Archive for April, 2007

More Pictures from Bangalore

Poolside Flower Here’s a picture of a flower I took while we were eating lunch here at the Park Hotel Residency. The blue in the background is the fancy pool they have here; it’s long and skinny, looks pretty but overall isn’t useful for anything other than swimming laps. I’m not sure what type of flower this is.

A view from the penthouse Here’s a picture leftover from our first apartment hunting day. It’s the view from the porch. Not bad really, but we weren’t terribly interested in living in a big huge apartment complex.

View from Cisco And here’s the view from one of the Cisco buildings here in town. It’s the 11th floor of the building. The best part about this building was that you needed a security badge to go anywhere, including back inside after visiting this balcony on the 11th floor of the building.

John trapped outside Somehow John accidentally got left outside after we finished touring the balcony. As is slightly evident by this photo, he couldn’t get back inside :)

Bangalore traffic Here’s some Bangalore traffic. Check out the baby riding on the third motorcycle. The fifth guy back in the vest and bowtie is looking pretty sharp.

Woman riding side-saddle on motor-scooter This is by far my most favorite “dangerous thing to do on a motorcycle.” Riding side saddle on a motorcycle without a helmet in Bangalore traffic! I don’t quite understand how anyone could think this is a good idea. Between the traffic that causes rapid stops and lane changes and the giant speedbumps that are scattered throughout the roads with less traffic how is this perceived as a good idea? As one person has already pointed out to me: you do whatcha gotta do.

A hole in the sidewalk This is a photo of a hole in the sidewalk. If you were just walking down the sidewalk in the dark you’d probably fall into this hole a good 4 feet before reaching the bottom. At this point you’d sure have some sort of a pulled muscle and a bruised leg. Yikes.

1 comment April 24th, 2007

Apartment Hunting in India

Today we spent our second entire day here in India. The first day was mostly a blur, today slightly more memorable. I don’t have any wacky stories to talk about today. This country (or at least this city) is so wacky I’m mostly speechless. The driving is insane and I can’t believe we haven’t seen an accident yet. There are cows almost everywhere, just like you’ve heard. Today we even saw a pair of camels! My Ukrainian pals were sure that Monkeys and Snakes ruled the city but I have yet to see any. My eyes are open :-)

Today we managed to look at 15 potential places to live. I’ve got a few pictures of our day to share.

A street in India Here’s a somewhat typical street in suburban bangalore. This was somewhere near the district named “Defense Colony.” We looked at an apartment on this street but didn’t like it; it was dark and had some hippies living in it right now. Who knows what kind of crap they’d leave in there.

A view from a porch This is the view from the porch of our #1 choice from today. In this neighborhood with the weather how it is right now (warm and humid) it reminds me a bit of florida. The house is actually still being built and its quite nice. I didn’t take too many pictures of it but we’re going to visit it again next week.

View from another porch This is the view from the porch of a different apartment that we didn’t like all that much. This picture kind of gives you a taste for a few things Indian. I really need to start taking pictures of the streets to show you what it’s really like outside of these plush communities we’ve been looking to live in.

I have a few other boring pictures to share but I’ll spare you for now. My hours of prepaid internet are down to seconds here in the hotel and so I’ll post what I have so far rather than buy anymore time today.

Add comment April 19th, 2007

We Survived the trip to India

We boarded our flight to India at around 9:00AM this morning in L’viv. We were let on the plane after a large group of special needs children boarded. I mumbled to Heather that when I registered this domain name, wackytravels.com, I hadn’t ever imagined travels this wacky.

In general all of the children on the plane were well behaved. I had an aisle seat on the left side of the plane. To my right and one row back was a young girl from the aforementioned group, in the aisle seat. Maybe 10 seconds after our wheels left the ground I heard coughing. No, it was choking. Then I heard, yes, she was throwing up. Luckily she brought her own bag, the little barf bag in the seat back in front of her probably wouldn’t have held this in. Around 5 minutes after we finished our in-flight meal. Yep. And the second the pilot began putting down the flaps to land; you guessed it. This poor little girl vomitted 3 times in one 2 hour airplane ride.

Our transfer through Frankfurt was without incident. We were packed into cattle class on our Lufthansa flight and didn’t really enjoy any of it.

We arrived in India and found that the baggage claim area was roughly large enough to fit the luggage from a small, single-engine Cessna. We flew in on a 747. But. Our bags flew with us! Wahoo! This is mostly due to my insistence that the Ukraine airport people make sure our bags were checked through to Bangalore. They wanted us to go pull them out of the baggage claim in Frankfurt and then re-check them in for our second leg of the flight.

