Tuesday, April 08, 2014

At the Mercure Salzburg Hotel

10 Jul 2013:

Thanks to the organizing committee, dinner was arranged for the orchestra at Mercure Salzburg Hotel on our first evening in Salzburg. The rationale was that most of the affordable eating places would have been closed by the early evening.

The dinner at Mercure Salzburg Hotel was a three course dinner with soup, the main course and a dessert. A combination for dinner together with the lovely company of the orchestra mates.

The following day, when it was time for breakfast, I felt grateful for a simple yet pretty delicious breakfast. Generally, I would consider my stay at Mercure Salzburg Hotel to be a positive and pleasant one.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

10 Jul 2013: Mozart's birthplace and more of the evening

10 Jul 2013: Salzburg is a beautiful place. I love the mountains and the skies. I heard that it generally has a relatively wet weather. Thankfully, on our first day at Salzburg, the weather was generally good.

After a leisure stroll along the streets of Salzburg, my friends and I reached Mozart's Birthplace. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in the house at No. 9 Getreidegasse, Salzburg, on 27 Jan 1756. He lived there until 1773. I personally prefer the exhibits in Mozart's Birthplace to those in Mozart's Residence. As photography is not allowed in the exhibition halls, it is best to check the Mozart's Birthplace yourself to see why it is an interesting place. Please allow at least 1.5 hours for the visit.

By the way, during our visit to Mozart's Birthplace, we learnt that the SPAR Supermarket that was just adjacent to the Mozart's Birthplace sells Mirabel Chocolates at a cheaper price than those found in the souvenir shops.

Salzburg has lovely streets. The horses on the streets reminded me of a time in the history when motorised vehicles were not even invented.

St Peter's Abbey.

As my friends and I approached the St Peter's Abbey in Salzburg, we heard a choir singing, and two trumpeters accompanying the choir. Near the back of the church was a cemetery. The St Peter's Abbey is considered one of the oldest monasteries in the German-speaking area. I felt a sense of peace at St Peter's Abbey.

On our way back to the hotel for dinner, we came across a bakery. What caught my eyes were the bread that were shaped to look like musical instruments. Fascinating, aren't they?

The bakery. Photo courtesy of Terence Low.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Read: Dance with Chance

Title: Dance with Chance: Making Luck Work for You
Author: Spyros Makridakis, Robin Hogarth, Anil Gaba
Publisher: OneWorld Publication, 2009

This book was on a list of recommended books to read. When I was at the library, I decided to borrow this book. It took me close to two weeks to finish reading this book.

I find this book quite interesting to read. My favourite chapter is that of "The inevitability of decisions".

In the preface, the authors stated that the goal of the book was to help people make better decisions in situations where accurate forecasting is just not possible. There is uncertainty and limits to predictability. When we can recognize what exactly can and cannot be predicted, can we manage realistically the uncertainty in our lives.

This book seems to discuss partly on risk management. The authors pointed out two kinds of risks: subways and coconuts. The former is predictable most of the time whereas the latter cannot be predicted and planned for. It seems like there are some things we cannot predict. The authors suggested a "Triple A" strategy to handling uncertainty:
1) Accept that there are things beyond our control in an uncertain world.
2) Assess the level of uncertainty that we are facing using the available inputs, models, data.
3) Augment the assessment of the level of uncertainty that we are facing. This can be done in two ways. One way is by exploiting the hindsight to imagine what could be a realistic-sounding situation if we were to fast forward into the future and look back at what had 'happened'. The second way is to obtain the data and double the range that is obtained.

For myself, the concepts of the use of sminking (for repetitive decisions), effective thinking (for unique decisions), using experts, blinking, use of emotions so as to make better decisions were pretty intriguing.

In a world filled with uncertainties, this book lends us insights on the illusion of control and the issue of how luck operates. I am pleased with this read.

