Living on The IslE of Mull

So many things have changed this year that we didn’t have time for proper correspondence… Yet as we are getting more settled now, there is hope for improvement…

As Ursula has taken on her job in Iona Community (www.iona.org.uk) as programme coordinator and is located on Iona, I decided (as I cannot be all the time on Iona) to remain in Mull. On the map below the right arrow is where our camper home is stationed and the left where Ursula works and lives (and sometimes we change places Smiley)

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It’s a nice, peaceful spot with gorgeous views and lovely people

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That’s the view just behind the white house on the above picture… Sound of Mull and mainland Scotland

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The upper part of the camping is composed of these tents which will be quite busy in summertime. I guess I will relocate then to the ferry port of Fionnaphort next to the Iona ferry. Due to satellite internet this will be no problem. In addition the camper has solar panels and a 2 KW inverter so even my induction cooking plate will work… Smiley

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The other side of the camping

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Our lifeline to Oban

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And again opposite (mainland)

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On Monday, Ursula’s day off, we then took the chance to have a small hike just outside the village

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Amazing nature and just peace

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Autumn is really there.. We’ll see how it is in summer – the stream invites to swim, yet the temperature might not improve… Smiley

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So nice…

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I made her shy with the camera…

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Last night winter arrived finally…

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Opposite is the Ben Nevis range (at Fort Williams)

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And snow is coming down to 150 m already…

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Breath-Taking!

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So, these were just some very first impressions – stay tuned for more!

India impressions

In this post I am trying to simply share some of the impressions we got while walking around in Bangalore and Mumbai – mostly without further ado and comment. In all fairness these places are a riot to all senses – they smell, they are loud, they are humid, soiled, dirty, chose your own attribute… There is not much to see in India aside India itself. Temples and old buildings don’t last very long time wise (especially as they are repetitive) – so in the end you just have to absorb what is around you. So just enjoy…

Alternative transportation…

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Lalbagh garden in Bangalore – one of the beautiful parts of it…

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What a tree

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The old bird house – totally run down

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The aquarium

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Well, there hasn’t been any maintenance for a long time… And they even charge entrance fee for the park…

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Nandi temple

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Generations of gee application

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a small bull…

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Typical traffic congestion (really typical!)

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The ITC Windsor hotel

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Preparations for Sunday brunch

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A cosy place to spend some time…

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Especially with the Champaign option with unlimited refill Zwinkerndes Smiley We made sure that this didn’t pay out for them… Verlegenes Smiley

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Indian Food counter

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The Magician

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Looks more like a crook Zwinkerndes Smiley

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To see a little bit more of India we decided to have a flight to Mumbai (Bombay) and spend some 2 days (3 nights) there as well…

The city is for sure chaotic, hectic and (badly) smelly, but the views are amazing… At least from our window Zwinkerndes Smiley

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In the entrance hall

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Good example… No helmets…

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Sugar-cane crusher (to get the juice)

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Government street

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Instant shoe repair

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One of the 33 million spirits

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Lottery tickets sale

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Public cricket grounds

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34° and 85% humidity…

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Cooling down…

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A very typical example of the public infrastructure

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Manual loading

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Motorcycles confiscated by the police

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I guess they haven’t been able to pay the fine or bribe…

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Street vendors without end

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Jesus – Indian taste Zwinkerndes Smiley

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Just to make sure at the entrance they sell these… You never know…

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Ok – that’s a nice typo

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Very comfy co-driver seat…

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Apartments (no kidding!)

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This is one of the better areas!

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Crawford market

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If you have to have a nap and no other option…

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Sandwich magician Smiley

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Next to it we got some lovely fresh coconut juice which is just the right thing on a hot day…

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Typical street view… Trauriges Smiley

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Better don’t check what they are smoking

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Our hotel interior

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Sunset from our room (due to the smog the sun disappears without any colours…)

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Nightly entertainment

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Some flowers we had in the room…

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Jackfruit in a small version…

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That looks rather annoyed…

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Funpark Zwinkerndes Smiley

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Lunch…

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Devotion in a Jain temple

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You have to take your shoes off before you enter any temple (this time Hindu)

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devotional requisites

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Fresh ice!

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Indians love sugar Zwinkerndes Smiley

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Around the temple

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As we got tired of almost everything we headed for a place to cool off… A nice pub!

