The Rice Paddy

Written by Harold McNeill on November 24th, 2016. Posted in Travelogue


Boy in School3

Student at a Cambodian Country School (photo by Esther Dunn)

We had the good fortune to visit an elementary school in a remote area along one of the tributaries of the Mekong River, a place where welcoming and exuberant children could barely wait to demonstrate their English language skills. “What’s your name.” and “How old are you?” were the favourites, but that was just the opening of two hours of interaction with the students.

NOTE:  Three Videos of our time in Viet Nam and Cambodia are linked at the end of the story.   For those seeking more background of our travels with Uniworld, link here.  Regards  Harold and Lynn

Lynn and I spent part of our time with a ten-year-old boy (photo above) who appeared to be the oldest in the class. Although a bit shy, he focused intensely on getting the wording of his questions correct, then intently listened as we answered. Had he been born forty years earlier, he could well have been the boy featured in part of the story below.

Part I: Introduction to SE Asia and a Short Story from Cambodia

To gain an understanding of the progress the people of Indochina have made over the past 25 years, take a few minutes first to watch the three slideshows linked in the footer. While incredible natural and manmade beauty greet you at every turn; the happy, healthy and carefree people you see at school, work and play today, contrasts sharply with immense challenges the people faced from 1940 – 1990. Perhaps you are aware of these challenges and the progress made, but we weren’t and the more we learned, the more amazing it all became.

This series begins with a short, personal story which took place in Cambodia in the late 1980’s, a story of one boy’s quest to survive. His story was similar to that experienced by thousands of men, women and children whose lives were taken or shattered by war, genocide, starvation and disease. This story was related to us over several parts by our Cambodian guide and takes place during the height of Pol Pot’s campaign of genocide.

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The Indochina Wars: 1940 – 1990

Written by Harold McNeill on November 12th, 2016. Posted in Travelogue


Southeast Asia – Colonial Powers

Southeast AsiaPS

Colonial Powers, as listed above, played a large role in the ebb and flow of the fortunes and misfortunes of Southeast Asia from the early 1800’s onwards.  The French played a dominant role in Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos and while it ended in war there are still many positive reminders of the occupation.

Part I:   Introduction and the Rice Paddy
Part II:  Indochina Wars: 1940 – 1990
Part III: Resilience of the Human Spirit (passcode required as post under revision)
Part IV:  The Future Belongs to the Young
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art V: Travelling with Uniworld (In progress)

Part 11. Indochina Wars: 1940 – 1990

Introduction

Ordinary people do not start wars unless they are oppressed. Governments or dictators make wars with an ideological or expansionist purpose in mind. When this happens, ordinary citizens are pushed to fight whether they want to or not. This was no better expressed than in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade”:

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”p18aCharge of the Light Brigade
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
    Someone 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.   

Such was the case in Indochina where not six hundred, but an estimated 8000 times that many would be driven into the valley of death. The Viet Nam or Second Indochina War, was just the second part of fifty years of war that began when the Japanese occupied French Indochina in 1940. Following the departure of the Japanese and the French again occupied, then Communist North Viet Nam (formed in 1945 after the war) (3), began a push to remove the French who resumed their Colonial control status that was ceded to the Japenese for a few years.   One occupying force simply replaced another.

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Resilience of the Human Spirit

Written by Harold McNeill on November 7th, 2016. Posted in Travelogue


Buddhism Dance

These young women were part of a group of Cambodian folk dancers who performed during our time in Siem Reap. The gentle movement of these dancers and their male counterparts was mesmerizing and clearly express the inner strength and peacefulness of the people.

Photos in these albums were selected from those taken mainly by Esther and Harold. In a few cases, representative photos selected from the Web.

November 11, 2016:  Least We Forget
Remembrance Day in Canada (Link Here)
Veterans Day in the United States  (Link Here)

Part I:   The Rice Paddy
Part II:  Indochina Wars: 1940 – 1990
Part III: Resilience of the Human Spirit
Part IV  The Future Belongs to the Young

Part V    Cruising the Mekong with Uniworld   (being written)   December 4.  This part was split off to Part V. Part IV is being readjusted.

Part III: Resilience of the Human Spirit

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The Future Belongs to the Young

Written by Harold McNeill on November 14th, 2016. Posted in Travelogue


Young People – A Majority in Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos

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The photo was taken in front of the Presidential Palace in Saigon (October, 2016 hdm).

This group of young people wanted a photo with two of our group from South Africa with whom they had been chatting. Virtually everywhere you travel in Viet Nam and Cambodia you will find young people eager to exchange a few words and to have a photo taken with a tourist. Look at those wonderful smiles.

Part I:   An Open Letter
Part II:  Indochina Wars: 1940 – 1990
Part III: Resilience of the Human Spirit  (in progress, Password Protected)
Part IV  The Future Belongs to the Young
P
art V   River Cruising (in progress)

Part IV: The Future Belongs to the Young

The title, of course, is used in a figurative sense.  As I grow older and particularly over the last 25 years (50-75), I have become convinced that forging a better world must be placed in the hands of positive, forward-looking young people. You might also include older people, but only if they have not become jaded and are willing to debate the issues with an open mind. Any discussion that focusses on Us versus Them is going nowhere.  

Lynn and I have travelled to many countries that have only recently emerged from war or were controlled in whole or in part by vicious tyrants.  It was pretty easy to tell how well the country was doing by simply talking to young people. If the young are happy and forward looking, we felt assured the country was moving in a positive direction, but if they were looking for a way out, it was a good bet the country was not doing all that well.

