Ceddy's Random Vlog

Monday, May 6, 2019



Technology Everywhere...


We cannot deny the fact that technology is almost everywhere. We use it on our daily basis. AI or Artificial Intelligence being used in this modern era. From your car to your smartphones, everything. And one thing that caught my attention these days, is the rise of smart speakers.

Gone Are The Days...


As far as I remember, Smart speaker was firstly introduced by Amazon, 5 years ago.
I was not interested in it before, as I am happy with my iPhone 6splus that comes with Siri too (It was a big deal for me since I am locked to the Apple Ecosystem). Don't get me wrong. I love Siri, Siri is very smart. Though I find it difficult for Siri to pick up my voice especially if the device is connected to big speakers or if I'm using my Airpods,  or sometimes it will freeze, but that's another story.

The Echo Dot 3...


Anyways, Back to Echo Dot 3. Things changed drastically and fast forward this 2019, I decided to purchase one of Amazon's latest smart speaker. With smart speakers, like the Echo Dot 3, It can do anything. You can ask to play a music or your curated playlist , it can control your Audio/Visual System or simply asking to set a timer or alarm, it can book a lyft or Uber or order some paper towels or check the weather forecast, check some nearby restaurants, make a phone call and the list goes on and on. So far, I ask Alexa to set an alarm, loop my playlist and order some food on the nearby restaurant, which is very convenient.

Why I Choose This Smart Speaker?...


The main reason why I bought this smart speaker, it's because of the "personal assistant" thing.
When I started using it. It's now easy for me to check my scheduled appointments and meetings with my boss and client, and Alexa can remind me about any scheduled meetings.
I can ask Alexa to send an immediate reply from the clients without opening my other pc  (I am using a laptop and a pc simultaneously and its difficult for me to swap every time
just to respond). It's very helpful and hands-free as well. It helps me a lot to increase my productivity.

So without further ado, Here is my unboxing review of the Amazon Echo Dot 3



Small Packaging, Comes with Big Features

And so does the box itself. I purchase the Amazon Echo Dot 3 for $55 dollars or 199 dirhams.
I was thinking to buy its counterpart, the Google Home Mini, but after reading some reviews, I decided to go with Echo Dot 3, cause it can support a 3.5 mm output jack to connect your external speakers that Google Home Mini doesn't have.





Enough of the outside. Let's check what's inside


Hmmm.. I thought the color was black. But kinda, Echo Dot 3 is available from 3 colors.
Heather Gray, Charcoal and Sandstone (white)... 



The previous 2nd generation of Echo Dot was a bit more looking cheap, a plasticky feel.
However, the 3rd generation looks neat and more stylish. The mesh fabric coated on the echo dot 3 is more looking better and the built quality is superb.



What's more inside?


The echo dot 3 comes with U.S.A standard adapter.
I was surprised because I thought they will supply a power cord intended for UAE consumer, however its different. They had included the same power cord which they use in the USA. Good thing, my extension cord can support any adapter prongs.











And of course, Documentations...As always

Manual guides and some leaflets for your information...





And here's the beast...


The oddly satisfying mesh fabric that coats the speaker.
It comes with a minimalist design. Which is very straightforward. 4 buttons and the ring light. That's it




Echo Dot comes with a feature of Far-Field Voice Recognition.


With the help of the 4 microphones, It can easily detect your voice even you are far from the device.
I tried it and it is impressive. I call "Alexa" 7 meters away and still, it can detect my voice.







So far, I am highly satisfied with this product and I am planning to add more accessories from it.
I'm looking forward to purchasing a table lamp which is currently supported by Alexa. Manufacturers like Philips Hue has it. For now, I am still discovering more of its features...

Though this smart speaker is not for everyone, It's good to try at least once in a while. To experience this type of technology was a game changer for me. I remember seeing this on a sci-fi drama and now, it became a reality.

Thanks for reading my quick unboxing review.

Don't forget to share this content, subscribe and like my social media pages.

--Ceddy


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

 

Captivating Georgia





Travel once a year to a place that you never visited. Once a year is not bad, isn't it?
I prefer to visit places where snow exists.


 I'm working in the Middle East, the winter in Abu Dhabi is not as cold as other places that I visited before (Armenia for example). For some reason, I'm in love with cold places. Or maybe it's just, I never experienced such cold weather (like a negative degrees celsius *if you know what I mean) like in my country The Philippines, nor in the UAE.


This year, I recently visit Tbilisi, Georgia. It's my dream place to visit.  I've always wanted to have a Schengen visa, however, it would be a long the process to obtain one and I find it time-consuming.

