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Off to the Salt Mines

by Ken Eddy

We have all heard it, “do you want to be sent to the salt mines”? Well maybe, yes, I would not mind going to the salt mines, after all I have been to them twice in my life and actually quite enjoyed them!

Most notably the Wieliczka Salt Mines. Located just outside of Krakow, Poland. To say that they are absolutely amazing is a gross understatement. Miles of ancient tunnels and caverns that were hand carved out over centuries. Plus chapels and shockingly a full church “Blessed Kinga” located hundreds of feet below the surface

Both of my trips through the Salt Mines were with my hockey team, with the most recent being just this past November. Each trip felt like a different experience and both amazed me. The first trip of course I was completely blown away by the fact that there were hundreds of miles of tunnels and caverns stretching deep into the earth. The think of the man power and determination it took to dig and haul all of that salt out over the years was mind boggling.

During the 13th century salt deposits were discovered in Wieliczka and the work begun. Salt of course was a treasured commodity during those times and every century since (losing its importance with the invention of refrigeration of course).

Working in the Salt Mine certainly was not for the faint of heart but it also was not as bad as you might think. Mine work was a great steady source of income and a there was never a short supply of salt for your family since most employees were allotted a monthly ration (let’s just say it was part of their benefit package). Horses would work their entire lives in the darkness of the mines. Once brought to the surface for retirement, they never lasted too long, perhaps their bodies got used to and relied on the heavy salt content of the air. It is true that for health reasons, people will spend a day or so in the mine on a regular basis to gain the healing benefit of the salt air (I have to admit, after a few late night beers, the salt air did help).

Touring through the Wieliczka Salt Mines has been one of the most amazing tours I have ever completed and I would not hesitate to return and tour them again!

As for working in them, well I think I will leave that to the professionals!

Author: Ken Eddy

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Ice

 by Ken Eddy

Life, it can be just like a sheet of ice. You never know what you will be skating on.

I’ve skated on a lot of ice…

Fifty years ago when I was 3 years old I walked onto a rink through, what seemed to me, a massive door frame. As I shuffled a few feet, I stared down at the ice examining these huge cracks, not realizing that they were just long slicing lines cut into the ice by a skate blade. There is something special about a freshly flooded and clean ice surface that every skater loves to be out on.

The rink in my small town was built in the early sixties and is still in use today. My brother and I could not wait to get up early and be the first ones on the ice. We would grab our skates and run the two blocks to the rink in the early morning and practically stay there all day.

Late in the evening we would help the maintenance man (commonly known as the rink rat) scrape the snow off the ice so he could take out the hose and flood the rink with water. The steam would rise up as he worked his way from one end of the rink to the other creating one smooth sheet.

The next day the routine would start all over again with my brother and I being the first ones there early in the morning to carve up the fresh ice.

We also had the luxury of living right on the lake (the odds of this were pretty good being that we lived on an island). If the weather was just right, we could skate for miles down the shoreline, cruising around docks and boathouses. The ice would appear to us in different shapes and colours so we knew exactly where to skate and where not to. Sometimes you felt like you were on a different planet as you glided over huge chunks of ice that were frozen under a smooth top layer.

My first covered rink was in a town called Bruce Mines a few miles from my house. Being a rounded steel roof, there always seemed to be water droplets hitting the ice which created little bumps and ridges, so when you stopped, you had to stop with authority or end up sprawled on your belly!

Moving out west I skated on a lot of different ice surfaces, some good and some bad. I remember a game I played in a small town south of Winnipeg, when the team we just beat were all whining that they lost because the ice was in terrible shape. I have to admit, it was pretty brutal ice, but both teams did play on the same surface!

I now live in Calgary where there are approximately eighty indoor arenas; some with good ice and some with bad. Ice can be fast or slow depending on the cooling plant and how they clean it. And how thin or thick it is can certainly make a difference in the quality.

Canada Olympic Park (COP) has the best ice in the city along with the speed skating oval at U of C. It is the nicest ice I have ever skated on due to many factors, one being that they actually use a water softener in the process (though it still feels pretty damn hard when you fall on it).

How many times have you driven by a pond on the side of the road where the wind has swept the surface clean and you say to yourself “boy I wish I had my skates with me”. There have actually been many occasions when I did have my skates and stopped to glide around the ice for a while. If you have a chance, get out to Lake Louise in the winter time when they clear the ice for a little rink or build the ice castles that you can skate through and around. Now that is fun.

