Stuck in Frankfurt due to bad weather with no confirmed flights back to KL

lufthansa sign

This is quite a funny story. Not LOLOL funny but an interesting experience coz I like to take things in stride and things like this happen. I had a flight cancelled due to fog in Melbourne when I was in uni. Hey, it’s an adventure to me. :)

Our flight from Berlin to Frankfurt was delayed due to bad weather in Frankfurt. No flights were allowed to take off from Berlin. We all waited in the plane for ages. No flights were allowed to depart from Frankfurt too – all the planes there were grounded so we thought we could still make the connecting flight.

frankfurt delay

Everyone boarded an hour ago but we could not take off – at least we got updates from the Euro 2012 Germany-Italy semi-finals match from the pilot, sorry for your loss Deutschland, I supported your team…coz we were in your country and it’s a fine one. Heh.

Anyway, when we finally managed to get airborne, we ended up taxiing above Frankfurt coz there was a sudden influx of inbound and outbound air traffic. That’s when we knew we couldn’t make the connecting flight to Bangkok…and sure enough, we only landed way after that flight has departed.

sheraton frankfurt

Lufthansa issued us a free night’s stay at Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel and 30 Euros in “credit” which turned out to be dinner. This is dinner:

lufthansa dinner

There were heaps of people trying to get on a flight – any flight – so one of the staff advised us to get some rest and come back the next day. There were over 200 people on the waiting list after midnight! Thanks for queuing up and checking Nigel!

german cigarettes

I had packed my cigarettes into my check-in baggage so I had to get another at the airport – it’s 5 Euros, which is almost double our price, but with a long flight ahead and no bookings yet, you gotta have that nicotine hit.

checkin line

We went to the hotel and found out that the queue there was quite impressive too. This is where all the cabin attendants stay – it’s connected to the airport so that was good. The queue was still there after we finished dinner. Mind, this is only the Business and First class people so imagine how many people in total which was affected.

sheraton frankfurt internet

I had my notebook and bought 24 hours of WiFi from Sheraton for 19 Euros (about RM 76) using my credit card. I didn’t know how long I would need to wait, and I ended up wasting it coz I crashed at 2 am and woke up at 4 am to go line up at the airport. Oh well.

frankfurt shower

It’s a good thing I had a souvenir t-shirt of the Berlin Wall so I could change my shirt at least before heading to the airport. I didn’t even unpack coz I fell asleep after the long flight delays.

lufthansa delay queue

This was the line this morning. I started queuing at 4 am and this is what it looks like at 7:37 am. (!)

I waited in line for hours before one of the Lufthansa staff saw my ticket and brought me down. I managed to get a confirmed ticket – a husband and wife team with us went through India at 12 pm and Nigel also managed to get the 3 pm flight that I was on.

(all times are GMT +2)

lufthansa breakfast

The reason for splitting up is due to the sheer amount of stranded passengers so we couldn’t stay together. There just wasn’t enough seats. The grounding of the Frankfurt airport really affected a lot of people – several thousand people stayed at the airport (Economy) or the Sheraton in Frankfurt (Business and First).

sheraton frankfurt airport

You know what the worst thing was? No one could retrieve their check-in baggage! There’s a rule that it has to stay at the airport or something to that effect. I’m pretty sure I’ve broken the record for wearing the same underwear, jeans, socks and shoes. I could only change my shirt. I can smell myself from 200 meters away. Heh.

I’m also staying awake on willpower and coffee alone. I’ve drank more than 15 cups in the past 24 hours. :x

I’ll have to wait for a while before I’ll know if my flight back to KL later is 100% confirmed. I’m the only one left here coz there were just too many people needing to fly to various parts of the world.

It’s a good thing the Thai Airways Royal Lounge in Bangkok has a shower room so I could use their fresh, fluffy, wrapped towels and brush my teeth and freshen up.

thai air lounge shower

Thanks for booking us on Business Class, Volkswagen Malaysia – that really helps when stuff like this happens. :D

I’m still wearing the same clothes from several days ago (except for the t-shirt) but that shower really freshened me up. I can semi-write coherently while being extremely sleep deprived. Heh.

