Archive for the 'travel' Category

The Human Disease

February 28th, 2009 | Category: travel

As I flew into land at Brisbane Airport I looked out the little port hole they give us on the world outside. It struck me first how many more houses I saw coming into land at Brisbane than I did at Melbourne but then I noticed something weird about it: the houses all bunched together attached either to rivers or large roads looking like infections working out from a vein in a human. When I looked out the other side (the benefit of being in such a small aircraft, a 737 with only six seats across and a small aisle) I noticed a similar effect except with the sea. Lots of houses built on the beach side with gaps where ‘nature’ lived. As I progressed into the city the ‘infection’ became denser with the natural environment succumbing to the built.

The human disease isn’t something new and was in fact a part of Agent Smith’s soliloquy on his hatred of humanity and how the machines came to categorise them. When you consider what we do from a height offered by aircraft (itself destructive to the ecosystem below) you wonder how we are different in some ways to viral infections in human. I feel that at this point its really a macro versus micro argument: we has humans at the macro level destroy the earth which given the scale of the earth is really comparative to the scale down of humans to a virus. We haven’t quite learnt to spread to different heavenly bodies yet but we’re working on that problem already primitively reaching towards the moon. We’ll get the skills down pat as we evolve the ability to infect other planets just as we evolved the ability to rapidly move from continent to continent to exploit it (first with sea travel and then with air travel). Like most horrible viral infections we’re destroying our host, the Earth, at an increasing rate and hoping that we’ll be able to keep it alive just long enough to infect somewhere else. Time will tell.

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Domestic Travel Observations

February 06th, 2009 | Category: travel

Travelling again within Australia, I notice that the number of obese people seems disproportionate to what the national average would suggest. There is perhaps a reasonable number of overweight people (myself) included. Another interesting observation.

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Today: 06/07 June 2008

June 08th, 2008 | Category: today,travel

Today was an interesting and rather long day of travel. Starting at 8am I begun my journey from small little Toowoomba (~100,000 people) to Munich (1.3million) with a few stops at small places like Brisbane (1.8million), Singpaore (4.5million) and London (7.3million in Greater London).

So by 10am I’d reached Brisbane International Airport, a bit early for the 2pm flight out on QANTAS to Singapore. After sitting around the airport for a while looking at things and trying to find power so that we could recharge the laptops we ended up boarding hte flight and had a rather uneventful flight from Brisbane to Singapore. The only thing of note was that the plane was perhaps the smallest of the whole lot and the inflight entertainment system’s personal LCD panels were very dark. It made it impossible to look at a movie or show that was very dark. Very bright colours are fine to watch however there were very little things there that would make it worth watching (chick flicks mostly).

Singapore was Singapore. Landed in the first terminal (along the C concourse) and wandered to get some rather horrible tasting coffee. This wasn’t the worst I’ve had however it is pretty much down there. It turns out that they have free wireless there and all you have to give over are some details so that the government can track you (normal if you’ve been in Singapore before). However I didn’t realise this until I walked past a sign (usefully facing the way towards the boarding gates behind a pillar) so I didn’t get much use of it. We’ll be spending a longer amount of time when we come back so that tied with the laptop access areas should make life a bit more bearable.

Then we lined up to board our plane to London (Heathrow). This wasn’t too bad until five minutes after the time that we were supposed to take off the captain announced that someone had been lost in the terminal. Eventually the person was decided to be permanantly lost and that in accordance with most airlines they were going to unload the baggage which takes about 20 minutes. Then it turned out that we needed to wait a further 45 minutes to get a free flight spot over Afghanistan (it would appear the airspace over Afghanistan is highly controlled by the Americans). During all of this the air conditioning system wasn’t functioning properly as it would in the air under full engine power, so whilst it was warm for me, I don’t think we quite got to the 28C that other parts of the plane got to (which was at the back and very hot). In the end, an hour and a half after we were supposed to depart we finally got up in the air. Great. This then delayed all of the meals and the like which ate into the sleeping time, however we managed to only be half an hour late. I got maybe three hours sleep on the flight before waking up at about midnight Munich local time – start of a long day.

London was mostly uneventful. Involved getting off in what really felt like a shed, wandering through very ‘regulated’ walk ways (had all sorts of nice barriers to remind you that you really are just cattle) down to the bus we needed to take to the new Terminal 5 (having landed in Terminal 4), which was about 20 minutes away.

Terminal 5 is the newest terminal and is very shiny and nice looking at the moment. We wandered up through the terminal, passing the customary security checks and made our way to Terminal 5b. For some silly reason we were required to take a small train (we waited longer for the train than the journey took, would have been able to walk it faster if there was the option) under the tarmac to the building opposite which stands alone and is a building surrounded completely by gates. Fortunately there was a coffee shop there that I got a massive cappuccino (more than I’m used to in Australia) before we boarded the next flight to Munich.

This next flight wasn’t so bad, an hour and a half flight and we managed to get off the ground early and into Munich early (score!). Now Munich was an interesting airport. It is perhaps the easiest airport I have come through in the world. I didn’t need to fill in any entry documentation at all, the guy merely looked at my passport, stamped it and I went to baggage control. From there I collected baggage and walked straight out the door. Everywhere else in the world I have to at least fill in some form or another however not here. It really felt too easy and not right (it’ll be harder to get back into Australia).

From here we managed to find a train (and work out how to get the ticket stamped) into town (~50 minutes), then onto the subway (~5min) and then walk to the hotel (~10min) to check in. Once checked in (and with a quick change) we continued life around Munich with some of the rest of the crowd including lunch, some sightseeing (really killing time before dinner) and dinner.

And evreything here is green.

Long day!

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Chaophya Park Hotel, Bangkok

February 26th, 2008 | Category: travel

After staying at the Sofitel Centara Grant in Bangkok, I actually enjoyed the Chaophya much better, even though it is allegedly rated lower than the Sofitel, the atmosphere is much nicer. I’m sure some useless services I don’t use were offered but quite frankly the ones I do like to use (shower, pool, internet) were in my mind better at the Chaophya than at the Sofitel. The room size was nice, the bathroom was wonderful and I had my own personal ADSL connection that seemed to run fine. My only disappointment was that it was all centrally linked to the power so the network would go off when I left the room which meant that it was hard to download anything when I was absent from my computer and it took a minute or so for the ADSL to get line sync when I first came into the room. The place has some nice features and a nice restaurant and bar.

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Hotel Sofitel Centara Grand, Bangkok

December 22nd, 2007 | Category: hotels,travel

The Sofitel was perhaps one of my least favourite locations offering slightly less comfortable facilities than the Chaophya Park Hotel that I stayed in immediately after it for half the price. Being the hotel it is, it offers everything at a price, and this is what is missing in the rating of the hotel. Being a four (or was it five) star hotel, it offers all of the things that those sorts of people seem to want (over expensive facilities, people to wait on you far too much, rather token services) but it doesn’t offer some of the more reasonable style features like decent affordable internet. To be honest the internet wasn’t that flash and costed far too much money. Comparably less than what I’ve paid in Australia, but compared to the price in Thailand its a bit much. The place is also getting on a bit age wise, and it shows in places. The hotel needs a full refurbishment in some places to make it look neater and more modern. Perhaps I have my own idea of standards but the Hotel Sofitel Centara Grand in Bangkok just doesn’t offer me enough to go back there. It is nice enough to stay in but for that price, there are better places.

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Toowoomba to Taiwan to Thailand

December 16th, 2007 | Category: travel

About a month ago I went on a trip overseas, I progressed from Toowoomba to Taiwan for a few days and then to Thailand. Each have their own features.

Toowoomba, Australia’s largest inland regional city has about about 150,000 people (the size of the new Toowoomba Regional Council, Toowoomba City has ~100,000). Remember this number, its two orders of magnitude less than the next two cities. Toowoomba’s main street is almost empty most of the time, and there is only one shopping centre that has a regular population of people who are there to socialise (the other shopping centre’s have people but for the most part they walk in and walk out). Toowoomba is small by the standards of where I’m going but conversely it is also big enough to have most features that you would need. The city has a reasonable living cost for Australia, is small enough that getting around the place is easy and it has a University, lots of good quality schools, a great theatre (which draws international acts as well as major national acts; additionally it provides a valuable resource for the local community) and movie theatre/cinema. All in all its a nice place to live but the place isn’t going anywhere, especially in a tech perspective: the jobs just aren’t there.

Taiwan (Taipei)
After a short trip through Brisbane (~1 million people) to Brisbane International Airport I’m on my way to Taipei via Bangkok. Taiwan, the “Republic of China”, is an interesting albeit ‘neon’ affair. There are lots of people, and they are everywhere. Taipei has about 10 million people, a few orders of magnitude larger than larger than Toowoomba, and the traffic shows it. I saw one round-a-bout with what must have been at least 10 (if not more) lights located in and around it. The traffic is a maze of things being constructed and changed all around, the place scares me in some respects (there is something about driving into traffic that really scares me). I spent some time wandering around the main station of Taipei (technically lost, my guide was Joomla!’s shortest development working group member Aini) which is larger than it seems with multiple shopping centres attached. The place is big and busy with a big tower like all good large cities with a restaurant at the top (and more than likely an expensive one at that).

Thailand (Bangkok)
So after a short trip to Taipei (surprisingly its got as much duty free shopping as Brisbane domestic airport) I flew to Thailand and Bangkok. Bangkok’s new Suvarnabhumi airport (a few years old now, its still shiny) is massive, and as you drive away I felt like I was in the US in a small way: massive amounts of highways going up and down and generally all over the place, up to 12 lanes or more in places. Bangkok is about the same population as Taipei and has massive traffic jams as well. I think my favourite was being on the wrong side of the hotel I was staying at for half an hour. If I could have been able to walk it I would have done it in about 10 minutes. Bangkok is a place where you can really get bang for your buck with a lot of things priced very cheaply if you get away from the large shopping centres. The side of the road markets or the larger night markets offer a great price if you have a bit of time to bargain (or even if you don’t but you can usually get it cheaper if you do!). I don’t mind Thailand as a place but my memory is driving back on one of the elevated highways and seeing the red sky due all of the smog. Another is going to the Honda R&D in Thailand…next to rice fields. So there are some interesting juxtapositions in this country that make it interesting to look at and see.

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Nasa Vegas Hotel, Bangkok

December 16th, 2007 | Category: hotels,travel

The Nasa Vegas Hotel in Bangkok is a budget hotel that I stayed in a few years back. To be honest I found the rooms to be quite good. It certainly shows its age, but the hotel is a pleasant place to stay. Whilst it wasn’t built when I was there (late 2005) and its still not done yet (late 2007) the new train that will go all the way out to the airport will have a station near this hotel which will make it even easier to utilise. At the time the one down side was the lack of internet facilities though this might have changed.

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Departing Thailand

November 09th, 2007 | Category: travel

I’m back in Thailand or more accurately back departing Thailand. This is my last flight. In a few hours I will wake up (or stay up all night, not sure yet) and leave Thailand again. Thailand is a great place with great people and I always enjoy myself when I’m in the country. Its a shame to leave in some respects though in others I will be happy to be home.

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