May 29, 2011

Mexico City – A Suprisingly Nice City

The text message comes in from Fawzan as I'm transitting in Madrid (an awful experience).

Dude! guess which city featured on the World'd Most Dangerous Cities on TV last night? :D

Mexico City

I ended up travelling to Mexico City twice (cheers boss) in the Summer of 2009. The direct BA flights were always impossible to get an economy ticket on, so I had the privilege of using Iberia on both occasions. A long 2hr flight from London to Madrid, and THEN you start your mammoth 13hr journey. I would land at 6:00am and head straight for the customer's office in des Pantalons (yep) for a long day until 8pm. Best way to start readjusting to a new clock? Reset the old one.

Now someone in the airport will volunteer to pull your light suitcase 90 or 100 metres out of the terminal for you and point you at a taxi and then expect to receive some dollars/pesos for that. Save yourself the embarrassment of having no cash and don't let them! Now I'm belted up in a worn small toyota, and the taxi driver did about 3 hail marys. I thought why does he need to do that? We're just going to downtown Santa Fe?

Argh! We're going to crash into that stationary coach in our lane!

Zipping and weaving through traffic like there was a time-limit in each lane. Our taxi would end up at exactly the same level you would have been if you stayed in the same lane. At least some petrol was wasted on the way! I don't get latin drivers.

I got to the customer site and popped into a cafe whilst I waited for the Americans. Now this is when you get the foreigner ordering something he doesn't want. I somehow ended up with a toasted soft cheese and ham croissant (gracias) and a coffee. Now in Europe you pay for this with your Visa/MC. But in the Americas the roles are reversed, they give you a dirty look for presenting a low cost Visa to them and then request you pay with an American Express.

The Americans arrive and are very grateful for my appearance and sympathetic to my long journey. They seem to need to commute weekly from Dallas (3hrs). We get along well and the day's work goes quite well working with the Americans and the Mexicans and I manage to get a breakthrough - rewarding after a long day.

Travelling around Mexico City seems fine with the locals, the small areas you go for lunch seem nice and safe, the tranquil hotel lunches and the weird Polanco hotel district seems good too. The best part is when you go out on those highways over the mountains to the other towns. Remember playing those driving games in the arcade where there are 3 lanes either side and they twist and curve along the mountains ridge? That's what it is like there.

Mexico is hot, about 25degrees but only slightly humid. And one of those places you have to remember not to drink the tap water.

MonterreyMexico City 1

I even had the chance to go to Monterrey on my second trip. This meant a 2hr Madrid flight, 13hr transatlantic (business fortunately), then another domestic Monterrey flight 2hrs. I think that may have been the definition of tired. Monterrey is just flat land in the middle of the valley, with lots of factories inside. Everything manufacturing related was here.

I stayed at the Intercontinental both times in MX and in Monterrey. Seems more classical styled (verging on aged?). I had to extend my stay by 1 night once and the Continental was full on the Tuesday night, so was the Nikko next door. It seems the demographic of people going to MX city seemed to be businessmen. Rooms at weekends must have been freely available. Fortunately a double double-bed room was available in the W. I missed a trick not using this hotel for the past 2 stays! They had ipod docks and USB connections on all their stereos, a funky bathroom where the shower was a cup in the middle of the room and the head just popped out of the ceiling. And of course the W does not believe in frosted windows nor bathroom doors. Now I thought it was cool to have a shower whilst looking out at the city from the high vantage point, but the American's room had no frosted windows in the actual toilet part! So his party piece was being able to tell people that he would be sitting on the 'throne' and have an unbridled and amazing view over the city.

I would say it didn't feel too dangerous when I was there. Admittedly I was at Polanco where the cream of the crop seem to hang out. But the odd local lunch place we went to seemed nice and fine. They said it was probably the North of the country which would be the most dangerous. And everyone I met were very nice and friendly.

So I leave you with some tips:

  • Stay at Polanco, W Hotel if possible
  • Don't buy Tequila from inside the airport if you're transitting via somewhere, you will have a short Spanish lady in Madrid Security shouting at you
  • Don't get an adjoing room in the Continental hotel, as your neighbour WILL bring a prostitute back with him at 2am to disturb your sleep! (You can tell from the fake laughter)
  • Keep with the local food in moderation. Try to have beer.
  • Avoid the British/Irish Pubs that undercook the beefburgers (the lights are so dim you won't notice your eating steak tartar); No amount of Duvel 8.5% will save you from the inevitable at 3am in the morning

December 29, 2009

Sony Ericsson C905 Long Term Review

C905

I waited ages for the Sony Ericsson C905 in 2008. It was just what I needed, a phone that could handle many features, but is not a smart-phone. I still wanted a xenon flash to replace my trusty K800i that served well for 2 years. A xenon flash is undeniably useful. It allows you to be there to take something that only a regular camera could have. The K800i ran all the apps I wanted to: OperaMini to google maps to a trading platform. The addition of WiFi, HSDPA and GPS in the C905 was very welcome. Despite my previous abhorence to the 3 UK network I decided to return because it was the only network that had Skype available, and plus it is now managed by a reputable telecoms firm.

