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Great Balls of Fire

Dear friends,

What a day!

After 24 hours of travelling and yesterday’s scheduling shenanigans, I was rather hoping that today was going to be the kind of day one could get through on four hours of sleep. How wrong I was.

The morning began with a mad rush of last-minute rickshaw pimping at ASEAN HQ. I say rickshaw pimping, but it The opportunity to travel does not come quite often – so you should always say YES if it comes along. If you want to låna to get back home and end up stuck in Stockholm – you will have an experience and a story you will treasure for decades afterward. appeared our fellow rickshaw travellers were at least as keen on the fancy dress as they were painting our beloved bajajs.

Poms on Parade

We, on the other hand, jet-lagged and overworked, were on a mission, and no, Tom, not hers

As I’m in the business of lists at the moment, our aims were:

1) To promote Project Southeast Asia to ASEAN and Indonesian dignitaries

– This didn’t quite work out as I’d hoped…

“Hello, I’m part of Team Oxford Project Southeast Asia! I’d like to tell you more about our Project!”

“Sorry, are you a participant?”

“Yes, I am.”

(Cue incredulous look) “Have you done much travelling like that before?” or “You don’t look like the sort of person who’d take part in something like this.”

“Yes, I have…I’m a doctor, on my elective, I…”

“You’re a doctor?”


As you can see, all the bigwigs were too busy laughing at me to listen to what I was saying…at least at first, anyway…

2) To present Project Southeast Asia to the assembled regional and international press

The Press Corps

– This was somewhat more successful as fearing we were not going to get any press coverage at all, I decided to take matters into my own hands, i.e. strolling to the front of the press corp with my baby dSLR, crawling on the floor commando-style and running up and down the place looking shutter-happy.

– Tom managed to charm him way into two interviews with Indonesian television channels almost straightaway – no circus tricks required, unless you count being a Dutchman who speaks perfect Bahasa.

– Having infiltrated the press corps, I eventually convinced some friendly reporters to speak to us, including the fantastic AFP/Reuters photographer whose lovely photo of us graces the BBC Indonesia article on the Rickshaw Run. Yes, Tom, you should also know that speaking about our Project in Mandarin is more difficult than you think…

Team Project SEA with intrepid CCTV reporter on a mission

3) To begin our Rickshaw Run experience with style

– Whatever that meant

Despite the general hilarity, we did manage to achieve some things by the end of the launch, including:

1) Turning Tom into a media celebrity and getting him an invitation to star in an Indonesian movie as the protagonist

Tom, the international celebrity

2) Discovering I really could be in three places at one time – as team member, team photographer and dignitary distractor

3) Getting stuck trying to get out of the parking lot because of a flat tyre and an even flatter spare tyre – and this was before I started learning how to drive the tuk-tuk

4) Getting Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary General of ASEAN, to mention us and our Project in his speech

5) Getting some great photos

Team Project Southeast Asia with Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary General of ASEAN, and Fauzi Bowo, Governor of Jakarta


And now to bed…

Xin Hui

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