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A Canadian Vision of Planet China: Part II

Written by Harold McNeill on April 12th, 2014. Posted in Travelogue


P1080178

Harold and Lynn in August 2013 waiting to board the Bullet Train for  Shijiazhuang, China. Join us for the continuation of our adventure with nephew Lorin Yochim.

April 12, 2014,  This post is currently under construction. Photos to be added by Sunday, April 13.

Link Here to Part 1 of the China Story

Link Here to Full Photo Story leading to and in Shijiazhuang, China

Introduction to Part II

As a partnership between a senior ‘wannabe’ and one who is well established, Lynn and I are pretty adept at handling ‘free-style’ travelling. China, however, presented a few challenges, not the least of which was the language barrier.

While foreign tourism in China is growing at an exponential rate, most tourism is still domestic; therefore, the need for local English and other language service remains very low.  Even at the main airports and train stations, it can be difficult to find an English-speaking attendant so, for a visit shorter than five years, learning the language is not an option.

Because we had such close contact with Lorin, his family and friends, our trip was turned from one in which we would have been stuck in the usual ‘tourist’ pack to one filled with continuous adventure.  Join us for Part II as we head out from Beijing on a train that will soon touch a third the speed of sound and take us through a countryside filled with the old and new.  In our travels to date, China provides the best example of a country where modernity is extinguishing the past at the breakneck speed of a Bullet Train.

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A Canadian Version of Planet China

Written by Harold McNeill on March 16th, 2014. Posted in Travelogue


Lorin, Jean and Cousins

It would not be many days into our visit before we understood food would become a key part of our China experience.
Here we were hosted to a sumptuous home cooked meal by the cousins (centre) of Lorin and Jin.

Full Photo Series Link Here

Link Here for Part II of this Story

Hello China, Here we Come Part 1  (see footnote 1)

This past August Lynn and I had an opportunity to take a whirlwind tour of China. As it worked out, our amazing nephew Lorin (2), his wife Jean and son Laur were living in Beijing, so it was an easy decision.  We often wondered about that mysterious country and felt a visit was a perfect way to sort fact from fiction.

Is the country completely polluted and is the traffic any worse than Vancouver? Are the people pushy or polite? Are the Chinese soNezha Conquers the Dragon King clever and determined they will one day dominate the world?  Could anyone or anything stand in the way of a technologically advanced country with a population of 1.5 billion and so much money they have no idea how to spend it?  Are they on their way owning the United States as well as all the oil in Canada? How about a simple question – can a stray dog or cat survive in China?

Insert (Web): Top 10 in China:  Nezha Conquers the Dragon King. The flower, bottom centre, was often observed floating in water filled ponds in many temples.

Fiction, fact and myths about China are so thoroughly intertwined, that no one seems to know for sure and everyone has an opinion.  While we cannot explore every facet of life in China, we will sort out what we can.

So with Passports, Visa’s and maps in hand, we donned our ‘rose coloured glasses’ and caught an Air China flight out of Tokyo.  Just to make certain we could see things clearly, we each grabbed a pair of polarizer clip-ons. Thank you for joining us in Part I of this three-part series.  PS We have taken plenty of pictures to back up our observations.

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Rhodes, Greece: Notes

Written by Harold McNeill on November 24th, 2013. Posted in Travelogue


P1130148

Photo: View of the acropolis from the town square in Lindros, Greece

While the historical sites on Rhodes certainly provide an amazing experience, the old town section of the city (just a 100 yards from our cruise ship gangway) provides an endless array historic street scenes. Again, as time permits, within the next few days I will write up the notes from from Rhodes. Link in to the blog at McNeill Life Stories for the full story. I will provide the link when it is complete.

Link Here for Photographs
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All photographs Posted to this Point are on McNeill Life Stories
Open Facebook Page (link above)

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Patmos, Greece: Notes

Written by Harold McNeill on November 22nd, 2013. Posted in Travelogue


P1120611

Photo: The people of Patmos certainly set a happy tone for Gartb, Estber, Lynn and Harold

Patmos, Greece:  Link to Photographs

The story of this amazing little Island (only 3,000 residents) will be written on the next sea break as  we are currently beginning several long days in Israel.

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Comments

  • McNeill Life Stories How to Game an Election - McNeill Life Stories

    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]

  • Harold McNeill

    August 21, 2019 |

    For those who followed the earlier post about the cost of ICBC Auto insurance coverage in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (linked in comments) here is another follow-up article.

    This article again confirms earlier assertions that public-private insurers such as that which ICBC provides, is among the best in Canada in terms of rates and coverage. A link is provided in the original story.

  • Harold McNeill

    August 16, 2019 |

    Many thanks for reviewing the article Elizabeth. There are so many areas of our society in which populism carries the day, although I think what is happening with the ICBC is that groups having a vested interest in private insurance would dearly love to dislodge ICBC from their preferred position. That being said, I think was a good move to have only portions of the insurance coverage in BC being held by ICBC and other portions being made available through private enterprise.

  • Elizabeth Mary McInnes, CAIB

    August 15, 2019 |

    It’s a breath of fresh air to see a resident of British Columbia look to review all the facts over believing what is reported in the news or just following along with the negative stigma of the masses. Your article truly showcases that with a little reform to ICBC’s provincial system – British Columbia could be a true leader for other provinces in Canada. Very well written article!

  • Harold McNeill

    August 13, 2019 |

    August 13, 2019. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), a private enterprise group not unlike the Fraser Institute, is again on the campaign trail. They state ICBC rates are the highest in Canada, but, thankfully, Global BC inserted a section indicating the Insurance Bureau cherry-picked the highest number in BC and the lowest numbers in AB, ON and other Eastern Provinces. If you take a few minutes to check reliable sources you will find BC rates, are the lowest in Canada.

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold