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* all entries (445)
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* travel (241)
  `-bruxelles_07 (8)
  `-canada_14 (22)
  `-hongkong_09 (13)
  `-iceland_10 (14)
  `-ireland_16 (7)
  `-japan_13 (22)
  `-paris_06 (1)
  `-poland_10 (3)
  `-russia_10 (12)
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  `-sweden_09 (10)
  `-taiwan_12 (22)
  `-tokyo_08 (14)
  `-usa_09 (10)
* zoo (38)
  `-abroad (8)
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  `-misc (11)
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08(01), 07(03), 06(03), 05(02), 04(02), 03(02)
12(02), 11(01), 10(08), 09(03), 07(17), 06(01), 05(04), 04(03), 03(02), 02(02), 01(06)
12(05), 11(02), 10(01), 09(01), 08(02), 07(04), 06(01), 05(02), 04(03), 03(02), 02(02), 01(01)
12(01), 11(02), 09(09), 08(16), 07(02), 06(03), 05(04), 04(03), 02(03), 01(02)
12(03), 11(01), 10(02), 09(01), 08(23), 07(03), 06(02), 05(01), 04(02), 03(02)
12(03), 11(02), 10(01), 09(01), 08(23), 05(02)
09(04), 08(01), 06(01), 05(02), 04(02), 03(01), 02(01)
11(01), 10(02), 09(15), 08(01), 07(02), 06(04), 04(12), 01(06)
12(05), 11(01), 10(06), 09(12), 08(02), 07(02), 06(01), 05(01), 04(10), 02(01), 01(05)
12(02), 08(01), 07(15), 06(02), 05(03), 02(02), 01(03)
12(05), 11(01), 07(24), 06(06), 05(03), 04(02), 01(01)
12(01), 11(01), 10(07), 09(01), 08(04), 07(05), 06(04), 05(06), 04(01), 03(04), 02(06), 01(04)
12(04), 11(02), 10(03), 09(04), 08(03), 07(04), 04(01)
07(01), 05(01)
08(01)
10(01)

Mon, 26 Oct 2009
zoo altenfelden (0 comments)
seems it's becoming some kind of tradition to go to some zoo around the 26th of october every year. this year it was with jake, andrea, and sonja, going to altenfelden.
as usual loads of cute animals like leopards, deer, zebras, ermine, and loads of totally cute racoons. so cute!

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Mon, 05 Oct 2009
hongkong, day 13 (0 comments)
last full day for me in hong kong, tomorrow at about 13:00 i will fly back home. did not really do much today, i was just wandering around, window shopping, drinking coffee, watching people, sitting in parks, etc. - so all those "doing nothing" things, since i did not really have a plan for today. no sight, no tour, just enjoying my environment. i spotted two cats today. one i already saw on day 08[17], and another cat that was staying with humans in a pharmacy.
funny thing i didn't mention yet: people tried to avoid me all the time during my stay here. whenever i sat in a cafe, restaurant or tram, bus, etc. people were trying to sit somewhere else rather than next to me. and even if a seat next to me was the only choice to sit down or eat at a restaurant, they either waited until some other seat got free, or they left the locality. well, i'm sure they had their reason, i'm fine with that, maybe it's also just a wrong impression i got. another thing is that people always assumed i prefer fork and knife when eating. well, i did not, so i always had to explicitly ask for chopsticks. oh, btw. Monique and Derrick (which i met on day 04) said that my way of using the chopsticks was way more better than theirs (due to laziness on their side). that actually made me laugh. another thing i noticed is that people in hong kong are very loud. they are way louder than in japan and they do telephon calls on the metro, tram, or bus. some even burp quite loud and for some the table manners are horrible. most of them look very angry but once you talk to them, they turn out to be very friendly (as actually all people i talked to were).
in hong kong there's also the tendency to tell people what to do and what not to do on ads, signs, and tv screens (as in stations or on trains). a lot of regulations everywhere - just as in japan. and warnings about swine and bird flu everywhere. they put up alcohol disinfectant dispensers in many public locations (especially where a lot of birds are around). McDonald's has them in every restaurant. and you can find them in all public toilets. and a pretty dangerous habit is absolutely common here: pedestrians have to give way. cars (especially public buses or taxis) do not stop, even on the most crowded streets, even if there's a zebra crossing. combined with the fact that they drive on the left side of the street, and the fact that it is often hard to tell if the street is a one-way street or not, it's getting quite dangerous from time to time. at most crossings they painted "look left" or "look right" on the ground. this makes it a little easier, but again shows, that cars are taking a higher precedence over pedestrians. my things are packed, i'm ready for tomorrow. i will use the in-town check-in which is located only three MTR stations away from here. so way better to have my luggage transported there than carrying it myself. additionally there's a "starbucks" cafe right next to it. been there today to check it out.

