Sunday, February 28, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 53 of 58

Keepsakes from Seoul

March 01, 2010
Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

It's cold and windy today. It was raining this morning; then it turned to snow.
We decided to take care of some errands and relax. First, we went to the COEX mall, where we grabbed lunch, bought bananas at Hyundai Dept Store - where we ran into a Singapore colleague, Graham Lynch, and his girlfriend - and picked up a souvenir I've been looking at.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have some basic criteria for buying a memento. On this trip, two items have met my criteria.

The first, which I picked up in Insadong, are the three ceramic folks pictured above: a drummer, a dancer, and a flute player.
The second, which I bought today, is a fish gong.

A mogeo, or fish gong

Both are small (enough), musical in theme, and very cultural. So, now they are both going home with us.

We also booked tickets for a traditional dance at the Namsan theater on Wednesday night, and for MISO on Friday night. I can't get enough of Korean music and dance.

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 52 of 58

Performers at Namsan Hanok Village

Sunday, February 28th
Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

Yesterday was quite a day in Seoul. Apparently, the first new moon of the year is an important one in Korean culture. There were numerous festivals to celebrate the occasion.

We ended up at Namsan park, with a lot of other people, to watch traditional crafts and entertainment. The gentleman in the white suit above walks (and jumps and bounces and does comedy) on the hire wire/rope that is behind him.

The Bukcheong: A Korean Lion Dance

Later, there were lion dances that featured the bukcheong, an interesting variation on the Chinese Lion dance that turns up in varying forms all over Asia. The Korean lion is shaggier than most, which I happen to like.

The grass teepee behind the lion is filled with written wishes that would be burned. The smoke then lifts your wishes to the gods.

What will the next year bring?

If anyone was looking for answers today, the fire responded with a resounding question mark.
This is only fair, I guess. No one really wants to know what the next year will be like, do they?

We ended our night with traditional dance.
Again, I was invited on-stage to drum, so I received another set of drum sticks.
So far, I've been to four dance shows. Three have pulled up audience members. All three times I was selected.
I don't mind...

More spectacular colors...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 51 of 58

Faces of Insadong

Friday, February 27th
Learning Moment: Insadong Street, Seoul, Korea

If there were a vote for 'favorite place in Seoul', Insadong would probably be the people's choice. Popular with young and old, locals and foreigners, teeming with those who are curious and those who are curiosities - Insadong is filled with great restaurants, cutting edge galleries, traditional shops, music, and the entire range of human drama.

While we were wandering Insadong yesterday, I conducted two interviews with college students who are studying English. This is a normal occurance. Students lurk all over the street with notepads, waiting for a foreigner who isn't moving with a sense of purpose. When they find one, they ask, "May I interview you?"

Everyone is an artist, a subject, or both...

One student asked me, "What is your favorite thing about Insadong?"
The answer was easy - the energy of the people on the street.

Despite the restaurants, the galleries, and the historical sites that surround the area, I could be happy just standing there all day and watching people on the street - so I did.

Who needs art galleries?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 50 of 58

something I'd never seen before...

Friday, February 26th
Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

Big day today in Korea...
We had a very successful slide:ology workshop.
Kim Yu-Na won the gold medal with a record setting performance (if you think that might not be a big deal in Korea, you would be way off target).
And, I saw something I'd never seen before.

This is, of course, the reason why I travel. When traveling - if you pay attention - you will see at least one thing a day that you'd never seen before. These things are sometimes beautiful, sometimes sad, often perplexing.

Today's sighting falls squarely in the perplexing category.
Our workshop was held on the 9th floor of the Kongdong building. On this floor there is a company and a public meeting room. The restroom is shared.

In the restroom is what appears to be a public toothbrush container. I'm not sure if this is a shared toothbrush collection, or if Korean trust is so high that you can store your personal toothbrush in a public restroom without worrying that anyone will do anything (and, of course, I mean anything) to it.

On the other hand. It does have a UV purifier, so maybe it doesn't matter?
Yeah, good luck with that.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 49 of 58

A Solo Fan Dance at Pulhyanggi Restaurant

Thursday, February 25th
Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

It's really hard to perform well when the audience sucks. Seriously.

Audiences seem to have little clue that they own some of the responsibility for the strength of a performance. Whether it's an athletic performance, a musical performance, a dance, or a public speaker: the next time you witness mediocrity, it would be fair to wonder if you're partially to blame.

