

All Saint's day

Today we arrived from Thailand in the Philippines, via Clark Air Base, north Luzon, after an emotional farewell party in Bangkok organized by both companies I was working for/with.

The flight was perfect and fast, we arrived before schedule 3:00 am. I expected to arrive in the remainders of tropical typhoon "Mirinae", but nothing, no wind, no rain. It turned out that this typhoon (locally known as "Santi") has hit southern Luzon, so Clark AB was not affected.

As usual my family and my car were waiting waiting for us, my wife, mother in-law (nanay) and myself. So in the car we had, apart from us, father (tatay), 2 sisters, one brother in-law and 3 nephews, in total we were 10.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Farewell Bangkok


Tonight is my farewell party organised by my host company and customer. It was splendid, many friends, good food and drinks and a continuous show of dancers and singers in "German Brewery Ramintra Branch". Thanks a lot.

Below are my last farewell emails. I might add responses later in comments, but will do it anonymous.

To my customer,


Today October 30st is my last day working for the program within my company, but mainly working with and for you as customer employees in Asia Pacific, in Bangkok and Cabuyao and on occasion on other sites as well.


It was a great pleasure for me to work in the program, in different roles in APAC the past year, with many ups and downs, and many new contacts. I learned a lot of you for which I am very grateful.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hospitalized in Vibhavadi


Last Friday I was released from the hospital after being hospitalized for almost a week.

On Friday September 25th, I went to my office in Bang Khen, north Chatu Chak, but decided already before arrival to go back. I felt sick, had to vomit, head ache, and was not able to start working.

Coming back home again, I tried to text message some people to inform them on my sick leave, but SMS service to Europe didn't work. Already for several weeks I had many problems with mobile communication from and to Europe. It seems that there is a roaming problem, as people trying to call me get an automated voice message that my number is not registered, but local calls without any problem. I felt too sick to setup my PC to send an email, so decided to go to bed and solve the communication later, when I felt better.

Next day I discovered red stains on my lower left leg and it was also painfull after some rest to stand on that leg. Only after 5 minutes excercising it felt better and I could walk again. Still overall I was sick and didn't understand what the problem was and where the red stains were coming from.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Cabuyao project

View inside the plant in Cabuyao
Last week I was asked to write an article for an IT newsletter of the company I am working for. I have copied the article here in my blog, but taken out the name of the company and names of individuals.

If you are smart, and I think you are, you can easily find out with some googling, which company I am working for and which contract is at stake.

Since mid 2008 I am active in the APAC region for the data center out sourcing program to deploy the manufacturing sites in the APAC region.

To give you an idea of the size of the region, the sites range from Jilin, near the Chinese / North Korean border, to Seremban in Malaysia. Currently we are supporting 7 manufacturing sites located in: Jilin and Guangdong in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lot for sale


It's a while ago that I wrote in my blog, but it was too busy and no Internet in the Philippines.

This week I went back to Thailand via Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur where I had to initiate two new projects.

After my three weeks project work in Cabuyao, Laguna, I took a week leave to start processing the purchase of a piece of land (lot) in Pangasinan, north Luzon. 

I asked my wife to come from the Netherlands to join me the last week in Laguna and Saturday 29 August we left together heading to Pangasinan, where we met the family again.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

SCTEX bridge cages


In the Netherlands and other European countries there is incidentally the problem that car drivers are attacked by heavy objects falling down from a crossing bridge.

They are thrown down from a bridge by crazy people, who want to hurt the driver and knocking the car.

It seems a kind of game, and I guess it are usually young boys, but I have never heard that they were catched. Of course it could as well be older people with a mental disease like a pyromania.

It was reported several times that a brick was thrown through the windscreen and you can imagine that, if one drives with a speed of 120 km/h, it might kill the driver or other persons in the car, which actually happened several times.

In the Philippines there are not so many freeways, actually there are only three on Luzon, the biggest island of the Philippines: SLEX, NLEX and SCTEX.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

"Google speaks"


A couple of weeks ago, when I went to the Philippines, I bought a book at the airport Suvarnabuhmi, titled: "Google speaks", written by Janet Lowe.

I was interested already some time in the company Google, so an opportunity to get a better understanding, and I would have ample time to read during my visit to the Philippines.

Since some time I use several products of this company and for free (browser (Chrome), mail (Gmail), Blogger,Google earth and map), but even more important, they are good products, well designed and rich of functionality. I like them much more than Microsoft's products, especially since Microsoft started with their Live products.

