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Travelogue
 
Back home
 
 Sydney, Australia
 
Cairns, Australia
 
Canberra, Australia
 
Manila, Philippines
 
Kulalampur, Malaysia
 
Dallas, USA
 
Atlanta, USA
 
San Fransisco, USA
 
Goa, India
 
Hong Kong, China
 

Write to me

.
What is the best part of working in VeriFone? No it is not the work, but it is the travel. 

List of places I visited in the last two years is on the left pane.  

Below is some e-mails i wrote to my friends over these period. 
 

 Subj: Australia for Dummies... 

 Australia for Dummies 
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
 - And a reference for rest of us!! 
                                           ^^^^^^ 
Advt. 
~~~~~ 
Coming in the next two weeks 

    ADVANCED Australia for Dummies 

    Australia for ADVANCED Dummies 

Please book your copy in advance to avoid disappointment. 

Tips: 
~~~~~ 
U are traveling with a beautiful female in a lift (U 2 are "alone"). 
Suddenly she says 

        "SQUEEZE me..." 
        "What? Who? Me?" 
        "SQUEEZE me..." 

You still don't squeeze her. You just EXCUSE here. Remember Australian 
accent is very difficult to understand. 

E.g.. WoolWorth is spelt out as W-U-OOh-OOh-El-W-U-OOh-AAr-Thi-Ache 

Saturday: 
~~~~~~~~~ 
Started the day with Bondi beach. It is called Surfer's Paradise. Lots of  
water sports going on there. Ok, Ok beach. That's all. 

Visited "Town Hall" (another version of Brigade Road in BLR, or Orchard in 
SIN). Lots and lots of underground shopping area. And also some Majestic 
buildings - Old Victoria Style buildings. Bought a few items including a 
Boomerang!!! 

Form there went to CenterPoint (or Sydney tower) - A tall (tallest in 
Sydney) tower (and not a building) with a viewing place at the top. 
You can see the whole of Sydney from there. The "Darling" Harbor (Yes that  
is the name - people in AUS are very "loving"!!!), the roads, Malls, 
airport.. It was marvelous. 

Came down took a monorail running thru the heart of the city, above roads 
and buildings. This gives u a nice idea about how the city looks like. 

Went to a large open-air market place, so huge and so many items - except a 
wife i was able to find all the things i required, there!!! 

Sydney has a nice (mostly) underground train service (a double decker  
one!!) which goes to all parts of the city. 

Tricks: 
~~~~~~~ 
There are a lot of inter-country marriages. (India/Australia) But Majority 
are Indian females and Australian Males. The reverse is not common. See 
the charm!!! 

Sunday: 
~~~~~~~ 
Thanks to my friend Terry, i was able to see the Australian country side. 
We drove down to a place called Jenolan Caves. We (means he) drove almost 
400 Km. The country sides are exactly like what we see in movies - vast 
areas of grass land on both sides of the road, sheeps and cows moving 
around, small ponds and rivers, cottages... 

We reached near the caves around 3:00 pm. It was extremely cold!!. May be 
2-3 degrees. The coldest temperature i ever faced. These caves were really 
colourful - some places red, some places blue... Inside the cave there was 
a pond - crystal clear water, blue in colour!!! The whole cave was built 
by nature over 1000,000 years!!! 

By the time we came out of the caves it was jet dark (here sun sets around 
4:00 pm now - it's winter) and had to drive all the way back in the dark. 

Tips: 
~~~~~ 
There is no "Good morning" in Oz, it is always "Good Day". If you are 
friendly to people u are a "BUDDY" to them; if u are very friendly u become 
a "BA***RD" to them. That is how u will be introduced to others!!! 

