Forget the title of this post for now, and focus on the following lines. I don’t write much, so do not worry: it will not take more than 2 minutes to get bamboozled!
Hygge = A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)
I got an invitation to attend a convention in Vegas, so I didn’t let it go without a vacation. I am a fan of unplanned trips but this one was really planned: I was on a low budget, I knew some cool people traveling too I can share with few things and with which I could spice up things, so we co-planned.
**Some photos below are not mine, for privacy consideration**
I wanted to see nature first, so I visited the Instagram account Beautiful Destinations. for ideas. We shortlisted 4 places: Grand Canyon, Tahoe Lake, Death Valley and Yosemite Park. The cool people were already aligned, and I am comfortable driving long distances.
I can be a poet just by driving in the US with these lovely people !
Grand Canyon: lots of photos to take, just don’t feed the squirrels. 5 hours driving from Vegas.
Death Valley: one photo to take but make sure you have your contingency plans (water, gas tank full…). The place is hot, and in the middle of nowhere.
Yosemite: it was on fire for weeks already, and closed for visits. We changed our plan and we spent the night in Lee Vining & Mono Lake, a good place for hiking and camping. The next morning was just great!
Lake Tahoe: my disappointment as I had high expectations. Probably going to the “South Lake” wasn’t a good idea, because I saw only people and families swimming. But we had fun touring around.
I wanted to add a city stay (other than Vegas), but I got many options. The cool people decided on San Francisco and Los Angeles, and with the coolest of them we decided to head to SF. Some of us are really geek and more into Silicon Valley and Stanford than into Hollywood and Santa Monica !
Probably the only city in the US when it is OK to deal in cash for everything. It is a small , but an open bar (do whatever you like, behind closed doors). After a while, I stopped thinking if anything I was getting into was legal. The only thing I can share in this post is that upgrading to a hotel suite is a good idea for the long nights. Otherwise, Gordon Ramsey’s Hell Kitchen, David Copperfield’s Show, Madame Tussaud’s Museum and other things you can do here. By the way, the North Outlet Mall has cheap prices, try Tommy Hilfiger!
Probably just watch The Hangover and Ocean’s Eleven to have an idea about Vegas
The first thing I saw in SF was a homeless guy injecting a heroin syringe. The second I saw was 3 men running after a blonde girl in the street. I wasn’t surprised, but it destroyed the mood of the people with me.
Be careful of the cheap hotels, and stay far from Tenderloin and Streets #4, #5, #6, #7 and #8
Lots of things to do, but I liked driving across SF in a GoCar, visiting Alcatraz, the Fisherman Market, the Golden bridge Park, Cupertino, Palo Alto, Oackland (Home of Golden State Warriors! Yoohoo!!).
In the end..
It was “hygge”. With a small budget, and cool people, you are guaranteed to have fan. The US trip for me was 12 days, 3 states, driving more than a 1000 miles, a bag full of gifts and new clothes, and more importantly, I gained new friends.
To see my itinerary on a map click here
From Dubai to Dublin there are 7 hours in a plane, and a lot of logistics to take care of (I was grabbing any winter staff from my closet for). Yes I didn’t get flu and I have spent 2 amazing weeks in my first European destination ! (Well, Malta and Turkey are not really representative of Europe).
So, I had the chance to visit Dublin as part of my onboarding trainings, and I liked what I saw. At least I had my GameBoy collection of consoles and games finally !
Here are some facts:
“Dublin is now a truly cosmopolitan capital, with an influx of people, energy and ideas infusing the ever-beguiling, multi-layered city with fresh flavors and kaleidoscopic colors” Lonely Planet
Dublin is really small
I am not used to small cities, but I was expecting Dublin to be bigger than what I saw, to host the operations centers for a lot of multinational companies. Literally 2 days hop on-hop off are more than enough to see most of Dublin’s wonders. But to know the bars, you may need a year.
“Even a short stay in Dublin is like walking into literary history, accompanied by music.” LATimes.com
Attractive for international young talents
I think this is because it is attracting lots of young talents to work for multinationals. So you see indians, british, arabs, north africans, nordics, ze french .. and of course Irish !