That's what makes nights like a tonight seem like a minor miracle. Tonight, we had a nice dinner in a traditional Korea restaurant. The audience consisted of approximately 10 people. The show consistent of 4 so-so musicians and one very good dancer.

The audience didn't seem interested in the performance. They ate and talked more than they watched. In fact, their talking seemed to get louder through the night.

And yet... the dancer performed as though 400 pairs of eyes were glued on her every move. More accurately, she danced as though no one were watching; as if she were dancing only for herself. If only we could all summon that energy or passion when we need it.

Strangely, at the end of the show, a group of five that had talked through her entire dance made sure to get their photo with her. She obliged. This brought to mind the popular refrain of Wayne and Garth, "We aren't worthy".

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 48 of 58

Wednesday, February 24th

Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

One of the most important lessons I learned from slide:ology was the lesson of storyboarding: don't build your slides until you've built your storyboard.

On this eight-week tour of Asia, I've been able to put that principle into practice. I'm preparing for a 90-minute workshop at ISPI's 2010 Conference in San Francisco that takes place in April.

In the photo to the left, you can see my storyboard taking form. I've been working on it during my 20-70 minute taxi ride to/from Bundang in Seoul. The notebook is a 'Clean Sheet/Expedient notebook' by Kyokuto associates co, ltd.

I bought this notebook in Japan because it fits neatly into my blue Eagle Creek Travel bag (you can see the bag in the photo). The travel bag holds my notebook, Sharpie pens, and a Ziploc Easy Zipper bag filled with Post-it notes (starting to sound like an advertisement, huh?).

You can see that I'm using different color post-its. Yellow is slide content, Orange is quotes, Blue is for exercises. Green is for new ideas that I'm thinking about.

This system is working out very well for me. It's fast, flexible, and convenient. As I get closer to presentation time, I'll post the full storyboard.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 47 of 58

Drumming with the Dancers at Korea House

Tuesday, February 23rd
Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

Korea House is one of my favorite places on the planet. Great music, pounding drums, beautiful women, energetic dances, colorful costumes, and great food; that's tough to beat.

We never make a trip to Seoul without visiting Korea House, and this one would be no different. They've redesigned the stage and the program since we last visited. I loved the changes. The stage is more dramatic, and the new dances are still brilliant.

The legendary fan dance

The fan dance is always a highlight, as are the 'drumming dances'. But, the highlight of tonight - for me, anyway - was when I was invited on stage. When they invited me (along with a few other foreign guests), I started to say no. Then I realized that they didn't want me to dance, they wanted me to drum. I couldn't pass up that opportunity.

So, up I went. At the end of the song, they gave us all souvenir drum sticks, which was pretty cool. And I have to show a picture of Angie with our dinner. Do you think we got enough food?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 46 of 58

Sunset over Seoul

Monday, February 22nd
Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

Heat is, apparently, highly valued in Korea. Our hotel room consistently runs somewhere between 76-79 degrees. The heat is centrally controlled, so our only choice is to turn the heat off completely. It doesn't seem to do much good. We have an oscillating fan, which helps a little.
Last night, I slept without covers.

We've had this problem at other Korean hotels, so it's not an Intercontinental Hotel problem.
I guess it comes from the culture of heated floors.

My classroom today was very hot - somewhere around 75 degrees. I was in short sleeves, so I was marginally comfortable, but I was asked at least three times if I was "okay". They were concerned that I might get cold.

Hell, I would have been barefoot and in shorts if it was up to me.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 45 of 58

Sunday, February 21st

Learning Moment: Seoul, South Korea

We spent the day wandering the area around our hotel.

We visited Bong Eun Sa, a Buddhist temple, and then went to Seolleung, the royal tombs of King Seongjong. The tombs were built in the 14th century.

After that, we went to COEX, a large shopping mall, where we ate dinner at "On The Border". It was our first Mexican dinner (or approximation thereof) in 6 weeks. And we needed it...

Anyway, I've seen temples before. I've even seen royal tombs before. But, I've never seen a divining (or 'dowsing rod') class being conducted.

I'm not sure if they are learning to find water. It seemed as though they were learning to track energy. The instructor (who spoke Korean, so I am learning interpreting actions, gestures, and the occasional English word like 'energy') kept demonstrating that his rod wanted to point to the top of any nearby pagoda or stupa.

