Monday 20 October 2008

Trailwalker 3/4 of team 140!

Originally uploaded by Marcel_Ekkel
Last sunday there was another training session for the upcoming Oxfam Trailwalker.

Finally we had the opportunity to train with the missing teammember. After a few weeks searching Dothan introduced Martin. He had been traveling a fair bit...but there he was.

The route was a part of section 5 followed by 6 and section 7 of the MacLeHose trail. The weather was superb, not toooo hot, little breeze!

It was good that we had another participant who volunteered to be killed on the trails :). Anyway, we kept up a good speed and blasted over needle hill and grassy hill in 4 hours.

It would be great if we can keep a similar speed during the event as it would result in a finish time way under 20 hours. Trick here was ....we started fresh instead of arriving there after 11 hours of walking already.

Only 17 days before the event, and although this will be a tough one I am looking forward to it.

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Old Friends Reunion

Old Friends Reunion
Originally uploaded by Marcel_Ekkel
I am currently in Ho Chi Minh city to run a 1 day "introduction in projectmnagement" for one of my clients.

The last time I worked in VietNam was in 1998. During that time I was working on my first entrepreneurial stint...setting up a Nha Trang based scubadiving centre for Vietravel, a VietNam based travel organization.

As I spend regularly time in Ho Chi Minh city, at the companies HQ it was a good opportunity to make some friends there as well.

Over the years I kep in touch with some of my friends from that time. As I was coming over again, I organized a dinner with my friend Thuy and her husband. (Thuy, congratulations on the second baby!)

Whilst having dinner we talked about the "old days" and Thuy picked up her phone to call one of the old friends from those days.

Mr Binh was positively surprised and jumped on his motorbike to meet up in town for a coffee. (The Vietnamese do love their coffees! and interestingly Starbucks to be found here). It is always interesting to here what people do with their lives.

Mr Binh for example is now married with a young son and is working in Sales in a steel company. Completely different then when I met him. Young out of Uni party live loving person working in the travel industry.

Anyway, it was good catching up and sharing old memories.

Thursday 7 August 2008


typhoon8_August 004
Originally uploaded by Marcel_Ekkel
Today Hong Kong was hit by another TYPHOON 8, the signal was up for most of the day...which is a very long time.

As a result of heavy rain, and all kinds of stuff that came down my drains clogged up a little.....

So when the water was raising to "door level" it was time to run out and do some damage prevention :)

Tuesday 17 June 2008

Results of Heavy rain in Sheung Wan

In the last weeks there has been a lot of rain in Hong Kong.

On Saturday the 7th of June I planned to do some spinning classes in the gym in central. However when waking up, there was this massive rain fall sound which caused me to turn around in my bed and sleep a little more.

When checking the weather forecast online, it showed black rain storm and thunderstorm warnings.

This means that there is a lot of rain. In this case a recored rainfall, causing floods, landslides etc. The rainfall was that heavy that Tai O got closed off the rest of Lantau when a massive landslide, and in the New Territories unfortunately 2 people got killed when they got covered by a landslide. Also many roads got flooded, including the road that leads to the airport.

It is interestin to see how many houses, offices lets say buildings in general have difficulties dealing with the rain. Examples are the shops and offices in Sheung Wan where I was in the afternoon. Lots of damage to the shopowners dried wares.

Thursday 1 May 2008

Positive Taxclimate for Entrepreneurs in Hong Kong

On Wednesday I attended a seminar organized by my virtual office hosting company Bridges Executive Center which I have been using since 2005 to setup and support my company. Regularly their team organizers seminars that can benefit their client base, like this one on the Hong Kong tax system and your annual obligations.

Hong Kong has an easy taxsystem which is even dealable with by small companies.
A ground principle is for example that business performed in Hong Kong territory is taxable. So when I am doing training or a consultancy assignment in Hong Kong, I am liable to profit tax on that. On the other hand, if I am delivering a training in malaysia then this is not liable to payment of tax profit. Obviously I can't file any deductions for that either.

Profit tax rate currently stands at 17.5% if I recall it well. A very sharp rate, and thats before deductions. Deductions cover things like MPF for employees, salary, and all other expenses needed to generate profit. This also covers office rental, capex etc. For example IT investments are 100% deductible in 1 year :)

On the salary tax, there are some ways to structure payments to staff to make it more interesting. As director I receive a directors fee. This is of course taxable, however it is in a different category compared to standard salary.

Another trick is reimbursement of house rental. Providing an allowance for this is directly taxable. Calling it a reimbursement (ie money paid after a claim has been made) will provide a "benefit" for both employee and employer on the bottom line.

Altogether an interesting climate to start your business!

Monday 28 April 2008

Excellent Weekend Start with dinner @ world piece cafe

Last Friday after work, we decided to go and have dinner in the World Peace Cafe which can be found in Wanchai Hong Kong.

This restaurant is run by volunteers and serves pretty much full organic vegetarian food. Its very simple as there is only 1 set menu for HKD185, of course they have some deserts, coffee, tea etc you can get.

The atmosphere is quite relaxing as the light is dimmed, some light music in the background...and definitely not too many people.

