2015 weeks! #38: mostly Manila

2015-09-28 07.16.54Monday morning and the view from my hotel room. I was staying in the Intramuros, in fact right next to the remains of the old wall. Manila is such a contrast of wealth and poverty and pretty much everything in between. Around where we were staying there were a lot of schools and colleges, so you could see the constrast of the students in their crisp uniforms, with the four year old urchin bottle feeding a baby sitting in the middle of the street. It is a strange and confronting place like that. Of course, I was spending most of my visit in the hotel.

The first two days were largely our Transport and Logistics APEC project wind up. It was great to see how much work each of the countries had done and how successfully the project worked over all. It is brilliant to see an idea a few of us had shared turned into a concrete and successful outcome. We’ve now got a methodology for developing transnational occupational standards and getting them validated by five different countries. Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council are owed a lot of the credit, as well as my team who steered everything along. Days like these make work enormously rewarding.

2015-09-28 11.51.24We got a lot of food during lunches and breaks and how can you go past a “gelatin fruit mould”. One thing I can say for Manila – it isn’t the culinary capital of the world.

2015-09-28 12.46.35Cthulhu came with me. I think he had some thoughts about devouring school children. I didn’t take him with me for my walk around the walls.

I went for an initial walk around the fortifications I could see from my room. Some very old cannons and lots of moss covered stone.

2015-09-28 17.52.21Pre dinner drink at the roof top bar. You could see the sea – and the port.

TESDA, the Philippine vocational education government body, took us out to dinner at Barbara’s – in one of the oldest surviving buildings in Manila. There was traditional dancing and music and, apparently, hats.

On Tuesday, In addition to the Transport and Logistics workshop, I popped out to speak at a VETASSESS information session, and see a demonstration of how they undertake their skills assessments.

2015-09-29 14.25.15The tropical weather brought out the curly in my hair.

Got up the next morning and went for a walk along the length of the remaining old wall. There isn’t a lot of it, which wasn’t terrible because it was so hot and humid I was soaked after a half hour walk.

Some sunset photos from the roof restaurant. Despite rain during the day – and the threat of rain that evening – we managed to convince the hotel staff that it would be fine to have our dinner for our second workshop on the roof –  very pleasant after a day inside.

2015-10-01 09.15.54Wednesday and Thursday was our workshop on developing an integrated referencing framework for skills recognition. This is another idea we have been toying with and it was really exciting to have it embraced and built upon by 13 different APEC countries. The workshop went well, and we came up with a range of ideas to take it forward.

2015-10-01 08.49.18The hotel breakfast wasn’t amazing, so Thursday morning I decided to have churros from the cafe downstairs instead.

We finished a little bit early on Thursday, so I had an hour or so to wander to the nearby mall and do some shopping, and see some more sights of Manila. And for my hair to get curly again in the rain.

2015-10-01 16.26.55There was so much rain the roads started to flood. Fortunately it didn’t get worse. And then it was time to head to the airport and head home.

During the week I finished two books. A Feast for Crows was slow going in parts (I really couldn’t care *at all* about the Iron Islands, nor much about the goings on in Dorne) but picked up towards the end. It was interesting how much it and the series have now diverged. I think the Brienne adventures did need some editing – those bits got a bit slow and dull as well. Then I completely devoured The Wolf Border. Beautifully written and entirely consuming I read it in no time flat. Great characters and interesting ideas.

2015-10-02 16.26.19

Back home again. The boys had had a pretty chilled first week of the holidays.

2015-10-02 18.02.09James, Zac and I had dinner on Friday night while the bigger boys played Magic.

2015-10-03 15.11.27The boys and I went and saw The Scorch Trials together on Saturday. Choc Tops and all.

2015-10-03 20.13.57And there was time for some family Colt Express. I am still terrible at it.

2015-10-03 21.02.08Jude and Zac and I also made some progress on Dido.

James took the boys down to Merimbula Sunday afternoon where they were staying with Jackie and John for the week. So I had some quiet time to watch the DHRs play at ERRD and to paint my toe nails.