Whether it works or not, I cannot say (science says, "no"). But, it was pretty funny watching a group of serious looking guys in suits play with these fancy sticks.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 44 of 58

The Yokohama Bay Bridge

Saturday, February 20
Learning Moment: Yokohama, Japan

We traveled from Japan to Korea today.
It was a relaxing day, with a late checkout from the Intercontinental Hotel in Yokohama. The picture above - taken from the limobus - shows our approach to the Yokohama Bay Bridge.

Our flight to Korea was smooth, and we reached the Intercontinental Coex at 10:30.
We ready to spend the next two weeks with the Korea team - enjoying the food and culture of Seoul.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 43 of 58

Friday, February 19th

Learning Moment: Kamakura, Japan

Angie and I spent some time in Kamakura today.
It's a 25-minute train ride from Yokohama to the former capital of Japan.

We wandered the back streets and temples, where we saw school kids on class trips, the first apricot and plum blossoms of the year, and the guys pictured to the left.

These are karasu-tengu, or crow tengu. Tengu are spirits or gods that protect the mountains. They are usually pictured in a more human form, with a red face and long nose.

I like these guys better than the human version. There are a lot of crows in Japan, so I like the idea that there might be more to them than meets the eye.

We found the karasu-tengu in the back of the Zen temple, Kencho-ji. There is a mountain shrine called Hansobo that overlooks the temple. From Hansobo, you can see the ocean and - on a clear day - Mount Fuji. It's a beautiful area, with bamboo groves, caves, and sculptures.

It was a nice end to our Japan visit.
Next is Korea!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 42 of 58

Raw Horsemeat (Basashi)

Thursday, February 18th
Learning Moment: Yokohama, Japan

We had dinner with two good friends and colleagues, Haemi and Yagi-san.
Food, sake, and friends is a great combination in Japan.

I also had raw horsemeat for the first time in many years. I used to eat it quite a bit when I traveled to Kumamoto, but it's been a long time.

It was still delicious.

Haemi Kaku and Mikio Yagi

But, no matter how good the food, the conversation was even better.
Catching up with friends is one of the reasons I love to travel.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 41 of 58

Angie at Maimon, Yokohama

Wednesday, February 17th
Learning Moment: Yokohama, Japan

One of our favorite things about Japan is the food. Here Angie is about to dig into a fried shiitake mushroom. Yum!
Behind her you can see part of the Yokohama Cosmo Clock (part ferris wheel, part clock) and the Intercontinental Hotel.

One of our least favorite things about Japan is that the smoking section still often gets the best views... Boooo!

Oh well. Great meal anyway.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 40 of 58

Garr Reynolds at KLA-Tencor Japan

Tuesday, February 16th
Learning Moment: Yokohama, Japan

We had a big day today.
I conducted the slide:ology workshop at our Japan office, where I was joined by Garr Reynolds - the author of Presentation Zen and Presentation Zen Design. Garr was, as expected, brilliant.

He spoke about Simplicity, Restraint, and Naturalness - three design criteria that are too often absent in the high-technology world. Garr models all three, making it easy for anyone to understand and identify with him and his message. He's also, by the way, a lot of fun. We had some good laughs throughout the day.

If you're ever fortunate enough to have the opportunity to hear Garr speak, take advantage. If you can't hear him speak live - order his DVD. It's the next best thing.

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 39 of 58

Yokohama Intercontinental Hotel Place-mat

Monday, February 15th
Learning Moment: Yokohama, Japan

The Yokohama Intercontinental Hotel is one of the more distinctive hotels in the world. It's shaped like (according to the website) a 'yacht under sail'. It's such a singular look that they echo the design in many of their graphics and souvenirs.

For example, the place mat above creates a yacht shape by using little yacht shapes.
This pattern is also in many on the fabric of many of the chairs and sofas.
Smart use of an excellent graphic.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 38 of 58

Streets of Yokohama

February 14th, 2010
Learning Moment: Yokohama, Japan

Spent the day catching up on music (I bought the latest cds by Cocoo, Anna Tsuchiya, Mizrock, and Chara), picking up some stationary supplies, and soaking in all that is Yokohama.

Angie and I then had a traditional kaiseki dinner at Minokichi in Landmark Tower. Along with three carafes of sake, it made for an excellent Valentines Day dinner.