The book gives an insight view in how the company started, about the two guys Larry Page and Sergey Brin who started the company some 12 years ago, where it all started in Stanford University, where other IT companies started as well, the business model and strategy, policy, privacy problems, and many many more.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sari-sari and OFW


As usually the departure time for the ride to the airport was far too early. My flight departure is 2.20 p.m., so I suggested to depart from home at 7.00 a.m. It is a drive of 5 hours usually, but because it is Sunday, I assume the traffic will not be as on business days.

But because of the heavy rain of the last days and a chance of flooding , it was decided that we needed more slack in our planning, therefore we would leave 6 a.m.

We took an alternative road, because from Urdaneta to Tarlac is not a pleasant road to drive. A lot of tri-cycles, buses, trucks even on Sunday. So we went via Malasiqui, Bambayang and Saint Ignatius to Tarlac. It is a quite road, easy to drive and some times nice views, especially just before Tarlac, small hills with rice terraces.

From Tarlac we took the new SCTEX toll-way to Dau and from there the NLEX to Manila. In total ca. 250 peso toll. Manila did have no traffic jams, so we arrived at NAIA at 10.30 a.m., where I had to wait an hour before the check-in gates were opened. This blog was written in the lounge and I will publish it when I am back in Bangkok later today.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Kanin Club - Laguna, Sta. Rosa


It is almost the end of my visit to the Philippines today.
Tomorrow, Friday, I will go to my family in-law, north Luzon. It will be a trip of 5 to 6 hours by bus, so I decided to leave here from the hotel at 11 am. On Sunday I will fly back to Thailand, so again 5-6 hours, but I will ask my brother in law to bring me to the airport with our car, a van that we bought early this year.

Just because it is the last day with the IT team on the plant, I have invited them for a lunch meal in a Filipino restaurant in Sta. Rosa. It is called the Kanin Club. My Tagalog language knowledge is very limited, but I believe Kanin is a brand of rice, perhaps it has more meanings, if so let me know by posting a comment.

Let me introduce the team, from left to right around the table:
Jhay, Lolo, Dennis, Tetet, Ida, Nonie, James.

The restaurant is usually very busy during lunch time. You have to book or be in before 12 am. Business people are coming for lunch from many places, as the business population in the direct environment is not too large as it seems.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Biking

Biking exercise in a park in Malden, Netherlands
Copy of my personal email today to my wife, after a long phone call.

Hello darling,
I am very proud that you can really bike now. You are getting a real Dutch woman. Please make sure you are not getting too much Dutch, because then we have a reversed cultural potential conflict.
It is good that you keep trying and get experience, even if you are sometimes a bit nervous or fall down. You know, if you don't fall while learning to bike, you will never be able to bike relaxed. Everyone is nervous in the beginning and will fall down, that is normal.
When we are together again (I hope it will be soon) we can enjoy together, whether it is in the Netherlands, in Thailand or in the Philippines, it doesn't matter, biking is really nice to do and good for your (and of course my) body.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Vivere




One of my Asian projects is in the Philippines, in a factory south of Manila, called Cabuyao. I am here now for 2 weeks, to help local management to prepare for the new way of working with their IT systems.

Despite an awful pain low in my back since last week, I went yesterday, Saturday, to the large shopping center called "Festival Super Mall" opposite of my hotel "Vivere Suites". It's a 31 storey building, with suites of different sizes and a small restaurant on the 31st level with a splendid view over Laguna bay and, if the air is clear, you can see the sky-line of Manila. It is opposite of the hotel were I resided the last time, called "Bellevue", a French word, meaning: "nice view".

The whole area is a business and modern living development area, many new business buildings, shopping malls and sub-divisions for the Philipino who can afford to live in such sub-divisions.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Centipede


Some time ago, it was on the bridge over the klong (channel) to enter the Dutch embassy in Bangkok, I saw this creature walking.

Luckily I had my camera with me and could take this picture. I am not sure whether it is a he or she, so I will call it it.

Official name of this creature is centipede, sometimes called milipede, in English respectively hundred-feet or thousand-feet. It seems that there are many variants of it, smaller than this one, but also some are bigger, the biggest one found 30 cm. I guess the size of this one was 8-10 cm.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Thanpuying apartment


Almost a year ago, since september 2008, I am living in the Thanpuying Suites building. For me it is really an excellent environment to relax. It is quiet, not many guests, sufficient facilities, clean, a small swimming pool and last but not least in the middle of north Bangkok, but it gives me the feeling of the country side.