2015-10-04 18.48.58It felt like that during the five days I’d been in Manila, all the leaves had returned.

2015-10-04 19.51.43And then a civilised dinner for two for James’ return.

2015 weeks! #35: this week had everything

Walking to school with funster Jude.

2015-09-07 11.56.08Up at Parliament House for appearances before Parliamentary committees in which I don’t have to say very much which makes the public servant in me happy.

2015-09-07 13.37.21Parliament House toilet selfie.

2015-09-07 13.40.14I love the reflecting pool at Parliament House. It is a great building.

2015-09-07 13.53.22#Yourtightsatwork walking edition.

2015-09-07 14.09.46It has been a bit tough at work recently, so this card from Tracy, one of my Directors, made me a tiny bit teary. I completely appreciated the sentiment though.

2015-09-07 22.00.23James and I had our Monday night post mental health first aid course time out together which was lovely. There is something so important about taking that time out together to be together without distractions.

2015-09-08 08.41.35

Tuesday morning and it is walking to school with the terrible twosome.

The Turner parklands are pretty magical in spring – a bit like a fairy forest.

Learning journey for Zachary. Great to see his art and read his work and see how much enthusiasm he has for school.

Jude, Zac and I went to a candlelight vigil for refugees and the Syrian refugees in particular. The boys articulately expressed their concerns about refugees and refugee policy articulately to a reporter and ended up in the Canberra Times the next day. Why would you send people back to somewhere that is being bombed?

Jude’s learning journey – equal enthusiasm for learning and showing us what he has been doing.

2015-09-09 15.16.17Cthulhu helped me out with some email management at work.

2015-09-09 18.19.28And then it was off to Tasmania. A flight attendant poured a glass of wine over me on the plane, so she made up for it by giving me a whole bottle.

Hobart is quite pretty at night.

2015-09-10 07.59.45View from the hotel room window.

2015-09-10 10.41.25Having some stocking troubles.

2015-09-10 13.15.12I did find my favourite fizzy caffeinated beverages within a five minute walk of the conference venue so that was a plus.

2015-09-10 15.14.53Conferencing. I gave two presentations, one at the Sino-Australia forum and one at the TAFE Directors conference, so kept me busy.

2015-09-10 17.46.43A lovely Tasmanian dusk.

2015-09-10 18.47.04-1Ready for the conference dinner….which was opened by Chinese dragons.

I had to take a photo of masts because those are compulsory.

2015-09-11 13.26.17It was then off home late Friday afternoon.

2015-09-11 17.11.04The wattle was out in force as more spring action in Canberra.

2015-09-12 10.40.00I was quite excited to be able to go to the hockey in a t-shirt.

2015-09-12 10.49.25And there was a lot of hockey, starting with Jude’s game.

2015-09-12 11.06.52We then went to see James’ semi final which they just lost.

Then we switched sports to derby – James was playing and I was benching for Carnage.

It was a great game against SMASH – the scores were tights and we even led at one point. Considering we were beaten by 100 points last time we played, a five point loss was super fantastic.

It was up early and out to the hockey to see Sebastian’s semi final which they won easily. Sebastian scored five goals and was quite delighted about it.

2015-09-13 09.55.37Zachary got in some beading time.

Meanwhile James and I got changed and then headed to Pod Foods for a lovely Pfeiffers wine lunch.

Food and wine were excellent, and even better was that I won a carton of wine for signing up to their mailing list!

We didn’t need much dinner that night – this was it for James and me.

2015-09-13 20.10.21

2015 weeks! #27: China, Korea then collapse in exhaustion

2015-07-13 20.52.02After all day in flight and transit, here we were in Beijing. Everyone wanted to go out and explore, so we found ourselves wandering the hot hot streets of Beijing at night.

We decided against trying the scorpions – I wasn’t letting anyone eat street food on the first day of a busy four day trip. Also some of those scorpions were still wiggling.

We did find a little place where we tried locals foods from the menu that included such delights as “fuel consumption of lettuce” and “glutinous frog” and “roumo acid cowpea” – whatever that is.

