Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve

I didn’t want to be alone yesterday night, so I went to the disco near to my apartment, anticipating some celebration or special program. Within 5 min a foxy lady approached me offering her companion. In the next 10 sentences, she started urging me to go back to my apartment, touching my hand, my face, staring at me passionately… I wanted to have someone to chat with but her English was limited for “business” communication. I ignored her later and excused myself.

When I shifted to the dance floor, immediately 2 more ladies came to say hi… not so attractive. They invited me to dance, but I had no intention to move. They caught the signal and left me alone.

At 12:00 midnight, no countdown, no screaming, no artificial snowflake, no whistling, no Santa Claus, no mask, no caroling, no special program, not a bit of Christmas feel… what a disappointment. The whole disco had only countable foreigners… I left after 2 beers, it was showering.

Thursday, December 24, 2009



Wednesday, December 23, 2009


The recent management re-shuffling has caused some colleagues losing their jobs recently in the head office. Sad to learn a few known persons are on the retrenchment list. Ever since working in this project, I realize the cruelty of the office politics, had never experienced so tense as yet. I reckon the flame would spread to this site office sooner or later… see who would be the unlucky. I’m losing my faith and hope to this company gradually.

No Christmas Feel

No Christmas feel in the town - no Christmas songs blaring our loud, no decoration in the public... only a Christmas tree at the airport, a life size Santa Claus model shaking hips in front of the supermarket... very quiet... I don't feel the Christmas atmosphere.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Miss Rwanda

Last Friday, Sport and Culture Ministry of Rwanda re-organized the national beauty pageant after 17 years apart. TV live broadcasted the sensation. I managed to watch the climax at the end of the show.

My personal opinion is that most of the contestants are too thin, not far from famine look. They performed catwalk on the stage, but exaggeratedly swaying the hip and crossing their steps like modeling… kinda lacking of graceful look. It was awkward to see the crowned champion while waving to the audiences, she cupped her right hand turning 90 degree left and right. The image consultant should be spanked. The first three was each presented a big shopping bag with gifts sponsored by a local supermarket, imagine how it matched the elegant night gown?

Christmas Vacation

All colleagues have left Kigali for Christmas vacation, am now alone in the office monitoring and running the on-going projects. Have been quite stressful lately, and these additional works from the colleagues burden me additionally. Colleagues said I could leave for vacation together if I wish to, and leave the shits behind. I don’t know if they really understand what we are aiming for. The whole thing might be turned upside down if our projects are left unattended, it would ruin the efforts we have been working hardly on so far…

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Last week we found a new Chinese restaurant in town, newly opened in Oct. Service is good, foods is authentic and excellent, the best among the Chinese cuisine in Kigali though prices are slightly higher than the others. Billiard pool and KaraOK are for free.

We spent 3 dinners last week here. On Friday, after dinner we had an enjoyable KaraOK session, though English songs choices are limited. Has been years since my last KaraOK visit. We “screamed” like hell… had no idea if our voice chased off other diners. Anyway, it was good to find another entertainment.

Thursday, December 10, 2009



Wednesday, December 02, 2009



Volcanoes National Park

Last Saturday, with colleagues and friends, 6 of us had visited the Volcanoes National Park for the last mountain gorillas on earth. We spent a night at Gorillas-Volcanoes Hotel (USD 110), but the mosquitoes in the room kept me awake almost throughout the night.

At 7am, we reached the ORTPN office (Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks). Our guide Felix gave a brief introduction. We were told only 7 Gorilla groups were open to the tourists presently, ranged from 7 to 20 gorillas each. Max 8 tourists were allowed to visit per group per day. The one we were going to spent with named Umubano, comprised of 11 members including 2 babies.

After half an hour drive on the so-called “African massage” service road, we parked our cars at a village. The guide “advised” us to hire a watchman to look after our cars, this cost of EUR 5 was kind of blackmailing, I believed.

The trekking took approx 1.5hr. The sceneries were great, passing through green farms and villages, kids asking for money or shoes or pen. Guide explained the diets of the gorilla, and reminded us repeatedly of our behavior for safety and conservation sake.

Some parts of the trek were full of mud, but much better than my expectation. The final stretch was a little challenging when climbing up very steep slopes. The weather turned cloudy, light showering. All of us were over excited to see the Silverback (leader of the group) sitting just 3m from us. This lazy beast just sat idly crossing his arms with head bowing down. Shortly we spotted other members scattered around. Our cameras clicked non-stop. We had only a small place to stand, all of the photos were more less shot from the same view. Every single movement of the gorilla especially the baby's awkward move cheered us up immensely. We were only allowed to stay 1 hr with the gorilla, was said not to stress the beast too much.

With my resident visa, I paid USD 250 for the visit permit, otherwise USD 500 would be charged to the tourist. I think the price is OK, considering this was an opportunity of the life time.

Felix explained the enormous efforts were being carried out to protect these primates. The statistic shows more than 700 gorillas are living presently in Uganda and Rwanda… couldn’t remember what he said about Congo statistic. A certificate was given to each participant end of the trip.


For the 29th birthday today… Colleagues sang birthday song over long distance phone call; messages filled the Facebook; received a cake, gifts plus chunks of my favourite non-ordinary chocolates; had a great dinner at an Indian restaurant; followed by a brief drinking session at Mille-Collines Hotel.

Really appreciate the cheering moments with friends, at least had a great time before X’mas… I would be alone then in this city monitoring the projects.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Since weeks many people walked in daily seeking for job. With the limited vacancies, I have no choice but to shun off many applications.
Please! Give me a chance...
Please! I have a family to feed…
Please give me a try…
Please, I have been jobless for months…
Please… God bless you…

“I’m Sorry…,” I replied. I’m really sorry…

Saturday, November 21, 2009



Saturday, October 31, 2009




A young boy came to the office yesterday accompanied by an elder teenager asking for donation. The boy presented his academic result trying to convince us his effort. Both of them are deaf and mute… I gave EUR2.50, so did my colleague. Probably he would visit other offices in the same building asking for the same.

