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Monthly Archives: January 2013

We started 2013 in Chiang mai, having arrived there as our first stop on December 29. We hosted many countdown parties in our apartment near Times Square New York in the past. But now living in Switzerland, we really do miss the crowds and the celebratory atmosphere.  So we had to find a decent place  to spend the new year’s eve.


Before leaving home, Sue had got from an acquaintance a list of local restaurants and hotels which were offering a New Year’s Eve dinner party. Among the many choices, we chose the party at The Rachamankha largely because their menu included both local and international fare. Here is the description that sold us:

Enjoy buffets of Tai, Lanna, Myanmar and Thai delicacies served in a traditional market setting and a rich spread of seasonal European delights in the restaurant dining room. Free flowing wines, beers and soft drinks to the accompaniment of both traditional and modern entertainment set in and around Rachamankha’s restaurant courtyards throughout the night from 7p.m. til late on the 31st December 2012.


Despite the red carpet, the maitre ‘d wanted us to share a small square table with a lone diner, telling us every body has to share. When we asked for an alternative, he blamed us for making a late reservation. While I feel sorry for the lone diner, we wanted to enjoy our family reunion (my sister from Hong Kong joined us). We got angry with the maitre ‘d, he relented and gave us our own table.


Many of the locals came to dinner in black tie and cocktail dresses. There was another seating area in the inner courtyard with different entertainment. The hotel managed to get just the right number of guests as the place was not too crowded and it felt cozy.


There were simply too many different kinds of local foods to sample here. This part of the dinner was served outdoor and a bit dark, so it was hard to recognize what was on offer even with a English note next to it.


Every thing was delicious but we could not possibly remember, let alone distinguish and appreciate the differences in Tai versus Thai cuisine, or Lanna versus Burmese. Very cute street market style presentation.


Pennywort salad in a banana leaf boat.


Deep fried fish, lightly salted, the perfect munchies to go with beer. We had several dishes of it by the end of the evening.


Sticky rice-based dessert. Blue was obviously not a popular food color, but brown should be even less popular given the shape but …


Inside the hotel dining room was the carving table.  I(Chris) loved these seafood appetizers – though somewhat European in appearance, they are best described as cerviche oriental style – spicy, citrus-y, and briny.


The hotel is tastfully decorated and the layout is based on the traditional Chinese four-sided courtyard house. The hotel  used to belong to the marketing association of Relais & Châteaux.


The live entertainment were imaginatively programmed and mixed the cultures and arts of the East and West as well as the traditional and new. The live band that played till the countdown attempted every thing from local hits to YMCA to Opa Gangnam Style (in mangled Korean). A DJ took over after the countdown.


Yes, that was a chandelier on his head.


The countdown was accompanied by the release of giant sky lanterns (komloy) by the guests into a moonlit sky.


Happy New Year !


This was how we started the new year.

We spent the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 in Thailand.  It was our first time in Thailand and we were eager to try everything. So, there are lots of images and stories to share. Our first stop was Chiang Mai in the north, then we went to Bangkok, and then south to the island of Samui.

I(Chris) thought it might be fun to present some of the following photos in pairs. Although the two pictures were taken at different times or places, there is a common theme.

Our rooms with views

From our balcony at Hansar resort, Hat Bophut, Ko Samui


From our balcony at Marriot, office buildings in Silom, Bangkok


Elephants, in Thailand, are working animals as well as religious and cultural symbols.

Maetaman elephant camp, near Chiang Mai


Erawan museum, Samut Prackan, near Bangkok


Noodle soups

This little jungle of greens arrived after we ordered just two bowls of pho.


Our taxi driver took us to this restaurant which specializes in Northern Thai curry noodles. We were the only non-locals. 300 bahts (about US$10) for 2 appetizers, 4 noodles and soft drinks.



At a cafe in the artsy Nimmahaemin area, just outside the old city, Chiang Mai


One of many gilded murals depicting the Ramakian in the Grand Palace, Bangkok


Foot massage to suit all budgets

Rarinjinda spa, Chiang Mai


Outside a temple in the evening of December 30, a street of Chiang Mai. Head, neck, back, shoulder and foot massages were on offer.



The shop at the Thailand Creative & Design Center (TCDC), 7th floor of the Emporium in Sukhumvit, Bangkok


Anusan night market, Night Bazzar, Chiang Mai



We flew from Geneva to Paris, then overnight from Paris to Bangkok. Then we were to catch a domestic flight to Chiang Mai within a two-hour window. Unfortunately our flight was slightly delay in France and we missed our scheduled domestic Bangkok Airways flight. So we waited at the Suvarnabhumi international airport, signed up at these counters as stand-by passengers and waited around for our names to be called. It was very stressful as the departure area was packed (bags and babies), after all it was the last Saturday of the year, December 29. My sister, I.T., was to join us in Chiang Mai from Hong Kong but she found us waiting at the airport. We eventually caught a flight about 5 hours later.


