Archive for February, 2007

February 27th, 2007

Arranging travels

Last week’s trip to London went well — it was quite exhaustive at the end, we arrived back to Helsinki at 0.30 and I was home around one o’clock. Having slept badly the previous night, I was really tired and the next morning was a bit too difficult.

I’m now arranging the next trip to London, once again in business. This time I’ve tried to cluster several meetings into one trip, so I’d be there for a few days. The problem with this plan is that we need to arrange the meetings with several companies, so the hassle is rather big. I don’t yet know whether I’ll fly over on Tuesday and whether I return on Thursday — or then not. Trying to reserve cheap flight tickets and inexpensive hotel room is a real challenge.

Sanna and Aapo will travel to Taivalkoski on next Sunday for a week, so in that sense I’m quite free to arrange the trip details.

Cruising on river

Bangkok is split by a quite massive river that offers a different view to the vibrant capital city. Hiring an own boat is an excellent way of seeing things that you might not see on foot.

Cruising on Bangkok river
Go to Tha Sathon pier nearby Saphan Taksin Skytrain station, and hire a private boat from the counter. Remember to haggle the price down, leave at least once.

The boat will take you to several stupas, the Grand Palace and other places of interest. The boat driver probably doesn’t speak English at all, so have a guidebook and river map with you to understand what you are seeing.

The trip probably takes you to the Khlong Bangkok Noi canal, where you can see some acrobatic selling from miniscule canoes surrounding the motor boats.

Tha Sathon pier, Bangkok, Thailand

Noble charm

No trip to Bangkok is complete without visiting the Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha (that is, in fact, made of jade). The complex has several temples and also the old palace of the highly revered king of Thais — chances of seeing the king himself are quite slim, as he nowadays resides in some other palace located in the northern parts of Bangkok.

The stupa of the Emerald Buddha in Grand Palace in Bangkok
The whole place is a real treat for amateur and professional photographers, especially on a sunny day when the light makes statues, stupas and ornamentations really gleam.

It costs 200 bahts to get in, and no guide is really necessary. There are plenty of them touting you upon arrival, but you can safely ignore them all. The complex is relatively compact, so it takes two or three hours to see everything interesting.

Grand Palace, Maharaj Pier, Chao Phraya, Bangkok, Thailand, +66 2 224 1833

February 18th, 2007

To London

I’m once again travelling to London in business. Unfortunately not in “business class”, just in “business”.

My SAS EuroBonus gold card that I got in 2005 is due to expire in a month and I won’t get a new one — unless SAS understands value of bloggers, wink wink! — so I’m probably writing to you here in SAS lounge for the last time for some time. Working in US company had it perks.

I’ll be in London about 24 hours, and most of it is spent either in transit (to and fro Stansted), sleeping and working. So there won’t be too much to report, maybe a hotel review someday.

I’ve go a bit mixed feelings of this travel. It’s a lot of hassle for so little, but on the other hand I really like London and for some odd reason I still like to travel. This is probably because I’ve not yet overdone it, and I can focus solely on my interests (books and computer) while flying. There are no interruptions, as phones and emails do not work. Just pure thinking.

Another important part is also transient feeling, that you’re passing by and the current state is temporary. How bad might the service be, it really doesn’t matter — we are not going to meet again, me and the clerk or the fellow passanger.

Experience Neo-Tokyo

If you want to have a cyberpunkish experience, a glimpse on Neo-Tokyo on our times, go to Silom shopping center at the beginning of Silom Road. There you have a lot of people of all races, small stalls selling everything and between, skytrain once a few minutes rumbling over you and a feeling of being so outside of everything. It would make a decent scene in Blade Runner, only the rain is missing outside monsoon season.

Experience Neo-Tokyo of the future already today
I did not find anything worth buying there, but I’m a bit picky and the last trip to the States satisfied most of my urgent needs. But there are a lot of street vendors cooking and frying stuff, small grocery stores and pharmacies, shoe and clothing stores and the rest except high-end stores.

Silom Shopping Center, 191 Silom Road, Bangkok, Thailand

Some French luxury

Sofitel Silom offers a piece of French luxury in the middle of busy streets of Silom district in Bangkok. The location is excellent for business, but it is quite decent for tourists, too. There are a couple of skytrain stations nearby and taxis are plentiful.

Sofitel Silom at dusk in Thailand, Bangkok
When booking, remember to ask a room on the upper floors. We got promoted to executive rooms — maybe due a toddler on board — and both the room and the amenitities were excellent par none. The breakfast was sumptuous and massaged all right tastebuds. Do I need to mention the quality of service as the hotel is located in Thailand? Anyhow, it was genuinely friendly and very fast — as you may had already guessed.

Sofitel Silom, 188 Silom Road, Bangkok, Thailand, +66 2 2381991

February 12th, 2007

Beware of Danish furniture

You all know the horror tales of assembling an Ikea furniture. Trust me, it’s nothing compared to sweating with a Danish pièce de résistance.

We bought a fancy chest of drawers a few weeks ago from a design and quality furniture store. The style and the colour matched our flat perfectly, and the size was correct, too.

The boxes finally arrived on Monday and I picked them up on Friday evening. Then we spent the rest of the day and early night to get the frame built. The drawers, the legs and the doors had to be postponed until Saturday.

The legs were the most difficult part. You had to use screwdriver through a hole to tighten a screw ten centimeters away. The driver was almost tall enough which resulted a lot of swearing and sweating, and some black thoughts about idiotic designers.

Talking of screws, there were of so bad quality that I was almost crying out loud. If the driver slipped a bit or was too short (hear, hear), the screw head was slowly but surely mangled into a completely mess. I had to remove one screw with pliers, as the screwdriver couldn’t get a grip anymore.

After spending total seven hours (x2, as there were two people involved), the chest was ready. It sure looks good, and double as good whenever I think of assembly.

Italian shoes

Red Shoe is a small shoe store on Fredrikinkatu — the fashion boutique district in Helsinki. They sell predominantly Italian shoes and boots that are not available in any other store in Finland.

Red Shoe store in Helsinki
Despite the size of the store, the selection is surprisingly large — the store almost doubles as a storage space behind the shelves. So don’t be shy asking for help.

The shoes and boots are fashionable, but maybe not on the bleeding edge of fashion. The prices are quite okay compared to the other Finnish upperscale shoestores, but we cannot really compete with the prices of Rome or Barcelona., Fredrikinkatu 45, Helsinki, Finland, +358 9 604 670