Scott's Perspective
Blog Archive

Blog Archive

I enjoy writing, sharing what’s on my mind, and pondering what’s on the horizon. 
I hope you have as much fun reading these as I did creating them.
And you can always get in touch if you’d like to discuss a piece further.

The Habit of Consistency with Roy Tomizawa

1964 – The Greatest Year in the History of Japan Over the last number of years I’ve found myself increasingly interested in what practices can help us be more productive. In an age of being digitally connected most of the time, while potentially empowering, it can also lead to easily being distracted. Focus for many…

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Saweepats

Two enthusiastic 26-year-olds roll into town looking for a room. They’d heard of a place that also served Mexican food so this was where their compass pointed. Room secured, it was up to the restaurant deck, which overlooked the Mekong River, Laos on the other side. And just as their minds drifted to beer, they…

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Developing Your Industry Authority

Remaining engaged and continuously growing within your professional field can be a challenge. While there are moments of excitement and discovery here and there, a majority of people find themselves doing what they know day-in and day-out. It’s natural and even comforting to stick to what’s familiar, is currently working and keep pushing those agendas…

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Trickle-Down Service Satisfaction

Customer service is the backbone of the hospitality business. Consistently great service can bring with it not just customers, but fans who tell their friends and return time and time again. On the other hand, bad customer service is like a virus that can spread at lightening speed and often takes only one case (outbreak)…

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The Sonic Collective: Playlist 1

I’ve been devouring music as long as I can remember. Early memories include roller-skating in my basement while listening to Blondie and the Village People, then my first job DJing at Lloyd’s Recreation, a roller rink in Calgary, Canada. It was there I really expanded my musical knowledge, becoming acquainted with funk classics like Double…

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Raising the Value Proposition

Every business is in competition, trying to outdo the other and bring more customers in the door. Product is typically the first aspect that draws attention, price is usually another major factor, service a huge one, but added value is the piece of the puzzle that truly wows customers and keeps them coming back. Innovating…

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Cycling Without Age

Trying the trishaw in Singapore During my first 13-years living and working in SE Asia, I helped develop eight community programs throughout the region. These came about while leading trips with my former travel company and addressing perceived needs as they were encountered. From leading English workshops for students along the Thai-Myanmar border, to building…

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Step Away From Your Desk

One evening in early 2011 while running my former adventure travel company, I got thinking about my Singaporean girlfriend who would soon be moving to live with me in Bangkok. I’d never formally resided with a significant other and realized my schedule would have to change. For years I’d routinely worked very late nights and…

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Nurturing Trust

Consciously developing trust greatly benefits individuals and organizations. Most people and entities do not regularly focus on building trust, resulting in unnecessary obstacles that can hinder relationships, flow, and ultimately reduce sales and profit. Emphasizing trust as a key component of smooth business operations can greatly improve many of your organization’s key relationships. Lets examine…

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The Power of Storytelling

While a Fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii, USA, taking part in the Asia Pacific Leadership Program (APLP), I was introduced to the concept of ‘Talking Story’. This Hawaiian tradition involves sharing history and experiences via storytelling and is a strong element of their culture. At first I viewed this practice as little more…

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Television Advertising Rethought

Advertising dispersed within television shows is nothing new, but as advertisers, traditional TV networks, and streaming media services struggle to define how new mediums will operate (and profit), interesting things are happening. No longer as standard do we receive two-to-three commercial breaks during a 30 minute broadcast, where the show itself is typically about 22-minutes,…

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Thai National Anthem

“Prathet Thai ruam lueat nuea chat chuea Thai, Pen pracha rat, phathai khong Thai thuk suan…” It’s 6pm; hundreds of us have paused exercising and come to a stop, as the sound of Thailand’s national anthem fills the air at Benjakiti Park, in the heart of Bangkok’s Asoke district. My emotions are stirred, eyes become…

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Nepali Spirit

Rollin’ with some kids in Patan’s alleys Curious, welcoming, inquisitive, friendly, outgoing, hardworking, resilient, and friendly again for good measure – these are all words that very well describe Nepali people. I’ve been lucky enough to visit their country nearly 10 times and have been overwhelmed by how incredibly welcoming and seemingly happy they are,…

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Exotic Pizza

Canadians my age and younger (I was born in 1973) likely never realized our parents didn’t have mainstream pizza joints on city streets until relatively recently. I thought they were always there in major Canadian cities but it turns out they weren’t. This worldliness I thought Canadians had (as far as pizza goes) is fairly…

