Archive for the 'English' Category
The first thing you’ll notice coming down Jaofa 50 in Chalong, the road where Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket is located, are the many hardbodies walking, or more often running around. Never miss an opportunity to do something for your fitness. That’s pretty much the motto when you decided to check in at Tiger Muay Thai. So did I for 12 days from Dec 2011 to January 2012 and it was indeed one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Finishing my last training yesterday, I feel even safe to say that it is the perfect sports vacation.
And there are plenty of factors that have to come together for this statement: Let’s start with Tiger Muay Thai itself. The camp is amazingly well organized. There are 2.5 hours, twice a day structured courses every day for every level, from bloody beginners to really advanced pros. But there is much more than Muay Thai to it. There are daily Yoga classes at 6.30 am, “Body Fit”-courses at 9 am, weight training as well as several other martial arts experiences. Be prepared that every class will put at least equal emphasis on building up stamina as it teaches technique. Especially the 2.5 hours felt for my fitness pretty shitty. But every day a little less shitty :-)
Pricewise, a full package for a week costs 3,000 Baht (~ EUR 75), for a whole month 10,000 Baht (~EUR 250). That’s indeed for the „all you can eat“ package including usage of weight room, spinning bikes, boxing bags at your own discretion. What is more, you get to train with former Muay Thai Champions, 1:1 with personal attention to grow your skill level. 36 of them are working in the camp. Think of being able to train boxing with Mike Tyson. That’s what you get for Muay Thai for an hourly rate of 600 Baht (~ EUR 15)!
Interestingly, the entire Jaofa 50 road seems to have evolved in a comprehensive „eco-system“ at whose centre sits Tiger Muay Thai. The camp itself again is very service-oriented and can arrange for accommodation, a scooter or excursions at discounted prices. But interestingly, there are plenty of independent businesses that have sprung up in a 200 m walking vicinity. You’ll find small cosy family restaurants that offer a meal for around 100 Baht (EUR 2.50) – even with emphasis on healthy, light nutrition -, massage spas that will squeeze the pain out of your sore muscles and really lovely guesthouses. Myself, for instance, was staying in Floraville, a beautifully set garden with a fish-pond for 7,000 Baht (EUR 175) per week – in peak season.
The entire mood at Tiger Muay Thai is just right. Focused, yet not rigid. It’s functional with attention to hygiene. People I have met there we all easy to talk to, relaxed, nobody smoked or drank, but was rather eager to order the next protein shake. It’s neither a boot camp where you get screamed at nor one of these metrosexual fitness studios in western cities with their omni-present vanity. Last not least, nobody asks questions if you don’t show up. Hey, ultimately, you are on an island of one of the word’s last living paradises, Thailand. There is plenty to do if you feel you want an escape from your training routine. From a lazy day on one of the beaches, to a boat trip to another island, to a mountain walk to e.g. The Big Buddha, cruising with the motorbike, going for a dive or check at one of the plenty adventures that Phuket has to offer.
Two points, though, for improvement: First, food at the camp’s own “Tiger Grill”. It’s somehow efficient, but also pretty awful. Had by a huge margin the worst “steak” in my life and the other cooked stuff was also nothing to write home about. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect 5 star cuisine, but Tiger Grill aims to “provide meal items that are designed to give our guest the choices they need to maintain a healthy and optimal diet while training at Tiger Muay Thai“, says the website. Reality is by no means living up to the promise. On a constructive note, alternatives are in close reach: any of the small family-restaurants on the road, as mentioned above, will be much tastier and healthier and not necessarily more expensive. My favourite was Chillana where Annamay Phurisa will cook phenomenal home-made Thai dishes.
Second point affects a consistent level of teaching skills with the trainers in 1:1 sessions. No doubt that all of them know Muay Thai very well. My last trainer, Komrit (picture above), was in my view the best from a didactic standpoint. He would immediately see where I stand and have me do techniques for my level. If he saw that I was screwing up, he would make me repeat the same set 4, 5, 6 times until it looked good. Then he would do other stuff to return to the same technique to check if it had sunk in. Perfect. I believe with a systematic “train the trainer”-initiative, Tiger Muay Thai could bring this piece of the experience to a consistently higher level.