A destination for multinationals
Google, Facebook, Microsoft, SalesForce, SAP … Most of the IT Companies base their operations there, for lots of reasons (thank you D. Reagan !)
Very unique people putting the work-life balance first
Here are 16 rules to be a good dubliner (cliches alert!)
- you cycle to reach your workplace
- you run in the mornings / evenings (whenever it is not raining)
- you don’t come late in the morning, but you leave early at 4.30 or 5 pm
- you are probably sharing an apartment with 3 other people
- you probably eat a salad mainly at lunch, because you are 90% veggie
- you picnic with friends whenever the sun is out and you have time
- You grab a beer almost every night
- You love Guinness, but you usually order another brand
- You have a good big breakfast everyday
- You are lazy on Sundays, but you don’t miss St. Stephen’s on Saturday’s and Friday’s
- You make fun of the tourists that drink bottled spring water
- You don’t like it, but you cross the road when the light is red
- You have changed your job 3 times in the last 5 years (including internally)
- You are a welcoming person and you like to talk to new people
- You love Dublin, but you hate the taxes
- If you are not irish you would wonder why there still signs in Gaelic in every corner, and if you are Irish, you love Gaelic but you don’t use it.
Looking forward to visiting the loveliest and most raining city in Europe !
10 HK$ = 1.3 US$
During my last summer vacations, I had the chance to join two friends in their visit to Hong Kong. I took the cheapest airline company in the far east region, Air Asia, and arrived to ‘The Pearl of the Orient’ on August 18th for 4 days. For the housing, I have arranged a 3-bedroom cheap apartment in Kowloon through Airbnb.com. So let’s get into the best practices.
- The airport:
HKIA is the biggest airport I have visited ever. It is built on a whole island and has 2 giant terminals with 120 gates. It is so big that we transit from gate to another by a metro.
- Before leaving the airport
I have taken the 4GB data SIM card for 118 HK$. Also, before leaving to the meeting area, you will find a telephone to call for free, and a lot of vouchers to be used during your stay.
- The transport from the airport
There are 2 means: a taxi (will cost you 300 HK$) or the ‘Airport Express’ metro (the cheapest pass is about 80 HK$). The metro arrives every 20 minutes and the trip from Hong Kong (the island) to the airport takes 30 minutes, and from Kowloon to the Airport 20 minutes.
- The transport between the lands:
The district of Hong Kong has 2 major lands: Hong Kong (the island) and Kowloon (the mainland). Hong Kong is city of business and parties when Kowloon is residential and more ‘Chinese’. There are 2 subways linking both lands, the tollgate for the eastern costs 20 HK$, and 70 HK$ for the western. The Ferry works until 11pm of you want to move between lands through the ocean, and it costs 2 HK$ only.
- The means of transport in the land:
- Metro: covers all the district (all lands)
- Tram: only in HK island in the busy streets. Small and has 2 floors, a must use.
- Bus: covers all lands. Has 2 floors and the price is 8HK$.
- Ferry: between lands.
- Express: a metro linking HongKong-Kowloon-Ying-Airport-AsiaWorldExpo
- Taxi: a bit disappointing. Sometimes the drivers refused to transport us.
- Hong Kong people and the English language:
I found very strange that 90% of the taxi drivers don’t speak English (not a single word). If we don’t count the few places full of expats, we will have only ‘Cantonese’ (and not mandarin) language. It was almost impossible to communicate with whoever, especially the taxi drivers with whom I used a combination of Google maps and Google translator to tell them where we want to go.
- The food:
Changing the food and trying the local things is not my thing. I stayed on an American or French breakfast and an Italian lunch. By the way, the food is tasty, and they really know how to do a good pizza.
- Is it expensive?
Yes, mainly for the transportation and food. I can give you some tips:
- Avoid taxis. You will save at least 50 HK$ at least on each trip (they are rude sometimes also)
- Take a 7-day pass for the metro, and not a one pass.