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Successful Speaking Events

After attending a some speaking events over the last couple months, and presenting at a few over the years myself, I got to thinking of elements that help create a successful event. While there’s no magic bullet, there are a good number of simple, easy to execute techniques and elements to keep in mind that…

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Going For Grohl

“Do what you love, love what you do”. It’s been said many ways, but the message is consistent. We’ve all theoretically got the same number of days, months and years in a lifetime. Best to spend as many as possible being productive in an enjoyable fashion, grab ahold of and indulge as many passions as…

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Technology in My Lifetime

Moore’s Law is an observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles roughly every two years. Coined about 1970, it’s held relatively true since then, and along with this doubling, price drops significantly as well during that period. This has meant a rapid growth in consumer electronics and products over the…

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Ten 2000s

First off, figuring out what to call the time period between 2000-2009 is way tougher than I thought. A simple search online offers some suggestions, varying from kinda-makes-sense to WTF? I’ve decided to call this time period the 2000s. In the same spirit as past musical posts like Ten Seventies, Ten Eighties, and Ten Nineties,…

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Starting a Travel Podcast

Even when taking time off or enjoying a relaxing day it seems my mind’s usually ticking along about a project, book, plan, or something I’d like to do. It would be nice to be able to entirely shut off the nerve center in this respect at times, but then again perhaps that would render me…

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10 Things I Like About Living in Kuala Lumpur

Moving cities can be challenging. Moving between adopted countries throws even more elements to manage in to the mix. When you have little first-hand experience, connections, or knowledge about the place you’re moving to, that amps things up yet again. Leaving a city and country you have called home for a long time and love…

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Doi Mae Salong

I’ll always remember my first visit to the semi-far-flung, northern Thai town of Doi Mae Salong. I’d just moved to Thailand with my business partner in late 1999 to develop a specialized travel company. We were in the kingdom’s northernmost province Chiang Rai looking for trip ideas and met a hippy-type who recommended renting scooters…

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Hōkūleʻa and Hikianala: The Adventure Begins

In late 2012 I met one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever encountered, Nainoa Thompson, a quiet, unassuming character. He speaks in a soft, subtle voice, and upon an initial meeting you’d never guess this Hawaiian native is largely responsible for bringing Hawaiian pride, culture and values back into the mainstream. As one of…

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Say “Hello”

For many years when I’ve passed homeless people and beggars I’ve often smiled, made eye contact and said “hello”. Sometimes I give money, but more often than not my contribution has been eye contact and sharing one simple word. The human experience at its base root is being recognized, feeling connected and part of society….

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Listening to Music While Working

I love listening to ambient music while working, writing, thinking and reading. Having some relaxing, lyric-free music ticking along in the background helps get me into a productive zone, isolates me from distractions and eliminates time from my mind. I quickly slip into a meditative-like state and typically become highly productive. The opposite side of…

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Staying Focused and on Task

Most people at some point, if not semi-regularly, struggle to stay focused and on task with their work. Not just work directly associated with their paid, day-to-day profession, but also tasks, pursuits and personal work outside of the nine-to-five. There’s no magic bullet to staying focused and productive, but there certainly are some basic techniques,…

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Ten Seventies

Music’s always been a life soundtrack for me. As long as I can remember music was always there: roller skating in my basement listening to Call Me by Blondie, a very young, poorly chosen obsession with the Village People, my first 45-single, I Love Rock N Roll by Joan Jett and the Black Hearts and…

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Five Great Bars

Most men have an affinity and kinship of sorts for their favorite watering hole. Movies, TV, and books have long depicted the male species visiting and even sneaking out to their favorite bar, being greeted by the barman and other patrons as they pass through the door. The classic was “Norm” being shouted as the…

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The Importance of Customer Service

I used to own and operate an up-market travel business that specialized in highly customized tours in SE Asia and Nepal. Our business was all about building relationships, creating dream trips, developing trust, promising big things and over delivering. These were our primary goals and most of the time we succeeded. Providing open channels to…

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Effective Public Speaking

It’s natural to be unenthusiastic and uncomfortable doing things we’re not strong at. We tend to get others to do such tasks for us, put them off or avoid them entirely. But would we really rather be dead than face tasks we dislike most? Countless studies have shown a majority of people would rather be…

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Canada’s Uniquely Nice

Things are going pretty well when the main things you get kidded about are how polite your people are, how they love to bare a flag when traveling, say “sorry” with regularity, eat maple syrup and see beavers daily, and follow a sport where fighting is a key and loved element of the game. Canada…

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A Father and Son Voyage: End of the Line

And this is it – the sixth and final part in an ongoing series about an epic voyage my father and I took on the fabled Trans-Siberian Railway in August/September 2013. If you’d like to start from the beginning, read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 first. Enjoy! More than…

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End of the Guidebook 2?

