Madam Geek…

Finding the geek in every woman

Beijing Day 2 July 5, 2020

Filed under: Life,Madam Geek,Travel — Madam Geek @ 7:00 pm
Tags: , ,

Day 8 of China trip – started off with heavy rains. While having breakfast and looking down at the cars driving in the rain and cyclist cycling in streets, I sat and couldn’t believe that I am finally on vacation! This was our first breakfast at this hotel and it was jam packed with families and kids running around and wanting pancakes. I was one of the kids and stood in their line waiting for the chef to serve us pancakes. The breakfast variety was even wider than the last hotel. Because we were out and about all day and didn’t really have time to stop for lunch we made sure we ate a hearty breakfast at the hotel before heading out.

Once breakfast was done we grabbed an umbrella from the concierge and headed out for our next adventure. The aim was to visit the Forbidden City and visit the Palace as well. After many minutes of walking, subway ride and long line to get into the area of Forbidden Palace we were told that you need your passport to enter through security. Now being typical tourists, we obviously locked our passports away in the safe at the hotel, not thinking that we might need it to access a tourist attraction.  The journey back to our hotel was too far that it was not worth going back to fetch our passports. So we decided to just walk along the areas we could visit without a passport. It rained when we got there then the sun came out so brightly that I had to use the umbrella to protect me from the harsh rays of the sun. Another new thing I discovered is that everyone has an umbrella either tucked away in their bags or just walking with it. It rains and then the sun comes out, so either way the umbrella comes in handy.

We had a city map with tourist attractions and another place we wanted to visit was Silk Street. An indoor market where you can negotiate with the sellers. Some items are original (or so you think) and others are amazing knock offs that you cannot tell the difference and then the items that are sold at fifth of its original price, that says large but is actually a small you know is a knock off of a knock off. I am no good at negotiating prices for goods and I just feel sorry for the person trying to make a sale. There are so many places selling the same or similar goods that competition must be tight. My husband seems to love this concept of negotiating and making sure that each sale is way under what the original price was. I ended up buying items that had the sizes completely wrong because I felt sorry for the lady trying to make a sale. I am such a sucker!

After the market visit we found a restaurant selling pizza. We didn’t really want pizza but it was raining so hard that we decided to wait it out and you couldn’t just sit at the restaurant without ordering. So we had pizza in China. Since we are staying at the hotel literally in a shopping mall we found a cinema while walking back to our hotel. My husband loves cinemas in other countries and movies anywhere, so guess what we did on the night of the second day of our vacation. We watched Spider-Man in 3D and ate caramel popcorn!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Beijing Day 1 July 4, 2020

Filed under: Life,Madam Geek,Travel — Madam Geek @ 7:00 pm
Tags: , ,

What a journey it was to get to this very moment of Day 7 and the start of our vacation? First stop was Beijing. Packing, checking out of Hotel in Dalian and rushing to the airport was quite a mission but we made it. We barely managed to tag and check our luggage with sleepy bodies as our flight was pretty early. The lines at the airport were ridiculously long for check-in and we definitely thought we would miss our flight. But after enquiring after a shorter line close to Business Class check-in we saw a sign that read: “World Economic Forum Check-In”. We swiftly grabbed our conference badges out of our bags and showed it at the counter and we could bypass the insanely long line.

The flight was pretty straight forward with no delays and we were super chilled as we immediately switched over to holiday mode! I was teasing my husband and saying that it was so easy to switch just as we would turn on our “airplane or flight mode” on our devices when flying.

Landing at Beijing airport was beautiful. I love airports as I think it is quite interesting to see how they try to capture a bit of culture and the essence of their country in this first point of entry. I am not saying all airports got this right. But most airports try and have your first point of entry give you a glimpse of their country or city in this case. We then made our way via taxi to the hotel. Driving through a new city after just landing in it is also a surreal experience, because when you drive back after spending some time there your views would have changed. All our hotels and flights were really booked a day or 2 before we travelled to another city. This keeps the element of surprise alive and one just hopes that the pics and reviews you see and read online are true. Fingers crossed.

