Memories of Beirut

Beirut, Lebanon – written on May 27, 2007

Today was my first day in Beirut. I went for a walk along the Corniche onwards to Raouché. At some point I thought I had everything wrong and that Raouché was at the opposite direction. And then, I came across a family; I asked them whether they spoke French, and two of them replied yes, enthusiastically. They told me I was heading for the right direction and as we said goodbye the man said: “Vous êtes le bienvenu ici!” . That must have been the most heartwarming welcome I have ever heard. I smiled.

"Vous êtes le bienvenu ici!" . That must have been the most heartwarming welcome I have ever heard. I smiled.
“Vous êtes le bienvenu ici!” . That must have been the most
heartwarming welcome I have ever heard. I smiled.
The Raoché
The Raoché

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Destination East Timor

Asia’s newest country  is moving silently in its transition to mature its Economy and Society. It is a country where a lot is still on the drawing board and where there is still opportunity to start things with best practices considered.  I guess you can say that East Timor is an El Dorado for Nation Building because a lot of the experiments are hits and misses.

Take Tourism for example, the industry is not well developed and people there are still not that used to tourists, but that for me is one of the big reasons why you should visit East Timor. People here are lot less consumer centric than in most countries you will have gone too. But I have to say that somehow the city has a 1 country 2 systems feel. The UN has had a large presence in the islands and it seems that there is a UN expat price and a local price. For example, foreigners are charged with a base price of 1 USD for a taxi but locals pay much less. It can be quite expensive in EastTimor though, the island does not have enough resources yet.

Locals at Dili Beach
Locals at Dili Beach

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Phone Apps for your Travels

 

  1. Here Maps an offline-map application . Ever since GPS has been integrated with phones, I have been using it to
    • Find my way through cities with minimum preparation.
    • The fact that the map is offline, does saves me from Mobile Roaming costs
    • The GPS gives re-assurance when you are in a taxi  and you want to know if you’re in the right direction
    • In some countries if you are taking public transport, there are no “bus stops”, you have to tell the driver to stop when needed. The GPS comes in handy!
    • Caveat: Being discrete  with your flashy mobile might be of the essence in some cases, and besides it  really is   nice to ask people around for directions :)
  2. Roamer:  A Dual sim app simulator.  If you need your home mobile phone abroad and save on Roaming costs
    • Get a local Sim with Internet access, install Roamer and you’ll be reachable on your home mobile phone via Internet
    • Calls from/to  your Home mobile phone will be charged significantly less than  through Roaming.
    • The quality is good but of course this is dependent on the bandwidth allocation of the Foreign Mobile operator or on the Wifi connection that you are using.

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The Machame route of Kilimanjaro

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Just a little bit more than a year now, me and my friends did the Kilimanjaro trek. We chose the Machame route knowing its reputation as the most scenic of all the routes. Contrary to The Marrangu route(Coca Cola route- the easiest) you are supposed to sleep in tents and the path does not have a gradual ascent. This is the reason why Machame is called the Whiskey route! Continue reading The Machame route of Kilimanjaro