Thursday, December 16, 2010

That Time of Year

Well its here !

And your asking what ? Well if you've been watching the news then you know.
For those of you who dont....

Snow and then some.

Got back from India it was cold out but tolerable.
Then days later all heck breaks loose, and we get a months worth of snow in about 3 days.
So been a few snow days here. Some places got nailed big time.

View from my office window - Hyde Park Rd and Gainsborough Rd, London,ON

Well to get in the spirit of things , seems i have become Mr Xmas Tree Decorator - go figure.

Assisted with one in Brantford

And then me being christmassy spirited setup and decorated the one in the office.

And for proof of life, here is me all dressed up for our Company Xmas diner tonight.
Time for a new suit, or some severe alterations. This one was bought 20lbs ago. LOL
Sorry for the harsh lighting and lack of photo quality, hard enough taking my own pic without hauling around a bunch of gear to take one. Will have to do the company headshot at some point just for the fun of it.

Other than that no excitement. Scheduled photo sessions have been rescheduled due to the wonderful driving conditions in the last few weeks, and now with Xmas almost here people get busy.

Will have to venture out for some Xmas light pics around town.

Later !

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Back to Reality

Well made home in one piece !

From the hotel bed in Mumbai to my bed in London took 24hrs - long freaking day.
Thankfully the plane is big enough to you can actually go for a walk from one end to the other, so at least you can stretch your legs.

I will take a few months in China over a few weeks in India , any day lol

For anyone in to Camera's all the photos for the India trip were either taken with the Canon T1i with Sigma 17-70mm, 2.8-4.5 Crop Sensor lens. or the Canon G11.
I think I could have easily brought just that lens and left everything else at home. It covered just about all my photo needs.  Also with the battery pack/grip attachment I never changed batteries for the whole trip. Though as a note i dont review pics on the camera very much and don't use the built in flash - that saves batteries big time.
Only exception are Hotel room pics when I mount the Sigma 10-20mm Wide Angle.

All other pics were taken with the Canon G11, specially when in places like airports, planes and offices,  its not so in your face when you pull it out. A little pricer for a point and shoot style camera, though it gives you all the functions of the big camera with a few limitations. Only issue has been humidity, going form air conditioned car or office into a textile mill where the temp is running around 100f and humidity is off the charts.  I used it to take the pic of the camera above, as it has a hotshoe for using external flashes. So if your looking for high end P&S without all the fussing of a DSLR (big camera) then this is the one to choose.

So now begins the task of writing reports for each customer visited, plus overall report on the trip.
We use this information to track what we have instructed or recommended our customers to do , so that they can a get maximum life from our product.

Of course Xmas season is rolling up fast along with winter - yipppeeee to both !!

Only plans so far for this month are a scheduled day with my Brazilian Super Model - Miss Vicky.
If you have checked out my Flickr site , she had been posted up there for while. Young girl with ambitions of taking over the world.

She has changed since this pic was taken , almost a year older and changing from young girl to young lady. She does make it easy for the camera. Will be interesting to see what changes the camera picks up.

ok time to head out 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Headed Home

On the road again !!

Ok its Monday Nov 29th around 8:20am Dubai time.
Left Mumbai at 4am this morning.
Unlike Toronto, these airports never seem to stop.

Found some juice, a muffin and a comfortable chair to sit and wait for the next leg of the journey, and the longest.
Dubai to Toronto.
Wandered around for a bit. They are having a a lotto to win some cars or money.
Got a pic of the Porsche sitting there, all shiny

and to balance the shiny off some metal work in the Duty Free Shop waiting for unsuspecting tourists to spend the last of their vacation or travel money.
I bring home pictures, ok and maybe a bottle from the duty free.

ok time for another walk around, next leg is a good 13-14hrs in the air. At leats its on a big Airbus so more leg room and seats a little larger.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Work is done !! Its Saturday

Well after 2 weeks of running around the country, missing a flight, 3 hr drives into the country side and delays at the airports, its all over with.

Our last excursion was to Ahmedabad, about 1hr flight from Mumbai.
That city is growing fast with the very old being over taken by the very new. It is obvious that the two clash , especially here were expansion in industry is forcing change.

anf of course with all the increased industry and money coming into the town, you know a shopping mall or 2 or 3 or 4 would pop up.  I saw at least 5 major shopping malls. We went to a smaller one, as our agents wife works their on the management team,.

One surprise by our agent was a trip to the historical home home of Mahatma Ghandi here in Ahmedabad. So was somethign to see. He brought spinning of yarn to Indai and of course now India is one of the largest textile manufacturers in the world (compeating with China).  Ahmedabad is also home to Arvind , largest denim manufacturer in the world (lee, wrangler to name a few) and top shirting manufacturer (Arrow shirts).

This gentleman was spinning yarn using a very old device, same as used by Ghandhi.
so that was a treat , seeing some really signifigant piece of Indian history.