We were definitely grateful that the first hotel of our vacation was a good one. Good rating, service and location. The hotel was called Hotel Jen. The hotel was also connected to China Wold Shopping Mall (yes a shopping mall) and the subway. We definitely enjoy travelling in the city using public transport so this was convenient. On day 1 of Beijing visit, I got to explore the shopping mall, had Peking Duck for lunch (I love duck), had my first train ride in China and visited the Lama and Confucius Temples. All of this in a 40+ degree celsius temperature. You will notice on the pics at the temples how hot and bothered we looked. Beijing is most definitely the king of humidity. Moving between aircon hotel, mall, trains into the outside heat knocked me for a six. I consumed so much water and ice cream on this day and realised that whatever I was putting into my body was just coming out through my pores! The cold relieve was only temporary but you keep telling yourself that the $3 bottle of water and $5 ice cream would cool you down. But let us not get stuck on the cost of these items.

My first day of vacation was amazing and getting back to the cool and comfy hotel at the end of the day was such a pleasure. We were on the 18th floor and the number signs were made up as bookshelf filled with books. Clearly not for reading but a beautiful design none the less.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

The Final Day! July 3, 2020

Filed under: Conference,Life,Madam Geek,Real Talk,Travel — Madam Geek @ 7:00 pm
Tags: , ,

If you need to catch-up and read how this post came about read the previous post “This Day!”

Day 6 of the trip ended up being the last day of the conference and our final night in Dalian and all things business related. Yippeee!!! That means my next post is purely about our vacation. So be ready for that.

But let me recap on day 6 in Dalian and the final day of the conference. I remember having a late start to my morning. Most things were winding down and people started checking out of the hotel and everyone was trying to have final meetings and making connections before this annual gathering ended. My ending was gathering all the business cards I collected and adding it my drive with a photo of the person in case I needed to reconnect with any in the future. Since I was committed to end all work related activities on this day which included emails and report submission, the day actually flew by in a flash.

At many of the conferences I have attended, when it gets to the last day there is something in the air that one can generally feel it the space. Whether it’s a sense of urgency or loss or purpose, I don’t know. Every day people go to the conference with a sense purpose and have set objectives, but on the last day you just never know if you will make that last connection you were trying to make the whole week or if you have exhausted and capitalised on the opportunities availed during a gathering of its kind.

Luckily for me, I had no set objectives except to get through the week and get on with my vacation. I did enjoy Dalian as a city. It was clean and super efficient. I am grateful that I got to experience the conference and meet some amazing individuals and even got to see some old friends from Cape Town. Weird that when we are in Cape Town together we don’t have time to chat and catch up and it takes us going to another county on the other side of the world to reconnect.

After 6 days since leaving Cape Town and most of those days were for travel I was feeling a bit settled with the time difference and getting my body clock into a new zone.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

This Day! July 2, 2020

Filed under: Conference,Life,Madam Geek,Travel — Madam Geek @ 8:00 pm
Tags: , ,

If you need to catch-up and read how this post came about read the previous post “Today is the Day!

Day 5 of the trip and the second day of the conference got off to a bright and breezy start. I woke up early enough to make it in time for breakfast at the hotel. The breakfast buffets at western hotels in a foreign country is always over the top. But I was not complaining about the variety.

After nearly missing the bus to the conference venue again, which one got just outside the hotel, I managed to make it just in time for an AI session at the conference. Here you could play around with the technology and have the device scan your face and replace it with one of your choice. I chose Bruce Lee’s face for fun and hoped that his moves might be miraculously transferred to me. The conference on Day 2 was quite similar to Day 1 and I simply just sat through talks and tried to get into all the session run by women. One thing I could not get used to was all the cameras and interviews that just happened at random moments and places.

The conference venue was about a 20 minute walk from our hotel and I used this time to walk back and actually get a feel of the city. While walking I came across McDonald’s and the Avengers Head Quarters. Of course it couldn’t have been the real one as it should be kept top secret, but I found the logo super cool on the building of an accounting firm or something serious like that. Also came across a restaurant that looked like KFC at a glance and found out it is actually called Mr Lee and they also sell fried chicken.