Yet, these are really minor things compared to the entire experience, which was absolutely stellar. On a side not, being co-founder and MD of Brain Pirates, a social media consultancy, Tiger Muay Thai is doing an amazing job in using all possible tools and platforms from their own website, YouTube or Facebook and feeding it with relevant, exciting content. I recommend to “Like” their Facebook-page and I am sure by their daily stream you’ll get the appetite to give it a try.
One thing I lost at Tiger Muay Thai which, however, I don’t miss at all: fat. I wouldn’t yet be able to run with the hardbodies on Jaofa Road, but aiming to come back for more is a good reason to work (out) towards it.
Didn’t want to miss out on sharing some great videos from Sardinia three weeks ago with us three pilots Thomas Leiber (“The Leibertinger”), Felix Haas (“The Haasinger”) and myself (=”The Seifertinger) in Thomas’ plane, a beautiful Diamond D-40.
Yep, that’s The Leibertinger, just after heroically landing in San Teodoro (Sardinia) on a short grass field. If you listen to the sound, you would hear the flight director in its robot-like voice repeat: “Warning! Terrain-Terrain!”. That’s because the Garmin GPS system doesn’t know about such small airfields and believes that you’re just about to ram the aircraft straight into the ground. But it went better than that :-)
For take-off we had done lots of calculation if the length of the runway would be sufficient based on our weight, temperature and height of the grass and even defined a point to abort the take-off if we had not reached at least 50 knots. Here The Haasinger was Pilot-in-Command and did a phenomenal job in accelerating the plane, lifting it off effectively using the ground effect, accelerating further before assuming a stable climb.
This one, however, is by far my favourite. The Leibertinger again in command, me sitting to his right side (but all credit & glory to him, he did it all). This was a small airstrip some 800 meters above mean sea level in the mountains of Sardinia, no living soul around. It was clear to us that the length of the runway could be just enough for landing, but not way to get the plane up in the air, especially due to the trees just at the end of the runway. Still, we didn’t want to miss out on that one, so we did a thing in between called “touch & go”.
Kudos. The trees below, the plane above. Exactly how it should be, and never mind the margin between the two.
Traditions require pursuit. So when Frank Richter from Horasis is inviting to one of his legendary “Global Business Meetings”, the best option is simply to show up and receive a stimulating update on the state of the globalized world. This times it was the Global Russia Business Meeting 2011, last year I attended in Ljubljana, this year in happened to take place in Limassol (Cyprus).
As it was the first time to this island for me, I decided to come two days earlier and do a little bit of sightseeing, mainly into the surprisingly high mountains up to 1,900 meters …
… as well as trying out the local cuisine which is famous for its “Meze”. Shared dishes which keep on coming in endless numbers and makes. Apparently, me including, every foreigner on his first time consistently commits the same mistake: Eating too much in the beginning and then facing complete paralysis when more and even more food is arriving to the table.
The Island-Republic has been for decades an attractive destination for Russian tourists and investors alike: The single biggest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FTD) into Russia comes due to favourable holding- and taxation structures indeed from Cyprus.
Our hosts were enormously hospitable who made our stay a truly memorable experience. During the gala dinner on Sunday evening, the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Dimitris Christofias welcomed us …
… after which inspiring and funny conversations with other attendees extended way after midnight.
On Monday, in fact the major day of the event, there were a couple of “all hands” plenary sessions with CEOs and ministers of state as well a plenty of parallel “break out-sessions” for a more intimate exchange. Like last year in Madrid for the India-Meeting, I had the honour to moderate a session about “Creating Innovation Capacity” with eight distinguished participants on the panel.
In the nutshell, a couple of issues pertaining to Russia:
- Assumptions from foreign businesspeople that Russia is operating like a Western country are strongly overstretched; one needs to know how to navigate the system with all its intricacies.
- Political regulation changes frequently, and not always for the better.
- Russia has strengths in R&D, yet deficits in devising products and services out of this, also with sub-standard abilities downstream when it comes to marketing and sales.
- Russia’s strongest GDP-driver, natural resources, is both a salvation as it is a curse: It lacks the necessary “eco-systems” (benchmark: Silicon Valley) to allow other truly innovative sectors to emerge in order to contribute to a better diversification of the economy.