Monday: 
~~~~~~~ 
Another holiday, Queens Birthday (AUS people still consider them as a part 
of Britan). 

Went to the town - it started raining so heavily - i had no choice except 
to see a movie. Each movie complex is pretty big. 6-10 movie houses, video 
games, food stalls - all in one complex. I saw "Twister". After the movie 
i came out and it was still raining heavily. Again i had no choice. I went 
in for the next movie "Rumble in the Bronx". 

Luckily by the time the movie finished the rain had stopped and i went 
back home. 


8-SEP-1996 
Subj: It is spring time!!! 

Hi, 

One of my enemies has forwarded one of my previous  "Australian status 
report", which said things like "I am having a paid  holiday", "I have 
seen most of Sydney" etc.  to the bosses in Australia - and because of 
this i am overloaded with  work this time!!! They are making sure that 
in this two weeks i will  compensate for all the  "no work" period. :) 
Sorry to start my "weekly status report" this way-accusing one of you. 

Sunday, yesterday is the first day i came out of the Sydney office. The 
celebrate this freedom, along  with a friend i went  to Canberra,  the 
capital of Australian federation, a city 300 km. away from Sydney.  Do 
you remember "Project Canberra"  VeriFone's smart card project piloted 
in Canberra? 

Four hours of drive up, four hours in Canberra, and four hours to come 
back. 

A well planned city, lots of fascinating buildings (both old and new), 
wonderful greenery (is it the right word? It's spring -  all trees are 
either red, blue, white, yellow or magenta, very little green) and  no 
people!!! Streets are virtually empty during weekends. Weekends people 
from Canberra come to Sydney or go to Melbourne. 

We visited the  parliament and had a "sitting" there - yeah, they allow 
you to sit in the  Senator or Prime minister's chair.  There is an old 
parliament, which is now a heritage museum and a new (much bigger) one. 
Security is almost inexistent - you can walk in anywhere. Just think of 
doing it in India!!! 

Also we went to see few gardens (near a lake side),  High court  (yeah 
here also you can sit in the chief justice's seat - if they see it you 
can sit in again - for contempt of court in another seat :) ) and  the 
tallest building in Canberra, The Telstra tower, 600 m above sea level 
on a hill - tower by itself is only 200 meter tall. 

One surprising item in Australia - they don't show cricket in TV. They 
keep on showing Rugby.  The match in Srilanka  (including the final in 
which Australia played)  was shown only on tv for  30 seconds during a 
late night news!!! 

Bye 
manu 



16-OCT-1996 
Subj: In the US... 

Hi, 

After giving countless number of trainings to others (to be exact - after 
teaching all of them a lesson) it was my turn to get trained. Had a cool 
10 days in the US, in SFO and DFW. Thanks to all the Verifoner's and 
ex-Verifoner's and my class mates in SFO, i had a nice time there. 

During first two days i was in SFO - went around and saw Golden Gate 
bridge, Crooked street (a road with some real twists - ultimate test for 
your driving skills) and downtown SFO. The Sunday evening went to Dallas. 

Dallas is a real desert town. Not much people around!!! Without a car 
your state is really bad - much worse than in SFO. During the evenings 
went around downtown Dallas. Visited a few places like Planet Hollywood 
(!), Art Museum (had some "real wonderful" art works (which, i as usual, 
did not understand, and some real great art works). Went to the spot 
where JFK was assasinated - unluckly was not able to make to the JFK 
musuem. Also tried a lot of Mexican food. Some real big malls are also 
there - as usual did a lot of window shopping. 

Was back in SFO again in the weekend. Saturday went out with my class 
mates. Had a long drive thru the Scenic Drive (one side sea and the other 
side hills, was too good), and went to a park in Big Sur. Except a small 
waterfall we did not see much there. Sunday went around the Silicon 
Valley - saw some companies like Apple, HP etc. 

Late Sunday evening back to SIN again, for the usual hungama. :) 

Bye 
manu 



8-OCT-1997 
Subj: Konnichiva...

Hi All,

All these while I had a complex that people don't understand me and my 
feelings. After coming to Japan this complex has become so complex. 99 out 
of 100 people I meet tell me that 'they dont understand me'. Think of my 