Also read: The illusion of control: dancing with chance by Cynthia Owens, 4 May 2009

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Teach a Life, for Life


One of my friends, Eileen Chai, is writing a book entitled Teach a Life, for Life, and producing an original song that is live looped on violin with vocals Enjoy the Ride. Both the book and the song will be launched in June 2014.

This book and song project is intended to inspire people to discover their strengths and overcome difficulties, to encourage the young ones to understand the meaning of resilience, commitment and friendship, in their life journey, and to motivate people to embrace challenges as there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

The process of publishing the book will require editorial work, illustration of cover, book formatting, printing, binding, distribution and promotion. To produce the song, funds will be needed for recording, editing, mixing and mastering. If the cause of this project moves you and you would like to make a pledge towards a part of the funding of this project, please refer to these URL links for more information: 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Places: Reliving Haw Par Villa

Photo courtesy of Belinda Tan.

If you have missed this weekend's Reliving Haw Par Villa, you may wish to set aside time for this event the following weekend. Here is an account of my visit to Haw Par Villa this weekend: Places: Reliving Haw Par Villa.

Reliving Haw Par Villa

262 Pasir Panjang Rd, Singapore 118628

15, 16 , 22, 23 March 2014

9.30 a.m. - 6.00 p.m.

Admission is free.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Read: Harford's Adapt

Title: Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure
Author: Tim Harford
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

This is a book that I had picked from the library shelves. I could have caught glimpses of this book a few years ago at the bookstores yet did not get to read it. Although this book cover and the content did not look attractive, I decided it was worthwhile to read the book.

In this book, Tim Harford discusses new and inspiring approaches to solving the most complex and pressing issues in our life. It appears that the world has become far too unpredictable and profoundly complex. The notion that is put forth is that we must learn to adapt.

Harford presents many case examples to explain the necessary ingredients for turning failure into success.

One of my take-aways from reading the book was the Palchinsky principles:
1) First, seek out new ideas and try new things. (variation)
2) Second, when trying something new, do it on a scale where failure is survivable. (survivability)
3) Third, seek out feedback and learn from your mistakes as you go along. (selection)

This unexpected read has not been one of the most accessible reading since I was not familiar with a number of the examples. Nevertheless, it has brought me to look at failures in a slightly different way.

Friday, March 07, 2014

10 Jul 2013: Salzburg's exploration

10 Jul 2013:

We reached Salzburg in the afternoon after spending some hours on the coach. The first thing to do was to unload our luggage in the hotel room. Thereafter, I joined a group of friends to head towards the Mirabellgarten (Mirabell Garden). We came across a food station that serves sausages and more, so we indulged ourselves.

After savouring the sausages and more, we continued our journey to Mirabell Garden. This is one of the filming locations of the Sound of Music. A beautiful place to visit.

Mirabell Garden

After spending a considerable amount of time there, we found our way to the Mozart Residence. We learnt that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived in that house from 1773 until 1780. Photography is not allowed in the exhibition galleries of the Mozart Residence. What I remember viewing in the Mozart Residence is many portraits of Mozart. The unfinished portrait of Mozart by Joseph Lange is said to most resemble Mozart. If time is a constraint, I would prefer to visit the Mozart's Birthplace to the Mozart Residence.

In the background is Mozart Residence in Salzburg.

My most memorable views of Salzburg seem to revolve around the river Salzach. Life seemed to calm itself down in Salzburg. Our next destination would be Mozart's Birthplace.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

10 Jul 2013: From Vienna to Salzburg

10 Jul 2013 (Wed):

The memories from the previous night's Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival's Farewell Reception was still vividly in my mind and soon it was already time to bid farewell to Vienna.

After breakfast at Hotel Airo Tower, the beautiful sunshine prompted me to check out the nearby park. I saw plants that looked like wheat. How beautiful they looked when the morning sunshine shone on them.

Soon enough, our coaches that would take us to Salzburg came. The sceneries along the way was beautiful. On our way to Salzburg, we took a break at a restaurant-cum-rest station called Landzeit. I have to say that the ice-cream from Landzeit was delicious. The food there looked good too.