- Russia possesses a healthy self-awareness about its strengths and weaknesses and has set up a variety of private and public initiatives to foster exchange to gain best practices.
This appears to be especially true after the financial crisis where the government is listening better than ever to entrepreneurs how to be serious about the necessary implementation of change.
Thanks Frank for once again putting a great program with inspiring people together, hope to see to see you soon at one of the subsequent events.
And on a personal note: Thanks to Davor, from Les Clefs d’Or– Concierge from LeMeridien in Limassol who helped me within 18 hours print my forgotten business cards and held some true insider tips for the best local dining in the area ready. “Hvala vam ljepa na vasoj pomoci, Davore”, – who originally hails from Bosnia and with whom I proudly conversed in our mother tongue Serbo-Croatian. That’s globalization at its best as it comes with the touch of home … :-)
For more than half a year I have been really busy creating something new. Today, I am proud to announce that I started a new venture MillonMiles Media Ltd. and we just went live with our really cool flagship site aMillionLives.com. And, yes, we have a Facebook Fanpage, too, where I like if you like ;-) In case you want to read our „official press release“, it’s here for download.
Let me explain here on my blog in a bit more of a conversational tone what we are up to. We are global publishing network writing stuff that matters for our life, in particular the various lives of each of us. You might be familiar with Edward de Bono’s concept of the various hats we should put on during decision making. Similarly, on a broader perspective in one’s life somebody might be a teacher by profession, have a family with a lovely wife raising two kids. But there is more to life than the obvious on the surface: This human being might be an avid guitar player, enjoys going for a hike in the mountains and really love his food. That same person will find help, advise and entertainment for his various lives like in a magazine as a teacher, spouse, parent, musician, naturelover and foodie. Check out our overview of all the lives we are writing for.
Here’s the deal with „global“ for our publishing network. I’ve been living and working in various continents for the last years where I dare to say that I have a fairly good understanding how to assemble a business that brings together the best pieces from each part of the world. Our company is incorporated in London (U.K.), a big chunk of our operation runs out of Bangalore (India) with an international team, the design for aMillionLives.com has been done in Poland, our writers hail from India, the Philippines. Our users as we know from our logfiles appreciate our content from all over the world, the U.S. running with 60 % at the forefront.
Where does the name MillionMiles Media (MMM) come from? Two simple explanations: I was looking, no surprise, for something that sounds somehow cool and has „Media“ at the end. If you check out every freaking word on this earth in combination with „Media“ at the end, the domain is taken by some filthy domain-grabber. So extending the query to two prefix-words, landed me with MMM. Second, I liked it because last year with all my travelling I had crossed the mark of a million miles in my frequent flyer programme.
Yep, that’s my news of the day. Happy about every feedback, good or bad, sympathetic or just pathetic. If you like our Fanpage on Facebook or moreover, place a link from your blog or site to aMillionLives.com, I’ll include you in my evening prayers – hands duly folded. Promised.
Really speechless about your attention for my 40th birthday today. As I don’t think I can do justice to each and every of you so say “thank you”, here’s my little video message from Zurich (Switzerland) – a perfect place for a middle aged man to find the necessary support systems.
Thanks again and hope to see you soon, best
The shifting economic power from west to east is a favourite theme sung by observers of globalization. The most often quoted reasons in favour of the east: demography (young) and growth (high). I would like to add from my own experience another critical one: attitude (great).
I’d like to illustrate this on a small example which happened yesterday during boarding with Lufthansa in Frankfurt. My purpose is both to use this public display as part of a complain which I have filed, but also as an illustration of a broader picture which I see emerging.
When I arrived to my boarding gate B23 for my flight LH 754 from Frankfurt to Bangalore yesterday on February 04th 2011 via direct transfer from Zurich, I requested at the boarding gate an upgrade from Economy to Business Class thanks to my abundance of miles in the Miles & More programme. The German tall guy behind the counter, let’s call him by his initials E.H. said „Yes, if you have miles.“ He went to his computer, went through the menu and replied: „Sorry, it doesn’t work, your ticket class doesn’t allow for an upgrade.“ End of the story – for him. I retorted that I didn’t believe this was accurate, as I had upgraded myself successfully on the TO-sector.