The amount is small, but EUR5 is equivalent to 3 full day wages of a casual labour in Rwanda. Life is difficult here I strongly sensed. It is much more vulnerable for persons like them to survive in this country where unemployment stands high. Many jobless people are seen gathering in particular places hoping for a mercy of job offer to meet their daily needs.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tomorrow Will Be OK

Guessed I had food poisoning. Since after dinner the day before, stomach was over stuffed. Lost my appetite completely yesterday, only had 2 slices of bread for the whole day. Back home from office, the pain intensified, the intestines were spraining with gust of vomiting (but nothing was thrown out). Battled for a few hours, crawling in and out from the toilet, almost collapsed at one point… today, I consumed only 1 slice of bread and a few pieces of biscuit.

Hope tomorrow everything will be fine.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Umuganda (Cleaning Day)

Every last Saturday of the month is fixed as the nationwide cleaning day, normally from morning till noon. People are encouraged to participate in this communal activity though not compulsory. I have not contributed any effort so far.

Our client had a fantastic thought and organized an Umuganda today to help a school expansion construction. All the contractors were “invited” (“summoned”) to participate this special occasion. We, a crowd of approx. 200 persons gathered at 7am at their office, but departed an hour later… Every participant prepared their own tools – shovel, hoe, digger. No one organized the works at site but we carried out the works spontaneously where necessary. We were digging and plowing the soil, transferring heap of stones. I had not touched the shovel for more than 10 years, this “hard” work exhausted me after ½ hr. The thought of a casual labour’s daily salary of EUR 1.80 flashed over my mind… tough life for them!!

The atmosphere was light, we made some harmless stupid jokes. It provided me a platform to meet new friends and acquaintances. A videocam recorded the hard effort of the Ministers and VIP, though they joined us much later.

At 11am, the activities stopped and we were directed to a restaurant. Ministers gave some short speeches. An anthem of Umuganda was sung (nice song). No food was prepared but just a bottle of soft drink.

I really appreciate the effort they are contributing on their land.

Am tired now… muscles sore…

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Swine Flu in Kigali!

Yesterday the Ministry of Health announced 6 cases of swine flu detected in Kigali. The cause was traced to an American. The news is stirring a little panic. People are wearing mask in the public.

Hope this case would be swiftly under controlled, it will be a disaster if the virus spreading in this continent where medication is generally poorly established.

East African Union

Colleague said 6 East African countries – Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Congo and Rwanda are planning to form an EU-like union. The import duties among the countries would be waived, single currency to be introduced, residents could cross border freely etc. I really doubt this is a good idea at present stage. The political stability remains doubtful, considering Kenya’s and Uganda’s recent unrest. Forming such an union requires relatively well organized governmental structures and regulations, and strict obedient to mutually agreed accord.

Comparing to its neighbours, Rwanda has much lower criminal rates, better organized and cleaner government. The effort of the incumbent rulers to establish a financial hub of the continent is shaping up in great pace, with Switzerland as a successful model. The limitations of this landlocked cum mountainous country do not permit large scale of industries establishment. It is a great advantage when Rwandan could enjoy a much lower import duties.

I’m still having doubt if this idea would bring a better future to this country in short run. Some said international organizations like UN are gradually shifting their regional office to Rwanda due to its more stable politics and social status.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

In The Blood

His head was bouncing with the beat of Reggae! Amazed with the musical gene in his blood. I like this boy! cool...


Pretty busy lately… but I enjoyed it. Am trying hard to organize all info in order. Now is the most crucial moment to strengthen the project background, would be essential for later stage. I know my time and capability is limited, but the 2 local assistants employed had not reached my expectation after 3 months, couldn’t really hand over responsibility to them. Today the new secretary (a man, though I prefer a lady for this position) has reported to work, hope he wouldn’t disappoint me.

A colleague has just left the site, part of his works are taken over by me. Sometimes I did like the “stress”, it forced me to react swiftly and more decisively. It’s kind of satisfaction when I look back later the volume of works I have completed and achieved. When the works get routine, I would feel bored again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I read several resumé recently. This is the first impression I judge on the applicants before conducting interviews. I’m bored to read if it exceeds 2 pages, or the word count was too dense, or not nicely composed. The concise version is sufficient, I’m not interested to know your hobbies, your primary education; don’t like the applicant boasting he/she is highly motivated, a responsible person, a team player, a fast learner… do you expect me to believe what you sell/say? Most of the applicants said they have sound computer knowledge (MS Office), but so far none of the interviewees passed my test. Am going to interview a secretary soon… let’s see how much she can show me on the computer.

Rwanda Development Board (RDB)

Visited RDB yesterday for the first time. This government center counsels and assists investors processing almost all aspects in regards to registration, legal matters, taxation, visa etc. Instead of tackling different ministries and departments separately, this one-stop service organizes most issues under one roof, truly remarkable and efficient. Though not particularly grand, the atmosphere was good and the service was friendly. I didn’t feel the commonly stereotyped bureaucratic arrogance.

This country is awarded world best service in assisting investment recently. I was told RDB is run by an American. Rwanda’s President has a vision to transform this landlocked country to become financial hub of Africa, apparently this is a more feasible idea as it is seriously lacking of natural resources and agricultural possibility on this land of thousand hills.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Another Party

Another pleasant party was held yesterday. Our director invited a local band to perform live (EUR90 for a night)… many of us had the similar first impression – “You must be kidding!” Our opinion was re-assessed after a while. Reggae, folks, local pops, with a few “remix” version of classic English pieces gradually heated up the atmosphere drawing people to the dance floor.

