Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Great Gathering

The evening last night at Steve and Mike's home was a wonderfully informal and intimate gathering of friends - thirteen people in all. Chef Mike presided in preparing a fabulously improvised, delicious and colourfully presented meal, which although a bit spicy for some, was consumed and enjoyed by all. It was followed by a sumptuously and sinfully sensational chocolate cake decorated with fresh blueberries.

After dinner everyone retired to the theatre room where they got a preview of the DVD I had created of the presentation at the Capitol Theatre on Thanksgiving weekend. The response to the DVD was overwhelmingly positive, even from Ted Amsden, who is normally difficult to impress.

Of the thirteen people who attended the dinner that night, three of them, Jennifer Hawthorn (extreme left, will be teaching basic English), Ted Amsden (professional photographer and writer, third from left with glasses, will be documenting this trip ) and Jennifer Mercer (far right, dance instructor, will be teaching dance to and learning traditional dance from the hill tribe people), will be venturing to Laos for the very first time. They will be joining Mike (in front wearing black shirt, one of the founders of Adopt a Village in Laos) on the flight there and meeting Steve (second from the left, the other founder of Adopt a Village in Laos) in Luang Prabang.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Special Dinner

This weekend I have ventured off to Port Hope again. On this occasion I will be attending a special dinner, which has several facets to it.

  • To thank those who have contributed to this project in various capacities.
  • To touch base with those who will be joining Steve and Mike in Laos.
  • For those going to Laos, to have an opportunity to voice any last-minute questions or concerns with Steve before he leaves for Laos in November.

Originally, I had planned to take the GO Train to Oshawa (the end of the GO line), where Steve and Mike would have picked me up in their van. But when I was chatting with them on Skype earlier this week, Steve graciously offered to drive into Toronto and pick me up. So around 8 AM this morning, they arrived and stopped into Java Jive, the community cafe next to where I live, to have some breakfast before heading back to Port Hope.

Shortly after their arrival I presented them with five copies of the Adopt a Village in Laos: Presentation at the Capitol Theatre DVDs. One copy was, of course, for them. The remaining copies they can freely give to their close friends for feedback. Perhaps these DVDs might be a way of helping to raise money to fund their project?

On the drive back to Port Hope, Steve informed me that for all my hard work behind the scenes I could have my name inscribed on either a sign for one of the hygiene toilets or on a plaque for one of the schools. I was honoured. After a moment of thought, I selected the plaque.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

DVD Version Released Yesterday

On Saturday afternoon I turned my attention to creating a DVD version of the video footage. After a few hours of the computer laboriously crunching through the video, a DVD master was ready to be burned. Once the master had been made and an electronic copy created from this master, I reproduced several copies which I will present to Steve and Mike on my visit to Port Hope next weekend.

The image above is the cover insert for the DVD jewel case.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Capitol Theatre Event Video

Upon my return to Toronto after my Thanksgiving visit to Port Hope, I set to work on editing the video had I shot of the Capitol Theatre event. Several days later I had a finished product before me. Prior to uploading this video to YouTube, I had to divide it into six segments and individually upload each segment, which took a few hours at a time. Last night I silently cheered to myself when the final part finished uploading to YouTube. My work was done - for now.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Things to take with you

As an introduction to preparing for my trip to Laos, which won't happen until December 2011, Steve Rutledge, who is spearheading the Adopt A Village in Laos project, has compiled this list of things one needs to take in one's backpack.

  • Small bottle of hand sanitizer
  • Drugs for bladder infection (prescription)
  • Bug spray with DEET
  • Full bottle of extra strength Tylenol and another one of Advil
  • Vitamins - 1000 mg Vitamin C and One-A-Day
  • Bath towel (large)
  • Saree (for women)
  • Protein or snack bars (no chocolate in them, it will melt) as a supplement to meals.
  • DO NOT take jewelry. We do not want to show wealth - could be targets for theft and we want to show respect to them by not flaunting what we have.
  • Salt packets (if you are heavy salt eaters) and put in re-sealable plastic bag
  • Large roll of toilet paper unless you want to use sticks
  • Flip-flops for the villages and old running or hiking shoes for the treks
  • Swimming clothes (if you dare to swim in the river)
  • Flashlight (small) - will need it after dark for sure
  • Re-sealable plastic bags for anything you need to keep dry.
  • Passport sized photos (4 cm x 6 cm for Vietnam) - Canadian passport photos are slightly larger so they should do. Take 4 in total - 2 for Vietnam, 1 for Laos and 1 extra in case you need it.
  • For Vietnam, get a Visa permit letter on-line - it is cheaper. It is even cheaper if going as a group and one person do the visa letter application. It takes three days for the letter to appear on-line where it can be printed. You need to take this with you along with an entry/exit permit which can be downloaded at the same time as the visa letter.
  • Passport cannot have less than 6 months left on it before expiry
  • Suntan lotion if you burn easily (at least a 35)
  • Snacks for flight - suggest also hard-to-find candy for descents if your ears are prone to uncomfortable pressure changes
  • Balloons and wrapped candy for the kids - we will have more than that but you will be disappointed if you are by yourself for some time and don't have anything to give them.
  • Lip gloss (Chocolate flavour is OK because the lip gloss will likely melt anyway if you leave it out).
  • Luggage: you can take 2 bags for check-in - total can weigh from 20 kg (44 lbs.) on Cathay Pacific to 23 kg (50 lbs.) for Air Canada. Carry-on - 10 kg (22 lbs.), but there are size limitations. You can also carry a notebook bag or purse, duty-free stuff. Rules change so doublecheck before you go. No gels, toothpaste, perfume, etc,..
  • Note: If you plan to stopover in Vietnam overnight due to long connections, you may want to check your bags right through to Luang Prabang and just throw some overnight stuff in your backpack.
  • If you have a Canadian flag pin, I suggest you wear it.
  • Schedule appointment with travel clinic 3 to 4 months before you plan to leave. Estimate $500 for shots and medications.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Brighter Future For Laos

While I was visiting Mike and Steve over the Thanksgiving weekend, Mike showed me the Fall 2010 issue of GO!, a local magazine touching on life in Northumberland county, Ontario. In this issue it featured a beautifully written article about them and how they are striving to make life better for the Hill tribes which live in northern Laos. To get an in-depth perspective of how ordinary people can make a real difference, visit Steve's blog, Adopt a Village in Laos.

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Journey to Laos: The Voyage Begins

It is said that a journey begins with a single step. On Tuesday, July 6, that journey to Laos began when I met Mike Yap, who introduced me to the Adopt a Village project. Having always been fascinated by other cultures, I was immediately captivated by the concept. 

In mid-August I visited Port Hope, where Mike and his partner, Steve Rutledge, who is the other half of the driving force behind this humanitarian effort, reside. That weekend I listened to Steve talk with great enthusiasm about their work. I became more and more intrigued.

On Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, I visited them again. On that Saturday night, I had the honour of attending their presentation/fundraiser for the Adopt a Village in Laos project at the beautifully restored Capitol Theatre in downtown Port Hope, Ontario. Having never had their presentation/fundraisers captured on video before, I volunteered to record this event with my iPhone. When I returned home, I would edit it and then upload it to YouTube in hopes of  raising awareness of their work to a larger audience.

From that weekend I came away glowing inside with a wonderfully positive energy. Inspired, I made a commitment to myself and to Mike and Steve that I would join them in and help them with their endeavours in Laos in December 2011. I'm not sure how I'm going to get there, but knowing myself I will find a way to attain that goal.