2015-07-13 21.18.12 The next morning it was up early and into the official program, starting with meeting the Chinese Vice Minister for International Education Cooperation and then the Minister opened the forum we had organised with the Chinese Ministry of Education (note my translation headphones for Chinese speakers).

During the night, in the dark, at 5am, I had completely misjudged where the edge of my bed was and fell while getting up hitting my head on the wall. In the morning it was clear I was developing an excellent bruise.

2015-07-14 10.31.49After opening the conference we were off to meet the Vice Minister for Vocational Training at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. Somehow after I mentioned jewellery making we got to the point where Minister Birmingham invited Vice Minister Tang to visit Coober Pedy (hope i can go on this hypothetical visit too – I’ve been interested in visiting Coober Pedy since reading The Fire in the Stone).

2015-07-14 11.35.23From there, it was lunch in the car en route to Huawei.

2015-07-14 11.52.47I loved the visit to Huawei. Such exciting technology and ideas. The whole Internet of Things – billions of internet connections for things, not people. The idea your pot plant might be able to tell you how much water it needs (finally a way that I might be able to keep a pot plant alive) and a fridge that orders food itself. The telepresence we did with students in Shenzen was also super cool. I completely geeked out over the whole thing,

2015-07-14 12.45.15

I really liked their smart watches too.

2015-07-14 13.32.02Afternoon tea there stepped away from the technology into old fashioned elegance.

2015-07-14 13.36.01Because some meetings were rearranged, we had about one free hour, so we went and climbed to the top of the only hill in Beijing in 39 degree heat and looked at the Forbidden City. The Minister offered to take my photo for me but I had to explain I had a whole selfie aesthetic going on.

2015-07-14 15.23.59

2015-07-14 15.21.19Back to the hotel for a quick change and off to the evening function with people from the Forum and alumni and other relevant folk at Capital M.

The location was just off Tienanmen Square so there were some good views from the balcony.

2015-07-14 18.14.24After the official function was over and despite the fact that the Minister had to be at a media interview at 5am and the rest of us had a luggage call at 7am, we decided to do a bit of shopping and ended up eating dumplings and duck pancakes.

Our Chinese colleague told us it would only take 20 minutes or so to walk back to the hotel – it ended up taking nearly an hour, but we did get to walk past a dark Tienanmen Square and join the tourists in front of the Forbidden City.

Here is the compulsory hotel window view.

2015-07-15 07.32.49It was then off to the train station and Shanghai on the very fast train the next morning. It was quite a comfortable ride. Because I wasn’t allowed my work phone with email for security reasons, there really wasn’t much work I could do, so I got to enjoy some time with my book. We took the train (which went up to 300kms an hour) rather than fly because, with airport transit and waiting times it really wasn’t going to take much longer, and you can guarantee the train will be exactly on time, whereas the planes are almost always late in China.

I finished reading The Buried Giant on the train – it is rather a sad, thoughtful story beautifully written.

2015-07-15 13.01.04Finally we arrived in Shanghai.

2015-07-15 14.00.35The traffic was a bit heavy, so we had to race to our industry roundtable as soon as we arrived at the hotel.

2015-07-15 16.03.33There were a few minutes breathing space after this, and then it was off to a dinner event with Australian providers and their Chinese partners. We went to a restaurant run by an Australian called Mr Willis – food was excellent.

Official program over, we got to experience the “wow” of Shanghai by visiting the bar on the 38th floor of the Hyatt.  Amazing views.

2015-07-15 22.08.25 2015-07-15 22.26.58Tara who also travelled with me to India last year and I had to take a trip selfie. This was a good location for it.

2015-07-15 22.06.49-1

We were up early the next morning. I loved the jellyfish tank in the breakfast room at the Westin.

Also had the day time view of the Pearl.

2015-07-16 07.36.59My hotel room window view wasn’t shabby either.

2015-07-15 17.47.00Shanghai, in our extremely brief visit, is rather an impressive city if big exciting buildings impress you (I love them).

2015-07-15 18.12.41We headed off to the Shanghai Pharmaceutical School – they have a collaboration with Box Hill TAFE.