Now, I shall go back and check if my outbound flight is confirmed. I need to go back today. I don’t even know what “50% confirmed” means. *shrugs*

bangkok shower

Oh well, it’s all good! Sawadee krap from Bangkok! :)

Posted: 11:33 am Bangkok time (GMT +7)

Wolfsburg – the auto city within a city

wolfsburg

I took a day trip down to Wolfsburg from Berlin today with the others. It’s about an hour by train.

wolfsburg rail tickets

We had first class tickets thanks to Volkswagen Malaysia – it’s 76 Euros each way. The train travels quite fast though, the display says 135 km/h so I reckon it’s about 135 km away from Berlin. ;)

autostadt

This is an interesting city primarily coz it won’t exist without the auto industry. The Autostadt (literally “auto city” in German) is the reason the city has prospered back in the day.

Interesting trivia: The roof area of the Autostadt is larger than the entire Principality of Monaco!

It was the bit of trivia that stuck the most to me. Heh.

autostadt cars

I collect facts like this coz I’m a bit of a general knowledge freak. Aud is like that too, I guess we’re just one of those people who absorbs the most random facts like a sponge.

Unlike her, I usually get it wrong when I regurgitate the facts though. Haha.

Anyway, the Volkswagen group owns nine brands – Volkswagen, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Audi, Bentley and several others. I was quite surprised by this. I didn’t know Lamborghini was owned by them.

ice cream

There are a lot of pavilions representing each car brand in Autostadt. The factory itself has its own doctors, restaurants, and stuff like that. There are several pavilions worth mentioning.

bugatti veyron

Bugatti. This beautiful and large (from the outside) pavilion only has one car. Yes, it’s the Bugatti Veyron.

Lamborghini also has a single car in their pavilion but what made it truly awesome is the intense hardstyle music playing with smoke and strobing lights. You gotta check out this video to experience what it feels like.

lambo

The car also flips to the outside, I didn’t know until after we went out and I took a photo of the car and asked Nigel to help take a photo of me with the car and the car flipped back inside, leaving a blank wall. Nifty.

Volkswagen has a pavilion that features two very interesting cars:

new beetle

The new Beetle. No, not the Beetle from the Das Auto show in Malaysia last year, this is the latest one that hasn’t hit our shores yet.

[Edit: My mistake, it's the same one that VW brought to Malaysia last year. It's still not for sale in Malaysia though.]

vw up

A custom Up! electric car.

up car

I reckon it looks a lot better than the stock version. :D

up usb

Up! also isn’t available in Malaysia yet, so I got a 4GB USB drive for 13.30 Euros (about RM 52). I collect thumb drives and I also tend to buy souvenir t shirts when I travel. I usually don’t wear them, I have a Stonehenge t shirt that I haven’t even opened from my backpacking trip to London a couple of years back.

email

Anyway, the Volkswagen pavilion also has an interactive screen where you can put in your name, email address and make a music video out of it and send it to yourself. It’s part of their Think Blue initiative.

german

I intentionally didn’t use English even though that option was available. I used German to muddle my way though. Heh.

Posted: 8:32 am Wolfsburg time (GMT +2)

Only in Germany – beer and bubble tea at McDonald’s!

beer mcdonalds

I just came back from the Golden Arches in Dresden with where I had a beer for 1.99 Euros (about RM 8). I just wanted to go for the heck of it, Germany is the only place where you can grab a beer at McDonald’s. Heh.

mcdonalds germany

There’s also a bubble tea craze going on right now in Dresden. They’re selling it at McCafe for 2.69 Euros. Nigel had it and he commented that the bubbles isn’t the sago pearls usually found in bubble tea in Asia.

mcdonalds dresden

I tried it and sure enough, the “bubble tea” has been localized to an extent where there is no milk and and the pearls are made of something which pops in your mouth – it’s a sphere filled with liquid instead of being semi-solid.

mcrib

The popular McRib (where aficionados in the US have been known to drive hundreds of miles for) was alright but I was too full from dinner to fully enjoy it. It’s a flavorful pork sandwich slathered with BBQ sauce.

nigel

However, that’s not the point. The point is drinking beer at a McDonald’s. Heh. It comes in a 330 ml plastic cup and conforms to the German beer brewing purity law but to be honest it was nothing special.

