Monthly Archives: June 2013

First consulting project!


For my last module at Hult, I don’t have any classes anymore but an ‘Action Project’ as they call it. It’s basically a real consulting project for a real firm where you are supposed to apply everything you’ve learned so far during your masters.

As you probably already figured out, the company I’ve been assigned is Weight Watchers. We’re doing a more marketing focused project and have 6 weeks time with our team of 5 member to come up with proper recommendations.

It looks challenging because we don’t have a Chinese in our team to translate or explain the local market trends but I’m sure we’ll get there!

And yes, I’m going to attend some of the Weight Watchers meetings an will probably be an expert about there system :). Not really my industry but certainly an educational and interesting experience!

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First time eating Stomach!

Yes, it didn’t take so long before eating the weird Chinese stuff. I met a local Chinese guy through a network I recently joined, and he invited me for a dinner at his university. One of his professors also joined us for dinner and insisted to have a proper traditional dinner. What else could I say but, “Ow yes that would be lovely!” 😉
I would do anything to make this blog more interesting 😉

Besides parts of frogs, where you still had to peal of the skin, and rotten parts of certain trees (also a delicatessen apparently), there was the favorite  food of local students, the outside of a cow’s stomach. On the picture it are the white sliced pieces of meat mixed with salad on the plate on the left.

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The brown things the lady is holding are the ‘rotten tree parts’ and the dish on the right are pieces of pork (including skin, fat, and some other layers I don’t know). The latter is apparently the favorite dish of Mao. Always good to know.

The stomach, as well as the other dishes, didn’t taste that bad. It’s more the texture of the meat and the way it feels in your mouth that you wouldn’t like, rather than the taste itself. And of course this was a nice experience!

Again, getting in touch with locals is by far the best way of doing real cultural things!

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First Teppanyaki!

I did pretty well in doing ‘local stuff’ in the first couple of days while I’m Shanghai :). This blog will be about my first ‘Teppanyaki’ experience.

It is a Japanese way of cooking/eating where the cook is installed at the middle of the table with a big cooking plate and all the guests sit around it. Just have a look at this picture and you’ll quickly know what I mean.

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You order all kinds of food from the menu (mainly by pointing at pictures since the Chinese people here don’t understand English ;)) and then they bring the ingredients to the cook who prepares in front of you.

It’s not only nice to see, it also tasted very well. Ate many different things from prawns, mussels and snails to lamb chops, steak (ow yes, my ‘being-a-vegetarian’ experiment is over after almost 2 months ;)), all prepared in a tasty Japanese way!

The formula is typically a fixed price for ‘all you can eat and dink’. In this it was 238 RMB. If in China or Japan, definitely check this out. But put some time in finding a good one. I’ve heard cheap, low-quality Teppanyaki’s as well.

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First Time at Shanghai!

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Today I arrived at Shanghai! This is the last stop of my rotation program and maybe the most interesting so far! Going to San Francisco and Dubai was pretty convenient. You can adapt quickly and at least you can speak the local language (in Dubai everything is English). Shanghai is a different game! Although they are very modern and civilized, they still do things differently. A lot of modern and western products and services are especially adapted for the Chinese market. Will be interesting to discover!

I will stay here for 7 weeks and do an ‘Action Project’ for a Shanghai based company. Monday I will know which company I will be working for and which other Hult-students will be in my team. This the final part of my masters program that I have to. This is our ‘thesis’ if you like to put it that way.

More updates later!

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First time at a Suq!

During our stay at Muscat, the capital of Oman, we went to visit a ‘Suq’ for the first time. A Suq is some kind of Arabic market held at very tiny streets, only accessible by foot. Some of them are ‘over-arched’, others have open sky.

Walking through it gives a real special feeling and looks something like this:

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Because Muscat isn’t filled tourists, this market doesn’t make you feel like all the market owners are trying to rip you of. The majority of the shoppers were local people so it was nice to blend in and enjoy the walk. Although I didn’t buy anything (don’t have room left in my bag anyway) it was very nice to see the different parts: Gold market, Clothing market, Household materials market, Gifts & Souvenirs Market, etc.

Some parts are nicer than others but you can really have nice time there, just by watching the whole scenery.

Apparently there are Suqs in every major Arabic city, but this is where I visited my first!

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First time at Muscat!

After visiting the former capital Nizwa, we continued our trip to the current capital, Muscat. In proportion with the total population of Oman (almost 4 million), Muscat isn’t a real metropole, but nevertheless a very nice city!

There are many things to visit: mosques, forts, museums, markets, beaches, resorts, etc. The city holds some authentic and old venues as well as more modern places. Overall the city’s architecture is not my kind of thing, but if you know the sweet spots you start appreciating it.