Altough simple, we got served a 4 course meal that tasted remarkebly well. The menu changes every week, which makes it interesting to return.

We started with a plate with little tomatoes and some other things on there. Quite tasty.

Following the starter was a clear broth soup with carrot, fungus and some other things in there. Quite a good taste, not too salty (they don't use too much oil and msg!!)

The main courses was a multi layered dish with an acquired taste.

And desert, a nice fuitmix was accomponied by some indian chi tea.

In total, a good time we go for some food and then pop around the corner for a drink at The Pawn :)

Friday 25 April 2008

TimeOut HK Magazine #1

TimeOut HK Magazine #1
Originally uploaded by Marcel_Ekkel
On Wednesday 23 April the Launchparty of TIme Out Magazine Hong Kong edition was held.

Time Out is quite famous in London for its magazine. The magazine contains listings of restaurants and activities happening in the area where it is published. Even so welknown for the travel magazines.

These days, it fortunately has a website as well, which for Hong Kong is

A Magazine Launch for a hip magazine needs a good location...which was the newly opened "The Pawn" in Wanchai.

This bar, restaurant is build in the style of an old pawn shop and they have done an excellent job on keeping some old-style elements in there. Excellent parts are a roof-terrace and balconies where you can sit have a bite and a drink. High on my list of places to go for a drink, as it looks into the area of Wanchai that starts hustling and bustling. I will return especially for the massive whisky collection present.

More can be found at

Now the party itself was good. Obviously lots of media people and further all kinds of people that know how to have a good time. It was a strictly "invitation only" event.

There was a band playing with some good rock tunes. with some asian influences..ooops sorry.....forgot the name though.

Snacks and drinks were well present;;; more then glasses i think as after a while the champagne was served in wine glasses.

On evenings like this you run into all kinds of people, for example the managing director of Cafe O ( who just came from an opening of another branch, or owner of FLORZ ( who makes her own jewelry.

All together a good evening!

Monday 21 April 2008

notification of presence

Recently I decided to move away fromy previous host, not easy decision though!

I used to be with GISOL.COM which I used to host my corporate site (SynergySynQ Ltd.) as well as my personal weblog (

If things run...then no major issues with the guys.... However, I had some issues of email not being available, email queues cleared out (meaning all new messages deleted), non response from support, messed up domain names etc.

When looking around for a new hosting provider, you set yourself up for a good challenge. Many reports/feedback don't look that real. Do you want a local (in my case Hong Kong) based provider, or one based in the US. The main difference is price and package availability.

One good thing I have to say about GISOL is their control panel. It allows you to control each of your domain completely independent, including independend statistics.

For my blog I decided to host with the guys from BlueHost, lets see how that works out.

The question to work on now is.... shall i move to wordpress or not :)

Sunday 6 April 2008

Advertising in hk cab

Advertising in hk cab
Originally uploaded by Marcel_Ekkel
Today I sat in a taxi in Hong Kong and noticed a new form of advertising.

In cars, having a screen in headrests is nothing strange..however I had not seen it in taxi's

Interesting to see what they will actually start advertising and even more what the response will be.

Sunday 30 March 2008

transport department notice for HK Cabbies

Originally uploaded by Marcel_Ekkel
In February the Hong Kong transport department brought out a notice for taxidrivers to allow a 1HKD increase in fees.

Quite interesting as the motivation is to compensate for increased fuel costs. However, my guess would be that the longer you drive, the more fuel you use the higher your cost will be.

oile and fuel prized have gone up a fair bit in the last months... so I am not sure if the extra dollar flagfee really helps.......

Thursday 27 March 2008

bye bye nice weather

We had a relatively long and cold winter in Hong Kong. For weeks the temperature was between 8 and say max. 14-15C which is cold for here.

I was nearly feeling back in Europe :)

We had some amazing days with nice weather and clear skies.

Here some pics fro a hike in new territories:

Or to Lantau and Tai O earlier this month:

Unfortunately those days will be postponed. Hong Kong is now entering spring season.
Meaning more rain, changing weather..and definitely more humity and higher temperatures.

Humidity will start touchin 95%+! Which is very high and uncomfortable. Laundry takes ages to dry, and if you have a shower in the evening...your bathroom is barely any drier in the morning.

When you stand outside (let alone walk or excercise) all feels wet and clam.You need to have dehumidifiers in cupboards or else you might have the mushrooms growing on your ties :)

Sunday 23 March 2008

Cappucino Brulee

Originally uploaded by Marcel_Ekkel
After a nice dinner with friends, we decided to go elsewhere for a coffee....and for some a hot chocolate.

We ended up at Habitu, opposite Pacific Place 3.

Excellent chocolatie hot chocolate.....and I saw an interesting looking drink. A cappucino Brulee.

It ended up to be a regular cappucino, where they put some sugar on top of the foam...and burn it

Interesting idea, a bit too sweeeeeet for me though.

sign of life/live!

08_02-15-21_Dubai 001
Originally uploaded by Marcel_Ekkel has been a while!

Many things have happened in the last months... and its time to start catching up.

One of the trips I had was to Dubai, to participate in a PRINCE2 training.

More this is more of a test post :)