Europe on the verge of War

Who could have predicted that after two years of pandemic crisis, Russian president would decide to invade Ukraine and threaten peace in Europe ? The madness of one single man is once again leading the world into the Third World War. Who would have bet 3rdWW would be happening in Europe. Like many I thought it would have been between India and China or some other countries of Asia…

Who could have predicted that after two years of pandemic crisis, Russian president would decide to invade Ukraine and threaten peace in Europe ? The madness of one single man is once again leading the world into the Third World War. Who would have bet 3rdWW would be happening in Europe. Like many I thought it would have been between India and China or some other countries of Asia… Updated on 27/02

The script was already written 15 years ago in Putin’s mind when he was at the Munich security conference reminding the West that Russia might have suffered from the fall of USSR, but was still a big country and would not let the West install forces around Russia. Putin was already known to be this ex secret service strong and brutal new face or Russia, in one word, not a fun person. While the bankruptcy of USSR and the fall of the regime brung Russia from a feared nation to the place of an enemy nobody would care about anymore; the hatred of the West was pushing nationalists to the Presidence. Hatred and thirst of revenge are most probably the motivation Putin…

NATO, the Americans and Ukraine

It was not long ago that Russia was invading Georgia, and this time they are repeating the exact same scenario than in 2008 counting on the passivity of the West.

While the Ukrainian people and army are probably going to me massacred in Kiev like during Warsaw uprising in 1944 by the Nazis, the West is just praying that it will only be Ukraine alone and that War won’t come to European Union.

It is clear given the few statements given by key western countries the last few days, that in their minds they are kind of hoping the invasion will be fast and brief, hoping for only few casualties and that Putin plans is only to install a Pro-Russian government, like in Bielorussia for example… No one will try to help Ukraine or Kiev citizens, while timidly offering help to the Volodymyr Zelensky to help him flee the country.

I would not understand the situation too if I was not living in Poland and now understanding the ex USSR oppressed countries state of mind agains Putin. Ukrainian are proud and ready to die for the idea of freedom, for the idea that Ukraine should stay free from Russian influence and should have their own democracy. While Polish are doing all they can to welcome Ukrainian refugees, give them food and shelter, many Ukrainians are going the other way, to give their life in a hopeless fight in Kiev and Lviv against Russian tanks.

This new war is made of civils, from Europe, either Ukrainian diasporas going back to fight and even European concerned citizens of different countries who decide to go help, to give their lives for an idea of freedom and democracy.

I am surprised that we do not even try to smuggle weapons to give Ukrainians at least a chance to defend themselves against the invader, unofficially.

European Union, USA, and NATO countries are ready to sacrifice Ukraine to avoid War and save peace. I understand their point of view, saving lives and hoping of a diplomatic resolution is often a better choice than counting the dead. Since WW2, no one would have imagine war was this close given nuclear dissuasion.

Juste to put into perspective the size of Ukraine compared to Western Europe:

Size of Ukraine

Huge impact in France on the presidential campaign

President Macron was supposed to disclose his candidacy for re-election in the next few days, it looks like it won’t be his first concern the next few weeks anymore. It was rather surprising how weak his TV declaration tone was compared to the one 2 years ago when he was announcing the first lockdown because of Covid with this now famous sentence “We are at war against an invisible enemy” Now that the enemy is visible we are literally looking the other way, and hoping that the Russian bear won’t get the taste for blood.

The rest of the candidates from Melanchon to Zemmour, were not expecting the war, and were until last week even defending the point of view of Putin regarding Ukraine. The few other candidates program like the ecologist were to reduce army budget and aim for the end of the nuclear power plants. The wake up call was difficult, sorry but not sorry we are not living in a peace and love world anymore.

It’s hard to tell yet if the French have any idea of what’s really playing right now. They seem to be more concerned of the price of gas and inflation that about anything else, while Kiev is only two hours from Paris by plane it still seems far to them.

French embassy is the last one stil open in Kiev, there are around 700 french still there, we were learning last night that the GIGN force was assuring the security of the embassy and that they were ready to evacuate people if necessary.

The French embassy in Kiev

I read today on a few facebook groups for French people in Poland that journalist from Brut. and other newspapers were looking for ways to reach the border, that’s too bad they don’t come with at least medics or supplies…

Poland and the polish people, the first aid

I am very impressed by how fast Polish people are organising help for the Ukrainians. While the Polish government has deployed big effort at the border to register all the refugees and guide them to place where they could shelter, have access to food and psychological help, they seem to be the only one helping. 😢

According to contact in Ukraine, Russia artillery are right now as we speak targeting heavily Kiev and launching missiles.

Missiles targeting buildings in Kiev

The private medical group operating in Poland, Luxmed is gathering meds, food, and basic life supporting tools to be sent to Ukraine. They are also collecting blood to assist the Ukrainian hospitals. My gf is right now offering free psychological support to refugees and giving her time like many others in the stations to help the families who arrive in Wroclaw.