During my travels across the country and while in Europe I have skated on a lot of good and bad ice. From outdoor rinks in Budapest and historic rinks in Sweden, Russia and the Czech, to state-of-the-art rinks such as Arena Riga in Latvia.

Once while in Stockholm, we entered an enormous complex, the Globin arena, shaped like a giant golf ball. To our dismay figure skaters were carving the ice to pieces prior to our game. Now every hockey player will tell you that they hate to play after figure skaters due to the deep ruts their blades make and too often the maintenance crew cannot get them repaired quick enough. Well thank goodness we actually did not play on that rink, but rather on another rink in the same complex (as I said, it was a huge place).

How about international ice surface, could it get any bigger? For most hockey players, back-checking is not an enjoyable part of the game, so when you find yourself in the offensive zone, you cough up the puck and now it’s time to chase the player 200 feet back to your end. That’s right, you look at your bench, which could be less than half the distance, and decide it’s time for a shift change.

A few weeks ago I was playing in a tournament in Victoria. Prior to the final game I managed to be the first one on the ice. As I did my first 360 trip I came across my own skate marks and it made me reflect…fifty years, wow, gone by in a blink!

Author: Ken Eddy

 

Mexico

by Ken Eddy

With temps back home hovering between –3 and –10 thoughts of a Southern vacation certainly dance in your head. Mexico is the second most popular winter getaway destination of Canadians (next to southern United States) and why should it not be?

Beaches, sun and sites make Mexico attractive to the whole family. You can scuba dive off of both coasts, party like a rock star in dozens of tourist centres, suntan, deep sea fish, shop/haggle till your hearts content, and of course sight-see!

There are a variety of sites to tour and explore all over Mexico but none more mysterious then the Mayan ruins strewn throughout the Yucatan peninsula. Located within a short to 3 hour drive from the Mayan Rivera is where you will discover three impressive historical sites. Tulum, just a short drive from Playa de Carmen. Coba located approximately an hour and a half from Playa, and of course, the impressive Chichen Itza approximately two and a half hours.

The Mayan civilization with its accurate records and famous calendar peaked during the seventh century stretching throughout five Central American countries. A culture and peoples that are still with us today and working hard to preserve their culture and language.

Coba: discovered in the late 1800s hidden in the jungle with its temple (you can still climb it), ball courts and other ruins are easy to access. I recommend hiring a local professional Mayan guide to take you through the site and explain the history and culture of the Mayan people.

Tulum: the only Mayan ruins that are on the coast. Small compared to the other sites but well worth your time to tour and explore.

Chichen Itza: the most famous of them with its huge ball court, Kukulcan pyramid (unfortunately you can no longer climb it, so I am glad I did when I had the chance a few years ago), Temple of Warriors, Temple of Jaguars and Observatory are some of the amazing sites you will view during your tour.

A lot of tourists like to visit during the spring and fall equinoxes to watch the shadow of the snake as it climbs the steps of the great pyramid in the spring and descend in the fall.

Staying South of Cancun along the Mayan Riviera in one of the many all inclusive resorts will give you a wide range of activities and adventures right at your finger tips or certainly just a short day trip away.

Viva Mexico, still a great bang for the buck.

Author: Ken Eddy

 

Euro Tour 2011 – Poland

by Ken Eddy

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For the eighth time in 11 years, Team RE/MAX (aka Team Canada) find themselves heading overseas to play hockey, tour and spread Canadian goodwill far and wide!

The Team travelled to Poland/Czech Republic back in 2006. That story was previously recounted in the article “Life Changing!” This return trip will prove to be another great adventure.

Every time we head over the great pond to do battle with Canada’s favorite game, I am reminded of the poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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Charge of the Light Brigade!

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldiers knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to the right of them,
Cannon to the left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder’d.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

— Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Author: Ken Eddy

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Precious Moments

Dedicated to Markus Bihl

by Ken Eddy

When we are children, our world consists of days that seem like weeks, weeks that seem like months, months that seem like years, and years like an absolute eternity.

As teenagers, our precious moments are spent with our friends. Living for the day and the weekend is as far as we can see into the future.

