FR : Strasbourg ‘the Christmas’ Photowalk

Dec 6, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: Activities, France, Photography
Strasbourg Photowalk

Strasbourg 'the Christmas' first Photowalk


We will be holding our first Strasbourg Photowalk honoring this city for it’s 441 year long ‘Noel’ tradition. December 11. If we are not done, we could go back.





FR : French horses

Jul 10, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: Activities, France

First Horse Riding Experience was had here in Strasbourg

Hooray to the existence of groupons, especially for this one. It’s such a great discovery point to try some new random activities in the area. I don’t know when would I have ever thought to try riding a horse. Of course, thank the most to Guillaume who knew a thing or two about this having done it when he as younger. He organized this event with me, Sebastien, and joining us on the second trip Sebastien’s sister Marine. We got to go try out some horse riding lessons 2 Saturdays in a roll for  19€ per person. These lessons normally costs 30€ per each visit. We went for it this past couple of weekend. It’s July 2011. The weather was sunny and couldn’t be any more perfect.

Due to the common sense of a newbie rider on a horse, I couldn’t bring on me a camera. Pictures included are mostly limited when my feet were on the ground walking around surveying the horse’s den.

This was my first extensive visit near a horse. I had no idea what to expect. Of course, my first unreasonable ‘instinct’ was that I was going to get bitten, or kicked from behind one. Probably how I would die, the first ever on this ranch. I don’t know. They are big, full of muscles, and freaky looking to be honest. Their big eyes suggest a lot should go on in there. Every time they move, I kept wanting to let them ‘do what they want’. This kind of thought – apparently – wasn’t how you should deal with horses. I was instructed to recognize their ear signs, or their natural behaviors, which rely a lot on human control and queuing. Maybe not so “natural” behaviors as exist in the wild…perse, but more like as exist in this world where horse and people co-exist, I guess.

These horses get broken in, as taming and training normally are done with many animals that live with us humans….which has gone on for centuries. Riding on one, after overcoming the disorientation normal for doing something new, there was a rush the intrigue of everything that goes into it. Started from what I see, the saddle, the thing for the rider’s feet, the thing for the horse’s head, mouth, … All these accessories were invented and evolved through time for to be the most effective possible. How to control a horse, to turn left or right only needed very subtle pulling movement, and the stopping by pulling on both and up high. To how their feet were feeling, how their skinny legs are able to carry so much weights. I was almost overwhelmed though I made sure I remain externally calm and collected.

All these controls are the way it is probably for knowing the nature of the animal for all these centuries. I mean, you can make a cat stop walking by pulling on it’s tail, that’s the same thing, right? (That’s what I did to my cats). What I had the hardest time with was to get the horse to go faster by tapping my legs on her body. Well, that was the problem, I insisted on tapping when what was required was to slam my feet (back of legs for maximum strength assertion) on to her mid body. And from what I learned with my particular horse, Miss Pastel, she needed a lot more than that. It became clear that I was a bit too timid (เกรงใจ in Thai) to inconvenience the horse for my puny demands. She would have loved to run a lot more faster, probably. All that capability unfulfilled by having a newbie like me on her back who doesn’t know how to make her go faster. Then my reoccurring thought drifted on how fat I am and it probably doesn’t feel comfortable for the horse.. How the horse knows that I’m incompetence… How she might try funny things to let me know she doesn’t want to take shit from me…. And how I’d have no way to counter that… You know, when you don’t have information on something, your projections, and some insecurities come out. Great stuff.

So I learned how to (or supposed to) lift your butt up with your legs when the horse trots. This is to prevent your heavy butts on hurting the horse’s spine. Okay, so my thought went immediately for this issue thinking that I’m going to damage the horse if I don’t do it correctly. That sent me on an awkward forceful butt lifting. I didn’t have to see it but I know it must have looked very awkward. The second lesson when I was a little less freaked out, I tried better to find to get along with the horse’s rhythm. That seemed okay to prevent the possible injury. And obviously if you are going to be a dead weight on the horse as to hurt it, you’d have to be really really heavy and very sticky on their back. Geez. The bouncing is not a gentle thing. It sends you right up anyway, might as well learn to go with it correctly.. And for THAT, I want to tag this as an exercise post. Because I can think of NOTHING ELSE that gives you such a thigh exercise as much as this. Holy hell, I was quite impressed. That, and along with the slamming of the crotch that made me wonder the type of clothing designed for this. Now that I’m on the computer, I just googled and found the ‘secret’ underwears the pro looking people wear for cushioning the blow in this highly sensitive area of your body.. where some of peoples’ souls also reside.