state, I am giving a training for 8 people, and only one person understands 
English, he has to translate every statement I say - God alone knows what 
others understand. No wonder people say it is tough to survive in the Japan 
market!!!

The first thing you notice when you land in Japan is that how Japanese 
people are capable of miniaturizing things. Look at their currency. In a 
small piece of paper they store 100000 units of their currency and it still 
weighs nothing. Only my Singaporean neighbour 'Smoking Gun' Indonesia has 
achieved better results in the ASPAC region. This place is unimaginably 
expensive. The hotel I stay - a dinner for one person (without drinks) is 
just US$250/-. Can you think of it? By the by, this time I am not on a 
US$30 per diem. I am going on actuals, else I have to take a bank lon to 
pay my credit card bills when I am back. 

Last weekend went out for a long walk - The first place I visited was Meiji 
Memorial Hall. Meiji was a Japanese Emporer who ruled Japan for over 60 
years from 1860 to 1920. Lots of large size oil paintings depecting that 
period was there. The next stop was Akasaka Palace where the current 
emporer lives. 

Then I went to Meiji Shrine (this place is full of Meiji memorial stuff); 
it is a temple in the middle of a very huge Japanese garden. Some 
traditional marriage ceremony was going on there - looked like a large 
scale fancy dress competition. People with painted faces, a fellow holding 
a BIG umbrella, People wearing (or is it riding) BIG shoes etc. 

Later I moved on to another street nearby, the fashion street of Tokyo 
(Like Brigade of Bangalore or Orchard of Singapore). Just think of a street 
filled with hundreds of Dennis Rodman's (for people who don't know Dennis 
Rodman - he is an US basketball icon, a very 'colourful' personality, hates 
wearing clothes etc.) - that is what 'Thakeshita' street is all about. 
Youngsters younsters alone) with green hair, atleast 10 rings in thier ears 
etc. etc.

Also went to a local festival place, mostly like our Temple festival. Large 
crowds walking arround eating all possible things. One thing I forgot to 
tell - the main food is fish in here. People eat it in all possible ways - 
as breakfast, as lunch, as dinner, as snacks, cooked, raw; can you think of 
anything else - that also.... All shops display 'live' menu outside mostly 
made up of a plastic like substance.

Apart from these, people in here are very friendly and courteous. Once they 
step into the office till evening they work, work and work. Everyone come 
to the office in three piece suits. Once inside the offcie, no talking to 
each other, no WWW browsing, no gossiping, no news paper reading. But they 
freak out once they are out of the office. No wonder this country is so 
advanced. 

Will keep updating,

Bye
manu

NB: Kannichiva - "Hello" in Japanese



16-OCT-1997 
Subj: << NO TITLE >>

Hi All,

Last week I made a mistake of writing a Japanese word as the subject  of my 
mail - I got atleast 4 mails back fully written in Japanese. Some of them 
were kind enough to send the translation also; other mails - I just deleted 
it. :)

The second weekend in Japan was much more fruitful. One of my 'students' 
took me arround in his car to show a lot of places in Japan.

The first place was Tokyo tower. A systematic way of looting public's 
money. The tower is 333m tall, looks more like the Eiffel tower. Took 850 
Yen (approx - US$ 8/-) ticket to go up. Halfway, arround 150m above, the 
lift stopped. Got down. Another counter - need to pay another 650 Yen to go 
further up!! Again it stopped at 250m. That's all where you can call. Pay 
15 dollars to go just 250m meteres!!! There are also few other attraction 
inside the tower building - a trick art museum (tricky way to get 500 Yn 
from you), tower carnival etc. etc. 

Next stop - 'electronic' shopping area - Akihabara. Mobile phones are 
available for just US$ 4 (remember US$250 dinner, in the same country), but 
can be only used in Japan. All the latest electronic gadgets are available 
here; there is also something that can read your brain waves. Two metallic 
pieces are connect to your head, a clip in the ear (the 'ground') and then 
the reading starts it. My brain waves came almost empty (?); I got 
depressed; but the shop owner said that it is because I was a cool guy!!! 
Good!!