Bangkok’s notorious traffic jam, as far as the eye can see, near Sathorn

Thailand-11Part 2 will be posted soon.

This is the last of a series of posts on the Fête des Lumières at Lyon. As we mentioned before, there were many light shows and installations all over the city and we only managed to catch just a handful of them over the weekend.


The show on this famous hill side must be one of the most widely watched. Fourvière is the  hill immediately west of the old part of Lyon (Vieux Lyon), rising abruptly from the bank of river Saône. It is primarily known for the Catholic Basilica of Fourvière and a tower (Tour Metallique).


The photo below was taken during a short intermission.


The projected images were static and appeared to be the works of several 20th century artists – we think the works of  Klee, Kandinsky and Miro (and  others) were projected.



Paul Klee


The inauguration of the golden statue of the Virgin Mary on the north-west tower of the Basilica is the origin of the Festival of Lights.

Cave paintings ?


Picasso ?


Fourvière contains many religious buildings including convents, monasteries and chapels. The basilica has always been a natural focal point for the city.

colline-12During the festival, the buildings along the river front, the apse of the Saint Jean cathedral and the Palais de Justice as well as  the basilica served as a canvas for the projection of images.


Mondrian ?

colline-11There were crowds three or four deep standing along the river bank – Quai des Celestins.


It would have been nice to see this from a boat – getting closer but not immediately below the projections.


What surprised us was the lack of boats. Presumably, the city banned them for the evenings. The lights from the boats could mar the projected images for those watching from afar.


Here is a bird’s eye view of Lyon from Fourvière with the old town and river Saône in the foreground (the picture below was borrowed from Wikipedia). The pictures of the projections were taken while standing on the far bank of river Saône near the trees on the left.



I(Chris) have been a Kraftwerk fan from when their music was played on the radio  in the 70’s. I have posted a German version of their 1977 international hit – “The Model” and Coldplay’s “Talk” which sampled it, here.

Kraftwerk is usually translated as “power plant,” but  one of the founders Ralf  Hütter said the band’s name can also be pulled apart for meanings: “kraft” is energy and dynamics, “werk” is simply work, or labor, and also (as “werke”) an artist’s oeuvre.

Since we are not living in NYC any more, I did not know until recently that the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) organized a retrospective for the band:  Retrospective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8  -:

Over eight consecutive nights, MoMA presents a chronological exploration of the sonic and visual experiments of Kraftwerk with a live presentation of their complete repertoire in the Museum’s Marron Atrium. Each evening consists of a live performance and 3-D visualization of one of Kraftwerk’s studio albums—Autobahn(1974), Radio-Activity (1975), Trans-Europe Express (1977), The Man-Machine (1978), Computer World (1981), Techno Pop (1986),The Mix (1991), and Tour de France (2003)—in the order of their release.

I would have loved to see them perform or visit the exhibition in PS1. Here’s a video with hilarious subtitles for non-German speaking folks titled “Hitler reacts to Kraftwerk MoMA ticket limit”:



Their most “recent” album Tour de France was released almost ten years ago.  The gap between the last two albums (Tour de France 2003 and Electric Cafe 1986) was 17 years while they spent a lot of time touring the world.  I saw them in concert in 2005 (if I remember correctly) and my sis saw them in Hong Kong in 2008?. With industrial quality bass and concert hall acoustics, they sounded awesome! But I cannot wait for a new album to come out once every ten or twenty years.  Please hurry.

On Youtube, there is a video: “Musique Internationale” which was released purportedly by Kraftwerk and the visuals effects look like something they would use in their concerts. Some media has accused it as a fake.

It was uploaded by 2011Klingklang from Romania?!  Klingklang is the name of Kraftwerk’s studio in Dusseldof.

Ralf  Hütter said in an 2011 interview around the time of the MOMA  retrospective that a new album was underway and would be released “soon”.

Another video was released on Youtube in July 2012 – “Electronic Music”  – it also claims to be Kraftwerk’s creation and was uploaded by 2012Klingklang from the US.

Again the fans said that it is a fake.  The video looks a bit like a Windows 8 promo. Neither of these video received much hits on Youtube (180,000 and 33,000).

Overall, both songs are quite pleasant, and listenable –  I would consider both efforts as “Kraftwerk light”.

I wonder how much longer do we fans have to wait for Kraftwerk’s  next release, and when will we find out whether these videos are real or fakes.

A Ferris wheel was set up in Place Bellecour during the Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumières) in Lyon – the Europa Rad. We waited until dusk before getting on the wheel because we wanted to catch a bit of natural light along with the decorative lights.


