Tag Archives: asia

His and Hers – A Love Story

This story was originally part of a series I wrote for another blog. Thought I would repost it due to a few questions I have been getting on smaller RC rigs. These little rigs are great to travel with and one of mine has almost frequent flyer mileage as I do.

I have had several Revos, Slashes, Rallys, and combinations, conversions, and off-shoots of these three. But by far the most fun I have had was building these two rigs with my wife.

A few weeks ago she showed an interest in an old buggy. Now she has always loved building and painting but driving was not so fun for her. I took an old slash and put a 23 turn motor in it and placed in training mode. In the privacy of our backyard track she learned to like it. Then last week for the Sweet 16 Rally we held here, we picked up a mini slash for non rc visitors to bash. She fell in love with the car when placed in training mode.

Her rig is stock and has the 12 turn Titan but soon to have a 23 turn HPI. That should give her longer run time and slower speeds

My rig has the Velenion brushless with Traxxas ESC, Traxxas and Integy aluminum, and run it on a Spektrum controller.

On neither rig am I overly concerned with having top shelf race parts, and use trickle down stuff from my prime rig…the Revo.

The Slash takes a lot of lip because of stability. My argument is that if you drive a car within its limits you don’t flip as much. We can go through several battery packs in an evening without ever being on our lids.

I’m enjoying our time in the yard with these rigs. I’m kind of anal about similar rigs running at the same time so its nice we are driving short course rigs at the same time.

20111019-173803.jpg

The “Plight” of the Sochi Reporter

Forgive me while I laugh. I have found the whole trending topic of the problems in Sochi at the Olympics pretty absurd. I think it speaks louder to just how out of touch and pampered most US international travelers really are. I believe this is making us as a country look foolish and spoiled.

Going to the Olympics or any other event at this scale is a privilege. Spending time in some of the best and worst situations in nearly 40 countries now, I have learned to cope with situations that are often out of our own norms. It is interesting how our own press pushes agendas of diversity and coexistence, yet the first time they have to take a dump in a toilet that is unfamiliar to them it becomes international news.

Sure, I get there are issues. Maybe Russian quality is not the same standard as it is in the U.S. I also distinctly remember problems in the Atlanta and Salt Lake Olympics. The Lake Placid Olympics left local businesses with huge debt and the State of New York had to devise a rescue plan.

As an adventure traveler you learn to deal with situations and cope with newness. We have now arrived at a point where there are so many false postings through social media, we can no longer tell what is true and what is …..well an outright fabrication.

My point is this. The games are really for the athletes. The Olympics lost its allure the day the Soviet Union fell, East German athletes stopped taking massive doses of testosterone and united with the west, and the media became the focal point. As far as I am concerned you can keep Bob Costas and his political views (and those red eyes) away from my TV set, televise more sports that have a winners and losers based on a puck in the net and not a judge, and less….much less figure skating. In fact, can we make prancing on ice in flamboyant outfits an exhibition sport?

Suck it up darlings. Your in a different country getting your meals paid for by your parent companies. You are getting opportunities most cannot even dream about. You want bad conditions? Go live in a tent-city, do the doo in a community stall, and shower in a makeshift facility that uses wood pallets as the flooring. I’m not sympathetic with your plight and once again you have proven to be a bunch of whiny @$$ wimps.

BTW– great article here… http://www.policymic.com/articles/81663/sochiproblems-is-more-of-an-embarrassment-for-america-than-it-is-for-russia

Adventure IQ’s Three F’s of Culture Immersion

20140129-223726.jpg

Recently I have been getting asked for input working overseas as well as picking up a few seminars on travel safety, working with other cultures, and specifically travel and work in Asia. The work in here comes from a few of my own sources including a dissertation in my post-grad program, a few blogs on travel in Asia and SW Asia (Middle East), and a course I developed for a client on cultural diversity….

So let me start off by saying I am not an expert, I am seasoned. My experience includes negotiating terms with Bedouin tribesmen, training soldiers in Europe, SW Asia, and Korea, working with sales and marketing teams, running projects for orphans in Mexico, and coaching corporate leaders. I count thirty-eight countries to date for work, travel, and expedition. My language skills vary, but honestly I can order a beer or ask for the bathroom without going to jail or having a chicken sacrificed in front of me when I simply ordered the daily special in a restaurant.

