Tanzania, Kilimanjaro and Obama?

Tanzania, Kilimanjaro and Obama?

Just over 24 hours off the plane from the most amazing trip to Tanzania. As my wife and I prepare to transition back to life in America in June, we figured one last fantastic trip to Africa was in the cards….so off to Tanzania we went.  Climbing Kilimanjaro Jumping at the Summit I’m proud to say that all four of us in our group made it to the summit some 5,895 meters (19,340 feet) above mean sea level. It was one of the most mentally challenging things I have ever done. Physically it wasn’t that hard of a 5 day hike to the summit, but the mental aspect on summit day of walking for 6 1/2 hours in the dark (leave at midnight to summit at sunrise at 6:30ish) covering some 1200 meters (3,937 feet) was by far the hardest part. As the oxygen thins out you need to stop and rest more frequently….but it is windy and freezing temperatures mean you don’t want to stop as you instantly get cold. You learn a lot about yourself on a journey like this and at some stage or another on the trip, all four of us had to push through mental or physical pain.  cell signal on Kilimanjaro On a technology note….I was looking forward to being disconnected for most of this trip and that happened…but I wasn’t expecting our guides and porters to be totally connected the whole time. Each time we would make camp the guides and porters would go on a high rock or a specific ledge, whip out their cell phones and call home. Yes…..even at the summit of Kilimanjaro in the middle of Africa there is a cell signal. Both my wife and I took out our phones and had them connect just to verify. We talk about how connected of a world we live in that we need to get away from technology at times….but can you really? It’s always there, it’s just a part of our world……we better get use to it.  Safari in the Serengeti cheetahs Next up was five days in the Southern Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The animal migration for the wet season had all the animals in the south where the land was green and rich with food. Over 1 million Wildebeest and 200,000 Zebras had migrated south bringing with them lions, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes and a host...

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What I learned from Laos

Yawn……stretch…..nothing like a week off relaxing to get the creative juices flowing. Spring Break is now over and we’re in the home stretch here in Bangkok with 7 weeks of school to go before summer vacation starts. Over Spring Break, my wife and I spent four days in beautiful Luang Prabang, Laos (pictures can be found here). While in Laos, I learned a couple things that I’d like to share with you. 1. How to keep your cell phone dry during Songkran Songkran is New Year’s in South East Asia and it typically calls for country wide water fights. No better way to celebrate New Years in 100+ degree heat than to have a huge water fight. Nobody is safe, and your cell phone is definitely not safe if kept in your pocket. But while riding a bike or motorcycle if you keep your phone high you’ll keep it dry. While riding in a Tuk Tuk, I kept my iPhone in a plastic bag…worked great! 2. Cell Phone technology is the future of wireless So here I am in arguably one of the poorest countries in South East Asia and at the morning market, I happen upon this shop selling cell phones. The cheapest one sells for $22.45 and the most expensive one for $35.44. The phones had the following features: Calls SMS MMS Camera Radio (both AM and FM) Weather Cell service plans are very cheap as well. I didn’t actually price out complete plans but a SIM card to get you started with basic calls and sms sells for $5. In many of my presentations, I talk about the future is truly in the palm of our hands. According to the International Telecommunication Union, there are 4.6 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide and we are on pace to pass 5 billion this year. There are just about 7 billion people on the plant. Or in other words just over 70% of the world’s population has a cell phone. Now these phones are not iPhones, but if I was a betting man I’d say within 5 years we’d see phones at this same price that have internet capability. What happens when farmers in Laos have access to information without going to the city for internet access? Just ask Kenyan farmer Zack Matere what the cell phone and Internet access means to him. I’m sorry to break the news...

