Author: Yellow Duckie
Having been to Amsterdam airport (Schiphol) countless time, I finally get see part of Holland (further than Hoofdorp that is). I was heading towards a tight schedule of pulling together the business case with the team and was not quite in a "tourist mode". However,the charm of this quaint little town did put some life into me and draws me to venture into the tiny alleys of the town. Not matter how much I deny it, I think I am getting old, as the 2 hours flight + 2 hours train ride did drain me out quite significantly.

Having attempt to take the walking tour as indicated by the tourist map I picked up at the hotel, I ended up hopping in and out of the shops before they close at 1800. With the long daylight during this time of the year, i only begin my self guided tour after my little shopping escapade.

Although the European architecture is quite similar , this town does have it's own unique identity. The feeling that I get when I was strolling down the street is the sense of familiarity, it is almost as though I know where the old candy shop is or where John's bakery is. A small town where every one knows everyone. Of course, that's just what I felt. Breda, after all is quite a small town. It's a place where I'll visit for a nice quiet vacation.
Cafe around the Grote Market add some life to the stillness of this town. I was keen to try on some Dutch food, however, without much knowledge I decided to go with the cafe recommended in the map. There were alot of people there so I took it as an indication of good food served. Much to my regret, they were serving Asian food such Sate ( Malaysian Food) and Thai Curry as part of the menu. I ordered something close to a dutch meal, at least for the potato, and was quite glad that it did turn out well. However, the waiting time was killing. We experienced the same horror of waiting the following night at the Gauchos ( which happen to serve excellent steak). I noticed that the restaurants don't serve Dutch food, it makes me wonder if Dutch cuisine actually exists as the maps seems to boast about the French, Italian, Asian food, anything but Dutch.
If you can afford, I would suggest you to lodge at Bliss hotel. I did not have the luxury to do so, however I did managed to get into one of their room to complete our task as one of my colleague was staying there. Racing agaisnt time to finish of the business case, we were in the wedding suite where there was a bottle of wine, basket of fruits and liquor chocolate to distract us. It's a pity that we weren't there with our significant ones and to top it off, we were concerntrating to finish the business case.. how romantic indeed...
Author: Yellow Duckie
Ever since I saw Teka Maki on the menu two weeks ago, I couldn't help but to crave for Japanese food, particularly for Teka Maki ( Tuna Roll). I begin my search for a good japanese restaurant (apart from Roppongi, Friedhelmsplan) and stumbled upon Japansk Restaurang Kyoto. Situated at the far end of town, reachable by Tvarbana , Sickla Udde station. ( I didn't know they have another train line until then). Not only i had indulged my taste buds with this delicious japanese food but I was surprise to have stumbled upon this entire town!
Not only was the food good, the atmosphere of the restaurant is excellent. I felt really at ease there and this would be my comfort place from now on!

Japansk Restaurang Kyoto, Sickla Kanalgata 21, Stockholm

I was told that they literally tear down the whole place and rebuilt it! Indeed, in reality such place does exist, in STOCKCHOLM! If you have a chance, take the T-bana to Gullmarsplan and from there take the Tvarbana to Sickla Udde. The moment the train submerge from the ground to the street level, you will see new apartments and shops. I instantly felt in love with this place. I am so going to stay here if I ever get to work here for good...although it takes me about an hour to work with 2 changes but it's so worth it.

We actually stopped by the real estate agent to have a feel of how much I need to save in order to get a place here...roughly about 2 Mil just to get a 90 Sqm apartment...I have an ambition now :)
Author: Yellow Duckie
Spring time is finally here. No longer we'll have to clad in layers and layers of garments to fend off the cold northern air. With the forecast of great weather over this weekend, many has crawl out of their hibernation hole and bask themselves in the sun.

Although I would have never done this back home, I actually took my lunch and my book out to the park . I can't deny that I am still not quite there yet with the swedes as I still choose to hide under the shady tree away from the sun. The only thing about hiding under the shade is that it does gets chilly when the wind blows. Carrying with the wind were the petals of the wildflower and as it sweeps across the air, it creates a magical sensation as you lay on your mat watching these leaves falling gracefully onto the ground.