It is only 5 minutes walk to the main road (soi 54) in this area and again 10 minutes to the Ngam Wong Wam, opposite of Kasetsart university and close to the Vibhavadi hospital. The area is called Chatu Chak.

Since I am here I have had a room on the 8th floor, 11th and 12th. This year I am on the 12th floor. It is a one bed room style apartment, okay for me alone. Last year I had a 2 bed room type, as I expected some visitors. That one had a better view than this one.

Last year I lived here with my wife, until february 2009. We went back to Europe for a month, then she decided to stay, as the apartment was not her favourite, she likes more the Hong Kong style of living. That is you go down from your apartment and ... wow an awfull lot of people walking around, shopping, walking to the office, always busy and cheap, the paradise she called it.

My paradise is here, quiet, relaxing. Before there was as well a small restaurant near the pool on level 5, but since the number of guests is gone down, maybe it has to do with the economic crisis, they fired the cooking maid and closed the restaurant.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Takraw


When I want to go for shopping or visiting one of my favorite restaurants, I have to walk a few minutes to the main road (soi) thru the area where I live.

One of the buildings that I pass by, was an unfinished apartment building of 5 storeys, when I settled here in August 2008. Only the walls and floors were done, but since half a year suddenly they started to finish the building. The people who are doing the work are living in the apartment with their families, I guess it are 4-5 families. Also the women are doing construction work like mixing cement. It is now almost finished.

Opposite of the apartment where they temporarily live is a small area with grass and dirt, and between 5.30 and 6.30 pm, just before it gets dark, the guys are playing there a game. It is like volley ball, but in stead of using their hands, they use all other parts of the body, except their hands. The ball is rather small, very light and it looks like it's made of bamboo.

Sarah


When I was waiting July 4 at Schiphol airport for the gate to be opened for my flight to Bangkok, I looked around in one of the bookstores and found a best seller titled: "Haar naam was Sarah" a dutch translation of the original title: "Sarah's key".

As the cover told me that it was about the holocaust in 2nd worldwar in France, I was interested. I read a lot about this period in history, remember I was born just after the war, but was not familiar with what happened in France those years.

And indeed what was said by several criticasters, "you can't stop reading" or "very emotional, you can't keep your eyes dry", is really true, it happened to me.

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.
Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.
Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.

Source: readinggroupguides

Acropolis


I don't like to cite other sources, but in this case I do. As I am not a historian of the old Latin and Greece histories, I prefer to put here a brief history description of the site we have visited during our Athens visit. It is easy to find more and detailed descriptions on sites like Wikipedia, which I used for this summary.

Quote:
Acropolis (Gr. akros, akron,[1] edge, extremity + polis, city, pl. acropoleis) literally means city on the edge (or extremity). In Greek, Acropolis means "Highest City". For purposes of defense, early settlers naturally chose elevated ground, frequently a hill with precipitous sides. In many parts of the world, these early citadels became the nuclei of large cities, which grew up on the surrounding lower ground, such as modern Rome.
The word Acropolis, although Greek in origin and associated primarily with the Greek cities Athens, Argos, Thebes, and Corinth (with its Acrocorinth), may be applied generically to all such citadels, including Rome, Jerusalem, Celtic Bratislava, many in Asia Minor, or even Castle Rock in Edinburgh.
The most famous example is the Acropolis of Athens,[2] which, by reason of its historical associations and the several famous buildings erected upon it (most notably the Parthenon), is known without qualification as the Acropolis. Although originating in the mainland of Greece, use of the acropolis model quickly spread to Greek colonies such as the Dorian Lato on Crete during the Archaic Period.
The Acropolis is a flat-topped rock which rises 150 m (490 ft) above sea level in the city of Athens, with a surface area of about 3 hectares. It was also known as Cecropia, after the legendary serpent-man, Cecrops, the first Athenian king.
Unquote.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Skiathos


My work in Asia Pacific is so hectic that I even cannot really plan a holiday as I was used to do when I worked in Europe. The only opportunity I could think of to have a short holiday break was end of June. In July I have to complete my project in the Philippines and in August I have to start a project in Malaysia and one in Thailand.

Just 2 days before I would land in Amsterdam I could call my wife to tell her that I was coming back for two weeks and that we had to find a last minute trip to Greece. I had never been in Greece and she either. My children and mother visited Greece already, my son even two times. So we were excited.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Elephant


If you happen to be in Bangkok, there is a chance that you suddenly are confronted with an elephant on the street or boardwalk.

It happened to me already several times, usually in the evening, but I believe that is because usually I am walking around in the evening, going to a restaurant or shopping place.