20140129-223846.jpg

I have what I call the “Three F’s”. This is my guideline for getting to know and appreciate various cultures, and more importantly, get done what I need to get done to make my travel or mission successful. While I do carry a pocket guide for language with notes and my own system of annunciation, the basis goes beyond learning rudimentary language skills, it includes a total immersion into the culture. On a quick side note, for language I also carry post-it-notes and everything in my hotel room gets labeled with my annunciation of the item in local language.

First, when on assignment and if possible, I am on the ground at least the weekend prior to beginning to work. I take this opportunity to visit local parks, museums, malls, etc. I do this on my own without a guide. Often it involves a taxi ride to another part of town. Second I carry a “Go-Bag” which I describe in another blog and podcast.

I have always been the guy who took off to explore. I used to frustrate commanders and team leaders when I was in the military because I took off to explore on my own. Post Desert Storm, there were buses that would take troops from Khobar Towers to downtown for shopping at the mall. 40-50 troops on a bus going from the base to the mall, first of all looked like a target to me. Second, most troops, I felt, were kind of loud and obnoxious for me. I would breathe a sigh of relief that the bus had not been attacked on route, then as everybody headed into the mall, I darted across the streets into the sooks- open air markets. There I could test and learn new language skills, explore new back alleys, and try to learn as much as I could about the people. I did the same thing in Egypt and after meeting with a Egyptian/French family for a period, almost wound up with a wife!

20140129-224205.jpg

The Three Fs: Fun, Food, Faith

While I have contemplated adding another “F” here and there (at one time I used “Future” when working with refugees in Turkey) I have stuck to these main three. I find if I can master these immediately, I stand a greater chance of both getting my assignment completed as well as enrich my own life.

Fun
Knowing what a culture does for entertainment makes great conversation starters. Last year when working in Taipei I followed the national baseball team rigorously. The people I worked with in Taipei were highly energized by the success the team was having in the world tournament. This gave me a basis to start conversations with them. By mid assignment I could rattle of the stats, identify players by face, and discuss the previous night’s game. I was allowed to be a part of the frenzy. I was the only white guy sitting in the open mall area with thousands of new “friends” caught up in both the excitement and disappointment as Taipei fell to Japan in a 4-3 loss.

I count museums as fun as well as adding to my historical and cultural knowledge. Not only do I learn about the history, art, and politics of a nation, I see how people interact with one another. I see how children interact with parents, I am privy to interactions between business and customers, and I see the diversity in people who gather in these places.

20140129-224503.jpg

On most trips I pack my GPS and a stack of printed Geo Cache targets to visit that are close to my hotel (in most cases.) I usually pick areas such as parks, museums, nature centers, etc. It gives me a chance to get out of my hotel and explore. By going to all these different places it not only allows me to take in different samples of the culture and see what they do for fun, but often I gain “an insider’s view” of the city. A few years ago I was working in Shenzhen. My geo-adventure took me to a national nature preserve that was in the heart of this massive city. I spent the day learning about a petrified forrest that most of my counterparts did not even know existed. For more info on Geo Caching, check out my other blogs and podcast.

20140129-224653.jpg

20140129-224706.jpg

Food

A guy has to eat. In my time working as a liaison and trainer to many of our allies I learned that most of the time what’s for dinner is only a shade away from “what’s that for dinner?” I know I have eaten things that would put me in the limelight of a travel and adventure reality show on some cable network. The combination of having a mother who insisted I try a bite of everything once and a natural curiosity for food, I have surprised most host.

Breaking bread together is a bond that unites people. In many traditions to host or feast with someone is similar to passing the peace pipe in our own Native American tribes. I have found that entering a food situation that it is better to ask what something is after the meal. More than an understanding what animal or plant a morsel of food derived from, I often get a story about a grandmother who made special dishes or the history behind a food.

As I said above, I travel solo most of the time. This is more by design. I like to go and experience the area before getting the guided tour from my host. I find I can process the experience the host provides much better if I do this. Going solo provides unique opportunities to try different foods in the area. I try my hardest to stay away from the “American” fast food stops and restaurants. I tend to look for where locals are gathering at feeding time and head in the general direction.