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Sun, 04 Oct 2009
hongkong, day 12 (0 comments)
today i decided to do a "nature" day. so i went to "HK wetland park"[002-111], a huge conservation facility open to visitors. it's a huge area full of plants and animals. you sometimes walk on wooden ways[005,007,039-044,054,060,066] through swamps or to special ornithology hides[076-077]. additionally they added some information[010] on various animals and plants nearby. very educative and fun. cute crayfish[029-034,038], dragonflies[022,045-046,072], big butterflies[047] (though the one i took a picture of was pretty small. the bigger ones were very cautious and one couldn't get very close to them), and of course all kind of birds[026-028,055-056]. in every hide there are telescopes (by swarovski) and people from the park that setup the telescopes for you, so you get a nice view on the birds very fast and easily. they also give you all the facts about the bird you're seeing (if you want to), and they are all enthusiastic bird watchers it seemed to me. and of course i found some wedding photography[043-044] going on again. seems they are everywhere.
then there's also a huge visitor centre with all kind of exhibitions[081-108] and also some living animals[091-093,099-105]. although it was very hot again (around 35C again) this was a total nice day in nature.
although to get there one has to pass by hundreds of skyscrapers. and i really mean hundreds. well, maybe not that much, but i think you get the idea. oh, and not to mention that i was the only caucasian again there. seems tourists only stick to touristy places? strange and sad, since they really miss a lot. ok, not the skyscrapers, but the people, the lifestyle, and such. on my way home i came by another lantern carnival[112-117] installation again. again loads of pandas. people seem to like them here a lot. also cute red pandas were there. so cute!
back at the hotel again i wanted to check out some udon restaurant i found a few days before (see day 09, [124]). unfortunately the queue at the entrance was quite long, so i decided to go somewhere else. then i found a small restaurant with a menu card in chinese and english, and some pictures. here's a short (and by far not complete) list of stuff they offered: fried fish skin, beef/pork brisket/cheek/knuckle/reticulum/cartilage/viscus/hastle, etc. i chose the safe side and ordered "baked pork chop with rice". boring, but delicious. today the chinese people celebrate "mid-autumn festival". seems it's the most important holiday here. it takes place when the moon is the fullest, thus they eat cake that is called "moon cake". it consists mainly of sugar, but i haven't tried one yet. maybe i get one. they have all kind of fruity flavours, but there are also (exotic and non-traditional) ones with salty or sour flavours. the festival also is for family reunions, so maybe comparable to the european christmas celebration when the whole family joins to be shiny happy and eat together. oh, and i still did not give up thinking that one day all those people on "jordan road" might stop asking me if i want a rolex, suits, or hashish. but since it's the mostly always the same guys the annoyance got less. i think they know me by now.

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Sat, 03 Oct 2009
hongkong, day 11 (0 comments)
today i went to "tsuen wan", a district a little outside of the core of hong kong. at the usual mall at the MTR station[001-002,005-009] i found a pet shop that had cats[004,006-007] in the shopping window. maunz, they did not seem very happy though, or maybe they were just lazy. who knows. first sight i found was the "sam tung uk"[011-024] museum, which houses an exhibition of the daily life in this area from a few hundred years ago until today. it describes the farmer's and factory worker's life. additionally the museum building itself is an relict from around 1786. next thing i wanted see was the "chuk lam temple". while walking there i saw three wild cats[025-026]. at least it seemed to me they were wild ones, since they were very shy. the one in [025] sits on the tree in the middle of the picture. good luck on finding the little cutey on the picture. unfortunately my book guide is a little inaccurate when it comes to the map of this area, furthermore it lacks street names of important streets to get to the temple, and thirdly it seems a little outdated too, although my edition is from 2007. so i ended up a little lost in some streets that did not resemble anything i found on the drawn map. so i asked some locals, a group of three young guys. they said i could join them on part of my way to the temple since their home is located along this route. great! we had a nice little chat and then they almost brought me right to the entrance of the temple and the included monastery. the temple[027-059] was totally nice and it had loads of cats[047-059] (in numbers: around ten cats, ranging from cute little curious, but yet very cautious kitties, to old grumpy cats giving me an angry look). they were all very very shy so no petting, unfortunately. it was even hard to get pictures of them. but i managed to take some (although, sadly, they're all out of focus). "wee, you're a kitty!". the monks and employees there gave me strange looks since i was so happy seeing so many cats. again i almost got locked in, but this time an old lady escorted me to the exit. she was only speaking chinese and she said a lot of things to me (maybe that i'm a stupid tourist or such?) but she was totally friendly and waved at the exit as i left while she stayed. very kind and friendly.
ah, yeah, of course i was the only caucasian again since nearly half of the MTR ride to "tsuen wan" station. this changed rapidly when i got back to the centre to see two main "mid autumn" festival highlights. first one was the "tai hang fire dragon dance"[061-103]. it started with a parade of cute young girls and kids having lanterns. some pipe bag dudes (no idea what they represented though) and some drummers. and then came the fire dragon. a 67 meter long dragon, made of hay and studded with thousands of burning joss sticks. the dragon is hunting to big spheres, again made up of incense sticks. the carriers turn and wave the spheres and the guy holding the dragon's head also spins and waves the dragon around. the guys holding the body and head of the dragon often changed, so i guess this thing is quite heavy. also the heat of the incense sticks makes this job even more straining. very impressive spectacle actually.
next i headed on to the "lantern carnivals"[105-167], situated in the huge park i've already crossed on day 04[027-028], this time in the dark and lanterns all over the place. additionally all kind of activities went on there, like some old fashioned games[108,167], theatres[113-114,162-166] and live performances like jugglers[116-120], or dancers[150-156], and winners of some lantern creating contest[131-132,138-144,146-149] of course loads of people there (including many caucasian tourists).
what a nice day and evening!