5 cylinders and a few crates of beers were drained. This was far too much for a crowd of 50 people. Too much was wasted. Some people just didn’t care about it if foods were served free, selfish thought. Jokingly we proposed to issue beer coupons or charged accordingly in the next party. Bet they would lick till the last drop.

The guests were from different levels of social status, the rich businessmen mingled among themselves, while the workers joined their own circle. I didn’t mean to criticize, but the table manner of some workers was really an eyesore.

Many were somewhat intoxicated, I could hardly understand what they talked but I had to pretend concentrating. They poured out their true emotion but mostly non-sensible & illogical.


Shit! Just woke up from siesta, I realized my whole apartment was flooded after the rain. The water was not seeping through the windows but gushed in from the corridor. Water flowed like a mini waterfall from the staircase and the idiotic design of this apartment has equal floor level to the corridor.

The entire ground floor was water soaked. 3 workers from this building cleared the mess. They swept the water out from my bedroom, bathroom and sitting room. The dead insects and worms scattered here and there. Now my apartment was never before sparkling clean.

I worked “so hard” to help them cleaning, the skin on my palm was torn!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Lousy Service

The Italian restaurant (also an Irish Pub in the evening) right in front of our office used to be our lunch place during working days. There is no other good restaurant within walking distance.

Last Sat, I ordered a burger. They forgot the order, served after 40 min. I told them nicely to pack and take away.

Yesterday, I ordered carrot juice. 2 flies were found drown in it after I consumed 1/3. I didn’t complain to the boss.

Just now, again they forgot my order. I lost my temper slightly, for sure my face didn’t look friendly. I snapped and told them to pack and take away. The agitating waitress came to my back and apologized softly. Why at my back? They had no idea what’s proper service… I lost my hunger completely.

Back to the office, I calmed down and thought over again, what kind of service should I expect from under developed countries? I should be grateful staying in one of the most friendly places in the continent.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Can't Wait...

Finally the latest novel of Dan Brown - The Lost Symbol was released yesterday. Was trying to order one via just now... but the e-book was already available on the internet for illegal download, unbelievable! But... I can't wait no more...

Thursday, September 10, 2009


999 - the only thing I could recall is the registration no. of my father's green Volvo 240. Couldn't remember when it was bought... should be around 1983. I was the one washing it weekly... This was the last car he drove till 1995. We sold it to our neighbour after his decease.
The car is now parked in their car porch. Mom still peeks a look whenever passing by... too much memory for her.

Saturday, September 05, 2009




Pretty busy lately, works is still not in good order, trying hard to straight up the path. Some changes are being done, to better or worse, can’t see it right now. Fed up to fight and complain, no one would listen anyway, it's useless and helpless. Just do my part to clean up the shit left over by the others.

I look To You – Whitney Houston

A new album of Whitney 7 yrs after her last release. Songs are OK, but lacking of exceptional catchy piece, missing kind of “I will always love you” number… She looks old on the cover, the drug abusive eyes are no longer shining. Anyhow, she is still one of my favourites.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Gambling Lehman Brothers

I bought Lehman’s shares at its height EUR 25 in Apr-08. Ever since the company declared filing bankruptcy protection, the share price tumbled all the way to EUR 0.03 in May this year. I reckoned this stock wouldn’t have any chance to bounce back to EUR 25 level. Thus I gambled to purchase additional units to dilute the average price, hoping someday it would rebound slightly to regain my investment.

Yesterday news announced that Lehman would file USD 100 billion claim to its parent company, this immediately triggered speculation and pushed the share as high as EUR 0.165. I managed to sell off all on my hand at EUR 0.125 today, was so glad to recover complete investment with EUR 90 profit! Ha… I was lucky!

Who knows Lehman’s share would escalate higher in the near future, I wouldn’t risk myself on this company anymore. Maybe I’m missing a chance to make a huge fortune?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Office

Finally my office room is made ready today, 16m2, I like it… I always need a quiet place to work.

New Apartment

Shifted to a new apartment yesterday, finally I could enjoy my own space and absolute privacy. It’s just a mere 67m2 small apartment, but the rent is USD 1400 per mth! This is Kigali. Well, company paid for it.

It’s the smallest unit in the building, at the ground floor, the infrastructure is not class at all and fairly basic. It’s ok… shouldn’t complain.

Look how the toilet bowl was installed. How should I sit on it? With right leg lifting higher, or crossing my right leg over stylishly, or sit facing the bathtub?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My Adidas T-Shirt

I know, she tried, and she’s still trying her best to do the job well… but sometimes a little over…

The cleaning lady showed me my Adidas shirt… colour was bleached… I sighed, said, “no problem.” She replied, “thank you.”

What a pity, even though that’s a fake Adidas.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Akagera Park, Rwanda

With a colleague and his son, we travelled to Akagera Park yesterday. It was a 2-hr drive from Kigali, border to Tanzania on the east.

We stayed at Akagera Game Lodge, the only hotel situated inside the national park. The official website of this Lodge (last update was in 2008) gave a complete false data of room rates. It was stated USD60 and 80 for a single and double room respectively, instead we were shown the revised rates were USD110 and 150. Ok, fine… we didn’t mind. We checked-in the room, not larger than 3x5m, acceptable clean, but my toilet was partially flooded and a small spider was lying in my bathtub. The only complimentary item – soap, smelled like detergent.

The tourists were countable. The facilities were poorly maintained, the moss-coloured milky opaque pool water was obviously not changed for weeks. Baboons wandered inside the hotel compound, mainly around the restaurant, attracted by the scent of the foods.

We paid the park entrance fees, USD40 for 2 days (or USD30 for 1 day). The park ranger, Charles guided us to the game drive. He said lion has been extinct in this park after 1994 due to unregulated hunting by the farmers to protect their cattle. Unlawful poaching was still happening occasionally. The park was not immense, game (wild animals) was not plentiful. We could get close to the giraffes, impalas within 10m range, but the highly alert zebras, wild hogs and waterbucks fled instantly when our vehicle was approaching.

