Monday, March 24, 2014

wow back again so soon

Just a few things I find interesting.

In the newspaper last week

a short article on the Malaysian handling of the MH370. They say it mirrors the government in the country. No one really in charge, no strong leadership.

an article about a blogger in Vietnam who was dissing the Vietnamese government on his blog. He was arrested, tried in court (2 hour trial) and charged with "abusing democratic freedom" and sentenced to 15 months in jail. Democratic freedom? Huh?

I'll just add, meekly, that I am dying of the heat these days. I think it is as hot as it has ever been here. I know you are handling the opposite problem and I do not say this to rub it in. But with the sunny blue sky days comes such heat. The strong winds we have had have gone and it is oppressive. I can not believe the construction workers etc out in this sunny heat.

I know, poor poor me.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Tim is asked often about MH370. I am sure you would ask him if you could. He knows as much as you or I do, what is in the news. But he does weight some of the explanations more than us who do not fly big airline planes.

We were at church last week and they were presenting candidates for RCIA who hope to join the Catholic church at Easter. Tim thought he saw someone from work at the front. It is a colleague of his, that he has known since he arrived, a lovely guy, Keong, a Malaysian that is with Tiger and teaches safety. Tim has spoken admiringly of him since he met him. But any conversations did not include church affiliation. After seeing Keong last Sunday, when Tim saw him next at work he spoke with him. Long story short, Keong invited us to an evening last night that was amazing. A meeting of young university men, at a house with something to do with Opus Dei. (Dan Brown was not there)

They meet Saturday nights and discuss philosophy, and how to have your Catholic perspective on happenings in the world. They had invited Keong to talk about MH370, with a slant to how to see it with your religious perspective. Keong teaches safety for Tiger, has been subpoenaed for many air disaster court cases, and he has an extensive knowledge of accidents. Tim, too, knows a lot about air disasters, because it is a pilot's job to learn from mistakes to not have them happen again.

Keong went over all the suggested scenarios and the result at the end of the evening was we knew no more media facts, but he suggested a different way of looking at the media information. (oh how we are manipulated by the media who are desperate to keep front page stories to sell their newspapers. )

He went over many of the suggested possible scenarios and showed us how they could not be. Disconnecting data links, shadowing another plane, (at night? with no radar to know where you or he is?).  Keong had no theories, no answers, but he did give expert explanations on a human level of all the information being tossed around.

For us to see a slice of Singaporean life, a massive National University where the meeting was, these young men searching for meaning. It is a connection with the community that I had hoped for, yearned for, and here with one month to go we have this wonderful connection with a community.
Interesting the way things unfold.

Friday, March 21, 2014

No shoes, no news.

Well, Maldives was everything I had hoped it would be. What a wonderful trip for our last. Except it isn't our last. Tim has time off and is going to go to Philippines to see his friend Mike who has a glider club. I will stay back, oh poor me, to insure that all our things find new homes.

Then Tim's sister Jeanette (alias Skip) is coming April 1-14. We have been invited to Norm's boat for a sail, so we will all go to Phuket for a sail. Aha!

Then Tim just discovered he has 4 or 5 days off near the end of his time, and we could and might do another trip. OMG another trip to plan!!!!

But back to paradise. I only wish. Maldives is gorgeous.  The islands are really sand shoals. With some growth on what remains above water level in high tide. That means that all the islands are surrounded by sand. Pure white powder sand. The water is the cleanest I have seen in all of our travels. (we even saw the hotel grounds keeper digging holes in the beach to bury sand shells that were not quite powder,. He had raked them up, and redirected them to under the water to break up finer!)

Our room was a water villa, a room on stilts over the water. And it is as beautiful as it sounds. The walkway out is lit at night and you see sharks and barracuda, and parrot fish well lit, swimming like crazy. Who knew they speed up at night! Our deck was six glass doors wide, we slept with the doors wide open, the ocean breezes blowing all night. I woke up just at sunrise, my camera happened to be on my bed table, and I took a pic. Note my feet, just to accentuate that I was still in bed. Ah, to wake up to this! Then you get up, and climb down a ladder off your deck, to the Indian Ocean and snorkel!