Finally, I spoke with Garr Reynolds tonight. I'm beyond excited that Garr - author of the amazing Presentation Zen books and website - is joining me on Tuesday for a slide:ology workshop. It's pretty intimidating to be leading a workshop when Garr, a truly great presenter, is both watching and speaking. The good news is, he's on my team!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 37 of 58

with Angie at the Hard Rock Yokohama

Saturday, February 13th
Learning Moment: Yokohama, Japan

We had a smooth flight from Singapore to Japan today. For 6 hours, I worked on the storyboard for my book proposal. It was very productive.

We arrived at the Intercontinental Hotel at 5pm, and then went to the Hard Rock Cafe for a burger. It's strange going from 90 degree temps to 30 degree temps, but I have to say it felt great.

Japan will always feel like a second home to me...

Gong Xi Fat Chai!

The Gate for Singapore's Hong Bao

Friday night, I took a quick run to Singapore's Chinese New Year Celebration.
Despite the fact that this is my year - the year of the Tiger, I was disappointed in the 'new and improved' Hong Bao.

What used to be a funky, crowded, and intimate festival crammed into the corners of a riverside park is now a large, soulless cattle herd. They took the celebration out of a green park, and put it on a floating barge. It's basically a parking lot filled with decorations.

This is a clear example of a new plan being implemented that 'fixes' the old problems without stopping to ask what was working at the old location. And that's unfortunate.

Regardless, people were happy - largely because Chinese New Year isn't really about floats, lanterns, fireworks, or parade. It's about family.

So, Happy Chinese New Year to you and yours.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 36 of 58

Leaving with a smile on my face...

Friday, February 12
Learning Moment: Ubud, Bali

We fly back to Singapore this afternoon and then to Japan on Saturday.
There's still time for some adventure today - it's the start of Chinese New Year, after all - but the Southeast Asia portion of our tour is about to come to an end.

We'll be swapping shorts, sunscreen, and swimsuits for winter jackets, freezing temperatures, and cold winds. On the other hand, we'll get to see old friends and familiar places.

So, much like the Balinese statue pictured above; I'm leaving with a smile on my face.

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 35 of 58

Thursday, February 11th
Learning Moment: Bali, Indonesia

Today was another busy day.

I visited the monkey forest and got some free grooming from a new little pal.
Angie and I walked about 5 miles - from Ubud, through Peliatan, and back.
And we bought a pile of paintings...

Two things that I was reminded of:

First, it's hard to get a better bargain for your art dollar than the one you'll find in Bali.
We got five paintings of Balinese dancers, including the one on the left, for about US$65.

Second, I would never try to make my living as an artist. Barriers to market entry are approximately zero. Branding is almost impossible. It's really difficult to articulate the 'value' of your product. And everyone (along with their sisters) believes they are either an artist or an art critic.

There's got to be an easier way to make a living...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 34 of 58

the Setting for our Kajane Romance Dinner

February 10, 2010
Learning Moment: Bali, Indonesia

Romance can be bought. Richard Gere did it, so can you.
In Bali, however, it will cost you a lot less.

Angie and I had a great day. I got a lot of work done on 'SMART as Hell'. We had a great breakfast by the pool. We witnessed a temple festival in downtown Ubud (music, dance, prayer, sarongs, incense, shadow puppets, and throngs of people - Asia in an hour). We had a great lunch at Ary's Warung. We watched dance, while listening to a Bamboo orchestra (jegog). And then we had the romance dinner served to us at our villa.

Above, you can see the 'make-over' the wonderful Kajane staff did to our patio. Flowers strewn about. Colorful cloths draped across our furniture. Candles turned our pool into a reflection pond. Music filled the air (and mosquitoes did not).

The food was excellent, the service perfect, the weather Balinese.
The price? US$45.
Of course, you need a villa - and someone beautiful to sit across the table - first...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 33 of 58

Tuesday, February 9th

Learning Moment: Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

As part of our package, our hotel - the Kajane - included an 'adventure' outing of our choice.
We decided to trek in the rice fields.

So, we woke up early, ate breakfast, and joined our guides for a personal tour. The weather was perfect; sunny and relatively dry. We got up close and personal with the rice paddies, and also saw a large variety of trees and plants.

During a snack break, a local farmer scurried up a palm tree for us and brought down two fresh coconuts. He then sliced them deftly with his machete and handed us one with a ready-to-pour spout. Coconut is one of my five favorite food/ingredients, so you know I loved it.