I grabbed my mobile phone, called my always super-duper-customer-oriented Lufthansa-agent Vignesh Mohan in Bangalore who has been immaculately serving me in the last 3 years. He immediately picked up and explained to him the problem, he replied that he believed, too, the ticket was upgradable, but he would cross-check in the system and call me back.
Time was running out as I was the last passenger at the gate, the German guy and his female German colleague didn’t bother to even look at not to mention look after me once. Vignesh being Vignesh kept his promise, called me back after 2 minutes from India and confirmed: “The ticket is upgradable.”
What came next is really the point for my anger and the illustration of the different attitudes. I was polite and relaxed, went over to Mr. E.H. with my phone and said kind of: „I have Vignesh on the phone, your Lufthansa colleague from Bangalore, I suggest you both talk to each other in airline-lingo with all your ticket-codes to sort things out.“ He again wouldn’t even look at me, lest try to find any solution. Instead his female colleague stepped up to me and said in a super-annoyed way: “Well, it doesn’t work this way, we would have to call the ticket counter.” – Expectedly my response was: “And why don’t you do it?” She went on with: “Next time be a bit earlier with your upgrade request.” I turned back to E.H. and asked him why he wouldn’t talk to his colleague in India. Brief answer: “I in general don’t talk on a mobile phone.” Wow, that’s a rare mix of impressive and progressive.
Contrast that with Vignesh who was still on my ear and grasped the full sense of urgency of the situation and said: “René, give me a couple of minutes, I’ll sort things out from India.” I don’t know what Vignesh did, but magically after minutes the upgrade went through as smooth as silk. All fine, but I really got annoyed by this pathetic behaviour from the German Lufthansa team and announced that I would complain against him and asked for his name. He wouldn’t even have the balls to tell me, so I had to bent over and read it from his name plate. The grand final of the scene were his good bye-words: “But I just want to let you know that I am not the responsible load manager.” Bingo. This says it all: Zero attitude translates to zero responsibility which translates to zero civilized behaviour.
I do not even want to stretch the terms “customer orientation” too far and I don’t even intend to play my black card being a HON Circle member. This is just not a manner to behave. And being an entrepreneur I am safe to state into Lufthansa’s direction that you simply don’t want anybody like E.H. doing any customer-facing jobs. This was not his one time-failure, it’s an attitude problem and he’ll never get it.
Compare that to Vignesh’s attitude and action, and I am happy to conclude that we need more of the Vigneshs being allowed to play a much stronger role on the global economic stage and replace the E.H.s ideally yesterday. And please nobody tell me that this was – prominent German term – “unsozial”, i.e. not in line with social considerations.
Picture Source: Flickr.com / Andres Rueda
6 years in India and never managed to travel to Kolkata. Shame-on-me. This weekend finally, I made up for this black spot in the company of my friends Tim & Dominique Butzmann and Marek Janetzke. Landing in Kolkata on Friday evening, we could figure already by the disorganized procedure of the prepaid airport-taxis that here, in the capital of West Bengal, “Old India” still held the upper hand. (All the pictures of the trip here on this Flickr-Set.)
Coming in downtown, driving past and through the chaos, entering Jawaharlal Nehru Street, the cab suddenly pulled left in front of an unassuming gate. We underwent a security check, from where we felt that we had landed on a different planet: The Oberoi Hotel. Its white colour, splendour and luxury became our witnesses of an foregone which had not just survived but re-invented itself throughout more than a century.
At its fine Thai restaurant Baan Thai, we enjoyed our first dinner.
The next morning we headed out for our first walk and were – right after the magic gate – intercepted by the most obnoxious, aggressive beggars and touts I had so far come across in India. We walked along the monumental India Museum, turned left into Park Street.
There further for breakfast at Flurys. Supposedly founded after a Swiss patisserie in 1927, this place today is purely living off its dividend from the past as well as hugely overrated. The poor food, terrible service in combination with high prices make it a location just to ignore.
Exactly the opposite has to be said about the Victoria Memorial, where already the walk through the large scale greenery with grazing horses along Queen’s Way is an experience in itself.
Not after too much time, the monumental white towers will gaze through the trees and provide the curious visitor a clear orientation which path to follow.
