I had been waiting for this month for nearly a year! My first visit to Japan.
I took a short contract to perform on the Sun Princess. For the passengers this was to be a 42 day cruise, for me just 5 days on the ship between Busan in South Korea and Yokohama Japan. A very long flight up to Busan via Hong Kong but an early arrival allowed me to have nearly a whole day to explore the city before joining the ship.
The famous Jagalchi Fish Market was insane and I spent a couple of hours wandering around watching and smelling. I would have eaten too, but the hotel Princess had provided for us, The Commodore, had a sensational buffet and I had stuffed myself there first. Yep, every seafood known to man was being consumed, most of it raw, some still wriggling.
The ship took me to Nagasaki the next day and after exploring the city and of course the Peace park, Atomic Museum and ground zero site, I headed to Glover Garden. Being a huge Puccini fan, I wanted to see the very place where the opera Madama Butterfly was set. A fantastic spot on the hill above the beautiful harbour, that reminded me of my home town of Wellington New Zealand.
My final adventure was to find the celebrated local dish Champon, a mix of pork, seafood, noodles and vegetables. It was fantastic and I can’t wait till someone decides to take me back to Nagasaki!
The rest of the cruise was just work, but those two days made the two long flights well worthwhile.
Here’s my Champon!
A busy month that included a couple of Corporate Conferences and a couple of cruises in the South Pacific.
The main corporate event was the Next Generation CIO Summit for GDS International, held on the Gold Coast. Talk was still very much about Cloud Computing but more focused on the fact that it was a fact of life, rather than the big thing that it was 6 – 12 months previously.
I was the Corporate MC for the event, keeping it all On Track and On Time and injecting a bit of fun. The event was held at the Radisson Resort, which was perfect for the numbers we had. Rain did interupt the “speed networking ” session we ran on the first night but it was beautiful the next enabling us to dine outside around the pool.
My cruise assignments were pretty standard South Pacific fare but I did get to hang out at Chantilly’s on the Bay in Port Vila for an extra night, where they lodge the Guest Entertainers. A great spot as you can see. Free WiFi by the pool and bar. The foods not bad either, but I keep returning to the Waterfront Bar & Grill at the other end of town for their version of raw fish salad “ika mata” washed down with Tusker beer.
Australia has been going through a mining boom over the last decades, so it’s little wonder that quite a few of my assignments are related to this.
August took me back to Cairns and the annual conference of the Mine Surveyors of Australia conference. It wasn’t a huge affair but very well run by my colleagues at Conference Images. I was providing my MC services inserting a bit of fun into the procedings.
A fascinating series of mini papers were presented over the two days ranging from projects in outer Siberia, the Pike River disater in New Zealand and the amazing range of survey products available to these guys including a wide range of flying devices!
Ths Months Photo – Out on Tiri Tiri Matangi NZ – The Light House
The highlight of the month for me was to facilitate a half day workshop with a small group of people exploring – creativity, productivity and personality types.
I can’t tell you who this group was because I signed a massive non disclosure agreement, but they worked in research in the medical field.
I love doing these workshops as I can pass on some of the tools and techniques I use in my shows. We explored how different personality types operate and how with a simple adjustment we can communicate and work with others better. The creative thinking tools allowed the group to freely generate a torrent of ideas and then evaluate them all with a triage process. We also touched on Memory Skills and saw a huge increase in their retention.
This group was only 10 people, but the sessions can be run for much larger groups.
This Months Photo
As I didn’t take any at the workshop for obvious reasons, another shot from last months trip to Pentecost Island.
Someone asked me the other day why I still take on occasional Cruise Ship engagements. It can’t be the money, they guessed, you would get more for one Corporate Entertainment than you do for a week on a ship!
Well they were absolutely correct. At most of my Corporate Entertainment assignments like Conference Kick Offs, After Dinner shows etc, I’ll earn more than if I’m on a ship for a week.
But they do allow me to travel to places I would have to spend vast amounts of money to get to by myself and I love to do just that.
