Just before GulfRun I had a quick business trip that came up and had to take off to Amsterdam for 42 hours, two longs meetings and heading back to Kuwait. Luckily we had some time to spend sight seeing and walking around, and the first thing you notice is that everyone is on scooters and bicycles in Amsterdam, they even have their own roads.
I was surprised how much they speed but being neighbors with Germany I should have kept it in mind, they were flying down the highways and our taxi was flying which I honestly enjoyed, they knew how to drive. One thing to keep in mind, always use official taxis and not the mini-cabs which are random cars just to be safe. We checked into our hotel which was very nice and luxurious, the rooms were a bit small but the atmosphere was amazing. We went walking right away since our meeting was the next morning in The Hague which is about 25 to 45 minutes away depending on traffic.
We started walking from 3 pm until 12 am, you literally can’t help but enjoy walking in such a cozy city. We kept walking from alley to alley and walking around these canals. To my surprise a lot of shops close early in Amsterdam, most of them close by 7 pm which is rather early so after that we would go somewhere to eat and there were a lot of very nice places to check out.
The flower section was amazing, it was honestly beautiful seeing so many kinds of flowers and I know that a lot of flower shops in Kuwait import their flowers from Holland which have huge flower farms and it is a beautiful view. Then there is the cheese and they do love their cheese, lots of cheese shops all around. The one thing that surprised me is all these french fries shops and mayo, thats all they sell and their are people waiting in long lines for them.
What I found surprising are the Dutch themselves, I just had a mental image that they would be the same as the Germans, but I was very wrong. The first time me and my colleague held out a map someone came over and ask if we were lost or looking for something. They really wanted to help us when we were just looking at the map to get our bearing and to figure out where we are going next. The whole city is beautiful and I honestly really liked it and thought about coming back again to really check it out. There were so many bicycles and scoots around it was ridiculous, they rang their bicycles bells and honk their scooters, and they expect you to jump out of the way, it was hilarious.
I knew that illegal substances were legal in Amsterdam but it was very different knowing it and seeing it, specifically smelling it. You can smell the Marijuana a mile away, you get a whiff of it every once in a while and sometimes in front of cages that you don’t expect, you would think they would be dingy places but they turned out to be very nice cafes with people smiling and blood shot eyes which looked hilarious. Then there were the stores they were right on the main street, I thought it was a jewelry shop only into turned out to be designer store which sold drugs, it was hilarious they had so many different names and presented in nice lighting.
It reached a point where I had to double check if I was buying a normal muffin or if it was laced with something, maybe just a little bit too paranoid but I didn’t want to eat something I shouldn’t. Then of course there is the red light district that you could see a mile away. They are open about their rules and regulations about where these places are, and you can see people walking around. As expected the Dutch don’t care too much for these entertainment drugs as much as people would think, its mostly tourists who are smoked up and chilling in the cafes.
It is a very interesting city and there is a lot to it that I didn’t have a chance to see, and I really loved their highways, people were speeding normally and the police weren’t harrassing them. Turns out in Holland the policy is very anti police, so they aren’t as abusive as police officers in the US who have a lot of power so people seem to be more relaxed around them and speed a little. And I want to rent a scooter next time around and zip around town.
(Check Out The Pictures Below! There are ALOT)
This has been one very hectic week with a lot going on with work, family, and other activities. Recently I had to take a quick trip to Amsterdam which is the first time for me. There was an urgent meeting that I had to attend and so we took off a few days later after confirming our meeting. I didn’t know what to expect from Holland but I was looking forward to it.
Traveling for work doesn’t always gives you the chance to look around much. But for a frist time visit I am sure I am going to repeat it as I have found the Dutch to be very nice and always helpful when I open a map and have no clue where I am. I haven’t seen so many scooters and bicycles in my life, it was -1 outside and everyone was on a bicycle or scooter, and I was wrapped up in as much clothing as I had but I loved walking outside in the cold. This city just felt so cozy walking around, we literally walked around for over 5 hours in every direction getting lost and find our way, I have a lot of posts coming up but when I sort out the pictures since I took a lot of pictures.
I always wonder what an Anime production company’s office looks like and this time there is a look into Production I.G. Thankfully Danny Choo has gone into this Anime Company and taken a look at their offices and how they work. Production I.G. have made some well known anime and one of my favorite being Sengoku Basra, and they are currently making Sengoku Basra 2 which I am very much looking forward to watching as soon as its out. I always thought that it would be very cool to work in an Anime Studio
They are also responsible for one of the greatest anime movies of all time, Ghost In the Shell! I even remember watching it on a Manga Video when I bought it from Tower Records in Whiteleyes in Bays Water, London. That used to be my main source for videos back in the early 90s, I would walk to the basement and pile up some videos from the anime section. They even have their own cafeteria so I’m assuming the company is doing pretty well. I wish they would sell some of those art cels, I would buy them in a heartbeat, they would be very cool on a wall, I have seen one restaurant with anime cels and I wish I could take them off the wall.
Link: Culture Japan
The last few weeks have been insane! I just can’t believe how meetings I have been to and how long some of them take, and I had to fly to Dubai out of the blue for an urgent meeting, I took the night flight instead of the 7 am flight, it would cut too close to my meeting and any delays would have been a huge problem. I really didn’t feel like taking off since I had too much on my plate already, I wished I could have cloned myself to manage everything that I had to do. Sleeping isn’t an option these days and writing reports, visiting family and getting some personal work done, all before a Eid trip. I honestly felt like I have been running for the past few weeks with very little breathing room but I love when I get work done, and I know I keep saying this but there isn’t enough time in the day. And this weather is just amazing, I hope it continues to be this good until at least April but thats probably hoping for too much.
