Archive for September, 2007


Monday, September 17th, 2007

We went to the Zushi beach this weekend with Silvia & Horst and the kids and had a really nice time. Evan and Lauren played very well with Timo and Mikka and we all got a bit sunburnt. The beach is right by the road though and there were tonnes of sailboards, but apart from that it was very nice. Silvia and the family came back to our place afterwards and we had a barbeque which went over well.


Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

Well I got back from the Chile trip and it was a heck of a trip. The work itself was very interesting, but the surrounding events were quite tiresome.

The trip out to Chile was pretty easy actually – I got to sleep on the plane and managed to get onto the right timezone quickly, so I wasn’t really too jetlagged. The other 2 who came from overseas (Sweden) were pretty tired at the end of the day.

When I arrived at the airport I had to pay 132 USD for a visa for Canadian citizens. In retrospect, I should have travelled on my NZ passport, but anyways, that’s the way it goes. So I wasn’t too happy with having to shell out that money right away and when I got out and got to a bank, what I thought was an official taxi guy helped me into a taxi and then overcharged me for the trip. That made my day really bad! What was supposed to be a $25 USD taxi ride, ended up being $100. I can’t believe I was duped! So annoying.

The trip out to the hotel wasn’t so flash. There was a lot of rubbish dumped by the side of the road or in the river. Then the shanty-towns by the airport meant to me that life in Chile is still very rough for a lot of people. When I got to the hotel I was able to check in despite being very early, and relax in the room for a bit.

I wandered about Santiago for a few hours and made my way to a big shopping centre, where I found a grocery store and bought the goodies for the family and work friends. The food was relatively cheap and I got a lot of things, some of the things that would carry me through the skipped dinners during the week. There were lots of people out and about, enjoying the early spring warmth and in general it seemed like people were really enjoying themselves on that Sunday afternoon.
I met up with Goran early Monday morning and we went to the office together. It turns out it’s a few minutes walk away! Very convenient. We ended up working to around 9-10pm most nights, so it was nice that the hotel was so close. Also the restaurants we went to were very close.

The office was on the 17th floor of one of the buildings in Santiago. Victor had booked us the board room and it had a lovely view over the city and the Andes in the distance. Here’s a quick picture:

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Santiago’s smog is pretty bad and this picture only shows a bit of it. We had great weather during the trip, but there was always a level of smog around the city. Not surprising, considering it’s in a valley surrounded by lots of big mountains – there’s really no way for the smog to get away.

The first assessments went well with everybody passing. The first assessment I did as a chairman, we failed the candidate, which is unfortunate and an extra strain on me because it’s much more difficult conveying a failed result than a successful one. Nevertheless, it went “well” considering I’d never done that before.

My second candidate was looking pretty rough and I was thinking perhaps we’d fail him as well, but he managed to pull through in the end.

We skipped lunch and dinner sometimes, but the times we went out we had a really nice meal. Not very expensive and very yummy! Western-type food of course, like breads, pastas, thick meats. Yum.

The last day (Friday) didn’t have any candidates so we managed to get out of the city and went skiing! Victor helped arrange everything through the company travel agency and it worked out brilliantly. A van with an interpreter picked us up from the hotel at 8:30, we went to the ski rental place in Santiago and then onwards to the slopes. The slopes were about 2 hours away, so we were on the ski field around 11am or so. I couldn’t find a fitting jacket, but in the end, I didn’t end up wearing one, since my jumper was thick enough (with scarf) and the day was really warm.

The skiing was brilliant. Goran and Joakim were excellent skiers so it was a fun time keeping up with everybody. Goran made a video which he said he’s going to post on the knowledge sharing site – will be interesting to see how he makes that “work-related”. Here’s a picture from the slopes:

Skiing in Chile

The views from the top were amazing. The summit was 4570 metres above sea level, and sometimes I could feel the thin air in my lungs, by being hard to breathe. Some of the higher runs were tough and by digging into the side of the mountain, I was out of breath sometimes. Lots of fun though! The snow was generally good – spring skiing with lots of sun meant the snow was pretty wet sometimes and in the shade, pretty hard. In general, the slopes were really well maintained with good grooming. The amount of snow could have been better, but it was spring skiing after all.

On Saturday, the day I was flying back, Victor picked us up and drove us around a bit. We started out at a winery and tasted some of their wine. Goran and Joakim both picked up some wine, but I wasn’t keen on lugging it all the way back to Japan, besides we have access to most Chilean wines from Japan.

From there we went to Val Paraiso and went to the beach, checked out a view over the city and had some food. Yummy fish! From there we headed back to Santiago so that I could catch my flight.

The trip back to Tokyo was a mission in itself. I got to the airport to find out that the flight to Atlanta was cancelled. I would have to wait until the same time the next day. Fortunately they were able to find me a seat on another flight, but from Santiago to Miami and then a connecting flight to Atlanta, which brought me on the same flight back to Narita, so all was good – just a bit extra work. I had to pick up my suitcase in Miami, go through customs, check back in, all in under 1.5 hours, so I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t make it. The flight from Miami onwards was on the same airline, so I was confident that if I could make the transfer, I could get to Narita ok. Fortunately everything went well in Miami and I was just able to make the connections.

On the flight from Atlanta to Narita however, a few hours into the flight we were told that we had an engine problem and that we had to stop in Seattle to fix it. It would take around 2 hours, meaning our flight would arrive around 3 hours late in Narita. I was supposed to arrive in Narita around 1:30pm so with the delay, I arrived around 4:30. The baggage claim and customs check in Narita went super-quick so I was home by around 6:30! Amazing.

After being home a short while, Evan asked for his present – cheeky bugger! But I guess he did associate me going away with him getting a present. Lauren also mentioned it, but probably because Evan did.

I couldn’t find any gifts in Chile for Lauren (I got Evan a Lego car and Nicole a lapis lazuli pendant) and my stop at the Yokohama station didn’t bring any results, so I had to grab something for Lauren at the 100 yen shop! Fortunately she really liked the Hello Kitty bag! Evan really liked the Lego car too.

It was really nice being home, since I was away from the family for around 10 days. The next day I stayed home from work, since I was really quite jetlagged (slept during the day, woke up at 4am). With all the work going on in the office, I’m sure I’ll have to adjust quickly!