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Why I love the Internet

Sometimes I forget just how cool the Internet is! 11pm Thursday night: Wife and I are sick of being cold (apartment at 14C-57F) decide to book trip if possible to some place warm (yes I know…cold is relative and remember we lived in Saudi Arabia before here). 7:45am Friday: E-mail travel agent looking for any last minute deals to “someplace warm” 8:00: Start up Google Earth and start tracking Mother-in-Law’s flight. 8:15: Agent e-mails back with a flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia only problem is flight from Shanghai to Bangkok is fully booked. (Saturday is the first day of Chinese New Year so flights fill up fast). I e-mail her back passport and names of the three of us. If the seats come open we go. 9:30: Agent e-mails back with confirmed seats for all 3 of us. 10:30: Agree to meet deliver guy at my apartment at 5pm to pay for and get tickets (total 3 e-mails). 11:30: Start e-mailing friends in the school who have been to Cambodia Get recommendation for a hotel Get a guide book from a friend who borrowed from a friend (if guide books were music files we’d be in trouble). Learn we need a Visa but can be bought at the airport when we arrive Learn we need to take a passport picture for the Visa Learn to take a lot of USD because you can’t trust the ATM machines 1:00: Wife e-mails me to say that hotel is confirmed and will pick us up at the airport when we arrive. 3:00: Check weather report for Siem Reap 90F/32C 4:00: Snowing really hard and starting to stick. 5:00: Arrive home to find the ticket deliver guy waiting for me. Plugs in his wireless credit card reader and swipes my international credit card. Within 10 minutes the transactions done and tickets are in hand. 6:00: Check the status of Mother-in-Law’s flight. Do to get in at 6:17. Text wife the new arrival time. 6:44: Wife texts to say that she “Has Target in Site” as she watches her mom head to baggage claim. 7:15: Wife texts to say they are in a taxi and on their way home. 7:30: There’s about an inch of snow on the deck and this is looking better by the second! What’s the lesson here? (Other than I’m going to enjoy 4 days in the sun!) [tags]vacation[/tags] Technorati...

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Off to explore Western China-Kashgar

We celebrated the Moon Festival earlier this week, and next week we get 3 days off of school for Chinese National Day (Think Independence day in your country). It’s been a heck of a start to the school year, with little time to blog, do deep thinking and reflecting or get the stuff done I want to and on time. But next week…my wife and I leave the stress of this fast pace busy city for a little Chinese culture. Wes, Sheryl, and Will have all written how Shanghai is in my words intense. It sucks you into its face pace, never sleep, never stop working word and spits you out in June a mangled over worked mess. We’re headed to Kashgar.About as far west China as you can get and as far from fast pace big city as you can get in China. Kashgar has a population of about 300,000 people which is about as small as a city comes in China. We’re headed to Kashgar to both get away and to buy carpets. This region of China is known for their carpet making skills. History says that the Uygur (people of this area) are of Persian decent and I’m sure that is where their long history of carpet making comes from. My wife and I started buying carpets while we lived in Saudi and we really want one made in China, but they are just way to expensive here in Shanghai…so an e-mail to the travel agent and we’re off to Kashgar! Kashgar is also a very Muslim area which we are both looking forward too. We miss the Middle East, the people, the culture, and are looking forward to the experience once again. We hired a guide for the trip (we don’t do this often) his name is Ali and he’s outlined for us three great days of sightseeing and carpet buying. Sunday we’ll be spending all day at the largest bazaar in China this is carpet buying day! Monday we will be heading out of town to a beautiful lake. Can’t wait to see nature and not cement. Kashgar’s elevation is over 4,000 feet so maybe snow already? Tuesday we’ll head inland to the end of the desert and if we want ride a camel (which my wife has already done…long story but about got us kicked out of Saudi!). We’ll be mixing with the...

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Welcome to 2007!

So I made it back from Vietnam rested, reflected, and ready for a new year. If today, my first day back, is in anyway a show of what awaits us all in 2007 then I’m excited. Today, I woke up looking forward to tackling the long list of e-mails that awaited me from my 2 weeks of being disconnected (OK, I checked e-mail twice while in Vietnam). I made it through 2 e-mails, but instead was part of 3 Skype chats, 2 Skype calls, 4 Google Chats, and 1 more Skpye call tonight. Is this 2007? The year when chat and VoIP take over the world, when e-mail finally does not do justice to the conversations we are having? If so I’m excited. I have a lot of stuff I’ve been pondering starting with the one thing I did accomplish today getting a post up on the techlearning blog. I encourage you to go have a read on some interesting facts about Vietnam and where that country is headed. I’ve also linked to our flickr slide show of pictures. Ready or not it’s 2007. I have a feeling about this year…that something is going to change, somethings gotta give…and I’m excited to be a part of it!...

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