Nearby Landzeit restaurant, there was a spot to catch beautiful views of the fields and the countryside. It's a blessing to experience the beauty of the countryside. Soon, we would be reaching Salzburg.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

6 Jul 2013: From Prague to Vienna

On 6 Jul 2013, the orchestra was ready to head to Vienna for the Summa Cum Laude International Music Festival's Opening Ceremony. The coach journey took more than four hours as best as I could remember. On the coach, I was either catching up on my winks or watching the beautiful scenery from my seat. 

I was feeling thankful that the moving of instruments had been well planned. There were numerous instruments on board.

When we reached Hotel Airo Tower, our group merely left our luggage and instruments in a holding area before taking another coach to head for the St Stephen Cathedral. We were to be there for the SCL Festival Opening Ceremony.

As no coach is allowed to park near the St Stephen Cathedral, we had the pleasure to do some good walking along the streets of Vienna after the coach allowed us to alight near a tram station. Vienna has beautiful trams in my humble opinion. 

It was a pretty hot day that day. Thankfully we were wearing polo T-shirts as our attire for the Opening Ceremony. More meaningful days in Vienna were to come.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Places: Visited "Secrets of the Fallen Pagoda"

I heard about the latest special exhibition held at the Asian Civilisations Museum and decided to check out Secrets of the Fallen Pagoda: Treasures from Famen Temple and the Tang court. Here's a link to an account of my visit: Places: Visited "Secrets of the Fallen Pagoda".

Secrets of the Fallen Pagoda: Treasures from Famen Temple and the Tang Court
17 January to 4 May 2014
Asian Civilisations Museum

Saturday, February 01, 2014

5 Jul 2013: The Prague Loreto and the rest of the evening

5 Jul 2013:
After visiting the Prague Castle, my friends suggested visiting the Prague Loreto Chapel. It is said to be a remarkable Baroque historic monument. I do not quite understand the historic significance of the place, yet it is a beautiful chapel to admire.

This chapel, I learnt, houses liturgical treasures including the famous star-shaped Sun of Prague which is studded with 6222 diamonds. I did not have a chance to see the Sun of Prague. Nevertheless, I marvelled at the beauty of the Prague Loreta Chapel against the evening skies.

When the skies were about to turn dark, we took tram service number 22 to head to a place for dinner. While waiting for the tram, we saw a red car speeding about.

Eventually, we decided upon having dinner at the Music Club located in Hotel U Zlateho Stromu, Prague. The pizzas there were reasonably priced and pretty delicious. This is a place for value-for-money pizza. I would have preferred outdoor seating. Then again, there were no available seats outdoor, so we had the indoor seats. Dinner was good.

After the dinner, we took a leisure walk about Charles Bridge. The Prague Castle that was located at a distance away looked beautiful against the evening skies.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

5 Jul 2013: The Prague Castle

The Prague Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It consists of palaces and buildings of various architectural styles, from Roman-style buildings from the 10th century through Gothic modification in the 14 century.

The Prague Castle is open daily from 05:00 - 24:00 in the summer season. Be prepared to walk quite a bit. A good pair of walking shoes will be essential when visiting the Prague Castle.

The views from the Prague Castle was breathtaking. I fell in love with Prague thanks to the lovely views.

For reasons that I do not know, the St. Vitus Cathedral was closed by the time my friends and I reached at about 4.40 p.m. The best way I could get a glimpse of the interior of the cathedral was through a copy of the postcard that I have managed to get my hands on.

St Vitus Cathedral.

During my visit, I saw the guards of the Prague Castle from a relatively close distance. That was an unexpected pleasant surprise.

St Vitus Cathedral. Photo courtesy of Terence Low.

The visit to the Prague Castle felt as if it was a short one. Then again, I had left the place with the impression that it is one of the most beautiful castles that I have visited yet.

A beautiful evening that we had. Many thanks to my friends for leading the way to the castle and for their travelling companionship.