Friday, April 22, 2005

National Unity my Ass

I was going not going to post anything until the trip posts were finished, but I just cannot keep it to myself.

We come back to Canada and I find the Gomery inquiry is putting out new scandals every day. Catching up with this info leaves me sick to my stomach. Today I read that 20 Quebec lawyers who wanted to be judges worked for the Liberals, on the understanding that was what was required to get on the bench. So far almost half on that list have been appointed. Is this Canada or some South American banana republic?

Remember Chuck Guite said a few months ago when he testified that the Sponsorship program was all about national unity? How does paying some ad agency $50k to hand a cheque to someone else help national unity? Oh, wait, it doesn't. But it sure helps the Liberals when that guys gives $49k as a donation for the next election.

But Paul Martin didn't know anything about it. Bullshit. A senior, or the senior, minister from Quebec and he was not aware of the pipeline by which money would "magically" appear if people were short during an election? He either knew, or knew enough to know someone was up to no good and decided to keep away from it. Just about everyone has seen this sort of thing somewhere, like at work, and knows how it works. If you are not involved, you either keep your head down and ignore it, or you try to put a stop to it. We know he did not try to stop it, so he either willfully ignored it or was involved.

Then he has the gall to go on television and say "let Gomery do his work, and then I will call an election". The only problem is he already called an election before Gomery did his work.

Anyone who votes for the Liberals in this next election should have their head examined. If I was a Liberal MP, I would be ashamed to stand for election for that party.

Asia Honeymoon (7) - Cu Chi Tunnels

22 March

We meet our guide, Chong and the one other person on this portion of the trip, an older Australian woman named Susan.

The tunnels are very interesting. We start the tour with an old VC propaganda film, which is such a bad piece of propaganda it is funny. Our guide warns us about it. The tunnels are a small section of a vast tunnel system near
Saigon. In 1965, the Americans actually built their first military base over the tunnel complex and did not discover it until a few months later.

I can only make it through the first 100 meters before claustrophobia sets in. The tunnels were not made for 6 foot, 200 pound westerners. Although not over commercialized, the place is set for tourists. The tunnels were restored and opened when the government realized western, especially American, tourists would fly to Vietnam and pay to see them. You can buy various knickknacks and take your picture in an "authentic" communist underground meeting room. I have the wife take a picture of me beside the VC flag and a picture of Uncle Ho. hopefully this picture never gets out or my political career will be over, just like John Kerry. I'm kidding, but more on Kerry in a bit.

The best part of the tunnels for me is the examples of VC traps. They are very ingenious and very nasty. It is not the kind of thing I would want to face in battle.

Overall, the tour is very good. Not really polished, but I am not here for polish, a la Disneyland. I thought it would be very political, filled with communist BS, but it is not. As I said, the only propaganda was the initial film, which is so obviously propaganda as to be funny, and probably very interesting to those who study that sort of thing, or perhaps marketing executives.

If you vists Saigon, you must see the Cu Chi Tunnels.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Asia Honeymoon (6) - Ho Chi Min City

21 March

It is late when we land. No problems getting through passport control. Once we get out of the airport, I have to go to work dealing with people. Our guidebook says a cab to the hotel should cost about $5 US. The cab we get says he wants $20. Since it is midnite and there are 2 of us with luggage, I agree to $10. I may have made a mistake, as when we get to the hotel and I give him $10, a huge grin comes across his face and he reacts as if it was $1 million and takes off like a thief in the night. Did he mean 20 thousand Dong (Vietnam's currency)? 15 thousand Dong is one US dollar, so 20 thousand is about $1.33 US. That can't be right.

Our hotel is 3 stars. I was worried about what we would get and if this would be comfortable enough. The wife doesn't really care about fancy hotels, but to me, this is a vacation. For years my job had me living in the woods so when I go on vacation I don't what to be going without showers and wiping my ass with leaves.

A 3 star hotel includes your own shower, bathroom and TV. I am satisfied. The biggest difference I can determine between 3 and 4 stars is a pool at the hotel. Since this portion of our trip is all about sightseeing, 3 stars is all we need.

Finishing the Trip

Well, we are back. I was unable to put up more posts for the rest of the trip. Part of that was just having the time. It takes me about 30 minutes to do up a short post, and 1 hour for a medium one. This can be alot of time on a vacation.

However, the main reason was cost. The first few posts were posted on Phuket, Thailand, where I found the cheapest internet access, at 1 Baht per minute. About 40 Bhat equals 1 US dollar, so this is a good price. In Singapore, our hotel charged $6 Singapore dollars for the first 20 minutes. This is about $3.75 US and is on that crappy TV access with crappy wireless keyboards. The ship was a bit better, but they charge $1 S for 3 minutes. That is ten bucks even for a short post like this one. And the access is by satellite, which was not very smooth.