That evening we went to a networking dinner at a hotel just across the street from where we stayed. The seats were all pre-assigned, to facilitate networking. The menu was a mix of local cuisine and it was placed on your table that had a revolving centre. So the food would just appear and move along to the person seated next to you and get refilled with a new dish every few minutes.

This day was quite uneventful but I was still counting down the days to my actually vacation!!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Today is the Day! July 1, 2020

Filed under: Conference,Life,Madam Geek,Travel — Madam Geek @ 7:00 pm
Tags: ,

If you need to catch-up and read how this post came about read the previous post “It’s another new Day!” I have officially completed the journey to China. Now that I have arrived in one piece and immediately got working on ticking things off my bucket list. After registering the evening before for the conference and collecting our access cards we managed to roam around the city to scope the lay out of the land (or city in this case).

On Day 4 of our trip it was also the start of the conference. As I mentioned before going to a conference was not my idea of a holiday but duty called and I got dressed up in my nicest dress (that did not need ironing) put on my shoes and planned to catch a bus to the conference venue. My husband was part of an early morning exclusive gathering for members only, which left me to my own devices. I got to have a lie in and by the time I went down to breakfast it was closed already. Nearly everyone in the hotel was attending the conference, so they were not expecting late sleepers to come looking for breakfast at 10am. I managed to beg the waiter by using excessive hand signals to please bring me some coffee and any pastries they had left. It was actually funny because he was trying to tell me that breakfast was closed and I was trying to tell him that I want to order food and pay for it separately. Since our room was bed and breakfast, I guess it was unusual for guests to skip the free breakfast.

After my mini breakfast and navigating my way through security to get out of the hotel, I found the bus stop with signs to the conference. It is always a joy to ride a bus in a foreign country. Definitely something I would do back home. In a bus you are seated high enough that you get to look out of the window and see the city as a visitor. The streets were so clean and the building designs were amazing.

The bus stopped far from the venue as no vehicles were allowed in. That meant you had to walk the rest of the difference. Little did I know that these few steps would be nothing compared to the 100,000+ steps I would walk during my trip in China. Before entering the building I had to take a pic by the sign. This happened pretty easily as there was another lady that looked like she wanted to take a pic and couldn’t do a selfie. I immediately offered my photography services and before she could say thank you and walk away, I offered her my phone in return to take a pic of me. Of course she could not say no. Once inside the building I must have spent 15mins just roaming around trying to figure out how to get to the next level. Beautiful building but they could definitely have worked more on the user experience for a smoother transition from point of first entry to where you actually end up. Not to worry I am quite resilient in finding my away in and around strange places, so I finally figured out the level and which sections of the conference I had access to. I won’t bore you with the topics of the conference but I must say that the food was delicious. Not sure if free food always tastes good, but the variety was mostly western food which was a relief that I didn’t need to guess what I was eating.

The day ended on a good note because I somehow found my husband among the avid conference goers and we could take a walk back to our hotel together. By now we figured that Facebook and Whatsapp was blocked on our devices and we had to use a VPN to bypass the network and imagine we were in the US, so that we could message our family to let them know we finally reached our final destination.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

It’s another new day! June 30, 2020

Filed under: Life,Real Talk,Travel — Madam Geek @ 7:00 pm
Tags: ,

If you need to catch-up and read how this post came about read the previous post “It’s still a new Day!

This was now Day 3 since we left home and we were still in transit in Shenzhen checked in at a hotel. It could not have more than a 1* rating. Firstly when we were checking in they wanted everyone to share rooms. I felt so sorry for the single passengers as they had no choice and had to share a room with a complete stranger. Luckily I had my husband with me and I thanked God to have him with me at this very moment. After getting the key to our room and navigating our way through the hotel lobby we arrived at our room. Now after being in transit for over 40 hours (not sure how long exactly, with the time difference I could just be exaggerating) and not washing, I only managed to brushed my teeth, stripped and went to sleep. My husband still decided to shower and put on pjs. I was really impressed by this. Let’s just say that the washroom and room in general was much to be desired. There was only 1 pillow on the bed and 1 and half towels. Since it was early of hours of the morning and we needed to get back to the airport on time, I didn’t see any need for decency and just wanted to sleep, wake up and get to the airport. Just incase something else delays our trip.

