Notes from my travels

Why do I get to travel ?
Since 1974, I have worked for a Canadian public corporation called the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) which provides funding to universities, organizations  undertaking development research.  Most of our recipients are in the developing regions of the world and consequently we have regional offices in Dakar (Senegal), Cairo (Egypt), Nairobi (Kenya), Johannesburg (South Africa), New Delhi (India), Singapore, and Montevideo (Uruguay).
My position within the Centre is that of System/Data Administrator and part of that entails ensuring that all our administrative staff in all regional offices and in our head office in Ottawa are adequately trained in the use of our ORACLE-based project management information system.  Because I travel to a city and then stay for a couple of weeks, I try to do some "tourism" on the weekends.
What follows are some links to pages that contain a small sample of the photos I have taken while overseas.

    Hawaii - Honolulu, Oahu and the Big Island
    Nairobi and the Masai Mara, Kenya

    Montevideo, Uruguay

    Cairo, Egypt
    Nairobi and the Masai Mara, Kenya


The most recent trip was a "round the world" trip that started on 10 October and ended on 16 November.  I took off from Ottawa and spent a few days (vacation time) in Vancouver to visit Dal Le and her then 10-week old puppy, Kho-Na.

I arrived in Honolulu on 12 October.  The Oracle Applications Users Group meeting did not start til over a week later so I spent a week of vacation in Hawaii. My husband met up with me on 13 October having flown from Ottawa. We stayed in Honolulu (Island of Oahu) for a few days, getting our bearings then we headed over to the Island of Hawaii (nicknamed "The Big Island") for five days.  What a place!  We had the use of a friend's beautiful condo in Waikoloa Village.

Link to Hawaii 2000 photos

Our first afternoon on the Big Island was a Monday and it was spent driving the north-west coast where it is very dry and desert like and we saw petroglyphs, ancient temples made of lava rock, and a statue of King Kamehameha.  The end of that road was Pololu lookout with the black sand beach seen far below the towering rain-forest covered cliffs.

Tuesday started with a "snorkel cruise" on the Fair Wind II which took us from Keauhou Bay near Kona to the Kealakekua Bay (where Captain Cook died).  The water was incredibly clear, the coral beautiful, and the fish spectacular (the pictures do not do any of these justice).  The afternoon saw us at a botanical garden of plants native to the Polynesian islands.

Wednesday was the day to go to the volcanos.  The volcano is still considered active but the only visible activity is the steam cloud where the lava is pouring into the ocean.  This can be seen via helicopter but at a price beyond what I was willing to pay.  We then visited a winery which had a wine made from Macadamia blossoms.  And on our way back to our home base, we stopped in at the Mauna Loa macadamia nut farm.

Thursday was the Tropical Botanical Gardens - orchids, ginger plants, banyan trees, heliconia, and far too many others to name .... so green.  Then a few stops along the east coast of the Big Island to see water falls in lush rain-forest gorges.  Our final stop for the day was at a restaurant at the Parker Ranch .. where the workers were called "paniolas" as they were known ... they were son named long before we knew what cowboys were ... "paniolas" is a derivation of "espanolas" as these cattle hands came from Mexico to teach Hawaiians how to handle cattle.

Friday morning was spent on a beach as we wiled away a few hours before our return flight to Honolulu.

The OAUG conference was interesting from a business point of few - no photos.

Link to Singapore 2000 photos (not yet operational)

The flight from Honolulu to Singapore took me through Tokyo ... I should have taken some pictures as the plane landed .. some of those rural homes were beautiful ... but other than that all I saw of Tokyo was the inside of the Narita airport ... and it looks like most other airports ... just a few more (and very different) languages on the signs.

I landed in Singapore in the middle of the night.  The next day was Sunday and one of the local staff met me and we went to China town where I took some pictures and we also went to the Night Zoo ... this should not be missed if you are ever in Singapore ... sadly the photos taken at the zoo did not turn out - mostly because no flashes were allowed for the animals' sakes.