During weekends and holidays certain major roads in Japan are closed for 
traffic, opened for the public to walk arround. They call it as "walker's 
paradise". Something similar should be tried in MG Road and Brigade road in 
Bangalore.
 
Like I wrote earlier, people are well dressed here. People go for the 
Sunday shopping in a 3 piece suit. But one odd part - most of them don't 
drive a car, but they 'drive' a cycle. 

Service (industry) in Japan, whether it is a hotel or a shop is excellent. 
Much better than in the other countries.

The next stop was 'Akasuka' (remember last week i went to 'Akasaka' palace, 
lots of names look the same), a temple market street. A long stretch of 
Japanese cookie/snacks shops in front of a temple. The way you pray in a 
temple is something similar to what people do in Indian temples. First you 
have to wash your hands and legs (leg washing optional) near a well in 
front of the temple. They you go in front of the God, clap 'hard' twice and 
then pray. Except the clapping part it mostly looks normal. 

Also visited some toy shops - nothing to match my level; so did not buy 
anything.

The hotel I stayed has a beautiful Japanese Garden, one of the best I have 
ever seen. Evenings it was a very pleasent thing to work arround there.

Will be continuing to Hong Kong and China from here. That and the remaining 
stories after the break.. :)

Sayanara,
manu



21-OCT-1997
Subj: One country, two systems...

Hi All,

Finally after a long and tiring journey I reached Hong Kong arround 
Saturday. As an Indian Hong Kong is the only country where I can sneak in 
without a VISA. Even after the China handover things remain the same. 
Processions are still allowed, news papers can write 'what they want' - all 
these are banned in mainland China.

The whole of Sunday morning I had to walk arround in some shopping 
complexes as it was raining heavily. Hong Kong heavy rains and Typhoons are 
common; In Japan earthquakes are common (atleast 10 an year).

In the afternoon took a tram to the 'Peak', the heighest point in Hong Kong 
(one change here; earlier name was 'Victoria Peak' now it is called the 
'New Peak'). Got a magnificient view of Hong Kong from there. All the tall 
buildings, the sea, and the 'bay' of the mainland - Kowloon.

Later took a boat and crossed to the other side (FYI: Hong Kong is an 
island near to Kowloon, Kowloon was also the part of the Hong Kong 
territory earlier). Walked arround in the temple street. A long strectch of 
roadside shops - selling all sort of pirated stuffs.

The next day early morning went for a Quick Chinese Visa to go to Mainland 
China, to a place called Gaungzhou (GZ) where VeriFone has got a new 
office. In just 45 minutes the visa is ready. Took a train to GZ. Got a 
very nice view of the Chinese country side. Mountains, greenery, people 
moving arround in cycles wearing big hats made of Bamboo etc. The train was 
also classy.

GZ suprised me; that may be a simple way of telling it. It very much looked 
like Bangalore with three main differences - no autos, but taxis; no 
Indians, but Chinese people; and two wheelers are generally bicycles. 
Everything else looks identical. People crossing roads when and where they 
like, vehicles running in the opposite direction in a one way street; large 
scale constructions, dust, smoke, tall new buildings, slums, bars and pubs; 
there are even policemen who stop vehicle drivers and asking lincence in 
some ticky corners!!!! A China very different from what I expected.

Except talking politics most of the things are Ok. If you ever want to talk 
politics make it in English (or go to Hong Kong and talk), especially 
things like "Communism is Bad' etc. as most of the Chinese police does not 
understand English.

I heard that once you move away from the big cities, people are poor and 
living standards are not very good, worse than most of the places in India. 
 

Food is one major thing here. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is an event by 
itself - each taking atleast 2 hours each. It is dirt cheap. A dinner for 4 
with drinks and 20 items on the table wont cost more than 100 rupees. They 
eat all possible things that you can imagine of (and also you can't 
imagine). After this experience I have become a vegetarian. :) 

Did not do much; except walking in the streets in the evenings.

Then back to Hong Kong and then back to Singapore. Most of the ASPAC 
