Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Day 3 in Netherlands

It was a beautiful day so far. The temperature was around 50'F and sunny during the whole daytime. Since the first meeting did not start until almost 11:00am, I got some free time to be the tourist to walk around the downtown shopping area. Most of the stores are open at 9am and closed around 5:30pm during the weekday so all I could see was the closed gates of all the stores at night time. I went to the bank to exchange some Euros with my US dollars. It turned out that they charged almost $6 transaction fee for that. So, my US $60 only got 33 Euro back! That was just terrible.

Anyway, I got to walk around blocks after blocks of the small shops and stores. I even managed to find where the mall (Heuvelgalerie shopping centre) was. It was just behind my hotel! Guess the main entrance was closed when I came back from work since I got to here. I was looking for some local souvenirs to buy but could not find any in my one and a half hour of the walking exploration.

On the way, I accidently found the biggest electronic store in the city,"Media Makt". It was like a 4-level super size Best Buy stores. It sold all kinds of appliances, computers, TV, DVD players, games, cables, camera, etc. At last, I was wandering close to the Eindhoven railway station and found that there was a small store selling some kind of souvenirs but it was not open. And I was quite far from the hotel and out of time so I could only walk back to hotel. And I am not sure if I will have time to buy anything since my first meeting tomorrow will be 8:00am.

After the work, my co-worker and I went to a Chinese dim-sum place and had quite a good meal. The food was very authentic and not cheap. I guess everything was expensive due to the weak US dollar, that is, bad converting rate for us. Well, I'd better go to bed since it will be an early start tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Work Day 2 In Eindhoven, Netherlands

The meetings today all went very well. The rain finally stopped and we got to see the pretty fall scenery on the way back to hotel.

Well, it turned out that we went to an American grill steak house, "Rodeo", for dinner today. It is just interesting to come to Europe and go to an American style restaurant. Normally, I would prefer more local cuisine. What can I say, my co-worker was just a meat eater and wanted a big steak. And there was really an electric cow you could sit on it on and played rodeo. I ordered a combo of tenderloin (beef) and lamb chop. It was not bad. Still a little bit too raw for me even it was medium done. My co-worker really liked the Westmalle Dubbel trappist beer and he even managed to convinced the restaurant manager to sell him the glass served the beer. Apparently, most of the places here served the beer in the brand matching glass.

After the dinner, we went back to the bar in the hotel since my co-worker wanted to have more beer. I again ordered the fizzle ice tea. We asked the waitress what was the deal with all the sparkling ice tea and she said ice tea was like that all over the Europe. They did not have gas-free (bubble-free) ice tea until almost one year ago and it was most for kids. :) And of course, the ice tea came with the matching brand glass. I have never seen the Lipton tea glass before. Quite interesting. Maybe I should buy a ice tea glass to take home too!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Work Day 1 in Netherlands

It has been constantly raining since last night. It is actually the peak time of the fall color here. Leaves are gold and red everywhere. But I really could see too much of the scenery since it was just really wet and chilly here. I now regret not to bring a small umbrella with me. Fortunately, I have brought a cap so at least it kept my hair dry.

Got up around 7:00am and went down to the restaurant downstairs for the free breakfast. It was actually very good with lots of choices of pastry, bread, sandwich meats, scramble eggs, sausage, fresh fruit and juice. After that, we got on the rental BMW and drove toward the headquarter of the company. The traffic was pretty bad. Of course, the constantly rain did not help. There were so many people riding bicycles on the road that I thought I was in mainland China! And most of the bicyclists did not follow the traffic rules at all. They ran the red light, ignored the rights of the pedestrians, even tried to cross the street in the front of the car at the last minute. It really makes me re-think about the policy of encouraging people to ride the bike to work back to US.

Anyway, we got to the company around 8:30am. It was quite a big place but looked quite like a college campus instead of a corporation. I think the building style and the fact that everybody was in separated room as the office made me feel that. We had meetings from morning to the afternoon. Only got about 40 minutes for the lunch. There were not a lot of choices for the lunch in the company cafeteria. Even though I don't eat the fried food usually but I saw this strange look of the fried sphere kind of the food so I gave it a try anyway. It turned out to be the fried meat balls and it actually was not bad. My co-worker ordered some hot dish with one small piece of the chicken and some broccoli and potatoes. It did not look tasty at all so no wonder he only ate the chicken.

