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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & Partners; Austria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western Hotels; South Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus; Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.
ReportsWednesday, 2 July 2003
--> Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (day 2) From the house in Wildwood Park I got to an office building south of the forks, along Osborne Street. Grant Platts had to go to work early in the morning, but left me at the house to sleep in, update this website and get organised again.
It was Andy Ling who picked me up in front of the house and took me along to the central district of Winnipeg.
Andy had jumped in to host me at the last minute as the lady I was supposed to stay with suddenly told me that she was leaving to Amsterdam to backpack through the Netherlands.
This meant I had to contact one of the other people in Winnipeg who had invited me over. "You are going to stay at my office," Andy told me when I contacted him. "You probably haven't experienced a place-to-stay in an office before!"
Andy originates from Malaysia and studied to be a civic engineer at the University of Winnipeg. He didn't want to return to Malaysia when he graduated, because there was not much work as a civic engineer, so he stayed in Winnipeg. Where there wasn't any employment either, he figured out.
"Then I discovered that I could easily start the travel company named Canada-One Travel, as there was no whole-sale travel company in this entire province yet! And that is when my adventure started because I never studied to be a travel wholesaler and I realised that engineers never learned how to deal with money. You need capital to start a business! I learned that the hard way!"
Because it was very short-day to stay at his family's home ("My wife is an occupational therapist and lives a very scheduled lifestyle" he said), Andy decided to just get all the gear so I could sleep at his office.
At the office I met up with his young son Justin and Andy was proud to introduce me to all his colleagues. "This is Ramon, he travels the world and he has a website," he told them.
To me he had explained that he can't follow my travel reports every day, because he is too busy with the company. "I work long hours at the office, because it means a lot to me. Sometimes I leave this place around midnight."
I was taken to the basement of the office building that used to be a warehouse. I dropped my stuff in a big board room and was taken to a relaxation area of the office. There was a little bar that could have been a cocktail bar on a tropical beach! But the real eye-opener here was the Ricochet play court right there.
Andy demonstrated how he also had a beamer hanging on the ceiling, so he could project karaoke DVDs on the big wall at the end of the court. Wow! This is a great office!
For dinner Andy took me along to Chinatown. "You have to see our small Chinatown here in Winnipeg. It's only a few streets. Don't blink with your eyes when I say so, or you will miss it." We had excellent Chinese food at the Marigold Restaurant, before heading to Blockbuster to rent a movie for tonight.
Andy would be working at his office upstairs, so I could entertain myself with the bed/stretcher on the court while watching the DVD of Die Another Day. It was all too great to me.
I don't remember ever sleeping at an office before or watching a movie on a private 10-feet-wide screen.
Halfway the movie I checked out how Andy was doing at his office upstairs. He was having a phone conversation with a man from a chain of hotels on the Indonesian island Bali.
"Hey by the way," Andy said to him, "I have this guy staying here, he has a website…." So Andy explained my lifestyle to him and asked him if there would be a place to stay for me on Bali. "He can stay at every hotel for free?" Andy verified. Andy stuck up his thumb to me. "That is great! Thank you."
The coming hour we were talking about a possible trip to Indonesia. Wouldn't that be nice? If a hotel chain already invites me over at most of its hotels, I'd only need a bunch more Balinese people to invite me over and I could travel around there!
If you know my bio a bit, you might know I have lived in Indonesia. My family took me along right after my birth and we lived in Jakarta and on Bali for a period of four years as my father had a job in the booming industry of construction at these times.
A re-visit to the country where I once spoke the local language as a little kid but lost it all back home in The Netherlands in 1980, would of course be awesome!
With the wide door of the warehouse open we enjoyed a glass of wine and the view on Winnipeg. "I only have to figure out how you could get to Indonesia," Andy said. "Maybe the airlines want to jump in for that." Maybe. We will all find out in the near future.
While sitting there I was surprised about something. Where were the bugs? Where were the mosquitoes that loved me for meals three times a day, like in northern Ontario. When I asked Andy about that, he told me that they spray the city here. "The used to do only parts of the city, because a bug plague can be really bad. We wouldn't be able to sit here, normally. Open one door and they just attack you. But because of the fear for the West Nile virus, the city council decided to spray the entire city. Trucks drive around a few times a day and spray a certain chemical in the air. The tree-hugging people in town didn't really like that, hehe."
I looked at the bright lights on the ceiling for a minute. I could not see a single bug!
I had to tell Andy that I would also need enough places to stay with ordinary people on Bali who can invite me over, otherwise I will have to stay in a different hotel every day and I don't think I could survive that very easily.
I rather be a guest among hosts than a room number with a hotel manager.
He could understand that. If I could make it there, maybe the local media can wake up the people there and tell them to help you out. Great! We will found out in the near future, again.
"And of course you'll have to see the rest of Indonesia, and go to my own home country, Malaysia. So that means you'll have to do a Southeast Asia trip." I guess, so, Andy. If anybody can get me there, I will certainly be travelling around there the next term.
Good night Winnipeg! Guess what I was dreaming about...