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.