After buying the ticket of Rs. 150 (price for foreigners), you walk straight face up to the statue of Queen Victoria sitting quite broadly on here throne and then into the memorial which looks – to quote the Lonely Planet – like a mix between the Capitol in Washington D.C. and the Taj Mahal.
Food is great throughout India, but us four tall Germans acknowledged that we experienced a special culinary highlight at “Oh!Calcutta” in Forum Mall. Nice decoration, courteous service and especially phenomenal food. Bengali cuisine is known for its emphasis on Fish, especially the local “Bekti”.
The various ways of preparations in different ways and curries are simply out of this world and a visit to this restaurant with reasonable prices an absolute must!
After dinner we headed to Park Hotel to listen to the life-band in the bar whose name is seriously “Someplace Else”. The crowd tends to be a bit nerdy, 90 % of the guests male, likewise the four guys on stage, all in their forties appeared, except one, a bit as if they were still living with their mothers. Still, their Rock’n Roll in combination with a cold Heineken in hand was cool stuff to listen to.
Due to “Dry Day” on Independance Day on August 15th, everything closed already at 11.30 pm, hence we decided to take a 10 minutes-walk home when we ran into this guy making himself comfortable on the rear of his car.
Our further path was plastered with people sleeping on the sidewalk to an extent I haven’t yet come across in the centre of an Indian city. Yet amidst the undoubted poverty, small stars of mutual human respect are able to rise. A guy, falling asleep in his chair on the street, seeing us walking towards our 5 star-hotel, wished us a heartfelt “good night”. So I wished him back a sincere “good night to you as well”. Likewise, in all the unfortunate circumstance the ragpickers work, they still manage to smile at you during their work.
On Independence Day security with police and military had been intensified, however without problem for our tour by taxi to the huge Howrah Train Station.
We crossed back the heavy Howrah Bridge where, on a regular working day, around One million people cross on foot.
We continued to walk past the Christian Armenian Church, Holy Rosary Cathedral, the Moghan David Synagogue, St. Andrew’s Church, were impressed by the lake BBD Bagh on whose riverbank a graveyard for old police vans is emerging.
On further South to Raj Bhavan, looking at a beautiful old building still reasonable intact, …
… and from there through the Tram Terminal after our 2.5 hour tour, a last time back to our little oasis of the Oberoi Hotel.
Kolkata is clearly a must for the avid Indian traveller. The city exudes charm, catching flair, its people a pleasant dignity. At the same time, I would not recommend for a Westerner for his first time visit to India to begin with the capital of West Bengal. The poverty is striking and so are the contrast when morphing through the different worlds of “what a Westerner is used to” vs. “how the majority of Kolkatans live”. Nevertheless, a journey worth undertaking to see with own eyes what different shapes a human life can take.
As we started the tradition last year with MännerMitÄhre (=MenOfHonour) heading up for the Zuspitze, we continued in the same quartet of Rainer, Stephan, Werner and me for the tour to the Meilerhütte. (All the pictures here on this Flickr-set). As the three guys have not changed at all being “the machines”, I took my preparation in the last 8 weeks quite seriously with regular spinning sessions, bodypump-classes, leg muscle-exercises and obedience towards my nutritionist Ashwini in my gym in Bangalore. Writing these lines is the best evidence that I made it both alive and in one piece ;-)
We started out from Partenkirchen (altitude 700 m MSL) through the ever astounding Partnachklamm where the river Partnach gets compressed into a dense bed between the rocks of the canyon.
After that, without any notable mercy from the mountain, quite a steep climb up the Kälbersteig towards the Schachen. After breaking through the forest, with stunning panoramas like this one of the Reintal.
An absolute must, at least with good weather, is a small deviation down to the Schachensee whose chilly temperatures provide a worthwhile refreshment after the 3 hours of walking uphill.
From there is short of half an hour along grazing cows up to the “Schachen” (altitude 1,866 m MSL) with the little hunting castle “Schachenschloss” of the Bavarian “Fairy Tale King” Ludwig II. Rather unassuming from the outside, likewise in the ground-floor during our guided tour, the miracle reveals itself in the first floor of the building.
And that’s in the so called “Turkish Room” (see the link for the picture). King Ludwig used to come here regularly for his birthday and, if I translate the political correct insinuation of our tour guide into plain language, the party must have looked like this: The King stoned himself with smokable drugs indulged in the company of his orientally cross-dressed gay entourage (=MännerOhneÄhre).
