Saturday, October 07, 2006

Asean Tourism Fair

It was my 5th time to Japan as an ambassador
The Asean Tourism Fair in Sapporo, Hokkaido
This event was as good as the rest, if not the best
Both in body and mind it was truly a cultural fest

Asean admitted a new member this year
Now Myanmar celebrates the friendship far and near
In the cultural bridge that has many detours
Starting from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia.
The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand to Vietnam.

At the fair, every country showcased their specialty
Arts and crafts that were founded on anonymity
Preserved through and for generations to come
So that today, we too, can appreciate their beauty and charm

Japan was most gracious to host the affair
The people's commitment to attention and care
Was exemplary right to the very end
All of two weeks we had fun working, playing hand in hand.

The picture above was taken on the streets of Sapporo in costume. We were performing in a local shopping centre nearby.
Sapporo looked very similar to Tokyo . The japanese are such civic minded people. The streets were clean and almost all sidewalks had special walkways built for the handicapped. The public toilets were also clean- sign of a gracious society in my opinion. Hotel toilets even have heated seats in the winter. Hmmmmm... great for my butt .. hahaha. But I hope they would do something about the toilet paper though. hee hee. they are thin and rough. Not quite kleenex material... :)

Once I was in a cafe and the girl sitting a few tables away left her cell phone and shopping bags behind. While she was gone many people walked in and out of the cafe and never minded the phone at all. Fifteen minutes later the girl came back and quietly took her belongings. If it had been anywhere else, the phone would be gone quite quickly.

I can hardly find trash receptacles anywhere . That's because hardly anyone ever ate on the streets. I noticed they have meals at restaurants and eateries. Japan is very conscious about recycling. If there is a dustbin somewhere it will be side by side with 2 others. One for paper, another for plastic and so on.

I find it very peculiar that the japanese are quite influenced by western culture and yet retained their values and able to integrate them effortlessly. In the fortnight I was there, I only had time to visit the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art. Shopping was expensive but digital cameras were cheaper than Singapore.
The flag down rate for taxis was 600 yen. 1000 yen was equivalent to S$14. Muy caro. . Cheap food starting from 500 yen can be had if one knew where to go.
Hokkaido crabs were huge. The spiny body itself was bigger than a man's face and the claws were at least 16 inches long. The famous local rock melons cost anywhere from $27 to $150 each !! Unbelievable!!!
Now I miss the weather. It was about 18 degrees... I had a great time.