Poland has been welcoming over 120 000 refugees the last few days, with men from 18 to 60 being required to go back to Kiev to fight by the government.

A once in a lifetime occasion for China to invade Taiwan

I am worried for Taiwan today, after retaking Hong Kong back while the West was occupied fighting the pandemic, it would be technically the best moment for them to test the weakness of the West by invading Taiwan. Like for Ukraine, it’s very likely nothing will happen, UK and USA will protest and say it’s bad but who wants to go to war against China today ? No one. like against Russia to save Ukraine.

I am crossing fingers that China will refrain their ambitions but they have the same approach has Putin toward Ukraine, considering it’s their land taken from them and that they should defend their pro China citizens from the regime of Taiwan. What a joke..

An American destroyer has crossed the straits between Taiwan and China yesterday (26/02), a way to say don’t even thing about it to China.

Digital nomadism, THE new popular lifestyle ?

All my trips are made possible by the fact I work from « home ». I only need my computer and an access point to the Internet. I could be on a boat, on a plane, an island or in Thailand it wouldn’t make a difference to my clients.

Here I am again, writing an article on my iPhone 📱 13 mini , this time onboard the french speed train TGV 🚄 to Lyon. I really enjoyed those 3 last weeks in London, almost enough time for me to get that cute British accent. It was so refreshing, the end of covid rules there were quite surprising at first, but felt like we were back to normal life after a few days and Yes it feels good 😊 !

I haven’t wrote much about my trip, because in fact, writing about your daily activities _ which would seem very normal to anyone else before the pandemic _ isn’t that easy.

I must admit it does feel exotic to be there, post Brexit, it does feel even more like a foreign country than before. I was almost getting used to the cars driving on the left, which make crossing the road quite difficult when you are not used to it, that it was already time for me to go back to Paris. I must admit though that Eunice storm 💨 almost made it impossible to go back to France.

The mercato mayfair declassified church with it’s original design and restaurants and bars foodcourt. Lots or people having lunch there
Mercato Mayfair

I already miss the blue eggs, the incredible pub ambiance, the tasty fish and chips, having a pizza and a great german beer at Mercato Mayfair on Sundays and also my favourite British cat 🐈‍⬛.

Working on the go

All my trips are made possible by the fact I work from « home ». I only need my computer and an access point to the Internet. I could be on a boat, on a plane, an island or in Thailand it wouldn’t make a difference to my clients. Travelling gives me a breath of fresh air well needed after the pandemic 😷. Travelling while still making money is the saint Graal in my opinion, it’s way different that travelling for work or for holidays. It’s a lifestyle, I see myself not so different from my favourite Youtube boat channel -> SV delos for example.

When I started freelancing it was the best way I could find to be able to live with my gf, study code 👨‍💻 and work at the same time. I use to travel a lot when I was a kid and a young adult, thanks to my parents living abroad, and I think I was missing the positive energy I absorb from it. Constantly meeting new people, discovering new cities.

Is not for everyone

Sure it’s not for everyone, it’s like people who try expat life for the first time, they would either live the dream or hate it and go home a few months later, I have witnessed it countless times when I was living in Shanghai between 2009 – 2013.

It also means that either your partner is also a digital nomad – or at least able to follow you at some point – or that you are single. 😅

Like Dan and Kika from Sailing ⛵️ Uma would say, don’t buy a couch ! 🛋.

I must admit that so far my polish apartment decoration is … minimalist 😄, I am not buying much things, but in the end do we really need all those things ??

I come to the point of thinking that we buy stuff to make our sedentary lifes more interesting 🤨. No judgment here, there is a lifestyle for everyone, and I use to be from the one’s who would make their places super cosy to be able to basically live there !

Did covid make a difference?

An emergency situation

Well in my opinion, it made a huge change. We discovered that commuting everyday is not mandatory anymore, that most people who have office jobs can work from home. What use to be a rare work from home option became the reality of millions in one second.

Of course when you have kids this was probably a nightmare! Young couple with very small apartments on big cities suffered a lot from this forced situation. I think it was a dream coming true for gamers and stay-at-home. They were suddenly the example of a good behavior.

After covid

What about now ? It seems that companies are trying to bring back workers in their fancy offices. Work from home for everyone was many managers’ nightmare, transportation services from many big cities are on the verge of bankruptcy, and restaurants and businesses in business districts are almost all closed. Big companies like Apple or Google are facing unhappiness in teams that they want back in the office, it really seemed no one had planned that people would actually enjoy work from home so much.

A few companies made a choice to permanently allow their teams to work from where they want. Only a few, and here you go if you really want to work from a distance you must create your own company and offer your services as a freelancer.

What if covid did not happend?

Well, freelancing was already a thing before the pandemic but many many companies where much more reluctant to open their available positions to freelancers. I think without the pandemic I would have never considered becomint independant and that i was in fact “reserved” to certain type of activities like designers.