The most photo worthy trip, and I have very few photos.

I just knew that the photos could not capture the magic. But 5 days was enough. We ate at buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner. You, of course, have to try a little of everything. The food was wonderful, homemade ice-cream twice a day, several curries at all three meals. Tuna all ways, sushi, tartar, barely bbq'd. And it goes on.

Met wonderful people. A couple from Belgium, they are mid-seventies and still diving every day.

It is a destination from Europe, lots of French. British, German. A honeymoon destination. And I can see why. Met many who have been coming 4, 6, 10 times, every year, maybe to a different atoll, but they say it is the best diving around. And Tim would concur. He managed to get another tick on his licence, for diving with enriched air. (You can dive deeper and longer)

A friend of Tim's from Arctic flying works there in the winters. He saw him there, had not seen him for over 30 years. Larry does the winter in the Maldives flying twin otter on floats, and summer up north in Canada, flying sport fishermen around the Arctic!

The island was beautifully landscaped but the paths were confusing and even the last day we got lost trying to find our way. Thick jungle. But NO mosquitoes. We had a jacuzzi tub in the outdoors, so had a tub every night in the moonlight. Ahhhh.

We got a whipper of a storm one night. I was glad we were not out on a boat. It was fierce.

44 twin otters on floats service the Maldives. For some reason I really like them. (Tim flew single otters in the Arctic.)

This is an island, also called an atoll.  This has a protected harbour.

The owner of the resort has an island just 500  meters away from the resort

Our jacuzzi. We could open the shutters to the ocean view and watch the moon on the ocean at night.

They have added orchids to the trees along the paths.

Our delivery service. From the Male airport they picked us up and drove is the the other side of the airport to the docks, and we flew 20 minutes to our resort.

It was truly paradise. There just is something magic about turquoise water, white sand, a strong ocean breeze, palm trees. Their little catch phrase is  No shoes, no news.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I am one lucky lady

I had an amazing happening today.

I was going for lunch to my dearest friend's, Kate Porter, my yoga saviour.
I went off to my 'hood mall to buy a gift for her daughter, and flowers for Kate.

I have a wallet that is an almost perfect wallet. A perfect wallet is hard to find. But I have one that takes my money, my key, some lipstick, my passport (always- then I know where it is) and my phone.

I had gone to a store for wee people and bought an outfit for Scout. While they were packaging it, I went down to get flowers.

I paid for the flowers  (mauve tulips, gorgeous!!!).  I then went up stairs to pick up the outfit for not-so-wee Scout.

I heard my name being called over the PA system. Actually I didn't recognize the pronunciation of my name but I heard "from Canada". I immediately knew it was for me. "Canada"

I had gone to pay for the flowers, and my phone slipped out of my wallet, to the floor, phone and a $50 bill. I got them, put them away and went upstairs to pick up the outfit for Scout. What had happened was, the flower lady had gone in to her waste basket drawer, right where I had been standing, and saw a passport inside the drawer of cuttings. My phone and $$ had fallen on the floor, but my passport had fallen in the open slice of the drawer, maybe 1", and had rested on the lip of the drawer.

I run through the scenarios of what could have happened. If she had not gone in to the waste drawer right afetr I left, while I was still in the mall. If I had not noticed until I was at the airport trying to leave for Maldives tomorrow. If... if.... if.  (Actually in brackets I think how Big Brother is everywhere and then I wonder at what point "they" would have found me. I am sure they track everything you do.)

But, I am one lucky lady. I have decided  to carry my phone elsewhere. Two years no problem, but I don't want anything like that again.

The weather has been awful. The driest February since they have kept records. And the windiest. At least if you have dry and HEAT, to have wind, it ameliorates the heat, which is ALWAYS a constant.

All talk is of Malaysia Air. Tim has no opinion,  but is asked constantly. He does say their training is "aviate, navigate, communicate". In that order. So those poor pilots were too busy to let anybody know what they were up to. It is a mystery, but I do feel very close to it, having travelled those skies, and that route, as does Tim, of course. I am thinking all of you are much more familiar with these waters, with all the maps in the newscasts.