20140129-224917.jpg

20140129-224933.jpg

On a trip to Korea a few years ago I found myself in what is the equivalent of a “greasy spoon” in the US. Good, cheap food, average service, and lots of people. My tactic is usually the same. I order the same dish as the person closest to me. This not only provides some of the most unusual dishes I have tried, but also respect of my co-workers when showing them pictures the following week. In Korea I experienced Kimche, Bulgogi, and Kimbap all on my own. Bulgogi is probably my favorite. The table-top grilling experience is something I return to time and time again. None of these fantastic foods would have been experienced at a TGI Fridays or McDonalds.

One of the richest experiences of food and fun was my best friend Amund and his wife treating me to a Burns Night when I was working in Scotland. If you are a frequent reader of the blog or listen to the podcast, you already know I am a kilt fanatic, owning eight of them and wearing them most of my free time. (No pun intended.) Burns Night is the celebration of the life of the great poet and includes Haggis, bag pipes, and Scottish traditions. It was truly a memorable night participating in a truly unique experience.

20140129-225151.jpg

20140129-225229.jpg

Faith

20140129-225421.jpg

20140129-225434.jpg

I have very strong spiritual beliefs. I know where I stand in my own faith. Still, in order to better understand people, you have to know what they believe. As I was deploying to Saudi Arabia for Desert Storm, I read the entire Koran. I did the same thing on my first trip to China, trying to grasp an understanding both Confucianism and Taoism.

I have been very fortunate to be invited into various houses of worship. From “High Church” in Scotland to small corner temples in Taipei, I relish the experience. Last year while working in Seoul I had found myself at a large Buddhist temple in the Gangam complex. Right across from one of the largest malls in the world was a site dedicated to faith. I spent the entire day and several nights on the site. I watched “drumming prayers” and monks meditating. I spent time praying my own faith while basking in the warmth of communal fires. I shielded myself from a spring rain in a temple, while reciting complines I had learned in my own journey. Tied closely to food, I was invited to sit and eat a very humble meal of rice and soup with resident monks and other invitees. We discussed life, faith, religion, and history. One of the best travel days I have ever experienced.

I had a similar experience in Scotland where my good friend and spiritual mentor and I spent an afternoon in an older orthodox church. It was interesting in how both places, the conversations were much the same.

20140129-225625.jpg

Understanding Fun, Food, and Faith of a people has helped me connect in so many ways. It is a great place to start to understand a culture and even the variances within a culture. I always find it interesting when told by a client in an interview, you need to understand (fill in the blank) culture. I believe that there are people who can learn one or two cultures through experience, then there are those who can adapt and assimilate into a culture to a point where they are more than accepted, they are respected and almost made an honorary member of the culture. On a trip to China, I got to know the area and people in the area so well that I was dubbed “The Mayor of Shanghai” by the ladies in the office. As they took my boss and I out for the night, we kept running into people who knew me…by name. That is assimilation.

20140129-225804.jpg

20140129-225830.jpg

20140129-225859.jpg

20140129-225912.jpg

iPad Apps for the Business Side of Adventure

I wanted to put together a quick article on apps I use when on the go– mostly for international travel and not so much in my rig.  Having apps on the iPad really helps when negotiating a  price on a gift, finding a hotel, or just finding where you are. While there are productivity apps I use such as BossJock for the podcast and GeoCaching for well…geocaching, these are more to keep my business life going well so I can enjoy my adventure time. So here is a brief breakdown of whats on my pad whether I’m doing a workshop in Asia or meeting a client in Europe.

Concur

Concur

I suck at numbers and every admin I have ever had hates the way I keep track of expenses. This tool keeps me organized and even helps me set up AMEX payments. Now I can manage expenses as they occur on trips and in the field. I can even photograph and upload my receipts using the iPad camera and itemize charges to expedite the expense reporting process.

Maps

Maps

First, I miss Google Maps. Stuck with this on the iPad though, it works as a navigational tool, using GPS location to help map routes on highways and mass transit systems. nearby, saving time in the field.

Urban Spoon

Urbanspoonr

This has been more successful in the US and I honestly have not tried it abroad (yet). The app  searches the area for restaurants, cafes and other eateries. It leverages a ranking system and list  results by distance and price. I found I can even look for specific types of food as well as to rate and socialy share suggestions.

Currency

Currency

A must for international travel. It provides up-to-date currency exchange rate information for most common currencies.

