Google Translate Blog

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

40th Stop: Tokyo, Japan

Forgot to take good pictures in Tokyo
At the beginning of the year, when this trip was still in the early stages of planning, I was a little disappointed because one of the translation industry’s biggest events, the American Translators Association Conference, was being held in the US, right before I had to be in Japan for the JCI World Congress :-(

While I was in Kuala Lumpur, Kristyna Marrero, Head of Sales for Wordfast, sent me an e-mail and asked if I could come to give them a hand at the Wordfast booth. Sure, why not! This meant, after just returning from France, leaving KL for Denver, Colorado, with a short stopover in Tokyo!

What luck! Tokyo had been dropped from the itinerary and now I had the chance, albeit short, to meet up with Ryan and Josh, two friends from high school who were living and working there as a headhunter and English teacher/musician respectively.

Congratulations to Josh who recently had a baby and to Ryan who just got married this past summer! Good luck with your newest album Josh and do keep us posted! Thanks Ryan for arranging the meeting and best of luck with your new family. Hope to see you guys again soon.

Next stop: Denver, Colorado!

Guess how old Josh and I are in this photo?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

39th Stop: Kuala Lumpur, Part 2

Pool on the rooftop at Hemant's
Back to Kuala Lumpur, this time smack dab in the heart of the city. Hemant, from India, lives next to the Petronas towers and was hosting me. We met at his place and introduced ourselves. It didn’t take long for the occupation question to reach the surface. Hemant said, “You’re probably going to hate me if I tell you.”

“Of course not!” I replied.

Petronas Towers
Hemant works in the oil business. Hate you? I fly frequently and have a car, consuming my fair (anybody know what fair would be?) share of oil ever day. I should thank you! We can always be looking for solutions to ween us off our oil dependence, and it looks like the oil majors are the best placed to do so (check out cellulose based bio-fuels and who the biggest investors are).

We met Ankur, one of Hemant’s colleagues downstairs, grabbed a bite to eat, then went to Twenty-one, a trendy bar for hip youngsters like us ;-) Everyone seemed to know Hemant there; a mix of couch surfing friends and other friends of his. I met Liz who was organizing a fireflies outing on Friday and asked if I wanted to come along. Always say yes... Yes!

So excited after seeing all the fireflies
Fireflies Friday was upon us in no time. I met with Liz and Julian around 7:30 pm and we drove to a rendez-vous point with the rest of the group. Liz managed to get more than 20 people to join us! Twenty people, however, means at least 5 cars, a lot of wrong directions, mix-ups, tardies, and more... we didn’t get to the firefly park until 11 pm! Though it was closed, we managed to convince the night guard to call up the boat captain and take us out. Hooray!

Fireflies expedition
The theme of the night was light, so after dinner (about 2 am) we went to i-City. This is a recent development with thousands of artificial trees, statues, and more covered with colored lights. Great for photos and photos did we take. Liz even had two tripods with her for long exposure shots.

Late night dinner
Like gnomes in a city of lights

It was getting late, but the group still had energy so Vina invited us all back to her house for a swim. Mind you, it was nearly 4 in the morning by this time: traveling is not for the faint of hearted. I met a lot of really nice people that night and want to give a special thanks to Liz for organizing everything and to Vina for having us over early in the morning!

It took most of Saturday to recover from Friday night’s adventures. I had to recharge my batteries because tonight was Hemant’s belated birthday party celebration at a Bollywood disco downtown. Needless to say, another fun night with 20 or so people that also ended quite late. Thanks Hemant and all the other hipshakers who kept the dance floor thumping all night long!

Bollywood Cinema Party
The Bollywood magic wasn’t over; Hemant invited about 15 people over to his place to watch a movie on Sunday afternoon. Vina brought over samosas for everyone and Jasmin made chai tea as well as a few other specialties. Delicious, thanks! We watched Munna Bhai M.B.B.S., a great movie that got me all teary-eyed, at least six times.

When the movie ended, Jasmin asked if anyone wanted to go with her to go see a free jazz concert just outside of town. Only one person raised their hand: me! Off we went and met up with Atie, one of her friends. We listened to a couple of groups, then it got late so we headed home. On the way, Jasmin asked if I wanted to stop at her friend’s house, Dato’ Dale.

Dato' Dale, Jasmin, and John
Dato’ actually means “Sir” and is similar to the being knighted in England. Dato’ Dale is a very nice, gracious host, and a celebrity to boot! We arrived at 11 pm and sat on the terrace tasting different peanuts from Bali, Malaysia, and Java. We talked about Dato’ Dale’s experiences living in France (his father was the Malaysian ambassador at the time) and the USA. I also learned that Dale used to host a TV show and was a news anchorman. This partly explains why he has nearly 5,000 Facebook friends!

The three of us met up again for lunch the following day at an Indian banana-leaf restaurant. By coincidence, we ran into A Kadir Jasin, the editor-in-chief of a magazine publishing company, Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd. He keeps a blog, check it out:

After lunch, I went to meet my new host, Ken, for my last night in KL. Ken and I had originally l planned to go to the water park at Sun Valley but unfortunately we didn’t have enough time. We just had time for dinner and conversation about the ten years or so that Ken spent in the USA. Now he teaches multimedia communications and marketing at a university in KL.
John and Ken

Ken is a really nice host and likes to make people feel at home. Naturally, he made a sausage, scrambled eggs, and baked bean breakfast. Ken was leaving that afternoon for Borneo and I would be heading out myself.

Atie the rock star
John singing in Malaysian (yeah right!)
Atie had initially invited me to a karaoke joint on Monday night but had to cancel so it was time to cash in the raincheck! Tuesday afternoon, we sang our hearts out until her lunch break was up, then I made my way back to the city for my last few hour in KLs.

I want to extend a big thanks to Hemant and Ken for their hospitality during my second stay in KL. I really had a fantastic time with you and everyone else I met. Another big thanks to Jasmin for letting me tag along to the jazz concert and for introducing me to her friends and to Liz for organizing the outing over the weekend! I’ll miss you KL and looking forward to my next visit already.

The sun never sets on the cool

Next stop: Tokyo, Japan

Sunday, October 17, 2010

33rd - 38th Stops: Casablanca, Rabat, Malaga, Valencia, Barcelona... and Nice!

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I would be flying back to Casablanca to drive my car back to Nice and spend a couple of weeks with my son. Well, now is the time! Let’s consider this a vacation, so I won’t go into too much detail. I would like to thank some people that helped me over the 3 weeks from Casablanca to Nice: Nezha, Cornelia, and Adnane in Morocco (great to see you two again, sorry I missed you Cornelia!), Andy from Malaga, Virginia from Madrid, Judith from JCI Tarragona, Jean-Luc who car-pooled with me from Perpignan to Nice, and Anaïs for hosting me.

Love this photo of Louis
JCI Tarragona

Knax at a hostel in Barcelona

Scouting mission for JCI European Conference in Tarragona
Andy hosted me in Malaga

Thanks Andy for the nice night out to the San Miguel Feria! Thanks Virginia for meeting up with me in Valencia! Thanks Judith for inviting us to lunch in Tarragona; looking forward to the JCI European Conference next year in Catalonia! Thanks Anaïs for hosting me!

Next stop: Kuala Lumpur!