In our twenties, we launch out into the real world. Our first job or maybe a few different ones, we are in control of our future, of our moments in time.

Reluctantly we enter our thirties. Perhaps it is time to start a family, advance our careers, time to get serious about life.

As we hit our forties, life is in full swing. Kids, career, not a moment to ourselves.

Before we know it we enter our fifties. Kids have left home or at least starting to, and finally a few stolen moments for yourself, time to take stock of things.

As you look into the rear-view mirror you see the shocking reality that the road behind is longer than the road ahead. Where did all those moments go?

During our sixties, it is time to make up for lost time. If you are lucky and still have your health it is time to get out there, for it is said, “you will regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did.”

Ahhh…the seventies. Maybe a time to relax a bit, let the wounds heal, spend some time with the grandkids and enjoy those precious moments.

Our eighties, bring a whole new meaning to life. You feel like a pro-athlete and on every birthday you decide to sign on for one more year. Yep, if the pros can sign one-year contracts, well then so can you.

In our nineties, every day is a precious moment and you try your best to soak it all in. The daily weather is your friend for you are not sure if you will see another change of seasons.

One hundred years old – WOW! Now you start to think…that wasn’t so hard…how about doing another hundred…yeah, you can do it…you shout out…bring it on sister!!!

Alas, precious moments, we only have so many.

Exerpt from the movie, The Four Feathers, starring the late Heath Ledger:

“In the heat of battle, it ceases to be an idea, for which we fight, or a flag. Rather we fight for the man on our left, and we fight for the man on our right, and when armies have scattered and when the empires fall away, all that remains is the memory of those precious moments we spent side by side.”

 

Life Changing!

by Ken Eddy

Most people know that I love playing hockey. I have played it all my life and I have the injuries to prove it. I have been fortunate enough to travel to Europe several times to play, and this story is from one of those trips, a story that I hope
you remember.

January 2004, we woke up in Krakow, Poland. By mid-morning we loaded onto a bus for a trip to southwestern Poland. Travelling with a hockey team on a bus is a virtual circus on wheels. Lots of laughter, jokes and guys telling stories of the night before, while others attempted to recover from the night before. This trip included everything from laughter to tears, silence to cheering, deep thoughts to quiet conversations. This trip proved to be a life changing experience for all of us!

We arrived in an industrial town two and a half hours from Krakow. It seemed void of all colour except shades of black and grey, like many eastern European cities and towns financially fighting their way out of their communist past. Before heading to the arena we toured a UNESCO protected historical site.

We piled off the bus. It was cold, 10c to 15c below, and there was an eerie dull light coming from a reddish yellow sun that seemed to be hanging just above the horizon. You could barely see it through the icy mist. A local guide took us to a gate, and above the gate, written in wrought iron script were three words: ARBEIT MACHT FREItranslationWork Makes Free! We were about to tour the infamous Auschwitz Concentration Camp!

You see this story is not about a bunch of hockey players. It is about one million Jews, Poles, Hungarians and several other peoples from around Europe who perished here during World War II.

It was graveyard quiet all you could hear was the crunching of snow below our boots. We were led along between rows of two-story brick buildings, each one a living monument to the atrocities that occurred here. As we entered the buildings we observed displays of piles of suitcases with names and addresses written on the sides. The prisoners were ordered to do this as a trick to make them feel that they would be getting them back, but ultimately to make them more complacent and co-operative.

There were piles of shoes, piles of hair, plaques and pictures on the walls with the tragic stories of families destroyed and of the handful of survivors. One picture that struck us as odd was a picture of a warehouse burning. The name of the warehouse was Canada 2, named by the prisoners since it housed the valuables confiscated from their luggage. They called it ‘Canada’ because they viewed Canada as a rich, free country far away from the hardships and struggles plaguing Europe at that time. It was burning because the Nazis kept meticulous records, both written and on film, and as the Soviet army advanced they tried to destroy the evidence. All prisoners who could walk were forced marched back towards Germany. The Soviets found skeleton-like people who were barely alive.

