Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I wish all my loyal followers a very
Merry Christmas and a
Happy and Prosperous New Year in 2013!!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Trip to Dubai and Kuwait - November 2012

In November I finally got moving again, so to speak!  The month started off with a short (3-day) trip to Bakersfield, California.  I flew out on Monday, Nov. 5 and returned home from Bakersfield on Wednesday, Nov. 7th.  Not much to report - - - I was very busy and had no time to snap pictures around the city.  Then came my trip overseas - finally!  In past years, I've was getting quite tired of having to take so many international trips.  This year, it has been the exact opposite: I've not been anywhere outside the USA since last November 2011.

Emirates 212: Houston to Dubai

I finally managed to fetch an upgrade from Business Class to a First Class "Suite" on Emirates!!  Very nice indeed!  A mini-bar, wide-screen TV, and doors!  The upgrade cost me 52,500 miles but what the heck.  I always wanted to try one of these plush seats and NOW was my chance.

Breakfast aboard EK 212

Rotana Jumeirah Beach - Dubai

I arrived in Dubai on Sunday evening, Nov. 18th.  I was so very tired but I had a nice room at the Rotana Jumeirah hotel.  All was well with the room but once again I was saddened to learn that the Rotana chain charges 95 Dirhams per 24-hours for Internet usage!  Too much!!  And definitely not business-user friendly.

A view of the Atlantis- The Palm hotel from my hotel. 

I was in Dubai for four days (Sunday evening, Nov. 18 to Thursday morning, Nov. 22) to participate in a SPE ATW conference.  All went well and my presentation was well received.

One of the activities planned for our conference was a visit to the Atlantis Palm hotel and a tour of the aquarium (Lost Chambers) at the hotel.  This was followed by dinner at the buffet restaurant.

My hotel is next to a street level mall/shopping area.  All apparently constructed in the last five years!  Amazing what a little oil money can do!!

A nice apartment building along the Jumeirah Beach street.  Wonder what the rents are like???

Dubai's airport has become very busy.  The problem is this translates into many flight delays - including my flight to Kuwait on Thursday morning (EK 855).  We arrived into Kuwait International Airport about 30 minutes late.

Arival at Kuwait International Airport.

On my first weekend in Kuwait, I visited the new "Grand Avenue" extension to the Avenues mall (now the largest mall in Kuwait).  This Grand Avenue is by itself so very huge and has so many fancy shops including the above Starbucks - perhaps the fanciest Starbucks I have ever seen anywhere in the whole wide world!!  Honest!!

A view of Grand Avenue: the newest part of the Avenues mall south of Kuwait City.

Look closely a THIS store.  I never expected to see something like this in a Middle East mall!!  I am certain there is nothing like this in any Saudi Arabian mall! 

During my stay in our camp in southern Kuwait, I had occasion to visit our medical clinic and made a stop at the pharmacy to pick up a few medications.  Could not resist taking a picture of this sign!!  Ladies - here is where you need to go!

On Saturday, Nov. 24 our company invited about three (3) busloads of US Army personnel to our company's camp located near the Saudi border.  The troops were assigned to various villas where they were treated to homemade Thangsgiving Day dinners.  I was invited to one villa where I had a most enjoyable meal and pleasant conversation with some of our country's finest troops.

My visit to Kwait went very fast and ended too soon.  I returned to Dubai on Friday, Nov. 30 (arriving one hour LATE!) and spent the night at the Intercontinental Festival City hotel

The new Emirates departure lounge at the Kuwait Airport.  This is much nicer (and a whole lot less crowded) than the "Pearl Lounge" - another Business Class lounge used by all the other airlines.

The flowers in the lobby of the Intercontinental Festival City Hotel in Dubai.

After checking into my room, I walked thru the Festival City mall which was suffering from a number of leaks caused by a sudden rainfall earlier that morning.  Apparently the buildings in Dubai and NOT waterproof! 

Next stop: dinner!!

The remains following my dinner at Romano's Macaroni Grill in the Festival City Mall.  I recommend the hammour - an excellent white fish found in the Arabian Gulf.

On Saturday, December 1, I flew home to Houston aboard EK 211 (one hour LATE!!).  My flight home lasted 15 hours and 50 minutes.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Changing of the Seasons

Once again, I am forced to offer yet more apologies for my slowness in posting to this 'travel' blog of mine.  What can I say: I have not traveled lately (a short vacation to New York in June) and I have been so busy at the office.   On the plus side of things, Houston now has noticeably cooler weather and there is visible evidence of a change in the seasons.  Sadly, we don't enjoy the colors of the changing tree leaves so familiar to those up in New England or in those cooler climates throughout the world.  Still, once Fall arrives, the Holidays can't be far behind! 