For me it was always a bit shaky, as it comes so unexpectedly.

The first time was when we had a birthday dinner in a restaurant on Sukhumvit road, the first month of our stay in Thailand, when we still stayed in a hotel, close to the restaurant. It was dark already and suddenly at the other side of the road there was a big one walking slowly with his driver.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Jasmin Tower Office


Almost every day I go to my office from Bangkok north to Nonthaburi. It's a 12 kilometers ride. If there is no traffic congestion, it takes about 15 minutes. It costs me 100 baht, so 2 euro. Usually in the morning there is not a lot of congestion, but in the evening there is, especially when there is flooding from the heavy tropical rains.

The office is in the Jasmin tower, close to the new mall @ Pakkret road, opened last year. If the air is clean, which is an exception, you can see the Bangkok downtown skyline very well.

The floor is shared with another company, we are in the upper half of the 31 storey building. The office is not very specific, just as everywhere in the world. However, what is different from my office in Europe, is that here I guess 50% is female, in Europe maybe 10%. I am talking now about the IT industry, in other industry area's it might be different.

And when I say female, it's really female. How they dress, walk and behave. They are much more fashion oriented than in any other country I have been, in Asia, in Europe as well as the America's. Although I think the Philippines comes close. Also in the office in Cabuyao, Laguna, where I've been several times, they know how to dress but not like in Bangkok, and amazingly also in that office the female population is about 50% maybe even higher.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Black Canyon Coffee


Today and yesterday I woke up early, mind you it's weekend, went to the swimming pool, on the 5th floor of the apartment building, and did my swimming exercise of 10 laps of 10 meter, so one hundred meters. That is a lot for Lolo, isn't it. I can feel it in my arm.

Then take a rest on one of the pool beds and read my book, this time I am reading "Bourne Supremacy" of Robert Ludlum. Seems to be the second of a trilogy.

At 11 a.m. back to my apartment, dress and walk to the main road, take a taxi to Central Plaza, Lad Prao. This is one of the older large shopping malls in Bangkok, but always very busy, most are young people as you see in every shopping mall. It seems that most elderly people do not like this kind of shopping malls, or have no money to spend.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Biking in Bangkok

Father and son posing during the trip
A famous activity for many Dutch people coming to Thailand, usually via Bangkok, is to join a biking tour of the Dutch guy Co van Kesteren. I met Co when I did my second tour, which was four weeks ago. Indeed most of the people are Dutch, probably because biking is a typical Dutch habit. Everyone in The Netherlands has a bike, some have even two. Children of 3 to 4 years of age are already learning to ride the bike.

The first tour I did was the full day tour, which brings you by train to the outskirts of Bangkok, direction of the new airport, Suvarnabumi. It brings you really into the plantations and rice fields, along the many klongs (water ways) and between the fields, it seems the people living there, most are farmer, have not seen foreigners in their area before. After an excellent lunch, returning to Bangkok city by boat, a bit biking again and with the Sky train back to Bangkok center and crossing through China Town. You should be healthy to do this tour, it is from 7 am to 6 pm and keeps you really awake. I was so tired after this tour, could hardly walk.

Who is LOLO?


You may wonder who is LOLO. Well the answer is simple, I am Lolo.
Lolo is the word used in the Philippines for grandfather or "opa" in Dutch.

To be honest, I am not really a Lolo yet, as my children have no children, but in the Philippines when you are at my age, they call you Lolo, nevermind the number of grandchildren you have, even if zero. It is more related to your age than to your family status.

I like the word Lolo as it looks like LOL and that has to do with "laughing out loud" or "love on love". My definition is: "Live Our Life Ontime " so before you die.

Now I see your next question already:

"What the hell has the Philippines to do with it, because you are in Thailand, are you?"

Okay, I am right now in Thailand, but my Filipina wife is in Europe and our Filipino family relatives are in the Philippines, that's why my reference is now the Philippines.

Hope this gives you some background info on where I am coming from, my relations and what you can expect, given the family bonds and geographical relations.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

JJ market Bangkok


Shopping in JJ market
My son is going around in Thailand for 2 months, but lost his passport last Sunday, actually it was stolen including his money and bankcard, so he had to come to Bangkok to apply for a temporary passport from the Dutch embassy.

Via a Thai bank I sent some money to the owner of the guesthouse where he was at the time.

All the paperwork has been done and until his flight back to Europe he stays here with me in my Bangkok apartment.

So today I brought him to Chatu Chak market (or JJ market), the biggest market in the world, that is what some reports say, to buy some small presents for his mum and friends.

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