I have redefined retirement at age 23. I have a lifestyle where I do the things I like, with the time I have and still get paid for it. I designed my freedom these two decades, traveling to more than 40 countries. I run a successful business doing consulting works as a Corporate Writer, Corporate Emcee, Event Producer and a Workshop Facilitator. I am also a talk-show host on an Internet Radio station with two programs "A Course In Miracles for Work-Life" and "Freedom Speaks". Life is Healthy, Rich & FREE! You can design this lifestyle according to your willingness. I hope mine will inspire you to achieve that freedom too.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Future, Epcot Centre, Orlando

The other day we walked towards our right where the bus stopped to Disney World where we boarded the monorail into the happiest place on earth. Now, as we alighted from the bus, we walked towards the left wing of the huge car parking space which apparently can fill up to 10,000 cars at any one time. Looking up, I saw the sign to Epcot Centre, I followed it all the way through its covered walkway. It took us quite a while to walk the distance before I could slot in my ticket for validation to enter into the Centre. 

As I retrieved my ticket and put it back safely into my slingbag, I looked up and was immediately thrown into an awe-inspiring gasp as a huge mammoth steel structure that resembled a round ball the size of a 15-storey building filled up my vision. As I walked closer and read the inscription, I then realized that I can actually get inside for a ride, I got this description from its website :

"Spaceship Earth Attraction is a 16-minute omnimover ride through time and space for Guests of all ages that features approximately 20 elaborately detailed, Audio-Animatronic show scenes that depict the stirring story of human connection and collaboration over 40,000 years—from the dawn of recorded time to the 21st century's internet age."
It was exciting when the omnimover rotated, moved forward and stopped. I didn't expect my "cart" to move backward too, we had all this mind-swirling movements while the omnimover was moving upwards sometimes at an almost 30° slope. But the speed was slow so it was bearable, unlike "The Mummy" experience I had at the Universal Studio, well, that will be our story another time.

During the ride, this was what happened :

"Spaceship Earth Attraction omnimover vehicles—dubbed time machines—are equipped with interactive touch screens that ask you how you would like to live, work and play in the world of tomorrow. Utilizing image capture and face recognition technology, you can then enjoy a glimpse of your potential future self at the end of the attraction."
And that was how this animation was produced. I didn't know that there will be such a video. I was only asked to click a few buttons when I was on the omnimover, so I did. It was so stunning that our faces were captured, recorded and was produced in such a witty story of my future. And yes, those themes were selected by me.
Most of the attractions which are closer to the entrance has futuristic theme, while the rest adopted features from Disney famous movies such as Finding Nemo and Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, but they shrunk all the audience instead, me included. 

There is also a special attraction where they have built a big part of the park to house a few pavilions bringing in the style, culture and the designs of the buildings to the likes of the those found in such countries like Japan, China, Mexico, France, Germany and many parts of Europe. Not only can we marvel at the designs of the "city", we can even taste the "local" foods at each of the pavilion too. Even the people who are in charge of the respective pavilions dress up like its country's unique culture. So, when you walk into any of the pavilion, you feel as if you are already in that country. Very ingenious!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cape Town, South Africa

I did not plan to go to South Africa at all.

I went to Kenya a few years back, so I thought I will go to some other continents instead. But that year I could not get a ticket to somewhere, I forgot which country. I put in my reservation a few months before but still no good news. My travel agent told me just 2 weeks before the holidays that the chances of getting a ticket was slim, would I want to consider another destination. Wow, just 2 weeks before I took off from work and no flight ticket?

When I was running my Interior Design business a decade ago, to  travel during Chinese Lunar New Year was a better choice. We usually closed for more than 10 days. Those were the long holidays where people in the industry will not want to start work unless the construction work was strictly urgent.  Most of us will just laze around and have reunion meals over and over for all the 15 days of celebration.

So, just 2 weeks before the holidays began and I have no flight ticket! In desperation, I told my travel agent to just let me know which was the destination that I could book within that short time. She mentioned Johannesburg - I said OK. Yes, just OK and picked up a Singapore Airline's ticket a few days later and off I went.

No planning, did not know where to go, did not know where to stay, I didn't know anything about South Africa apart from the word "Apartheid", which was abolished long before I was there in 1999.

I didn't even know there is a place called Cape Town until the plane landed in Johannesburg.

It was 5.10 in the morning when I arrived at Johannesburg International Airport. I got my visitor entry visa at the custom check-point at the airport. When I walked out to the Arrival Hall, to my delight, I found that there were so many brochures and pamphlets giving me details about where to go and what to see.  That was my first time reading about Cape Town. I was fascinated by just looking at the photographs and the beautiful places that were depicted in those travel materials.

I thought I would rather be in Cape Town first before exploring the capital. So, immediately I went over to the counter to check on the next flight  to Cape Town. Then next thing I knew, I was in Cape Town, touched down at 4.30pm on the same day. In fact, when I came home, I realized that if I could have checked, I would have a stopover on SQ flight to Cape Town via Johannesburg instead, that could have saved me some cash. Anyway, it turned out to be all good!

Traveling in South Africa is a breeze.  The travel industry here is robust. There are plenty of local tours to choose from if you do not want to go anywhere on your own.  Even looking for places to stay is easy.  All you need to do is to pick up a brochure from anywhere in the city, call the number and someone will either meet you or pick you up to the hotel/dorm of your choice. It is not cheap to stay in Cape Town or anywhere in South Africa, a bed may cost you about RM33 a night in a room with 4 bunk beds, so 8 to a room or sometimes more, shared bath and kitchen. (I have stayed in rooms that only cost me USD1 in Nepal, even a motel room in USA with a king-size bed, TV with HBO, a fridge and a microwave oven with attached bathroom, cost only USD18.99 for 2. So, paying anything above RM20 for a bed is considered high price when I go on a backpacking trip.)

Cape Town is one of the world's most beautiful city. Look at Cape Town with its bay stretching to cover the whole city, a breathtaking view half way up to Table Mountain. Certainly one of the most captivating city that I have been. I would love to go back one day. 

Look at the Table Mountain in the middle of the town, isn't it majestic, alluring yet so romantic, especially when you sit in the park with a sandwich and a cappuccino, lining its contour with your vision, coloring it with your breath and smoothen it with the tip of your finger while finishing it up with the color of blue and make it stand out sharper. Then, you take a few steps back and marvel at The Creation, and heave a sigh of pride that leaves you spellbound for years to come.

Going up Table Mountain is a must-do when you are in Cape Town. You can either hike up or take the cable car. When you ascend or descend, the interior of the cable car can rotate 360° so wherever you stand, you can take in the whole view of Cape Town. Incidentally, there are only 2 such rotating cable car in the world, the other one is at Mount Titlis in Switzerland.  I had been on that Mount Titlis cable car too.

Well.....that is my Cape Town I remember fondly.

And then there is Penguin in South Africa, did you know that? They are smaller but they are cuddly. They lay themselves out in the sun at  a place called Boulders Beach. You can take a 1-day tour out of Cape Town to Cape Point and back while you stopover to have a closer look at the penguins at Boulders Beach. It is a very nice drive especially with the perfect weather and perfect temperature as what Cape Town can offer. The scenery throughout the journey is spectacular, you wouldn't want to take a nap lest you will miss some of Nature's best creation.

More about my South Africa trip, read about my camping at Krueger National Park .