A little bit about this place. Haras des Bussières, is set outside of Strasbourg to the North by about a half of an hour drive. The set up was impressive with the giant barn where there was an office right in the front in the middle. Both sides were where they house the horses. To the main barn’s left, there’s a jumping track for those skilled riders. This field is located next to another stand alone barn in the back where we new adult students learn to make the horse go in circle slowly. The indoor riding field for the kids are located right in the center of the main barn. You can see it from the tiny office area. That was my first impression of the horse riding, with these little girls on the little horses – super cute in the uppidy class kinda way. I mean, horse riding isn’t for the poor, sadly. Unless, as I discussed this with a friend, you were an indigenous Mongolian. But somehow, I hope that if I ever had kids, they will have to know how to ride a horse wherever it can be made possible. Maybe this place here. The people were extremely nice. The trainer we had was very kind and patient with us. And the best thing about this place, I think, is the more forestry trail you can take a walk on foot or on a horse. A different kind of leisure, I suppose… a beautiful place nonetheless. We will try to save some money aside to be able to go back there about once a month.


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FR : Strasbourg Shopping

Jul 1, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: France, Shopping
Place de l'Homme de fer

Place de l'Homme de fer Strasbourg, France

Discovering Shops in Strasbourg

I had a small duty of picking up for my lovely fiancé some new shirts. Simple enough for me to venture out into this, still strange to me, outside world. He told me specifically where to go get the good deals on clothing. Even showed me in person the store that was then closed when we were in the area on foot a few days ago. But the French’s Summer Sales going on now (regionally lasts a month from last week of June to last week of July,) lured me to explore for different shops. Since I do not have a car, I rely still on their tramway system. This limits me to my specific memory of having ridden about 25 times mostly the same B and F Tram lines. I naturally go to Homme de Fer, the town commercial center. I remember some shops in the area I liked. This did not provide any satisfactory results. Shops in this area, even with their large read letter displays of SOLDES (SALES), does not mean you should buy anything at their ridiculous prices. A lot of brand name stores. Simple jeans can still go for about 80-100 euros. F that. So I searched on.

It is amazing the price differences from store to store. Of course, brands have a lot to do with it, as well as the type of store you finding yourself in. Homme de Fer area housed one of the fanciest stores namely Galleries Lafayette, and various other over priced variety of store names. Unlike many commercial shopping district such as the Rodeo in Beverly Hills, this area has a mix of smaller stores selling Chinese import clothing for cheap as well. I didn’t prefer the quality that I found so I marched on around straying off of the main foot traffic, but still sort of following ‘the herd’ to this other area where I found Place des Halles (, one of the largest and oldest shopping mall in town. With the sales going on, finally I had a better time shopping. At least I appreciate more the options presented. I know there are better deals to be had in a different area of town. I’ll get there some day when I don’t have to rely on the Tram as my main transportation. Tram lines are only limited to a few direction, much like the artery of the city. The bus system isn’t so bad, but I can’t be bothered right now. For this moment, I recommend this place. The French also have Winter Sales too!


Agrandir le plan

FR : Strasbourg Krav Maga group

Nov 10, 2010 by     No Comments    Posted under: Activities, Fight Sports, France, Krav Maga
KRAV MAGA à Strasbourg

Krav Maga in Strasbourg


Krav Maga in North Eastern France – Found

Another way for me to feel like home in a land where I do not speak the language is to get into this. I scoped out right away and found a solid group established and exist here in Strasbourg since 1997. Gilles Hassine, the head instructor/owner has tons of credits and experiences including having 3rd degree black belt and some kick boxing championship credential. Being a half Tunisian, half Israeli, gave him unique background, I think. His credentials are long, his techniques are clean, also he is a very nice guy who’s pretty much welcome my interest to join. And just like a lot of black belt people I sort of know, he’s also pretty funny. Best of all, of course, he’s a great instructor. It’s not difficult to notice how he keeps an eye out on all students, being very aware of their levels.

I had been to the class/seminar just twice. Gilles accommodated me by finding someone that can communicate to me in English. Although such people often were very skilled trainee, one was a soldier. He was helpful and instructive, but partnering up with him was like fighting a rock and I was a worm. Same with when I had to partner with another assistant of Gilles’s in a fighting seminar. I was punched in the head that startled me more than hurt me, but it was a good punch by someone who clearly was far superior in skills. I need to bring it better and stop laughing so much when I get nervous.