Most of the meetings went pretty well and I got to meet lots of people. Overall, I think that they are very open to the suggestions/comments we make. We left the work around 5:00pm and it was already very dark outside. The same rain and bad traffic all over again.

We went back to the hotel and walked to a Thai restaurant next to the hotel for dinner. The place was very nicely decorated. They had this nice step-up stone platform built on the entrance that had a fish pond surrounding it. So it was almost like walked past a bridge to the dining area. However, they had very limited menu and even did not have Thai ice tea I usually would order in any Thai place. So I ordered the ice tea. It was actually Lipton ice tea. However, it was sparking! Very strange. It was like drinking an ice tea soda.

Anyway, we ordered Massaman pork and beef. They are the dishes using the coconut milk and the Massaman curry. They were not bad. They also served the very spicy peanuts as the appetizer, which was quite different too.

Our waiter was a thin fetish Asian guy. On our way out of the restaurant, my co-worker tripped on the edge of that stone platform and he almost fell. The waiter immediately came to hold my co-worker's right arm with his right hand and surrounded his left arm around my co-worker's waist and patted him several times on the left side of his belly. I could just see the big grin on his face when he did that. I was a little bit stunned by my co-worker's near-fall incidence but was even more shocked to see the waiter's daring behavior. Well, should I say, fortunately, my co-worker, who is a silver ex-military midwest married beefy guy, had a couple of drinks and did not notice anything strange anyway. Otherwise, I think that waiter would be in big trouble based on what I know about my co-worker.

We then walked to the small supermarket next to the hotel to look around. My co-worker is really crazy about one kind of Dutch beer called "La Trappe Dubbel". He bought 6 bottles of that beer and I had to help carry some for him. Of course, it cost only 0.95 Euro (about US $2) per bottle here. He said that it would cost $9 per bottle in US and he really liked the taste. And he said that we would go back to buy more before we headed back to Wisconsin.

It took me almost 40 minutes to write this post so far. I am going to take a shower and go to bed.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Arrived At Eindhoven, Netherlands

After 14 hours of the traveling, finally, we got to Eindhoven, Netherlands. We actually flew to Dusseldorf, Germany and drove a rental car to Eindhoven. The flight from Detroit to Dusseldorf was sold out so it was very crowded and not comfortable to spend 7-hour red eye flight in a coach class old seat. And the guy next to me kept falling asleep and leaning his head on me. I did not sleep that mcuh.

We got to Dusseldorf fine. This was my first time ever to Europe continent (previous trip to UK does not count I assume). It was just quite different about everything. We rent a car but almost could not find "the" car since the sign was very not clear.

Eventually, we found the rental car. Then, we could not find the way to get of the aiport parking lot. After consulting the local policeman and woman, we were heading to the highway. However, they forgot to mention that there was no East/West/North/South direction sign on the highway here so we got lost on the highway and drove to the opposite direction. Fortunately, my co-worker who drove/rent the car actually had a Microsoft GPS and live map stuff with him so we finally got to the town after several incidence of passing the exit. Of course, it did not help that we were actually very tired from the flight. We got to the hotel around 1:30pm but could not check in so we went out for lunch.

Almost all the stores were closed so we could only pick one of the few restaurants that was open. The service was super slow and the food was not even that good but expensive. We finally got back to the hotel about 3:00pm. I spent 25 Euro on buying one-week internet pass. I took some pictures but my new computer does not read the flash memory card from my camera so I can only use the picture of the hotel I stay now from its website. I will upload more pics I take once I get back home. The lady in the picture of the front desk actually was there to check us in.

After checking in, I took a shower and several hours of nap. My co-worker and I then went to an Italian restaurant for dinner. It was small but very nice atmosphere. The menu was not that familiar to me since most of the dishes were not seen in any US Italian restaurant. Anyway, I eventually found something familiar, Calzone, so I ordered it. It was not bad but I did not like the sour olives in it. My co-worker ordered something similar to the Mexican enchiladas. Another strange thing is that they don't seem to refill drinks here. I had to order 2 servings of the tea since each time they only gave me about 3/4 cup of hot water with a bunch of tea bags. And the meals did not come with water. The only water available to drink was bottle water, which was more expensive than the beer. And it comes with gas (bubbles) or no gas. Strange.

After the dinner, we ordered some desserts. I had a homemade vanilla ice cream with fruit melon. My co-worker ordered the tiramisu. Overall, I think most of the resturants here are much more slow paced. It seems that nobody is in a hurry to give you a bill or check on you.

Thanks to the tea (no decaff choice), now I am wide awake, which is not good. Anyway, I will try to get more sleep since tomorrow I will have to start to work.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Head To Netherlands For One Week (Work!)

Can only do a quick post here. Wait to board the flight to Netherlands for one-week work trip. Will try to post some pictues once I get to there.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fall Is Here

Finally, I am back to Milwaukee after spending a week in Cleveland for work training. I spent the whole Saturday on doing the laundry and grocery shopping.

Apparently, the fall is here. The maple tree in the front yard completely changes the color from green to gold/red in one week! I spent part of today on cleaning the garden and removing some dead annuals. Well, time to go back to work again tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Work In Cleveland, Ohio

Today is the 2nd day of my whole week training here in Cleveland, Ohio. Actually, it is more like the suburb of the Cleveland. I have not even got a chance to see the lake yet since the training schedule is just so tight. So far, I like the new company a lot. Just wish that I could some free time to get to see the downtown Cleveland next time.

My Seven Interests

OK. Here comes the first meme for me. i comment on coryblankjournal so he chose seven interests from my profile and I would have to explain what they mean and why I am interested in them.

Since I only listed 8 interests in my profile, Cory really did not have too many choices. Here are what coryblank chose for me:

1) baking
I was originally from Asia. From where I come, oven is a very rare thing. Only professional bakery has the oven. Almost everybody bought the bread/pastry at the bakery. So I was really excited to know that almost every house has an oven! And I got to learn how to bake!

2) cake decoration
Alright, this one actually is the extension from the baking. Back home, all the birthday cakes were decorated wonderfully but not so here. Only the expensive wedding cake has something decent. One day, I watched the food network Challenge cake decoration and it made me want to get to learn more about it.

3) running
I always like to run. It gives me a chance to enjoy the fresh air and forget all the troubles from work.

4) swimming
My dad was a Navy general. So, I guess you get thepicture. :)

5) volunteer work
I have been volunteered for American Red Cross for almost 7 years. It started as a way to know more poeple since I did not know anybody when I first came to Milwaukee. Besides, it feels great to get to help people and learn some medical skills.

6) weight lifting
Gym is another thing we did not have back home. When I went to the school down in Florida, I started to do the weight training with my professor, who used to play college football back to his college days. And I found that I really liked it and it did make me grow quite a lot of muscle mass!

7) wrestling
I have been practiced martial art since I was 7. My uncle serves in law enforcement and he would teach me all the judo/wrestling moves. I like the exercise and body contact of it.

Ok. Hope that I provide enough interesting info here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

One Month At The New Job

Time passes fast and today will be the end of my first month at the new job. Overall, I like this new job very much. Very friendly co-workers and working environment. The manager is very nice and appreciate my work. And I will be traveling some for work/training starting next week. Head to Cleveland, Ohio first. Then to the Netherland at the end of month.

The weather finally cools down here and the mums in the garden bloom like crazy now. Quite a beautiful scenes.

Monday, October 1, 2007

First Day In New Gym

Well, finally, I got to join a new gym after the 4-month off period due to the search of a new job. Since the new job started a couple of weeks ago and the new company did offer partial compensation of the cost for the gym membership, I have been looking for a new gym close to the work for a while.

I usually go to the gym during the lunch time and just skip the lunch. I drink some protein shake after the workout and it usually is enough for me until the supper time. Anyway, I found this new gym close to work about 1 week ago. It was just open around early 2006 so all equipments are still very nice and new. The staff is friendly as well. The most important thing is that it is not crowded during the lunch time so I can finish workout and take a shower all in one hour.

Today I went there during the lunch time to do my first workout. The guy who worked on the front desk there was nice enough to give me a 2-week trial membership. Hey, that saves me at least $40!

The workout was very good but I did not push too hard since it had been a while since my last weightlifting. I just took it slow. I should be back to full speed in about 3 to 4 weeks. Now, I really feel more energetic after the workout. Back to work!