Jump Day

Up at 8 and not as nervous as I had expected, met up with Lyn, her 62 year old sister Barbara and Lasse a slightly mad Dane who were my jump mates and I couldn't ask for better ones. Because Lyn and Barbara were so chatty it didn't give me a chance to let the notion of me jumping out of a plane sink in. Three other girls joined us in the mini van to the airstrip they were also great fun and really friendly. Myself and Lasse were the last to jump because everyone else wanted photos and DVDs made, I wasn't fussed because they allow you to take your camera down and make your own video once the parachute has opened. Lasse was very excited, I was slightly more apprehensive but also buzzing.

The skydive was pure pleasure and fun, every second was enjoyable and it felt so easy and peaceful, nothing like I had expected and as it is considered the second most scenic sky dive in the world the views over the fox glacier and out to the southern alps were incredible.

After the jump everyone was on a high and me and the crew all went for burger and chips in a cafe where Lyn and Barbara chatted and the rest of us listened and laughed. After it got dark I went glow worm hunting in the forest with the 3 girls and it felt a bit like I was a murderer leading 3 girls into a pitch black forest. I didn't murder them. I could have, but I didn't because I like them and it would have put a dampener on an awesome day.

Franz Josef

Arriving in Franz Josef I was annoyed that I had signed up for Kayaking because I was spending too much money already and I had also put my name down to sky dive. Even though I was aware that I was spending too much I still followed the crowd in to the glacier hikes building and promptly parted with another $150 for a days walking on the glacier because it is considered one of the top attractions in New Zealand.

The kayaking was a short drive out of the town and the mini bus was not large enough to take us all so the guide asked who had a driving license. Of the people who had not been drinking already only me and a young girl volunteered so I made sure it was me driving. In hindsight this was probably not a great idea as I doubt I was insured but everyone over here is laid back and driving in New Zealand is easy so it was all good. Our group of 10 people had a huge lake all to ourselves as tends to be the case over here and sitting on the water looking up at the mountains as the sun went down was another pinch me moment.

I managed not to spend any more money that evening by eating peanut butter on toast for dinner and drinking tea with Roxy and Lyn until midnight. Lyn is an absolute hero of a woman, she is 58, from up north and living life to the fullest. She had done a bungy jump the week before and tomorrow morning will be jumping out of a plane in the same group as me. Lyn can talk for England and although you can't get a word in edge ways I was in stitches at every story she told. My favourite story was that when she was 40 she looked down at her sofa and said to herself 'I could be sat on a beach instead of on this', the next morning she sold the sofa and booked a week in Ibiza. When she got back all she had to sit on was one deckchair but she was happy as Larry and for this I love her. Lyn you are a legend.

Ripple Effect

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”
- Voltaire

About a year and a half ago, I started a business--my third, in a city that was new to me and where I didn’t know many people.

Every day, I would get up, get myself ready and walk to work, which was located in my dining room, just a few feet from my bedroom.

Those first few months were tough. In fact, the first year was tough, but those first few months were especially hard and I recognized that I needed to do something to stay motivated and positive. You see, where I worked, there was no one to say hello to each day, no one to check in with to make sure I was on the right track and no one to tell me I had a done a good job.

More than any other time in my life, I needed to be valued, appreciated and reassured that I was doing good work that would produce positive results.

One day, I’m not sure why or how, I remembered a letter that my grandmother had given me years ago when my grandfather passed away. I dug it out of my storage area to take a look at it.

The letter was written to my grandfather by his boss in 1939. In fact, the letter was an “inter-office correspondence” so it was also addressed to all of my grandfather’s co-workers in addition to my grandfather. In the letter, my grandfather’s boss writes about how my grandfather had worked tirelessly and gone above and beyond the call of duty one day to fulfill the needs of a prospective client. Because of his persistent effort, my grandfather won the client’s business and my grandfather’s boss wanted everyone to know of my grandfather’s hard work.

I decided to put this letter in a frame and set it on my desk as a way to keep me motivated and inspired while I worked alone at my new business. I thought, “if my grandfather could work tirelessly to achieve results, I could certainly do it as well.”

Yet, every time I re-read the letter, there was something about the letter that would always stop me to think beyond the value of persistence.

At the end of the letter, after praising and recognizing my grandfather’s extra efforts, his boss makes a comment that will stay with me forever. In the very last paragraph of this interoffice correspondence, my grandfather’s boss writes, “But, without wishing to, in anyway, criticize any other man’s thinking or accomplishments, I want to leave the thought that here was a salesman with the right thinking and the ability to put it to the test—he knew his future depended upon his retailers and he took care of them to the nth degree.”

It’s the comment at the end that somehow goes beyond a simple thank you and recognition of persistence. The boss doesn’t just end with a short closer of “thanks again!” Instead, he says something bigger. He says, “without wishing to, in anyway, criticize any other man’s thinking or accomplishments.” In other words, he’s saying “I value all of you, just as much as I value him! And, I am simply acknowledging something extra here.” It’s that expression of appreciation that is more meaningful and goes beyond a simple thank you.

It’s this feeling of sincere appreciation that I like so much when I look at and think about this letter.

The funny thing is that not long after receiving this letter, my grandfather also won a sales award. In fact, I have a picture of him receiving the award in the back of the frame that holds the letter. But, what’s interesting is that my grandfather never kept the award—he kept the letter.

What’s more is that this letter of appreciation didn’t just impact my grandfather--it has impacted me. It’s as if my grandfather’s boss had thrown a rock into a pool of water that created a ripple effect that has lasted for more than 60 years--a ripple of effect of appreciation.

As managers and leaders, you each have the power to impact the lives of people you work with. It could be a letter of appreciation, it could be a note, it could be something special that you do for someone—and you may never know the long-term impact you have, but you will certainly see the positive short-term results from people who feel valued.