Here’s a short clip of the views from the top to the bottom and then going back up. The video is 51 seconds long, so the wheel was turning at approximately 1 cycle per minute. It was a gentle ride – a bit short though.

Southwest corner of Place Bellecour.


Looking west with the Basilica de Fourvière and metal tower in the background.


Also visible are the banks of the river Rhone. Les Trois Domes at the Sofitel where we had lunch earlier (see post here) is just visible near the top right hand corner.


The domes that gave rise to the name of the restaurant are located on the Northeast corner.


This is an “uptown” view looking towards the city center. To me, Place Bellecour is the equivalent of Union Square in NYC. We were near the top which was about 55 meters above ground.


One of the main streets – Rue Edouard-Herriot starts here (lower right hand side) – the “5th ave” of Lyon.


Hotel-Royal at the Southeast corner of Place Bellecour.EuropaRad-3

Place Antonin Poncet


The Europa Rad claims to be the biggest transportable Ferris wheel with open and swiveling gondolas.


We seem to be starting a tradition of getting on a Ferris wheel wherever we see one – in 2012 we had already been on a Ferris wheel – the Riesenrad in Vienna  – see my post about the Viennese wheel here.

During the four days of Festival of Lights in Lyon, there were 62 listed shows or exhibits scattered around the city. We spent the weekend of December 8-9 in Lyon (see earlier post here).

Many of the buildings were lit up, some had projected static images, and a few played moving video clips. Théâtre des Célestins was the site of a show called “Lumieres Archipicturales” which was based on the idea of an artist working on the facade as if it is a painting.


Here is a short segment of the animated show with music. My fingers were frozen towards the end.

This video is about a minute long but the entire show is about 5 minutes.


The show was being repeated continuously so there was a constant flow of people.


Our friend F who went to school in Lyon wanted to see this particular exhibit despite the crowds.


The small garden with a fountain in front of the theater was packed with people.

celestines-3When we first got into the square, the show had already started. After the show was over, we moved into a better viewing position and saw the show again.




In a nearby area, we saw the Corazon (Heart) at the Place de la Bourse.


The bars of light on the heart change with the sound of a heartbeat.


This is Rue de la Republique which is one of the main streets for shopping that runs through the city.


In addition to making trips “abroad” in 2012, I(Chris) did a bit of travel within Switzerland as well. In March, I visited Winterthur (near Zurich) and attended the Electron festival in Geneva. Click the links to see the corresponding blog post.

Winterthur’s photo museum (not yet posted on the blog)


Geneva’s MAMCO (Musee d’Art Moderne et Contemporaine) during the Electron Festival


Chateau Chillon near Montreux in Spring.


I was in Martigny in April to visit the St. Bernard kennel and museum, as well as the Fondation Pierre Giannada.


Fondation Pierre Gianadda has a beautiful garden full of modern art, a vintage car collection – I will post some of the pictures here soon.


Chagall pavilion in the foundation’s garden.


I visited the Tinguely museum in Basel, early summer (not yet posted).


Lutry on Lac Leman, which is 15 minutes drive from us, late summer.


A friend’s apartment in Lausanne with a view of Evian across Lac Leman.


Lausanne’s Cathedral lit up during the Fête de la Cité


Since my office in Neuchatel is 70 km away from home, my commute can be considered a “trip” especially when the view from my window looks like this on certain days.


Let’s see where we will go in 2013 …

As the end of 2012 is drawing close, we look back to some of the places we visited this year. Let’s start with those that were outside of Switzerland. We will follow up with a second post of the trips we made in 2012 within Switzerland. Click to jump to the posts – there are usually a series of posts per locations, so go back and forth on the blog.

In January, we were in Southern California and made a side trip to Las Vegas.


2012-3 Vegas


Chris crossed the lake to visit Evian in March.


In May, we saw the Champions League Final in Munich and spent a week in Vienna.

Allianz stadium, Munich


Belvedere, Vienna


I(Chris) had to leave Vienna early to attend a meeting in New York and spent Memorial Day in the city with friends.

Third Avenue, looking downtown


We stayed for a long weekend in Annecy, France in June (the posts will be up soon).


In August, we were in Dorset, the South of England and then saw the Olympics in London.


London 2012.

rings on thames-1

In October, I (Chris) was in Boston for a business meeting.


Also in October was A and F’s wedding in Madeira which we attended.


On our way back from Madeira, we spent a few hours at Lisbon’s aquarium.


In early December, we changed our mind about going to Freiburg (Germany) to see the Christmas market but went to Lyon for the Fête des Lumières instead.


So this is Goodbye 2012. Hello 2013.