Monday, February 21, 2005

Back again

From minus 14 to 34 degrees celsius. That one measurement sums up the world of difference between Calgary and home. Our little adventure to Calgary has ended, and my nose will eventually stop bleeding in a few days time, I'm sure. Like the archetypal Hero of Campbell's cycle, we have returned to where we began, bearing a boon and a gift to make things better - though I'm not sure if a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts counts as a reality changing boon.

Of course, the real thing we all bring back is memories and experience, which I can really sort through now - I kept an intermittent journal during the trip, and blogged only sporadically, given our tight schedules (and the fact that someone else was always wanting to use our computers for email, research, IM, or typing speeches). My store of photographs is a bit meagre, missing out on several key days and events - I'm hoping we'll eventually do a trade amongst all the digital images, so we can fill in our respective blanks.

The last few days were a strange break - we'd been competing and training and preparing so intensely that there was nothing really to do after - some shopping here and there, DVDs to buy, but basically we'd been so task focused that we found ourselves a bit lost. Closing dinner was a tedious affair with speeches from every Somebody in the entire sponsorship zoo, including a patriotic song written and sung by a local politician (not the best singing in the world, but you had to admire the man: he loves his country, he's proud of his country and he's not afraid to show it), and a 30 minute speech by a motivational speaker who told us he didn't like motivational speakers. I have to agree with him on that one. I fail to see how 30 minutes of how-I-climbed-Everest-twice (twice, he emphasised) helped any of the debaters, especially at the end of the competition. One should never trust a man who comes equipped with his own introductory video segment: as one of the Scots put it so eloquently, there was little point in shafting us for 30 minutes at the end of this event.

The morning we left was the coldest I've ever been on this trip: the cold cut right through everything, gloves and all, you could feel it - it literally cut like a knife right through clothes and into your bones. I gave the van driver a $20 tip just for standing in the cold and loading our multiplicity of suitcases into the back.

The plane journey was mostly harmless, to steal an expression from Douglas Adams. I've given up on the concept of a positive valuation for plane rides: the mitigation of harm is the only thing I expect anymore, and this 3 legged journey was relatively harmless. Calgary to Vancouver was short enough for me to wake up with a start at landing. Vancouver to Tokyo was tedious, but good conversation with the team captain, and some tarot card readings helped to alleviate the boredom. A 3 hour layover at Tokyo Narita meant I could take a shower (these Japanese think of everything), and finish scenario 6 of Command and Conquer: Generals, leaving me nothing to do but grit my teeth and endure the final leg to Singapore, where in between not getting comfortable, not sleeping, and generally not being a happy camper, I finished the final scenario in the game, shifted my body within the 2 by 3 by 4 foot space that the designers of the 747 evidently felt were adequate for a human being, and got home in one piece. The group as a whole brought back 15 boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts - that's 200 doughnuts. Someone at Vancouver airport actually came up to us and took a photo of the pile of boxes because he could not believe someone would buy that many doughnuts. We received comments at every security check along the way, usually a variation of a snide "Are those doughnuts for me?" from the security guards.
(give it a few days, and I'm going to start googling the net for "photos krispy kreme airport vancouver", on the assumption that this fella would have blogged about it somewhere ...)

K tells me Singapore has been in the grip of a heatwave for the past week, but I'm finding it refreshingly warm and humid for a change. Work starts again tomorrow, and I just hope I can cope with having to sweat it out in shirtsleeves again...

A few other things. I have managed to lose just about everything that could be lost from my Nikon D70 on this trip: the rubber eyepiece was already missing before I left, lost when sending friends off at the airport; the lens cap was lost somewhere during the Tsunami Relief Auction Night in Calgary; and this morning I realised that the protective plastic cover for the LCD screen was gone as well. Lucky I didn't lose the strap, going at this rate. A replacement for the plastic screen cost $60, blast those money-gouging camera merchants. Thankfully, my optician was far kinder: he replaced the nosepiece from my spectacles (cracked when I did a facepalm in the middle of the Singapore vs England debate - yes it was that nerve-wracking at points) for free.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Get the LCD screen from Nikon Singapore? It costed me abt $25. And yes, the eye piece is missing from my D70 too.

KnightofPentacles said...

For funny patriotic music from (and for) the Canucks, check out The Arrogant Worms. Same group that gave us the catchy song: I Am Cow.

I know what you mean about the doughnuts. I get the same comments from airport security too everyime I haul boxes of them back to Singapore.

Krispy Kreme doughnuts are a reality-changing boon! Must be something to do with the carbohydrates-and-sugar goodness packed into them.

Tym said...

You can take a shower at Narita? I never knew that. The most I've had there was a bowl of overpriced ramen :)