So in order for me to catch a glimpse of a picturesque European view, I opted to visit Tbilisi, Georgia.
I am allowed to visit Georgia -Visa Free since I have a residence visa from the UAE.

At The Shota Rustaveli Airport

HELLO GEORGIA!

Welcome to Georgia!

I presented my 2 passports.
The old one that has a stamp with my working visa on it. Then I was able to get through the immigration.



Fun part? I recently renewed my passport as its almost 3 months to get expired. The requirements for me to travel should be 6 months. So I renewed it last December and got it by January.  I was a bit worried as well thinking that immigration at  Tbilisi Airport won't allow me to enter as my new passport has some soda stains, for some reason, the soda was spilled inside my bag  along with my passport, luckily the main page of my passport was not stained that much, this has happened a month before my scheduled tour. But, Thankfully, the immigration officer was able to scan my passport, hassle-free (It was such a relief).


If you are traveling to Georgia as a GCC Expat, ensure that you carry along with you your old passport (if you have a new passport, as the immigration officers will check the visa on it, ensure that you carry your Emirates I.D as well (if you are from the UAE).

Where is Georgia? (Not Georgia in the United States of America)

People are asking me, Where is Georgia exactly? My friends are wondering, Am I in Europe? or in the Middle East? Well, As far as the tour guide explained to me, Georgia is straddling Western Asia and Eastern Europe and the region is the Caucasus.  Or to make it short, It's a country in the Caucasus region in Eurasia. Still confused? Ask Google 😄

Upon arrival at the Shota Rustaveli Airport, A representative from Holiday Me (The agency that I booked this trip) pick me at the airport and dropped me to the hotel that I will be staying for 4 days and 3 nights.

It took us almost half an hour from the airport to the hotel. The hotel is situated in the city center. Just a 10 mins drive from the Bridge of Peace- one of the iconic landmarks in Tbilisi.

Pick up from airport to hotel

Hotel Accommodation


The hotel is Tbilisi Park Hotel. A small and stylish hotel located inside a park. You can walk to all the sites for 30 to 40 mins., or 10 mins drive via taxi to the Bridge of Peace and Narikala Fortress,  you can jump into the metro as it only a minute walk from the hotel.
The food was okay, Variety of slices of bread, khachapuri, eggs, sausages, cereals and more being served during breakfast.



Hotel Room (What's Inside?)

The hotel rating via booking.com is 9.0. And I can say that this hotel is superb. The friendly staff will greet you from time to time. Staff will help you out to find a taxi if you request too. Room service is excellent and on time. Food that they offer during the buffet breakfast is okay. Most of the food they offer in the morning is somehow like English breakfast with a mix of local bread such as Khachapuri to name a few. 

The hotel room is very "homey". Our room has a small window, overlooking some of the local houses at the backside of the hotel.

Here are some of the pictures.


behind the window, local houses can be seen





Free time- Upon arrival on the first day


I rested for half an hour and decided to hop off to the City. I asked the hotel receptionist to book a taxi.

Uber? Na-ah


Folks, fyi., UBER is not working here and the only way you can use an online ride-sharing app is thru the "Yandex taxi app" - you can download it via Google Play or the App Store.
Unfortunately, I never got the chance to use it for some reason. Instead,  I just hail a taxi cab though I find it difficult to speak with the locals because of the language barrier (It is part of the experience anyway).

But surprisingly, locals are very helpful and they will try their best to help me out as some taxi drivers will ask other locals who know English so that they can translate and so forth.

It was a new experience for me. But I also encountered a driver who extorts me too much of the taxi fare. And it was too difficult for me to understand as he speaks natively. I paid 3x as much as I paid from the hotel to the old city.

That's why folks, as much as possible, kindly download the ride-sharing app just in case. And if you want to use mobile data, Local sim is available at the airport as well. In which I never bought one for some reason too. From the hotel (that I'm staying)  to the Bridge of Peace, I paid 6 gel (Georgian lari,  approximately  $2.50,)

The fun part was, The places that I visited on my arrival was the same place that was listed on our trip on the other day. However, another tourist spot was added apart from visiting the old city of Tbilisi.

Unfortunate Things Happened

One thing that I noticed as well are beggars. On my first day, A beggar grabbed my soda while I was exploring the city center. He even greeted and ask if he can take my soda (He is speaking in the Russian language, with his body language begging to take the soda), So I refused, but then he grabbed it while saying "spasiba"- means thank you in Russian. I was speechless. It never happened to me on my previous trips. Only in Georgia. Anyways, I'm not surprised about beggars as this is normal to some countries, but the only thing that surprised me was some of them are aggressive just like this guy.

