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To Maximate or Not to Maximate…An Easy Answer to an Easy Question

October 20, 2012

Living in Geneva can be extremely fun, however it can also get extremely expensive…especially if you are trying to get drunk. For some reason it took me a month to find this drink, but it was found. It is called the Maximator by the Amsterdam Beer Company. 11.6% alcohol content and that’s not even the best part. The best part…is their motto…”the demanding drinker’s choice.” Seriously, can it get any better?

Maximate!!!

That answer again is, yes it can get better. From their website, the description of the Amsterdam Maximator, “Its smooth taste combined with superior strength makes Amsterdam Maximator a treat for the true beer connoisseur.” Maximators are soooo good that you remember the first day you have them. Mine was August 1, 2012, a day that will forever be ingrained in my memory. Thank you Ahmed for introducing them to me.

Maximators have provided me with enough memories (and lost memories) for the rest of my life. So, if you are bored with life, Maximate, and life will be interesting.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absense of fear.” Mark Twain

Tips on Sleeping at an Airport on Purpose

October 13, 2012

Back to the sauce, folks. More first time experiences. As the title says, I ended up sleeping at an airport on purpose. I’ve slept at an airport before (I realized, I never wrote about it thought), in Bangkok airport due to visa issues.

Sleep On!!!

This time, I ended up back in Nice again, after spending time with the rich and famous in Monaco. I realized that my hostel I was going to stay overnight at was ridiculously far away and my flight was at six in the morning, therefore the only logical thing to do at this point was to buy some Maximators and head to the airport. With the wonders of the Internet, I found a website called “Sleeping in Airports,” which has great information on where to sleep and what to do at every airport.

Well after 10 PM, the airport died down. I was surprised at how many people started to camp out at the airport. Using the website I mentioned above, I found out where the best place to camp out was and took that spot. (Hint, terminal 1, right under the escalators…handicap seats have no bars separating chairs, so you can lie down. Sorry, handicap folks, I jacked your seats!)

So until about midnight, I spent time utilizing their free Wi-Fi Internet. I dozed off and at some time around 2 AM, I ended up waking up to two very beautiful flight attendants that were providing everyone with a care package that included water, chips, two muffins, and apple juice. These angels saved my starving stomach!

So for those that want to experience something different, have a early morning flight, or just save money, here are some tips of mine.

  1. Bring fun material, whether it’s your computer, books, or a ball to chase afterwards.
  2. Bring food and drinks, I may have gotten lucky, but some of these places close by 10 PM, if you are in a developing country, it may be difficult to get drinking water.
  3. Read the Sleeping in Airports website! They have great information and reviews by travelers for most airports!
  4. If the airport authorities give you a difficult time, just explain your situation to them…and be respectful!

“Failure is not in your vocabulary; rather, you convert all working experiences, be they positive or negative, into fuel for future success.” Anonymous

Monte Carlo…One Person’s Dream or the World’s Nightmare?

October 8, 2012

After sleeping on the beach, with no proper morning freshening up, we headed to Monte Carlo, Monaco. It takes less than 30 minutes from Nice to get there. My mission was to go to the hotel where James Bond played the poker game in Casino Royale.

My first impression of Monaco was that it was very hilly. The roads had these intense curves where you could barely see the cars in front of you. Further observations showed that Monaco is amazingly built. Somehow, they were able to build tunnels and buildings within the hills. In addition, almost every apartment complex had an amazing view of the pier and the super yachts. It was like a futuristic space city but with European historical architecture.

 

I have to admit, I though I was pretty unsensitized to some of the culture of the rich and famous. Living in Tenafly and Miami, I thought I saw the whole ridiculousness of it, but the Monegasques, these people take it to a next level. The parking lot of the Monte Carlo casino itself was probably the National GDP level of a small country. There were limited edition Mercedes and BMW…Rolls Royce, Ferraris, and Lambos were the norm. Then when you walk to the pier, the multitudes of the yachts were jaw dropping. The yachts just got bigger and bigger and bigger as you walked by them.