Off to the Maldives tomorrow, to a short 2 1/2 hour flight, then a pick up to a Twin Otter on floats, to our little island resort. My camera battery is charged and ready to go. As am I.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Crimea and Clapton

We had a friend over for dinner last night. She is a pilot with Tiger. A very interesting woman. Grew up in Moscow, studied in England, worked corporate for a decade, and decided she wanted to fly. Quit the corporate life and started flying. Holland, Namibia, and now Tiger. She is 38, has two adopted sons. (Russian) Hopes to adopt one more.

So that is Olga. But over the course of the evening we talked of Crimea. Such a different perspective from her. She is Russian, she thinks the Russians are right to "rescue" Crimea from the abject poverty and lack of support from Ukraine. Crimea was given to Ukraine in 1991, and since there has been no funding or support. What once was a beautiful sea coast, with beautiful scenery and a booming tourist business, has fallen in to a poverty stricken wasteland. The Russians living in Crimea want Russia to bring them back to where they were 15 years ago.

As much as she does not like Putin, she thinks he has done a lot of good for Russia. It is safe, clean, and standard of living has improved. She can walk the streets of Moscow, at night, and not be afraid. Before you dare not drive at night with your doors locked.

As she talked, I was aware of how my perspective is so coloured by the media. Taking that thought further, how my eyes on the world have changed. When Sri Lanka is in the news, I have an experience in that country to colour my image. When I hear of Australia, Africa, Asia, I have concrete memories of experiences in those cultures. I am reading a novel about Malaysia and I know where of he is writing. I have been there. This is all so truly awesome.

We went to see Eric Clapton the other night. Great fun. Is he a very  shy man? No talking, straight playing, a quick thank you between songs, the on to the next. No intermission and 2 hours straight playing. It looks like touring has not taken the toll on him that it seems to so many. He looks trim, fit  and healthy.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Maldives, where are they?

I was reading tonight about the Maldives and thought I would let you know what I am reading. If you are like me you are not sure where they are. I am looking it up, because I wasn't sure.

The Maldives is in the Indian Ocean to the south and west of Sri Lanka and India, the Seychelles to the southeast. So from the southern tip of India, with Sri Lanka at it's east, you go west to the Maldives. Keep going west in the Indian Ocean to the Seychelles, and then on to Mauritius, and then you are at Africa. The capitol city is Male. There are 1190 islands, all surrounded by white sandy beaches. The white sandy shoreline is what makes them atolls. Our island we are going to, looks like half of it is green and a full half of it is white sand, in to the turquoise water. Heaven? Paradise?

I think.

The sea covers about 99% of the Maldives, there are over 5,000 coral reefs and the marine life is spectacular. Sea turtles, dolphins, whales. Yahoo.

It will be the first country to feel the effects of the sea level rising. The highest point of land is 2.4 meters above sea level, the average 1.5 m.

The Portuguese invaded for 15 years in the 16th Century, the Dutch for 4 months, and it became a British Protectorate 1887-1965 (because of the proximity of the Suez Canal). As of 1965 it is a republic with an elected president and an authoritarian government. It has a population of 300,000, the capital Male 100,000. (pretty small, in comparison to the other countries we have been visiting).

It was devastated in the Indian Ocean earthquake of 2004. The country is greatly influenced by India and Sri Lanka. It was in the news 2012, when a young girl of 14 was sentenced to 100 lashes for premarital sex, when in fact she had been raped. It was a story world wide. It has one of the highest divorce rates in the world, but because the marriage laws are very loose.

We fly in to Male, and then get ourselves to the island of our hotel. We can go by boat or fly (twin Otter on floats !!!!. I hope one way of each service. It sounds fantastic, and is a fine way to wind up our travels.

I am thinking a lot about going home, thinking of what I will miss, what I will not miss, what I can't wait for, and what I can wait for. In the next two months we will be wrapping up a most exciting adventure. I am planning to keep this blog going when I get back, more to ruminate on adjusting back to "real" life. I hear it is harder than adjusting to being an expat. Given how hard it was for both Tim and me, I really can not imagine that. But I will find out.