© 2005 Lisa Edwards

Views from Khao Kad View Tower at Cape Panwa

I first blogged Khao Khad Viewpoint back in 2006, updated with this post in 2010. The viewpoint is still the same, built at some expense with a tower, car park (where I have never seen more than half a dozen cars) and a little shop selling drinks and snacks. Owner looking rather bored. The Khao Kad View Tower is not too hard to find if you follow the road down Cape Panwa. We detoured up to the tower last weekend on the way to The Beach Bar, it was late afternoon and I'd like to be up there for sunset sometime as you look west across Chalong Bay towards the hills including the Big Buddha. There is a 360 degree view from the top of the tower, looking west across Chalong, north to Phuket Town, east across the sea towards Phi Phi and south across several islands.

The tower and facilities were obviously built with the idea that hundreds of people would flock here for the views. But Cape Panwa remains a quieter area of Phuket, which is why we like it so much! The tower is about 20 meters high atop the hill (Khao Kad.. Khao = Hill). Steps lead directly up to the tower or there is a network of pathways through the trees...

Khao Kad View Tower

Path up to Khao Kad

At the top, plenty of fresh air and views.. this is looking across Chalong Bay:

Chalong Bay View from Khao Kad Viewpoint

Khao Kad View Southwest

And this view looking South, you can see several islands the nearest (little) island is called Koh Thanan, behind that is Koh Lon, which is around 4km from end to end and the highest point over 250m above sea level. Behind Koh Lon is Coral Island (hill in the center of the picture) and in the far distance is the highest point of Racha Yai, about 25 kilometers south of Phuket.

View South from Khao Kad

Zooming in to the west.... this is the Big Buddha, it's about 5 miles away as the eagle flies:

Big Buddha seen from Khao Kad

And this view, zooming in to the east - the island lit up by sunlight is called Koh Doc Mai (15km away), and beyond, despite the hazy day you can make out Phi Phi which is over 40km from Phuket.

View east from Khao Kad

An eagle cruised around the hill as we enjoyed the views. My 300mm zoom lens was just about good enough to snap some photos. Marvelous birds, eagles. After a few passes, it headed off south - much of Cape Panwa is still forested and natural, a good home for an eagle family. (Update: It's a Brahminy Kite, actually).

Brahminy Kite

Brahminy Kite

Cape Panwa is a world away from the main tourist areas of Phuket but has been developed quite a bit in the last 5 years with several new resorts opening. Good place to stay if you like peace and quiet. Hotels include the Cape Panwa Hotel, Panwa Beach Resort and Sri Panwa. Cape Panwa is also home to Phuket Aquarium.

Khao Kad Viewpoint - Location Map

View Khao Kad Viewpoint (Cape Panwa, Phuket) in a larger map


"Keep looking up.” - Dick Damrow

All of us have a mid-life crisis at some point in our lives. Some of us have it later in life, others have it early on. I was lucky. My mid-life crisis happened in my early thirties.

Several years before then, I had returned home after grad school to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, when I discovered that my family’s printing business was in deep trouble. As an only child with a great sense of responsibility, I chose to help my family with the business rather than pursue my own interests. At first, I thought I was helping to save the business and turn it around, but after ten years of trying to turn it around, I recognized I was there to help my dad close the business. As we struggled to keep that business alive, we had created a new business in an attempt to save the family business. It is quite an experience to have one business that is dying and another that is prospering all in the same moment and I found it easy to lose my way.

Both situations have many moments of uncertainty, but one carries a feeling of great sadness and the other carries a sense of hope and optimism.

During this time, my relationship with my dad became strained and I sorely needed a wise friend and mentor who could help me during those moments when I felt uncertain about what to do next. I needed someone removed from the situation who could keep my best interests at heart and give me advice and direction. I can’t even remember how it all came about as everything during that time period is a blur, but somehow I ended up with just the mentor I needed.

Dick was a wise and caring mentor and treated me as a daughter. He gave me advice—some of which I actually took, and gave me the reassurance I so needed during that time of confusion. Since that time and over the years, Dick remained a dear friend and mentor. We stayed in touch throughout my many moves across the country and I could always count on him to provide me with just one more bit of advice or just a few more reassuring words. Whenever I faced a crossroads or needed to make an important decision, I’d call Dick to ask him what he thought.

In the most recent years, Dick rarely gave me advice, but just having him listen to me talk through my thinking was all the reassurance and affirmation I needed to go forward with a decision. Just a few months ago, I went home to work with him on some planning for my book. It was a change in our relationship because for the first time, he wasn’t my mentor, offering free advice or counsel, but my consultant, who allowed me to pay him for the work he normally charged only to his clients. I felt liberated in a funny way. Like an adult. And, I think he looked at me in an new way, too. It was a beginning and an end.

About a month ago, I got a call from a mutual friend of ours from home one evening. She called to tell me that Dick had fallen down the stairs at home the night before. He had hit his head and had undergone surgery to relieve the pressure his skull was causing on his swollen brain. He was in ICU under constant watch, and though everyone was hopeful he’d make a full recovery, he had not yet regained consciousness.

Dick passed away within a week.

Those moments during that time were perhaps the saddest moments in my memory. Before his celebration of life ceremony, one of his friends posted a profile on Facebook for everyone to post their comments about Dick. More than forty pages of comments were posted. The first few posts talked about how Dick was their mentor, but as more people posted, the more we each began to realize that we were not the only protégé! There were hundreds of us!

Talk about making a difference in the lives of others.

I think about Dick a lot and miss our conversations. Sometimes I wish I could hear his voice just one more time. Tonight, as I was home alone, contemplating a few decisions I need to make, I felt an ache to call Dick and ask him for his advice. Knowing I should be quiet and still, instead I searched for something to do. I got on the computer, opened my inbox and saw Dick’s name attached to the emails he had sent to me in the last year. Emails I can’t bring myself to delete from my inbox. And in that instant, I remembered how he started to sign his emails to me when he began to stop giving me advice, and I realized that he had left me with the best advice of all “keep looking up.”

In memory of my dear friend and mentor, Dick Damrow (2/19/49 - 2/24/09). I miss you.

© 2009 Lisa Edwards


"Everytime you wish for something, keep your eyes wide-open, focus and know exactly what you want. No one hits the target with eyes closed."
- Paulo Coelho

Recently, I was in a friend's office and noticed on his wall, a framed picture of his tickets to the Olympics. I thought it was interesting because he is an entrepreneur and it reminded me of another friend, also an entrepreneur, who uses the idea of becoming an Olympic athlete as a metaphor for entrepreneurship.