We each had our own guide – mine was Dragon – his name is “Lung” which is the Chinese word for dragon.

2015-07-16 09.12.28From there it was straight off to the airport and take off to Korea. Our plan got delayed on the runway, so we ended up an hour late in Seoul and the traffic didn’t cooperate, so were just under half an hour late for our industry roundtable there. The Minister went for an interview after but I went straight to the dinner function which was in a room at the Grand Hyatt with a spectacular view.

2015-07-16 18.28.48Dinner had all the usual formalities – but being in Seoul meant I got to sit at a table with the Korean folk I have worked with over the last three years and whose company I really enjoy. Even got to catch up with a couple of people we haven’t seen for a while.

2015-07-16 19.23.20

The view got no less spectacular when it got dark.

2015-07-16 20.52.56After the formalities were done, we went for a walk in Itaewon – the local area around the hotel. Ravi, the Deputy Ambassador, decided to take us on something of a death march and when we finally begged to stop for a beer, this was where we ended up.

2015-07-16 21.48.03Drinking this…

2015-07-16 21.55.44We went on to find a bit more Itaewon Street life after that break.

Here is the view from my Seoul hotel window.

2015-07-17 06.19.24

We were out of the hotel by 7.20am to catch the fast train I caught a couple of weeks ago to visit the Korea Polytechnics- Sydney TAFE collaboration.

It was a good visit with hearing about what they do and seeing the classrooms in action.

2015-07-17 09.16.17Back to Seoul for lunch before heading off to the Seoul Robotics High School. Before that, a random street scene in Seoul (that’s the Olympic cauldron).

2015-07-17 13.20.59And now, Seoul Robotics High School. The work done by the students was very impressive. I was completely devastated though – I got caught giving out kangaroo and koala pins to students and lost track of the rest of the party, and missed out on seeing ROBOTS DANCING TO K-POP. Another time, I guess.

 

We then had two meetings with Vice Ministers  – Employment and Labour and then Education – and then it was time to head out of town and to the airport.

2015-07-17 17.56.42It was an action-packed week. On the plane home I decided to decline breakfast to sleep for the extra hour.

2015-07-18 10.17.41Amazing view of the Lake George windfarm as I flew back into Canberra.

2015-07-18 16.36.11I got afternoon tea after an afternoon nap.

2015-07-18 16.50.10My head bruise had coloured up nicely.

2015-07-18 17.33.38Given the timing of my return, it really wasn’t feasible to make it up to Sydney for the final round of 5×5. So instead I watched it on TV (via the internet). We played outstandingly.

2015-07-18 21.27.17George wasn’t keen to let me read.

2015-07-19 12.26.34Carnage training got cancelled due to a high level of non attendance so I got to blow out the travelling cobwebs with a bit of skating with Jude and Sebastian and James and Thuggs.

2015-07-19 14.04.50Zac was meanwhile being transformed into a cheetah at his best friend’s birthday party.

To finish the weekend, some D&D. I was ready for bed though, quite early.

Weeks! #36: dragons and other things in Canberra and Hanoi

2014-09-01 18.45.31It is always busy a week that I go overseas, but at least if I bring my work home I can do it while drinking a g&t.

Some more family D&D. They aren’t quite up to fighting dragons yet – more like orcs.

2014-09-03 09.10.09

James and I went out for breakfast on Wednesday at the new cafe 80/20 in Braddon. Very nice, if a *lot* of kale on the menu.

2014-09-03 17.43.56Wednesday night was the first leg of my trip. Off to Sydney. I was pleasantly surprised by the chicken and leek pie at the Qantas Business Lounge.

2014-09-03 21.42.29-1View from my first hotel room of a trip that would involve four different hotels.

2014-09-03 20.34.03It was a long day. I spent from 8.30pm to nearly 11.30pm doing emails and still hadn’t completely caught up. It was good to take the shoes off and get on the bed.

It was up early and across to my favourite pre travel destination, the Qantas First Class Lounge at Sydney airport. Sadly, my flight left before the spa opened, but I had time for a pleasant breakfast.