So for our last few days we are "stuck" at the The Leela Hotel in Mumbai. This is all about relaxing after running around and staying in less than favourable hotels, and taking a chance on food in places that maybe the travel people warn you about.
our agents were the stars of the show here, they really take care of us. In fact one thing that was repeated by all of them is that having "Foreigners" here , even now, that we shoudl be treated like gods. Hard to digest, though when you think about it, this country relies on the likes of you and I to buy goods manufactured here. And if your not sure , check out the labels on clothing you wear, mostlikely says India, CHina, Bangladesh, Thailand etc. All countries struggling internally to survive based on our greedy habits (gotta say it)

Speaking of greedy
We are stranded at The Leela Hotel in Mumbai until about 1am Monday morning when we leave to catch our flight back to Canada and the freaking cold !

Its +31c here today by the pool. Life is tough.

The advantages of traveling with the VP of the company who is female !! Not that I am complaining lol.  Typical room charge for The Leela is around 12,000R per night or about $300 Canadian. The staff is wonderful , the place is wonderful, wonderful break at the end of a few weeks.  They even do personalized airport shuttle in cars with a driver, amazing service.

ok time for shower and diner.

Sunday is our last day here, we will go tour Mumbai

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

OK Where are we today ?????

Alright will admit to forgetting what day of the week it is !

Its November 24th and we are in Boisar, about 150km from Mumbai (Bombay).
we arrived last night after flying out of Bhopal, into Mumbai and then driving.

Now just to put the drive in perspective.
It is aprox 200km from London to Toronto, for us thats 2hrs without pushing to hard.
Well our little 150km journey last night took 3hrs. and this is considered normal timing from an Indian perspective.
Basically the roads are under construction and have been for years with no end in site for anything to be finished.

so by the time we cleared the airport, found our driver , it was 3am before getting into the room in Boisar.
We are in the best hotel in town.  thankfully cause we dont want to see whats considered less than this.
its clean, the towels are grey and has that typical kicked in the teeth look that we have experienced here.

ok now whats been up since last update and Boisar ??

Last update we were in Delhi for two nights and barely saw the hotel.
We had arrived in Delhi Friday into the hotel around 1am - totall ybeat from a day on the road and of course some flying, from Bangalore.
Then it was up for 8am to meet our agent to head into the wild blue yonder.

The Claridge Hotel was our spot fro two nights, our only regret is not really getting to enjoy the place.

Big screen Sony, King size bed, hardwood floors with rugs, wood panelling !!

and a bathroom that was really nice !!
the only enjoyment of that room was being abel to sleep in Sunday and try and catch up some slep as we had arrived back in Delhi around 11pm. Both of us passed out big time.

After our much need rest, we got some tour time in Delhi on the way to the airport.
Of course as per previous update first stop was the Lotus Temple. Fantastic looking place, beautiful gardens , well maintained, entrance is controlled.  The temple is a Bahai House of Worship

Next stop Humayuns Mausoleum

There was a wack of school kids out in their blue uniforms. all very happy to say hi to us foreigners. I think I said "hello" to every kid there !!

Then it was off to the airport for our next port of call : Bhopal !!
By the time we reached the hotel it was 11pm before we landed once again on a bed.

Our only issue this trip was getting a hotel room in Bhopal. There was apperently various conventions going on, 3 Bollywood movies being filmed in the area and its Wedding Season in India.
 so our only choice was the Arch Manor, even our Indian agent was not happy with the choice.
Was clean bed was ok , restaurant was brutal. basically didnot look like htey had cleaned since opening. So after a coffee and some toast it was off into the wilderness once again.

Fun was seeing an elephant along the road .
and later on monkeys hanging out on the side of the road.
Lucky for us we finished early and headed back to our hotel during daylight.
For a treat our agent had us sotp at an ancient Worl Heritage Site located in this region.
So for first time got to see cave men drawings on the rocks high up in the hills. as per the tour guide they have survived because the rock overhang has protected them from the elements.
There is also a small temple that is located at the site and inhabited by a few people.

Then up the next morning for visits to more customers out in the boonies.
a few on the side of the road - life is different in some parts of the country here.
These girls were doing road work - laying new pavement , they worked all day (we passed them twice)

For some people life is not so easy.
you see that rough living on the road and minutes later you see some high tech palace.
and you catch some neat pics out the window as we fly along. this one I like.  took me a minute to figure out how to get some good shots driving along. basically set it in TV mode at 1/1000sec and let the camera decide. Sun is bright enough to get some good apeture.

ok so off we flew once again into the sky and landed in Boisar.
tonight we are back tot he hotel early, tired and now relaxing with a great internet connection and some vodka.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Off the Grid

Folks have been off the grid for a few days and no internet where we are last 2 nights.
Will be in Mumbai Nov 23rd evening and will get some updates done.

proof of live - every trip needs one !!
this is me in Front of the Lotus Temple in Delhi - spectacular building !!

sorry had to borrow our agents internet stick to write this update and dont want to abuse
updates coming soon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Welcome to India

Ok so after some recovery from the flights we are mobile.

Sunday after some food and a nap, we hired a driver to take us into Kochin and see the sites.
our driver was named Joseph, he is Christian.  There are a large number of them here, result of travelers in the past from the many different countries that came to India looking for spices.

Our first stop was the Hill Palace, kind of run down, althought there is obvious work being done to restore it to its former glory. It is used as a museum to shw the history of past royalty in Kochin. Unfortunately no photo's allowed inside the musuem.

