Month: October 2013

Practicing German in Berlin

Unless you are quite fluent in German it is not so easy to practice it. Many people are very fluent in English.  And if not, someone will often fetch someone who is to deal with you.  Only if they really need to will anyone persist in trying to communicate in German with you.

However, there are options – language exchange in one of its forms.

Tandem – you can search for different sites that connect people who wish to language exchange:

and others. I was not successful with these. Probably some people are.

Or you can attend exchange activities such as:

Monday night from 7pm:

Cafe Buchhandlung, Tucholskystrasse 32 Near Oranienburgerstrasse S-Bahn Station.–259

Tuesday afternoon 4pm – 8pm

Artists Meeting Point (AMP), Kreuzbergstrasse 71–33

This is about 10 minutes walk from Mehringdamm U-Bahn Station (U7.

Tuesday evening 8pm –

Polyglot Club, Kant Cafe, Kantstrasse 135–33

Wednesday 6.30pm –

Cafe Caras, Potsdamer Platz – Leipziger Platz 1.

S & U-Bahn is Potsdamer Platz


These are all ones I have attended, and all are good. There are plenty more, you just have to search for them. And perhaps you can find someone there to regularly practice with, too.

Revisiting Bali Hai for Dim Sum

Bali Hai is just a few minutes walk away from home.  I haven’t been for a while as I have been away quite a lot. Last time I wrote was about a year and a half ago. This morning we decided to breakfast there.

Bali Hai

Bali Hai

As I write this, the main impression I have is how expensive it has become.  The same owner had Coffee Island, a coffee shop / restaurant, also close to where I live.  Around Chinese New Year a couple of years ago prices dramatically increased in Coffee Island, and I, once a regular visitor, just stopped patronising it.  This once very popular spot lost so much business they closed, and since then have tried various different businesses there – hawker centre, Thai Restaurant and others, none of which lasted for long. There may be other factors involved, such as Straits Quays opening around that time, but the big price rise is the major one I think. I fear they are making the same mistake with Bali Hai now.  There were far  fewer patrons than I expected for a Saturday mid-morning.

2013-10-26 08.46.12s

What we ordered October 2013

I felt the food was not as tasty as in the past couple of years. They have changed the panel to the kitchen to glass so you could see in – if they hadn’t piled chairs and tables against the wall there.

The bill, October 2013

The bill, October 2013

The bill March 2012

The bill March 2012

Yes, we ordered more this time than the visit I recorded a year and a half ago. But you can see that the ones we usually order used to be RM4 each, and are now RM5, a 25% increase. You can also see that there was no RM8 category.

As none of the dishes’ prices are marked when you choose them, and they mostly don’t speak English, you can’t choose easily according to price or value.

The view is still nice, the atmosphere better than most Dim Sum restaurants, and parking available and easier now, as there are fewer customers.


90, 90A, 90B, 90C & 90D, Persiaran Gurney
10250, Penang

Telephone:     +604-228 8272 / 228 1272
Fax:     +604-228 8273

Hours: 7AM until 1PM for Dim Sum, and until late evening as a seafood restaurant.

Free WiFi – no password necessary, just find the Bali Hai broadcast.

Some comments on flying KLM long haul

boarding pass for AMS- TXL

boarding pass for AMS – TXL

KLM fly daily out of KLIA to Amsterdam. They depart at almost midnight, within about 30 minutes of the MAS flight to Amsterdam.  It is a convenient schedule. You have a full (business) day in KL, board, have a drink, eat, maybe watch a film, and then have about eight hours to try to sleep before they wake you for breakfast.  You arrive around 6am, and then have a full day ahead of you.

They fly a Boeing 777, one of my favourite larger long haul planes.

I like KLM.

The ground staff were helpful and friendly,  but when a passenger let his kids run riot, took care of the problem, making it easier for everyone else.

The staff are friendly, generally efficient and yet make sure you look after yourself too. My only criticism is that during the night they often ignore the staff call button that you push when you want something.  As I was entrapped in a horrible seat between others, it was better to call staff for a drink of water rather than waking the passenger next to me in the aisle seat.  They ignored it, so I had to wait until someone walked past and attract their attention for my glass of water. As the air is so dry, I needed several glasses during the night.

Unfortunately, the bathroom has no amenities. Only paper towels and tissues.  At least moisturiser would really be appreciated, as the low humidity on the plane really dries you out, and yet airports in Europe ridiculously restrict your carrying of liquids, so you don’t bring your own. My hands feel like sandpaper.

Announcements were in English, Dutch, French, and sometimes in Bahasa and Chinese.

Food is airline “food”. Dinner for KUL-AMS was beef and rice, crackers, white bread roll, cake, salad. For some reason they have recently switched to margarine. Last year it was butter. Why? Margarine is an industrially processed chemical.  Breakfast was sausage, egg, hash brown, grain bread roll, yoghurt and cut fruit.

The headphones for the entertainment are hard to put on, and the cord is connected near the screen, so it trails into the food when you are eating. Speaking of which, the entertainment system allows you to view your meals – NOT. That function didn’t work on my flight to or from AMS. The remote control for the system is an old-fashioned tethered one, and the screen is not a touch screen.  This confused other passengers.

Anyway, I felt good after disembarking from all four KLM flights I took on this most recent trip.

Dragon-i, Gurney Plaza


2013-10-21 17.05.43s

Yesterday we had a meal in Dragon-i, Gurney Plaza.  It was a nice meal, as is usual there. But what I want to say, rather than review the meal and restaurant, is that the (Chinese) spring rolls were really nice.

For the past few years spring rolls have degenerated into tiny things with a crisp deep fried shell with nothing much at all inside.  They are possibly bought in bulk, frozen.  I haven’t enjoyed one for a long time. I live in hope, try one, and am just disappointed.

But the spring rolls at DI had substance, with a real filling inside, and were crisp, but not oily. I’ll go back for more, soon, now that I have found them.

170-G-66 & 170-G-K1, Plaza Gurney,
Persiaran Gurney,
10250 Penang.
tel : +604 227 1686
fax : +604 229 1686