In Front of the Monte Carlo!

Working in development and for the World Health Organization, it makes me think of the amount of money that is wasted in luxury. Am I saying this because, I don’t have the access like this? I do feel that I would want to have this type of access, but would not want to spend money on that kind of luxury. Should one person’s dream and access be made available in return for the sacrifice of the poor parts of the world? Then again, to many folks, it is out of sight, out of mind.

These are all questions, I can’t answer right now, however going to Monaco was indeed an experience, and I had the chance of going into 007’s casino. Maybe the next time, I’ll be able to play a high stakes poker game there.

“Create experiences that leave you in awe, for these will be the highlights of your life.” Ryan Blair

Have You Ever Slept on a Beach?

October 3, 2012

You see those people sleeping there??? They just got maximated by Maximators.

Recently, I’ve been writing down a lot of my “first-time” experiences. Like the first time I rode a motorcycle, first time I got laid (by a girl), or first time I ate 100 shrimps in one night. I had another “first time” experiences when I was in Nice, France. After a crazy night out, we found out that in France, fires are not allowed at campsites. (Seriously, who goes camping without the notion of starting fires? What is wrong with the French, sometimes?) Therefore, we were kicked out of our campsite, and had to find a place to stay. Instead of even thinking about getting a hotel room or a hostel, all of us decided to go to Cannes for a nice dinner, and then head back to the beach. (I also believe Maximators were involved.)

The beach itself were rocky, however, with enough Maximators and Italians singing Italian songs, it was easy to fall asleep. Surprisingly, we were not hassled at all and there were many others doing the same thing as us. The culminating factor to the beach sleeping experience was waking up to the amazing sunrise and being able to see beautiful Nice. Oh, I forgot, we all ended up going to Monaco that afternoon, to mess with high society…the irony.

Back to the Beijing Part 3

September 23, 2012

It’s my first week back in Beijing. Although there has been a 6-month hiatus in writing this blog, a good Indian Guido friend of mine, Dip, encouraged me to jump-start this old thing. So before I start writing, I want to throw some shout outs. I had the privilege to meet up with my high school and pharmacy friends during my short week. Some of them drove up to 2 hours to meet with me and I really appreciate it. It really reminded me of how much I miss the US. Anyway, if you guys are reading this, thanks for everything…and keeping gripping and ripping, and grindin’ and ridin’. I also want to thank my family as well. It was great to go through our usual family tradition of incredible food and incredible Seinfeld-like arguments.

So shit! After literally 5 movies (by the way, the Avengers…amazing movie!), some weird beef with rice meal, a hot dog, and a cup of Haagen-Dazs ice cream (I was starving the whole time!), I am back in Beijing! I’ve made a couple of changes that I can see has already made life more convenient. The biggest significant change is moving to Dongzhimen. I have access to all the western amenities Beijing can offer. Though, they are still lacking on good HEARTY American bacon.

Beijing is so much better with a bicycle…I’m not talking about some piece of shit, ghetto-ass, bicycle, but an actual road bike, where as you ride it, one friend puts it, “there is no more Hiroki or a bike, but you are fused into one.” The bike brings more access to things and is ten times quicker than walking. Surprisingly, as backwards as Beijing and China can be, the concept of riding a bike is generations ahead.

Hopefully, in the next couple of months, I’ll be able to produce better writings. I foresee more posts about where to go/eat/drink in Beijing, what to see, and random crazy/crappy experiences living in China.

