Uber Drivers in Honolulu


I had a short holiday in Honolulu over the Australia Day long weekend. I stayed in Waikiki island which was full of tourists and close to everything. I took Uber three times to go to the supermarket and restaurants and I met three Uber drivers.

The first one was a very nice lady. Her car was right next to me when I made the order, so I could not even tell the direction on the map. This lady was from New Jersey and moved to the island five years ago when she retired from a job in Newark Airport. She bought one bedroom flat in Waikiki and worked as a Uber driver. She said she took it easy, started late and finished early, so she would not see those drunkies but all nice tourists. She said people in the island were quite different from the big city, so early today she took an old couple from NY and in order to make some conversation, the gentleman asked her some simple questions, then his wife said: why did not ask those questions if you already knew the answer? Typical New Yorker, the lady driver said, and they made awkward conversations not even behind you, like all old and young people who always do the wrong thing. I laughed hard with her and I thought she had a wonderful retirement.

The second guy was an angry man. He didn’t allow me to touch the boot as someone broke it, then he yelled at the red light as it was too long. Anyway, he was from CA, moved to the island when he was 12. He was running a limo company for tourists but it didn’t not run well at the moment so he had a bit of time to do Uber. He had a bad experience in hiring someone to drive his limo as the employee would not treat the car and the passenger in the way as he did. Despite his busy life, he would go golfing in an hour after dropping me. What a nice island life, I said. Yeah, he laughed.

The third guy was a military guy. I was a bit surprised military people are allowed to have a second job but he said it was common. He moved from Atlanta to the island with the job and then settled here. He would retire in 4 years and he was planning his own charted boat fishing business. Currently he was in the process of getting the captain licence and also studying part time with the support from the government. Everything went so well. He was the first person asking me about the bushfires in Australia and I couldn’t believe someone in the island would care about what happened around the world.

The Uber drivers I see in other cities are mostly Indians who can’t get another job but in this island, all Uber drivers have their stories and they like to share with other people. For me, it’s a great experience to know the island a little bit more.

Back from Central America


I recently had trip in Central America, starting from Panama, then Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and finishing in Cuba. It’s a lovely Christmas time.

Panama and Costa Rica are relatively rich countries in the region so nice food and nice hotel and everything was alright. Once I stepped into Nicaragua on a bus, I could see the difference – there was no infrastructure. Even at the border, there was no road or car park for the bus to stop and pick the passengers. The driver just dropped my backpack to the dirt road for security check. and it seemed fine for everyone. I had a chat with some friends in the hostel and realised for the first time that this country was under dictatorship. Soon I realised this was true when I went to the city and saw a square of Chavez.

I had a particular interest to those countries who maintained the diplomatic relationship with Taiwan. Because of the one China policy, Taiwan does not have many friends in the world without diplomatic tie with China, but there are quite a lot in this region. I had a special visit to Taiwan’s embassy to Nicaragua and Honduras and took some pictures. You know there are only less than 20 embassies in the world, even less than the quantity of Disneyland.

The highlight of the trip was Guatemala. I would like to spend a few years there because of its nature and culture. In this trip, I missed a tour to the volcano as the tour was full. Instead I went to a local football game between Antigua and another club. The level of the game was so so but I liked the passion of the fans. It’s a 10 thousand people stadium without proper seats but most people stood there and watched the game to the end like me, supporting their team. The hosting team lost the game in the end but I will still support it.

Cuba was nice but o be honest I don’t like the idea that people had to pay a lot more than local people for everything. China used to do that in 1980s, so for me it’s so old fashioned, communist and ridiculous. It was an experience, but put it in this way, at least Cuba is not a backpacker friendly place, so bring lots of money before entering the country.

Am I coming back? Yes, I think I will learn a bit more Spanish next time. Also I would like to have more adventures in Guatemala.




The old town of Zagreb was small. The cathedral was very tall and from the hill, there was a very beautiful view of the city. However, there were not many tourists compared to Italy, which was great for me. As it was Christmas I went to the mass in the cathedral. Although I did not understand the language, I really enjoyed the music and the atmosphere. I noticed the top part of the cathedral was under maintenance but probably because no one could figure out how to fix it, they used a painting to cover the tower and it looks like it’s been there for a while.

