Day 15: Last day in Langkawi

Today was our last day in Langkawi and we wanted to make the most of it. Our plan was to fit in as many activities as we could before our flight back to KL. As we were getting ready to leave, it began raining and what we expected to be a 15-20 minutes quick storm turned out to be 3+ hours of heavy rain (Thank you tropical weather!)

Finally the rain subsided and we began our short 30 min journey to the Langkawi Cable Car aka the SkyCab.

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Riding on the cable car was definitely one of the highlights of our journey. The Langkawi Cable Car was recognized by the Malaysia Book of Records as ‘the longest free span single rope cable car’ (950m  between Tower 2 and Middle Station) with one of the steepest gradients in the world, at 42 degrees.

It looked much steeper riding in the cable car than the picture does justice

It looked much steeper riding in the cable car than the picture does justice

The SkyCab ride starts at the Oriental Village, which is one of the region’s most unique duty-free shopping, cultural and culinary destinations, and ends at the top of the Gunung Mat Cincang mountain range. All in all the cable cars travel a distance of over 2 kilometers up a vertical height of 680 meters.The view from both the Middle Station and the Top Station was breathtaking and we managed to take some pretty good pictures before the fog started to come in. Both stations have viewing platforms overseeing the Andaman Sea and the Langkawi island group. On a clear day visitors can also see  mainland Kedah and even the Tarutao Islands of Thailand.

A panoramic view from Middle Station

A panoramic view from Middle Station

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O-H-I-O at the Middle Station

O-H-I-O at the Middle Station

O-H-I-O + Sam at the Top Station

O-H-I-O + Sam at the Top Station

Another impressive attraction at the Top Station was the 125 m long SkyBridge which is suspended from a 82m high single pylon and hangs at about 100m above ground. Unfortunately for us, the SkyBridge was closed until further notice for renovation and upgrading.

The SkyBridge. We will have to go to Langkawi again when it opens!

The SkyBridge. We will have to go to Langkawi again when it opens!

After this magnificent ride we stopped by the Oriental Village for some souvenir shopping and then made our way back to the hotel.

Our innkeepers once again showed how nice and hospitable they are and allowed us to check out late just before our evening flight back to KL. After a wonderful final dinner at the Cactus Restaurant we headed to the airport and back to work in KL.

 

 

Fun Photos Time?

Ok, I promise our Beijing trip blog will be coming soon. But until then, it’s time for some fun pics…

Shanghai subway groupie

Subway Groupie

 

Fun Pics - Pudi on lap 1

What does little Pudi want for Christmas?

Fun pics - Human cutouts

Way to blow it, John…

Fun Pics - Dumpings and girls

Girls and dumplings

Fun Pics - At the Bund

Does anyone have a telephone book?

Fun Pics - Muse shot 1

A little nightlife fun!

Fun Pics - The Perfect Woman 2

The Vitruvian/Peruvian Woman

Fun Pics - Squatting

Embracing Chinese culture…

Fun Pics - Katie's Gansta Pose

Katie’s gangsta pose…

Fun Pics - Drinking beer with pudi

A bromance in the making…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hangzhou invasion

This past Sunday, we escaped the sprawling metropolis that is Shanghai in a quest to find a glimmer of old China. Recovering from our travel snafu the previous day, we hopped on a train for the hour-long train ride west.Philips - Hangzhou - scenery

Hangzhou, as opposed to Shanghai, is far more traditional Chinese city—as evidenced by everything being written in Mandarin and the conspicuous absence of any western restaurants—and the presence of some truly spectacular examples of historical Chinese culture.

Philips - Hangzhou - Phil hiding

“Yo! Check it!” – Pudi

Our first stop was the former residence of Hu Xue Yan—one of the richest men in Hangzhou at the turn of the twentieth century.

Philips - Hangzhou - groupie

Groupie

It was amazing to see such a tremendous feat of craftsmanship of the entire complex—providing a stark contrast to the metal skyscrapers which seem to multiply on a daily basis in Shanghai.

Philips - Hangzhou - Poltergeist

Poltergeist?

Perhaps the coolest feature of the home was a series of caves leading from the lake to various homes on the western side of the building.

Philips - Hangzhou - Rock climbing

Both Phil and Pudi “did the most” by spelunking through the caverns—and taking pictures of each other as Chinese tourists looked on in what can only be described as a mix of contempt and disappointment.

