Aug 29 2010

Europe 1983

Paris, June 24 – Aug 8

Montpellier (Occitan: Montpelhièr) is a city in southern France. It is the capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, as well as the Hérault department.


Swiss visa 6/27/1983 [36, 37]
Zurich .. boat picture (but its 1984 ???)

Austria, [23] visa on 5/10/1983 in HK expired on 9/10/1983; enter on 8/22/1983 left 8/28/1983 … to Budapest … then to Salzburg (with the Taiwan couple) .. oldman’s daughter just got back from Russia .. drove Benz, ..

Aug 29 2010

Europe 1982

With my less than ideal travel document DI, I was able to secure an visa to United Kingdom. It’s issued on July 8, 1982 (use by Oct 8, 1982). Upon arrival on Sept 23, the immigration officer at Gatwick granted me two months stay. I left London on Nov 20 to Milan; then took train to Venice, Florence and down to Rome for a week: Nov 20-27. The Italian visa was obtained in London, issued on 16 Nov 1982 (use by Nov 30, 1982). Then I went to Athens for two days (Nov 27 and 28) and took the Thai airline home. The plane stopped by Bankok, dropped off and picked up few passengers. When we finally landed in Hong Kong, it was nearing mid night. The airport was deserrted but there were plenty police. As if they were expecting a drug bust.
Most people were in shorts and t-shirts, except me, in a winter coat because I wasn’t feeling well.
So, the custom officers picked on me.
They searched my small carry on luggage thoroughly – I always travel light. One agent played nice cop and other bad. They looked at the heels of my shoes, poked my napkins .. then decided to send me to a room.
I was kind of sleepy and clueless.
I waited in the cold room for a while, a female agent came in and asked me to jump over a small chair (?).
That was some memorable conclusion of a trip.

Aug 14 2010


The 2010 Europe trip

Aug 12 2010

The Fashion Avenue

7th Avenue in Manhattan (New York City) is also called the Fashion Avenue. Those four mannequins ladies stood silently on the 7th Avenue between 41st ad 42nd Street at the Times Square.

Times Sq at 7th Avenue. Fiber One Promotion.

The block of 39th Street between 7th and 8th Avenue is full of fabric (braids and trimmings) stores. This button and needle sculpture is at corner of 39th and 7th Avenue

Aug 12 2010

Sky View Parc, Flushing

On Roosevelt Avenue by Main Street, looking toward the West. The light color new condos Sky View Parc in the distance (on College Point Blvd) have almost completed and mega stores begin operating. More here

Aug 12 2010

An old bridge

This old bridge – built in 1897 at Colonial Road by Grace Avenue in Great Neck is soon to be history.

Feb 1, 2011:

MTA LIRR Begins Environmental Review for Proposed Colonial Road Improvement Project

Extension of Existing Pocket Track Will Bring Immediate Benefits to Port Washington Branch Customers as well as Safer, Modern Bridge

the Colonial Road Bridge in 2010

Finally it opens for traffic, on about 2016.05.14

IMG_9432 IMG_9431


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Aug 10 2010

The Blarney Stone

While travelling through the airport, please be courteous when dealing with our staff.

Our staff are trying to help you with your journey.

Any threats, verbal abuse or violence towards our staff will be taken seriously and you may be prosecuted.

I found this troubling note posted at the service counter of Aer Lingus in Dublin. My first thought was .. lord, some civilization out here. Then somewhat understood or sympathetic with passengers who might lose their cool in the heat of an argument or long travel because we just experienced one at that moment.
One night in the spring we were driving home, kids asked me where we were going this summer.
They laughed and joked about the Blarney Stone, among few things.
I smiled to myself, the memory of watching it with them still vivid.
At that time, I was looking for air fares and when I saw Aer Lingus, I grabbed it.
Just to amuse the kids.
Good lesson learnt for not doing any research on an airline that I’ve never dealt with.