Gate Guru

GateGuru

Remember O.J. running through the airport trying to catch a plane? That was before he was fleeing in a white Bronco or breaking into hotel rooms. GateGuru provides real-time flight status information including up-to-date information on security lines, just what I need…another reason to stress. 

Bongeunsa Temple in Seoul

IMG_6292         Forget about Gangnam style…when in Seoul there is so much to see beyond the glitz and the glam. Beyond the hustle and bustle (Korean women are ALWAYS running and nobody patiently waits for elevator doors to close…they repeatedly hit the close button), there is a quite retreat known as Bongeunsa.  Bongeunsa is a Buddhist temple where like many other unique and interesting places, I found through geo-caching. Needing to drop off a travel bug, I discovered an interesting monastery only blocks away from my hotel.IMG_6293IMG_6312

Founded in 794 during the reign of King Wonseong by the monk Yeon-hoe, at the time the highest ranking monk of Silla, It sits on the slope of Sudo Mountain in Samseong-dong, across the street from the ultra-modern COEX Mall. Buddhism in Korea was violently repressed during the Joseon Dynasty.IMG_6348

Bongeunsa was reconstructed in 1498 with the support of Queen Munjeong, who revived Buddhism in Korea for a short time in the mid-16th century. In 1551 it became the main temple of the Zen (Korean Seon).

Today it is a revived temple complex with several buildings and rooms for followers and guest to meditate in. There is an air of friendliness to visitors and I even had the opportunity to sit for a very humble meal of rice and soup.

After dropping off my travel bugs and picking up a few in return, I stuck around to just relax on one of the trails on the side of the mountain. Later in the evening, I returned to watch the drumming ceremony. As an avid percussionist, I was completely captivated by the experience.IMG_6355

IMG_6347I believe that to understand a culture, you have to first understand that culture’s faith, food, and recreation. This is something my time in the military taught me, and lessons I still carry today. I am very solid in my faith, and though not a Buddhist, I found I could go into one of the buildings where others were praying, and I could simply relax and enjoy the atmosphere as I prayed on my own (Celtic Daily Prayer).

I was glad for the visit and I was more aware of the 4am gong and 6pm drumming. I made it an evening pilgrimage most nights to watch the four percussion instruments be played as part of a faith-based ceremony.

I won’t pretend to understand the faith, but found its followers very open to me being in their presence and very thankful for their acceptance of me. Great photo opportunities and it made me with I had my Dad’s technical expertise for taking great photos. At some point I need to get a great point and shoot digital and save my iPad and GoPro for other things…IMG_6314

Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Taipei

IMG_6613As you know I love exploring history. Visiting Taipei I had a chance to visit the memorial for democratic pioneer, Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Many don’t realize this, but Taiwan is was the first democracy in Asia. Founded on the premise that Taiwan was starving from lack of educational nutrition, Dr Sun helped to point the way towards literacy.

A Chinese revolutionary, he participated in as many as eleven, he was the first president and founding father of the IMG_6620Republic of China (Taiwan) and is referred to as the “Father of the Nation”. Sun Yat-sen played a critical role in the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1888. In 1912, he was appointed to serve as president of the Provisional Republic of China In addition, Sun who is still revered today, was a uniting figure in post-Imperial China.

IMG_6637I enjoyed visiting the memorial hall in Taipei and encourage anyone visiting Taiwan to stop by. I found it because of following a geocache. My how this activity takes me to unique places! The grounds are simply beautiful and there are diverse activities taking place on the grounds.

You might see prayerful monks next to hip-hop dances. The unique thing I have learned about Asia in general, parks can have many different groups congregating in close proximity, and no one is affected by the other group. For a photographer, this is a target rich environment.

IMG_6649IMG_6627The main entrance to the hall contains a huge statue of Sun Yat-sen. Every hour, there is a formal changing of the guards, which I highly recommend seeing. It is popular, so get a spot early. Also a gift shop to collect that much needed postcard or travel stamp.

The building itself is sited on a beautiful campus, Chung-shan Park. It includes lush gardens, decorative historical walls, and an exhibition and performance area surrounding Lake Cui. There are also great views of Taipei 101, the world’s second largest building.IMG_6652

For more information and to hear some great audio podcast, check out our audio blog