At one point in Dubai Airport I fell asleep at the Gate and the Wataniya Airways staff woke me up to board the plane back to Kuwait. I was one of the first people there but the last to board. I was so exhausted by the end of the day that I passed out. It was a choice between being hungry and being sleepy, I couldn’t even wait for food, I passed out before take off and I leaned my chair back not caring that we haven’t even moved from the gate yet. I’m hoping to catch up with some rest in the next few days!
One recommendation, if you have lots of work in Dubai and want to check out late I recommend that you stay at The Address Club Rooms or Suites. They have an excellent policy of your check out time being the same as your check in time. So I came in at night around 11 pm then my check out is 11 pm the next day. So I had meetings from 9 am until about 3:30 pm, I went back to my room and napped for about 30 minutes before taking my time to check out which is fantastic. The normal room is 114 KD but the Club Room was 154 KD, but I would have paid for half a day which would cost an extra 70 KD because they charge half the normal rack rate, so overall its much better to get the Club Room if you need to check out late. I for one don’t like packing up and leaving early from the hotel and going to meetings and dragging my carry on with me, even if I’m going to walk around the mall.
Meetings nonstop for all these days, but luckily they were all bunched up in the morning. Surprisingly Dubai was pretty packed for Gitex, and I’m assuming that its going to be even more insanely packed during Eid holiday. The weather has been amazing while we are here, somewhat cool and warm at the same time. I tried watching a few movies in my free time but there wasn’t too much of that either, but we did walk a lot while we were here. The first day we got here we passed by Dubai Autodrome and saw a few entertaining things, I’m not a big fan of the Autodrome since the track is a bit on the small side with not enough straight aways to push the car into high speed corners.
A quick trip came up for Amman, we had to go for a meeting out of the blue. I was trying to fly in the same day and leave at night but no flight times worked out and on that day only Jazeera and Royal Jordanian, but only Jazeera worked out with the timing. We went a day early and finished a lot of work and then went to grab a bite to eat. There is a traditional place called Reem Al Bawady that has food that will knock you out until the next day. The weather was perfect and we walked a hell of a lot while we there, it was nice and cool, loved sitting outside. Landed back in Kuwait at 2:00 am and got in the car and went straight to the shalaih to stay up until the sun came up, then passed out getting ready to jump in the water the next morning.
I usually try my hardest not to travel in Ramadan as it takes a toll on a person and I honestly can’t justify breaking my fast during these short trips in the Gulf. This one came up urgently as I had to go to Oman for the day full of meetings and they started from early in the morning with three meetings in total.
We came in on the Oman Air flight the night before and staying at The Chedi hotel. After my last stay I don’t think I want to stay anywhere else in Oman but sadly the restaurant closes at 10:30 pm and we arrived around 1:30 am. But the hotel was comfortable as usual with only about 50% capacity it was relatively empty but we didn’t get to enjoy the resort much other then relaxing because we were fasting. But the weather was amazing between 23 to 28 degrees, with mild humidity which wasn’t too bad, it was very pleasant. As soon as we were done we relaxed at the hotel for about an hour and half before heading to the airport to catch our 7 pm flight back, the best part of the hotel is their very good policy about late check out. The next time I go to Oman I plan on renting a car and getting a little lost, I’m curious about a few different places there.
Singapore has to be one of my favorite cities, my first visit was last year and this time we went for work and I enjoyed every moment there. We took Emirates airlines since it fits our schedule, and I slept on both flights to Singapore and from Singapore, the flights to Kuwait is a short 50 minutes duration so not enough time to sleep. And on the route to Singapore they use the new Boeing 777s which have very comfortable chairs, I basically slept for 7 hours straight, from the plane taking off until it landed which is perfect in both cases and kept me going the first day there and when I got back to Kuwait. We were only there for about 2 and half days, some work got finished and we still had a lot of fun, Singapore is one of my favorite cities to visit. A very diverse culture made up of Indians, Chinese and Malaysians, the main language of the country being English and everyone is extremely nice. I think they have the best public transportation I have seen period, and when you get in a taxi cab they always have a story to tell and some of them are insane which makes the ride that much more fun.
The last couple of days I have been going from meeting to meeting at a ridiculous rate not even being able to enjoy the beautiful weather while I was in London. British Airways are on strike so I took Royal Jordanian, and I had a meeting in Amman on the way back. I have to say that I was very impressed with Royal Jordanian, the service was fantastic and the planes are brand new, pricing is decent, but the airport is a old.
Getting into London Thursday I met up with some friends but I was still busy with work and my phone wouldn’t stop ringing. I wanted to see a movie at night but I was too damn exhausted that I passed out as soon as I got to the hotel. The next day I had meetings in the early morning onwards but I managed to get some time later in the day to go see one movie, but the weather was amazing in London and everyone was outside walking around. I didn’t realize how much I have missed London it’s been a while since I’ve walked around, then I realized how long its been since I took a long vacation. The stay in London was too short and too busy with work but I managed to get a lot done, then headed to Amman for one meeting then back to Kuwait.