Greg The Traveller

Stories behind my journeys


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Even ‘near death experiences’ change…

1986: I had a ‘near death experience’ in which the plane I was on had to land — without its landing gear. I literally wet my pants and felt sorry for a lot of things, including the fact that I didn’t even have a girlfriend yet. I did have my camera with me, but it never crossed my mind once to take a picture, even when the fire squad was dramatically extinguishing the fire.

2016: Today’s ‘near death experience’ is apparently very different. One lady who might have thought that she’s going to die was able to make her husband take a picture of her, posing while supposedly “praying for her life”. After that she shared it on social media for all the world to see.

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The beauty of mining

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Throughout the years, I have made documentations for various mining companies, including: MHU Coal, Adaro Indonesia, Adaro Energy, Freeport Indonesia, Kelian Equatorial Mining, Indonesia Bulk Terminal (IBT), Terminal Batubara Indah and Delta Coal.
 
Every project is unique. Though they all involve mining, there are many different types, from coal to gold. Thus, the biggest challenge is to find the aspects that best represent the company. 
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I witnessed how two companies, MHU Coal and Adaro, have grown rapidly over the years. My visit to Freeport revealed to me an understanding of massive mining operations really are.
                             
When I flew over IBT premises, it was an empty land, but within two years they had a huge coal facility running. 
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Working together with people in the various companies is an irreplaceable opportunity that has broadened my horizons. These people have shown me that dreams can be achieved through hard work, but also the importance of giving back to the community. 
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For instance, in Adaro, I met the man who was behind a cataract project that treated over 4000 locals in South Borneo. Initially he kept it quiet, until I convinced his team that I wanted to share this great story to inspire other companies.
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With a lot of changes happening to Indonesia, there are many challenges ahead, but it is always a good idea to reflect on the present and the past. 

 

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Climb Every Mountain

2009 JUL-STOCK-1000164

Climb every mountain,
Search high and low,
Follow every byway,
Every path you know.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
‘Till you find your dream.

A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life
For as long as you live.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
Till you find your dream

A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life,
For as long as you live.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
Till you find your dream.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sound_of_Music_(film)


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Vibrant Vietnam

150421102517-01-vietnam-war-0421-restricted-super-169Courtesy of CNN

 

It was 1975. I was only 10 years old when I saw people running for their lives, on TV — Vietnamese civilians jumping on board rescue helicopters on the rooftop of the US embassy in Saigon (better known as Ho Chi Minh today).  

At that time, I didn’t really understand what was happening. It was only in 1990 that I did, though it was by accident. I was with a group of French students (from Lycée Français de Singapour) . We were on our way to Mount Krakatau, the infamous volcano located between Sumatra and Java. During the trip, we were on a speedboat when out of the blue, we spotted battered boats full of Vietnamese survivors, half dying from the lack of food and drinking water. We helped them as best as we could — their plea for help was put on Indonesian newspapers, and eventually, with the help of the locals throughout the country, they were eventually able to make it all the way to Australia, where they could start a new life.

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A decade later, I got to travel to Vietnam itself, as part of a job assignment. I’ll never forget the airplane flight (that left from Singapore) — a young and handsome Vietnamese man was sitting beside me, with a bouquet of flowers in his hand. Overcome with curiosity, I asked him if he was going to see his girlfriend in Saigon, to which he replied gravely, “No, I’m actually visiting my grandma… we (my sister, parents and I) left her 20 years ago. Using her gold, we were able to escape from the country on a boat, and we ran all the way to Australia. She saved our lives, and now I’m coming back for her. I’m going to build a proper house for her, and make sure that she’s never forgotten.”

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So there I was, fresh-faced in Vietnam, a bustling country where in the wee hours of the morning, you could already see swarms of people on the street, eagerly getting ready to start the day. The Vietnamese are hard workers who never complain, but remember to enjoy the simple of pleasures of life. I’ve always been impressed by how healthy their food is… vegetables are a surprisingly big part of their diet! 

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It was in Vietnam that I learned to be grateful. In a busy alleyway of Hoi Ann in central Vietnam, I came across a cheerful old lady, preoccupied with selling clay pig figurines. Honestly, what made her so special was not the pigs, but her smile. It was a genuinely dazzling smile that she gave to passers by (mostly tourists). For the next two years, every time I returned to Hoi Ann, she would still be there, giving that same smile. That old lady made me realize how lucky I am to be traveling to all these different places, while she has stationed herself in that alleyway for the better part of her life. 

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