Two weeks in Victoria
Trip Start Jan 08, 2004
167Trip End Ongoing
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To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
Often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, it is an adaptation of a poem published in 1905 by Bessie Stanley. No version of it has been found in Emerson's writings.
Trip to Australia
Finally the last of my father's estate has been paid to us.
I need to go to Australia to get money out of the bank and bring it to Thailand so we can buy the house we are living in. The one we promised to buy over a year ago. I could electronically transfer it but the Australian banks would charge me extortionate fees for that and give it to me at 25 Baht per AU$1. That is more than 10% of its actual value that they secretly electronically steal. Compared to walking into a Thai bank with the cash where they will deposit it into my account at the official rate of AU$1=29 Baht. So its actually cheaper to fly to Australia, withdrawal a big brick of money and physically carry that cash back to Thailand.
I also need to discuss how much of the money each of us are giving to Mum and transfer that over to her. Added to that I have picked my time to fit in with a RedR Humanitarian Logistics course.
A couple of years ago when I wanted to get involved with disaster relief work I discovered the RedR courses. The humanitarian relief field is hard to get into without being a doctor or engineer. But there are courses offered by various organizations that help you pick up some of the necessary knowledge and give you a chance to meet and talk to some people working in this field and gain a bit more insight. RedR is one of these trainers and they also maintain a register of people to be called on in an emergency. A couple of years ago I completed their security and communications course which lead to me meeting Colonel Knight who then employed me as a part time instructor in the Army. But I never had the money nor time to get back to complete any more of the RedR courses or follow up with trying to do emergency relief work. Finally I have the money and time to fit in another course. I now don't want to work in that field for at least a year, but after much consideration I decided to spend the time and money, do the course and keep open that possibility for the future.
Arrival in Australia - this time it has really been hitting me that Australia is comparatively quite empty and has wide open spaces.
I go to the bank ask for the money and transfer an amount to mum. So far all is going smoothly and I have to wait the rest of the week for the bank to get that cash in (as expected). I see Mark and Dan and visit Craig at his bookshop in Sunbury but only do one run and one gym session in that week. Oh well, otherwise mainly all to plan and OK. I even manage to work out a 5 year work/financial plan - it really does seem, although we are not rich, we no longer have any financial concerns. Good. Unusual but good.
During this week the protests in Burma have been growing and amazingly it is shown on Australian news. Monks have started to lead the protests, peacefully chanting prayers and going to some of Rangoon's holiest temples. On one day there are reports that the protests have grown to 100000 people demanding action about the massive rise in their cost of living and about their cruel and unrepresentative government. It would be great to be there and see this historical event taking place. Hopefully this may be the start of a change in Burma.
The other reason why it would be important to be there is because I know what is coming next. The Burmese Army starts shooting, monks and protesters are arrested and beaten and jailed. World leaders talk and do nothing of use and try to score points by blaming China. I want to be in Rangoon. I want to show support to the demonstrators, or take pictures or get people's stories out or do something. Or if nothing else go and understand what our world is like.
My friend Thellie is feeling the same way and almost goes to Burma. I eventually decide I must go with him, miss out on the RedR course and get to Burma. But by the end of that day the situation has changed again, there is much uncertainty about if we can get in or see anything or talk to anyone or achieve anything. We call the trip off at least for now. For me the main concern is Kanchana and the baby and what will happen if she in Bangkok worrying about me for a few days with no way of getting news to her. Also in the Australian news are many stories about women having miscarriages in Australian public hospital toilets as no doctors were available to see them. Many were the same length of pregnancy as Kanchana. I don't want to be the same as the pathetic hypocritical politicians, but for the moment Burma will have to wait.
Instead of Burma I go to Dookie for the logistics course.
The RedR instructors in Australia are quite good and they turn what could possibly be some boring topics on logistics into something quite interesting and they use many practical exercises. I learn a lot and do lots of calculations on how many bags of wheat and rice can fit in a warehouse or on a C130 etc. There is much more to it than that, but too much to explain. The final exercise for the course has us working as a big team to solve how to get humanitarian aid to a group of about 200 000 refugees that are affected by floods. I am quite happy that I performed well and even seemed to stand out from the group (in a good way). So, at least in theory, it seems I could be useful in helping people logistically in a humanitarian disaster.
The course has got me interested in that sector again, although not just yet. I will try to get the basic course done and perhaps get on the register. But again. Not just yet. Lots of other things to do.
When I get home I have put on an extra 4-5 kg of fat. Not happy about that.
But the day we go to the bank the exchange rate is the highest it has been for a long time and I get about 30.4 Baht to each AU$. The extra money I get by not using Australian banks has easily been enough to fly to Australia and back and is in fact enough also to buy an apartment in Bangkok. Which we will. Something really should be done about the banking industry in Australia. They are greedy bastards.
Anyway, all is good here. See ya.
Oh yeah - we have brought the house already. So no more paying rent. YAY!!! That also saves us 7000 Baht per month. Things are going well. :-)