Trail to the park behind my apartment

Great lunch accompanied by a great book

On sunday right after church, we rushed to the supermarket and grab ourselves some sandwiches and join the crowd at Rålambshovparken (near church) in getting our share of the great weather! I was indeed surprised to see how crowded the park is! Basically, everyone is stripped down to their bikinis so we felt rather "overdressed" in that sense. Nevertheless, it was a great afternoon with the sun and excellent company.

After such a relaxing weekend, I am totally appalled with the thought of going back to work tomorrow :(

Author: Yellow Duckie
Luleå: A town that was newly built and inhibited 5 years ago. I don’t quite understand what is it about this town that everything seems so NEW. It really feels the mayor decided to wiped out the old town and built a new city on top of it. Perhaps there is a major project to have this town repainted recently but until now I still could not believe how comfortably clean and new this town is. It’s a town where I’ll love to settle down in.

Luleå is one of the coastal town in Sweden but I have not venture into the beauty of this coastal town as my main intention here was to visit Gammelstad Krykbyn (Gammelstad Church Town). This is one of the 16 church town that still exist in Sweden. The existence of this town is quite interesting. Due to its geography location, this place became a trading marketplace and center of religion. The church in the center of the town is the largest mediaeval church in Norrland and the cottages around the church is for merchants’ need for storage and accommodation at the market place and church goers (as it is the duty of the population to attend church) who stays a distance to travel for a day trip to church.

Word of advise if you plan to visit this place is to visit it during summer. You will enjoy the full glory of this place. Not that I have much of a choice but visiting the Krykbyn on a Sunday is a stupid move and at this time of the year where it is considered a low season and practically everything was close, except for the tourist information center and the church.

However, I have to admit that it was quite a remarkable experience. The tiny cottages truly intrigued me and I can just imagine horses-drawn carriages making it’s way through the town, villagers hurrying to attend the mass and farmers busy attending to their daily chores…( I had to use my imagination as this town was as dead as a ghost town on a Sunday). Checking out on the window display itself is amusing, I just love what they put on the window, it does tell a lot about the tenant.

Take bus no 9 from the Centrum heading towards Krykbyn.
Author: Yellow Duckie
There is no word that could describes the beauty of Abisko, thus I will not put any energy into descrbing the beauty of this place. As the train pulls closer to my stop Abisko Östra, I could not believe what was revealed before my eyes: snow –capped mountain surrounding the train tracks and it does feel as though we were gliding through the snow mountain of the north. Wait a minute, I am in the NORTH :)

There is hardly any information on the net that is of good assistance to get to this place. Thus, once again, I have ventured into the wilderness of Sweden without much preparation.

After enduring 18 hours of train ride, I am relieved that it was all worth it after all. Although I didn’t managed to get a bed at the Turistation, staying in Abisko Fjällturer (Youth hostel) at Abisko Östra , was indeed a blessing, The owner, Öljan, was such a sweet host and equipped me with all the necessary gear for my cross country skiing and hiking without any charge!

Öljan fixing the dog sledge gears.

Taking Öljan’s advise (the first half of the day I was there), I went on a cross country skiing on the lake, yes ON the lake. Initially when he suggested that to me the idea of cross country skiing on the lake, I was in great hesitation. One, I have not skied for ages( 7 years ago what the last time I hit the slope) and secondly, the sun was shinning so bright that I think some part of the lake would have melted. Öljan, with his humour, sarcastically asked me if I planned to stay on the lake for 3 weeks (as the lake will probably melt in 3 weeks time) and reminded me that it is merely impossible to fall while skiing on a FLAT ground.

I am glad to have taken his advice as the journey to the open lake was indeed splendid! If was like gliding into the openness on the lake with unobstructed view of the mountains beyond the horizon. The silence of the lake simply left me drown in it’s tranquility. The vastness of this made me feel really insignificant and indeed I can’t help but to feel His presence. The majestic of His glory is all portrayed before my naked eyes. I was left awe-struck and lost of words.