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” Pablo Picasso

Kro’s Nest During Chinese New Year

February 11, 2012

The best time to visit Beijing is during Chinese New Year. There are no people, no lines, and no traffic. Now, the downside of coming around that time is that no stores or restaurants are opened and most likely most tourist places are closed. So through this mess, as a foreigner (外国人), I ended up at a foreign pizza restaurant called Kro’s Nest.
It’s hard for me to like pizza. There are two types of pizzas I like, a nice New York slice, or a margherita pizza from Italy. Kro’s Nest was neither, however they had a nice variety of enormous,

Just because you make the biggest doesn't mean it's the best

exciting pizzas similar to a California Pizza Kitchen, such as the Hawaiian Pizza and BBQ Chicken Pizza. We ended up ordering the Hawaiian Pizza (medium size – RMB 129, which was a ginormous pizza which included pineapple, ham, and onions.) In addition, we ordered an order of Buffalo wings, (RMB 49) but I do not recommend them, as there were only 6 pieces and most importantly, were not well made.
Kro’s Nest does have a great beer selection for a restaurant in Beijing. With a selection of 6 or 7 beers on draft and more than twenty different types of bottles, it’s a great place to try different types of beers.
Service was normal for Beijing…that means it’s substandard and nothing to scream about. The waiters and waitress did however speak some English and had a small amount of extra patience for their customers. Overall, I would suggest going to this place with at least 4 people, before a night out.

A quick note: I have had many people ask me why I write random restaurant reviews. There are a million people and a handful of magazines out there, that write restaurant reviews. The truth is, I think a lot of “those” people write very biased reviews. I also would like to describe an honest non-bs description.

Mainland vs. Taiwan

January 18, 2012

Disclaimer: These are my opinions and observations. I would like to hear any comments you may have.

Taiwan 101

Spending about six months in Beijing has made me forget about how different Taiwan is compared to China. In China, I am usually told that I look Chinese, and I respond by telling them that my mother is from Taiwan. The other person, in turn, states that I am a zhongguoren, which basically means, I am Chinese. At this point, it is easier (and less mafan) to agree that I am Chinese, instead of disagreeing as Chinese people firmly believe that Taiwan is still part of China.

So when I landed in Taiwan, besides some of the differences I already knew, I recognized so many differences between the two people. Some of the differences start with the language: Taiwanese still use traditional Chinese characters and learn it through bo po mo fo method, while the mainlander use simplified Chinese characters and learn it through the easier pinyin (especially for westerners) method. In addition, there are many Japanese words such as kawaii (cute) that are frequently used and understood by the Taiwanese. Some of the older generation Taiwanese still use and understand Japanese. Whenever I meet older folks, I generally communicate with them in Japanese. Taiwanese generally have no animosity towards Japanese, in fact, it’s the complete opposite of the mainlanders.

I can keep on going about the differences, however, I would like to share the biggest differences I observed during my time here.

  1. 1/14/2012 was voting day for the Taiwanese. It was so strange to watch how enthusiastic the Taiwanese were about the political parties. If one usually asks a mainlander about political situation, for obvious reasons, it’s usually a robotic and bland answer, however, the intensity of the Taiwanese people’s thoughts and beliefs was a fresh view. More than 80% of the people voted! It was so intense, that after the winner was announced, many people from the losing party cried.
  2. There are less anti-Japanese sentiments in Taiwan. There are many Japanese products. In fact, the foreign language section at bookstores is broken down to Japanese language, and then all the other foreign language sections. Most signs are in Chinese, English, and Japanese.
  3. People recognize that you may not understand or speak Chinese. When this occurs, they will take the time to have extra patience with you and attempt to communicate with you in your native language.
  4. No unnecessary honking. There is less traffic; there is also an emphasis on pedestrian and bikers first. Drivers will wait for pedestrians to walk before attempting to drive forward. In addition, honking is at a minimum from both bicycles and cars.
  5. Since I have been in Taipei, I haven’t seen or heard one person spit. I haven’t seen spit droppings in random indoor places. I’m not saying it’s perfect…in Kaohsiung, I saw about a handful of cases of people spitting…outside.

It seems spending time in China has brought out my cultural identity as a Taiwanese as in so many aspects, we are so different from the mainlanders.

“When a person has an accent, it means he can speak one more language than you”