To all my loyal followers who still check in occasionally, I do appreciate your visits to my blog and any comments which you may care to leave.  Hopefully, I will resume my travels soon and can then share some more posts of interesting places with all my followers!!

Happy travels ..........  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It's Been a Loooong While Since I've Last Posted ....

To all my loyal followers: my apologies for the long absence.  I've been too busy at work and, frankly, I've not been traveling that much during the last six months!  My prior posting was from Bali and that trip was in October of 2011.  I had what turned out to be a way too short visit to Kuwait in late November (lasting only about 2 weeks) and a one-week visit to Edinburgh and Aberdeen, Scotland at the end of May (a mere three weeks ago!). 

I shall try to be more diligent in posting ...

At any rate, here are a few 'leftover' photos from the trip to Indonesia (October of last year) and a few photos taken in Houston during the Spring, 2012. 

A typical street scene in central Bali.

A Balinese dancer performing at my hotel near Ubud, Bali.

The sign out in the front of my hotel in Ubud, Bali.  Actually, this resort is listed as being situated in the village of Sayan.  The Four Seasons Resort hotel in Sayan is truly a remarkable hotel. 
CAUTION: it is expensive!

My humble little villa - complete with its own "plunge pool"!!!

CAUTION: The one important item missing in this fantastic resort is a lift (elevator) in the main lobby building.  I had to climb up and down 100 steps/stairs to go from my villa to the main restaurant.  Ugh!!

I spent the second half of my 5-day visit to Bali at the Oberoi Hotel on the West coast of that island.  Here is my villa.  Very nice (just not quite as nice as my villa at the Four Seasons in Sayan).

Next door to the Oberoi Hotel is the Ku de Ta bar.  This place is THE place to be and to be seen!!

One final picture.  This was taken at the Dubai Mall which I visited while on a one-night layover in Dubai following my visit to Kuwait in November of 2011.  A colleague treated me to lunch at this Lebanese restaurant.  Al Hallab serves very good food.  One problem, however, was the rather slooooow service.

The trip home to Hoston the following morning (December 2) aboard Emirates 211 was on time.  

Miscellaneous photos from Houston this Spring, 2012:

My 27-year old console TV (circa 1985) finally died and I had it hauled away.  I have since replaced this 'golden oldie' with a new 42-inch LCD flat screen TV.

A picture of our beloved Mayor, Anise Parker, officiating at this year's Art Car Parade.  It's an annual favorite event here in Houston, Texas!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Singapore, Java, Kalimantan (Borneo) and Bali! October 2011

As I prepare this post about my trip to Indonesia in the Fall of this year, I have just completed another trip to Kuwait (November 14 - December 2). One of the troubles with all these trips is that I find myself so BUSY, that I cannot devote all the time I used to expend in preparing almost daily posts as a trip unfolds. Instead, I now seem to be able to only issue a summary post after-the-fact .... sometimes long after the trip is concluded. This particular trip started on October 4. I flew Continental 7 from Houston IAH to Narita, Tokyo and connected to a United flight (upgraded to First Class!) bound for Singapore. On this stopover in Singapore, I elected to stay at the new St. Regis Hotel. Wonderful hotel - highly recommended!

The following Monday (October 10) I flew to Jakarta (on the island of Java) for an overnight stay. Then it was on to Balikpapan and Lawe Lawe on Kalimantan Island - or Borneo as we in the West often refer to this Indonesian island.

On Saturday (October 15) it was back to Jakarta for a week's worth of work. Part of the time on Java was devoted to a short visit to our company's geothermal facility in Salak (west Java). Very interesting: this property is located within a national park and thanks to its high elevation, there was no need to use air conditioning in the accommodations.

Finally, with all my work completed, I managed to tack on five days of pleasure and vacation in Bali (October 21 - 25). The flight home began on October 26 with an overnight stay in Singapore and then the long flight home the following day.

I shall keep this post short and will try to issue a longer, more detailed follow-up posting of this visit to Indonesia later on - probably in the latter half of this month when I plan to take off three weeks and remain at home for the Christmas Holiday (and stay away from airports!!!).

Enjoy the photos!
A rice terrace in Bali (near Ubud).

A colorful mosque near Lawe Lawe on the island of Kalimantan (Borneo).

This tea garden is located near Salak on the western side of Java. My first ever visit to an actual functioning tea garden!!!