- Use the bus and enjoy the view from the 2nd floor. It is not expensive
- Things to do?
- ‘Star Ferry’ between the islands (HK, Kowloon, Macao)
- Take the tram to ‘Victoria Peak’ (in operation since 1888) and spend 4 hours there
- Have a drink in ‘Lan Kwal Fong’, Hong Kong’s bar area and the favorite place for expats’ evenings
- Visit ‘Expo Asia World’ (the metro station after the airport)
- Take the boat to ‘The Big Buddha’ and spend 4 hours there
- Thing not to do
- Don’t spit: this will cost you 5,000 HK$
- Don’t buy without haggling: never accept the first price they offer you. You can save at least 50% of it
- Don’t forget your phone, charged and with 4G should help you to travel between sights and talk to people
(Thanks Siwa for the proof reading)
The Far-east has always been my favourite destination. Yet, Japan comes in the top places I want to visit for multiple reasons. During my lifetime, I have heard a lot of exciting stories about the Japanese people and culture. Also, in my elementary studies, we studied a lot about this very developed country with almost no resources except human capital. Finally, in the last few years, I started being a little fan of Otaku. Anyway, I have dozens of reasons to visit Japan, but I couldn’t make it alone. I would rather be with friends to visit such a far and new place than start the adventure alone. So thanks for the people who shared this milestone with me !
In this note, I want to share basic things you should do to have a successful trip to Japan.
1- The airport to choose: Haneda!
Most airline companies offer flights to Tokyo’s 2 main airports, Narita and Haneda. Even though both airports are connected to the train/subway networks, it is better to be in Haneda because it is only 5 miles far from downtown when Narita is 50 miles away. This will help reach your hotel fast and reach the airport in few minutes on your return flight
2- The hotel to choose: Anyone!
The hotels in Tokyo look the same: clean, small and welcoming staff. So it is better to have a cheap 3 stars hotel near a subway station.
3- The public transport within the cities: The subway!
Let’s agree on something: Tokyo is much more than a city. The huge capital of Japan is inhabited by more than 20 million people. The best means of transport is the subway/metro, but there are at least 7 companies/lines that cover all the regions of the capital. The best thing to do is to buy a Suica card and to charge it whenever you need to continue your subway adventure. You will definitely need Google Maps (unless it is not obvious to use localization apps, a problem of clueless people like me) to know what metro to take, from which platform and at which station you have to switch the train. It is very common to switch 2-3 trains to arrive to the desired destination. Also, you should be aware that the Subway stations are so big and crowded that you can get lost easily. The metro stops at midnight. In the first days, it will be hard for you to familiarize yourself with the subway system of Tokyo, but you will manage after 2 days. One final thing: Avoid taxis, they are very expensive.
4- The transport between cities: it depends!
There is a lot of means of transport between cities. From Tokyo to Osaka for example, I found: The Shinkansen (the rapid train), the train, the aircraft and the bus. We chose the bus for economic and logistic reasons. Any choice among these is good. If you want a rapid one, go for the Shinkansen, if you want to avoid wasting a daytime trip in transit, you can have a night ride in a conformable bus where you can sleep. You can book your seat on willerexpress for example.
5- Internet connection: get a Data sim card!
Most of Japanese public places are covered by free Wi-Fis. But, it is a hassle because for each connection you may need a pass that can be purchased from an office that you cannot locate easily. I advise you to have a Data Sim card (Docomo telco operator, 3000 Yen = 25$, 100 Mb/day, valid for 15 days) to use it for your multiple apps and internet searches.
6- Japanese people: Respect, extreme discipline but no English!
The Japanese people are so respectful. You will rarely hear a loud voice in the street or in the subway (except late in the evening). When you buy something, the cashier will use a small plate to avoid taking/giving the money directly from/to your hand. The Japanese are always smiling and bowing when he talks to you. In the subway, all phones are silent, and they have always a section for old, handicaps and any kind of people with special needs (pregnant women…).
Also, the great people of Japan are so disciplined that in the streets and subway escalators, they use the left hand side of the road to walk to let the right side for people in hurry (just like the cars). You will never see a Japanese crossing the street when the light is red, even if the street is completely empty of cars.