Hippos and crocs could be seen around the lake and islands. Unfortunately the weather was a little cold, we were told these beasts wouldn’t come ashore for sunbathing, boat trip (USD20 per person) was thus canceled. We saw a few hippos immersing themselves in the lake with their tiny eyes emerging an inch from the water, a few were staring at me when I was standing close to the lake taking photograph.

We drove in the valley this morning and saw a herd of approx. 70 buffaloes drinking at a muddy pond, but a stupid car got too close to them and scared them off back to the bush. Idiot driver!

Elephants could still be seen in this park, but they used to wander far away and hard to be spotted. By chance we saw one… one big pile of fresh elephant shit, but no trace of him.

I never thought of making a safari trip in this mountainous landlocked country. With no high expectation, I enjoyed the trip quite well. Of course the size, variety, organization, quality and value-for-money were no way to compare with my previous Kenya visit.

In general, without the gorillas in the mist, the tourism in Rwanda would be much neglected.

(photos will follow soon)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

“Oui!” or “Ouah!”

Have been working with German company for 15 years… still not able to speak a proper German sentence. 22 mths spent in Philippines, I couldn’t speak Tagalog; 6.5 yrs in Oman and Sudan, I only learned to say “Insyalah”; 2.5 yrs in Bulgaria, my tongue couldn’t roll Bulgarski. Obviously I’m not gifted… (or my secretaries didn’t like to make me clever???)

French is still being widely spoken and used in Rwanda. It is interesting to find the similarities with English, especially some technical terms. By catching the keywords, we could figure out briefly the meaning of an article. This was comparatively harder to understand a German article instead. I heard French is a complicated language. Thinking of picking up a basic French language course, just to prepare myself when someone tells me “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?”, should I reply “Oui!” or “Ouah!”?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Kigali Memorial Centre

Visited the Kigali Memorial Centre today, a memorial for 1994 genocide which killed a million. The centre was small but well installed. History of the genocide development was displayed, was quite unexpected to learn that it was programmed by the Belgium ruler then. In fact the genocide had started years earlier until it was pacified by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) led by the present president in 1994. During this period 2/3 of the populations fled to the neighbouring countries. The majority Hutu tribe set up road blocks in many places, Tutsi was murdered, raped, beaten… Grenades were thrown into the church where women, children and elders were seeking refuge. The notorious radio station broadcasted hatred towards Tutsi meanwhile. UN did not re-act promptly to stop the massacre, they realized too late the severity of this case. The 2nd deployment arrived only after the war was eventually controlled by RPF.

The exhibits comprised of photos and some documentary clips, most of the images were not gory. Thousands of photos contributed by the victims’ family decorated the walls.

Outside the building, there were a few mass graves burying up to 300,000 dead souls. The tidily trimmed garden with blooming roses and wild flowers couldn’t shed off the solemn atmosphere.

Photographing was not allowed inside the building.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


The climate is getting warm lately. The office is facing west and I have to pull the curtains to block the heat, but the air is so stiff!

There is no big river in this mountainous country. The raining season yet to come, and the country is facing water crisis. The pressure was so low that water supply couldn’t reach our house for 4 days. We ordered a full load of water tanker, costs EUR 40! This country is not cheap at all.


Just received from a friend, not new but a good refreshing.
The 1st Affair
A married man was having an affair with his secretary. One day they went to her place and made love all afternoon. Exhausted, they fell asleep and woke up at 8 PM. The man hurriedly dressed and told his lover to take his shoes outside and rub them in the grass and dirt. He put on his shoes and drove home.
'Where have you been?' his wife demanded.
'I can't lie to you,' he replied, 'I'm having an affair with my secretary. We had sex all afternoon.'
She looked down at his shoes and said: 'You lying bastard! You've been playing golf!'

The 2nd Affair
A middle-aged couple had two beautiful daughters but always talked about having a son. They decided to try one last time for the son they always wanted.
The wife got pregnant and delivered a healthy baby boy. The joyful father rushed to the nursery to see his new son. He was horrified at the ugliest child he had ever seen.
He told his wife: 'There's no way I can be the father of this baby. Look at the two beautiful daughters I fathered! Have you been fooling around behind my back?'
The wife smiled sweetly and replied: 'No, not this time!'

The 3rd Affair
A mortician was working late one night. He examined the body of Mr. Schwartz, about to be cremated, and made a startling discovery.. Schwartz had the largest private part he had ever seen!
'I'm sorry Mr. Schwartz,' the mortician commented, 'I can't allow you to be cremated with such an impressive private part. It must be saved for posterity.' So, he removed it, stuffed it into his briefcase, and took it home.
'I have something to show you won't believe,' he said to his wife, opening his briefcase.
'My God!' the wife exclaimed, 'Schwartz is dead!'

The 4th Affair
A woman was in bed with her lover when she heard her husband opening the front door. 'Hurry,' she said, 'stand in the corner.' She rubbed baby oil all over him, then dusted him with talcum powder. 'Don't move until I tell you,' she said. 'Pretend you're a statue.'
'What's this?' the husband inquired as he entered the room.
'Oh it's a statue,' she replied. 'The Smiths bought one and I liked it so I got one for us, too.'
No more was said, not even when they went to bed.
Around 2 AM the husband got up, went to the kitchen and returned with a sandwich and a beer.
'Here,' he said to the statue, have this. I stood like that for two days at the Smiths and nobody offered me a damned thing.'

The 5th Affair
A man walked into a cafe, went to the bar and ordered a beer. 'Certainly, Sir, that'll be one cent.'
'One Cent?' the man exclaimed. He glanced at the menu and asked: 'How much for a nice juicy steak and a bottle of wine?'
'A nickel,' the barman replied. 'A nickel?' exclaimed the man.’
'Where's the guy who owns this place?'’’
The bartender replied: 'Upstairs, with my wife.'
The man asked: 'What's he doing upstairs with your wife?'
The bartender replied: 'The same thing I'm doing to his business down here.'