I look forward to make Strasbourg Krav Maga my new home.

FR : The French home part 2

Sep 13, 2010 by     No Comments    Posted under: Daily life, France
Medium Coffee Cups

These were gifts from Grandma Marie-Luis

Powering up : The Electrical Outlets/Plugs, and Coffee Cups

Naturally for a frequent computer user,… which most of us are these days,  the first 2 thing that comes to the priority list once you arrived to some new place includes in the top are the power plug and…. coffee!

Ah, the French…. I had just one plug converter to make use of my laptop power cord. Right away I didn’t have enough. To buy one adaptor for each US power plug soon proved to be impractical. My next noted solution is to pick up an extension cord/multiple outlet power supply the next time I’m in the US. ‘Cause I’ll tell you, little electrical things cost so much money here. Those and stationary like notebooks and blank CDs. Apparently the French are huge into cutting down the use of papers and they are anti copying stuff.

The physical look of their plugs and outlets are quite impressive to me. They seem durable, heavy duty, industrial like. I can get with that. According to this wikipedia, it is a “type E”, out of over a dozen types around the world. The wiki page is a fun glance at the variety of them, many are obsolete. Just makes me wonder why it wasn’t standardized at the first place when they invented electricity. Perhaps I should read the history article.

Now. More importantly than getting the electrical power up in your devices, it’s the caffeine power…. I hope you won’t be as disappointed as I was to find their TINY COFFEE CUPS to be less than adequate in this matter. I honestly can do away with the supersize nature of American food consumption overall except for this one. Reflecting upon my own past experiences, I can not recall at what point large cups of coffee became my daily requirement. I remember that at some point, I’d be fine having gone a day or two without food as long as there’s a pot of coffee hanging around. Not the healthiest, I know, but it was fine.

Naturally it became my obsession to sort of snuff at their coffee cups everywhere I go. They do snuff right back at me for always having my coffee with milk, saying that it’s not coffee anymore. “Do you know what they call coffee with milk in the U.S.?” I ask. Often the French target says no. “Café au lait”, haha… imagine that. Why is it called in French if it’s so uncommon to them? Silly. Among other things that you’d be surprised for the French to not know associated to them is the “French press”, and “French Roast” (not my favorite anyway). I look forward to bring this up again and again to the next French person who looks at me funny when I ask for milk with my coffee.


FR : The French home part 1

Sep 10, 2010 by     No Comments    Posted under: Daily life, France
Snap shot of a house

Random house

Their toilets, Shower, and Windows

When I got here the first time, I came into an apartment that was needing some work. My boyfriend’s place is on the 6th floor of this building in Montagne Verte area south west of Strasbourg. His wall is still raw of partially torn out old wall papers. The kitchen was partially function. That was nothing new to my knowledge of a habitable structure. But the differences, however common it maybe for others, I still took my personal time to enjoy, or trip out on littlest of things. Below are some of my first impressions. More soon.

The toilets – they are located in a separate room than the bathrooms. So you’d ask for toilet if you wish to use the toilet, not where the bathroom is.

The bath/shower – they come with shower heads that do not hang over your head. They just sort of rest on this weird housing on top of the hot/cold water knobs down below. I had to ask them to explain to me how do they shower. Apparently they are satisfied with a one hand holding up the shower head system. This I can not get used to.

The windows – Seriously I really honestly thought for a freakish few seconds that they were BROKEN. The top two corners of the windows seem to loose a hinge. I freaked out the first time I operated one, to simply open a window. The top of it angle toward me and I thought it was going to fall on me. Whew. Luckily it’s just one of many little things that the French has here that makes me wonder why it doesn’t exist somewhere else I’d ever been? The windows, and similar type doors, have 3 positions for the handle. When you point to 12 o’clock, you get the top window to ajar. When you point to 3 o’clock, you get to open the window like how we all know to open a window. And when you point the handle down to 6 o’clock, that’s when you get it into lock.  Another thing about these windows, which apparently I can go on and on about, they are DOUBLE glass. This helps the insulation during the harsh weather season. Also common, is the roll down metal shutter outside the window to provide complete darkness and/or security when you want to. The windows themselves are obviously newly designed. What I love the most about seeing them is how they are commonly fitted in with the existing windows of very old structures.


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