Earlier in 2013 I wrote “The End of the Guidebook?”, inspired by the BBC’s sale of Lonely Planet (LP) and some other stories I read around the same time regarding the future of traditional printed guidebooks. I related my history of using guidebooks while traveling, my first email account and the impact it had while…

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A Father and Son Voyage: Mongolia

Life on the Mongolian steppe And here we are, at Part 5 in this ongoing series about a train trip my father and I took in August/September 2013 on the legendary Trans-Siberian. If you’ve missed earlier installments, check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4. Enjoy! Mongolia – the name has an…

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Musical Cycles

When I knew what ‘good’ music was I love music. This has been the case for as long as I can remember. My first device for playing back music was a plastic Looney Toons record player, then a small portable cassette player with which I listened to Blondie’s Call Me and Village People hits incessantly,…

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A Father and Son Voyage: The Trains

Life in our train cabin This is the fourth post in an ongoing series about a journey on the Tran-Siberian Railway my father I took in August/September 2013. If you missed earlier posts, you can read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Enjoy! Trees, trees and more trees. Three days in to the six-day, first…

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A Father and Son Voyage: Moscow

At St. Basil’s Cathedral This is the third post in an ongoing series about a journey on the Tran-Siberian Railway my father I took in August/September 2013. If you missed earlier posts, you can read Part 1 and Part 2 first. Russia, the mighty bear, former red Soviet Union, land of hammer and sickle, swirly…

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Smartphonitis

Anyone who’s been outside of their cave in the last couple of years has noticed it. A creeping change, shift in social behavior, perhaps even an ailment of sorts. Walking around like zombies they are – partially aware of the goings on in their surroundings, but regularly fading into another dimension. While they can still…

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Ten Nineties

No Top 10 list can ever be definitive or the best as they’re entirely subjective. One’s taste in music is much like evaluating art – there’re different styles and pieces that appeal to individuals, individually. Many of the best selling albums often don’t have staying power and are forgotten (many thankfully) a mere decade after…

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A Father and Son Voyage: The Plan

Don and Scott aboard the Trans-Siberian Welcome to the second post in an ongoing series about a journey on the Tran-Siberian Railway my father I took in August/September 2013. Following the first post about the intent of the trip, general overview of how it went and some surprises learned about one another along the way,…

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A Father and Son Voyage

Don and Scott in Mongolia sporting our trip t-shirts Families are supposed to spend time together. Not just when the kids are young, but throughout life. Asian cultures do a much better job of this than western ones, where kids typically move out around university-time or shortly thereafter. Asians stereotypically live together until a child…

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Saying Goodbye to Thailand

Enjoying a meal on my soi: Ramkamhang 52/2 Moving isn’t something I often do. Be it moving countries, cities or even homes within a city. The last decade-plus I’ve been residing in an apartment that was very close to work, great value for money and pretty comfy. The building, Jo Joke Mansion, is located on…

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Transition

Enjoying some quiet time at Newa Chen home-stay, Patan I’ve been in Nepal now for two-and-a-half weeks and the time has really flown by. Considering I haven’t headed off on any treks, big expeditions, or had any firm plans, it’s staggering how fast time can go by when you’re reading, writing, thinking, relaxing, biking and…

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15 Things to Think About

My wife, knowing what I’m doing in Nepal and over the next few months in other locales, sent me a link to a story about things to keep in mind to be happier. I don’t think she views me as unhappy, nor am I, rather they are some pretty good points and suggestions to stop…

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Scott in Nepal: Day 4, May 12

View from just outside the house (06:45) Happy Mother’s Day Mom! One of the toughest parts of living overseas is not being able to see parents as much as I’d like. We’re quite lucky considering the distance and manage to see one another at least once a year but it would still be nice to…

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Scott in Nepal: Day 3, May 11

Scott on the trail A family of four from Denmark that’s stayed at Mads and Clare’s homestay, Shivapuri Retreat before, arrived yesterday evening for a two-night stay. We had a delicious Nepali meal and nice evening chatting. Everyone hit bed by about 10pm and I’m looking forward to getting on an earlier evening, early morning…

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Scott in Nepal: Days 1-2, May 9-10, 2013

The transition of changing careers can be a challenge. It’s been a bit over two months since I sold my shares in Smiling Albino, the highly specialized travel company I moved to Thailand to help create way back in 1999 and I’ve been really enjoying the time off. It’s a shocking how fast time flies,…

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The End of the Guidebook?

