Reflections…

25 05 2010

It has been an incredible week and a half. I am sitting in the Delta Sky Club in Tokyo looking through all of the pictures that I took during the trip. Some great memories and good ideas for the future. Even the time we spent shuffling around the cities was well spent. The conversations with the local cab drivers, the takeaways from our meeting and even the perspective from the local news on the rest of the world were all welcome and enhanced the understanding of the global experience.

Probably the biggest takeaway from the trip for me was the differences in political climate. This was my first venture into a communist country and to see the praise for the government at any meeting was really a little disturbing to me. The fact that we had to review our questions prior to our trip the university goes against everything I grew up with. With a strong family focus on education, I was always encourage to ask question, probe for more information, question what doesn’t make sense, and most of all to voice my own opinion, while respecting others doing the same.

Our visit to Saigon South felt a bit like a scene out of the movie called the Truman Show. I felt as though when we were driving around or looking out the balcony that a big camera or light was going to fly down and smash on the ground. I was struck by the contrast between the 1M apartments and the little motor bikes racing around downtown Saigon. I am not sure I understand how Saigon South will actually be able to survive, it seems as though it is more a governmental show piece then anything else.

Finally, the visit to Cambodia…this may sound trite, but it changed me. I have always heard of people living in that kind of poverty, but I had never actually seen it. I have been through poor neighborhoods in the mid-west, the worst neighborhoods of NYC, but nothing like what we saw in Cambodia. I am impressed by the Wat Bo primary school, but am still not sure what the end game is for those students. When they finish the schooling what next? While there may be some in the school that had the ability to get out of the country and become further educated, most could not. Our tour guide spoke of his daughter wanting to be a doctor, but he had no idea how to help her make that happen, let alone the money to even think about that.

I would never have selected to go to Singapore, Cambodia, or Vietnam on my own and not sure that I will return, but I can say the experience was once in a lifetime.

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Couple of days behind…

18 05 2010

My apologies, travels caught up with me for the last two days or so and I managed to get a cold/fever type thing and connectivity in Cambodia is pretty bad.

Singapore:

The day after the night safari, we had a series of meetings. We saw presentations from Tangs, the port of Singapore (PSA), and Ogilvy. All three were great, though the Ogilvy meeting planted the seed for the next start-up. As we moved from office to office, it was interesting to hear the thoughts from the cab drivers about the state of the city/country. The investment the cab drivers had in the city was like nothing I had seen before, certainly nothing like New York or Washington, DC.

After the day of meetings we celebrated a few birthdays and prepared for the journey to Cambodia. At 330a we made the trip to Chengi airport in Singapore and took off for Cambodia.

Cambodia:

Hot…the first word that comes to mind. We stepped off the plane and it was incredibly hot and humid. The airport was what appeared to be a random building in the middle of no where. We made it through customs, with some delay and grabbed our luggage. We arrived at the hotel and were greeted by the very enthusiastic hotel staff. I have to say the hotel experience is Cambodia was much nicer overall then in Singapore. We did a morning ‘bus’ tour of the city and stopped at the local market. The local market was an unreal experience. I am not sure I can come up with the words to describe it appropriately, so I will simply say you need to experience it for yourself, just once. What was very interesting was the amount of cell phones that were for sale along the streets, since many don’t have house numbers or a perm residence, their cell phone is the primary means of communication.

Driving through the streets it is clear there was little infrastructure planning after the war. I was in awe of the poverty we saw. I knew it existed and worked in some of the poorest areas of Indianapolis during my practicums for my BSW, but those areas were full a mansions in comparisons

As we continued with our day, we made our way to the school visit. When we pulled up, we were greeted by a school musical group who led the way into the room where we were we met the principal and were entertained by a few performances by the kids. It was clear, this is a special place. I was lucky enough to be able to present a donation to the principal on behalf of some of the employees from my former organization, Naviance. My father use to refer to his high school and students as “people with pride in a place with purpose.” I felt this while at the school. There weren’t shiny cars in the parking lot, or even a parking lot, but there were people who cared about being there and excited about what they are doing.

We ended the day taking advantage of the local massage services and a traditional dinner theatre experience.

More later…





Sinapore Flyer

15 05 2010

After the tour of the city this morning, we are getting on the Singapore Flyer to get a view of the city from above. Modeled after the “London Eye” the Singapore Flyer gives a view of the city from 165 meters (or for those in the states about 600 feet). Remember in 2nd grade when they said the metric system would take over, Mrs Troha would be pleased.





Night Safari

15 05 2010

The gang is all together and we are waiting in line to start our night safari in Singapore.

The group is dragging a bit, but we seem to be hanging in for now.

Couple of classic quotes so far:

Lori, talking about a new tobacco product they just launched “it was designed so you don’t have to spit, just swallow.”

Brian, Peter, Tim, and Lori ordering a Tiger beer at dinner…”Tiger…grrrrrr”

More tomorrow…





Arrived in Singapore

14 05 2010

I arrived in Singapore at approximately 12:50a, Saturday (local time) or about 12:50p, Friday. For those keeping score, that is approximately 26h, 30m, from my arrival at Dulles on Thursday.

Flights were long though the one from MSP to NRT (12h 10m) felt shorter then the one from NRT to SIN (7h). Little bit of excitement into Narita, we had an aborted landing due to another plane rolling onto the runway. We were pretty darn close to touching down, when we powered up and made a hard accent.

Had a little Japanese McDonalds at the Narita airport, then on to Singapore. After what seemed like an eternity, my bag rolled out onto the baggage claim belt and I was off to the hotel.

After checking in, I stumbled…well they stumbled, I met Jim and Wayne in the elevator making their way back to the room after closing down a local establishment.

Latest Tucker update: Cindy is with Tucker getting more tests, they have ruled out a cancerous tumor and are doing a few more tests to see what is causing the facial paralysis. More to come…





Leaving Minneapolis

13 05 2010

Heading out of Minneapolis.

Received news one of our dogs, Tucker, may have had a stroke last night, he is being evaluated and tested right now. Keep your fingers cross.





The day has arrived…

13 05 2010

Back in January of 2009 when I started the Executive MBA program the international experience seemed so far away, almost not real. The old saying time flies, certainly applies here. About an hour and a half ago most of my classmates left Williamsburg via bus to Dulles Airport. I spent the night in DC with my wife and we will be headed to the airport after a nice breakfast. We fly around the same time this morning, but my will be taking different paths. I choose to upgrade to first class for the 22 hours of flight time ahead of us. Delta will take me to Minneapolis, short layover then on to Narita, with a quick stop, then on to Singapore. I should be landing in Singapore around lunch time (EDT) tomorrow. My classmates will be flying direct from Dulles to Narita, but then on to Bangkok for the night before departing for Singapore the next morning.

Some of our luckier classmates have spent the week in Australia or Thailand on vacation. We will all come together Saturday night (Singapore time) for a night time safari and then start our official agenda on Sunday afternoon.

There is no doubt this will be an amazing trip, stay tuned for more details and pictures along the way.