A we continued our hike, we spotted cows, water buffalo, lizards, herons, dogs, and cats. We passed through a jungle ravine and emerged at a small village.

As part of our package, we received one-hour massages and a traditional Indonesian lunch. Tonight, we'll head to the palace to watch dancers perform the Ramayana.
Just another day in paradise...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 32 of 58

An Offering

February 8th, 2010
Learning Moment: Bali, Indonesia

Almost the first thing one notices in Bali is the offerings that lie scattered everywhere.
Usually, the first notice is taken as one accidentally kicks the offering from a sidewalk into the nearby street.

I made this mistake many, many times during my first visit. Fortunately, the Balinese don't take it personally.

Balinese offerings are ubiquitous. They lie in front of stores, inside stores, in shrines, on rocks, and in tree branches. I would not be surprised to find one anywhere.

These offerings are democratic - they are presented for the benefit of many gods, both good and bad. Once offered, they are food for birds, dogs, monkeys, and insects.

I've tried to emulate the Balinese with my course offerings. My workshops are available to anyone. I'm ready to conduct them anywhere. And I don't mind repurposing the content for any situation or audience.

How about your products?
Do you treat them as 'goods for sale'? Or as offerings?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 31 of 58

Ary - a Balinese Dancer Unmasked

February 07, 2010
Learning Moment: Bali, Indonesia

We spent the morning relaxing in our villa. Private pools are, for me, one of the best reasons to come here. Bali is one of the few places on earth where a normal human can afford a villa with a private pool. And, with the humidity, you want to swim every day.

So, we ate a late breakfast, swam in the pool, and did some reading.
In the afternoon, we headed to ARMA - the Agung Rai Museum. There we viewed the art collection, ate dinner (nasi goreng, with a glass of arak), and had an almost private viewing of a legong dance.

There were six audience members in a small hall for a full gamelan and dance troupe. It was like hosting a show in your living room. Before the show, I happened to meet Ary, the dancer pictured above. It was the first time I have seen a Balinese dancer out of costume. We talked a bit and she let me take her photo.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 30 of 58

Balinese Dance at Puri Saren Agung, Ubud

February 06, 2010
Learning Moment: Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

You know how they say "You can't go back"?
And, you know how it is mostly true?

Well, doesn't it make it that much sweeter when you can go back?
That's what I'm finding on this trip.

We had a great time revisiting Chennai. And we had a great time revisiting Singapore.
Today, we landed in Bali. It's roughly our 10th visit to Bali. We always worry that it's changed while we were gone.
Bali is one of those places that just feels different. It's a combination of incense, humidity, ocean breeze, grace, humor, and authenticity.

Well, as soon as we landed, I knew that we were back.
And I mean back, as in, back in the arms of a friend.
It just felt right.

Tonight we went to Puri Saren Agung to watch the Legong Dance.
It was stunning, as usual. The gamelan was invigorating, the dancers were spectacular, the audience was appreciative, the night air was sultry.
It was, in a word, Bali.

We had an excellent dinner at Cinta and returned to our room.
The plan for the rest of the week? Lather, rinse, repeat...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 29 of 58

A Toast to the Halfway Point (Long Island Ice Tea at Clarke Quay)

February 05, 2010
Learning Moment: Singapore

Today, we reached the halfway point of our two-month journey through Asia. As great as the past four weeks have been (and they have been...), some of the best is yet to come.
  • We'll be vacationing in Bali for the next seven days
  • We'll get to see the first of on Hong Bao (the riverside Chinese New Year festival) in Singapore
  • We'll eat a kaiseki dinner for Valentine's Day in Japan
  • I'll hook up with Garr Reynolds for a presentation workshop in Yokohama - slide:ology + Presentation Zen
  • And then, two weeks in Seoul, Korea

Today, I led another slide:ology session. There are two 'best known methods' that we've developed over the past 6 months of teaching slide:ology. They are not 'rules', but I practice them religiously. I'll share them with you, but - as always - your mileage may vary.
  1. Never (ever) share slides with someone who isn't going to present them.
    If you're asked to share your slide deck, email it, or store it on a server - say no. What you should do is convert it to a pdf file and then send it.
    This method has three advantages. First, it shrinks the file size dramatically. Second, viewers cannot 'click' into your embedded files and read the data behind the data. Third, they cannot easily present your deck. Finally, they cannot cannibalize your slides to create a 'Frankendeck'.
  2. Never (ever) use sub-bullets.
    A single layer of bullets is fine for creating a list. The next level of bullets, however, indicates one of two things. One - you're typing in words that you're going to say anyway. These can be pushed into notes view and you can just say them. Two - if you really have important text in the sub-bullets, I would argue that the bullet and sub-bullets have enough meaning for one new slide. The bullet becomes the title and the sub-bullets become the text (or are changed to an image).