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The beer was good and the waiters had funny t-shirts with slogans. The best two were:

  • Avoid hangovers – stay drunk
  • I swear by Drunk – I am not God

Any resemblance?

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Fake old windows…

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Sleeping II

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And now without too many words just pure impressions

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Who says you cannot get 6 ladies in a taxi?

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The betel leaves are filled with condiments and then chewed. The spit turns red so most walls (where people spit against – brr….) are red, too Trauriges Smiley

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Keep the cow close-by Zwinkerndes Smiley

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Sacred cow-dung

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A Jain priest

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You better take care…

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On the way back…

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Bengaluru First Impressions

So, here I am in Bangalore or as it’s now officially called Bengaluru, the capital of the state of Karnataka in India. It’s 34° warm, I am rather tired as the plane landed (on time…) at 01:50 am and we have 4.5 h time zone difference, yet I am still in good mood and recovering rather well from the first culture shocks… The good thing is that people are tremendously friendly and nice and even if the English is sometimes more on the creative side we do understand each other! The hotel is a bit bland and there is not terrible much to do outside, but this was expected as Whitefield (where the we are located) used to be a sleepy village for the English some 15 km off Bengaluru centre and now is the heart of the Indian IT industry.

So why am I here? Pretty easy – my customer has sent me here to pass knowledge to their Indian subsidiary as they are supposed to take over support and maintenance in some 7 months (gosh, what a learning curve Zwinkerndes Smiley). So, I better get accustomed to it all, as it will be a quite frequent encounter the next months…

To share some very first impressions here are some images taken just up and down the main road around the hotel:

Fresh coconut are a delight when it is warm

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Bon appetit!

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Let’s see when he will end in a curry…

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All the old buildings are taken down one by one to build larger structures

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Like my hotel

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You don’t have to worry about air-condition. There is for sure a lot of air getting through this bus Zwinkerndes Smiley

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Freshly squeezed fruit juice

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Skilled opening of a coconut

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Alternative transportation

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Attempted robbery or simply black headgear?

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Yes, that’s what we need!

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Don’t worry about the parking sign Zwinkerndes Smiley

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Monsoon proof cabling

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Electricity distribution can be challenging…

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At least we know that the communication is in good hands

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Building sites and rubbish everywhere

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Very mundane if that play of word is allowed… Don’t get too close

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Cadaques

Cadaques and the surrounding area of Cap the Creus is always worth going to. The coastline is sublime, the views outstanding and the food great.

It was a bit later so the sun was just about to set:

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Creating wonderful contrasts

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And then, when it nearly was down the last rays…

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The last coffee with a view from the lighthouse over the coast

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Back in Thailand

To be honest Thailand is a little bit more of a second sunny home for us than a prime holiday destination. Mainly due to the fact that we travelled it up and down quite extensively and there is not really that much to see (aside temples, which get repetitive after some time) we usually opt out to have a very relaxed time there – drink and vegetate is the motto… Hiking, which would be our alternative pattern for most countries is off limits (for us) as they have no real hiking paths and a rather disturbing amount of extremely dangerous snakes, scorpions, etc. In general far more unpleasant things than worth the effort. Yet it is a paradise for birdies (those people with the huge binoculars / monoculars sitting behind shelters in scorching heat and humidity, getting gnawed by all kind of biting and stinging insects) and other very patient and obedient observers…

Let’s face it – we were there to get some sun, some nice food and some work done (for me). A nice and good compromise…

As I said the variety of wildlife is quite great… Anybody inside?

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Our small heaven – a private pond which is just the perfect thing to do at night…

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If they get the water clean before you arrive… If not you have to filter it then…

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Cockroaches usually come in 3 varieties, this one being a more beautiful and not so revolting one. In general we were quite lucky not to have too many (in the bungalow…) – yet the side effect is the extensive use of pesticides which has harmful consequences on humans as well. Ursula (being much lighter and therefore much easier affected) had 2 cases of pesticide poisoning as they spray everywhere and the air con ventilation distributes the whole mess over the beach pub area…

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I couldn’t help it…

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Enjoying your dinner in a sunken eatery is a wonderful experience

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Magic moments…

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The grow the biggest (coco) nuts in Thailand Zwinkerndes Smiley

