Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Food in Brussels

Barbar at Delirium in Brussels. Thousands of beers in-store! It was my first time to Brussels, Belgium. I found some amazing food that I’d go back to on a regular basis on future trips to Brussels. Most of everything is in the Grand Place area.

Scheletema has been around since 1972. They serve high quality food. Try their steak (filet mignon). Try their tuna. They have awesome scallops for a starter. Their menus can also be relatively good value for money.

Brussels is famous for “moules et frites” (mussels & fries). Visit Chez Leon. Its always crowded, has been around since 1893, and they have excellent mussels. Their Leon beer isn’t too bad either.

Want beer? Check out Delirium Cafe. Its in the Guinness Book of Records for holding over 2,000 beers in stock. Their tap beers are awesome too. I’ve quite enjoyed Barbar.

Waffles are available everywhere. For tradition, visit Le Funambule Waffles, which is near to Manneken Pis. They’ve been around since 18xx.

Fries are also everywhere, be sure to try out many of the sauces.

La Fourchette du Printemps

Beautiful quaint little restaurant at Rue du Printemps, nearby the Wagram metro station. It has one Michelin star. Lunch tasting menu is 45 euros a pop (February 2012) – starter, main course, desert. They also give you a pre-starter (free) plus a pre-desert (free). They close for lunch at 2pm, but entertained us right till 3.30pm – brilliant service. Chocolate desert for presentation was absolutely amazing – worth taking a video snapshot in-memory. Main course was out of this world. Definitely worth paying a visit; all credit cards (visa/master/amex) accepted.

Pierre Hermé Paris at Selfridges for macaroons

Pierre Hermé Paris recently opened at Selfridges in London (400 Oxford St – get out at Bond Street tube stop). The shop is rigid – you can either pick a few, and if you want packs, they recommend it to be pre-packed. Heritage from about the 1970s, with each macaroon setting you back about £2 or so.

Unless you get one with white truffles (pic). These are rare, and when they exist, they fly off the shelves. You don’t get them in pre-packaged gift boxes because it would overwhelm the other macaroons. They really taste good, heavenly even. I never figured truffles would go well in sweets, but its clear that this pâtissier has figured it out.

The Guardian wonders if they are the world’s best macaroons? For me, they definitely are.

Berthillon ice-cream

One of the best ice creams in the world is by Berthillon. Get it exclusively in Paris, France. Get a few scoops if you happen to be there. The ice creams are truly luxurious (never bothered with the sorbets). Many shops on the “island” sell it, and its got heritage — started in 1954. Google Maps link.

The iPad as a camera

I’ve been walking around Paris recently and it’s becoming quite common: the iPad is used as a camera. I’ve seen tourists do the same thing in Munich as well, but not as common as in Paris.

Beyond just taking photos with a larger screen, people are doing entire tours, with video and audio. I’m unaware if there are such guides, but people are walking around with the iPad 2 in portrait mode and are recording their experience. There are so many experiences to be had in Paris, so it is not surprising that people want to take it home and their iPad’s have become the device they turn to for it.

I’ve always thought that the large screen on the iPad makes a perfect “back” for a camera. When I first started carrying my Canon G10 (a point&shoot, with zoom, that has controls like an SLR to some extent) I was always trying to use the viewfinder. A trait from shooting with SLRs and dSLRs all the while. Today I’m quite happy to use the larger LCD display to compose my photos (largely out of frustration of not having a viewfinder that covered more of the frame).

I notice LCD composition generally becoming the trend. Many cheaper digital cameras don’t even come with a viewfinder any longer. People are used to using larger LCDs for composition with their touchscreen phones (like iPhone’s, Androids, most of Nokia’s touch devices, etc.)

So why does the iPad 2 come with an inadequate camera/video camera? The iPad 3 will definitely improve on this, as will future revisions. I think Apple just had no idea that people would take on using such a device as a camera…

FWIW, around conferences, I’ve seen people use Playbook’s and Xoom’s to do the same thing (but that, I’ve always presumed is the alpha geek crowd using their devices).

Roaming data

My last few weeks have been spent in China, Korea and Japan. I’ve been roaming with my cellphone, with my data connection turned off. The question is for how long?

It’s interesting to note that in both China and Korea, you can roam, with unlimited data for about RM36/day (USD$12). This is common in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong and several other countries that have roaming agreements.

I landed in Korea and the first thing I heard? The familiar sound of Whatsapp. I’m sitting here now in Haneda, and it’s again the familiar sound of Whatsapp.

The way I see it, roaming data is becoming more affordable. It can only get cheaper.

Why is this big? The way Blackberry Messenger (BBM) has disrupted SMS amongst blackberry users is what I see Whatsapp doing as long as you have data.

Applications like Yes Life which gives you a real 018-number, and does SMS and work entirely over data? Brilliant, especially if you plan to send more than 36 SMS messages per day, or even want to entertain phone calls. Imagine forwarding your regular number not to voicemail, but to your 018 number. You pay a flat rate for data, and you enjoy really cheap call rates. Similar deals with pfingo (Singapore), PennyTel (Australia/Malaysia), and so on.

With data, you can also run Skype. That also does cheap calls and SMS messaging. Incoming calls work too via a real number, though there is no option to grab a Malaysian number.

Apps for mapping and navigation on iOS and Android? They will flourish with on-net connections, meaning there is little reason to cache.

Walking around Japan, we had a mifi, with an amazing battery life. Three connections, on-net, 6 hours! And it was close to 20mbps down, on a mifi!

I see lots of roaming companies (Flexiroam, for example) saying they provide foreign SIMs for cheap. I’d rather just always have a data connection, unlimited, for a flat rate anywhere I go. And a configured mifi. Maybe an extra portable battery pack ;)


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