There were three concentration camps: Auschwitz One, Two and Three. Auschwitz Three is completely destroyed. Auschwitz Two is called Bercanau and this is the one you normally see in the movies. Our team stood in a guard tower overlooking Bercanau and as far as the eye could see there was nothing but chimneys standing like sentinels. We entered one of the few remaining buildings where the Soviets found the survivors clinging to life. How someone lived there, let alone survived, is beyond my imagination. This is a United Nations protected site so that the world remembers the horrors of what happened there with the hopes that it will never happen again.

I could end this story by telling you how we later went to the arena and how the Polish people were so happy that a Canadian team had come to their town, or I could tell you about the game, the celebrations and the socializing with the other team, but it wouldn’t be right.

I originally wrote this story so I could use it for a ten minute talk at my Toastmasters Club. I had agreed to present a story the week before and had seven days to write and prepare it. The next day I set off on a three hour trip to visit a long-time friend of mine who lives in Medicine Hat.

On the drive I wondered what topic I would speak about and considered this one. When I got to my friend’s place, CNN was airing a special report about an 88 year old neo-Nazi who entered the Holocaust museum in Washington, DC and shot a guard with the intent of killing others until he was shot by the other guards. I mentioned to Bob how ironic it was that I was thinking about doing a talk on a related topic and I asked him if he knew what the translation was for ‘Work Makes Free‘. He said no, but that he would call his mom.

Bob called his mother and asked her if she knew the translation. She answered him immediately and without hesitation, with the words … ARBEIT MACHT FREI! This is not something you could ask just anyone and get such a quick reaction. Her response was faster than looking up the translation on Google!

So why do you think his mom had the answer on the tip of her tongue? Sadly, it was due to the fact that her husband, Bob’s father, as a young man spent four years in Auschwitz and was shot and wounded during his escape. Having to live with the memory and the horrors of this must be traumatic, to say the least. The United Nations has protected this site for one main reason, so the world never forgets!

In less than two months from the day of writing this piece, my hockey team and I will be travelling back to Poland for another hockey tour. We will travel from Warsaw to Krakow, playing hockey in several towns throughout the country, and yes, we will be playing again in Auschwitz. Several of this year’s team were not on the team back in 2004 and for most of them it will be their first tour of a former concentration camp and I know for sure that each one of them will never forget it!

As I said at the beginning of this article, I hope this is a story that you too, will always remember.

Author: Ken Eddy

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Washington, DC

by Ken Eddy

So, you’re going to take a holiday. I’ll bet Washington, DC is not on the top of your list of places you want to go this year.

Could be you want a nice warm beach and an ocean view and if that’s the case, then DC isn’t the place for you. But, if you want a week of great historical sites, amazing insights and tons of fun things to do with the family, then Washington has everything you can think of and more.

First, I have to mention the huge history of the place. From inception to modern monuments, if you’re a history buff you will not have enough time in each day to see and read everything.

Second, everything is free. That’s right, you don’t have to pay a thing to see all of the historical sites, the monuments and the Smithsonians. That in itself is worth the price of admission.

You can take a day to stroll from the Capital buildings to the Lincoln memorial. Summer in DC is warm and humid so take water and flat walking shoes. It’s a beautiful 1.9 miles (3.0 km) walk scattered with memorials and the Washington monuments reflection rising up in the middle of the pool that leads to the Lincoln memorial.

The Mall was designed in the 1850’s by architect Andrew Jackson Downing and is lined with huge American Elms that are a welcome bit of shade in the heat of the D.C. summer afternoon.

A list of landmarks and museums is helpful in deciding where to start you exploration of the great Mall.

National Museum of American History
National Museum of Natural History
National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
West Building of the National Gallery of Art
East Building of the National Gallery of Art
Ulysses S. Grant Memorial
National Museum of the American Indian
National Air and Space Museum
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Arts and Industries Building
Smithsonian Institution Building (“The Castle”)
Freer Gallery of Art
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
National Museum of African Art
Peace Monument
James A. Garfield Monument

If you’re up for some night life, Old Georgetown is a neighborhood of Washington, DC. Situated on the Potomac River it boasts a healthy nightlife that rivals any hot spot in America. Today, the primary commercial corridors of Georgetown are M Street and Wisconsin Ave, which contain high-end shops, bars and restaurants. The Georgetown neighborhood always has a number of events from music to markets every day of the week and is a great day out for a change of pace.