View on the Lake

Alot of people were drilling holes on the lake to fish. This cute lil' boy was proudly showing me his catch!

Although I was tempted to hop on the train to Riksgräsen to join the majority in enjoying the last skiing trip for the year, I had to keep my focus in view. The sole reason why I endure the 18-hour train ride to Abisko: to capture the much boasted beauty of the Lappland. I spent two days hiking in the different trail and hoping to capture at least most of the highlights. I have to admit that hiking was tough during this time of the year as you will need a snow shoe (which makes you invincible on the ice track :P) and tracking with these racquets is tiring. Not to forget the muddy tracks and puddle of water all over the tracks, they are quite tricky and down right annoying.

Kungsleden (King’s Trail)
View from one of the spot along Kungsleden
I went up to Mount Nuolja, where the Abisko Panaromic vew cafe is situated (right on the peak of the mountain). The chair lift ride was indeed a great relief to my tired feet.
At the peak of Mount Noulja (I am not in a studio, just in case you are wondering)
Kårsavagge was the next trail I attempted. I was promised a waterfalls which I didn't get to see but due to the heavy snow shoe, I decided to call it a day after the 5 km trail. I am still amazed how I can trample 5 km with that giant shoe. The view...simply breathtaking...again I will not make an effort to describe it.
After two days of walking, my last trail was the Gorge, short distance with great view

I am left speechless...
Author: Yellow Duckie
Gliding few thousand feet above the African continent heading towards Uganda, fever was the last thing I wished to have on me. As much as I wished to express my excitement in visiting an African country for the first time, I was totally drained out by the time I arrived at Entebe, the International Airport of Uganda.

Anticipating the heat and humidity that will embrace me when I arrived, I was quite surprise to find that the weather was particularly pleasant, 22 degree Celsius without the humidity. That night, the sky was cloudless, revealing millions of stars which decorate the heaven and mesmerize anyone who lay eyes on it.

It is absolutely difficult to miss the fact the poverty is written all over this place. Street light is sparse and there were a lot of shops along side the road which was poorly lighted with only 1 candle. I could hardly make up what goods they carry in their tiny space.
There were however, a lot of people and it seems like it was a busy night with a lot of trading activities going on. I was overwhelmed by the sight of life in Uganda. Being pampered with easy access to luxury shopping malls, it got me wondering about the simplicity of life in Uganda.

I admit that I was so relieved with we arrived at the hotel. With a 5-star environment and the smell of mint that greets you as you enter into the hotel you would have totally forgotten that you are in Uganda at all.

Although this is a short business trip, I was exposed to some of the African culture, at least from business point of view and one notable thing about Africa is hard to be missed: I would call it the relax culture and it didn’t take long before it got on my nerves. Lunch time in Uganda is never a half an hour affair, not even a one hour affair. It is usually at least a 2 hours affair. Agenda: Order – WAIT – eat, the WAIT portion takes up 80% of the duration of the entire affair. According to my colleague customer meeting can be equally annoying as it usually never on time and always being postponed and it didn’t take long for me to experience that as our meeting was postponed 2 hours. Perhaps it’s their relaxing culture that gives them such a cheerful heart. Sometimes I wonder what is it that they have which keeps them smiling and light hearted all the time!

Word of advice for Shoe lovers: Forget about wearing your best shoe there, you may end up having it covered with red mud, so flat plastic/pvc shoes are the best.

I was a little disappointing when I did not get to see the silhouette of Giraffe by the runway when we land, so when I was informed about the Marabous in Uganda, I was all set to search for it. Apparently you don’t have to look for it, however, I didn’t know why I didn’t see them at all until it was pointed out. These birds were scavengers according to Helen, my dear colleague. They eat not only garbage but dead bodies as well. Having the “vulture” characteristic, these birds usually position themselves high above the ground: on top of buildings, trees and lamp post. One gets easily intimidated by its size and looks (quite awful looking).