I love entrepreneurship. I love entrepreneurs. And, when I was an entrepreneur, I loved the experience of being an entrepreneur.

The one thing that stands clear in my mind about entrepreneurship, is that the primary intention of entrepreneurship has very little to do with the practical issues of building a business and everything to do with living out your purpose and creating a life of meaning. It's about passion and purpose and honoring your Personal Legend.

In my experience of being an entrepreneur, I have discovered a formula for entrepreneurial success... and perhpaps it's a formula for Olympic success, too.

My simple formula for entrepreneurial success requires three steps:
1. Dream
2. Focus
3. Discipline

These three steps need to experienced in this order and the cycle is never complete.

Essential to living large is dreaming big. Consider the Olympic skater -- they must have the dream, the idea, the vision and the heartfelt desire to become an Olympic skater. Can you imagine an athlete achieving Olympic success without a passionate dream?

Yet, most people rarely have the courage to dream big. Instead, they are practical. They use duties and obligations to justify a smaller, realistic dream. You can recognize the dreamless by their words. Can't and but are sprinkled throughout their conversations-- especially when the conversation inches close to topics about passion, purpose and living a life of meaning. Some of these people may even be successful by objective measures of success. Their bank account and personal balance sheet may be full, but they are forever searching for something greater, their passionate dream having been sacrificed along the practical path to success.

Focusing can only happen after dreaming and it, too is a continual process. Imagine the Olympic skater. That skater may have dreams of being an speed skater or a free-style skater or part of an ice dancing pair. At some point, when they decide they want to become the best, they make the choice to focus.

The misconception about focus is that it is a one-time event. Instead, focusing is a continual process. After the Olympic skater decides what kind of skater they are going to become, there are many opportunities along the path of becoming an Olympic skater to change their mind and become a different type of skater. This is especially true when they face an obstacle or failure; an inevitability for anyone on the path to something great. Faced with an obstacle or failure, they may be seduced by another possibility and drift off-focus. It takes great strength to remain focused on the original dream.

Many years ago, I co-founded a poster publishing business. One of the reasons we were successful and became profitable quickly is that we were focused on our mission. People would say, "why don't you do t-shirts?" or "how about doing framed prints?", and I would say, "Posters! We do posters!"

T-shirts? Nope! Doesn't fit!

Art prints? Nope! Doesn't fit!

By eliminating the ideas that didn't fit our mission, we freed-up mind-space and were able to get closer to realizing our dream.

While dreaming and focusing are mostly activities of the mind, discipline is revealed in actions and acts as announcement to the world that you are serious. The Olympic skater may dream about becoming an Olympic skater and focus their mind on becoming a specific type of skater, but until they take action, their mission cannot be realized.

I used to teach a class on entrepreneurship to aspiring entrepreneurs. I started to notice that these entrepreneurs would rarely share their business idea and dream to the class at the start of the class. At first, I thought this was because they thought someone would steal their idea. Over time, I learned that people were genuinely afraid to make a public committment about their business idea for fear that then they'd have to actually do something about it.

In business, we are frequently faced with challenge and failure. Only by facing these challenges and failures, do we emerge as a success. Often, when we see the Olympic athelete, we only see their success. They make it look simple. Yet, we only see three minutes of success-- we don't see the lifetime it took to get there. We don't see the first time they put on skates and wobbled around on the ice. We don't see the effort they put into their dreams of greatness. We don't see the choices they had to make along the way-- passing up opportunites that may have looked great, but didn't fit their focus. We don't see all of the competitions that they lost. We don't feel their defeat and we don't hear their mind-chatter of self-doubt.

The path to entrepreneurial success is no different than the path to Olympic success. Do you take the time to refresh your dream, adding new texture along the way?

Do you have the courage to eliminate all of the opportunities that don't fit your focus?

And, when you face defeat, can you muster up the strength to try agin?

p.s. I wrote this nearly 12 years ago and found it in a stack of stuff today. My writing-style from this time seems a little bit stilted to me and it needs some work, but the underlying message is as true today as it was then and it seemed a timely topic with the Olympics. Dream. Focus. Discipline.

I think I'll go lie on my bed now, and focus on the discipline of dreaming. ;-)


---for Mei-Mei

Did you ever see a dragon be
happy living in a tree?

He's in a gnarly, knotty stump,
but never will you see him grump.

With dancing eyes to circle about;
a snorty snout that never pouts.

His goofy grin shouts, "Oh Hi!"
to all the walking passers-by.

And even though his cigar's exploded,
his simple joy has not eroded,

'Cuz with a purpose he's come to say,
"Hi Mei-Mei! Do you wanna play?!"

© 2010 Lisa Ann Edwards

Shout! if you can see the dragon in the tree!

Fancy dress

The group of people you leave Nelson with are stuck with you for 3 night and 4 days because two of the stops down the West coast are in the middle of nowhere with not a lot to do. Thankfully I got on really well with nearly everyone on our bus and made genuine friendships with people most of whom I will never see again.

From Westport the bus takes you to the poo pub where for the last 14 years everyone who travels with the Kiwi bus has a barbecue cooked by the 84 year old landlord and then gets in to fancy dress for a party. Our theme was what you want to be when you grow up which left a lot of scope to pretty much go as anything my personal favourite was Northern Irish Pete who was going to go as a terrorist. The journey to the poo pub stops at some impressive rock formations called pancake rocks that look a bit like stacks of pancakes. It next stops at Greymouth for some cheap shops to stock up on fancy dress supplies, most people stretching the theme to fit around what they could buy for less than $5, all part of the fun. I went as Batman using some cutting and colouring in skills that turned out reasonably well.

The barbecue was great consisting of a huge steak, delicious venison stew and a mountain of potatoes and vegetables, a much needed stomach lining for the evening's drinking. After dinner we took our jugs of beer down to the beach to watch the sunset and let our food digest then it was party time.

