Today I did a 13km walk along Koonung Creek Trail. Legs are absolutely sore at the moment but the endorphins always feel great.
Some pictures I took along the way…
And the route…
View Koonung Creek Trail in a larger map
How to display RunKeeper activity map on Google Maps without using RunKeeper embed code
- Export GPX of RunKeeper activity map data (Share -> Advanced Options -> Export GPX).
- Convert it to KML using GPS Visualizer (Upload your GPS -> Create KML file).
- Import KML to Google Maps (My Places -> Create New Map -> Import).
- Use Google Maps embed code on your website (click the button with link icon on the top right).
Life: beijing china hangzhou shanghai travel
by Cliffano Subagio
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I visited China in August 2010 (yay, this post is only a year late), I arrived in Hangzhou by plane, took a train to Shanghai, then a domestic flight to Beijing, and flew out of China via Tianjin. China was quite an experience… the cultural differences, the language barrier, the scorching heat, the extremely crowded places, all took me out of my comfort zone, but hey, that’s traveling at its finest.
Hangzhou felt more traditional compared to Shanghai and Beijing, and people were somewhat nicer there. The main sightseeing area in Hangzhou was the West Lake, a gigantic lake which was just recently listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I circled that lake on foot, it wasn’t the smartest idea.
The best part of Hangzhou was the delicious home-cooked style meal I had at a small restaurant on Santaishan Rd, herbal chicken soup and stir fried veggies brought back lots of childhood memories, but this time with a bottle of light beer.
One of the most unforgettable experiences I had during the whole trip was the last day in Hangzhou. We were supposed to figure out a way from Hangzhou to Shanghai by train, and I literally meant _figure out_ since we didn’t book any ticket and we didn’t even know whether there was going to be a train to Shanghai that day. It was very crowded at Hangzhou train station, we had to queue for a long time to buy the tickets and several times had to turn a blind eye at some people cutting the queue.
With tickets in hand, the next challenge was squeezing ourselves through hundreds of people trying to get through the main building’s small entrance. And surprise, surprise, once inside, next up was another round of pushing and shoving just to get on the train. But there’s more, it turned out that our tickets didn’t cover for a seat on the train, so we had to sit on our luggage, next to the toilet, for 2 friggin’ hours! Like I said, it was an unforgettable experience.
Shanghai was very modern, it’s a totally different face of China compared to Hangzhou. I was amazed by the lights at The Bund at night, I declared that part of Shanghai the bling of Asia. My favourite spot in Shanghai was Xintiandi, specially the area with Shikumen architecture, a fusion between the Western and Chinese styles. Had a really nice brunch there.
It wasn’t part of the plan, but we also ended up visiting Shanghai Expo 2010 and checked out what the China Pavilion was all about. The Expo was covered on TV day and night, everyone was talking about it. But to be honest, I still don’t get what the big deal was, I was impressed with the pavilion’s sustainable design more than anything else there.
The best food I had in Shanghai was everything that was served at Xin Wang restaurant, seriously, I still remember how delicious the food was!
On the last day in Shanghai, we took a train to get to Shanghai airport. That train line branched out into two lines, and according to the timetable, our train was supposed to take the top line with the airport nearby its last stop. But as bad luck played out, the top line was closed that day and our train was directed to the bottom line, fsck! We got off at the last stop, not knowing where we were, we had to get a taxi and that involved crossing a busy Shanghai highway while carrying two bags each, let’s just say that it was not something I would like to do more than once in my life.
The first thing that I noticed when I arrived in Beijing was the grey sky, it was never blue, just shades of grey for days, pretty gloomy. Beijing was very crowded, the streets were never empty, there were just people everywhere, walking, talking, non-stop.
To give you an idea of how crowded it was, have you ever been to a McDonald’s where you have to queue for half an hour outside of the building and they have to limit the number of people inside the building and how many of them are allowed to place an order at one time? Well, the McDonald’s at the Olympic Park was where I had that exact experience. And after getting our meal, there was no free table, we ended up sitting on the curb and ate the burgers and taro pies there.
The most unforgettable part of Beijing was walking on the Great Wall of China, I couldn’t help wondering how on earth could mankind build such a massive piece of structure, it was just beyond belief. The fact that I did the Crank That on the wall was, of course, not that important.
At the end of the trip, we took a bullet train from Beijing to Tianjin to catch the flight home. I still remember the ticker showing 320kmph, which was the speed of the train, faster than the shinkansens in Japan! That right there pretty much summed up the unbelievable economic progress China made in the past decade, the infrastructure followed suit, technology, life. Sure it’s not perfect, there are still numerous issues that the western world would like China to improve. But there’s one thing for sure, the China today is better than ever for the rest of the world.