Link to Nairobi 2000 photos
I landed in Nairobi on 31 October after a 10 hr flight over the Indian Ocean and a stop in Johannesburg.  At the time, Kenya had been suffering from a long drought which meant no city water supply to most districts of Nairobi and severe power rationing.  I stayed at the Fairview Hotel (which had its own well and its own generator) for two weeks but the stay included two weekends.  The day I arrived, the "short rains" started - about a month later than expected.  They are called the "short rains" as it only rains for an hour or so each day.  These rains lasted for the entire duration of my stay and a few weeks longer so that the water levels in the reservoir approached  normal levels.

The first weekend was spent visiting the Nairobi National Park on Saturday, 4 November then on Sunday, some of the local staff took me to the woodcarvers' market in an older section of Nairobi followed by a trip to an ostrich farm where I actually rode an ostrich.

On the next weekend, I took a "fly-in" safari trip .... leaving Nairobi on Saturday morning for a 45-minute plane ride to the northwest corner of the Masai Mara National Park (this is the northern tip of the famous Serengeti plain).  I stayed at a place called the Kichwa Tembo Tented Lodge (the tents are on stone platforms with real washrooms - the walls and ceiling are canvas.  The only thing surrounding the entire camp separating us from the beasts of the Serengeti is an electrified fence that looks no stronger than a normal farm fence.  There was an afternoon / early evening game drive on Saturday.  Then a local Kenyan meal, and a campfire get-together.  Tropical sunsets are quick and happen around 6:00 or 6:30 PM.  My sleep that night was interrupted by the sounds of a very large animal outside my tent - and I knew it was not one of the warthogs that are resident within the camp.  I quietly peeked out the front door of the tent and saw this enormous hippo that had come out of the river to munch on the grass that was near my tent.  Early the next morning - long before sunrise, they bring coffee & cookies to your tent to wake you up for the early morning game drive.  You have to get your coffee & cookies from the front deck within seconds or the monkeys will get them first.  The morning game drive goes to a different part of the park with some interesting photo opportunities in that morning light.  Then sadly the return flight to Nairobi for a final few days of work in the office.

The last stop of this trip was in Johannesburg but I was only there for a day and a half and it was all spent in the office .... no tourist opportunities.

I arrived back in Ottawa on a Thursday and went to a local dog show on Friday, Saturday and Sunday ... not sure how I got around that ring as my body thought it was still somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.


Link to Montevideo 1998 photos (not yet operational)
On the estuary of the Rio de la Plata, a couple of hours by ferry from Buenos Aires, you find the city of Montevidel - an old colonial city with a mixture of interesting architecture.  I strolled around the sights for hours.  It may have been mid-April but it was autumn in their calendar.


Link to Cairo 1997 photos
A city whose boundaries fight with the desert.  A city that never sleeps.  A city where the Islamic call to prayer is repeated several times daily and heard over the entire city. A city where streets are marked with three lanes but there are five moving lanes of traffic.  The 401 is NOTHING compared to the tangle of taxis, buses, donkey carts, etc that you see on these streets.

Despite it being in the middle of the desert, it managed to rain for 2 of the 6 days that I was there.  This limited the photo opportunities but I did manage to get to the pyramids.  Awesome when seen in person.

Link to Nairobi 1997 photos (takes a little while to load)
After a mixup whereby the "Arabic-only-speaking" taxi driver took me to the wrong terminal at the Cairo airport, I managed to get on the flight to Nairobi and arrived on a Satuday afternoon.  Suffering a litte bit of "tourista", I stayed hotel-bound for the rest of the day.  On Sunday, one of the local staff drove me to the Nairobi National Park.  Very interesting seeing wildlife such as ostrich, giraffe, antelope and buffalo with the Nairobi skyline in the background.

The following weekend, I went to a weekend fly-in safari at the Mara Intrepids Camp which is in the middle of the Masai Mara National Park.  The trip included a Saturday noon-time visit to the hippo pool, an afternoon/evening game drive and an early morning game drive followed by the return flight to Nairobi.  Game was abundant, the only animal I missed seeing was the rhino.  A leopard was attracted to the camp after sunset as the game wardens hang some bait in a tree just outside the electric fence.  But photos taken under mercury-vapour lights do not turn out well so you will not see that photo in this sample.