One thing that you may find surprising: the Japanese people don’t speak English, or to be accurate, don’t want to speak in English, because they are ashamed to speak a language they are not good at. So don’t rely too much on asking people to know something, try to use your smartphone apps and ask people in emergencies.
7- How much is the budget?
Excluding the flight tickets, I can estimate that the hotel will cost you 60-80$ per night, the subway 5-8$ per day, a meal 6-15$, the 3G/4G 25$ (2 weeks), a Starbucks coffee 4$. Gifts are usually around 10$. You need an extra budget to visit some museums and temples. In total, I think 1000$ should be enough for a week in Tokyo!
8- Apps you should have!
TripAdvisor offers great offline applications per city. You can download the Tokyo/Osaka/Kyoto ones from your Smartphone store. Also, you will need Google maps to know how to go to any destination.
9- Places to visit: cities are so big that you will have to skip a lot of things!
We tried our best to visit the maximum number of places in Tokyo, but in one day, you cannot visit more than 3 things. So try to short-list one or two places from each category (museums, parks, stores, temples…) to visit during the stay! Yet, Shibuya (city centre: entertainment, shopping, night life…), Shinjuku (shopping, night life) and Akihabara (electronics, gaming, anime…) are top places to visit in Tokyo! For the cities, the top ones are Tokyo (the biggest and the most attractive city), Kyoto (the old capital of Japan with a lot of history) and Osaka (the new industrial pole in Japan).
10- The food in Japan: you can eat what you want!
I chose to answer this question last because I had a small problem with the Japanese meals. Since the local food is based on sea food and noodles, and since I am somehow anti-sea food and somehow vegetarian (except fried chicken and canned tuna), I have almost missed this great part of the Japanese culture. You can try the traditional Sushi (which is a bit different from the western Sushi) served on the turning table or any other typical local food. The 12 pieces of Sushi will cost you 6$ in a mid-class Japanese restaurant. Otherwise, the western restaurants are available. You can find Mc Donald’s, Italian restaurants …
Finally, Japan is a dream that just came true, but I am wondering what should be my next destination?
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 18,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
5 days before my vacations, I decided to go alone to a Fareast destination. Finally, I have chosen Bali over Thailand, because it is a small region I can discover in 5 days.
After 8 hours to Hong Kong and 5 hours to Bali, I arrived to my hotel in Kuta, the touristic centre of Bali. Next day, I tried to find interesting places in the region, but what I found was just Australians, beer and massage centres. I tried the Bintang (local beer), the magic mushroom (sorry to disappoint you, but I had to try it once), the massage (the Chinese one stills the best) and I bought some goods. Very bored and not fan of nightlife, I asked the girl in the reception to find me a driver with a car and an experience in tourism in Bali to explore the island. (the 2nd option is to rent a motorcycle, but I am not good in that).
So, the Places I visited in Bali in 3 days:
– Temples: Uluwatu, Tanah Lot, Mengwi and Lake Beratan’s
– Nature: Lake/mountain Batur, Lake Beratan and Gitgit waterfalls
– Beaches: Sanur (swimming), Nusa Dua Beach (private beach, Swimming) and Seminyak (surfing)
– Cities & Culture: Kuta-Legian-Seminyak (night life), Ubud (culture), Garuda Wisnu Kencana (Cultural park) and Tegalalang (rice fields)
– Zoo & co: Monkey forest (near Ubud), Bali Zoo (I forget where it is) and Lovina Beach (to see the daulphins)
– Arts & for presents: Celuk (silver), Batuan (wood carving)
I have missed a lot in Bali because of my short stay, so next time I go there I will do the rafting, parasailing and the diving.