As a vegetarian, I found it hard to live in this part of the world. There was a kebab restaurant next to the hostel but there was no vegetarian option. Interestingly, there is a veggie option for kebab shops in Australia, but they never refer to the final product as a veggie kebab. Instead, they call it a veggie wrap so that the name of kebab cannot be messed up with non meat stuff. As no supermarkets were open on Christmas Day, I had to buy a beef burger and got rid of the beef by myself to change it to a veggie burger. I remember the situation was the same in Poland or Czech when I was there a few years ago. I don’t complain about it. As it was so cold here in winter, people need the energy from the meat.

One thing I do want to complain is that people have to pay a luggage fee for buses in Croatia. I was surprised when the bus driver asked for cash for my bag. Later I googled and found an article on the website explaining the reason for the fee – they argue this is similar to the extra luggage charged by budget airlines so that people only pay what they need – this is just bullshit as there are a lot places in a bus. Basically, I had to get some Euro coins just for the luggage and most of my other expenses could be paid through credit card. The exception of the luggage fee is the the company called Flex which is associated with MegaBus. Flex had wifi on the bus and the check in was via my mobile phone. I guess Flex was considered as non-budget bus company and much better than the others.



My Yugoslavian trip started from Slovenia. This country was known as the first one to be independent. I was a little surprised as Slovenia was part of European Union and Euro was also used.

I took the bus to Ljubljana but did not know how to pronounce its name. In Milan, the bus driver asked me “where do you want to go”? I said “Slovenia”, he asked “Ljubljana”? I said yes. Then I knew how to pronounce it – sounds awful.

I stayed in the “new” part of the town. My check-in was pretty late and when I woke up in the morning, I found the city was not that pretty. I managed to talk to a Slovenian local. He was not against Yugoslavia but he also emphasised that this country was much better than the other countries. Maybe that was true but I just couldn’t tell.

I went to the old town in the afternoon. The town was small but quite beautiful. I particularly like the dragon bridge which had four dragon statue in each corner of it. There was also a nice fortress according to the map but unfortunately, I did not find the entrance to it, so most of the time I just walked around under the fortress.

I quite liked this Ljubljana as it is nice and small. I bought four persimmons from an “Aldi-like” shop called “Hofer” for lunch and they were delicious. I thought this city set a high standard of the trip, so I hope the following would not disappoint me much.



I finally made my trip to Dubai.

Dubai is built for rich people. The biggest shopping centre Dubai Mall – its gates are all in the car park, so the assumption is you have to have a car to go to the shopping centre. I can probably understand it because walking on the street in Dubai is horrible. There are no shades or grass anywhere. It is so hot to walk around and quite often on the sand directly.

I was lucky to stay at JW during my stay. There was a nice sports bar with big screens at the ground floor. I passed it the other day and saw live different football games on the wall and local people were drinking and chatting. The rich people’s life is nice no matter where they live.

It is a different experience to run in Dubai. They’ve built nice running track along the beach, but no one can run after 8 am during the day because of the heat. I tried to run a few times before the sunrise. It was actually pretty good.

The jetlag was always with me, so I followed Australian time. When the hotel provided the free breakfast, it was my dinner time, so I enjoyed the food a lot – especially after the run.

At one stage I think they should instal a huge aircon to cover the whole city to cool it down and stay away from the sand, but they didn’t, so Dubai is still dusty and hot. Anyway, Dubai is safe and modern, so I don’t mind coming back to visit again, but I don’t think I can live here for sure.




I went to Barcelona over Easter. It was a short visit with four nights, but I enjoyed it.

I stayed in a hotel in the city right next to Casa Batlló and it was close to everything. My first impression to the city was it was so organised. The city was old but the original design was so good. There was a small square in each junction; the buildings around were pushed back so the square was big enough to be used as a small car park. Pedestrian crossings were at the sides of the square and there were bins along with them. I was also surprised by how people behaved in the city; almost all residents followed the traffic rules. I took the bus only twice and the bus driver used indicators properly. Compared the UK, the US, Australia, Asian, this place was much more civilised. People were also friendly as well. Most residents were white, occasionally I could see some Latinos. The language of Catalan was softer than Spanish and didn’t sound that rude in my opinion, but I still want to learn Spanish one day  as I want to be tough.

I was in Madrid three years ago and I also have friends from Barcelona who claim Catalonia is an independent country. Now I know why.

Hotel Rating and Ethical Standards


Last week I was in the big apple for a couple of days. I stayed in a hotel called Holiday Inn Express and it was quite nice.