The night was a lot of fun and all seemed to end far too quickly. I did act like a bit of a nob at one point because a Dutch man called William was pissing everyone off and making a lot of people, particularly any young girls, feel uncomfortable. I'd had a few so I told him what I thought and I'm not proud of it but what I said was (in edited form) 'William you're an arse, no-one here likes you, why don't you go home'. Because he was so drunk I don't think he really understood and thankfully Les, the landlord kicked him out minutes later saying pretty much what I'd said.

Gradually numbers dwindled starting with the Scandinavians, then the Dutch, the Germans, the Canadians until there were only a few of us left mostly the English and Irish. We decanted a bottle of wine in to a plastic bottle and went back to the beach to end the night where me and Irish Ollie had a swim in the sea, a bloody silly idea for obvious reasons. We survived, mainly thanks to northerner Roxy arriving and telling us off and soon left the beach for our beds.

Pizza at the Thai-Italy Restaurant in Patong

Update 2013 - This place has new ownership and is no longer recommended by me or my Italian friends! Try a place called Agli Amici in Chalong! Or Da Sandro in Kathu.

I do like a bit of pizza now and then. Yes, I know this is Thailand, and I assure you that Thai food is my main diet, but this is Phuket, a great gathering place for tourists and expats from all over the world, and you can find just about any food you want here. I am not an Italian food expert, but have been a couple of times to Italy, where a friend used to live on a small farm in Tuscany, and food was always fresh and plentiful, much of it being grown or made at the farm - breads, cheeses, vegetables, local wine, olive oil on everything, and they had a pizza oven too where we could cook our own pizza. Thin, crispy and fresh from the forno. Perfecto.

Although not an Italian food guru, I would say I am a pizza snob :) I am sorry, but "Chicago Style" with half a loaf of bread as the base? Oh dear. No, I'm a thin and crispy guy. Got to be fresh, got to be made in a proper pizza oven. Phuket has quite a lot of Italian restaurants, quite a lot of Italian expats, and friends tell me of favourite places for pizza, so we might try some others sometime, only my wife does not eat pizza, and (for our pocket) dining out at a more touristy restaurant can be a bit expensive.

The "Thai-Italy" restaurant is one of the few restaurants I would visit in Patong, being that Patong is not our kind of place. Thai-Italy is on Nanai Road (the back road) - coming from Karon Beach, turn onto Nanai road, over the slight hill, past the right turn that heads uphill (Hasip Pee Road), and on another 500m to the Mae Ubon Market on the left side - it's in there. Easy to see.

It's not a big place, my friend Diego says it's really like a little local restaurant just like you'd find in a small Italian town. It's well known among expats, and most of the customers tend to be Italian, which is a good sign if you are looking for a good pizza or proper just-like-mama-makes-it pasta. The restaurant is normally only open in the evenings. We (the family) met Diego and family and a few more friends for dinner last Friday. Pizza was the top choice, but the menu has something like 4 pages of pasta options too. Prices very reasonable for this kind of food - my pizza diavola was 170 Baht. First to be served was Diego's Mama. If Mama likes the food, I can assure you, it's got to be good.

Mama gets pizza

The pizza is of course properly cooked - thin and crispy - those are the keywords. The Thai/Italian chef team prepare and cook all night...

Preparing pizza at Thai Italy

The Forno

And then the pizzas started coming in thick and fast. Does not take long to cook in a proper wood fired forno. Excuse me while I post some photos of pizza! You can see that these are for people with a healthy appetite. The calzone is about a foot long. The pizzas about the same. One pizza could serve 2 people, were those people smaller than myself...

My pizza Diavola

Giant calzone.. slightly burned but Diego was not bothered

Ingo's pizza - Ingo is a pretty big guy, so I think you can see that the pizza is not kids size!

All washed down with a few cold beers of course! And then coffee - I remember one time being in this restaurant, and an American customer ordered coffee. So, they brought him an Italian coffee, just like the one below that we had after our meal. American guy not impressed by tiny cup. He was all, hey what's this? It's coffee sir, real coffee. No, he wanted a cup of coffee, a big ol' cup of Americano.. Sorry, wrong place, this is little Italy, to order a Nescafe would be an insult!

A proper cup of cofee

And the coffee was followed by a Sambuca, and then a Limoncello.. I turned down the Grappa (my belly does not like really strong alcohol). Ah, perfecto, full of pizza, a little buzz in the head from the sambuca, I do indeed like a bit of Italian. The Thai-Italy is busy every evening thanks to "word of mouth" advertising. No webpage, no mentions in guidebooks, but good food! Oh, just a note - it's closed on Mondays.


"Watch your thoughts, they become your words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become your character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."

- Frank Outlaw

A few years ago, I became acquainted with a man whom I believed could be instrumental in helping me with my business at that time. He seemed to be just the right connection and I was eager to win his approval. More accomplished than me, more successful than me, I believed I would have to work extra hard to earn his respect. He was the Donald Trump of my world.

Serendipitously, I finally had to chance to meet with him face-to-face not long after that first introduction. I was excited and couldn't stop pinching myself over that lucky opportunity. I thought with careful detail about all of the right things I would say to prove my worth and impress this most accomplished man.

Yet, when we met, things didn't go quite as I had planned.

Believing this man to be better than me, every sentance out of my mouth was punctuated by a weak-voiced, "um... I think." And, I began to notice that he responed in-kind with an immediate discredit of my carefully thought-out ideas. Quickly back-peddling, I found myself qualifying my statements as a way to deperately defend myself. Yet, all that happened is that he became more confident in his own ideas, and I began to feel like a deflated balloon.

By the end of the meeting, it was clear that he held little respect for me. And, in the process I had grown to dislike him.

Feeling frustrated and a little bit confused about what had happened, I headed out to the Columbia River.

Driving has a way of clearing my mind and freeing my emotions and as soon as possible, I diverted my way to old Highway 30, the scenic route along a series of waterfalls. "Wow", I thought to myself as I reached the first one. I paused for a few minutes to admire its beauty and then continued on. Each waterfall seemed to be more impressive than the last one and each time, I held my breath in amazement as I watched and listened to the water crashing off of the mountain.

Although it was getting dark and time to turn around, I decided to see just one more.

