Ljubljana

Travel

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.

Dubai

Travel

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.

 

Sydney Marathon

Sports

Yes, I registered Sydney marathon in the last minute at the early bird rate. I am sure I will not be ready for it on the day, but I will try my best.

3 years ago, a colleague went for the Sydney marathon and told me the experience was great, but I had already registered Melbourne marathon so I didn’t go to Sydney in that year. I totally said goodbye to the city of Melbourne after 4 marathons. Although I have changed my focus to triathlon this year, I just can’t resist doing another marathon.

The Sydney route looks complicated and there are no straight roads as in Melbourne route, but the view would be great, especially in the beginning when people cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge and in the end when people run to the Opera House.

I have 5 more weeks to prepare for it. My daily training should be enough for me to finish the run, but I just need to have a 3+ hours run at the weekend to make it easier. The third hour is going to be really painful and I might not have enough time to taper.

5 weeks is also a nice waiting time. I hope the sea water would be warm enough to swim after the marathon so that I can recover my swimming training by then.

Barcelona

Travel

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.

Uber Driver

Lifestyle

Uber finally hit Illawarra.

I registered as a Uber driver on the day Uber was launched and they approved me this morning. I had three trips today. The fist one was from innovation campus to Wollongong station. It was an Indian student and it was not a pleasant one. He sat at the back seat and talked to someone on the phone all his trip. The second one was good and I went to a town I have never been before. The last one was at night after study and it was from North Wollongong station to innovation campus.

I’ve earned 23 dollars so far. I don’t really expect to earn a lot of money from Uber, but I think it is a good way to meet new people and to pass some positive attitude. Sharing economy is something no one can miss. I participated Couchsurfing for long, now it’s time to give Uber a go.

 

 

Meditation

Lifestyle

 

As you know I started my swimming lessons – it went well. Last week my instructor give me a pair of flippers and told me to wear them in order to concentrate on my stoke practice. She even told me I could get them any time I want. I put them on and could swim like a torpedo but I thought these things were a bit like drugs and quite addictive, you know like having viagra for sex, so I decide not to use it when I practise until I take lessons again with her next week, just like following doctor’s instructions.

Another change for me is I started practising meditation, to be specific via headspace. I heard many people including Tim Ferriss had mentioned this type of thing in many occasions. Last month in the city a friends even told me he went to a class every weekend to do this type of meditation. I think it’s time for me to have a go. I downloaded this app a couple of weeks ago and tried it for 10 days, just 10 minutes after getting up – not bad. I did not feel any immediate impacts on me but I particularly liked the feeling when I was told not to control my mind and let it go. It was weird but very joyful and I also hope I will get more benefits in long term. I subscribed the service for a year last week and since then started practising it every day.

Wow, two new things in a month – swimming and medication. I hope I am not overwhelmed by the changes. I have adjusted my nap time a bit to accommodate my changes, which means I will have to sleep less but I will be fine. Oh boy, life is full of adventures.

Swimming Lessons

Sports

I don’t like work functions. I work in a small firm, so over working time, I have had enough social talks with colleagues. When it comes to work functions, I have nothing to talk to them any more.

I missed out dinners for the last two end of financial years, so when the HR manager walked to me and asked me if I could make it this year, I slowly said yes although I really really didn’t want to go – it was a Thursday and I had to go to the gym that day.

Anyway I went there. It was in a Thai restaurant; the only thing I could eat was spring rolls – they ordered too much meat.  I met this guy who was the partner of my colleague and he was the fitness instructor in the gym. We had a good conversation about how to make friends in a new town, how does bee work, and the upcoming election ect. Then it came to his specialty – fitness, I told him I had done marathon four times. He was not surprised but asked me why not do a triathlon.

This is an interesting question. I have been thinking about triathlon for ages but I have never made any efforts to get it started. I am relatively okay with running and cycling but very bad at swimming. In an ideal situation, it can take me three hours to finish 800 m of swimming, so my imagination of triathlon aways stops here.

On that evening, I thought I might be quite motivated. That guy’s encouragement reminded my early days in preparing my first marathon. It was hard and boring but not mission impossible. I might be a bit older now, but I could still try something new. So I told him I would start training for my first triathlon.

Following his suggestion, the next day I went to the pool and enrolled in an 16 weeks’ swimming lesson starting from this Saturday. It is never too late to do something crazy I guess.

This is the next question, I have a pair of budgie smugglers but I might need new swim trunks to cover myself a bit more. Not sure!

Hotel Rating and Ethical Standards

Travel

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…

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Netball, first time.

Sports

There are two strange sports in Australia. First, boys love footy – it’s more like rugby, but they call it footy. Nobody in other countries like this sport, but Australians are crazy about. At certain time in the year the first question people ask you is about footy. Once I asked a friend about the pleasure to watch footy, he said it had more goals that real football so he could yell more. What a nonsense reason. Well I was forced to pick a team by my coworkers, and I haven’t decided. There are many Geelong supporters in the office but I think I may choose Hawthorn..

Another strange sport is called netball. I never heard of it before I came here but all Aussie girls know it and can play it well. When I lived on campus in university, there were many competitions between different halls and girls absolutely love it. I never went to watch any games but my impression was it was a girl’s game.

There is no other place more Australian than the country. If you don’t play netball or footy, you really can’t survive in Swan Hill. Nearly all the people in the office or their partners play for one local footy club, and netball season in town never stops. Interestingly here all netball teams are mixed, so boys got a chance to find their feminine side. I misses the first season early this year and my colleague invited me for this new season. Today was the first match.

My position was Wing Defence tonight, and my goal was to annoy the Wing Attack – that was just my understanding. The WA girl was fast but quite small compared to me so it was not so difficult to defend her. I was penalised quite a lot for the defence distance – 3 feet – that was too short for me but I think it keeps a reasonable distance and makes net ball quite safe to play. Lots of running after one hour play, but I think I may like it.

I look forward to next Monday.

A New Financial Year.

Business

It’s been five months since I moved to Swan Hill, and I like my country life so far.

One change from me is that I tried to understand why the country is different from the city. For example, country music, if one lives in the city, country music does not make sense to them. But in the country, when you walk in the forest alone or run along the trail by yourself, some sheep or cows walking beside you, country music at that moment is the best way to express yourself, and it is better to sing it out. Once I saw a girl playing guitar in the park and singing, it was beautiful. Another activity called fishing – it was the most boring thing to do for me, and it still is – I once spent two hours near the river to see others fishing, trying to understand it – it is not too bad. When everything else is not moving, holding the pole still is the best way to synchronise yourself with the world – I think this is the pleasure of fishing. Just maybe, and I must say I am still on the way to understand fishing!
Sometimes I miss Melbourne, or even Beijing, especially my friends there. What I usually do is I just imagine the something here is something there, and this worked well when I was in Melbourne. I remember when I was driving on Princess Highway from Caulfield to Clayton,  I always imagined it was Baiyi Road in Beijing. Sometimes it was raining when I passed Chadstone, seeing many cars there, not sure it was illusion or what, I really thought I was driving in Beijing. In Swan Hill, there is no wide road, the high street only has two lanes, but the only McDonald can still remind me the the one at the corner of Wellington Road and Dandenong Road in Melbourne, again especially on a rainy day. The franchisees of those chain will never expect their shops can be viewed in such a way I guess.
Anyway, goods sides and bad sides, this is life as always. This financial year has just passed and a new year will start soon. You know as an accountant, I celebrate financial year as it is a big relief for us, I also celebrate calendar year as it is my longest holiday over Christmas. Additionally I have to celebrate Chinese New year, so how busy I am!