As a huge fan of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli (think of an older distant Japanese cousin of Pixar), I had always wanted to visit _the_ Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan, and I finally made it there nearing the end of my Japan trip this year.
We took JR Chuo Rapid line from Tokyo station to Mitaka station, then followed by a ride on the museum’s bus which took us directly to the entrance of the museum. Ghibli Museum was not your typical museum with exhibits that you could only look from a distance. There, the visitors were encouraged to explore everything throughout the museum.
The view right after getting off the bus. You can see the giant soldier robot from Castle in the Sky on the rooftop.
These animation cels were used as tickets to watch Studio Ghibli’s short films, exclusively screened at the museum’s Saturn Theater. They were showing Pan Dane to Tamago Hime at that time.
The best part of the museum for me was the Preproduction Room display, specially the imageboard sketch drawing desk. I also enjoyed spotting references to Porco Rosso, my most favourite Studio Ghibli film of them all. The food at Straw Hat Cafe was surprisingly delicious and quite filling.
Actually, we almost didn’t make it to the museum. Following the earthquakes and the nuclear power plant incident, we cancelled our plan to stay in Tokyo for the second half of the trip, i.e. no Ghibli Museum visit.
Four days before the end of the trip, we were supposed to return to Kyoto from Hiroshima. But then we thought, what the heck, let’s go to Tokyo for a day just to visit the Ghibli Museum. So we did, we took the shinkansen all the way from Hiroshima to Tokyo early in the morning, visited the museum in Mitaka, then caught the last shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto. It was worth it.
Right after the tiring 30 hours extended journey from Melbourne to Kyoto, I spent the first night in Japan at an awesome capsule inn called 9h nine hours Kyoto Teramachi. I found out about nine hours from Trip Advisor, and was soon sold on the idea of staying there after checking out nine hours website and saw the photo gallery – seriously, you have to check out those pictures.
What I liked the most about nine hours was its simplistic and really well done interior design in such a limited space, the fact that I had one of the best sleeps of my life ever, right there inside one of those capsules, was secondary.
I’m one of those people who have a thing about proper spacing in a simplistic design, so being there at nine hours was like being in a mini sanctuary for me. Everything was properly designed, the signs, the lockers, the mini lounge, the colours, the elevators, the doors, the capsules, the water bottles, the sleeping jumpsuits, the showers, the tiles, and even the toilets. I took dozens of pictures of the little details of this place, but as luck played out, I lost pretty much all of them when my laptop was stolen :(.
And here are a few that survived. Let’s start with the inside of the capsule.
My favourite feature of the capsule was the ambient light that could be configured on the black panel. The light gradually turned dark when I was ready to go to sleep, and gradually turned bright moments before my wake up time.
The corridor with the capsules on the left. The cyan lighting did give the impression that a drone from the Borg collective was going to show up from the other end.
The reception area in the morning, notice the graphic signs on the floor. Various graphical signs were scattered on the floor and on the wall of nine hours. Those signs were cleverly designed that they were descriptive enough without any textual explanation.
Minimalism and simplicity at work!
What happened? (I lost my favourite laptop)
I was using my laptop to sort my travel photos during a flight from Kansai to Kuala Lumpur. I put my laptop in the seat pocket in front of me right before the plane landed. I was one of the last few passengers getting off the plane, I had a large backpack and two smaller travel bags with me. It was when I approached the gate that I realised that I had forgotten my laptop. I ran back through the bridge into the body of the plane. I passed several flight attendants and explained what happened. One of them kindly accompanied me to look for my laptop. But the laptop was not there. The cleaners and the caterers were already inside the plane but no one saw my laptop. I lost my laptop in just 30 seconds after I left my seat.
What then followed? (incompetence, disappointment)
The cleaners told me that it got to be one of the passengers, while some of the cabin crew members and ground service staffs suspected that it could be one of the cleaners. What then followed was confusing to me. I was in Kuala Lumpur only for a three hour transit. Some of the flight attendants kindly took me to Malaysia Airlines information service booth, the staffs manning the booth then suggested me to clear customs to report to their Lost and Found department. I filed a report there and was told to call them again half an hour before boarding. I had to pass customs again to return to International departure area. At whatever downtime I had, I frantically changed my passwords (email services, social services, various websites) using an iPhone. News flash: filling in multiple web forms on an iPhone wasn’t a pleasant experience. At the agreed time, I gave the Lost and Found department a call and was told that no one handed in the laptop. Seriously WTF? They only waited for someone to hand the laptop to them?