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The lotuses are always outstanding beauties

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And again – trying to get in…

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A wasp

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Amazing colors

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breakfast in style…

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As I love to cook I convinced the executive chef to let me cook lunch for the staff (50 people)… That means a lot of ingredients Zwinkerndes Smiley

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6 Kg of cheese, …

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sorting through the supplies

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Just checking Zwinkerndes Smiley

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Now the food is in the steamer and time is running short

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Yep – we made it. Get the stuff over

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The cantina for the employees

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Cannelloni in 3 varieties – one vegetarian with Ricotta, herbs and tomato; one with chicken, fennel, carrots and mushrooms; one with pig, tomato and chilli… Fusion Smiley 

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They liked it Zwinkerndes Smiley Especially the process of filling the cannelloni was fun Zwinkerndes Smiley

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pure contemplation…

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As we wanted to explore options for other resorts (fur future visits) as well, we had a 3 day diversion to the South… The place was beautiful and the beach front perfect, yet again service, language, etc. – the old problems of Thailand (but somehow we thought worse than before – no idea why…). Perhaps the few people who are very good in service (and do speak some languages – ok, mainly English would be fine) are scattered among the ever growing list of properties.

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Most resorts in the South are built on old coconut plantations

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To see something as well we did an excursion to a lesser known park called Kui Buri National Park. You change cars at the ranger station and get driven around to see wild elephants and Gaur (an endemic bovine). It’s very non-intrusive (which is nice) and you have the chance to see something, yet luck has to be on your side… Smiley

The drive alone was worth it – you know the dogs with the tongue lolling in the wind? I felt pretty  much the same Smiley

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Into the wilderness

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There, there… Ok, what? Ah… gaur!

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Here they are!

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Beautiful landscape

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And again

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Those great brown-grey shades are a mother and child. As I said – very non-intrusive (which is very, very good!)

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Well, not everybody is so non-intrusive Zwinkerndes Smiley

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Especially being a puppy enjoying life to its possibilities

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Back at the hotel (for some reason there are almost only Swedish tourists – perhaps some management affiliation, etc.)

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We made the best of the place, the beach and the feeling!

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They keep live cattle which is surely interesting to see

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Especially the water buffalo is so nice! By the way – Indians (being mostly Hindus) like Buddhists would scarcely ever touch cow, but buffalo poses no problem. Well, mozzarella is buffalo milk as well Zwinkerndes Smiley

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The mimosa is a nice plant – especially when you touch it. As there were some technical problems with the blog writing software you have to click on the image to open the YouTube page where you can see what happens when the plant is touched.

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Back in Hua Hin (our “usual” place) I had another folly to make some bread as I really detested their wholesale white bread from the depths of my cooking heart… So I decided (as the executive chef had no idea about bread either and was really interested to learn) to make 3 different ones: chilli / basil, rosemary and plain white…

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As the oven in the breakfast lobby is quite good and used for pizza as well I privatized it…

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These ones are waiting to be made

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In the oven…

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That looks good!

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Loads of vapour in the air…

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Some results… In the end we had some 14 breads. All nice and lovely – yummy…

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Usually we had our happy-hour drinks here and this time I took the chance for some photos…

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The pond is just nice!

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Siam Sunray – our favourite

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Well, we are in Thailand Zwinkerndes Smiley

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Along the roadside you usually find small shrines. The funny thing is that these get replaced all the time and the old symbols are discard alongside the road… The “Place of the Fallen Gods”

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Interesting

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Looks really strange and bizarre

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This time the illumination for Chinese New Year was a bit scary

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Lotus flowers are always big show-offs

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What colour…

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Sheer beauty

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This colour we hadn’t seen before either

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A new banana

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On the way to our outside eatery with real good food. To give you an idea about prices… 1 soup (to share), 1 salad (papaya), 1 pork salad, 2 rice, 1 beer together will cost around 7-8 €; max, if you really, really indulge perhaps 15 – 18 (but then you can’t move anymore…)

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Our friend – she was so nice and gentle

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But not allowed to enter…

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Young Thais have to learn early about the typical way of driving around Zwinkerndes Smiley

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So, that’s it – we are back and jet-lagged… It was nice, but a bit sad as well. Tourism has changed as did the service industry. If it’s good or bad we don’t know yet. What we do know is that swimming (what most people are looking for in Thailand) in the sea is off-limits nowadays as more and more box-jellyfish (which are lethal!) are sighted. Ko Samui alone has around 38 different (and out of these around 20+ are deadly poisonous). Another huge problem is the use of pesticides and the resulting poisoning. Chilli is among the worst – herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, brr… the list is endless.