From the Schachen it’s another 1.5 hours and plus 500 meters of altitude up to both our summit and our place for the night, the Meilerhütte (2,374 m MSL) which stands like an “Eagle’s Nest” on top of the ridge of the Wetterstein-Mountains.
There is nothing more thoroughly well deserved after alighting from the backpack and taking off the heavy shoes than having the first beer together with the comrades and enjoying the view to both the Bavarian and Austrian side of the mountains.
That’s the funny thing anyway with the Meilerhütte: It lies exactly on the border between both countries, Bavaria (note: NOT Germany! ;-) and Austria. So what happens when you go for a wash, you leave the house which stands on the Bavarian side, the path in a slight right-turn bow comes over to Austria, …
… before it comes back to the Bavarian side again …
… and leads to the separate washing hut. That can indeed be called effective border crossing. Food on the hut was simple, but super-yummy with the classic of all foods on the mountain, the legendary Kaiserschmarrn.
Next day, Monday August 2nd, we were prepared that the weather wouldn’t be a nice as the day before. So we started our descend downhill to the South onto the Austrian side towards Leutasch (~1,100 m MSL) in cloudy conditions.
We couldn’t have been luckier, when we arrived at the bottom, it started to drizzle. After another 10 minutes, just when we found shelter waiting for the bus, a heavy thunderstorm started to pour down an ocean of rain. So we just-in-time escaped into the bus which brought us back to the Bavarian side – first to Mittenwald, then back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
There we treated ourselves for the finale grande with Schweinsbraten (roast pork) and Weißbier (wheat beer). Overall, a memorable and highly recommended tour, especially in the right company like with our comradeship of MännerMitÄhre.
Came across this advertisement from Platinum, a company which in line with its name sells Platinum-jewellery in India. Here, where more than 80 % of all marriages are arranged, Platinum found a remarkable twist how to set this subject into a photo story. A sort of “photo love story” where marriage comes first and loves follows suit. (Click to enlarge the pics for better legibility of the text)
Happy-Happy-End. And now, in order to bring you from here to there: would you please buy the rings …
Over and out, with Spain being the new Football World Champion 2010. Well deserved, especially for playing the most efficient football of all teams whereas the usual 1:0 victories didn’t really reflect their true dominance during the matches. Spain threw “my” German team out and prevailed over Holland in the finals whose only creativity consisted in systematically employing systematic (brutal) tactical fouls. Therefore congratulations to this proud, fair and technically supreme Spanish championship-heroes.
For me, it have been awesome 4 weeks juggling work, travel and watching football. It’s sort of only every 4 years that I get drawn into TV so much, but it was definitely worth it. Interesting, also staying both in India, Germany and actually Spain during the tournament and experiencing the different spirits in these countries.
In my observation, Indians have become bigger aficionados of football this time than in 2006. Speaking to random people, even my gentle Bangalore-neighbours in their 60s and 70s, they confessed how they were spending long nights in front of TV when the matches – due to the time shift – started right at midnight.
At the same time, on the other side in Germany, a healthy patriotism has become the norm which was unheard of before the Championship 2006 in our own land. Four years ago showing German flags was still being discussed, in parts controversially, but no longer this year. Good.
Moreover, this young, ethnically diverse and highly committed team of the German national team won the hearts of all in Germany and of many abroad. How often did I hear something sympathetic like “I am watching all the matches and Germany is playing so well that they deserve the championship!” Although history turned out differently, still very kind to hear.
I also take pride in the performance of our team which in its composition should be seen as a blueprint to where Germany with its multiple challenges should be heading to: Targeted immigration with “no creed, no caste, only merit” (to borrow the karma of India’s IT-champion Infosys) combined with a strong emphasis with affirmative integration. If our German government was run like our national football team, Germany would be as good as Singapore (I’m aware that this is not desirable for everyone, for me it clearly is.)
Anyway, it also means from today on back to normal: no more long nights in front of TV, no more beer, chips and other junk food. Instead lean nutrition and lots of training as I have to get fit for a mountain tour beginning of August.
FIFA World Championship 2010 in South Africa will be well remembered.