mcdonalds beer germany

…but hey, I drank beer sold at a McDonald’s outlet! :D

Posted: 12:06 am Dresden time (GMT +2)

Greetings from Frankfurt!

warsteiner beer

I just had a great German beer called Warsteiner Premium Verum on the flight here. I’m flying Business Class on Lufthansa Air – they have seats which converts into beds. It would be a sin not to sleep. Heh.

lufthansa business class

I managed to charge all my gadgets with the electricity port beside the seat while I slept. There’s even a USB charger!

frankfurt

(and a rather promising looking Ethernet port)

lufthansa

The next leg of the journey will be from Frankfurt to Dresden. Catch you on the flipside!

P/S – I’ll be updating more on my other social media sites so check out the sixthseal.com Facebook page and my Twitter account for more! :D

Posted: 11:30 am Frankfurt time (GMT +2)

The all new Toyota AE86 Hachi-Roku!

ae86

This truly iconic car from the 80′s is probably one the most recognizable vehicles in the world. Fans of Initial D would immediately recognize the AE86 as the car the protagonist Takumi Fujiwara drives. If you’ve ever read the manga or watched the anime and live action movie (featuring Jay Chou) you’ve probably dreamed of having one to drift with.

keiichi tsuchiya

One interesting fact that I gleaned during my obsession with everything Initial D is that there really is a “Drift King” who popularized the drifting style of racing and downhill driving. Keiichi Tsuchiya is a real life racer who started out in underground and street racing and the character of Bunta (Takumi’s dad) is actually based on him.

toyota 86 black

He drives a Toyota AE86 Sprinter Trueno and has appeared in Initial D as a special guest. He also had a cameo role in Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. He actually said “This is fun! I wish that Toyota could make cars like this again!” when asked about the AE86.

toyota 86

His wish just came true.

I was at Sepang International Circuit for the all-new Toyota 86 and Camry launch and was suitably impressed with the launch gimmick.

toyota 86 launch

They drove the original AE86 and Camry into a garage and the new models came out amidst smoke and much fanfare. The car is beautiful. It’s a work of art.

hachi roku

It’s the new Toyota 86 “Hachi-Roku”!

I also went on a drive on the all new Toyota Camry with Rachel. :)

tetsuya tada 86

The chief engineer of the Toyota 86, Tetsuya Tada, came down to talk about the features of the brand new car. I had a lot of fun listening to him talk about the 86 – it’s illuminating to hear why certain things are done that way and the heritage from the man who designed the 86.

86

The Toyota 86 is the “spiritual” descendant of the original AE86 – I first saw photos of it in 2009, it was designated FT (Future Technology) then – a concept car. It has gone through some changes and there’s a lot of “86” features in there – the tailpipe is exactly 86mm, the bore and stroke of the engine is also 86 mm.

toyota 86 engine

It’s supposed to be a fun-to-drive sports car instead of a full-on competitive muscle car (though it excels in the latter too). I’ve talked to a lot of people about the Toyota 86 and all of them fell in love with it.

toyota 86 interior

Bucket seats, key-less ignition and advanced aerodynamics considerations makes this a beautiful car that performs excellently.

me 86

I just came back from Jakarta and brought the brochure along (it was in my bag when I packed) and it was the object of much lust from everyone who read it.

toyota 86 front

There’s a lot of technical specifications for you to gawk at – too many to list here, so surf on over to the Toyota 86 site for more information.

The 86 comes in six colors (love the Crystal Black Silica) and it’s priced at RM 243,000 for the manual transmission version and RM 249,000 for the automatic version.

toyota 86 back

The latter has a VSC SPORT mode for a more adventurous semi-manual driving experience.

toyota 86 usb

This is my dream car. I can’t stop talking about it and I want it sooo badly that it’s not even funny. I wish this is the real key to the 86.

toyota 86 pit girl

It’s a legendary car that I can’t wait to save up and buy for…drifting. :)

Apple duck, prawn with black pepper and honey and midin

apple duck

I’ve never heard of an apple duck before – the waitress taking the order assured us it was a very popular dish and thus, we swapped one of the meat orders (black pepper beef) with this menu item. We were at Nice House Restaurant – me and Arthur originally wanted to go to Cafe Ind for some fusion Indonesian and Indian food, but it was closed.