It’s hard to imagine life without the Internet. What’s more intriguing is how quickly much of the world has not only come to depend on it, but in many ways become addicted to constant access and take it for granted. Having almost every fact, detail, speck of information and constant contact with friends at one’s…

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Village Brewery

Village’s brewing facilities I love beer. More specifically I love hand-crafted ones, with robust flavor, color, heart and soul. While I enjoy a Corona or standard lager once in a while, it’s generally ales, stouts, interesting seasonal brews and the odd white wheat that really get me excited and thirsty. For more than a decade-and-a-half…

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Mutual Travel Respect

September 29, 1999: My business partner Daniel Fraser and I boarded a plane from Calgary, Canada to Bangkok, Thailand. The idea: start a travel company for people that don’t like ‘tours’, yet want a very comprehensive experience in about two weeks. Smiling Albino was born. We spent our first year doing odd jobs, traveling as…

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Technological Travel Distraction

In October 1999, around the time I moved to Thailand, I met a very peculiar Dutch man who was already a long time resident of Bangkok. He ran what was then the first and only company that ran bicycle tours through the city’s labyrinthine alleys and along canal-side communities. I joined one of his trips…

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Personal Growth and Travel

Altering one’s perspective, growing, and actually changing is a challenge. Our habits, likes and biases are generally formed early in life and typically deeply set. Having an experience that shifts our personal beliefs, the way we think and operate sadly doesn’t happen as much as most of us would probably like. Within our day-to-day lives…

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One Billion Travelers

A Swiss family meets an Ahka woman in northern Thailand A century ago traveling from San Francisco to Hong Kong meant spending up to two weeks at sea by steamer ship, most of which were not particularly comfortable. Braving rough seas, passing the time and more importantly covering the bill was something most people simply…

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Passing of Norodom Sihanouk

A boy paying respects to the late King Born in 1922, Norodom Sihanouk went on to become one of modern Cambodia’s most revered and storied characters. He ruled as King twice, once as president, twice as prime minister, was sovereign prince two times, chose and changed sides frequently, and even sided with the Khmer Rouge…

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Ten Eighties

The albums and cassettes I listened to in the Eighties (yep, that’s what we bought then), the really good ones, it’s funny how often I end up giving them a play today. And when they’re on, it’s not just the songs, but the emotions they stir, remembering little moments when that song or album it…

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Food is really taking off

Some Chinese-Thai street food I love food but am by no means a foodie, a term that’s really hit the mainstream over the past few years. I also don’t have cable so I’m not entirely up-to-speed on all the celebrity cooking shows but am aware of a number of their names…

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Ao Nang’s still charming

Beautiful Railay Bay When I moved to Thailand at the end of September 1999 to develop travel company, Smiling Albino (SA), I couldn’t wait to hit a beach. Originally from Calgary, Canada, we don’t exactly have a lot of tropical sand or ocean there and it was top of my list to hit one as…

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The Digitization of Travel: Part 7 – Hotels

Technology has radically changed the way hotels do business, perhaps more so than any other arm of the travel industry. In-room internet, on-demand movies and other tech amenities are playing a larger role while guests are in-house. On the selling side, a basic website showing facilities, rooms, amenities and location is a must for any…

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The Digitization of Travel: Part 4 – Tour Operators

The internet has been the death of some traditional tour agencies while at the same time it’s been the main channel of growth for others. Some tour companies love the internet, peer sites and the power of ever-changing technologies while others detest everything this medium embodies. Technology is enabling small, far-flung, traditionally unreachable niche operators…

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The Digitization of Travel: Part 1

Following is a paper I produced in Fall 2011 about how technology is shaping the travel industry. It was published in 10 parts in Travel Daily Asia. I’ll add a new part or two each week. Enjoy!: Welcome to The Digitization of Travel, a special report on the future of the industry. Over the coming…

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Shooting Photos in Laos

Despite living in Bangkok and being the co-founder of Smiling Albino, an innovative travel company that specializes in customized travel in SE Asia and Nepal, I’d somehow managed not to visit Laos since 2000! My business partner Daniel has headed-up our operations there and with me manning Cambodia and Nepal, year-after-year slipped by without getting…

