Thursday 3 May 2012

Dinner with Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche


On Wednesday night my wife and I had the privilege to join a dinner in honor of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche. A Tibetan monk, who was in Hong Kong to lead a Buddhist retreat.

Born in Tibet and currently residing Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling, a Tibetan monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal. That means, if he is not traveling the world to conduct retreats or holds lectures/teachings. Those are also called Dharma Talks (

Even though he is "top of the line" in his area, there is no arrogance whatsoever. He is very approachable which he shows by having an open door policy on Saturdays. Meaning that anyone can walk in to listen to the teachings on Saturdays (well when he is in the monastery).

Anyway, the dinner was held at a nice small restaurant in Hong Kong with a limited number of guests, that included his entourage. The entourage were so of his Lama's and a few people that acted as translators from Tibetan to English. Having traveled to Tibet and some other areas around there, I was surprised to hear that the majority of the people were not vegetarian. They at beef, fish and of course vegetables. Now, it could be that the people in Tibet I travelled with were following the Bon traditions.

One of the interesting points of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche is that he does show a genuine interest in the people around him. Attempting to understand who they are, where they come from, what they do. And I have heard from a few people that often he does remember. Meaning that if you get to meet him another time he would recall the occasion and who you are.

Another characteristic is that he loves his humor and laughter. We did have lots of fun on the table, and fortunately were lacking any pretentious talks or one way lectures. Being in Hong Kong, taking pictures was obviously a must do thing. Whilst doing that he used the opportunity to joke around a bit as well.

It was not all fun and games, and a number of well..deeper topics were discussed as well. During the conversations the Rinpoche showed to be well informed on current global affairs. And rather than lecturing on how to fix it, he offered some thoughts for people on how they can think about what to contribute to get it fixed. Oh, and he even the topic of Lady Gaga was discussed as she is having her concerts in Hong Kong at the moment.

Rinpoche his facebook page can be found at

Altogether a very interesting and even inspiring evening, especially when putting it in context of busy Hong Kong.


Wednesday 2 May 2012

Dubai Airport Lounges

Recently I had to return to Europe, and a convenient route was to use Emirates. Whatever airline I was going to take, there was no way to escape a stop over on either leg of the route. The stop over in Dubai was going to give me the least hassle. Of course a decent price tag, 30KG luggage allowance (yes economy) and the fact I could fly an A380 for the first time contributed as well.

On of my credit cards has the extra service of providing you with a so called PriorityPass. This company provides a membership service, allowing access to a number of airport lounges. It is an independent programme, so it doesn't really matter which airline or class you fly in order to be able to use the facilities.

As I had some time to kill in Dubai, it was time to find a lounge, have a coffee and maybe some food. Better, a decent place to sit, use the wifi and get the emails send. Dubai airport was quite alive (was there around 0400 local time. With heaps of people wandering around the many shops, Starbucks was full as were many other places that were open. People were sitting everywhere at the airport. Anyway, I choose the Marhaba Lounge, in terminal 3 at DXB. Close to gate 230 which was close to where my ongoing flight was departing from.

As usual, registering at the entrance desk is the first thing you do. As it was fairly busy this took a little while. No worries - as I just had been sitting for hours. After registration, let's pick up a coffee and find a place to sit. Oh, coffee machine broken. Then a juice would do. Food.. hmm most of the storage was empty as well. This as opposite to seating opportunities. The whole place was filled up with people, and shopping bags on tables chairs etc. It did look similar as outside the lounge. Finally found a space on a broken chair to sit down for a bit. So experience in this lounge not that great.

On the way back, I had a way longer time to kill. Getting to 10hrs. Well, it was either spending a little more time Dubai airport or stop and waste time at Bangkok for a bit. So I was hoping for a slightly better experience. This time I went to Terminal one where you can find then "DUBAI INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CLASS LOUNGE" between gates 108-110. The setup is fairly spacious, food and drinks in abundance and during my visit there was sufficient space to sit down as well. The wifi does work and has a decent speed.

Food gets refilled regularly and there is a good variation on cooked, salads and other dishes.

Since there was a time limit, I planned to move on the other Merhaba lounge in Terminal 1. When leaving, the gentleman asked if I wanted to extend though choose not to. When walking through the terminal I couldn't help to notice it was still busy with lots of people sitting, sleeping and hanging out everywhere. Anyway, arriving at the Merhaba lounge the welcome was way better than the one in terminal 3. A friendly smile and rapid service, despite the early hour. The setting was slightly better than terminal 3's lounge as well. Possibly due to the time there was sufficient seating - just about though. Food and drinks were sparsely available as well.

So, the best bet if you have to spend some time at a lounge would be the DUBAI INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CLASS LOUNGE.

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Hong Kong airport providing a nice backdrop

During the last weeks the weather has been one of extremities. We had a good number of days where the temperature hit 30C and had some blue skies.

We had days where the pollution levels were getting so bad that the skies looked brownish or yellowish.

One of the things I like about living where I live now is the view. It covers the airport, mainland, sea and the hills.

With the diversity of weather it provides superb scenery for pictures.