Friday, April 30, 2010

Summer cities in Southern Germany, München

WEEKEND TODAY, April 24 - 25, 2010, TRAVEL, PAGE T26
Trixia Carungcong,

PHOTO: Neuschwanstein. SIA and other airlines have resumed operations to Europe. That’s good news, because summer in Europe is too beautiful to pass up. Here’s a quick guide to a focussed experience in Munich and Zurich
WEEKEND TODAY, April 24 - 25, 2010, TRAVEL, PAGE T26

The Bavarian capital effortlessly blends its old-world charm with a modern vibe, attracting visitors to its numerous museums, theatres, parks and beer halls. Competitive and affluent, Munich is nevertheless known, and envied, for its laid-back lifestyle.

PHOTO: Image of Bavaria, Germany, Bavaria on Oct 2006

Two days is barely enough to get a feel of the city, but here’s what you can do:

PHOTO: Viktualienmarkt mit Blumenständen (Flower stands)

Day 1
9am: Head to Viktualienmkt, the open-air market in the city centre, for a traditional breakfast of white sausage and brezel. Skin the sausages, which are made of veal and pork and flavoured with onions and parsley, before dipping the tasty bits in sweet mustard.

PHOTO: München - Viktualienmarkt by zen-foto

PHOTO: View over city hall and Marienplatz (the square)

At 11am, watch the famous Glockenspiel, or clockwork theatre, at the new town hall in Marienplatz. The building’s balcony is usually where soccer club Bayern Munich would greet the public after winning the Bundesliga championship or a major international title.

PHOTO: 2002-09-22a Marienplatz Gary2

PHOTO: Olympic Tower - Munich, Germany

11.30am: Take the underground to the Olympic Park, site of the 1972 Summer Games. Have a quick lunch at the revolving restaurant in the Olympic Tower (, which offers a 360-degree view of the area.

PHOTO: Munich Olympic Park taken from the viewing decks of the Olympic Tower

PHOTO: Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) LOGO

Then walk over to BMW Museum ( to see the history of the car company from its beginnings as an aircraft engine producer.

PHOTO: The world BMW headquarters in the Bavarian homeland.

Because this is Germany, even four-year-olds come here to see the exhibit. Bavarian Motor Works’ headquarters is at the iconic four-cylinder building beside the “salad bowl” building housing the museum. If you’d like to check out new cars and motorcycles, head to BMW World across the road.

PHOTO: Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) headquarters, iconic four-cylinder building beside the “salad bowl” building housing the museum

PHOTO: Kaufinger Strasse, Munich

PHOTO: Deutsches Museum von Meisterwerken der Naturwissenschaft und Technik München
(German Museum at Munich housed the Masterpieces of Science and Technology)

4pm: Depending on how you want to spend your afternoon in Munich, there’s the Deutsches Museum (, the world’s largest museum of technology and science. Or walk through Kaufinger Strasse, a main shopping district.

PHOTO: Kaufinger Strasse, Munich

PHOTO: Kaufinger Straße

PHOTO: Trees and bridges and the tower of the Deutsches Museum

PHOTO: Deutsches Museum. It's the biggest technology museum of the world.

PHOTO: Allianz Arena Pahu

If you’re a Bayern Munich fan, head down to Allianz Arena ( which also hosted the opening game of World Cup 2006.

PHOTO: Allianz Arena

PHOTO: Allianz Arena Bayern Munich

PHOTO: Allianz Arena - the new Munich Stadium

PHOTO: Schema Allianz Arena

PHOTO: Hofbrauhaus - Wikimedia Commons

7pm: No visit is complete without a stop at Hofbrauhaus (, dubbed the most famous beer hall in the world. There is live music on the ground floor and in the beer garden, or if you prefer some quiet, head upstairs to the first floor. You can also visit the other five main breweries in Munich that are allowed to serve beer during Oktoberfest, Augustiner, Lowenbrau, Hacker-Pschorr, Paulaner and Spaten-Franziskaner.

PHOTO: hofbrauhaus beer stein












PHOTO: Schwangau on May 2008
Neuschwanstein Castle is a famous German castle in Schwangau, Bavaria, built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria

Day 2
8am: Venture beyond Munich to Schwangau region (, popular for the castles of King Ludwig II.

PHOTO: He gave it the new name “Hohenschwangau

You can take a train to Fussen, then a bus to the village. Walk up to Marien Bridge for postcard views of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles, before visiting Hohenschwangau, the royal family’s summer residence and once the seat of the knights of Schwangau in the Middle Ages.

Remember to wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk up narrow, winding flights of stairs.

PHOTO: Hohenschwangau Castle, seen from Neuschwanstein

PHOTO: View from the Hotel Alpenstuben

Noon: Ask for a traditional lunch at Hotel Alpenstuben (, which occupies a farmhouse that dates back to the 18th century, and pick up some souvenirs from the shops outside.