In flight photos. I flew Cathay Pacific from Sydney to Hong Kong, then DragonAir to Hanoi. Good flights. I like Cathay, particularly because Business Class features the capsule-like individual seats. After four movies, I also discovered they had Veronica Mars Season 1 on their entertainment system and that was hard to resist rewatching, having recently seen the movie.

2014-09-05 10.48.30

Here is the compulsory view from my hotel room window. Somehow I managed to score a room on the 22nd floor with some pretty spectacular views.

2014-09-05 11.02.11

Pho for breakfast? Why indeed not?

I was in Hanoi for the APEC Human Resource Development Ministerial meeting, so the APEC drill of sitting behind the Australia sign (still love that), and putting on the headphones for simultaneous translation.

2014-09-05 14.08.48-1There was also an exhibition on vocational education on and I spoke at the opening ceremony. Which also involved a very interesting “ribbon cutting” moment complete with glitter gun.

2014-09-05 14.11.46I love seeing the promotional materials for vocational education – especially as promoting skills in Australia is now part of my job.

2014-09-05 19.37.17We had a meeting at one of the Ministries – I was thrilled to see Ho Chi Minh in the meeting room. He’s one of my favourite revolutionaries of course. I wonder what he’d think of modern Vietnam. As a nationalist first, and a pragmatic communist second, I think he’d probably be pleased to see the independence Vietnam now has and the way it is developing. But I imagine that he’d have concerns that some of the consumerist and capitalistic aspects of some of that growth might end up leaving some of his people behind.

2014-09-06 08.38.17And here’s the President of Vietnam opening proceeding for the actual Ministerial meeting day on the Saturday.

2014-09-06 15.01.19Today it was pho for lunch. And chicken this time, not beef.

2014-09-06 16.27.31I had time for a quick walk at lunchtime. I was a bit horrified by the electrical cabling. These kinds of things make you think that training in electrical standards (plus some regulation) would probably be a good thing. I also have clearly been doing my job for too long when these are the things I take photos of.

Before the official dinner there was time for a quick sunset swim.

The official dinner involved traditional Vietnamese entertainment and a Vietnamese feast including these curious looking long necked clams. Delicious. I ate a lot of Vietnamese food in Vietnam.

2014-09-07 09.54.22Having barely escaped the hotel for the first two days of my visit, I was delighted that my schedule gave me all of Sunday off to have a wander about. I naturally tried to cram a lot in.

First off I wandered down to the lake which legend has it someone threw a sword into and used to be inhabited by giant turtles. Turtles are one of the four legendary animals of Vietnam – the others being unicorns, dragons and phoenixes, so as the only actually existing Vietnamese animal icons I imagine they carry a bit of a heavy symbolic load. I went and looked at the temple over the red bridge and was also delighted to spot roller bladers (sadly no quad skates) on one of the squuares near the lake. I also ventured a little into the old town, to do a little shopping – I mostly was keen to find some old propaganda posters, a mission in which I was quite successful.

2014-09-07 12.53.48After a brief water break at the hotel (it was stinking hot walking around) I caught a taxi to the Temple of Literature.  A Confucian Temple considered to be the first university in Hanoi, it has quite lovely grounds and some well preserved buildings.

Also, some cool dragons.

I then went across the road to KOTO which was established by an Australian Vietnamese man who wanted to help provide training and income to street kids. Food was delicious and very reasonably priced.

2014-09-07 15.03.13I then went and had a massage (75 minutes for $15) and the taxi ride there let me see Ho chi Minh’s tomb and the Presidential Palace and the big lake as I passed by.

In the evening I walked to the Metropole where I was meeting colleagues for dinner. I loved seeing these kinds of juxtapositions on the way – I think I took the two above photos from the same spot.

2014-09-07 21.16.24A cocktail and colonial style dinner to end the day, and pretty much my brief visit to Vietnam. It has been nearly twenty years since I was in Vietnam, though I didn’t actually make it to Hanoi last time. Some things have changed radically – the presence of Western advertising and products is the most noticeable. There was still much of the same feel about the place though and more bikes and scooters than cars and things like that.I imagine it will be completely different again in another twenty year – although hopefully I will visit again sooner than that.