I am not saying covid was a good thing 😬, but I like to appreciate every things that happened in life in the most positive way possible.

What’s next ?

Good question ! Hard to say, I am listening to the market and will take any opportunity I judge to be nice for myself .

The french speed train TGV in gare de lyon Paris before departure to lyon on a monday evening
The french TGV 🚄

Ukrainian crisis is there to remind us that our relatively peaceful times can change tomorrow and might change the face of the world we know as well. Let’s just enjoy life, explore, learn, stay healthy and celebrate the nearly 🙏 end .. of the pandemic 😷.

To be continued…

London in uncertain pandemic times

Crossing the border felt almost like the same, security has always been quite tight for the Eurostar so in the end it doesn’t make much of a difference for passengers.

It had been some time since I came to London for the last time, I am not too sure when it was, probably 2017/2018. 🤔 I like the British in the way that everything is made differently here, sometimes it even makes me wonder who is right in the end. The skimmed milk is red, the drive on the left side of the road, they are crazy into fitness and at the same time spend their weekends in the local Pub.

Post pandemic and post Brexit situation

I just arrived in London with the Eurostar speed train, aside from the fact it was almost empty, I did not notice anything that different compared to before Brexit and also before the pandemic.
Crossing the border felt almost like the same, security has always been quite tight for the Eurostar so in the end it doesn’t make much of a difference for passengers.
I happen again to THAT ONE DAY #sarcasm where on both sides of the channel Metro/Underground are being renovated, nothing special, except for the fact I feel so lost at first in the corridors.
Everything is expensive here, but also the payment experience is seamless, where in Paris they are so proud to get rid of paper metro ticket this year #LOL, here you can pay and enter directly the subway by swiping your credit card or watch on the sensor. Apple Pay and other payment systems are everywhere, I am not even sure why they still have ATMs except to support underground economy…

Yesterday, Boris had announced that all covid rules where abandoned, it feels unreal, it’s not like if they are still having around 300 covid related casualties per day… London Mayor managed to save at least the fact that you still need to cover your nose and mouth in the city transportations. Not sure many people read about it, I feel like I am from the only few weirdos wearing N95 masks 😷. I felt a bit probably like how Asian tourists were feeling while being the only ones wearing masks before Pandemic times.

I noticed though, a LOT less french speakers around me, I was heading to Fulham where most French usually settle in the city, that was unexpected, it’s likely to be more related to the Brexit that to the pandemic.

What is a lateral flow test ?

Day 2 lateral flow

A lateral flow test is nothing more than a rapid antigenic test. The standard kit we all love to play with at home with, where you can see in 15min if you are positive or not.
Well, first of all, coming to the UK and being fully vaccinated, you don’t need to quarantine but still need to comply to a what’s called a DAY 2 lateral flow test.
To be able to complete your passenger locator form prior to departure, you will need the booking confirmation code that will prove the British government that you booked the antigen test you will need to perform in the 48h after arrival in the country.

They are plenty of private companies offering those tests in London, with different prices, different delivery time, different platforms. It’s quite hard to chose from the giant list they provide you with, it does feel like a big jungle, and so you know it’s a specialty here, between the price you are supposed to be paying and the amount and the final invoice there is ALWAYS a surprise.

My advice, pay with a prepaid card like on Revolut for example, that will be used that one time for this amount and then destroyed, to make sure those littles companies don’t charge you extras…

The kit will be delivered to your place of stay, it will have a QR code and you will through an app, confirm the result to get a certificated result.

Lateral flow test to leave the country

You will also probably need an antigenic test when wanting to go back to the EU. You can either use the same system as you used the first time, get tested in a dedicated center in the street.

My advice, target either a test center in the airport, arriving a few hours earlier, or if you leave like me by Eurostar, either one of the two testing center in Saint Pancras Station. Results are available within the hour for £40, book in advance.

Is everything back to normal ?

It’s hard to say, there are still a few places where they will ask you to provide a test result to attend, while most pubs and bars don’t care at all about it. Needless to say it is you own choice to either wear or not wear a mask inside stores. Given how many people don’t bother wearing one anymore, I would highly recommend to wear a FFP2 mask.

Must terraces I’ve been too where still offering QR code menus to order, which has the convenience of offering apple pay, but still feels a bit too much like the pandemic.. Plenty of businesses are abandoned, while cost of living has not go down at all, one house nearby my place was sold last week for £9 million… Cost of food has increased a lot, cost of energy went through the roof. At least now people might finally care about isolating their old victorian style houses, finally.

This situation reminds me a big like what Louis Rossmann Youtube channel has been describing the last year about NYC. Landlords are not lowering prices.

Like in Paris, the transportation company here is losing TONS of money compared to previous years, citizen either left the London to live in the countryside in bigger houses, young professionals are working from Mexico or Thailand and the rest continue to work from home.
Wagons are full in the morning, not because many people are going back to work but more because there are a lot less trains.