If you’re looking for a vacation with some history and some fun packed into one, Washington, DC is the perfect mix of new and old, historical and history in the making. With virtually no admission fees to all the great museums, Smithsonians and monuments it’s the perfect place to vacation on a budget.

West into the Rising Sun

by Ken Eddy

Japan, land of the rising sun, a country of contrast, steeped in history that seems to contradict the futuristic side of the country.

August 2009 I found myself standing in front of the Hiroshima City Hall trying desperately to take a picture of the Hinomarus (Japanese flag). I say desperately, due to the fact that it was a sweltering 40 degrees Celsius, and not a breath of wind in the air. The flag just hung there, like it too, could feel the humid mid-day heat and just needed to rest.

Giving up my quest for the perfect shot, I shuffled back to the hotel and the relief of air conditioning. As I entered the hotel I practically ran head on into Dr. David Suzuki. Caught off guard I blurted out “David” as if I knew him personally. He stopped and stared at me for a second that then said, “You must be Canadian”. Well “duh”, I wonder what gave it away! The Canadian accent and the fact that I had a t-shirt with CANADA written across the front or the maple leaf on my hat? Of course it could have been the fact that I am six feet tall, poster child for a WASP, and sweating like a horse? Choose anyone of the above and Doc nailed it. We chatted briefly as he had to run to an awaiting van and vanished. (I always thought he was taller).

My good friend and travel companion, Leo Bruneau, was reluctant to leave the comfort of the AC, but nevertheless, I dragged him out to what would be one of the major mind-blowing adventures of the trip.

We ventured a few blocks to a rather large park in the middle of the city that is made up of an island and a fork in two rivers.

The busy street filled with people became even busier as we approached the park. Once in the park we were immersed in a sea of humanity. There were thousands of people filling this huge park. I was thinking that this just can’t be a normal day in Hiroshima City Park and it definitely was not. It was on this very site 64 years ago, August 6, 1945, that the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped during World War II.

The scene that unfolded is hard to describe but I will do my best.

There were News crews from around the world, peace activists from every continent, flowers and wreaths, all engulfed in a deathly silence. We worked our way down the park toward the fork in the river, and on the far bank were the remains of a building, notably called the Atomic Dome (not its official name of course). Picture a round dome approximately six stories high with concrete sides and half the top missing. Some iron girders and supports were all that kept it from completely collapsing.

The allies targeted a bridge at a river crossing a few hundred yards away and the bomb was detonated prior to it actually hitting the ground for optimum effect, and that it had, virtually incinerating everything around it for hundreds of yards. Why this Atomic Dome was not completed obliterated remains a mystery.

Surrounding the Dome, were hundreds of people making and placing decorative memorial candles on the hedge that circles the building. Others were making paper lanterns approximately 12 inches high by 8 inches in diameter with a stand at middle/bottom for a small candle to be perched.

These reddish paper lanterns were being lit and set into the slow moving current by dignitaries, citizens, and yes, I even spotted David setting one adrift on the far bank. To view thousands of lanterns slowly floating with the current while surrounded by such a large mass of humanity watching in silence, was quite a spectacle. Even the occasional orchestra performance couldn’t break the spell.

Now I cannot fail to mention the cute little Japanese woman who was holding up a sign reading “Free Hugs”. I thought it was the Canadian thing to do and I accepted one (at that point I needed one).

Fast forward three days. Leo and I find ourselves in Nagasaki. Anyone who follows history will know the significance of this city, as it was here at 11:02 on August 9, 1945, that the world’s second atomic bomb was dropped.

Leo, myself and a young student from Tokyo, who we recruited to be our translator (I have to mention that English is not as widely spoken in Japan as you would think), were observing a moment of silence in a park prior to the Prime Minister of Japan reading an address.

To my right were two little old ladies (guessing 80ish) dressed in black and sitting on two lawn chairs. I asked our interpreter to inquire if they had been here during that time period and they said yes, they were in a factory not too far away making bombs for the Japanese military.

Prior to, and during World War II, the Japanese parliament was dominated by the military and despite the turn of events in the war, was not in the mood to surrender to the allies, who had just battled their way across two islands, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, at a cost of thousands of lives on both sides.

It was estimated at the time that it would cost one million allied lives to take the main islands of Japan and that was the main reason that President Harry Truman decided to use the bomb in an effort to end the war once and for all. After the second blast in Nagasaki, Emperor Hirohito surrendered unconditionally to the allies.

