Steve Barriault

December 28, 2016

Well, another year done. I tacked a few more miles to my shoes. Didn't blog as much as I wished. As you may expect, it is not always easy to find ways to talk about technology and travel. After all, this is a technology company, there needs to be a connection. So, chalk it up to a lack of inspiration, and probably a few hours of sleep missing too many.

But then, something unexpected happened: some people complained: "When is your next blog entry"? So, since this is the end of the year, I will keep it 100% for fun for a change. There is always 2017 for more serious stuff.

So, for you, Eric B., here are some of the cutest and bizarre moments of the past 18 months that were not chronicled in this blog.

Starting with the end

When swimming toward the shores of Thailand with my team, I got quite surprised when I sensed something on my legs. Was it a shark? Nope. A sea monster? Nope. It was a New York Yankees baseball cap happily swimming in the vast ocean. No kidding! What were the odds! I made a true adoptive Bostonian of myself and put that unacceptable source of water pollution where it belonged (first image below). :)

Lost in translation

One source of endless enjoyment in international travel are inventive translations. Most of them are cute, and some downright perplexing. For instance, what does that sign on a trash can really mean: organism. There is an organism living in that trash can that will eat up the rubbish? What is really funny is that the original text in Chinese states that this trash can is for non-recyclable stuff, so that must be a very efficient (and downright scary) organism living in that can! (second image above)

Some of these can leave you a bit lost too. Anyone boarding the flight to MOSS TOWN? Must be humid down there... and to this day, I still don't know where that plane went. (third image above)

When you need to go, you need to go

You can also admire the inventive solutions that people from different cultures come up with to meet the challenges of life in different climes and continents. Case in point: Japan. Unfortunately, it is earthquake-prone. So, all (new) buildings and elevators are designed to keep you safe in case of a tremor. But what happens if the power is out for several hours and you are trapped in said elevator? Well, one hotel in Tokyo came up with the solution: a toilet seat. Yes, you read right, a toilet seat IN the elevator! And in that little seat, you also have (sorry for the blurry capture) toilet paper and drinkable water. It doubles as a regular seat in regular times. (last image above)

Food galore

And who says travel says of course FOOD. Good food. And, food you just can get at home! Like: really, really fresh seafood, cut just a few moments ago, in Korea, called samnakji. Don't believe this is fresh? No problem. You can watch what I mean here:

BTW, the Japanese have a version of this called the dancing octopus. And I know of a restaurant there which serves what can only be described as a "zombie fish." I just cannot post it here, but if you want to see it just let me know, I can show you.

Now, it can sometimes take a bit of a disturbing turn. Take a look at these cakes that were served to me in a Chinese restaurant. It is certainly artistic. But somehow, they were also a bit disturbing. I mean...wolf down cakes in the form of adorable chicks, really? (first image below)

But then, coming from a restaurant serving "bacteria soup" and "shredded chicken (that) pulls the skin" (ouch!), located right next to a restaurant called "Let's eat tar!" (no kidding, check my previous blog entries), I guess I should have known better.

Now, don't get me wrong - I get excellent food on the road, and sometimes in the most unexpected places. Want some chicken in economy class and you want to get something else than rubber chicken? Then you need to fly Air India when they have this on offer. Simply delicious. No kidding. And, it is included in the price of your ticket. Beats the horrible snacks US airlines serves you for $8. (second image above)

And finally, the beautiful...

And of course, you don't only see funny things on the road. You are sometimes treated to nice shows. Running from the Indian hotels really trying to please you by providing you companion animals made in towels (above third image), so they don't make a mess.

To the Beijing folks that know how to grow flowers in any weather (last image above). And not to forget the Russians in this final entry for 2016.

Steve Barriault, signing off for 2016