The contrasts of Manila.

As already mentioned, Manila is a motley city in terms of its buildings. There’s the full range – from favelas to neatly manicured well-to-do districts. When sitting in a restaurant in the latter, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in Singapore (especially if you take no notice of passing Jeepneys and tuk-tuks). Here for example is the view out of my hotel window:

And here are some street views in the old town:

Read on…

Jeepneys, red-hot-chili ice cream, and Philippine roadside scenes.

In the last few posts we’ve seen plenty of Philippine natural beauty. Now we turn our attention to the anthropology of the country: time to walk take a ride around the streets of the small city of Legazpi, which sits at the foot of Mayon volcano…

The first thing that really grabs the attention is the jeepney – the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines and the calling card for Philippine culture and art (they’re often gaudily painted/decorated) ->

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Flickr photostream

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On quad-bikes around Mayon Mount: but up to its peak – on no account!

Next up on our short tour of paradisiacal Philippine islands – the Mount Mayon volcano.

Getting there from El Nido on a scheduled flight would have taken us ages, and since we didn’t have ages, we took a chopper again instead ->

From the get-go – oh my grandiose greenness! But yet again my photos were spoiled by the reflections on the windows of the helicopter. I wonder if there’s already some AI ML technology these days that can filter them out? I hope so: it’d really help on my summer holiday in Kamchatka this year…

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El Nido, the Philippines: islands, lagoons, caves, white beaches, turquoise sea. AKA paradise!

I keep a tally of the countries and cities I have the pleasure of visiting (for the first time), and just the other week I had an interesting +1 in Southeast Asia – the Philippines: my 105th country. And Manila was, oh – I’ve lost count; it was around my 320th city in the world I’ve now been to.

We were lucky this time: we had a long weekend there before the business part of the trip, so we decided to check out the beautiful islands of El Nido and also the Mount Mayon volcano. And since island hopping in the Philippines takes quite a while on scheduled commercial flights, we opted for the much quicker option: helicopter! ->

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A digitalization conference in Nizhny. I’m hardly not gonna be there…

With conference season still in full-swing, I’ve been busier than a bee of late. Just recently I only had two days at home and it was back on the road again. This time though it was a domestic business trip – albeit it a thoroughly important one …

It was for CIPR in the city of Nizhny Novgorod. CIPR?…

CIPR is a transliteration from the Russian ЦИПР, which stands for “Digital Industry of Industrial Russia”. That was a direct translation that came out clumsy in English (curiously due to the fact that there are two words for industry/industrial in Russian; only one in English:), but it’s now taken on the more modern and pertinent (in terms of content), and appropriate (in terms of English language sense) name of “Digitalization of Industrial Russia”.

CIPR: conference, exhibition, presentations, speeches, agreement signings, meets, greets, handshakes, chats. Never dull, and always a pleasure (it takes place yearly in Nizhny Novgorod – Russia’s sixth-largest city, 500km east of Moscow) ->

That fine historical building is where the talks and panel discussions take place, while the exhibition – needing a bit more room – is in the large, modern hangar-like building next door. That’s where we head first…

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Phinally – the Philippines!

I’d long dreamed of one day finally getting myself to the Philippines, and just the other week it finally came to pass…

I’ve been to other countries in the region plenty of times – with probably three dozen visits to both China and Japan, more than a dozen to Singapore, and more than once to South Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia. But for reasons beyond both my knowledge and control I’d never made it to the Philippines. I’d even planned visits to the country (many times) but each trip was eventually either postponed or cancelled – and not only due to the covid travel restrictions in 2020–2021. I’d wanted to get there to be able to check out the regional realities for myself and to get personally acquainted with our key business partners, etc.; after all, prospects in the country were (and still are) favorable: with a population of 120 million, the country is 30th in the list of economies of the world. There was also the magical natural beauty of the Philippine countryside I needed to check out, which I’d been told so often about by folks who’d already been. And now I’ve been, I can say for sure that my great expectations were not only met but exceeded! Here’s some photographic evidence:

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Déjà vu in Thailand: partner conference, thunder, sunset and sand.

Hi folks – from sunny thunderous Thailand!

Been a while, I know – but I’ve been busy (as always). Of course I have – for it’s our partner-conference (both regional and global) season. We’ve already had Italy and Hungary; now it was Thailand’s turn…

After landing, we head on over to the venue, which turns out to be the same hotel where we put on another conference (SAS) late last year. Small world, and déjà vu, as they say…

But back to this year’s conference: it was the partner conference for the ~Middle Eastern and African regions, aka META (Middle East + Turkey + Africa). But enough already with definitions and demarcations! Let me simply tell you the conference was a 10/10!

  • Guests: 135 (140 were planning to attend, but five didn’t get their visas in time; we’ll take this into account for the future)
  • Countries represented: 24
  • Partner companies represented: 65

But enough of stats already! Let me simply repeat that the conference was a 10/10 :)

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Budapest-2024: jubilee fun with the Rubik’s Cube, then a leisurely cruise on the Danube!

The next stop on our whirlwind Euro-April-2024 tour – Budapest…

We’d had our Italian Partner Conference days before – in Milan, as mentioned (and the press loved it). Now it was time for our Global Partner Conference in the Hungarian capital. As per, we had guests fly in from every continent apart from Antarctica (of course) and also, alas – Australia (due to the geopolitical situation). The rest of the world however was in full attendance :) ->

…But I’ll come back to that topic. First, we needed to get from Italy to Hungary…

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No FOMO – @ Lake Como; much ardor – @ Lake Garda!

When you find yourself in Milan with a weekend to fill with non-work stuff – what do you? That is, if you’ve been there plenty of times in the past, the city’s parks and downtown highlights have all been strolled, and the top of Milan Cathedral has been climbed up to? When you fancy checking out Paternkofel in the Dolomites but the April weather just can’t be trusted – especially given the poor forecast (we attempted such a thing in 2021 and failed). Well, there are a few other options…

…One being – Lake Como! ->

And not just the lake, but the charming small towns along its shores too:

And that was that: decided. Time to rent a car and head on over there

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