Philips - Hangzhou - Phil Eating

Phil eating street food over the garbage. Classic Phil.

Venturing onwards, we realized that at some point we had lost track of Pudi. Unbeknownst to us (at the time), Pudi had aimlessly wandered down a side alley and was subsequently sucked into a time vortex and sent back to 1600s feudal China. Despite not knowing the language, Pudi quickly gained the respect of the people of that era with his uncanny ability to flex and prolific use of the word “bro.” After a series of unfortunate run-ins with Ming dynasty officials, Pudi reorganized and united the various Manchurian factions, consolidated the Eight Banner military system and launched an assault on the forces of the Wanli Emperor.

Philips - Hangzhou - Pudi fighter

After a prolonged campaign, the Ming forces were eventually overpowered by Pudi’s far superior forces (who had the advantage of intensive weight training and a steady diet of protein pancakes—but no cross-fit. Seriously, do you even lift?). Pudi was subsequently crowned Emperor Pudi and thus began the prosperous reign of the Pudi Empire.

Phlips - Hangzhou - Pudi being crowned

“He’s so tall!” – Chinese observors

“He’s so tall!” – Chinese observers

Justin and Phil (who through his expert broken-Mandarin was able to piece together what had happened) subsequently traveled back in time, found Pudi, apologized to the Ming Dynasty and had any record of the Great Pudi Conquest stricken from the record—however it later became the basis for the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.

Duck anyone?

Duck anyone?

We ended our trip with another traditional Shanghainese sit-down meal, which Phil expertly ordered through his amazing ability to simultaneously point to pictures on the menu and stutter in broken Chinese.

Sorry, John.  Had to add this one...

Sorry, John. Had to add this one…

Curiosity killed the Indian!

stop asking questions!!!!!

stop asking questions!!!!!

Having lived in this country for more than thirty years, I always thought of myself as a “been there done that” kind of Indian.
But touring India with three Americans, a Romanian and a Taiwanese has led me to question how well do I know my country. As we travel across the streets in air conditioned cars while people look at my GAP teammates as if they were from Mars, I struggle to find answers to the volley of million questions my tourist friends have for me.
It all started with the ‘what’s’. What is that guy doing? What is that building? What is this place called? What is water called in Hindi? What’s this food called? Easy-peasy I would think as I would respond back with one word answers. If this is what I expect to be asked, it’s going to be a walk in the park for me for the rest of my stay in Mumbai.
But my Fisher friends have high hopes from me as I found out with more and more questions starting with “why”. Why is the traffic light not working? Why do they have cows roaming the streets? Why do Indians move their heads sideways when they say yes? Why do people dye their hair with henna? Why do they not sell meat at this restaurant? Why is there a red dot on the forehead of Indian women? What do the toe rings mean?…. Why is the sky blue? The old grey cells in my brain have trouble coping with the increasing amount of work demanded of them. Sometimes I mumble out answers that I am not sure of hoping and hoping with crossed fingers that they will believe what I say. Eventually they do, but because they do not have another source to verify the erroneous information. But I think they understand that there is too much to remember for an easily distractible mind like mine.
Sometimes they see through my cheap attempts to stereotype people we see on the roads, especially when that leads to an easy explanation for the niche questions. When I do, I try to make up answers with a straight face but damn! too much class participation in the past year leads everyone to cross question. I let out a sigh and answer back with a sheepish “I don’t know”.
But between curious questions and hapless answers, we have had a good run so far. Riding elephants. Getting washed by them. Driving scooters in Goa without crashing them into anything. Swimming to the base of a waterfall to do a floating O-H-I-O. Meeting with suppliers and talking to store owners. Riding autorickshaws. Having a lot of Indian food without significant signs of diarrhea.
Half way through our trip, I still dread that having set high standards for my expertise as a guide I would soon be bombarded with questions starting with “What-ifs”. But I know I’d manage it somehow. Am I the best guide for India? No. Am I the best guide the GAP India team can get for free? Yeah!!

 

 

Venice… without the gelato…

After a late wake-up (see pics from night before), and forgetting that we needed passports to travel (again, see pics from night before), we finally went to Suzhou around 3PM.