The 6th Affair
Jake was dying. His wife sat at the bedside. He looked up and said weakly: 'I have something I must confess.'
'There's no need to, 'his wife replied.
'No,' he insisted, 'I want to die in peace.
I slept with your sister, your best friend, her best friend, and your mother!'
'I know,' she replied. 'Now just rest and let the poison work.'

Monday, August 03, 2009

Rwandan Colleagues

Last Friday a come together dinner was organized for our colleagues. The atmosphere turned lively after a few bottles of beer gushing down to the stomach, people no longer sitting rigidly, laughter sprouted here and there. Was a pleasant evening.

Being a “considerably” new comer to this project, it was interesting to observe the relationships among the colleagues, as well as their behaviors and characters.

Most of them are <30 year old, lacking of relevant experience in our field. Probably this is in line with company’s vision to recruit and train more local employees. The idea is good, but not well implemented. The young engineers fresh from the school / university are left idle in the office most of the time, without given appropriate duty, guidance and training.

The talking points had not much about the works, but emphasizing on personal matters. Many were surprised to learn that I am still a bachelor. Of course I would explain the famous “Cow & Milk” philosophy :) many volunteered to introduce their female friends to me… really appreciate their kindness… heh heh…

One said he is going to get married in the next months, and wished to further study. I was curious how could he afford financially? He replied, “God will help me”. I heard this answer not once, and I respected his faith to God. I told him, self effort is more foreseeable and manageable, not sure if he understood what I meant.

After midnight, alcohol had started seizing consciousness of some people. Everyone was in pleasant mood, no aggressive behavior. We checked the bill, someone must be disappointed for our early call to cease their drinking spree.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Photos - Taiwan & Germany

The photos of my recent trip to Taiwan and Germany are now available in my Travelogue.
Tips: Wait all thumbnails are downloaded, then click off the annoying ad on the right side of the screen.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Simon was feeling bored, he brought the Monopoly to us excitedly. Was fun to play again this childhood game, the luck was not with me yesterday...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

BBQ Dinner

With Bobet, we organized a BBQ dinner at home yesterday. We did it mainly for the cook, maid and the 2 watchmen working for us, 2 colleagues were invited. Possibly due to the communication barricade, or could be too shy, they kept silence most of the time.

Many parties were held in this guesthouse in the past, but it was the first time SAG staffs, us, organized a dinner for them. They said they had never before been invited to dine on the same table. I heard “Thank you” repeatedly. I could sense their gladness.

They are simple people, nice to us, they deserved a little respect. (After all, they were the ones prepared all the meals, and cleaning… we gave only instructions…)



2 movies

Angels & Demons

Disappointed… another failure after “The Da Vinci Code”, same mistake. The movie just couldn’t accommodate the whole story. It was a waste for Tom Hanks playing the role of Dr.Langdon.



Wednesday, July 08, 2009


We were shocked to learn that someone broke into our new guesthouse at night and stole the new Samsung flat screen TV and the decoder. No one was alarmed, nor did the watchman. I wondered if he was asleep all night long? Police report was lodged, I doubt the investigation would bring any result. Speculation immediately pointed to the watchman.

I had been told several times that the criminal rate in Rwanda was very very low, and the city was absolutely safe. But, explain to me, if this statement is true, why armed security is seen around the city even our office building?

I don’t know if we had bad luck, for sure we have to keep higher alert to our safety and security from now on.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Site Visit to Mt. Kigali

We made a site visit on Sunday. 2/3 of the roads were unpaved, and the last 1/3 was particularly not so comfortable, lots of turns in this hilly terrain. We passed through small villages occasionally, exciting kids were yelling and waving. Like to see the big white teeth glimmering on their bright smiling faces. People are poor but they keep themselves tidy. We stopped by at one small village for lunch, a skewer cost EUR 0.30 each, compared to EUR 1.20 charged in Kigali’s restaurant. The overall environment was peaceful, no hassle…

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Thousand Splendid Suns

I bought this novel because of the storyline was set on Afghanistan - among the “exotic” and “mysterious” countries on my wish-to-travel list, also partly convinced by the author – Khaled Hosseini’s previous success “The Kite Runner”.

I don’t like the story, too heavy and too dark… The fates of the 2 ladies were doomed in the feudal society, no hint of happiness till flipped to the last pages. The idea was not fresh, very much alike typical Bollywood’s movies. The storyline spanned from 1960’s to the present day, buffered in the continuous civil war, Soviet invasion, Taliban etc. The history was more interesting instead. I couldn’t help myself to curse the stupid act of destroying the Great Bamiyan Buddha Statues.

Somehow I must agree that the book was beautifully scripted.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Stray Dogs (This Article Is Not For The Fainthearted)

The government launched stray dogs elimination campaign after the 1994 genocide incidence. During this unpleasant period, the scattered dead bodies had become feast of stray dogs. They grew stronger and the wild nature of savoring raw meat recaptured their tamed characters. They had even started to attack people when getting hungry, posting high risk to the public. Psychologically people still couldn’t wipe off the memory of dogs eating the corpse. Therefore this campaign was launched.


Eating chicken here was a great challenge to teeth strength, the meat was tougher than a tire, could probably be used as substitution to industrial anti earthquake material. Was told the chickens here are mostly raised in free range, plenty of marathon exercise daily, resulted fatless lean muscles and tough! One needed real strong teeth to shred it off the bones… I made it…

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I asked for a quotation yesterday, the Indian manager promised to send to me. An e-mailed was sent to confirm my requirement.