Thus, we headed over to a place which serves a gigantic roti canai that I wanted to try but that was closed too.

nice house restaurant

We ended up eating at Nice House Restaurant. I’ve been here a couple of times before and it seems that their typical Chinese cuisine has changed into something which I’ll call quasi-fusion. It’s still Chinese food but it uses much more non-traditional ingredients to cook.

prawn honey black pepper

Arthur recommended the prawn with black pepper and honey. He said it was much better than Ruby Restaurant‘s famed butterscotch prawns and I have to wholeheartedly agree. The combination of black pepper sauce with honey creates a sweet and savory gravy that had us scooping up all the gravy till the plate was almost clean. :)

black pepper lamb

The black pepper lamb was really good too – the meat was tender and juicy, and it goes very well with rice. A superb dish which wasn’t as sweet as the prawns (coz it didn’t use honey).

midin sambal

We also ordered midin cooked with sambal – it’s a wild jungle fern that’s very popular in Sibu but hard to find anywhere else. It’s our vegetable quota.

green apple duck

I felt that the apple duck was the most interesting dish during dinner. We ordered half a duck since a lot of people don’t eat duck due to the gamey taste but both of us do and we have been rather deprived of this particular fowl. I quite liked it although I think Arthur didn’t enjoy it as much. He hasn’t tried it before so we ordered it and the two of us finished everything – right down to the lettuce and green apple slices.

me arthur nice house

I think a lot of people thought we were having a major argument coz when the time came to pay the bill, both of us stood up and insisted on settling it. It must have looked quite interesting since I was blocking his way to the cashier. Heh.

Thanks for dinner Arthur and see you next time I come back to Sibu! :)

Father’s Day @ Payung Cafe (and the best Father’s Day present)

fathers day dinner

17th of June is Father’s Day for most of the world with some notable exceptions, namely Australia and New Zealand. I guess that’s why my sister was a bit puzzled when I told her that we’re heading out during her usual Skype session with my parents.

payung cafe sibu

I asked my dad where he wanted to go, giving him a couple of suggestions like Tom’s Too. Arthur, being the resident food expert also contributed to the list. My dad wanted to go to an al fresco dining area where people doesn’t smoke and he hasn’t been to Payung Cafe yet so I brought him and my mom there.

payung sibu

Payung Cafe is one of the little known eateries in Sibu – the owners are friendly and the ambiance is great, with little touches like freshly cut flowers on the table and off-the-menu specials written on a chalkboard every single day.

payung cafe

It doesn’t have a large menu but they have an admirable aim of having cuisine from all over the world, with a focus on Asian countries.

myanmar vegetables

Myanmar Sayur (RM 8)
Sayur means vegetable and this dish is a kind of salad that contains an assortment of raw and cooked vegetables mixed together rojak style. The sprinkling of sesame seeds and the raw vegetables provides a nice texture that goes very well with the gravy.

payung jelly pisang

Jelly Pisang (RM 7)
Jelly Pisang is a dessert that used to be very popular in Sibu back in the days. It went the way of dinosaurs when I was born and to the best of my knowledge this is only one of two places that still serves it in Sibu. The other one is at a hotel (see link). Payung Cafe’s interpretation comes with loads of jelly and thinly sliced bananas.

I asked my dad if this seemed authentic enough and he mentioned that back in the days it wasn’t really served like this but…

close enough

Heh.

lamb masala

Lamb Masala (RM 17)
It doesn’t look like much but this one was the first dish to go – the lamb is flavorful and tender with none of the gamey taste usually associated with this particular animal. It was a hit with both my mom and dad. The portion is a bit small and I only had one piece but other than that it’s highly recommended.

payung otak otak

Otak-otak Fish with Rice (RM 13)
This is the most popular dish in Payung Cafe, bar none. It’s one of their signature menu items and it’s hand made otak-otak! One of the proprietors actually does this each evening and it’s fresh and very different from the usual mass produced otak-otak. People with a sensitive palate beware! This is not for the faint-hearted for it’s quite spicy.