Philips - Suzhou - At Night

Suzhou is called the “Venice of China,” but Venice usually doesn’t serve pork brains for dinner. And no, my team didn’t allow me to order it… so lame!!! But I did get to eat fried crab-on-a-stick and fried squid!

Philips - Suzhou - Crab eating

We didn’t eat any “Crispy Stinky Tofu,” but the name was definitely spot-on. We could smell it from blocks away…Philips - Suzhou - Crispy Stinky Tofu

Suzhou is a much more traditional Chinese city than Shanghai, with beautiful gardens and waterways. And we even met up with the other Shanghai GAP team.

Philips - Suzhou - Other Group

Team Momentive

Of course each team had to brag about how the other team’s experience was sooo much better. But isn’t this what blogging is for? :)

Philips - Suzhou - three dudes 2

Classical Gardens of Suzhou

Being the obnoxious Americans we are, Pudi and I did push-ups on their national landmark…. While Pudi yelled “ ‘Merica ”…

Philips - Suzhou - pushups

 

Work Hard, Play Harder!

Friday was awesome!! Three biggest highlights:

1.  We finished our first week of work. It was a blast! We feel accomplished with our job and had collected a lot of resources. Definitely took a lot of collaboration and trust to get this done.

Philips - Friday Night - Working

2. It was the end of the quarter for Philips, so President Thio invited us to get American food and drinks with his team. We got to collaborate with senior level executives and realized the importance of having fun and getting the work done well.

Philips - Friday Night - Good Times

John was the designated bartender, and as you can see in the pictures, he did an excellent job!

Philips - John pouring whiskey

We hit a few bodybuilding poses. You know. Bam!

Philips - Friday Night - Bodybuilding

Philips - Friday Night - Thumbs up

Good times with Desmond and Lillian

3.  We then hit the club, Club Muse. We met up with some new Swedish friends.

Philips - Friday Night - Clubbing

“Work Hard.  Play Harder” – Desmond Thio

Case Closed!

Monday Blue

Monday is always blue…especially after Goa trip. However, today is a productive day. After the discussions with Wonderkids team, we had a deeper understanding of the situation. Therefore, we tried to generate the marketing strategy for Wonderkids. Thanks for Professor Jay Dial. We used five forces and VRIO to evaluate Wonderkids and competitors’ situations. We did apply the knowledge learned in school to real case.

 

Strategy Discussion

 

Elephants and more

Elephants

On Saturday we rode elephants!!! Alina and Ashley were washed by an elephant! I think they thought they were going to be ones doing the washing, but boy did they get surprised. We ended by giving the elephants a snack immediately prior to pictures of O-H-I-O elephant style!

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Spice plantation

After riding elephants we headed for a very interesting tour of the spice plantation where we leaned how spices are harvested, which are the most expensive on the market and that Coca-Cola buys 30% of the world production of vanilla. Who new there is something non-chemical in there?  We chew cloves, bought Indian hand made cigarettes (bidi), drank lemongrass tea and a couple of shots of caju moonshine (feni). We also took pictures of the monkey man picking up fruit off tall palm trees.

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Waterfall

With 3 hours in the SUV and 2 hours in the Jeep going and back, we finally arrived at the water fall. The beautiful scene made everyone forget the tiredness. Everyone was looking forward to jump into the water.  While we swam, Ean put his feet in the water and said he felt something moving under his feet. After everyone got back to the land, Bliss saw a snake in the water near us. “Time to go”,  Ean  said withdrawing  his feet in a beat from the water and we all fled the site. On our way back we had the pleasure of encountering a family of monkeys.

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Culinary experiences part 1

In India people are divided into vegetarians and non-vegetarians, and being in the last category kinda…. Sucks! Not only the restaurants are vegetarian but people would not eat vegetarian food in a restaurant that cooks meat. You never know, a sausage might have exploded in the kitchen at one point in time.

Our task of finding food is even harder with Amanda’s 1001 allergies.

Looking for meat we found this nice restaurant where a pre-monsoon torrential rain caught us and eventually left us in the dark, dining under iPhone flashlight. Internet worked though!

I was so excited at the thought of having an Indian hamburger (vada pav) only to discover that it’s …. vegetarian.

the next treat was a typical sweet (peda). Good by vegetarian or non-vegetarian standards.

Last but not least, worth mentioning, the awesome Kingfisher beer and a weird non-alcoholic blue sparkly drink.

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