On my 5-day layover in Singapore, I managed to visit Sentosa Island and took in the dolphin show.

More photos of this October trip should follow in a few weeks - - - - I hope!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Singapore / Indonesia / Middle East - The Highlights of My Spring Trip (March - April)

It's been a long while since I completed this trip to Asia and the Middle East. This particular trip started on March 28 (2011) with a flight from Houston to Los Angeles LAX airport (see above photo) where I boarded a Singapore Airlines flight to Singapore (my longest flight ever at over 16 hours ++ in duration; even the flight attendant complained of the length!!).

The Singapore skyline as seen from my room at the Four Seasons Hotel. Over the years, Singapore has become my favorite foreign city - it's clean, orderly, you can drink the water, eat the food and never worry about any crime. A perfect place to recover from the loooooong flight from the USA. The Four Seasons Hotel is located on Orchard Blvd., just a few short blocks from the Orchard Rd MRT station ( a 5 - 8 minute walk).

My first sightseeing objective: the Singapore Flyer! A terrific way to see the downtown skyline.

A view from the top of the Flyer. Downtown Singapore is in the background. Off to the left side is the Sands Hotel and Casino - see the following photo.

The new Sands Casino and Hotel. The hotel comprises the three columns supporting the boat like structure at the top. The casino is out of view of this picture. (PS: you need to show a passport to gain entry to the casino floor.) At the top floor is an observation deck which affords an excellent view of the city and surrounding areas.

Another favorite tourist sight: The Orchid Garden. Bring your cameras!!!

Orchids galore!! I only had a compact camera with me on this trip. On my next venture, I will try to drag along my SLR camera for much better pictures.

On Sunday, April 3rd, I flew from Singapore to Jakarta then changed planes and flew to Pekanbaru, Sumatra for a week's worth of work in north central Sumatra.

The governor's palace in Pekanbaru - the capital of Riau province. (Riau province is where a lot of Indonesia's on-shore oil production is located.)

On Monday, April 4, I flew by chopper from Rumbai to Duri (also in Sumatra) where our company's office is located.

On the 30-minute helicopter flight to Duri, we flew over a LOT of palm groves. Sadly, much of the Sumatran rain forest is being cut down, burned and replaced with palm trees to manufacture palm oil. A tragic waste of good land if you ask me.

On the way home (Friday, April 8), the local weather was poor (too smokey from all the burning of the forest) so my chopper flight was canceled and I rode a bus from Duri to Rumbai (3 hours). Along the way, we passed MANY logging trucks carrying all the trees being cut down to make way for the palm groves. Again, a tragic loss of the rain forest.

Along the road to Rumbai, the bus stopped at a rest stop next to a mosque which is under construction.

Once in Rumbai, I took a taxi to the Pekanbaru Airport and flew to Jakarta that afternoon and then headed to the Mulia Hotel. This is an Excellent hotel. Highly recommended!!! Sadly, I only stayed one night. I checked out of the Mulia Hotel the following day (a Saturday) and caught an evening flight on Emirates to Dubai.

Emirates EK 357 bound for Dubai from Jakarta.

After a two night layover in Dubai, my next stop was Dammam, Saudi Arabia. The flight to Saudi Arabia was one hour and 15 minutes BUT the wait on line at immigration in Dammam Airport was one hour and 20 minutes!!! This was followed by a mercifully short taxi ride to Saudi Aramco in Dhahran. I did not get a chance to take many interesting pictures while I was in Dhahran. Hence, nothing to share from Saudi Arabia on this short visit.

After a few days in Dhahran, I flew to Kuwait (via Doha, Qatar) for what turned out to be a three-week stay in country (working in the usual place - Wafra!). As was the case in Saudi Arabia, I was too busy to take many interesting photos on this visit. The above photo shows a new grocery store that opened up in Kuwait - LuLu's. A nice place to shop for us expats.

Finally, I departed Kuwait on May 4 and headed to Dubai.

The Dubai skyline from my room at the Emirates Hotel. The Burj Khalifa (the world's tallest building) is in the background, off to the left side of the photo, gleaming in the afternoon sun.

The next day (May 5), I flew home to Houston, TEXAS on Emirates 211. Finally I was returned to my home-sweet-home!

PS: Following this venture overseas, I had a short vacation in New York City and Upstate NY (see the prior post) in late May and then a very quick trip to Kuwait in late June (June 22 to July 1). Sadly, there were no pictures to share from that June trip to Kuwait but frankly there was so little time (too much work to accomplish) and we had a few bad sandstorms that month so I never had the inclination to get out and snap photos anyway.