As I came around the bend to the last waterfall, I was suddenly struck by the power demonstrated in this waterfall. I pulled my car over and turned off the engine to listen to the waterfall and think.

Realizing that the waterfall actually began as one tiny molecule of water at the top of the mountain, I could imagine how that one tiny molecule of water joined with another tiny molecule, soon forming a single drop of water. And, that single drop of water collected with other single drops of water, eventually forming a small stream. And, that small stream gained momentum and strength as it rushed down the side of the mountain.

The result was a powerful waterfall.

I quickly saw how my beliefs were no different than that first tiny molecule of water. My one microscopic belief that this man was somehow better than me had grown into a larger drop of an idea that I needed to work hard to impress him. This idea showed itself in the way that I related to him and how I expressed my ideas.

No wonder the dynamic between us went crashing downhill.

Not long after that trip to the river, I had the opportunity to experiment with my molecule-belief theory. Attending a function where that man I had sought to impress was the guest speaker, I decided to change my beliefs about him. Not listening to his words, I focused instead on what I could genuinely appreciate about him. Like a molecule of water, I allowed that belief to grow in my heart and mind, and by the end of his presentation, I felt a genuine sense of gratitude towards him. My feelings of inferiority and my pressing need to impress him had completely dissipated.

More importantly, I was reminded that power isn't in a person, a name or a title, but in the beliefs we hold in our mind. And, each microscopic-sized belief has the power to dramatically impact our destiny.

© 2010 Lisa Ann Edwards

Day in the middle of nowhere

From Nelson the next stop on the Kiwi bus is Westport, the journey's not bad with a nice freezing cold lake to jump in but Westport is a bit of a dive.

It was the first day on the bus that I had managed to stop myself signing up to do an activity so when we arrived at the hostel I had a bit of time to kill, time I spent attempting to go for a run. As soon as I got to the beach at Westport I had to stop running because I'm not very fit and sand is hard to run on. Westport is weird and the first place I have visited in New Zealand where I wouldn't want to live. The back streets I ran down made me feel like I was going to be witness to a drive by. Most houses were in a state with rubbish dumped in the front gardens or cars rusting away or burnt out - one of which had a swastika spray painted on it.

The town was dead and the only people I saw were boy racers or oddballs talking to themselves and staring at walls. Because of the in-bred clan of Westport I turned my run/walk back to the hostel where I pretended to Shauna and Tyler that I had enjoyed myself.

Dinner of fish and chips ($4.60 - first NZ bargain) lead to a couple of drinks and when our group of Kiwi bus folk had dwindled to just me I got chatting to some locals, all of them weirdos in some way. It was a pleasant evening drinking until 3 with a cringe worthy moment rubbing noses with a Maori like an eskimo kiss. He asked me 'Whut thu fuck are yu doing? Yu just touch for a couple uf secunds. Where huve yu seen thut shit?' I told him it was what I thought I'd seen him do but in my half-cut state I probably did think eskimos and Maoris have the same greeting.

I was told that to talk like a Kiwi you replace all the vowels with 'i's but it's different depending on the Kiwi you're talking to. The only constants are that if something is good it's 'sweet as', anyone you know is 'bro' and after a statement they turn it in to a question by saying 'eh' (aye) so in my opinion New Zealand is sweet as bro eh. Westport however, is rubbish.













A Drive to Town, Noticing the Unnoticed ...

A simple drive to town can be an adventure.  One can find new things to see, if one will only open ones eyes.  Perhaps there will be a giant Ngiew tree adorned with its flaming orange blossoms.  A frail, half blind figure, bending to retrieve the fallen flowers.  Stripping away the petals, with the remaining inner organs destined for one of my wife’s favorite rice noodle dishes, Khanom Chin Naam Ngiew.

Perhaps a riverside shrine will appear.  Where an ancient tree has enveloped an even more ancient Buddha image.  Reborn as a new place of worship.

Perhaps you will stumble upon a makeshift carwash in the middle of the river.  Well, a tractor wash anyway.  Can’t think of a more serene setting for such a dirty job.  You have got to hand it to the guy.  Free running water and even a flowering Ngiew tree high on the opposite bank of the river.

Perhaps you will discover the reason for wading conditions on one stretch of the river, while in town the water level seems so high.

If you take the time to explore the floodgates and sluices, you may find that others have found their own uses for this once unnoticed encroachment on the river.  Fishing with nets or poles or simply dropping a line while sitting high upon the gates, one can’t help but feel their enjoyment of the task at hand.

Then on the way home you may happen upon an ingenious scheme, where a herd of goats has been employed to tend the young rubber trees.
There is so much to see if we will just take the time to look.  But then again, you already knew that, didn’t you.

3/2/10 - Abel Tasman

Up at 6 for a 6:30 bus to the Abel Tasman national park for two days solid with Becky as we were the only ones who had signed up for the camping trip. I was surprised to find that when we got to Kaiteriteri we really were the only ones doing the trip but we had become quite good friends and she talks the right amount so I was happy enough.

We dropped our bags off to be taken on to our campsite. From Kaiteriteri it was a short water taxi to Te Pukatea a bay that Lonely Planet had rated as the 8th best beach in the world and I could see why, the sand was golden and we were surrounded by cliffs and rainforest and a perfect clear blue sea. We had it to ourselves which astonished me until two girls emerged from behind some trees to ask the time but it was still an incredible feeling to be somewhere so beautiful and yet so deserted.

The walk through Abel Tasman was amazing, it is one of New Zealand's 10 great walks and it has now become an ambition to try them all before I die. Dense forest, beautiful clear rivers with round boulders placed in them as if by an artist and every hour or so another perfect empty beach that I thought normal people weren't allowed to go to without paying Richard Branson a fortune.

It took around 5 hours to get to our campsite, hidden in the trees behind Bark Bay, again a beautiful beach and not a bad spot to spend a night. Myself and Becky shared a bottle of red wine, lit a bonfire and chatted to an American who plays poker online for a living, he is possibly the first American I have got on with for longer than 6 seconds. Becky fell asleep as soon as she got in the tent, I didn't thanks to a group of Spaniards singing and playing guitar until 11 when I got up to tell them politely to shut up. The guitars stopped, the noise didn't. Eventually I began to drift off, annoyed that such a special place was tainted by a bunch of inconsiderate nobs.