No feedback, we called his office this morning, left a message asking him to return call. Of course, no response. After lunch I called his mobile again, he denied receiving my e-mail and stated firmly he did send me the e-mail. He defended, “I sent to you yesterday, if you did not receive it what can I do?”

Heh… is this the attitude to do business? The market is small here, when a company monopolizes particular business, they could be arrogant…

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Iran Post Election

It was rather unexpected to see the riot escalated in Tehran after the recent election. News shows lots of destruction to the public infrastructure and properties. Some opportunists were taking chance to loot the banks and shops. The opposition leader Mousavi has no intention to cease the political unrest, he is waiting for the chance to gain his own interest. Apparently this is the most efficient way to ask for concession from the incumbent party.

The latest news said votes may be recounted. Ok, let’s say the opposition succeeded to reshuffle the result, the supporters of Ahmedinejad would launch another massive protest again… then what?

Small Gift

I developed a few photos of the house cleaning lady and the watchman, and gave to them just now. “Thank you” swarmed my ears, smiles were beaming, joy was radiating… A small gift has the power to cheer up someone greatly. They are easily content… so simple…

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu

It was the portrait of Gurrumul by Guy Maestri who won the excellent 2009 Archibald Prize, and the massive reports of him on the Australian local media, I learned to know this name for the first time. An aborigine, a singer, but he was born blind. Unlike the ordinary traditional aboriginal music, his music and voice is truly enchanting. His CD is worth to be on your rack.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Night Club

Went out to a night club at KBC yesterday… it was not the kind of night club I thought, but just a place offering a disco dance floor, a bar and a billiard room. Decoration was bare, simple colourful laser beams were straying on the walls and dance floor, music was suck – combination of African music and the 80’s pops, and the service was cold.
At 10:45pm, it was too early for the night owls. We sat at the bar, chatting and spotting girls around… hmm… most of them were either too “round” or like villagers, a few were exceptionally gorgeous. Many came here to search for relationship, eye contact was all you need. Being a muzungu (white person) this would be much easier.
After midnight, crowds started pouring in. Music was still suck, and the alcohol after 2 draft beers gradually seized my consciousness.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Went to the site for the first time this afternoon. People were staring at us (1 white + 1 yellow) from a distance, like watching the caged animals. A short while later, alert faded, curious kids came close to us, shyly, surrounding us. Ruggedly dressed, but not dirty, they tried to discover the dissimilarity between us. They touched my skin, probably wondered why it was so delicate… I didn’t explain to them I was using L’Oreal Men’s Expert series Anti Aging cream…

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Sunday, June 07, 2009


Just went for a haircut. Hah… not bad… more professional then my expectation, somehow couldn’t compare with the saloon in Asia or Europe. It was fun to see how the hairdressers work, and the trend of fashion and preferred hairstyle of Africans. It was definitely much better than Khartoum, where they only know shaving head with razor.

I paid EUR6.50, this is the high end price in Kigali.

Night Life

This was the 3rd weekend in Rwanda, colleagues invited me to local pubs in town. This place was much different to Khartoum (Sudan), nightlife was much livelier. Though the facilities and decorations were not contemporary or “class” and partly need really improvement, the fusion of Africans presented unique ambience.

Plenty of foreigners and better off locals hang out and toasting drinks. Heard there is a place having Salsa dancing every Thursday, would try to find out in future.

Flamingo Chinese Restaurant

Had a dinner at the Chinese restaurant yesterday near to my place. The decoration was a mixture of different cultures. The pavilion designed restaurant was painted blood red, with typical lanterns hanging on it. The materials used were improvised and localized, duplicating Chinese architecture. Soft Chinese music was airing under the romantic French dim lighting atmosphere, served by the Rwandaise and Ugandaise waiters… no one spoke Chinese. The Rwandaise boss, who was also the chef, spent years in China.

The food was unexpectedly quite authentic. But I doubt if the GongBao chicken I had yesterday was really chicken… was too dark to examine…

Still Frustrated

Has been here for more than 2 weeks. If you ask me how my job is, I would tell you I don’t enjoy it. Too much restrictions, the system is bureaucratic, overall management was not well integrated, just caused by a bunch of people.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Company Guesthouse

This is the company guesthouse where I’m staying presently (maybe temporarily) with 2 colleagues. Good hah! Well… it is located in the prime residential area in Kigali. Short distance away the poorer objects and scenes covered large part of the hills. Standard deteriorates when moving further off Kigali. The rental is REALLY expensive in Rwanda standard.
In this guesthouse, a cook, a cleaning lady (pic) and guards (pic) are employed, serving a lazy man like me.

Will upload more photos in future, don’t be shocked.


Every last Saturday of the month is the environment cleaning day. People would carry out communal works to clean up the country in the morning. Though it’s not mandatory, people is obliged to contribute their effort, many respond to it. I couldn’t recall any country else performing the same.

Into The Wild & Slumdog Millionaire

Read these 2 books lately, but the movie version seemed to be more interesting and entertaining.

Into The Wild – A compilation of the memories and comments from the persons known to him, the character of McCandless a.k.a Alex Supertramp was shaped in this true story. Some people disagreed with his motive and idea to walk into the wild, but Alex thought the world was immoral, he opted to live in the nature. Possibly the author wanted to thicken his book, he added someone else’s and his own experience into it, these sections were boring. Somehow the book was beautifully written, touching… The movie has enriched the life of Alex.

Slumdog Millionaire – The blockbuster movie extracted the idea and structure of this novel, but 80% of the contents have been changed. The movie had revamped the character of Ram Mohammed Thomas (a combination of Hindu, Muslim and Christian names), who was also a thief and a murderer in the novel. The movie had introduced more controversial and interesting Indian religion, cultural and social issues into it, made the storyline more realistic and convincing. The movie was better.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kigali (2)

The city (or town) center is pretty small. Not much things to see and to buy… would disappoint any shopaholic, and casual tourists… Considering the general low income of the populations, shopping choices & entertainment are less than desirable. I hope I would find more leisure activities, so not to get bored in the near future.