I had wanted to go to Pentecost Island ever since I read about it in an old National Geographic magazine as a boy and I got to do it this month.
As part of a manhood ritual the locals construct a large forest tower from which the leap off. The only thing securing them are long vines attached to their legs. Yep, the original bungee jumpers.
Sure, the ritual has been tweaked a bit for the cruise ships who visit the island, part of the Vanuatu group, but sitting there watching the young men leap off the tower was amazing and a great example of why I occasionaly work on the ships.
Two big trips in May for GDS International. Both of these were to provide corporate MC services at their events, executive level summits. Not just the MC role however, I always get to perform some of my best known effects.
The first trip was up to Cairns and the supply chain event.
The second was to one of my favourite cities in the world … Hong Kong and a meeting of some of Asias top CIO’s.
These events are always held at the Marriot Sky City out near the new airport, but with Hong Kongs amazing MTR rail system, the city is very easily reached. I love Hong Kong and look forward to returning again later in the year. The colours the noise, the history the food or the shopping… take your pick.
They say luck favours those who are prepared for it.
A few years ago I was running a workshop at a conference for one of the sponsors. I had no dealings with the main conference organiser or the committee. I was staying overnight and had been invited to the gala dinner where my dear friend Raymond Crowe was the feature act. An hour or so before the dinner I was informed that they had not been happy with the MC they had been using and Ray had suggested I might be able to introduce him at the dinner that night. I did.
Several weeks later the organiser asked if I was available to MC the whole conference the next year. Bingo.
This client has now used me three times, in Australia, South Africa and in April took me over to New Zealand to run the conference there. Staying at the beautiful Langham hotel in Auckland we had close encounters with teen boy band One Direction who were also at the hotel.
It was a sensational event, including a night of harness racing and a keynote by astronaut Greg Chamitoff (seen here ) who is a big magic fan and we even performed an effect together onstage during his opening keynote.
March turned into an incredibly busy month.
Back to Cairns for another GDS Executive Summit, this time Oil & Gas, held at the magnificent Shangri-La Hotel. I did manage to get a brief walk down the Esplanade and managed to spot a few waders without my binoculars. Somehow also managed to score an executive floor suite which was an added bonus. Looking forward to returning there in May.
Two cruises in the month, both on Princess. The first saw me go from Darwin to Bali. I got a whole day in Kuta and a smart day room to base myself from before flying home at 1.30 am. A bit shocked to read the news that 5 terrorists had been shot the next night in a shootout with security forces right where I had been the night before. The second cruise was Fiji back to Sydney. Terrible weather for a few days but the last couple of magic ones made up for it.
I also conducted a half day Creative Thinking and Team Building session for Roche. Just a small team of 12 IT people, but I was really pleased with how it went and the feedback I recieved.
This Months Photo
Waiting between “Photo Ops” with the people getting off the tenders. At Port Benoa, Bali
I love flying over to Perth!
The air and light is different there and it still feels like a land of opportunities. I was there to be MC at a mining conference for my friends at GDS International. We drove out to a beautiful golf resort in the Swan Valley and had an intense three days of sessions including Panels, Workshops and Working Groups.
I hate flying back from Perth!
You either waste a whole day with the time difference or suffer the overnight “Red Eye” getting into Sydney early in the morning. Got home just in time to experience the biggest storm I’ve ever seen in the Blue Mountains. The massive hail storm blocked the storm drains and subsequently our house was flooded. Yikes. Weeks later and still living with bare concrete floors waiting for the carpet insurance claim to be completed.
I finished the month out with a short cruise in New Zealand performing my Magic of the Mind Show. Sailing from Auckland to Dunedin I got to visit the beautiful small town of Akaroa and climb Mt Maunganui, two places I had never been been to. Also new, was a bit of back street wandering in Art Deco Napier discovering some nice suburban examples. Whole streets built in the decade following the massive earthquake and now nicely preserved and protected.