So after about a year how has it faired?

The camera with xenon flash has been brilliant - with red eye reduction on it is capable of three successive bursts. Only gripe is the colours on any daylight photos are a bit washed out. Everytime I take a picture it produces a 1MB file which I just right click and email or upload online. It has followed me around the world allowing me to capture important moments such as visiting the Acropolis and socialising with great people in Mexico.

Most days when I wake up, BBC's World Business Report show is unavailable on computer at 7am, so I just use the phone to stream the show over HSDPA to catch up on the news. One time I found myself on the train to London watching the Wimbledon final. The other commuters were hunched over my little screen.

I like how on the phone each java application can be set permissions for whether it is allowed to use mobile network and/or WiFi. This has been useful for ensuring the mobile network's Skype application continue to work whilst hooked on to WiFi. I have noticed a few issues (probably with earlier SW versions) where on WiFi emails can't be sent/received unless when your phone's on a non-home network. This can be solved by allowing connections to "Any Network." Not an issue for me, but might affect some people.

The GPS doesn't work too well in built up areas, even with assistance (where the local mobile basestation provides which satellites can be reached from the area). If you're in an empty field you can get lock without assistance but then you might be waiting anything between 30seconds or 30 minutes. I find googlemaps works better without GPS enabled. When the GPS does work, you can use it from log your running regieme to turn-by-turn road mapping with Wayfinder. Wayfinder (subscription needed) did work well on a quick drive to Wales and it even tracked my progress for reviewing later in Google Earth.

Battery life is ok. When I use it (with gmail, operamini and skype open all day), I use just over 50% each day which means a daily charge is needed. When I leave it alone on HSDPA network, it lasts 2-3 days on standby. Unfortunately my operator has locked out the 3G/2G switch for commercial reasons.

The phone reboots every now and then, but then again I am stressing it by running three java applications simultaneously all the time. I wanted the simplicity of the basic Sony Ericsson OS but I think I have now reached the limits of non-smartphones. So to conclude the phone has been very good for the past year. Great travel companion, WiFi allows hooking on to local cafes to send your emails and allowed me to capture moments I might otherwise have missed. Next phone may be an LTE Android though!



July 21, 2009

The Parthenon

The Parthenon (C) Nathaniel Ho 2009

© Nathaniel Ho 2009

Camera: Canon EOS 350D
Lens: Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6
Filter: Skylight 1A
Date: 14th April 2009 18:52
Location: Acropolis, Athens, Greece
Focal Length: 18mm (equivalent focal length: 29mm)
Shutter: 1/125s
Aperture: F/14
ISO: 100
Post–processing: can't remember - minimal contrast boost I think


June 27, 2009

Hong Kong Island Skyline

Hong Kong 2009 I -  62

(C) Nathaniel Ho 2009


March 31, 2009

This may get you in a lot of trouble

If you have been shopping at Topman and bought some manly shirts, you will probably find "Topshop" on your credit card bill. What you don't expect is the description of Women's Clothing to be included. This is either very funny, or very unfunny if it gets you into trouble!


Topman

Actually some of the men's clothes in there are a bit girly...


March 22, 2009

Results for 'Expert' F1 2007 Season Predictions

Follow-up to 'Expert' F1 2007 Season Predictions from nathanielho :: blog

Sorry this is over a year late!

I can confirm that the 2007 Winner was Rich! Followed by Paul in second place and myself in third.


F1 Predictions 2007 - Results


2009 Predictions coming soon!


March 14, 2009

Dublin 2009

Bank of Ireland (C) Nathaniel Ho 2009 Trinity (C) Nathaniel Ho 2009


I was on trip to Dublin this week on a work assignment. Going out there was brilliant: 30 second check in at BHX, 3 minute baggage reclaim at DUB, a quick AirCoach connection and a quick walk through the grounds of Trinity College to get to my hotel.

It was nice to return to again Dublin and doing my homework 9 months ago certainly helped! My experience of the O'Callaghan Davenport hotel was good. It was in a perfect location for my needs south of the river. When travelling for work you have to get used to dining alone! My favourite destination was the Millstone on Dame Street. I tried the Ostrich burger - it's frankly awesome meat. I managed to get an a few hours off on my last afternoon to visit the National Gallery and the Old Trinity Library.

