Monday, September 20, 2010

Thailand in 24 hrs

Continuing on from Vienna, I had a 24 hr layover in Bangkok, Thailand. It was actually quite amazing the amount of tourism one can fit in a short period of time!

Bangkok has a new-ish freeway, a lot of construction is currently happening. The airport has thai, chinese and english on most signs. On the ride from the airport, I see lots of american ads, companies, slumberger, for profit universities - stamford international school. The air berlin flight was 80% german/austrian, with only a few thai, asian. this is apparently a favorite vacation spot for germans and scandinavians.

The traffic lights are equipped with countdown timers that show how many seconds are left before the lights change!

Bangkok Taxi

The taxi cabs are a nifty mixture of hot pink, contruction orange, super bright blue, and yellow.  At night - the rickshaw cabs are sometimes so brightly lit up they look like they could fit in at an electric disneyland parade.

It feels like a sauna outside (and its only September). Once you get inside the airtrain its really cold, with the A/C blowing the sweat off of your face.

Outside Wat Po

The shopping malls are huge here, a lot like hong kongThe food market was really exotic, I don't recognize half of the foods there,  the rest were some kind of chinese food variation. the coconut ice cream with nuts was most excellent. Lots of chinese live here; they cannot tell I am foreigner at all. Its quite nice not to be harassed for once. I watch some Germans get hassled by street vendors, while I pass undetected. Some of the downtown shopping is more expensive than I had imagined, and are definitely similar to US prices.

Most of the people in the city are asian, but you do see some arabs wearing hijabs, indians,
various other kinds of middle eastern, white people. the biggest minority is black.

Many Buddhas

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Vienna in 48 hrs

A Freemason at Mozart's House
In September, I had a round the world ticket that included 3 stops, where I was able to do some sightseeing in addition to work:
  • Vienna  September 18th to 20th.
  • Bangkok  September 21st to 23rd.
  • Hong Kong  September 24th to 27th.

Vienna in the lovely downtown area. I had a chance to revisit the famous Spanish Riding School : Spanische Hofreitschule, yes that's right - Spanish. Originally the horses and training system was brought over by the Spanish when attempted to conquer this part of Europe centuries ago.

Quite a number of decades ago, my family visited Vienna in the dead of winter and we weren't able to see the horses but this time I made sure I got at least a quick peek at the famous Lippizan horses.

Vienna downtown

Vienna has wonderful cafes and shopping, in addition to the old historical sites, time out for coffee and slice of cake is always an good option. One other must tourist stop I made was to Mozart's house. It was a self guided audio tour and you can see the original rooms which are actually quite large and nice.  I learned a few things - Mozart was a freemason. One of the tutors for the licenstein tutors was a talented black man - one of the few that had such a position in the era!

LCD screen on Metalabs' Front Door for Events

In my 48 hours in Vienna, I also decided to include in my visit my first hackerspace abroad, Metalab. Here is a photo of the Metalab Hackspace front door sign, which announces events.

The engineering quality was really well done for an adhoc space. But then again I'm not surprised... Austrians, like Germans are known for their quality engineering. :)

The Metalab hackers also created a window of individually addressable LEDs embedded in glass. It is called the Blinkenwall. It is located inside of the Metalab hackerspace, and I believe can be remotely controlled via the Internet from anywhere? While not everyone here speaks English, many are eager to listen and socialize. It is a very positive and welcoming space. In addition, if you are a smoker they have a separate room which has some wonderful murals for smoking only.


Metalab is located near the center of downtown Vienna, near the tram and is physically set in the basement of a elegant old building. The exterior seemed so formal, I assumed at first I was in the wrong spot. But the front door certainly matched the character of a hackerspace. :)