Weeks! #26: change and Korea

2014-06-24 10.30.34All staff address. Considering the number of structural changes are Department is going through, it was timely. I have lost a number of colleagues at my level recently and from 1 July my Branch has two new sections with new responsibilities and overall a slight change in direction. Interesting times, as they say.

2014-06-24 19.45.24-2We got exciting new plans for our house. All going well, by this time next year our current house should have been razed and our new house under construction.

Sebastian got a belated birthday present from Rachel which included moulds for chocolate spoons so he whipped us up a dessert creation of his own invention.

2014-06-24 21.05.21Heading off to Seoul I needed a new book t read. I decided it was time to read The Quarry. As it was Iain Banks’ final book, I had been saving it up a little It was a lovely book and I read it before I left Seoul. A simple well told story with beautifully rendered characters. So sad to know it is the last new novel of his I will ever read.

2014-06-25 09.28.16This is my grumpy face. This is what my face looks like after i have struggled through two packed days of work feeling super-sick on the thought that I would have a nice relaxing Wednesday on the plane flying Business Class to Seoul after breakfast at the First Class Lounge only to get down graded. Yes, down graded. My whole do-you-know-who-I-am-Platinum-Frequent-Flyer persona kicked in. I was not happy. Flying economy is not the end of the world, but it was the gap between the sustaining expectation and the reality. And I didn’t even get breakfast because I had to wait around until the last people had checked in to get everything organised. No First Class Lounge. No Business Class. And, as it turned out, my reading light on the plane didn’t work nor did they have video on demand. I am not sure I am rushing to recommend flying Qantas code-share with Asiana to Seoul from Sydney. Though the flight attendants did put on a whole magic show mid flight.

2014-06-25 21.27.48Nighttime view from my hotel room window…

2014-06-26 08.32.50Daytime view! My hotel was in a great spot about ten minutes walk from the Australian Embassy and just across the road from the Town Hall. Pretty funky too.

Breakfast view!

2014-06-27 08.54.40And there appeared to be a portal to infinity in my bedroom. Along with the Nespresso machine.

In between meetings on Thursday I got to have a bit of a wander around the nearby area.

2014-06-26 12.07.22Said hello to my very favouritest building in all of Seoul, possibly in all the world.

And also saw one of the near daily protests.

2014-06-26 15.25.28Most of my meetings n Thursday were at the Australian Embassy.

The Town Hall lawn opposite the hotel were taken up with commemoration of the sinking of the Sewol Ferry and the death of over 300 mostly school students. Apparently the disaster has had a significant impact on the psyche of the Korean people, and protest against the government over its role are visible as well as signs of mourning all over the city.

2014-06-27 10.53.14Friday started with an early lunch meeting with Human Resource Development Korea at a restaurant on 32nd floor of a building with a spectacular view of the city. At the moment all the public servants are slowly getting relocated out of Seoul – mostly to Sejong City which, apparently, is a created city “like Canberra.” The HRD folk, however, have been moved even further away to Busan which is Seoul’s second largest city and an industrial centre, about three hours away. Jinsil, one of the HRD people I have dealt with most closely over the last year, told me that she still commutes there – her family is living in Seoul., although sometimes she stays overnight in Busan with friends or colleagues. I can’t imagine a three hour commute even on a fast train.

After lunch I went and gave my presentation – the main reason for my visit. The visting French expert and I were then taken away by Dr Cho from KRIVET (Korean government research body on vocational education) who I have known for about a year now for a wander around another part of Seoul, including a visit to the cathedral.

This was my favourite.

2014-06-27 17.46.19Dr Cho also bought us traditional summer ice confection – red beans on shaved ice. I was a bit dubious, but it was actually quite delicious.

A lovely dinner with the folk from the seminar followed where a lot of Australian wine was consumed (not sure how my French colleague felt about that, but he was unfailingly polite). It was only a short walk home – the town hall is an excellent landmark.