Old City Of Tbilisi 

I ask assistance from the receptionist to book me a cab going to the old town
10 to 15 mins, Fast track, I'm standing in front of the bridge of peace. I was like, hey? Is this for real? Could anyone slap me? (lol) Yes, I am! I'm in Old City!. Such a surreal experience.
A lot of tourist and locals just relaxing and enjoying the day in Rike Park. So do I.



I had the chance to take a picture of the Bridge of Peace (with fewer people in the background, lol). I saw a lot of futuristic buildings and architectural designs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. But one thing that amazes me about this iconic landmark of Tbilisi? Is its own history. 

During my 15 mins stay within this spot, A lot of teenagers (locals) encourage me to try the boat riding in the Mtkvari River (Where the Bridge of Peace was built). They offer wines and bread while you ride in the boat to explore the river passing the bridge of peace and vice versa. Trust me, these locals are very eager to convince me to try the offer. But I didn't, as I find it expensive. 

The Bridge of Peace is a crossing point between the Rike Park (A capacious park by the way) and the "old part" of town. It also provides amazing views of Tbilisi, especially at sunrise, sunset or night.

Rike Park


Bridge of Peace






Tbilisi Aerial Tram to Narikala Fortress 

Ticked off the list on my bucket list- Ride in a cable car.
You have the option to visit at the top of the Fortress, Either by walking or riding in an aerial tram,  So I decided to choose the tram for a change. 





The cost of the cable car is relatively cheap. 2 gel (Georgian lari) for one way and 4 gel for a round trip ( $1.50). You need to have a metro card in order to use the cable car, again, the cost of the metro card is 2 gel. The agent reloads my card for about 10 gel. The metro card can be used as well for public transport and the metro as well. 

The Aerial View

While the tram is going up to the fortress, it reveals the aerial view of the old town. Seeing the old town on the left side and the "modern" portion on the right side.










Narikala Fortress

Crossing the Bridge Of Peace. I'm now on the part of the old town. Where Narikala Fortress Also called the Mother Fortress of Tbilisi, can be seen. Narikala is an ancient fortress overlooking Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and the Mtkvari River. I also visit the Narikala Tourist Route, where a tall statue of Mother Georgia can be found.


oh, hello there Bridge of Peace :)
Mktvari River
Mother Georgia


Be mindful folks, as the fortress, is situated on a steep hill. So make sure to wear comfy shoes. Girls, Leave your stilettos. (lol).  Sulphuric baths and botanical gardens are accessible within this spot as well. 
Botanical Garden



I got the chance to climb at the top portion of the St.Nicholas Church (they recently restored it)
Climbing at the top is quite dangerous. As spiky limestone are unbearable and might slip you out. It was difficult as you reached the top, the passageway is getting difficult to pass on.












But once you reached the top. It's really worth it. The exhilarating view of the old city. It was a refreshing feeling. Speechless I say.
Here are some of the pictures.



Souvenirs and Cha Cha 

If you visit a place, you should try their local delicacies or local drinks. In Tbilisi, Try cha cha- a Georgian pomace brandy, it is clear and strong by the way. This is their local brandy that comes with 40 percent of alcohol proof.  I'm not fond of drinking beer or vodka, but I decided to try a shot of it. And trust me, It's super strong that I felt it on my throat, it's like hot sting inside. I look reddish after trying that drink. 



 St. Nicholas Church

I got the chance to visit and pray inside the St. Nicholas Church (within the vicinity of Narikala Fortress) I'm a Christian Anglican and the vibe inside this church is somehow magical and mystical for me.

Here are some of the pictures below:







Exploring The City Center

Metro Station 


I still have the time to explore the city. And decided to try their metro station.
The Rustaveli or Tbilisi Metro station is 60 meters and has an escalator length of 120 meters. 
I was surprised at how the underground metro station looks like. I never thought about it as this is my first time to see such a very deep underground metro station. The Metro Station offers free WiFi as well. (yey!)








Hello Philippine Consulate! :)

Trying Shawarma (Cause I'm Starving)

I was starving that I don't even bother to think which one to eat.  When I saw a restaurant that sells shawarma. I immediately ordered two of them. It's downside comical to try a food that you already eaten for how many times. 

But trust me, If you are hungry, you don't have the option to search for another alternative. So I tried one. Most of the food that they serve here is halal. So worry free.




Now, that's a wrap folk!

This is just a part one of my Georgia Trip. More to follow.
Don't forget to read, share and subscribe via RSS Feed for more updates and fresh contents.

Gaujmarjos!
-Ceddy

Popular Posts