Minutes after falling asleep something bigger and noisier than a rat ran in to my head. I was convinced it was inside the tent so I jolted bolt upright and inexplicably brushed my limbs in case it was clinging on to me somewhere then I switched on my torch and searched the tent. Once I'd calmed down I realised there was no chance a big animal could have got in I had just had my head against the side of the tent. I switched off the torch and laid back down. The beast was still outside, I could hear him rooting through my bag for food. In an effort to stop my bread being munched and to scare off what I was guessing was a gorilla I tried the following:
-banging the side of the tent
-shining the torch through the side of the tent
-making strange noises like a dog
-unzipping the tent to have a look at the monster before zipping it straight back up too scared to look.
Unsurprisingly none of these worked and I listened for an hour as the gorilla ate my bread and possibly all my possessions but I wasn't going out there to stop him.

The next morning I woke up to see that my bread had indeed been partly eaten through the wrapper but nothing else was soiled. I noticed a sign saying "Take your rubbish with you, we have at least two possums in the campsite", perhaps it wasn't a gorilla and maybe I should have had a look at a possum in the wild.

I let Becky do most of the packing of the tent while I supervised so that she could feel useful then we left it with our bags to be taken by water taxi to Kaiteriteri whilst we spent a day kayaking back down the Abel Tasman coast line. The kayaking was great fun but after 2 days straight with Becky we were both getting politely fed up of each other, she didn't like my steering skills in the kayak I didn't like that I was doing all the paddling but it wasn't enough of an irritation to stop the day being awesome. We saw seals and a couple of penguins swimming around, obviously lost because I thought they lived in Antarctica. The views of the coastline were as good from the sea as from on land and we were able to take them in even better when we pulled 4 kayaks together and got out a ground sheet to hold aloft as a sail for a mini regatta towards the next bay where we stopped for a swim and a sandwich.

It was a great trip and we returned to the hostel that evening with some new friends we met kayaking - Shauna, a Canadian nurse, her travelling companion Tyler who is a Pharmacist, Pete from Belfast who is travelling for a year thanks to the recession giving him the option of a career break and who is together with Shauna while they're in New Zealand and Britt a dutch girl. Roast dinner then out to a pub. One beer led to another and soon I found myself stepping around a fight that someone insisted was between a girl and a midget to enter a bar for some dancing with Ollie and Michael, two very Irish lads who tried chatting up every single girl in the club. While the Irish busied themselves being rejected, smiling and laughing all the way, I spotted Chris and Mike two Germans who had shared a dorm with me in Christchurch, and chatted with them until I could hold back the urge to dance no longer. My arms and legs broke free and Kiwis and foreigners alike looked upon me with eyes of confusion and pity but I didn't care because I was enjoying myself and continued to do so until I remembered I was very tired and stumbled back to the hostel for a great 4 hours of sleep.

2/2/10 - Nelson

Next day we were journeying from Kaikoura through Blenheim and Picton on our way to Nelson. At Picton we said goodbye to a lot of the group who were going on the ferry to the north island and a new group of miserable looking posers got on. On the bus myself, Roger, Becky and Katie from Cumbria had a good chat and later shared a room together at a hostel/pub called Ferny Lodge.

Having dumped our bags we walked to a monument signalling the centre of New Zealand that coincidentally sat at the very top of a hill! After that I was ready for some time on my own so I wandered off and had a look around Nelson, a lovely place with some nice parks, gardens and a good number of cafes and bars to keep me entertained. I got back to the hostel and changed in to my smelliest t-shirt to go for a run back up to the monument, this was a terrible idea and nearly killed me but I got back to the top and appreciated the view even more than earlier in the day.

That night was really pleasant, sharing stories with Alexi Lalas, Becky and Katie and staying sober for the first time since arriving.

1/2/10 - To Kaikoura on the bus

Finished off yesterday with a walk out of town for an hour or so until I found a pub for locals and drank my first reasonably priced pint. Next door was a fish and chip shop where I had chips and a hot dog which over here means battered sausage on a stick.

On return to the hostel I learned that the Murray v Federer final of the Australian Open was on at 9 so I joined a Londoner and a Brazilian to watch Murray getting stuffed on the biggest projector screen I've ever seen outside of a cinema, then off to bed to make sure I caught the bus.

The next day was the start of my travels on The Kiwi Experience bus and I was somewhat apprehensive thinking it would be full of gap year teenagers overly excited about being out of the house but I was pleased to find that this wasn't the case. I got chatting with Adam from Edinburgh and Becky from Oxford who were both friendly and we spent the afternoon together Whale watching. We saw 2 Albatross and 4 whales although I failed to get even an average picture of any of them. Back in the gift shop I took a picture of a postcard because I had seen a whale and my rubbish photography skills shouldn't get in the way of me proving it.

That evening I had fantastic fun with my new friends from the bus: Ben, 19 overly excited about himself; Erin and Heather, posh; Roger, Alexi Lalas at 18 great person and a few others.

I bought a venison sausage and some lamb kebabs for a barbecue and a couple of drinks, soon enough the couple of beers turned in to drinking games, mostly my fault because I had bought a 3 litre box of wine that I found to be 5.8% - devastating but it meant I didn't mind sharing and a few people chipped in a couple of quid. We used the gecko rule and it was fun watching other peoples' reactions to a whole table suddenly flinging themselves at various surfaces.

When the crap wine ran out we walked down the small path to the seafront and found a pub that was still open where I met an Irish man, Bryan, who had been in my hostel in Christchurch and we drank more and flung ourselves at more surfaces. Ben was quite annoyingly young so when one of Bryan's bus mates said he would run in the sea I stitched Ben up and told him that he was our Kiwi bus captain and so had to defend our honour by downing his drink on the count of three then beating the other bus's man to run in the sea naked. Before he could think I started the countdown and he was away. Ben returned later, wet and feeling very proud of himself, I felt a bit mean so I toasted him and gave him some beer from my jug. Shortly after that most of the group left to see how many of them could fit in a phone box, I stayed and played pool because I do like a beer.


