Monday, February 21, 2011

Back From Cold Winter

Got back from another once in a lifetime experience trip to Stockholm. It was the 2nd time going there on business trip during winter, but I do hope the 3rd time would happen in summer or spring time. Going there in winter was a big challenge for us, Malaysians especially when we were exposed to the chilling wind and winter temperature of between -5 and -10 degrees. On our last day there, the temperature dipped to -18 degrees. Even Stockholmers thought we were tough and surprised that our winter clothes can keep us warm.

We took the cheapest way to go to city centre from Arlanda Airport, that was by Swebus that only cost SEK89. It is advisable to either purchase the ticket online or from the counter because buying from the driver cost an unbelievable SEK110. The place to stop is Central Station, which consists of train and bus station, and metro on the opposite.

We had only few days in Stockholm, and covering Gamla Stan (Old Town) and visiting design-related shops were our other targets. Of course, first priority was to finish off our work and do what we were assigned to do. This time, I didn't find Gamla Stan as interesting as the first trip. We reached early, but found almost all the shops were not opened until 10am.

The things in Stockholm were extremely expensive, and I think our high paid executives will also feel the pinch. This made us think that shopping in Malaysia is still not too bad, but better still if it was done in Thailand. This was also why Swedish likes to go to Thailand (other than the other reason best known to them).

Some interesting facts were learned this time.
1) There is only 1 company licensed to sell liquor, and Absolut Vodka originated from Stockholm Reimersholme area. However, it was cheaper elsewhere in the world (Thailand airport and Malaysia) than in Stockholm.
2) The things were expensive in Stockholm not because of the taxes imposed on the goods, but because Stockholmers can afford to pay the high prices.
3) Stockholmers seldom eat Swedish food when dining outside, but like Thai, Chinese and Japanese food a lot. Food prices were comparable to those in Hong Kong.
4) You can still find many people using Sony Ericsson handphones, besides iPhone. iPhone is called iFynd in Swedish.

I found 2 reasons why I should visit Stockholm again, and hopefully in next year with my cool colleague. It would be good if we could extend my visit to cover Copenhagen or Oslo.
1) To visit Nordiska Galleriet- a design-themed shop
2) To visit Skansen- an open air museum (not advisable on winter)

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Eve of Holiday Is Always the Best

Started my holiday break a week earlier, but it felt like CNY has already started from the first day of my break. I usually worked until the eve of CNY, and when this break came early, the festive mood came early too. As usual everyone was eager, energetic and the festive mood had set in, though the actual day was another 5 days to go. This year, I spent my CNY at Sarikei, and tomorrow it is time to continue celebrating back in my hometown in PJ.

It's true that when New Year comes, you will get to eat stuff that you hardly has chance to taste throughout the year. This year, to me, the main course is the Sarawak layer cake. You can see it in almost all the house, and it is a must have like pineapple tart, prawn keropok or kuih kapit to Klang Valley folks.

Many people may have seen the famous Indonesia layer cake and thought that the Sarawak version looks the same. But they didn't know that Sarawakian are a creative lot, with many unthinkable colors added into the cake such as blue, pink and black. For them, rainbow consists of not only 7 colors. The only downside is the taste, as different colored cakes may end up giving the same taste.

In Klang Valley, green cake is 99% pandan flavour. But in Sarawak, it could also mean peppermint or just plain natural.