Obviously this good fortune meant I was in for some real poo on my return. My flight was delayed for 2 hours and I had already got to the departure lounge 2 hours early! It didn't help that I was visiting Dublin during my 'no alcohol' month. So I wasn't able to make have an Irish coffee or have a Guiness during the four hour wait! It. was. hard.


February 21, 2009

Keep Alive

I apologise for not providing any update for almost 6 months. Even the lobbying from pressure groups to keep the blog alive ran out of steam.

I have been working steadily in my first full-time job, playing football on tuesdays and living in Leam. I work in the telecoms industry (no surprise) as a services engineer and the graduate scheme I'm on means I get a lot of varied training. I have been fortunate to meet quite a lot of good people within and outside the company. Leam is comfortable, however after 4 yrs of uni, almost everyone I know have left the town.

You find when working full time, there are a few changes you must look out for:

  • Weeks and months pass quite quickly - There is none of the pain of long terms that existed with school and university.
  • There is no homework - if you have homework, then you need to find a job with no homework!
  • You come home, eat, watch tv, sleep and then do it again - this is a dangerous trap that you can easily fall in to. The trick is to make the most of your free time - which isn't that hard. And another important thing to do is to USE your annual leave.
  • Your blog is never updated

So once you are aware of that you can plan your time well. I have made odd trips every now and then to keep in touch with old uni people. I think I have got a good balance going - except for the blog updates.



September 14, 2008

F1 Drivers' Favourite Words

Kovalainen: "maximum"

Alonso: "maximum"

Massa: "for sure" or "I did a great lap"

Montoya: "for sure" and "that's racing!"

Trulli: "for sure"

Heidfeld: "Fewwawis"

Webber: "mate"

DC: "conditions"

Button: "the car's just not fast enough"

Michael Schumacher: "optimum"

Hamilton: "team"

Raikkonen: "I was having a..."


July 22, 2008

91.1 mpg in real life

On the 100 mile journey from Silverstone to his home in Surrey, along a lot of motorway and some large altitude changing country roads, Will managed a whopping 91.1mpg average in a VW Polo Bluemotion. A simple economical 1.4 litre turbo diesel engine in a small car means that it is under the magic 100gCO2 per km which means no congestion charging (and I think no road tax). It has skinny tyres, a slicker aerodynamic profile and long gear ratios. Frankly it whips the silly Toyota Prius. Our figure could actually have been even higher had we not got stuck in some of the usual M25 traffic. We had achieved 95mpg from the motorway journey before we hit the country roads.

91.1mpg in a VW Polo Bluemotion


The main tips are:

Get to 55mph and top gear as soon as possible. Keep it at 55mph. At all other speeds, be in the right gear for the speed you are travelling at.

Slipstream lorries - they cruise at around 55mph (avoid fast coaches) and they punch a nice hole in the air for you to tag along. Try following oil tankers as this will require a combination of both skill and bravery! We saw an average of about 120-130mpg behind a lorry. If you're worried, you can keep your left foot over the brake pedal just in case.

Allow the car to gently build up speed on downhill sections and keep it in the same position everywhere else.

Keep the a/c off and windows closed. This may require you to wear fewer clothes and drink cold water. You may only open windows when you are braking. Will particularly enjoyed the aero braking element of putting his hand out of the window. You may only use A/C to increase engine braking in cases you would have applied the brakes.

Carry speed through corners - this must be balanced with acceptable tyre wear, as tyres have very high embodied energies.

Acclerate Gently: only depress the accelerator enough for gentle progress.


By doing this, one 40 litre tank of fuel could have a range of 950 miles!! Maybe this could be used as a new government incentive to keep the kids driving slowly: cash payouts for high fuel economy?


Critical Stats:

Fuel Consumption Average: 91.1 mpg (imperial) or 3.10 litres per 100km
Peak Fuel Consumption: 182.0 mpg

Average Speed: 41 mph
Peak Speed: 67 mph


Search this blog

Tags

Galleries

Most recent comments

  • I am looking for past dissertation examples and found this and it tickled me. I feel fraught with de… by Wendy Bentick on this entry
  • Hi Nathaniel, glad you're enjoying Mexico. How's your sister Iva? by Anna (not the one from Scandinavia) on this entry
  • You still blog here? When did you start up again? by Nadia moobrain on this entry
  • The only one I like on dave is james may. by carly two coats on this entry
  • So where are the 2009 predictons eh? Perhaps just make them for 2010 instead now :P by Robert Southgate on this entry
RSS2.0 Atom

World Community Grid

Boinc Stats

Not signed in
Sign in

Powered by BlogBuilder
© MMXIV