Germany Interlude

The fly-back started off so great…but continued quite disappointing. I had my last project fly-back, paid by my company, thus, Business Class, on 27-APR. The first time with China Eastern, which I in the beginning had some concerns with. But a word of a colleague proved true: They aren’t so long in the long haul business, their planes are brand-new. And so it was: Very comfortable and relaxing.

Arrived in Germany an hour late, but no issue, was still 6am. The sun started to raise into a cloud-less sky, the weather promised to become as great and hot as reported over weeks in the news. I made a very very good decision: I threw my suitcases into a corner of the room, briefly checked my racing bike, which I had not moved for 2.5 years, filled up some air into the tires, loaded 2 bottles with water, changed into some biking wear and off I went: At 7:30 I was cycling out of Frankfurt. Not much traffic yet, fairly chilly. But fresh clear air you never get in Shanghai. As soon as I left Frankfurt behind me I enjoyed nature pure, even saw rare birds (I believe one was a buzzard, another right beside the street was definitely a pheasant). I was pleased to note that my bike ran as smooth as ever and that I was still able to do 50km in a good 2 hours. πŸ˜‰

Back home, after a shower, some sightseeing, some dinner outside in the warm evening air at a restaurant, I wanted to check my mail. And here the disappointing part started: My server did not answer. It was not entirely down as it reacted to a “ping”, but it did not exactly answer either. I couldn’t get it running, even reboot failed. I skip the boring details, but I had to start a lengthy discussion over no less than 6 days with my server provider, finally leading me to quit the contract and move to another provider. The domain “” can’t move that fast…this is why was not available for so long a time (and by the time I write this it still is not yet).

(Addendum 11-MAY-2007: has now been moved to the new server and this site is available under as usual.)

Two other parts of my plans that worked out great was (1) to surprise my mother with attending her birthday πŸ˜‰ she was the only one of the family not knowing that I was coming. And then I was just sitting in a garden chair when she came back home. Also my sister with her husband were there, so that I could enjoy the family once more before touring Asia.

Addendum 11-MAY-2007: And (2) I finally, after 2.5 years, managed again to cycle an “RTF” with 2 friends. We had done this regularly in the years before, but naturally I couldn’t take part while being in China. An RTF (German: “Rad-Touristik-Fahrt”) is a training cycling trip, organized by some local cycling team. This team signposts the way and provides food (mostly bananas) and water at stops every 25km or so. They usually offer tours of 45, 75, 120, and sometimes even 150km. You pay a small start fee (around 4 EUR), receive a start number, and then just follow the signposts as you like. It is not a race, just exercise, although you certainly have the chance to every once in a while join groups of bikers to save energy by cycling within the group in slipstream.

Another difficult story was getting back the luggage I had shipped some weeks earlier. I had to provide one more official piece of paper to confirm I am really living in Frankfurt so that I don’t have to pay taxes for the shipment. I got that paper a bit late, but only to learn, that by the time I finally provided it the luggage had not even yet arrived… Without giving me better planning details I had to wait some more days, not being able to move far away from Frankfurt to be able to receive the shipment once due. That meant I couldn’t get to Hamburg πŸ™ In the end the luggage only arrived this Tuesday…basically yesterday.

The time inbetween I was mostly busy calling various hotlines, checking my insurance (foreign country health insurance!), setting up servers, visiting cafes (well, yes, I did enjoy having a coffee every now and then in Germany’s bright sun), buying this and that I needed for the trip, especially a new camera (Canon Ixus 850 IS) and certainly a backpack. Usually I decide quite quickly when doing shopping. I am not good at that: I buy the first thing I like. But for the backpack I convinced myself to take it serious: That bag was supposed to accompany me for the next 3 months or so. Luckily, Globetrotter Frankfurt has a huge selection on display and each of them packed with some heavy load, ready to try. The size was the first thing to decide. And having my mountain guide Matthias in mind (see Monte Rosa and Kilimanjaro trips), who did these tours with a 40l backpack, and in that even carrying stuff for our good like medical emergency kit, I quickly ruled out the 70-80l category. I finally decided for a just 50+10l “small” backpack. The advantage of a small backpack: You simply cannot carry more than fits in. If you have an 80l backpack you also fill it up. And you woud need to carry it. Good luck, if you are going for hiking in Chinas western mountains or later in Buthan, if that really materializes. Nono, I wanted to restrict myself.

After another brief visit to my parents I packed my bag tonight. Here are the first pictures with the new camera! I believe they are quite a bit better than the pics of my good old companion, the Ixus IIs I bought in Shanghai. Difficult to prove with these 2 pics, but a test picture of clouds in the sky did show it: The Ixus IIs only provides a flat white/gray area, while the 850 IS now clearly draws each an every shade of gray (now, after 2.5 weeks it is finally raining in Germany…the farmers were long waiting for it).

Fra_20070509_181654: This is what I take with me. Not much. Not more needed. So I hope πŸ˜‰ Compare that with the preparation for a just 2-week-trip to Tanzania!

Fra_20070509_190112: And 45 minutes later nearly everything’s in the backpack. It does work! And there’s even still some room left on top! Which I will need…the laptop is not yet in.

Categories: Shanghai

Originally Created: 05/09/2007 11:52:45 PM

Last Edited: 05/11/2007