2014-06-27 21.32.23The next day I had a day to myself which I will blog about separately. A big part of it was a visit to the DMZ which is a kind of surreal place – a landmined part theme park zone of defence activity and conflicted ideas about the North. Weird.

2014-06-28 10.26.37After a busy day it was off to the airport for the flight home. Fortunately no downgrading this time.

2014-06-28 19.39.26Home again – my inevitable duty free purchase included Bombay Amber which I am looking forward to trying.

2014-06-29 11.52.21

Weeks! #8: Ningbo and back

2014-02-17 07.29.50The view from my window out at Ningbo – the greyness indicating the weather, which involved drizzle or all out rain for most of the day.

The whole hotel was locked down for the APEC meetings – we needed out ID to get in and out, metal detectors, being wanded each time and our IDs had RFIDs which went off every time we went into a conference area, flashing up our photos. There is, however, something quite strange about knowing that everyone at breakfast is essentially like you, just from different countries.

2014-02-17 10.07.35I got my presentation out of the way first thing on Monday and spent the rest of the day learning about other countries. It is fun sitting behind a sign that says “Australia” though.

2014-02-17 16.13.11-2We had a two hour break for lunch, so even after the sit down buffet, there was time to go for a walk. The rain was down to a very light drizzle, so I could check out the river near the hotel.

My walk wsa obviously in my conference gear. I realised that these shoes have walked the Mall in Washington and the Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul amongst other places. This is what happens when you have to squeeze your touristing into spaces between the working.

2014-02-17 13.20.55

Then back to more meetings.

2014-02-17 16.06.12-1

Tuesday the rain was harder than Monday. It actually snowed for a period during the afternoon too.

2014-02-18 08.53.59

I had an excursion Tuesday morning out to a factory which was co-owned by Australians to have a look at what they do and the skills they use. They make giant steel structures for diverse customers including water parks and port infrastructure.

In the evening one of my colleagues and I decided to head out for food. It was ridiculously cold and wet, but we did still get to enjoy the lights of Ningbo.

We found a nice looking restaurant but then had to struggle with the fact they spoke no English, we spoke no Mandarin, and the menu didn’t have pictures. Eventually we got there though – beef noodles and beer. Pretty tasty too.

2014-02-18 19.36.22The next day was cold and wet again so I opted to have a massage during lunch rather than go outside. But after a day inside the hotel, I needed a little walk so went and visited the cathedral before dinner.

Dinner was with the other members of the Capacity Building Network at a restaurant which was established in 1926. Lots of fabulous traditional food. it is weird how both sweet and savoury dishes come out at the same time.

The final morning in Ningbo, I discovered that my hotel room faced East.

2014-02-20 07.17.59After a morning of meetings it was off to Ningbo airport where I ended spending more time than I really would have preferred.  Every second plane was delayed due to “air space congestion”. It all started to feel a bit sci fi, which made me realise how dominated by China/East Asia my sci fi interpreted view of the future seems to be. Anyway, it gave me a chance to try a Chinese style Magnum.

2014-02-20 15.09.10Changing terminals in Guangzhou is entertaining – you get to zoom through corridors on one of these…

2014-02-20 19.10.17I found my favourite sign at Guangzhou airport.

2014-02-20 19.41.08

I arrived home around lunchtime Friday, and took Jude to cricket Friday afternoon. Back into family life.

Saturday had more boy sport as I took the boys to junior derby.

We had a lovely visit from friends Bevan and Karen and their kids on Saturday night – they were in town briefly and it was wonderful to catch up. And drink a few good bottles of red wine.

2014-02-23 10.43.46Nothing like french toast with fresh free range eggs for breakfast.

2014-02-23 10.43.55The boys have been taking advantage of their new play room to spend quite a lot of time with extensive lego adventures. Fortunately I don’t need to walk through there much.

The week ended with training and scrim and that combined feeling of exhausted and exhilarated!

2014-02-23 18.05.37

The week that was…week 18: Indonesia and back again

2013-04-29 06.53.23I don’t think I had quite shaken off the music festival when I headed to the airport on Monday morning – but hey, long socks are practical when travelling from cold climates to hot!