“They always say that time changes things, but you have to actually change them yourself.”
-Andy Warhol

I work in the media industry, an industry facing big challenges due to the economy as well as the shifts in the way that our customers think about and purchase media-related products. When I think about our business and where the growth opportunities are going to come from I am reminded of the experience I had with my family's printing business.

Fifteen years ago, the printing industry was going through everything the media industry is going through: consolidation, competitive pricing pressures and prices that drop below the actual costs of doing business. My family ended up closing the printing business, but while we were struggling to keep the printing business alive, we launched a poster business that still exists today.

The way that we discovered the poster business was by exploring ideas and testing them out. At first, we thought we wanted to design and make book marks by using the scrap end of the stock. As we pursued that idea, it grew to the idea of doing art prints, which after testing the market (and failing at that), grew to the concept of large inspirational art posters. The concept was unique at the time and the focus groups told us the product would never sell, but in fact, it did. It was our willingness to explore something new, focus on something we were passionate about (art and inspirational messages) and really persisting even in the face of the market data telling us it wouldn't work.

The first year we took our full line of 20-posters to the trade show, we were the only poster company. The next year, there were four new competitors copying our products, but because we were the market leader our posters stood the test of time. Today, some of the poster titles have sold hundreds of thousands of copies. It's still a small business, but it's a market leader in its category.

At nearly every business that is struggling today, I think that this is the perfect time to focus on what the people are most passionate about, have the willingness to pursue a new idea and make it acceptable if the business model for the new idea isn’t immediately defined. It’s the time to allow for experimentation, but also not to give up when something fails. It’s a time to explore and test things out.

In the business where I work, I always come back to our owner/founder's original idea for the business. At the time, he was so visionary, that the marketplace wasn’t ready for his idea. Maybe now is the perfect time. Maybe it’s the same for the company where you work. Maybe you have an idea that you’ve been incubating for a few years. Maybe now is the perfect time to pursue the idea.

It’s hard to think about investing in a new idea—whether it be a new product or new business when everyone is thinking about cutting back and trimming expenses. Investigating a new idea doesn’t mean you have to invest all of your resources into it. Instead, a very small team of people could pursue the idea. They could do this as an extra activity in addition to their normal job duties. And, if they are passionate about it, they will do so willingly! Entrepreneurial ideas come to fruition during times when we are faced with huge challenges, few resources and an outlandish dream. In fact, Google was started during a recession. GE was founded during the depression. With the passion, focus and openness to experimentation at your company, just think what you could create.

And, as time changes things over the next 5 years, you could change your business into the great brand that Google became just a few years ago.
© 2010 Lisa Ann Edwards


you whispered me over
that first time we met
wrapped yourself around me--
and in your embrace, i did melt

with your zippers and buckles
and dreamy soft leather;
you made me forget last year's love:
---my suede boots with gold buttons.

© 2010 Lisa Ann Edwards

Author's note: In honor of love and Valentine's day, a simple little post about my infatuation with my new motorcycle jacket.

Hike from Karon Beach to the Big Buddha

The Big Buddha is now a much visited tourist attraction in Phuket, even though it's not finished. We have been going up the hill for many years, since work first started in about 2002 or 2003. I have blogged about the Big Buddha many times since this blog started in 2006, showing the progress of the building and the great views from the top (about 400m above sea level). There is of course a road up to the top, which is almost all complete. The road starts from Chalong, about 1km after the Chalong traffic circle, or about 8km from Karon Beach.

Now I know another way up! You can start from Karon Beach and walk up to the Big Buddha! I heard of this quite a few months ago from Steve, owner of the Pineapple Guesthouse in Karon. He'd walked up with a Finnish guy who lives in Karon and had found (by trial and error) a way up. The hills in Phuket are criss crossed with paths used by locals working in rubber plantations or landowners to look after plots of land. The last hike I made up to the highest point in Phuket used a lot of such trails.

We started early to avoid the heat of the day. It was around 7:15am that we left the Pineapple Guesthouse - myself, Steve and Henrik (who was staying at Pineapple and diving with Sunrise Divers). The hike starts up a small side road just opposite and a few meters to the north of the Siam Commercial Bank in Karon, which is just 10 meters from the Pineapple. The road heads up into the hills, easy to follow, passing houses along the way. Kai (our guide, the guy from Finland) lives up here so we picked him up on the way. Some of the steepest sections of the walk are near the bottom. I've been up this road quite a few times. After a while you reach a junction and a sign. Turn left at this junction...

Turn left here

If you turn right, the road loops around and down and comes back to the main road opposite Karon post office. Turn left and you keep heading up, past some new houses and a few still being built. By this point you already start to get a bit of a sea view. There are some steep sections here, and then the trail turns to dirt and heads into the trees...

Dirt road heading up from Karon

This trail gets narrower, but we were surprised to meet a moped and a pick up truck on this section when were heading down again. Lots of rubber trees up in the hills here. As the trail narrowed, we passed a spirit house on the left next to a rubber tree, and a few meters after this, a turning to the right - the first right turn you come to - we took this turning up a narrower path. Now we were really into the trees. Not exactly jungle.. I mean, a lot of the hills have been used for rubber or bananas for many years. We passed plenty of rubber and banana trees although some sections of trail were very "jungly"...

Trail heading up Buddha Mountain

Hiking through the trees

Some sections of the trail here had obviously been recently cut back, and in places the trail might not be 100% obvious, but Kai knew the way! By this time, we had some great views back down to Karon Beach...

View over Karon from the trail

At one point here, the trail splits and you have to turn hard left - someone had pretty much barred the way in the other direction by covering the trail with branches. We then walked more or less along the hillside with a steep drop to the left without gaining much altitude for a few hundred meters. Then, you may see this tree on the left.. big roots, cloth tied around it...

Tree - turn left just after this...

Just after this tree, which you see on the left, you turn right. At this point there's not really a trail for about 50 meters, just head UP (it's steep, you may think you are on the wrong trail, have faith).. and you come out on a very obvious path...