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Sacred Tattoos of Thailand

Sak Yan (handmade Thai tattoos) are an ancient ritual steeped in tradition and applied by masters who believe they hold mystical powers for those who wear them, explains legendary travel writer Joe Cummings. Meticulously applied to different parts of the body, these highly artistic and spiritual images are now gaining mainstream popularity and attention, thanks…

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U Smile Photo

Taking family/group photos is traditionally a drag. Getting all dolled-up, heading to some stuffy studio and standing super-ridged and faking a smile for an eternity is hardly fun nor natural. It’s no wonder that most family/couple photos look boring, dull and you don’t go and do it again until your grandmother forces the entire family…

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Cascading Risk

Following on my last blog about a visit to the Polynesian Voyaging Society and a meeting with Nainoa Thompson, this is a short Think Piece I wrote in early September 2011 as part of my studies in the Asia Pacific Leadership Program. It’s about a boating disaster and ties-in with my last blog post. Enjoy!…

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It’s Almost Over!!

December 1 hit with a bang, reminding me that it was one year ago already I had my application material submitted to try and take part in the Asia Pacific Leadership Program (APLP) here at the East West Center. At that time I couldn’t conceive taking a leave of absence from Smiling Albino, a travel company…

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Volcano National Park

Where is the time going? Since coming to Hawaii on August 6th to partake in the Asia Pacific Leadership Program it feels as though life has been on fast forward. How did it suddenly get to be December 1? I’m left with just three weeks before returning to Thailand on December 20th and soon thereafter back…

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Asia Pacific Leadership Program 2012-13

Aloha Friends – if you’re feeling in need of a life reassessment, expanding your horizons, and/or growing, consider applying for the 2012-13 intake of the Asia Pacific Leadership Program, at the East West Center which I’m currently enjoying here in Honolulu, HI. It’s been a very rewarding three-and-a-half months so far and I’m happy to…

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The East Catching Up

The following is a Think Piece, required as part of my studies at the East West Center in the Asia Pacific Leadership Program. With the west’s global dominance and eventual decline seemingly inevitable, it’s interesting to ponder how western nations will deal with the economic playing field being leveled? While countries like China and India…

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Education = Less People

As part of my studies in the Asia Pacific Leadership Program in Honolulu, we have to come up with questions surrounding what we deem to be important regional core issues (RCI). The following piece was produced in late September in relation to my RCI question: “Is education the key to lowering high birth rates in…

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From the Great Wall

This was supposed to be posted a week ago but it seems China doesn’t like WordPress and it’s blocked. Here’s the post: A quick ‘hello’ from Beijing where I’m enjoying our Asia Pacific Leadership Program field trip to Tokyo, rural China and Beijing. Sixteen of our cohort are taking part in a slew of professional…

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In to the Field for a Study

An intriguing aspect of joining the Asia Pacific Leadership Program was the two-week NE Asia Field Study in October. After two months learning here at the East-West Center (EWC) in Honolulu, the time has come to head off and hit the road with some of my Generation 11 cohorts from about 10 countries. The intent…

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Live Again – from Honolulu

It’s been about two years since I last updated my blog and I’m not sure what happened and why I let it go? Better late than never as the saying goes and here I am again, hopefully with a better perspective, bit more writing style and a blog that will stay interesting and active. It…

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Back in Thailand

I recently took a mountain biking trip to southern Switzerland with a great company, Big Mountain Bike Adventures and then enjoyed a few days of rnr in Amsterdam at the end.Having never been to mainland Europe the experience was a great one and a wonderful introduction to that part of the world.From the moment I…

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Teepee Bar

If you’re in Chiang Rai city, in Thailand’s northernmost province, and fancy meeting some interesting locals, travelers on their way through and everyone else in between then head to Teepee Bar.A Chiang Rai landmark since 1993, it was started by ‘Too’. This long-haired, very interesting, hip individual, graduated with an arts degree, worked for a…

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Worst Album Covers Ever

A friend recently sent me a presentation of the ‘Worst Album Cover Ever’. Expecting it to be mildly entertaining I waited until there was a real lull in the day before opening. I shouldn’t have waited so long because I have found myself viewing it a couple of times per day since then. These covers…

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John Rambo – Things to Know

After watching all Rambo movies in various orders, I was moved by the depth of the films and more importantly the stupidity of supporting characters and their seeming lack of background knowledge of the main character, Rambo.Following are some Rules I suggest supporting characters in possible future Rambo films should consider before taking on their…

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