The air pollution is mainly contributed by the inefficient diesel engine of the old junk vehicles, otherwise the air is really refreshing. At night the lights studded all over the hills, clearly.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Nike Jacket

I handed over a few shirts to the house lady for washing yesterday morning. Back home I found my favourite Nike jacket was damaged by hot iron. I showed to her, not scolding, just wanted her to be careful while handling my clothes. After all how could I expect the poor lady to compensate EUR80 to me while she was earning the pitiful EUR4 (this is comparatively higher than average pay) per day? That’s my fault, I should have instructed her accordingly. And I shouldn’t bring good quality shirts to here.


– The city is situated on the highland, houses are built on the mountain slopes.
– Quite clean, of course not to the level of Singapore or Japan.
– Pretty crowded for 10m population, roads are narrow.
– Not much own industry production, imported goods are expensive (eg. EUR8 for a shower gel)
– Have no problem to get good food here.
– Shopping mall and supermarket are available, but in small scale.
– French is more frequently spoken than English.
– The gap between the rich and the poor is really drastic.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

20090516 Berlin

Car Pooling
Learned an alternative traveling mode in Germany economically. I traveled to Berlin last Sat with car pool from Frankfurt, a service I had not heard of in my country. There are agents coordinating passengers to join those drivers who are heading to the same destination and wanted to share cost. It’s cheaper, I paid EUR 30 one way for this trip, instead of approx. EUR 110 by train or EUR 135 by flight. The driver even dropped me in front of my hostel, saved me time to search around.

Was excited to travel to Berlin, to fulfill my dream to see the Berlin Wall, though greater part has collapsed and come down. The 2 and half days trip was far too short to have a fine look, but roughly scratching surface of this charming historical city. Due to the last minute organization, I didn’t have guidebook with me. This visit was solely satisfying visual excitement.

The famous landmark Brendanburger Tor was not grand as expected, but its location weighed in the history. The original walls on the west had all been run down and the Pariser Platz was reconstructed.

The adjacent Reichstag was my pick, though was only allowed to access to the Cupola (the dome). The dome itself and the surrounding views were unbeatable. Helplessly I dropped my jaw…The sparkling glass and mirror structure was beautifully designed, tourists were excited to catch their reflection on the mirror pillar. The thoughtful design of the spiral walkways ensures smooth flow of traffic.

A short distance away was the Holocaust Memorial. The 2711 different dimension stones were laying tidily on the uneven ground, intentionally designed to give a sense of insecurity. I was hopping from 1 to the other, the higher I went up, concern of falling down was looming. The psychological trick of the design worked on me. Young kids and teens were playing hide and seek in between the blocks, cheering up the dead souls.

Only a stretch of 1200m of Berlin Wall remnants remain standing, lots of tourists’ improvised remarks and graffiti smearing the original murals. A large part of it was being repainted and new murals were being drawn.

The Berliner Dom was attractive and well maintained. Was possible to climb up to the dome, giving a surrounding view of Museuminsel. I prefer the smaller roof-damaged Kaiser-Wilhelm church, which was being served as memorial hall. The upper floors had been close for visit, for safety sake… what a pity for not allowed to climb upstairs.

Had dropped by to visit Scholsspark Charlottenburg and the Sansoucci Park. The time was too constraint for me to visit these palaces. Just snapped some photos… in fact I had no intention to see the interior decoration.

Yet To Do
Many more sites had been neglected during this trip, like Museumsinsel, Jewish Museum, art gallery etc. BERLIN, I’LL BE BACK!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rwanda Visa

I was told that my Rwanda visa has been approved and the Embassy in Berlin was sending back to our office. We opened the envelope this afternoon and found a wrong passport was enclosed. Gosshhh… We called the Embassy immediately, they realized the mistake yesterday and my passport was sent to Austria instead, which is being DHL to us.

I had my flight booked for tomorrow morning. My planning has to be changed, and reschedule to next Thursday. I take this chance to travel to Berlin tomorrow, for 3 days trip.

Come Together

Our department has organized a 2-days gathering at Grasellenbach, approx. 75km from Langen. The management team gathered and pooled the ideas aiming to discuss and identify problems, and the solutions (if possible). In my opinion, some decisions needed direct instruction and pressure from the higher management to sort out the existing problems. It was remarkable that the 2 veteran site managers demanded greater authority to rule the project, which obviously unpleasing the head office management team.

It was a good occasion to meet other colleagues whom have been in contact via e-mails or calls for long but never met. Meals and drinks were free… what a good vacation :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Am now in Langen

Has been a week in Langen now. While waiting for the Rwanda visa application, have started gathering info and data of this project. The overall situation is not clear yet – employment contract is not concluded, salary? responsibility? scope of works? Since an existing local Rwanda team is working on the project now, am expecting some conflicts would disrupt when they thought we, the “intruders” are seizing power from them.

Travelled to Koblenz yesterday, mainly to meet Maike and Tom. Was a leisure afternoon to visit the town perching on the Rhine River bank, and the Ehrenbreitstein. The gelato was delicious.

Today Connie-baby spent the whole afternoon giving me a Frankfurt city guide. The view from the Main Tower over Frankfurt city was beautiful. Though Frankfurt is the commercial hub of Germany, the skyline is lacking of impressive-designed buildings, the architecture is quite conservative instead. The arts gallery – Staedel Kunstinstitut was good but we didn’t have time to appreciate in detail. The Caravagio exhibition was being held.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rwanda, Swine Flu & Wolverine

Will be leaving to Germany next Tuesday before proceeding to Rwanda 2 weeks later. Family and friends are concerned with the situation there, Add ImageI’m curious about it too. Time to work again… Colleagues are assuring me of the peaceful and good living environment there, hope it is true. I wonder if I could adapt with this majority French speaking country.