What amazed me most is that according to a recent report the use of fertilizer from 1960 to 2005 for growing rice has increased 99 times, yet the yield only 100%… That means for double the yield 99 times the fertilizer (and pesticides, etc.)?? Is that worth it???

Venice Biennale Aftermath

You’ve seen the pictures in B/W before – now comes the colour part Zwinkerndes Smiley As the title implies this is the big aftermath, the fallout of all images taken. Some bizarre, some strange, most nice, some ghastly – so be prepared and stay tuned…

Arrival was a bit chaotic as we flew to the other Venice airport (Treviso) and had to take a taxi to get to the real Venice airport (Marco Polo) as here the taxi boat from the hotel was supposed to pick us up.

Spending some time in Venice is no real problem…

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Aperol Spritz saves the day…

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Waiting for the taxi

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Here we go towards Murano

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Fantastic weather

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Selfi for live Smiley

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We got a room with a nice view

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Everything is old

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Challenges well mastered!

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Spies are amongst us…

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Well it’s really, really old

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and salt-water…

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The weather is changing

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service teams

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admiration or scepticism?

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another way of sitting

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the end…

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getting dark

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glass art

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and now some beautiful evening images

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learning photography

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there was something…

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art begins…

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Mother Nature

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ouch…

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After all, we are in Venice

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made from swallows nests

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species delight

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exodus

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selfie in old door

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speed of time rushing by

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Russian dance

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Camel in a box

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Art from Iran

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War is present…

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Amazing to get the effect by using the scrap metal

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Arab art

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Saddam in Space (they really planned to get a gold bust of Saddam into the orbit)

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war

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suicide rider

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sand faces

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war…

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Oh, I am different Zwinkerndes Smiley

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we couldn’t resist…

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Colour explosion

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taste explosion

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Vino sfusi explosion Zwinkerndes Smiley

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He didn’t like the boat at all

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This had to be!

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inner yards

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and channels

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that’s the old-fashioned way

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nice view

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small side-streets

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and yards again

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art goes on

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more or less

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This was very interesting – an old church with 3 altars and clothes of women to remind about the abuse of women in various parts of the world

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Where next?

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The next day started really grey again

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and wet Zwinkerndes Smiley

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play of colour

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Buried Soviet relicts

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Me trying to get the shot

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patiently waiting (well, actually getting upset about me taking pictures of her Zwinkerndes Smiley)

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nice gothic style

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in this mist colours always seem to explode

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another old church

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Christmas beer – or what happens to Santa after 4 pints…

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Back to safer places – art

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Called “Exodus” (or refugees in search for a better life)

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no words

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One of the very rare pieces where we liked a video installation

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That’s really old Venice

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View from above

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Onto the object

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Lamps in darkness

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An Orgy in Naples (replaying the procession with a twist)

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Smiley

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Both ways

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Very nice mirror scene

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Loads of good art!

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Somehow the book is misleading

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inner yards

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Cool

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Groovy

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Very spectacular – bronze figures surrounding the central statue

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Wicker baskets for babies

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poisoned door-knob (no, just kidding Zwinkerndes Smiley)

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Very good

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The hive was amazing

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Don’t let the monkeys in

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Cairo – rubbish processing district (real!)

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Art from scrap plastic

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Beautiful sculpture

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What happened to my last refund request?

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Shells inside out

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glass art

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No – this is reality at the boat-yard Smiley

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Very morbid

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reminds about “Grand Budapest Hotel”

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Nightmares

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Another way of “Mannekin Piss”

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Casanova’s escape – no idea how to unwind afterwards, yet…

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Bizarre Smiley

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“Last delight” – looks pretty much like Berlusconi

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Groovy

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Foggy Zwinkerndes Smiley

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Exodus

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Polish – German – Polish – German – …

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That would be a plate to use for a nice dinner Zwinkerndes Smiley

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Looks like my customers…

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Don’t fear delight

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Cool

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Grey and colour is always amazing

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Our very own installation Smiley 

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Farewell, Good-Bye – we come back for sure!