And for some reason they had a fiberglass T-Rex in the back of the property, no idea why. No plaque telling you the signifigance or what wackiness brought it there.

we then headed towards Fort Kochin, first stop was another museuam with basically the same stuff as the Hill palace. nothing special , entry was 5rupees or about 12.5cents CA.
People are friendly and of course the shop keepers want yu inside to buy something. Like every touristy place every second store is selling the same stuff. jewelry, artifacts, scarves, pillows etc. not sure how good the prices are but am sure is over priced.
This horse was about 3/4 size and for sale - they deliver !! - no price though

View through the taxi window as we drive thruough Kochin.
ONe thing is quite obvious here, The TATA Group is very prominant. the car we were in was a Tata. Our Agents compnay is part of Tata group. Tata has its hand in everything India.

Monday morning we headed out to visit customers. lots of traffic , windy roads and stops every few minutes to clarify directions. without a GPS here I would be lost. We found out that this area is a very large rubber producer, so as we went farther into the country side and out of the city the more rubber trees we saw. in one case a worker was trimming the tree so the sao woudl run properly. Sap is collected in coconut shells (cheap and easy). They are is also a large spice producer, like pepper, safron, tamarin.

After visiting customers was time to head from Kochin to Coimbatore. we would be driving this trip as our Agent had driven to Kochin in the morning and lives in Coibatore.

Caught a nice sunset shot driving thru town.

and of course there is traffic here, non stop car , truck and motorcycle traffic. motorcycles are weaving in between trucks and cars with girls riding side saddle in their sari's. horns honking , inches from death at all times lol
We drove in the dark aprox 300kms , down a windy paved goat path, with trafffic like the 401. This trip took 5.5hrs along witha 1hr sit at the border into the next state, as transports had blocked the road waiting for border patrol to let them thru. Chaos !!!

Woke up in Coimbatore the next morning at "The Residency Hotel" really nice place ! The rooms run about $60 per night. really quite luxurious for the price. it has 3 resturants, pool, outside bar, dance bar and conference facilities.

Rooms are great with a bathroom all done in grantie - again quite the spendor considering the price.
Just thinking about why i show pics of hotel rooms and bathrooms. If you think about it any of us that woudl go travel are usually looking for best value and of course clean clean clean.  Myt experience so far in China and India is that you dont have to spend alot to get a alot. You can stay in really great hotels for good price (compared to home) and for the lesser places you are staying for peanuts.  

So we did visit one customer yesterday, coutresy call , convert them over to the dark side of rubber, make them a Dunline customer. Interesting sign as we passed thru security. No escape from what ????

Driving thru town to get there, as usual your senses are overloaded with things we have never seen before. like clothes being sold on the side of the road in basically blue tarp shacks.
or a cart being pulled by some big ass cow 
well its Wed morning here , 3 customers to visit today , more pictures to take , more to see. We have one more night here in Coimbatore and then we fly out Thursday morning to the next stop.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Landed !!! Finally

Ok made it to India !

Landed here around 4am Sunday morning.
Got through the mass of people at immigration about an hour later.
And arrived at hotel around 6am.

Am a little wacky right now.
Need food and restaurant does not open until 7:30am.
And really dont want to sleep right now.

NO pics of the drive to the hotel, though best advice is to not look forward.
I think we had at least 10 near misses with oncoming cars/trucks.
It was dark and everyone is driving with high beams on - blinding oncoming traffic.

Hotel room is nothing special , would say on par with what i stayed at in China.
Ok hotels, that are just a little run down.

and a view out the window into the back of the hotel area.
Quite green, thinking there is not much around here.
Need to make sure our hosts understand that we cant just be hiding out in hotels every night !

ok time to get off of here and to let my brain settle.
Am flicking channels on tv and watching some sports channel talking about snowmobilng in BC ???


my brain is fryed on time changes

its actually 21:00 Saturday night in Dubai when i wrote all this

Duh lol

in Dubai

Ok folks can now say I have been to Dubai.
Cant see anything cause its 20:27 here and very dark out.
Had aisle seat and didnt see much out any windows.

Here's a shot from the Plane cam - there are three of them - below, front view and one from the top of the tail section. This one is top of tail section - sorry for the quality , this is shot of the tv screen.

We are flying Economy on Emirates Airbus A380 Wide Body.
Lots of leg room, big tv screens with touch and optional controller, with movies, games, music tv shows.
Service to passengers offered in about 10 languages.
Again another bad pic , of the plane - you can see the second row of windows above.

And this is the first time I have seen this many wheelchairs at one time, on one plane all lined up for our flight

During boarding the Stewardess's were wearing full uniform - really great look !
ok its still Friday night here in Dubai , and 11:30ish Saturday morning in London.
of course cant sleep to well on the plane, watched a wack of movies, tv shows and played some games.
Had Lamb and Couscous for diner and some freshly hydrated eggs for breakfast.

Ok next leg of the trip is at 22:00 Dubai time.
Found Starbucks and having a Venti sized  Xmas blend - oh and same price as home in US dollars.