During my tour of Japan I only spotted three Japanese flags. Why I wondered, would there not be more of these Hinomarus flapping in the wind across the country? Research has taught me that not all Japanese respect the Hinomarus since it has a military background and it reminds them of the horror of war!

Never again do they want the military to control the government.

Never again do they want to experience such atrocities, agony, and loss of life.

Never again should another bomb be dropped.

Never again!

Author: Ken Eddy

Get Out There & Live Life

by Ken Eddy

OK, you’re staring into the mirror and there in the glass is an old wolf looking back. You’re thinking, maybe I’ll make some homemade soup or perhaps take the Harley on a three day cruise…and then it hits you…you don’t own a Harley and have no idea how to make soup!

Is it mid-life crisis (not that you believe in such a thing) or is it the fact that you have devoted the last 30 plus years to acquiring things and generally just paying bills? Could it be that you have just watched a travel/adventure documentary with a couple of intrepid travelers who have spent the last six months traveling South East Asia or how about the fact that your bucket list seems to be getting heavier instead of lighter?

Whatever the reason, you have made a decision and to hell with the consequences, kind of, sort of, maybe…hmmm, maybe you should weigh the pros and cons of taking off on a great adventure (albeit maybe only a few weeks or so). Yes that’s it; you are a conservative, careful planning kind of guy that likes to add up the costs of going vs staying home and doing the responsible thing.

Take this piece of advice…don’t add up the pros and cons period! Your list of cons will always outweigh your pros due to one simple fact…the majority of pros will only become evident after you have returned from your adventure and you find yourself asking, why the hell did I not do this years ago?

Well then, do the math on this…you are 50 plus years old, add on 10 years and what do you get? Does it look like a formula that adds up to a stronger, leaner more adventuresome guy ready to take on the world or did you just mouth the words…Oh Oh?

The one true thing about life, you’re  are not getting out of it alive!


Thailand December 2005, I am leaning against the wheelhouse on the bow of a 40 ft Thai fishing trawler that has been converted to a foot passenger ferry. At my feet at the tip of the bow is an offering to Buddha. It is warm, but not too warm, the sun and a light breeze coming off the Andaman Sea create a pleasant balance. My travel buddies, Leo and Ray are to the right and the left of me. Leo is engaged in conversation with a fellow Canadian, she is a young lady from Saskatoon who is traveling with her American marine boyfriend. They have come from South Korea where she teaches English and he (I assume) is stationed. Ray is chatting with some German travelers (you cannot go anywhere in the world and not run into German travelers).

As we chug across the open sea it gives me time to reflect back to the craziness of Patong Beach, situated on the Island of Phuket, from its bars and shops, to the insane drivers on hundreds of scooters. My friend Ray is still recovering from a header over the handlebars flip
(note to Ray: apply back break only) and his daily trips to the hospital to have his bandages changed.

After a lengthy ride we finally approach Koh Phi Phi (Pi Pi Island). When you dream of Thailand, this is the island in your dreams. Shaped like a dumbbell with two high peaks at either end and a short stretch of land between the peaks (approximately 2-3 blocks wide, depending how you measure. With the west side having the main dock and one walking street of commercial shops, the east side is absolutely picturesque!

If you have ever watched the 007 movie “The Man with the Golden Gun” then you will be familiar the scenery, the beaches and the unique islands.

As we departed Koh Phi Phi I found myself standing on another small ferry boat staring back at the island. I’m sure I was thinking, what a terrific little island, I sure hope that the many tourists that flock to this small island paradise continue to respect the delicate balance between nature and humans so evident on its shores. To make a point, there were several handwritten signs on the island stating “Save Phi Phi”.

But it was not the humans that were going to be the biggest threat to the island and its inhabitants. No, it was Mother Nature that gave the island its biggest test ever. Less than a week after my departure THE TSUNAMI crashed into the tiny island, slamming it from both sides and turning the small strip of land between the two peaks into a virtual washing machine of death and destruction.

Yes, life can be very sobering and short! As you look into that mirror I hope the person staring back at you appreciates the time you have left, the energy you have and the importance of getting out there and living life instead of crawling onto the couch and watching it!

Author: Ken Eddy


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