Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bob Trip continued (January 17th-19th)

Monday January 17th SRC

Just another day at the office!! Strategy morning… planning our meeting with SIF… looking to get their ideas and hopefully (Hope is not a strategy but all strategists are full of Hope) get a read on their basic underlying desires and focus those towards our needs. If we pull this off then we will take our road show to the State Department or UN… depends on who has best T & S allowance… I’m going to hold out for business class as my absolute walk away position!!!

We had a couple of walk in tourists today… saw the sign and wandered in to see what we were… not a really common experience… these folks were either lost or real explorers! You never know… the second couple suggested a potential contact that raises funds for our kind of work… another follow-up opportunity… all are opportunities in the world of half full and soon to be filled and looks like it could be full soon!!

After lunch I finally get to watch Sok Heng do his thing in the lab… I kind of know what he does but it will be fun to watch… he was a real find!! Seur flew in on the water collection express with the morning samples and Sok Heng ran through the entire spectrum of tests for me. He runs that lab like a precision machine… no wasted steps; two hands engaged most of the time and often running simultaneous samples on two machines. This kid knows work place organization… where was he when I was trying to improve my production capacity and output??? Some of you loyal fans will appreciate my question… this guy is AGILE!!

Relaxing walk to bid SR adieu for another year then outa here to dateline Singapore.

Tuesday January 18 Singapore

Long flying morning but it was made easier by the presence of the International Trib… Saturday’s edition but when you haven’t read the prior Saturday’s news it’s all new news. It even has a decent crossword puzzle… in Singapore before I knew it. For those souls that have not been here it is really a splendidly attractive, modern and immaculate place. For those who have… the skyline has changed again!! The Marina Sands complex (with the ship structure on top is up, open and prospering… the casino reportedly charges a $100SD entrance charge for Singaporeans… free for foreigners… Our money is much valued!!

Got in late… rushed to hotel (Hotel Re… easy to spot… bright Pepto-Bismol Pink stripes!! Mieko selected because of free WiFi in the rooms)… dropped the luggage and bolted for SIF office… just time to wolf down a Mickey D’s burger… honestly… but we had to fight for our place in line with a hoard of neatly uniformed scrubbed clean students. Encouraging meeting with SIF… talked about their satisfaction, our plans, needs, strategy, Rotary continued involvement and where we would like to take the project going forward. They are aware of our budget needs, where they fit in as part of our concept of a sustainable program and expressed a sincere interest. They now need to work in the Singapore corporate world to find the support.

Met our friend Mr. Lai from Manjusuri School and he invited us to the beach club… remember that guys??? This year’s theme is Northern India… Nan with garlic, bbq’d squid, chicken with dipping sauce and cold beer… just like a summer night out!! The “floating city across the mythic river” was still winking at us… a bit smaller thanks to an ever improving economy but still pretty impressive.

Wednesday January 19th Singapore

Very nice soft bed with lots of big, soft pillows… nice move up the scale of comfort!!! Slept like a spoiled dog!! Walked through a very nice park behind the hotel… as we reached the top of the hill it encompassed we were struck with a warning shout from a worker at the entry walk to some facility surrounded by a barbed wire capped fence and sliding steel gates. He made it clear that we should proceed right and around his walled charge. We never learned what it was but the pictograph on the KEEP OUT sign showed a rifle man pointing his weapon at an intruder that looked suspiciously like me… we got it even though the words were in Chinese… some words are universal!! Very direct here in Singapore!! The path took us into China Town where the decorations for Chinese New Year are already in place… for the uninitiated… CNY is a big, big, big deal here.

Went on to the Raffles Place North Tower where Deutsche Bank’s offices are located and zipped to the 17th floor overlooking the harbor and half a dozen big construction sites (new skyline next year too). Nice digs… they occupy 9 floors and growing… business is actually booming here. After a really encouraging meeting Annie our host and supporter from DBank took us to a very fine new local restaurant the features Peking Duck roasted in brick ovens using apple wood imported from China… I guarantee, dear fellow gourmands, you have never had PD to equal this. She had pre ordered one as a starter and followed with a superb Chinese style lunch.

After business, Mieko and I did a walking tour of the Marina Bay area and sauntered through one of the world’s great shopping malls at the Marina Sands… not many shops missing but it does have a “navigable” river running through it a water fall entering from the water oculus above and a nice skating rink for those desiring a vicarious vacation in the northern world.

I will close today’s usually informative missive with a comment on two observations… first Singapore cabbies are the world’s nicest and most congenial and second Changi is the most efficient airport in my long experience.

Send with fondness from Starbucks deep in the tunnels of the D gate complex.

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