PHOTO: Hotel Alpenstuben

2pm: Continue on to Neuschwanstein, the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle, by bus or horse-drawn carriage. Built in medieval style, its murals are a tribute to the works of composer Richard Wagner.

PHOTO: Neuschwanstein Castle.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

PHOTO: Neuschwanstein Castle Bavaria Germany - 2 Picture




4pm: Head back to the city, and if you’re flying out from Munich Airport (, wind up your trip at Airbrau ( Munich is the first airport in the world to have its own brewery.

By Trixia Carungcong,
The writer’s trip was made possible by Singapore Airlines, Munich Airport, Munich Tourism and Switzerland Tourism


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Count your blessings not troubles

Email your letters to
Tabitha Wang

PHOTO: Simple church version of Count Your Blessings

Budget tai tai count your blessings
Times are hard, but Singaporeans shouldn’t grumble

Maybe we should stop seeing the Government as our parents, expecting them to shelter us from all harm all the time. Banks collapse, economies fail, property prices balloon ... these things happen.

A friend recently lost his job. He had been working with the same firm for 20-odd years and had anticipated retiring from that company in a few years’ time.

PHOTO: letter C...and you are invited to count your blessings along with me.

Instead, the bosses called him into a room, told him his work was unsatisfactory and fired him on the spot. All he had to show for almost all his working life was two months’ pay in lieu of notice.

As an American working for a British company in Singapore, he found he was not protected by any country’s law. He tried to sue for compensation but all the lawyers he consulted, whether in his home country or host country, told him he had no case.

To make matters worse, he and his family had to leave Singapore almost immediately because his employment pass had been cancelled by his firm.

His kids, who had lived in Singapore all their lives, had to leave their school mid-term while he and his wife scrambled to look for somewhere suitable to live.

The whole thing was a mess.

PHOTO: Count your blessings, not your troubles

When I met him in Hong Kong, he looked like he had aged 10 years in a couple of months. He was bitter, angry with everything in general.

I could well understand this unfocused rage, because I have had lots of it myself.

As you know, my husband too lost his job in Hong Kong. Since then, he has been applying assiduously (Constant in application or attention; diligent) for one position after another.

It’s been soul destroying to see all his applications come to nothing. He was over-qualified, said some, not experienced enough, said others.

Mindful of advice to “just accept anything”, he tried for jobs as shop assistants, only to be passed over for someone with more experience.

Even driving a taxi is out of the question.

Unlike in Singapore, licences in Hong Kong are controlled by individuals. It costs HK$4 million ($706,000) for a licence for a taxi and HK$6.5 million for one to drive a minibus.

As we are in a foreign country, we can’t look to anyone for help. Yes, there are times when I feel like lashing out at someone, anyone.


But apart from my husband’s unfeeling ex-employers, who can I blame?

Since my earlier column on hardship allowances, I’ve been accused of being anti-expat. How can I be, seeing as I’m one myself?

I may be anti-fat cat bonuses but I have a lot of sympathy for expats struggling to make a living on local terms.


Especially when you have no one to rely upon but yourself. There is no “gahmen” to blame or call upon to get you out of your mess.

Our Minister Mentor once called Singaporeans “champion grumblers”. Well, Hong Kongers are too.

Get into a Hong Kong taxi and the driver is full of opinions about what the government should do. My local friends are always railing against this policy or other.

I told a colleague about my American friend’s dilemma and she immediately said: “The Government should do something about it.” It is exactly the same when I read some Singapore blogs, which start with “the Government should ... ” followed by “dampen rising house prices/create more jobs for Singaporeans/stop closing down wet markets ...

Maybe the Government should. But maybe we should stop seeing the Government as our parents, expecting them to shelter us from all harm all the time.

PHOTO: TODAY, Thursday April 22, 2010, BUSSINESS, PAGE b4 (OWELL Bodycare - A Mother's Love, A Timeless Gift)

Banks collapse, economies fail, property prices balloon ... these things happen.

We can wait for the Government to come up with policies to shield us from the fallout. Or we can just hunker down and try to work things out ourselves.

Can’t find a job? It’s painful, but shouldn’t you be concentrating your efforts in looking for one rather than writing blogs against foreign workers?

Can’t afford that penthouse unit in Bishan but have a point-block flat in Bedok?

You still have a roof over your head. At least you have an HDB flat rather than squatter homes or wire mesh cages; yes, they still exist in Hong Kong.

So, if you have a job, a roof over your head and a full tummy, what more could you ask for?

PHOTO: Count your blessings instead of your calories.

Unless it’s for the Geylang Lorong 9 beef kway teow shop to start franchising. Now, that would be a cause worth fighting for.
By Tabitha Wang

Tabitha Wang wonders which Government department she should complain to if volcanoes spoil her holiday.

PHOTO: The Ultimate Start-Up Space Winner Jamie Koh & Cherilyn Tan


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