Therefore, I decided to wait until I was home to post the rest. I have not heard any complaints, and since you are getting this for free, I do not expect to get any.

Anyway, the rest of the trip will be posted over the next week or so, a few posts each day.

I have renamed the first few posts with the title "Asia Honeymoon" and a number. This will quickly identify which posts are on the honeymoon and ensure they are in chronoligical order.


Saturday, April 09, 2005

Asia Honeymoon (5) - More Airports

20/21 March

Hong Kong

Nice airport. Don't ask me about anything else, because that is all we see. We have about 45 minutes before our flight to Ho Chi Min City. I officially start the vacation by taking the first picture.

Asia Honeymoon (4) - What day is it?

20/21 March

Thirteen hours on a plane and a 16 hour time change including crossing the international date line doesn't do much for ones sense of time. Our flight is as pleasant as can be. They really take care of your on Cathay Pacific and I would recommend them. I try to get upgraded to first class by subtly mentioning at the gate that we are on our honeymoon. They flight agent knows exactly what I am going for. No dice. The plane is full.

The flight is otherwise uneventful. The food is good and they have those in seat LCD players with a wide selection of movies. The wife gets to watch Sideways, a movie I have no interest in and I have been actively preventing her from renting. I watch The Incredibles about 4 or 5 times during the trip. Well, not really. I watch it once and just leave it on while I drift in and out of sleep. Remember, yesterday was my wedding night and I only got 3 hours sleep.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Asia Honeymoon (3) - Vancouver Airport

20 March

Our first real married fight takes place in the Vancouver Airport, less than 12 hours after we are married. If you could call it that. The wife finally looked at our itinerary in detail. Monday is our first day in Vietnam and is also a travel day. Once we get to Vietnam we are supposed to spend the rest of the day touring on our own. We are arriving in Vietnam at 11 pm on Monday (which is 7:30 am next Friday in Edmonton, or something like that). This leaves us with no time to tour on our first day. Instead of two days in Vietnam, we effectively have one. Guess who she blames for this.

You are correct if you guess the only other person in the Vancouver Airport that she knows. I bet the guy sitting behind us on the airport bench while we "discussed" the issue never gets married.

As an aspiring political junkie, the most disturbing thing about this trip was being unconnected and unable to keep up to date on various political goings on. Fortunately, the Vancouver Airport stepped up to make me feel at home. Vancouver International is very clean and modern. Despite this, the first washroom stall I use has only one piece of graffiti, which, in true West Coast, pot smoking, hippie fashion states:



Don't you think if Bush is as bad as Hitler we should be doing more that boycotting Coca Cola? Imagine that, if after Hitler invaded Poland we had said, "Bad Germany, Bad! We will no longer buy your schnitzel".

Take that Hitler.

Asia Honeymoon (2) - International Airport Tour 2005

20 March 9:14 am

We are just starting our decent into Vancouver.

We flew Air Canada on this leg. The wife is looking forward to the next leg, from Vancouver to Hong Kong. We are flying Cathay Pacific. Everyone says they are excellent. I am planning to ask the Captain to marry us on the flight. We want to get married in every country we visit, so why not in international waters?

Maybe we can get an upgrade to first class.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Asia Honeymoon (1) - For Better or Worse

20 March

Well, we did it. We had planned to get married on our trip to Asia. However, due to the bureaucratic problems of getting married overseas (guess who got blamed for that), we decided to do it before. So, as I write this, my left wing girlfriend has become my left wing wife.

Thanks to all the advice from those who read this blog. Some of you suggested I think twice. The truth is, I knew about three weeks after we met that I was going to marry her. That was 2 1/2 years ago.

On Thursday night we decided to get married before we left. Fifteen minutes at the registry office and we were done. I love Alberta. There are almost as many small registry offices here as liquor stores. Makes it easy to get married or renew your drivers' license. It is actually easier to get a marriage license than it is to get proof there is no impediment to your getting married. To get married you have to swear there is no impediment to your marriage. To prove that there is no impediment to your marriage you need a database search, and a bunch of other stuff that is much more expensive than a marriage license. If it is cheaper, might as well get married.

As I write this we are just about to leave for the airport. It is 5:30 am and we have had about 3 hours sleep and been married for just over 12 hours. We have fought only 3 times since the wedding, all about packing.

It is going to be a long rest of my life.

Blogging the Trip

I am a bit behind in posting on this trip. I will start to post as much as I can from now on, trying to catch up before the end. All the posts will be in order, but read the dates on the posts to get the true time of what hapened when.