Our driver from the park hotel met us where he should have and we began cruising to the hotel. I thought driving was bad in Ukraine. Here are a few of the lessons I learned for driving in Bangalore:

  • Keep one thumb on the horn at all times, use it without regard for anything
  • Motorcycles that have two riders, the passenger usually without a helmet and sandal-clad feet flailing inches above the ground do not have any right of way. Honk to get them to pull closer to the shoulder so you can pass.
  • The dotted white line that is used to separate lanes… is actually used to help you guide your vehicle down the road. Position the center of the vehicle over this line and honk at anyone not doing the same.
  • Feel free to substitute your high beams for the horn at any time

1 comment April 17th, 2007

To India! And beyond!

We leave tomorrow morning for the second part of my expat journey. First we spend 2 hours on the flight to Frankfurt. If our plane lands on time we’ll have an hour to go through security, twice, on our switch from terminal 2 to terminal 1. Then we board a plane for our 8 hour journey to Bangalore, India. While here we’ll be visiting the city a little bit, searching for apartments slightly more and I’ll be interviewing engineering candidates for IronPort Bangalore the most.

Ivan and his wife On April 29th we return to Ukraine to live out the remaining ~24 days we have here. I think I can safely say that we’ll both miss this place; it’s awesome people and memorable scenery are hard not to love. This picture here is of Ivan and his wife; awesome people.

Add comment April 16th, 2007

A Day of Tourist Activity

Ukraine flag This past Sunday Heather and I took advantage of the warm weather and toured the city, tourist style. Heather had her SF State sweater on and I my UCSC sweater. Two people correctly guessed, the first time, that they were better off speaking english to us than anything else.

Ukranian Trials Rider, Dima This was one of the guys that guessed English as the primary language to try to communicate with me. His name was Dima and he let me take his picture. He was pretty good on the bike. The lousy photographer (me) isn’t showing you that that ledge is a good 4′ tall and that he hopped not only down it but up it.

A view of L’viv through a window This is a little tiny window in the side of a rather large tower. More pictures from the top of the tower in the next paragraph. In the mean time let’s play where’s the Mc Donald’s. I promise there’s one in there.

I promised a view from the top and I’m a man of my word. This is like 3 or 4 pictures “stitched” together to make a rather large panoramic view of this portion of the city, taken from the top of the tower. I don’t know the names of most of the buildings below so I won’t try to make them up here. I do know that the red roof to the left is a fire station. The big green dome near the center is a church. In this image I encourage you to play “Count the churches.” I counted 4.
Panorama L’viv

Binoculars at High Castle A top high castle you can rent binoculars for 50 kopecks (That’s like 50 cents but really only 10 cents). These two girls, believed to be tourists from some other portion of Ukraine or perhaps Poland, decided to rent them. And look at the same thing. At the same time. And I thought that was funny.

A leo statue This is a statue you can find roughly halfway up the hill to high castle. There are lots of stories and folklore and history surrounding high castle. I remember only pieces of some of the stories. The story I remember (here comes folklore) says that Leo (Gosh I hope I at least got the name right) helped to conquer the city of L’viv (then called something else) from some other group. Then the city was named after Leo, which I guess translates to L’viv, and all revolves around a Lion. Recall, of course, that the ‘ in L’viv is not an apostrophe. It means to make the ‘L’ sound soft. The actual spelling of L’viv, in Cyrillic, is: львів. The little ‘b’ there means, again, to make the ‘L’ soft.

Pushing a bus up a hill Today they were apparently filming an episode of world’s strongest group of men. That or the bus really broke down on this small hill near city center. Either way this was one of those sights you don’t see at home.

Little dude rocking out After wandering through all of the places I’ve already shown pictures of we walked to the “bottom” of the center (furthest from the opera house) where they had a live concert going on. This little guy was rocking out to the tunes. He had cleared this whole row on the stairs where people were sitting as he danced about. To make this a truly multimedia experience I’ve even got
some music for you
.

Sometime between this picture and the next one we went to dinner at the worst restaurant in L’viv. I point this out only because it’s also the most expensive restaurant we’ve found in L’viv. It’s at the Grand Hotel’s Sophia Club (софія) and it’s called Alpaca. They advertise Latin American food. I have been craving burritos like you wouldn’t believe since coming here so we decided to try this out. I knew it would be upscale but I didn’t know -how- upscale. We started with $10 nachos. The presentation was great. There were like 15 chips, partially melted cheese and pieces of beans. They were cold in the middle. Think freezer cold; far beyond room temperature. The beer was Stella Artois; yep, the same stuff they sell at home. They didn’t have a single Ukrainian beer in the house. We ordered the “Fajitas for Two” as our entree. I chose the Chicken ones since they were the cheapest at a cool $15, one of the most expensive things I’ve bought in this country. They were awful. Heather spent the next morning on the toilet.