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November in Venice…

Barcelona – Venice with RyanAir is just a short flight and with current flight prices an even better bargain. Well, if you remember that Treviso is only called Venice airport, yet technically you are still 30 km from the city as such (Marco Polo would be the real one…). So the taxi was not planned for, but what can you do?

Our main motivation to go to Venice were the last days of the Biennale which we wanted to thoroughly enjoy a last time without the crowds..,

After the first day being pure sunshine we were afraid that it wouldn’t get gloomy this year (what we wanted, too), but we were lucky. Next morning the weather had changed Smiley 

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Lovely Smiley

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As most vaporettos (water taxi) were only going from Murano to the main island a lot of walking was on the agenda (good…)

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But in between it always cleared up

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So the fruit stalls could sell a thing or to as well

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Getting some lunch…

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Al fresco dining

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al fresco drinking?

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We love Venice…

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Ok, this picture was true 100 years ago as well…

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Very much the same

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Shipyard

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Overhauling the mighty gondolas

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Somehow this film got some problem, but it looks nice anyhow Zwinkerndes Smiley

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Amazing atmosphere

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Groovy

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The main church in Murano where we stayed (on the island, not in the church obviously)

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I warned you – we were here for art as well…

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Fantastic!

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The lion of Venice

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Just an art gallery in an old factory (glass presumably…)

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and a wonderful inner covered yard with a cistern

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exodus

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You know it yourself Zwinkerndes Smiley

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I like this one

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Very species correct Zwinkerndes Smiley

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And again outside…

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Sun peeking down

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Canale Grande once more

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on our way to Murano (or to the main island – who knows…)

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Cemetery

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Boat approaching

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It’s a boat – obviously

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The corner of the cemetery – now the last 400 m to Murano start

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Whatever happened – but it looks nice

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Our private boat (no, just no other passengers Zwinkerndes Smiley)

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Supply chain management is active

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Il Faro de Murano… Fitting – white in white

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Thailand 2015 Impressions

As flights are cheap and Thailand is suffering from lack of tourists we decided quite short-noticed to shift our domicile for some 15 days to the kingdom. Working is the same for me everywhere yet some advantages being there instead of here are granted Zwinkerndes Smiley So, being there mainly for the sun and work we still were able to catch some images and share them with you…

For instance a wonderful prying mantis

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Our wonderful nymphaea (don’t fret – I had to look it up myself…)

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Fishing boats are colourful

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and use artificial light to lure the pray (see the bulbs hanging down?)

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A lazy afternoon

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In town they were preparing for a festival for the river godess

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At least it was loud…

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These flower bouquets are set free in the river later on

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Has a kind of funeral feeling…

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A pair of queens? We couldn’t really figure out their role, but it must have something to do with high-heeled shoes (see later…)

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Oh boy – suicide by plummeting from the plateau

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3 on one bike is standard – 4 happens as well…

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Another approach to recycling bottles

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Where is my f… car?

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Rush, baby rush…

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One of the bouquets

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There are more queens waiting…

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Getting ready

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Here they go

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well, with the boot sill you need some assistance

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What a cool monkey

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He (she?) really enjoyed playing

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Almost ready to go…

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It’s really the same everywhere…

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Smart kids Smiley

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the pride of the village

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we had to admire the shoes!

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And another recycler

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The right lady found a bite and wouldn’t let her companion share the meal…

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Lovely curry!

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Squid drying in the sun

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ready to be taken home

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bringing the harvest in

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again – this time a different form

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it’s a simple task

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and then bringing them somewhere dry

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normally this is full of squid

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Our daily happy hour delight

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This dragonfly was not shy so I could shoot quite some time…

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The wingtips are just amazing

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as the whole body

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what elegance – how light built

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The main food area at night

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You sit in the salas literally in the pond

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Night lotus

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Just beautiful – yet the smell is quite, well…

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A chopped off leaf

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Palm middle structure

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Play with forms

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again

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I couldn’t resist

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Palm cell structure

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The main food area again – this time at daytime Smiley

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The pond with the salas where you can sit (and enjoy breakfast)

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View from your scrambled egg

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A beauty

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The way to our abode

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entries are nicely made…

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“Keep off”

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Another beauty

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Ursula’s glow worm

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At night we headed to Hua Hin to follow a recommendation. That dog was just cute on the way

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View from the restaurant on the pier to the next one with a bar (later more…)

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The restaurant

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Entry to the kitchen… It’s a bit suspicious

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The old piers are covered with restaurants

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And the small but practical kitchen

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Ursi with loads of sun Zwinkerndes Smiley

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squido-mania

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not too much to do…

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chatting around

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and bringing the clean dishes to the kitchen

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guard?