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Fri, 02 Oct 2009
hongkong, day 10 (0 comments)
today i wanted to see some outer districts of hong kong. so i got on the double-decker bus and started my journey[001-003] out of the core of the city. first stop was "repulse bay". although my pocket guide says there's only a nice beach for swimming and sun bathing i wanted to have a look at it. so after a wild ride on the bus over several steep hills and along the coast i arrived at the bay[004-009]. to my surprise i found some strange temple [010-032] like complex there right at the beach. i still don't know what to think of that since it was so totally untypical from all the sacral things i've seen so far.
next i got on a mini bus[033] and drove on to "stanley". there's a big street market[034-036], a wonderful beach[037-048], and a military cemetery[049-072] with a nice (as i guess) lolita photo shooting[059]. then i took a walk along the coast[074-075] back to the center of "stanley", along the beach[076-086] again with all kind of american-style bars and restaurants. sights there are "blake pier"[087-088,098], the "murray house"[089-106] one of the oldest surviving public buildings in hong kong from 1846, and quite popular for couples[092,094-097,099-100,103-104,106,114-115] to marry there as it seems. all in all i think i saw about eight different couples there having photo shootings with hired professionals. of course a temple, namely "tin hau" [107-113] is there too.
to get back to "tsim sha tsui" i took again a bus, but this time the trip took over an hour due to the heavy traffic. still quite nice to watch the traffic chaos. this was a nice day with a lot of sunshine. although there were loads of rainy days predicted only two days ago, the typhoon has vanished (or moved on). so now it's hot again (35C), but at least i finally can now use my sun tan creme.

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Thu, 01 Oct 2009
hongkong, day 09 (0 comments)
this day i wanted to go for "the peak", the well known spot in hong kong where you get the most beautiful view of the town, at least according to the brochure that you get when you buy the ticket). the ride with the peak tram[002,004,015,046] is very nice. totally steep up the hill, it's really scary from time to time, especially since i got no seat but was standing all the time. once arrived at the station, i found the usual thing one finds when they get off some transport thingie: a mall. a huge shopping mall[029-031,035,049,053-061,071-072] up there with all kind of different shops. from luxury good shops to furniture and the usual souvenir shops. actually malls are everywhere it seems to me. additionally one can find a "madame tussaud's" wax museum [006-007] up there. a huge observation deck is put right on top of the mall. it's called "sky terrace"[012,019,027-028, 066-067,098] and to get there extra entry has to be paid.
i really have a tendency to end up all alone here in hong kong. and so i managed to do so today again. i wanted to walk further up the hill to see "peak garden" and take the "governor's walk". so while walking the "mt. austin road"[076-097] i came by a small unnamed (at least i think so) garden[073-075] to finally come to "peak garden"[083-084]. it was crowded with participants of a baptists convention, who were dancing and singing, and 99% female. after listening to some of their songs i went on to take the "governor's walk"[087-092], a circle walking path.
so, after walking back to "the peak", taking the tram to get back to the MTR station again, driving home, taking a shower after this exhausting hiking day ("mt. austin road" and the "governor's walk" were quite straining), just to get back on the street again to witness the 60th anniversary celebration of the people's republic of china. a huge firework was planned which of course i wanted to see. while being in my room and changing i was watching tv and they showed live streams from beijing. quite impressive ceremony although it was a weapon show all the time. quite impressive and quite disturbing at the same time. to get to "victoria harbour" was not an easy task it turns out. the streets were closed by the police, and so everyone was walking on nathan road[110], a street that usually is full of cars and buses. was strange to walk there where one would actually get killed within a few seconds during normal operation. so i en joyed walking with the crowd to end up in some unknown street [111-112]. though i somehow knew where i was it was quite unclear to me where exactly the fireworks will take place. but i was in the middle of a crowd so i thought that must be a good viewing point[113-119]. well, it turned out all of us were wrong. the view was not that good, but it was ok. the people were really shouting "aaaw" a lot, especially when very bright explosions took place. was really nice, as they did it until the very end of the fireworks. people in austria would do that for maybe a few minutes. they had nice rockets with all kind of shapes like a heart and a smiley. also they had nice effects i have not seen before. all in all a nice spectacle and a good atmosphere in the crowd. i watched the fireworks later on tv when i got back to my hotel room. i really missed some cool stuff. hehe.

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