Ah! A real path!

Just at the point you come out is the start of a line of small palm trees.. worth making a marker for the way down at this point. When you hit this path (photo above), turn right, heading up, and it's not too long before you meet the road...

Trail meets road - Steve, Henrik and Kai

The last kilometre of the walk is up the road. We stopped to pose for some photos before the top. Was about 8:45am when we hit the summit. At this time of day, there are few (if any) visitors. We were the first at the Buddha. Getting up early is often worth the pain.

Posing near the top

View across the hills from near the top of Buddha Mountain

We spent a while at the top. Henrik (who had not been up there before) managed to let out a "Wow!" at the sight of the 45 meter high marble covered Buddha. I do wonder when work will ever be complete here. Could be a few more years I think. We all hope it won't be allowed to get too tacky - there are already plenty of stalls selling souvenirs, thank you. Well, at least we got there before anyone else - any tourist attraction looks better without the tourists! Even Patong Beach looks OK at 7am!

The Big Buddha with some scaffolding

Lots of building still going on around the main Buddha image, I noticed some major changes since last time I visited - a large area of dirt behind the Buddha has now been concreted and another layer of 5 meter high lotus blossoms added around the base. The views are still great, and always will be. The view below looks across Chalong Bay.

View from the Big Buddha across Chalong

Up top I met Glenn, who I had hiked with to the 540 meter plus summit of Phuket in September.. We'd half planned to meet for this walk.. but unfortunately had met at different starting points.. we might do this Buddha walk again in the coming week. Glenn was fresh from a hike in the north of Phuket where he'd been attacked by a gibbon!

On the way down, Steve, Henrik, Kai and I stopped for an early beer at the Nakkerd Seaview restaurant near the top of the hill. There are now quite a few little restaurants open along the road - the Nakkerd Seaview was the first and we still like to eat here sometimes with views across Karon and across the Andaman Sea. Refreshed and slightly wobbly (I do NOT drink beer at 9am normally!) we headed down, back to Karon Beach where I enjoyed an English breakfast at the Pineapple guesthouse. The hike was a bit easier than I had imagined. I mean, it's a climb to 400m above sea level, starting at (more or less) sea level, so yes it was a bit sweaty, but starting early helped as we were hiking on the east side of the hill, out of the sun almost all the way up. Good exercise, and great views and of course walking is free - your average tuk tuk will want 800 Baht for a round trip. I hope to do this hike again soon!

Some related posts on Jamie's Phuket

Phuket Hills and Viewpoints
The Big Buddhas of Phuket (yes there are several!)
Karon Beach - More Information

Where to enjoy Coffee in the Rai ...

I am a coffee lover, and though indulging in coffee is relatively harmless, I do consider it a vice.  Being short of vices, one has to make do.  Making my own pot of coffee, in a rather large French press, left me drinking rather too much in the past.  In an effort to reduce my intake, coffee consumption is now restricted to public venues.  That means a minimum fifty kilometer drive, oneway.

I have by no means sampled every coffee venue in the Rai, nor do I intend to.  The cheapest place for anything, including coffee, is beyond my area of interest or expertise.  Flavor, presentation, ambiance and of course convenience are highest on my list.

Since shopping usually means a stop at BigC, among other places, my coffee fix is more conveniently found there.  S & P's, Blue Cup Coffee, is my favorite and just happens to be located there, but I can make do with Black Canyon Coffee, if perchance the wife would prefer eating lunch there.  A Blue Cup cappuccino is served in a signature white ceramic coffee cup, a bit larger than most and holds its foamy head well.  That is important if one wants to enjoy that unique cappuccino experience.  Neither of these two places have any ambiance to speak of, so it is down to flavor, presentation and mainly convenience.

The two main, Thai coffee brands, are Doi Chang and Wa Wee, both with their own coffee shops in Chiang Rai.  Doi Chang is arguable the better tourist or farang location, only a short walk from the Night Bazar area. 

Doi Chang is located on a convenient corner, in an older, slightly rundown building.  The decor wisely uses that to advantage with a rustic, relaxed feel.  The location, tight quarters, mismatched furnishings, a little garden/pond area at the entrance, as well as a couple of antique computers, create a place that seems to attract farangs.

Personally I like the muffins, and the food and pastry selection appears appetizing from what I have seen, but the cappuccino is served in a smallish glass cup with a brownish foam that I personally find unattractive and unappetizing.  At least it is not a paper cup, but neither is it a proper ceramic cup.  If you want to be among other farangs you will overlook the coffee presentation and substandard foam.  The cats, that sometimes make a leisurely perusal of the premises, (a Persian and a Siamese if I am not mistaken) add a homey touch for animal lovers.

Wa Wee is also located on a corner, but the parking area out front, can only be accessed by a oneway road not far from the famous Ha Yak intersection.  While convenient for bank and government workers in that area, it is not as convenient for many farangs.  Unlike Doi Chang, this place is very modern with a more Thai clientele.  Kind of a Thai version of Starbucks with clean modern lines, plenty of space and comfy seating options, that seem to appeal to a more upmarket Thai crowd.  Even the computers, Apple iMacs, say modern and trendy. 

The large cappuccino is served in a brown ceramic mug, which again, I prefer to a glass cup.  The food or snack selection did not appeal to me and the (order & pay) first, reminded me of Starbucks in Bangkok.  Not necessarily a bad thing.  The presence of Thais in office attire is in stark contrast to the sometimes colorful farangs one encounters at Doi Chang.  One can be fooled into thinking one is in a much bigger city.

Oddly enough, if a solitary outing on the Phantom leads me into town, the chances are you will find me at Doi Chang.  The reason being that more often than not, I will bump into someone I know or meet someone new.  A brief spontaneous encounter is something that suits me.  More typically I am with my wife when in town and less inclined to strike up a conversation with strangers so will be found in S & P nursing my favorite Blue Cup cappuccino.

The above mentioned locations are all located on my map.

(As an edit to this post we now have Starbucks and a few other coffee options at the new Mall.)

As of 2012 Chivit Thamma Da is my favorite place for coffee in the Rai.