The use of sub-bullets is mostly laziness. Since I imposed this rule on myself, I have not found a case where I needed to keep them. There is almost always a better way.
Give it a try!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 28 of 58

With Maggie Lee at the KLA-Tencor Offices

February 04, 2010
Learning Moment: Singapore

What a great day...

Well let me list the reasons:
  1. Today I led a slide:ology session that was great. The audience was totally engaged, we worked on some interesting issues, and I learned a lot (even though I'm the instructor, it isn't a good session unless I learn a lot).
  2. I received great support from Maggie Lee. Maggie is a member of the Singapore HR team. I'm consistently pleased and humbled by the help I get from our Asia HR teams. Maggie is great. That's her photo above.
  3. Angie and I had a good dinner at The Pump at Clarke Quay. There are few better people watching spots than Clarke Quay. The fact that dinner was good was a bonus.
  4. We heard a great singer - Jai - at Murphy's bar. I stopped Angie and said, "Wow, that chick can sing." Turned out 'that chick' was a guy, and that the guy - Jai - really could sing. We stopped in to hear one or two songs and stayed until midnight.
  5. I got to sing with Jai. Jai saw me singing along with the songs he was playing and asked me if I wanted to sing. No, I answered, until I saw that anyone could sing with him. "Do you know 'With or Without You', I asked?" Yes he did. And yes I did - sing, that is. It was my first time on a stage in about 5 years, and yes, it felt great. Jai and I had a good time, harmonizing and improvising a bit - we extended the ending and had a few laughs. That, my friends, is what I miss about music... the improvisation.
  6. Angie and I got a tri-shaw ride back to the hotel. Despite all our years and visits to Singapore, we've never had a tri-shaw ride. Well, tonight, that streak ended.

There is no recipe for an outstanding day - but I can suggest strongly that if all of the above things happened to you, it would be a great day for you as well.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 27 of 58

February 3, 2010

Learning Moment: Singapore

File this one under the title of "Artistic Bullsh*t"...

Tonight we checked out ION, a monumental mall on Orchard Road. In front of the mall is a sculpture of a nutmeg. I took this picture and walked over to read the artists statement.

This is what it said:
"Ion Orchards's signature sculpture connects the mall building site with its past as a nutmeg plantation - a reminder that present-day social spaces are enlivened and enriched with histories and collective memories."
Seriously? Is that what they think this sculpture does? Somehow a giant brass nutmeg spontaneously summons up collective memories of the plantations of the past? Do they think anyone is buying that line? Do they even believe it?

If they had stopped at the first sentence, it would have been okay. But the rest is laughably insincere. Oh well, at least there's that James Bond girl on the screen to distract us...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 26 of 58

Watching People Watching People Watching

February 02, 2010
Learning Moment: Singapore

I love gatherings. Some of my favorite places in Asia are just gathering spots.

Yokohama Koen, The Bund in Shanghai, Orchard Road in Singapore, Shibuya Station, and Waikiki Beach are all locations where I love to hang out. In all of these places, you find older men who like to sit and watch the world move by in a flurry of color and sound.

These men just soak it all in - not needing to participate. They are happy just to watch.
I'll probably be one of those old guys some day.

I enjoy watching people, of course. But I also enjoy watching people watch other people.
This gentleman is sitting in Albert Mall, where Chinese New Year festivities are underway. He's witnessing thousands of people walk by: buying flowers, praying at the local temple, picking out fruit, and seeking a little prosperity from the gods of fortune.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 25 of 58

Chinese Percussion

February 01, 2010
Learning Moment: Singapore

Today was a busy day.

I conducted DiSC training for Raj and Raman's teams in Singapore.
Great session, great questions. The teams were engaged and skeptical - just the way I like it to go.

I met Angie at the hotel. We then headed to Raffles City and went to Prego for a caprese salad and pizza.
During Chinese New Year, there is plenty of entertainment around town. We watched a percussion group perform\ and then headed over to Raffles Hotel for drinks and live entertainment.

Good weather, a good day, and a great night.