turkish milkshake

Turkish Milkshake (RM 8)
It came highly recommended from the proprietor and I have to agree – it’s quite good. It’s one of the specials on the chalkboard so this is a limited time menu item. What is a Turkish milkshake? Well, it’s based on the drink called Salep in Turkey. It has ground dried tubers of the orchid flower (!) with spices topped with cream and chocolate flakes. The owners travel around to add new stuff to the menu.

indian red beef

Indian Red Beef (RM 17)
This is a rather spicy affair which was the special of the day. It was quite spicy and I ended up eating most of it. I didn’t like it as much as the lamb masala.

pineapple ginger soda

Pineapple Ginger Soda (RM 5)
I wanted the Durian Milkshake I had last time I was here but they ran out of durians (it’s not the season anyway). I asked for a recommendation and got this one – it’s apparently one of the most popular drinks and the combination of pineapple and ginger works surprisingly well. I like the sediments at the bottom, which contains a bit of both ingredients. Lovely.

belimbing pasta

Belimbing Prawn with Spaghetti (RM 16)
I also had this dish last time and was quite enthralled by it. Belimbing is starfruit (or carambola) in English and it’s a fusion dish that works very well. The type of starfruit they use is known locally as belimbing asam and it’s a very sour variant of the fruit used in cooking. It’s served with prawns and I wanted everyone to try this. It’s a very different dish that works very well. :D

The total bill came out to RM 99 which is very reasonable for a dinner for three that had us struggling to finish the dishes.

fathers day

However, the best Father’s Day present that I gave my dad (and mom) happened to be a totally random act while I was talking to them the night I came back in the living room. I was showing how swipe typing works on my Android phone and my dad casually asked what app I was using. I didn’t know he’s unfamiliar with Whatsapp since my parents are pretty IT savvy, navigating the maze of social media pretty well.

whatsapp

Anyway, I found out that my sister is on it (coz she was on Skype with my parents at the time) and I gifted the app to my dad’s cell using my iTunes account. I added myself and my sister to the contacts list and showed my parents how to use it. They didn’t know there’s an option for free texting (although they use Viber) with quick photo, video and audio file sharing.

fathers day 2012

The look on my mom’s face when my sister snapped a photo of my newborn nephew and instantly sent it over followed by the smiles on my parents faces was worth the USD 0.99 I used to gift the app a gazillion times over. :)

Love each other as I have loved you

wesley church sibu

It has been a while since I last attended a church service. By “a while” I actually mean 18 years (!!!). I stopped going when I was 13 – it used to be a family affair before that. We’ll all go for the 7:30 am English worship service followed by brunch.

I’ve been meaning to find a church that I’m comfortable with in KL and made a promise to myself that I’ll start looking last Sunday but since I was in Indonesia, today was the first day I stepped foot inside one.

wesley church

Wesley Methodist Church is a relatively small assembly in Sibu that my family goes to. It can best be described as a conservative Methodist church with strong fundamentalist teachings. The service is very orderly, quiet and steeped in tradition.

I told my dad of my intention to join them for the morning service – my dad is very involved in the church, he’s one of the ushers today so we had to go earlier. I wolfed down a huge chunk of chocolate generously spread with peanut butter (buried would be a better word, I scooped up a good quarter of the contents of the jar) and we all arrived well before the service started.

I was surprised that a lot of the older members of the congregation still recognize me. I didn’t see a lot of new faces, it doesn’t attract a lot of young people due to the reserved and orthodox nature of the church.

church sarawak

Don’t expect loud music and fervent singing, it’s all about solemn hymns with subdued piano music here. I don’t think the church believes in any music written after 1900. smirk

I did enjoy the service though. I sat beside my mom while my dad was performing his duties as an usher. I remember as a kid, we always looked forward to eating at our favorite places right after Sunday service but I quit going to church when I went to high school.

I went for brunch with my parents at my dad’s favorite kampua place after that. The kampua is quite different from Sibu’s normal kampua. It’s somewhere in between kampua and kolo mee. This is the part I miss the most, spending quality time with my parents!

church brunch

I got my mom and dad batik from Jakarta and we’re going to have a nice sit-down dinner later to celebrate Father’s Day.

It’s good to be back! :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...