I went to the restaurant of the hotel very early everyday due to the jet lag, so I was always the only one there. The staff in the restaurant were from a Caribbean island country that I could not remember the name. They were lovely and showed me how to make the fatty American pancake. I told the girls I was here for holiday and they were quite confused. Then I told them I was on vacation, which made sense to them. I was a bit surprised as the hotel was Holiday Inn, it was not a big word like Renaissance, so what would be the meaning of holiday in their minds?

Anyway, in the last day, I still had an interesting conversation with the girls and I told them I was going to leave in the evening. They went to the kitchen, came back and brought me a business card showing the website of the hotel on TripAdvisor and asked me to rate the hotel and mention them. I said yes to them and they told me their names.

After I checked out, I found this rating thing was quite annoying. I will normally rate all my hotels anyway but just to share my experience. If I write this rating just because they asked me to do so, am I still right? It should not be a question to anyone else, but just because I had received strict ethics educations from both CA and CFA programmes, I found I was in an ethical dilemma.

I don’t quite understand the expectation of the whole rating system on TripAdvisor, is it for simply sharing your opinions or can it be sued to send someone a compliment? Furthermore, the girls specifically told me I should mention them, and I would assume they could get some  sorts of benefits, so should I disclose it in my rating? It’s all getting complicated before I tried to rate the hotel.

In the end, I thought I was overcomplicating a simple issue, so I drafted this rating with my own justification: I gave this hotel a 5 star rating, I also mentioned those girls just as evidence to support my rating. As for what they could get as a result of my rating, I would not know, so there was no need to disclose it. In addition, I did not tip them (Yeah, fucking cheap Chinese), so I was meant to do something to show my thanks to them.

I posted my rating on TripAdvisor. In a few days,  I received the manager’s response, so I think everyone is happy now. Phew, it is not easy to become a CA or CFA…


Pluto and me.


Just by accident, I found two pictures between Pluto and me.

The left one was taken is HK Disneyland in 2008. In those days I was busy with my work in Beijing and enjoyed my holidays in China. The right one was taken in LA Disneyland in 2013, and at that moment I did not even know what my next step would be.

I changed a lot in the past 5 years – older, maybe wiser but maybe not, whearas Pluto is the same – cute and lovely as in my childhood. I am kind of jealous of Pluto as it is forever, and I guess that is the charm that Disney brings to us. I hope in the near future, I could take another picture with you, my dearest Pluto.

Dar es Salaam


Dar es Salaam is a small town, but according to the people from my hotel it is full of cheaters. I asked them where is the post office, they told me it was near to the monument. So I looked for the monument for a long time and finally found a small statue holding a gun, so disappointing. It was even short than me, how can it be a monument. But I found the post office finally and I was glad I could buy some postcards to my friends, though not many choices.

The biggest challenge was to go to the fish market by myself, and it was also introduced by my the hotel as one of the attractions. I walked along the ocean road from the city to the corner and it took me a long time to find it. This market was full of black people, and they were yelling in their own language. When i walked in, all the people started staring at me very rudely, looked like I came to a place that I should not come. From one end to another, I didn’t buy anything and survived the strange atmosphere, though I really wanted to buy some food there.

The next places I went was the national museum, not so bad, but there was no air conditioning inside. I was very interested to their history but the went to hotel soon because of the heat, though my hotel room was another place without air conditioning.

Kilimanjaro day 6


Last night was so windy, my tent was like a boat in the steam, shaking all the time. I forced myself to sleep as my climb to the summit would be from midnight. However I failed, the sound of the wind was too loud and I didn’t sleep at all the whole night.

I got up in a very bad condition and started to prepare my day pack. I put on four layers of clothes for this very windy day, and I went to the peak like sleep walk. It was a 6 hours walk, from our camp to the peak. Very hard time especially in the last hour, I could see the lights from Stella point, but I couldn’t reach it. I was so sleepy, and took a nap on the way, maybe two, though my tour guide persuaded me not to do so as its very dangerous to sleep in the high altitude.

Stella point at sunrise time, though many people came back, we made it. After 6 days of hard time, nothing is better than this. I had a hug with my tour guide and Debbie, a tearful and happy hug.

There’s nothing special for this dinner, cucumber soup and rice. I talked a lot with Debbie about everything, she was quite happy too especially she made it after several days of a miserable stomach problem. We both asked a same question, what shall we do next? For me I don’t know, maybe a trip to Amazon or Egypt, but they won’t be as cool as Kilimanjaro. When I am in my small tent again, this is the last night I am staying in this home, outside those African people were talking as usual, but sounds quite happy, like us. Everyone felt relieved on this special day. If I can make Kilimanjaro true, then what else can’t I do?