Fast forward to this past July. We had an early morning connecting flight in Heathrow: arriving from Frankfurt at 8:10 on BA and departing at 9:50 by Aer Lingus. Aer Lingus doesn’t have a check in machine at FFM airport so we had to do in at LHR (I thought it would .. lesson #1: never assume ..). Luckily BA arrived well before 8am and we sat at row 4 so we got off quickly with our carry ons feeling relaxed. Then from Terminal 5 to T1 by bus took nearly 30 minutes. No speedy rails. I travel light, only had carry on so we were ok. Aer Lingus doesn’t provide auto check in machines inside – we didn’t have to go through immigration. The counter had only one agent and the queue as longer than I felt comfortable with. After 3 minutes of waiting, I started walk toward the counter then I heard the agent announced that his machine wasn’t working, broken.
“Please go straight to Gate 77-84, the agent there will check you in.”

Another long walk to the gate, in about 15 minutes we found this agent at the counter. The info board about the flight departures was hanging high to the right. It was few minutes before 9am and the Status of our flight indicated:
Go to Gate
10 minutes passed. The agent was leisurely doing what she was suppose to do and the line did not move an inch.
I turned around asking the girl behind us where they were going.
Good, we were on the same boat.
As it turned out, her family, Dad and Mom just arrived from Boston.
Our flight status changed to
I tried to talk to the agent to check us in first but all the passengers before us were trying to get on this flight as well, although they might have different issues.
I was wondering: where was the first agent whose machine wasn’t working, shouldn’t he be here to help out? This agent was in no hurry, took her sweet time talking on the phone, etc.
The Boston Mom had left for the gate
“I’ll tell them to wait for us ..”
Actually it was another brisk 20 minutes on foot distance and she doubled back.
We both talked to the agent asking please just let us go ..
She wouldn’t hear us, continued her phone conversation and said,
“I’ll hand them to you ..”
Our flight status changed to
Gate closed
She looked at the Boston Mom and I said,
“You have to re-book. Go out to the service counter .. ” and mentioned that we might have to pay.
Then went back to her phone conversation and said,
“I’m going to take a break ..”
The queue hadn’t moved and there were at least 15 passengers waiting for some sort of assistance.
Our blood was curdling was an understatement.
I wasn’t sure if we both pressed hard at this slow agent she would react the same way as JetBlue attendant Steven Slater.

We reluctantly went outside (from the connecting flight area, a.k.a. gone through the immigration). The BM tried to talk to a supervisor to avoid this unnecessary step but to no avail. As soon as we arrived at the out side service counter, I saw the sign (top right). There were few empty self check in machines.
Two young girls were manning the counter and they immediately said all the flight were booked full and called some one. A middle aged lady came, business-like who didn’t mention additional payment at all. Few moments past as she was busily typing into the computer. The Boston family would take 2pm flight out to Shannon and the Engs would take 11am to Dublin and 5pm flight back to JFK.

It was the female agent’s attitude that was truly irritating, terrible to say the least. How could she even entertain the idea of taking a break while the passengers were waiting [at least kept that to herself]. Where were others to help out at the moment of break down?
Lesson learnt.
End of my Blarney Stone story.
[I’m sure this was the highlight of our trip for kids .. JK!!]

Aug 9 2010

Love from New York

Some sculptures line the Park Avenue from 51st Street to 54th Street
Who says New Yorkers are mean? We have plenty of love to give .. 535 Madison Avenue between Park Av and Madison Avenue

Aug 8 2010

In loving memory

.. of Grand Aunt Lily, 1914 Beijing – 2010 Silver Spring, MD.

Aug 8 2010

Little tennis in D.C.

Serena Williams scheduled to play here on 7/14 for Washington Kastles, World Team Tennis, in the heart of Washington D.C., Parking Lot H St. NW opposite 10th St. NW, but didn’t due to her foot injury.

Near by Chinatown

Left: Grand Hyatt, H Street and 11th Street NW; Right: H Street and 8th St NW