The one thing that was consistent since the time we arrived in China was the humidity. If the spaces were not air conditioned it took an adjustment to get used to it. After opening our eyes in China on 30 June 2019, we rushed to get done and get on the bus to get to the airport in time. By look of the hotel foyer and wilted flowers on display, we decided to skip breakfast and head straight to the airport.

I have to say that seeing the airport in the light of day and with fresh eyes, what a contrast to my memory of it just a few hours ago being sleep deprived. This airport looked like a high end shopping mall. After checking in and making sure our luggage was bagged and tagged as well as confirming that we have seats together we made a bee line for the StarBucks Coffee sign!!! Never mind that I was not in the mood for coffee, I just needed something familiar. Whenever we travel we always look out for this sign, because no matter what language is spoken everyone knows what a Cafe Latte Grande (size) is.

When we finally navigated our way up to the level with the Starbucks we had to decide who goes to order and who hunts for a seat. For those frequent travellers, you know that this is always a challenge when you are alone. But it is another reason to have someone travel with you. It just means someone is always designated to claim the seat while the other one orders. I chose the easier option to find the seat. There was no way I was going to try and explain what I wanted to eat. Even though it seemed easy enough as all you had to do was point at the glass and the item behind it. My husband was tasked to find me a ham and cheese toasted sandwich and a latte. You will see on the pic below how the cheese was toasted on top of the slice of bread and the ham inside. Nevertheless, it was tasty and was just what I needed to fill me.

Once we went through to the departures side I was mesmerised by all the high end shops and design and layout of the terminal. It was super clean and efficient. This is definitely the longest post because it was the longest day in China! We managed to board our flight and half way through they said we are disembarking for 30mins to collect passengers. Now just coming up on the back our already extended trip, my patience ran out. What were they thinking to make us disembark and sit in a tiny airport (seemingly in the middle of no where) without our luggage and just wait? This was most possibly the longest 30mins of my life. So maybe the 30mins ended up being 45mins or 60mins, I can’t remember exactly but finally we were back on the plane with added passengers and making our way to Dalian. The original plan was to fly from Johannesburg to Dalian via Beijing but as things went we flew from Johannesburg to Shenzhen to Dalian.

I am not sure if I mentioned in any of the previous posts that were actually on our way to a World Economic Forum conference and had a limited time period to collect our access cards, therefore time was of the essence and we were already missing the welcome event. So I was just a plus one for the conference but they treat the spouse to the same privileges as the attendee. Except for a few behind closed doors meet ups. I was not phased as I was not there for the conference but for my holiday in China. Which meant I had to manage a week of networking, talking shop and wearing business attire. But keeping my eye on the prize (which was my holiday) I endured all the security checks and business talk, because I knew in just a week I would be exploring.

We finally made it our destination and followed all the World Economic Forum signs in the airport to the bus that would take us to the hotel and then went to get our access cards and finally getting to chill after a super long journey.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

It’s still a new day! June 29, 2020

Filed under: Life,Real Talk,Travel — Madam Geek @ 7:00 pm
Tags: ,

If you need to catch-up and read how this post came about read the previous post “It’s a new Day!

After arriving at the airport a bit after 10pm on 28 June 2019 we were so excited to embark and get in the air!!!! Low and behold they rushed us through the immigration terminal and when we got to the gates, the very ground hostess that guided us the morning after 9am to our hotel was at the gate to tell us that the flight has not landed yet. For many of the passengers the wait has been longer than 15 hours and one could see the disappointment on everyones face, as we all just sat on the ground and squatted at the gate. We were all scared that if we left the gate the plane would arrive and we will miss it.

But after midnight 29 June 2019 while watching a few of passengers sleeping on the floor, my husband and I decided to explore the terminal and find out if any of the lounges were open to at least have a soft seat. Luckily the Slow lounge was open and we could get access. I sat on the couch facing the window overlooking the gate, just to make sure that if I see any of the passengers get up from their nap on the floor, I could grab my bags and run to the gate.