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Manual dishwasher

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All you need…

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View from the other pier (bar)

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nice lamps and cosy atmosphere

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Yellow spots in the dark Zwinkerndes Smiley

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Another singular customer

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Still life…

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Still life II

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Be illuminated

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Still life III

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Depressix melancholix

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Save on a leaf

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After the shower

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These are the most beautiful for us

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Spectacular

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Aren’t they?

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The small pollen…

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Hong Kong Impressions

After developing the first half of the B/W films here are some impressions of Hong Kong…

Skyline at night

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river reflections

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Room with a view

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Thunderstorm approaching

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abandoned village

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the forgotten door

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the last meal

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Good-Bye

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Farewell community

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I see you…

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What’s on the menu tonight?

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A nice fellow

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Loved by everyone

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play with B/W

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8 graces

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a faun?

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gentle and kind

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playing with compassion

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and sadness

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Cheers!

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Tuck in

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The aftermath

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discussions

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Back at Home

If your flight leaves at 23:10 local time and you want to really enjoy the last day with some nice breakfast, late check-out and no stress you have to really consider what to do. Hiking was no option (too tired, too warm, too lazy Zwinkerndes Smiley) and shopping neither (1001 other reasons). That limits your choices quite a bit in a city like Hong Kong which is principally founded on the principles of food, drink and shopping. As the Museum of Art is closed for 3 years as well, even more so. Well, in cases like that a harbour cruise is always a nice option…

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Especially in Hong Kong where the skyline is quite impressive (and this is only Hong Kong Island – Kowloon is even more)

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Skyscrapers everywhere

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Then trying to find something nice and not so heavy to bite for late lunch brought us to a “Sushi on the go” place where I was struggling with the new ordering system. Either it’s my thumb, my idea of ordering or simply my incompatibility with these systems, yet I found it pretty hard to get what I want. Somehow I prefer a waiter to address…

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This ad was just nice (and sad)

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As the sushi didn’t really last for long (it was just a nibble in between to keep the stomach from collapsing too much…) we ended in the restaurant of the 1st night which was good and affordable then and now!

Eating out in Hong Kong is something where you really have to evaluate the price to service ratio as it is one of the more expensive cities. You can eat quite good and very, very cheap (like Dim Sum in Tim Ho Wan where you pay 13 € in total for 2 people and are full, yet a bit on the classical and rich side) or some 80 € in a not so good Chinese Restaurant where you get loads of MSG and fat. If you really want to tweak the budget (what we usually did for breakfast) is to get something in the supermarket or a Dim Sum at the MTR (subway) where you have a full load for around 4 € / person… (multiply this by 400 – 500 and you probably have the calorie intake as well Fledermaus)

So a good ratio is approx. 35 – 55 € for 2 in a place like this where you will receive nice starters, good main courses plus vegetables (goes extra as does the rice) and a beer.

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Despite the way of cooking everybody seems very considerate about health and loads of miracle medicine is sold… Well, at least they don’t claim to cure cancer and in-grown toe nails

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This is where you get different food as well. We used places like this in Shanghai and other Chinese cities and it is quite good – here we just made pictures. Usually it’s eggs, yams, chestnut, etc. Things you can preserve warm for ages Smiley

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After some tough and rough 16h in total of flying time, which is no real fun in the cheapest fare class you get (= sardine feeling with a snoring Chinese next to you with a breath to stain silver, who is starting to talk in his dreams…), we arrived in Barcelona and surprisingly our luggage as well. Being fair what do you really expect for 550 € / person for a return ticket Barcelona – Hong Kong via Frankfurt which is a total of around 25,000 km flying distance…

So to relax a bit and lay out our wary bones we drove to Poble Sec, sat at the beach

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and just enjoyed a lovely Gin Tonic!

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