Thursday, June 10, 2010

First Couple of Weeks in Holland, Italy, and a Potential Hong Kong Throwback in an Old 970X Run

So my last blog post came on one of my first couple of days in Holland. I’ve now been here a bit over two weeks, so I figured another blog post was in order. My first couple of weeks of work have been a bit monotonous. I’ve more or less been told to read up on the industry, learn about the different services SES offers, etc. I have, however, achieved a clearer vision of what exactly it is that I’m supposed to be doing here. From what I gather, I’m to analyze SES World Skies’ 20-25 biggest European customers, tell my supervisor why they buy from us, why they buy from competition, are they buying from us and from competition for different purposes or the same purposes, what is our share of wallet, etc. So yeah, that’s about it on the work front. Had a scavenger hunt around The Hague one of my first days here, we got 2nd out of 6 teams, would have been first had it not been for the raging incompetence of two of our team members, but let’s not go there. Afterwards we all went to a bar (and by we all mean like 40 SES employees) where it was open-bar, paid for by the company. Fairly late night spent talking pre-world cup analysis with the Englishmen.

Last weekend I got to see the family in Italy. I flew down to Rome Thursday night, and was met Friday morning by the 4 in my family, 4 in Uncle Fred’s family, 3 Gabanski’s, 4 Lane’s, 3 Caputo’s, 1 Grammy, and 1 Pop. Yes, that’s 20 people. From there we went to Formia via minibus before taking the ferry to Ventotene. I was there with the family until Monday morning, and on Sunday afternoon we were joined by Uncle Fred’s business partner from Hong Kong, Chanwa, who I hadn’t seen since February, and who has been stranded in France for a few months due to a passport issue. So that was a nice weekend. Also, it turns out, Monday on my journey back to Holland, I did the following: boarded a ferry, which dropped me off at a dock, where I was picked up by a private car, which dropped me at an airport, where I boarded an airplane, which dropped me off at another airport, at which I boarded a train, which dropped me off at a train/bus terminal, where I boarded a bus, which dropped me off at a bus stop from where I walked home. Public. Transport. For. The. Win. Boat to car to plane to train to bus to foot. I then rode a bike to work the next morning.

Next weekend I’m debating pulling the old 970X Special (those from HK, in particular a one Raphael Holca will know why it is so appropriately named) and going to Amsterdam Centraal rail station (or, as Madlien pointed out, Amsterdam’s main bus station, as busses will be much cheaper), and just boarding the next internationally bound bus/train and taking it to the end of the line. This idea would really only work if I was able to take off next Friday, which definitely seems possible. Should I do that, it appears the odds are decent that I’d end up in Paris, as there are something like 12 busses daily and 9 trains, which is vastly more than anywhere else. Other intriguing destinations could include Copenhagen, Berlin, Munich, etc. That being said, I will not be taking a train/bus to Russia if that is the next train/bus, due to visa issues (something like $130 for a visa and you need to do it in advance). As much as I don’t mind doing things on the fly, I don’t like my odds of getting into Russia without paying an arm and a leg should I show up at the border with no visa.

At this point I’ve sort of unexpectedly come to accept the fact that I left behind something great in Hong Kong. Realizing that everyone had their own places to be, things to do, etc., I’m sort of at peace with the fact that we’ll never, ever have that entire crew in the same place ever again, barring some very unexpected series of events. More than anything, however, I miss the stupid random nights where we just either did nothing, played monopoly at uhall, or went out and wrought havoc on HK like only our crew was able to do. If nothing else, I easily take solace in the fact that several solid people are living just north of the border in Canada (Rapha, Divyan, Racist Henry, Caitlin, Mawuena, Matias I’m looking at all of you!), and will be relatively accessible next year. Additionally, I figure anyone who studied abroad in a place as off-beat as Hong Kong will probably be traveling a fair bit in their lifetimes, so I’m sure my path will cross randomly with a fair few people that I met in HK in some odd places over the next few years at least.

Now that what is most likely my last “I miss Hong Kong” rant is over, let’s get back to Holland. Yesterday during my bike ride home from work, I saw the following modes of transportation utilized: car, bus, tram, bike, motorcycle, scooter, ATV, horse, foot. Welcome to Holland. Additionally, the considerable use of horses leads to bike paths being littered with piles of their defecation. Fun. It’s been rainy the last few days. Two days ago I left the office around 5:20pm, when there appeared to be a good break in the rain, blue skies, etc. Rookie error on my part, about 7 mins after leaving the office it started downpouring. Thankfully I was near a bridge, so I just went underneath there, joining about a half dozen other people sheltered from the rain. Luckily, because its Holland, the rain stopped after like 5 minutes, so it was alright. The cafeteria at work continues to be free. This is a result of enormous incompetence by the planners of the place. After a 6 month, several million euro renovation, no one had thought of a way to get money from the employees, so basically last week they ordered the equipment they need, and it takes three weeks to get here. So I’ll be having free lunch for the next 2 weeks or so. It’s also a very high quality of food, and the chef is more or less a legend among men.

These next few weeks have potential to be difficult. Hunter left for the States last weekend, and he won’t return till like the 28th of June, and Sierra is leaving for the States Saturday, so at that point I’ll know a whopping zero people in The Hague under the age of 30. Mr. and Mrs. Sprague are also leaving for the States this weekend, so I’ll have the house to myself for a couple of weeks, which may sound decent, but I anticipate it to be rather boring/lonely, as I don’t really know anyone here of my own age group at this point. Therefore, I ask you all, be available on Skype, as I’ll be bored presumably.

It occurred to me today that I currently know people that I met in HK that are on 6 continents. As said earlier, people who study in Hong Kong apparently enjoy traveling sometimes. A sick part of me is considering going to South America from the 16-22 of August to visit Madlien after her internship, as airfare to South America at that time of year is quite reasonable. This would involve returning from Holland at 3:15pm on the 16th and flying to Bogota at 6:55pm on the 16th, before returning around 4:00pm on the 22nd, and starting class at 9:00am the 23rd. Hence the fact that I said it’s a sick part of me wanting to do such a thing. That being said, it would at the very least be a fitting way to end the summer, and the “2010 Blaine Curcio World Tour”. I guess this is also a fitting place to end this blog post, as I don’t have much more to talk about. If you’ve read this far, hats off to you, I guess you find this sort of thing interesting, and I do appreciate you taking the time to see how I’ve been doing in my time here in Holland.

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