L’viv at Night After a fantastic day just being tourists we headed home. The clouds overhead were looking rather nifty and with my camera all set for nighttime “shooting from the hip” (Heather calls these stalker photos) I snapped this photo of one of the streets we walk on to get home from the center.

1 comment April 16th, 2007

Quote of the Day

While working here in Ukraine I’ve made it a goal of mine to teach these guys some english that they wouldn’t otherwise ever hear in their english lessons. Today Evgen let me know he found some krufty code by saying:

This crap be borked, yo

How awesome is that? :)

4 comments April 3rd, 2007

The Rest of Poland

After crossing the border into Poland we went to the train station in Przemysl. After boarding the train we watched through the window a group of friends try to sober up their friend that was too drunk to be allowed on. With no sound penetrating the train window you can see the gesture of “have some water” from a friend followed by the return slapping hand “Screw you, I’m not drrruunnkk” falling over gesture.

Lunch time on the train These mighty-fine friends of Alex’s (Nope, I never learned their names; I could make them up and you’d never know, but I would) helped us throughout the trip, most importantly beginning here as they fed us food. After being on the bus for-ev-er and having only cookies to eat they helped a ton by feeding us sandwiches here on the train. See the tomato she’s holding? I don’t know what they put in the water here but the fruits and veggies here are really, really good.

Here in our “room” on the train we’ve got 2 more Ukrainians across from us More Ukrainians on the train in Poland and then this other Ukrainian to our left. Pickles, Potatoes and Eggs Oh My! Yep, he’s eating a pickle, a potato and an egg. He’d been drinking all day too. Note that by day I mean to include the time period before the sun rose. After ~4 hours on this train we arrive in Krakow.

Lost in Poland
Krakow is a tourist destination. See. Tourists. Actually, that’s Roman on the left, Alex in the middle and Mr. Pickle-Potato-Egg on the right. That’s a map in Alex’s hand. They’re trying to find the hostel we’re staying at. Would you follow them?

Following was a common theme for this trip and really for most trips, even little ones in L’viv. Basically the trip starts with a known purpose. We’re going to go from the train station in Krakow to our Hostel, also in Krakow. Then we start walking (if we’re going toward the train we’re usually running). After a little while it becomes clear that details are meant to be discovered along the way. This is when they start talking in Ukrainian. “What’s going on?” I politely interject. More talking in Ukrainian. Then they walk away. I say to Heather: “I guess we should follow them.”

Along the way we bumped into this place. Nifty eh? Like I said, it’s a tourist spot. A building in Poland

Can you tell we didn’t care? We followed them and they led us to our hostel.
Can’t you tell? We’re in Poland!

On the way to dinner we stumbled upon this other fancy building. Crazy. Another building in Poland.

The next morning we got up and ran to the train station. Once we got there we literally ran (faster than a jog) to our platform. This running started immediately after something was said in Polish over the public address. This was another exercise in follow me called “See if you can follow me.” We got on the train moments before the doors closed. Katowice here we come!

Tourists in front of Spodek!
About an hour and a half later we arrived in Katowice. We got off of the train and headed towards our hotel. Along the way we stopped for this rad photo of two American-Aliens in front of Spodek! Doesn’t it look and sound like a space-thing? Crazy Polish.

We went to pizza hut for lunch. This isn’t much like pizza hut in the US. It was actually a reasonably nice restaurant. They had menus and waitstaff and they cooked the pizzas after you ordered them. And they were good. Actually, compared to Ukraine pizza they were awesome. At around 11:00AM we went to the concert for a while. Then we exercised our in-n-out privileges and went to pizza hut. Then we went back to the concert. Heather and I stayed for as long as we could handle the secondhand smoke: around 10PM. Then we went to pizza hut. It was the only restaurant we could see near the hotel and it was pretty good. I didn’t get to eat any polish sausage :-\

The next morning we got up reasonably early and headed back “home.” We walked through the border this time. The Ukrainians didn’t seem to want any more Americans in their country and hassled us a bit. Roman seemed to vouch for us and then we were let through. His brother picked us up on the Ukrainian side of the border and drove us home. Thank god. I didn’t think I could handle any more of that smelly bus this “vacation.”

Add comment April 2nd, 2007


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