Here are some photos :
Follow my instagram and twitter : @farkao or just click the link in http://farkao.me
منذ ٣ سنوات ، كنت لازلت طالبا عندما ايقنت ان حياة مهندس المعلوماتية ليست حلمي و ان المدرسة لن تحدد مستقبلي المهني. الارث الوحيد الذي تركته لي سنوات الدراسة هي كسب صداقة البعض و كيفية اتقان ما تعمل مهما كانت الظروف. في الجامعة، ما تعلمته خارج حصص التدريس كان دايما الاهم اتكوين شخصيتي و رسم احلامي. عشت احلام الكثير حتي بانت لي احلامي، و عاشرت الكثير حتي عرفت طريقا لاحلامي.
٣ سنوات مرت، و ايقنت ان التجربة الانسانية اهم من كل المواد و الامتحانات، بان ما قضيته في النوادي كان اكبر مساهم لصقل حياتي. كل ما بقي لي هي ذكريات تضحكني و تبكيني و ابتسامات الاصدقا و بعض النظريات العلمية.
المدرسة اهم من ساعات دراسة و شهادة، بل تجربة انسانية تختزل العالم بين اسوارها و دفي شخصياته ، و اهم سوال فيها : ماذا بعد؟
اليوم احتفل بمرور 8 اشهر منذ التحاقي بشركة مايكروسوفت. 8 أشهر كانت قصيرة لتعلم الكثير و مجاراة نسق عمل جنوني و لكنه لذيذ. أيقنت أن كل يوم هو فرصة لتعلم شيء جديد و أن تجتهد ما أستطعت لإدراك ما تريد. تعلمت أيضا أن لا قاعدة صحيحة للنجاح يجب اتباعها، فقط أن تقتنع بما تعمل و أن ترى الأمور دائمة بإيجابية و أن الفشل هو فرصة للإنطلاق أقوى، ثم ارتجل لتصل لما ترجوه. تعلمت أيضا أن التوحد حول قيم العمل و الإحترام و الجدية و التشجيع المتواصل و العقلية الإيجابية و توفير جانب من الحرية و الرفاهية هي سر نجاح أكبر المشاريع في هذا العالم محظوظ لأني اتواجد بأحد أجمل المدن في العالم و أشدها إنفتاحا و أمنا و أني أتعايش مع ثقافات مختلفة و زملاء صاروا أصدقاء أسعد بمصاحبتهم و مسامراتهم على اختلافنا و اختلافهم جعلو من التغيير أمر سهلا علي، قد مرت أشهر و لم أدرك غربة أو وحدة أو حنينا إلى ماضي، سوى إزدياد الوزن يؤرقني. محظوظ خاصة لأني أجمع شغفي للتكنولوجيا و الانترنات و قدراتي في التواصل زيادة على اطلاعي على مستقبل التكنولوجيا و إدارة الأعمال.
مر القليل و مازال الكثير لتعلمه و إتقانه، و المستقبل أفضل.
في تونس ليس لهم نفس الأوليات الحياتية التي لي.
مثال 1: السفر. منذ شهر و أنا نلوج في شكون باش يسافر قصد السياحة، فكانت الإجابات محبطة لنفس التعلات : لا مال، لا شغف بالسفر، إنشغال بالعمل، الكسل في رمضان (علاه صايمين بربي كي باش توليو تحتضرو في رمضان)، العائلة ما تخلنيش (نعم، يوجد من مازال ينتظر جواز من عائلته للسفر أو لا بعد ربع قرن من الحياة).
مثال 2: الزواج. طبعا الناس الكل تحب تعرس، بحكم الأغلبية العظمى ما زالت ما عاشتش حياة مشتركة كاملة و لمدة محترمة رغم مرور أكثر من عشرية على نهاية المراهقة و تهول النزوات اللبدية و الغريزة الطبيعية للعيش المشترك. طبعا، لأغلب اصدقائي، مؤسسة الزواج، رغم ما تطلبه من إمكانيات و إلتزامات، هي الإطار الشرعي الوحيد للوصول لهذه الغاية. المفارقة أن الجميع يتحدث عن زواج دون التفكير العميق في مشروع أطفال أو حب أو… ما يعكس قليلا أنه الدافع للزواج هو نفساني بحت قصد تلبية الغريزة اللبدية أو دفع الوحدة …