The swine flu has alerted worldwide precaution of this mutated virus, stirring panic in many countries. What’s the cause of this mutation? Was that because of too much chemical substance in the feeds or injections on the pigs that mutating the DNA?

Watched the latest movie “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” yesterday… entertaining… but the fighting scenes are not enough!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Taiwan – Dan Shui (淡水)

Once important port city in the history for its geographical position. Just a short distance from Taipei, nowadays it is a pleasant weekend escape from the city. Foods are plentiful, and the Fisherman’s Wharf was a pleasant place shouldn’t be missed. The serene long boardwalk along the coast provides good venue for dating. A great place to see the sunset over Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan – Alishan Forest Recreation Area (阿里山)

Another top tourist attraction of Taiwan. The name was so famous and the song about the beautiful Alishan ladies was popular. Thought I would have chance to certify this statement, but I had no time. I stayed only 2 nights and it was raining. Without own transportation it was handicapped to travel to villages nearby.

To many tourists, it was a must to ride the small forest train from JiaYi (嘉义 – altitude 30m) to Alishan village (altitude 2200m). The journey took 3.5hr and passed through 3 climatic zones – tropical, subtropical and temperate. The train was 1 of the 3 most famous mountain trains in the world.

The Alishan village was small and packed with hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. Starbucks was boasting its highest outlet in Taiwan here.

The common activity was to hiking in the forest. Plenty of centuries old trees around. The ordinary route was too easy and frequented by elder folks. So I tried challenging the TaShan (塔山 – altitude 2610m). Was regretful… I spent 4 hrs hiking on this route, but the thick fog and mist enveloped the whole mountain, not even the silhouette of nearer view could be traced. Worse, I injured my knee cap again, was painful to climb up and down the stairs on the way back.

Taiwan – Ken Ding (垦丁)

One of the favourite tourist spots in Taiwan, visitors come here for swimming, surfing, snorkeling, diving, hiking etc. The beaches around were not exceptionally good and the land rises fairly steep from the sea, but the water is clean. The view from the cliff over the coast was beautiful. The blue sky and the ocean were harmoniously integrated.

Tim brought me to here. We stayed at the small surfers’ hostel, right in front of the surfing beach JiaLeShui (佳乐水). Was good to try understanding surfing culture, but I didn’t pick up any lesson. Possibly having an unpleasant boat capsize experience in the past, have still a little phobia to swim in the sea.

There were plenty of go-kart racing circuits around though the fields were pretty small. It was my first trial, exciting!

The town center was transformed to night market after sunset. It was OK but I preferred the night life atmosphere in Phuket where tourists were throwing beer and music was blaring out loud from speakers.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Taiwan – Tainan (台南)

Tainan is the oldest and the 4th largest city. Among the places I have travelled in Taiwan, it has the most historical relics and temples, though the size, architecture and history are no way to compare with China.

The famous Matsu Temple was crowded with devotees praying for good luck in health, business, fortune, affair, safety etc… From the size of the crowd, one can tell if the deities had granted their wishes. To me, the concern is that, people would respect and believe in something and thus guiding their own behaviour in order and discipline.

The night market was really enjoying, huge and heavily packed. Local snacks were plentiful. Thank you Tim!

Taiwan – Yang Ming Shan National Park (阳明山)

It is said that the geological forces that frequently shake Taiwan have caused the island to be riddled with hot springs. The major attraction of Yang Ming Shan is the hot-spring baths. We sneaked into the forbidden area at BaYan (八烟) after 5pm. The meeting point of the two hot and cold streams was a perfect place for soaking. The water has a milky colour and mildly sulphurous odour. Though the water temperature of above 40C was slightly too warm, the feeling was real good.

Depends on the season, different types of flower blossom could be seen over the park. Fields of white HaiYu (海芋, Alocasia Rhizome / Giant Taro / Giant Elephant Ear) adorn the fields.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Taiwan – JiuFen (九份)

Nestled against the mountains, this small village was once center of gold mining during the Japanese occupation. It was abandoned after the mining sources dried up. It was said more than 100km of underground mining tunnels were crisscrossing inside the mountain, unfortunately the authorities did not explore the advantage of it for adventurous tourism sake.

Nowadays the tourists are flocking here for the old teahouses and traditional narrow lanes. The old JiShan Street was packed with plenty of souvenirs and snacks stalls. Plenty of Japanese tourists came here to recall their memory.

Thks to the hospitality of Shelly and A-Ru, they were my guide for these 2 days. This was my best memory in Taiwan.

Taiwan – Taipei (台北)

The moment travelling from the Airport to Taipei City, I realized that my expectation of Taipei was utterly wrong - I meant physically comparing to Hong Kong. The atmosphere was more laid back, not many high rise buildings studded the skyline.

The highlight of Taipei was the National Palace Museum, which housing huge collection (world’s largest and finest) of invaluable Chinese Arts brought from mainland China during the retreat of KMT. Among the focuses are the “jade cabbage” and “jade pork”… they were smaller than I thought.

The iconic Freedom Square (previously known as “Zhong Zheng” Square, the name was changed a couple of years back) was my pick for photographing. The buildings were grand, and the atmosphere was good. The gigantic bronze statue of Taiwan’s first president in the “Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall” was sitting high up overlooking the square.

The politeness of the sales promoters in the shopping mall was overwhelming, sounds like the Japanese culture… I had to respond with a courtesy smile each time… eventually I hanged the smile on my face in the whole afternoon.

Who won’t go to see the current world tallest (current record) building “Taipei 101”? I didn’t go up to the observation floor. The lower floors are lined up with world top class boutiques, very spacious. Wonder how much cost they need to spend just to replacing a spot light on the sky high ceiling, or to pump a liter of water to the top floor?

The most famous Shi Lin night market was interesting, is a good place to savour local foods and shopping.