By this time we were exhausted, dirty and completely disorientated as we were awake since 4am the day before. Finally at 4.30am on 29 June we get to see the passengers rising up from the floor and lining up at the gate. For someone that was so sleepy on the couch  one minute ago I moved super fast to get out of the lounge, down the escalator and to our gate. Once we boarded the plane all the passengers were still a bit apprehensive as to whether or not we will get an alternative connecting flight. Since our tickets were all from Johannesburg to Beijing, and then for many of us we had a connecting flight to our final destination.

Fast forward a good couple of hours and an extremely bumpy flight we get told to disembark with all our belongings. By this time I wasn’t sure what the time was and didn’t care because I really thought we landed in Beijing!!! Only to discover via many translators and asking countless times what was happening, we were all told to line up and get a hotel voucher and re-check luggage in our luggage. Now this was the last straw for many of us, as no one communicated with us to explain that we were not in Beijing but actually in Shenzhen and because of the flight delays we were having to spend another night in transit before we can get a connecting flight to wherever else in China.

The humidity in the airport was unbearable and with all our luggage and 100+ disgruntled passengers all pushing to get to the counter and get new tickets, it was not a pleasant experience. Of course our mobile phones were not working and the wi-fi at the airport was not connecting. We knew our family back home was worried as we were supposed to be at our final destination already, by this time relaxing in our air conditioned hotel room. Three hours of having to take turns in the line and trying to convince the ground hostess that we want a connecting flight out as soon as possible, and don’t want to visit Shenzhen any longer than necessary, we finally got our new tickets for a direct flight to our final destination for the next day at midday. Beggars can’t be chooses and we took the offer and the voucher for our accommodation. By the time we were once again packed into a mini van (note to self: Chinese mini van and South African mini van are not much different), en-route to our hotel we were so exhausted and that we didn’t even notice that the clock struck midnight once again.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

It’s a new Day! June 28, 2020

Filed under: Life,Travel — Madam Geek @ 7:00 pm
Tags: , , ,

In my previous blog post I eluded to a change of season. Exactly 1 year ago I managed to tick off another item on my bucket list. That was to travel to China. I never had any desire to visit China until 2 years ago when I started watching Chinese movies. Now this was not the karate Chinese movies with out of sync dubbing and sound effects that only happened after someone was kicked or punched. One of my hobbies is watching romantic corny movies in a different language. It has to be a series so that I can get a feel for what the culture and country is actually like. One day I came across a Chinese movie called: Meteor Garden. I became addicted and binged watched the entire season. After that I pretty much switched between Chinese and Korean romantic series.

When the opportunity came to travel with my husband to a conference in China, I totally jumped at the chance and my only condition was that if I attend the conference with him, we have to have a mini vacation in China. My goodness it’s so far to travel, you might as well make it worth the trip.

The reason I decided to change my focus of writing was because it is exactly 1 year ago on the 28th of June 2019 that we embarked on this life changing journey. Life changing more for me than my husband because I got to live out my dream of visiting all the places I was watching via my series and got to walk those very streets. I just know my facebook timeline will be full of these memories as I posted pics everyday for our family and friends to follow our trip.

Our trip started off with the usual excitement of travel to a new country and we had a 5am departure flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg. Little did we know that this excitement would be short lived because our flight was delayed from Johannesburg. We got to the terminal to catch our connecting flight only to look at sea of Chinese all waiting in line to check-in. We booked our luggage straight through, because why would we not? The joke was on us because our flight was delayed and no one could say for how long. The airline booked all the passengers into an airport hotel. Yippeee, at least that is what we thought. How hard it could be to facilitate 100+ passengers that don’t speak or speak limited English and were expecting to be going either home or on vacation? And then there was us who were going for business and vacation.