2013-04-29 10.03.11So it was off to Jakarta, via the Business Lounge in Sydney – we were flying Garuda so couldn’t get to the First Class Lounge. Them’s the breaks.

2013-04-29 21.44.06 2013-04-30 09.25.03 2013-04-30 21.03.36We were staying at the Four Seasons in Jakarta which was a lovely hotel. Here is the view from my hotel room window at three different times of day. The first is when we finally arrived at the hotel on Monday night.

The Four Seasons also had a lovely pool, but I only got a couple fo chances to go for a brief swim – our schedule was rather packed.

Our week was filled with meetings and trips in cars and dinners and trips in cars and visits to training insitutions. We spent a lot of time in cars, so much so that the following set of photos is entitled “Photos Taken From A Moving Vehicle.”

My favourites in here are:

the motorbike as family transportation – we saw quite a lot of that and I must say it freaked me out a little to see a toddler being held up wearing now helmet, wedged in between parents.

customised helmets: there were so many cool cutomised helmets. Initially I was also struck by how many people wore their helmets, and indeed, there is a law requiring helmets. We did see more people without helmets further out from the centre of Jakarta.

the corporate branded mosque: Astra was one of the companies we visisted, and very big they are. This was the mosque for the workers to use during the day.

 

We got very nice hospitality at our meetings.

2013-05-03 10.18.32 2013-05-03 13.42.16 2013-04-30 08.45.21

There was also this:

2013-05-01 15.59.21-1The yellow cake was labelled “lamington”. I refuse to accept that anything yellow can be properly described as a lamington.

2013-04-30 10.15.17This was the only fizzy caffeinated beverage equivalent I came across. Except, it wasn’t that fizzy. Also, they didn’t refill it in my mini bar fridge, and I didn’t get a chance to visit anywhere which might sell such beverages, so I had to go without my crutch for the week. Probably was compensated for by the usually large amount of tea I found myself drinking.

2013-05-01 18.18.33 2013-05-01 20.56.05 2013-05-01 23.59.26The Education folk from the Embassy took us out to a lovely Indonesian style dinner on Wednesday and I tried out a Java Mojito and ate a lot of chilli.

 

While our government-to-government meetingswent well and were productive, I enjoyed most talking to the training providers, who were all closely involved in manufacturing. We were actually very impressed by the training they were doing. And I lvoe the tours of their facilities.

indonesia 4These are the security guards outside the Australian Embassy. We had a number of security restrictions on us – we could only use certain taxis and on May Day, while we were meeting elsewhere, the Embassy was locked down due to a huge protest.

2013-05-02 15.50.58 indonesia 8We managed a little time for shopping and I bought a compulsory complement of batik shirts for my menfolk.

2013-05-02 20.51.34 2013-05-03 06.59.07Our last night was spent out at Bandung where one of the Polyteknik’s we were visiting was. Room and the view from it pictured above.

2013-05-02 17.59.22This is me after too many hours in the car – I was getting bored enough to take selfies.

And here is a picture from our road trip Starbucks stop – coffee after prayers.

2013-05-03 12.20.10We flew home Friday night, and when I got home on Saturday, while there were no boys, I was very pleased to find the other things I had missed most for the week – fizzy caffeinated beverages and bacon – in the fridge.

2013-05-04 13.38.15

We were all off to the roller derby Saturday night – Black and Blue Bells versus The Surly Griffins. They got into the May the Fourth theme with their roll out.

2013-05-04 18.03.11 2013-05-04 19.39.47 2013-05-04 19.54.26-1

Sadly, the Bells ended up comprehensively defeating the Griffins, but there was so good moment of play, and some outstanding juking from Penergy.

2013-05-05 13.57.18I slept in the next day and then hung out with Jude and Zac until it was derby training time. Meanwhile James had taken Sebastian up to Campbelltown for a regional hockey carnival, where Sebastian scored 3 goals and his team won the grand final for the day!

2013-05-05 19.01.41