countries are 'over' now. Time to try something 'new'. :)

Till that time,

Bye
manu



13-NOV-1997 
Subj: I am a multi-millionaire now!!!

Hi All,

When I have a few million to spend what did I do. Of course I travelled. ;)

Think of an Asian country where everyone use US dollars as the primary 
currency, people drive Japaneese cars, educated youth talk fluent English, 
pubs and disco's open till 4:00 am in the morning.....

I am sure that you have guessed it totally wrong, unless otherwise you 
already knew where I went. I am talking about Vietnam. My idea of Vietnam 
(and HochiMinh city in particular) was - No English, hates Americans, 
strcit rules etc. All turned out to wrong.

To start with, HochiMinh city is just like any other booming Asian city; 
Lot of new buildings, lots of banks (a sign of economic growth - growth 
chance for VeriFone too), lots of entertainment. Main mode of 
transportation is two wheelers, especially a vehicle which looks very 
similar to Bajaj M80. Traffic flows smoothly even if the roads are crowded 
(but slowly) during busy hours; Breaks are applied very rarely. It is more 
like synchronized swimming - everybody is synchronized when vehicles are 
moving. 

The currency is the most tough part. One US dollar is 12100 Vietnamese 
Dongs (VND) !!!! I spend VND 12,000,000/- for my few days stay in 
Vietnam!!!!! Now you know how I became a multi-millionaire!!! You can also 
use US dollars if you wish without converting in most of the places.

People are good and friendly; especially taxi drivers; the most courteous I 
have ever met in any city (Asian and American). Prompt and no bargaining 
even if you are coming out of a five star hotel. The official male dress is 
normal trousers and shirts; females wear a salwar kameez sort of stuff with 
a big cut on both sides. Girls wear 'very nice' (read transparent) clothes 
to make them look 'very nice'. 

The best part of the story is 'romancing in Vietnam' - this happens in the 
middle of the city. A pair will be going in parellel in two different two 
wheelers (one may be a cycle and one may be a motorbike!) slowly in the 
middle of the busy road not bothering about anything else, talking, 
laughing and 'touching' each other!!! 

The Vietnamese language is mostly written using English alphabets, but with 
some strange symbols above and below like
        _        .
        A  B  C
             ^ 
So one can read boards if needed.

Some sample Vietnamese names 'Key', 'Lay' (male names); 'My My', 'Sisi' 
(female names). :)

Vietnamese have a wide variety of foods - from pure vegiterian food to 
chicken feet to dog meat (yuck!!) to 'Wined' Snake (Bhooo!!). Since last 
month I am a full vegeterian (no kidding, I am serious; Why? for a change - 
one has to experience everything in life - is it not?) I did not try 
anything. So no comments. :)

One of the most exciting, wonderful and frightneing experience in Vietnam 
as Chu Chi tunnels - pronounced as 'Koo Chi(as in Chiken)). The tunnels are 
approximately 60 Kilometers away from the centre of the city and extends up to almost 250 kilometeres. 

These are the tunnels from which a section of Vietnamese people fought the 
Americans. There are three levels. Level One is 10 feet deep, Level two is 
18-20 feet deep and level three is 25-30 feet deep. One whole generation of 
Vietnamese people stayed in these tunnels and fought with the such strong 
enemies like Americans and French, just using ordinary some crude weapons!!

We went down the tunnels; it was frighteningly dark and humid and tunnels 
were so narrow. Just biting (as there is no way to hold it with your hands) 
a small torch light we had to crawl thru the tunnels for almost 50 meters 
to reach the next point. There are also a lot of booby traps; one wrong 
move and you are also a part of history. To experience the real feeling of 
lonliness and helpness one has to do this atleast once in their life time. 
Can't belive people stayed in there for 10 years.

Came out; went into the shooting grounds (shooting with a gun I mean). 
Tried an Russian made AK47 and American M16 machine guns and fired real bullets (wow!!). 10 bullets is US$ 10/- Get 3 out to 10 at the target. 
Luckily no one arround was hurt by the remaining bullets. ;)

After a quick five day visit back to Singapore again - waiting for the next 
adventure.

Bye
manu


 
There's no future in time travel.