We just followed the crowd and finally got squashed into a mini van with suitcases and so much hand luggage and were then taken to the hotel. Of course the hotel did not know about all us arriving and wanting to check in at 9am in the morning. After a 4 hour wait in one of the conference rooms at the hotel and after eating breakfast and lunch we were finally checked into our room. No check-out time was given so you just had to wait for a phone call from reception with the time when the bus will take us back to the airport. By 10pm that evening we finally made our way back to the airport with the hope that we will reach our destination by the next day…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

It’s a new season June 27, 2020

Filed under: Life,Madam Geek — Madam Geek @ 7:00 pm
Tags: ,

After blogging everyday for 20 days straight, I decided to take a break. The break was short lived (around 24 hours) but I felt I needed to change it up a bit shift into a new season. Over the past 20 days I blogged everyday and schedule the posts to go out the next morning at 7am. Each title was unique and I really pulled the inspiration from the most unlikely places. Sometime during each day I would have an ah ha moment, when I come across a phrase to use as a title. I would immediately go to my WordPress App and start a new post and add the title. This would usually sit for a few hours before I can get back to actually sit down and blog. As I mentioned in my previous posts the last couple of months have been a trying time for myself, family and just in general for everyone I came across.

To those that have been regularly reading my posts, I do thank you for the shares, comments and likes. It has been an incredible journey to embark on and no journey is fun when you are alone. I was really blessed to have all of you journey with me and I do hope my posts have left you inspired and encouraged. As much as it was a point of release for me, I also hoped it would help someone out there needed to hear what I wrote. The next couple of blog posts will be completely different and I hope to brighten things up.

dbf59e_46c41993e0334486a28dcb0f335b9287_mv2_d_2048_1207_s_2

 

Patience Pays June 26, 2020

Filed under: Humanity,Life,Real Talk — Madam Geek @ 7:00 am
Tags: ,

22c65030-7deb-11ea-b4ab-206aeff1cd1d This blog post was inspired by a tweet that was shared and it seemed to tie in perfectly with my previous blog post “Make the circle bigger“. The tweet went something like this: “What is investment? Usain Bolt won 8 gold medals in 3 Olympics, and he only ran for less than 115 seconds on the track, earning $119 million dollars. That’s economy of effort. But for those 2 minutes, he trained for 20 years. That’s investment. Think long term. Patience pays.”

Now you may be asking yourself what would medals, olympics, time, money, training investment, running, etc have to do with this blog post? You are more than welcome to interpret it in any manner that suits you. I love reading something many times and realise that the power in the words you consume, is what helps you sift through the many thoughts running wildly through your brain and making sense of it. Or in my case compartmentalising them and saving them for another time when they will be needed. I could easily see it as an investment. Consuming information whether it is media, in conversations or even in a learning environment. This happens so quickly that we don’t have time to sift through it and decide what is fact or fiction. We just consume it all and of course this information that we process, we manage to spew out at random times regardless if it was processed and fact checked.

Patience Pays! What are you investing in at this moment? Are we able to stand up and proudly say with confidence that “I have invested in and nurtured this … gift, talent, skill, relationship, career, study, hobby …. and this is what I show for it!”

My goal since 2019 was to write a book. I even did a couple of creative writing short courses. I seriously started to write the very next week after starting my first course. I have a strong conviction that if you want anything in life or want to be good at it you have to work hard and put in the time. Invest in yourself. “No pain no gain.” But why with all this investment and time I put, didn’t I miraculously finish my book? Writing shifted from something that I loved and enjoyed so much to feel like a duty. Full disclosure, I am a rebel at heart and always want to go against the status quo and I totally dislike feeling trapped or being forced into doing anything. So I had to change the narrative to my writing story from: “I should write today” to “I get to write today”. Just changing the word “should” to “get to” or “have the opportunity” or “privilege” changed how I feel about writing and immediately shifted me into another gear. Words are so powerful not only when you use them on others but even on ourselves.

It was only recently or exactly 20 days ago, that I started blogging again after I started this blog more than 10 years ago. “Patience pays” is my new phrase that I would like to extend to everything that I am working on and be on the look out to see when it pays off and celebrate those moments. Celebrate the investment that went into it and the joys of seeing it come into realisation. Patience pays!