Saturday, January 5, 2008

Cambodia


We got up early around 5 am to eat breakfast and get on the tender to go to Sihanoukville. It’s a very small town with a few resorts around, amazingly beautiful beaches, but very poor people. The contrast to Singapore was polar.
It was dirty everywhere, garbage was all over the place. Our driver talked to us about the Khmer Rouge who massacred 3 million people in 1975-79, and how his life was personally affected. It was very sad.

He told us that though they have an elected government now, there is a lot of corruption. His kid even has to pay bribes to the teacher to attend school, about $1 US a week. We saw some temples and met the monks who were better educated than the average person. It’s free for them to go to college, so many young men join the monastery for a short time to get to university. Then they graduate and go to business.
I had to pee really badly when we got to the monastery and asked to use the facilities, thinking they would have a rest room. Well they took us to a small building at the bottom of the hill; cattle were walking around free right near the door. When I got in, I saw the toilet was a fixture on the floor (I have used those before) but no plumbing. When you finish, you take a bowl full of water and throw it in, and then it flushes. Good thing we were told to bring toilet tissue, because there was none!
I left glad I had bought Purell. Quite the experience. Then I talked to the young monk while Rick followed suit. He was 21, had no idea where Canada was. He asked me my name and laughed when I told him. I asked him his, and he seemed pleased I could say it.

Adorable dirty little kids were begging at the temple, saying ‘hello, dollar’. It made me think of hello dollie. One little girl was quite good; she was giving me this big pout and rubbing her stomach. Then another boy who was with her was mimicking her behind her back and laughing silently. She saw him and started laughing and chasing him away.

We next went to another beach where we were swarmed by women and a few kids with chatchkes . I picked a young girl about 9 who was selling homemade bracelets. She wanted $3, and we were told to pay 10% of the asking price for anything. I bought one for a dollar.
The fishing village was equally squalid. The people looked happy though. Three little girls were playing with some young Lhasa Apso puppies in their hut. So now we’re back at the ship, had a lovely Asian style buffet lunch and going for a swim.
Tomorrow in Bangkok!
L & R

My First Presentation




They advertised my Tai Chi presentation on the cruise TV channel. Very cool. I was excited and a bit nervous, but once we got the LCD projector working and the microphone, and the remote control for the powerpoint going, all went well.

I had about 30 people and we were situated in the dance or ball room. It was very comfortable, everyone sat in easy chairs, around me. Since it was very rocky that morning (we were in the middle of the South China Sea) I didn’t even think I could demo the tai chi at all. We were walking like drunks down the hall. Watching the waiters carrying the trays of coffee was funny, the expression on their faces, was priceless.

I started the presentation with a little joke about seasickness and showed them the antinausea point, everyone seemed to like that. Then I went through the history and it went well, I didn’t embellish too much but tried to keep it flowing. Then we did some warm ups, and every single person participated sitting in their chairs.
Then I talked about the theory part, and there was some interactive questions, but mostly they listened.
Then I got to the end of the slides and signaled Rick as to how much time was left in the hour. Surprise! 30 minutes , so I slipped into class mode. No Problem. Everyone learned the commencement move, and parting the horses’ mane.






They actually were very good!
Then I started teaching waving hands like clouds and that was fun.
I ended with questions and thanked them, and NO ONE left the room early! That was fantastic. Usually in free presentations , someone leaves or gets bored etc. That made me feel pretty good!
At the end a few people came up to me, and thanked me, said they did tai chi but never knew about the history. Another lady came up and asked me if I could teach her in California. She said she was taking a class but didn’t like it as much as the way I taught it.
Very cool.
So the next one is on Monday, when I will be teaching them the next 3 moves and hopefully the seas will be calmer and we can do it standing up!I’m now ready to do my presentation at International Networking Day , coming up in Feb.
Tomorrow Cambodia!
LL

London to Singapore

This is a long flight (14 hours). Again, British Airways, so same standards. All was great.
We managed to sleep a bit, eat and watch movies, read books.
We landed in Singapore at around 6 pm. It was tropical and the hotel I found online was excellent, we got a free shuttle from the airport and a very nice buffet breakfast was included. Located handily near the downtown and quite close to the cruiseship port, we just had to walk across the road to the shopping mall, it looked like Florida. Very tropical muggy and hot.
It was evening but the sun was still shining. All the signs everywhere were in English. Every one speaks English. It’s the compulsory language in school, but you can also take your mother tongue if it’s malay, Chinese, or Hindi.
It’s a very multicultural city comprised of Chinese, Malay, Indian and others. Singapore is a 700 sq metre country. And of the 4 million inhabitants 1 million are itinerant workers from all over the world. There is a very modern infrastructure: buses, trains, taxis etc.
We decided to take a tour with a local taxi driver. He took us around the city core temples etc. and we took a tour ride up a viewing tower to see the whole city . Amazing
L & R

Toronto to London

This is probably going to be the longest entry, as we have 12 hours to kill waiting for our flight. We slept about 2 hours on the Toronto to London flight so we were pretty tired.
British Airways gets my 5 star rating!
They have real food.
It’s hot and served efficiently
They have personal TV right on the seat back in front of you. It’s a touch screen control like a PVR with Movies, TV shows you can pause FF and rewind.
We hadn’t seen a few of the movies and they were good.

Heathrow is like a shopping mall from the 60s, dark industrial and gloomy with a lot of neon. The new terminal is opening next year, it look a lot like our new terminal 3. Big improvement.
We landed to a typical London day. Wet and gloomy. We were too tired to go out, so we found a designated ‘quiet room’ and slept a bit. The chairs were not that conducive to sleeping, but we finally arranged ourselves in a position that almost was comfortable.
My new jacket came in handy as a soft pillow.
We slept for 1.5 hours and then had lunch.
Rick had a nice burger, and I ordered fish and chips hoping that it was authentic. It was tasty but frozen and less authentic than Wimpey’s at home, oh well.
Also they serve the green peas either garden or ‘mushy’ like baby food, very gross if you ask me. I had the peas in their natural state.
After lunch we napped (according to Adam’s sleep schedule) and woke up feeling better.
We slept leaning on each other and we listened together to the iPod which I loaded up with 10 CDs that was really great as it muffled out the constant flight announcements.
We spent the rest of the day walking around, looking at shops. Herrod’s has a mini department store that takes up 2 blocks of the airport shops.
We bought 3 books to read on the flight to Singapore:
Slash’s autobiography
Next by Michael Crichton
Brilliant Life by Michael Heppell

It was actually so dark we couldn’t read in the seating area, so we found a bright restaurant and ordered latte and sat for hours talking and reading. Our server was a nice Polish girl and she didn’t mind.

On the flight from London to Singapore, I practiced my talk (silently) a few times and it’s starting to feel comfortable.
It seems like we have been away for a week, and we have only gone 1/3 of the way!
Singapore is next stop!
R & L