While being a capital it still isn’t very expensive and traffic is not too bad. We went to everything by car and that was pretty convenient to do so.

This is a panoramic picture with the palace of the Sultan (Oman is a Sultanate) at the right.

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The city is completely surrounded by mountains which gives it a very pitoresque feeling.

Whenever in Dubai and having some time left, consider visiting this city!

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First Time at Nizwa!

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During the road trip to Oman that me and my roommate did, we spent 2 night at the former capital of Oman, Nizwa. It hasn’t been the capital for a while now, but still you can see a lot of remains of why and how it once was the capital. It has a beautiful Mosque and an even more impressive fort at the city center.

We paid a visit to the fort. Apparently the first parts of it go back to around 500 A.C., after that it has been made bigger, stronger and larger until the 1500’s. In the 18th century they renovated and reinforced it and since it hasn’t really changed much. Inside there were many chambers for different purposes. Really interesting to see the ingenious way of building the fort to protect it both from enemies and the heat.

This is the view from the top of the main tower (which had many booby-traps to go up there for protection):

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Furthermore we had a drive through the minuscule streets that surrounded the fort. Some were not much wider than 3 m. We got stuck couple of times and of one way directions they had apparently never heard :).

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So, whenever you’re planning to go Oman, put this city on your list and take some time to discover some of its history and hospitality!

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First Time visiting a Muslim family!

Yesterday, while we went to a local Arabic restaurant (read the blog about it here) in Bahla, Oman, we met a local guy named Yahya. He was wondering where we came from and where we were heading to. He was really excited to meet some foreigners and gave his phone number in case we needed anything.

Today, we didn’t really have plans for the evening, so we figured, we might just give him a call and see what he is up to. After a long explanation on the phone (his English wasn’t perfect ;)) he invited us over to his home to have some drinks and have a chat.

We were a bit suspicious about the whole thing since we just met him for 10 minutes, but we decided to give it a go and see where it would take us.

Once arriving at his place we met his family (except for his wife, guess it is a Muslim thing) and talked about a lot of things. He was very friendly and very open to what we had to tell and where we came from. We talked about Oman and its history, about his parents, his family, how we learned English, Egypt, the Arabic Spring, Mecca, Islam, Allah, God, the Ramadan, having multiple wives, and so on. Normally I’m a bit skeptical about some of those things but the way we talked about it and the openness of the conversation made it really interesting and compelling.

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Since we were at his farm he gave us some of the ‘dates’ that he picked from his own trees that day. We also drank some water, that he pumped from his well, as well as some typical Omani/Arabic coffee.

Before we left we had a look at his farm, the plantation as well as the animals (chickens and goats) he had there.

This is the picture we took before leaving:

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I must say, this is one of the best moments of my trip to Oman. Never have I been able to meet an Islamic family in such close way. The hospitality was great and we exchanged contact details for whenever we would meet again!

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First Arabic Food!

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Believe it or not but I hadn’t eaten Arabic in Dubai yet. You can find a lot of Lebanese, Iranian, Italian, Persian restaurant, but not too many Arabic ones. Guess the place is too Western for it?

During the road trip we made through Oman we found a very traditional Arabic restaurant near Bahla. We went in there with our Kandura which made the experience complete. The waiters first thought we were locals since it wasn’t much of a touristy place 😉

As it is traditionally done, you put of your shoes/sandals and sit on the ground. A lot of plates always fill the table (this is apparently a must for a good meal) and off you go.

The meal was really great and less spicy than I expected. If you consider the price of €6 we paid, this was one of the best price/qualities meals in a long while!

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First Time wearing a Kandura!

One of the most iconic things about local Emirati (and other inhabitants of the Middle East) is their way of dressing. The women wear a hijab, niqab or burka, the men wear a thob or a Kandura as they call it in the UAE. In Oman they call it ‘Dishdasha’.

When a local Emirati was sitting I’m my class I asked him about his outfit and he explained to me some of the purposes and that it is more of ‘local’ thing than a religious thing. He also explained to me that a westerner can buy and wear it without any problem. That’s when I really considered buying one 🙂

Not much later I found a shop specialized in making these. Together with my roommate we went there and bought the whole outfit. It consists of the Kandura itself, a white t-shirt to wear underneath it, white thin pants, the head-wear (consisting of the ring and the cloth) and a pair of sandals. We had the Kandura itself tailor made so we had to wait 4 days to pick it up. Total price: 400 AED or about €80. Not too bad and the best souvenir you can get!

Here’s a picture of me and my roommate at the fort in Bahla (Oman) while wearing our Kandura.

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We wore them for 3 whole days. They are really comfortable, a bit too hot for me because of the multiple layers, and not very good to get a suntan because it covers pretty much everything 😉

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