Not wanting to miss the next flight to Melbourne, I then agreed to contact them again from Melbourne, Australia. That night I couldn’t sleep at all on the plane, knowing that I lost thousands of photos from my Japan travel, photos of my parents when they visited me in Melbourne late last year, photos of my brother’s citizenship ceremony, photos of my travel with my parents to my mom’s home town, which she hadn’t visited in 45 years, last year, absolutely priceless. I also lost many days worth of code (note to self: git push more). I guess I could eventually redo those code, but I couldn’t rerun those travel experiences. It sucks. May the person who stole the laptop rot in the abyss.
When I arrived in Melbourne, I went to Menzies, an Australian company that provides ground service for several airlines including Malaysia Airlines, they have an office at the airport. I also went to Victoria police office to get an advice on how to proceed with filing a police report in my situation, they suggested me to get Malaysia Airlines’ assistance to file a police report in Malaysia. At home I called Menzies again, asking them to contact Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur. I kept having to call Menzies to ask for the status of my report for the following two days, but the answer from Kuala Lumpur was always ‘No change.’ I also sent an email to one of their Australian contact persons, I was promised that their ‘Melbourne Traffic Department’ would assist me, but no one actually contacted me, ever. That day I also called Apple customer care to report the serial number of my laptop and they marked it as a stolen property.
Four days after the incident, I made several international calls to Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur to complain about their poor customer service. Why did I have to call them to get updates? Why didn’t they email me on a daily basis? Why did they not reply my emails? Why did they only passively wait for someone to hand in the laptop?
After talking to several Malaysia Airlines staff, I called a Kuala Lumpur police station and tried to file a police report. They ended up asking me to describe the incident via email (one of the officers’ Yahoo! account *sigh*), and I also sent them a scan of my passport along with some personal details. But to this day, I have not received any confirmation from them about the report, let alone a police case number.
What should Malaysia Airlines have done? (you call that customer service? be more proactive!)
One thing that bothered me a lot to this day is that Malaysia Airlines took the situation too lightly, they should’ve done more.
A crime occured on a Malaysia Airlines aircraft. Someone took my property, that’s a friggin’ criminal activity on their aircraft! Why didn’t they do anything more about it than waiting passively?
If they suspected one of the passengers took my laptop, then Malaysia Airlines staffs should’ve cooperated with KLIA staffs and checked the security camera footage around the gate area of my flight.
If they suspected one of the cleaners or caterers took my laptop, then they should’ve screened those cleaners and caterers before they got off the plane.
If they acknowledged that a crime had occurred on their aircraft, then they should’ve accompanied me to the nearest police station to file a police report.
All the above should’ve been done within one hour, instead of just telling me that there’s no one handing in a laptop or that they still need to cross check with their other departments, four days after the incident, and the customer (me) ended up having to make several international calls.
I wish Malaysia Airlines staffs could put themselves in my position and put more effort.
What’s good out of this experience? (some positive points)
I like to thank one of the Malaysia Airlines flight attendants, Ms Sachie Tamada (or Takada, I can’t remember her exact surname), who proactively helped me look for my laptop and accompanied me all the way to the Malaysia Airlines information service, even though it was not her task to do so.
I like to thank officer Awan (sp?) who took my request to file a police report while the other officers seemed to pass my call around.
I appreciate Malaysia Airlines Lost and Found department supervisor/manager whom I talked to on my last international call, who, at the very end, apologized for the poor customer service they provided and promised to take it up to higher management.
And Stewart, the dude from Apple customer care who answered my call, who was really sympathetic with what happened and even asked for details of the situation. I appreciate the Apple-camaraderie.
13″ MacBook Pro – A$1698
Travel and family photos – Priceless
Now I know how it feels to lose a laptop, first a feeling of void, followed by a massive disappointment, then finally acceptance.
I’ll never fly Malaysia Airlines again, not because my laptop was stolen, but because of this poor customer service experience.
Update: Luckily, I still have some of the Japan photos on the camera’s SD cards, that means I ‘only’ lost 4000 Japan photos -.-, and the rest of the family photos :(.
Update (13/04/2011): Thanks to comments from Jen, I would like to make it clear that I didn’t blame Malaysia Airlines for losing my laptop, I blamed myself for the 30-second concentration lapse, and I blamed the person who stole my laptop. However, I do think that their customer service performed below standard, hence I provided the feedback above and in my replies to Jen.
Also many thanks to Jen for describing the industry standard in details. Another lesson out of this experience would be, be extra careful when you’re in transit, because clearly the international aviation industry standard won’t be on your side, as you’re only seen as a Tom, Dick, or Harry, it is too expensive to assist you further.
More Update: I created a tumblog to document my effort to somehow get my laptop back. http://thisunclehasmymacbook.tumblr.com Please spread the word.