Our event was last night at our hotel where the buffet is not quite like the ones we see at home but wow, was it good (and VERY chili pepper hot in some cases).
One of the attendees was a member of WPO...World Presidents' Organization (older YPO members) who is the sort of the Jon Huntsman of Asia. He has 30 businesses (including Tyson Foods International) and is on the boards of numerous foundations and Universities, is the Commissioner of Cultural Arts as well as having a University named after him. As we talked we found that we had quite a lot in common. He had been to Utah several years ago where he had a private meeting with President Hinckley, the President of the Mormon church there. He said that President Hinckley had given him a bronze statue after a one hour meeting with him. With a good natured smile he said that he had a very hard time getting the gift through security at the airport. They simply would not believe that President Hinckley had given it to him!
He is the man to my right. The man on his right was our host, came from France and had a delightful French accent. He is in the medical field and is just starting a business for people who need heart surgery. They have places here that look like four star hotels but are actually a medical unit with the best surgeons in the world and state of the art equipment. Instead of costing $150,000 as it would in the US, they can do it for around $30,000. Truly an amazing idea! The woman on Dad's left came up afterward and said that she had spent three years at the University of Utah which is about a mile from our home in Salt Lake City. It was a great night full of fascinating people here in Asia.
Today we did four private consultations and it was again fascinating to get inside of family issues. Though we're been in very different cultures (for one things,everyone has one or more nannies, housekeepers and drivers) many of the issues are exactly the same as in any culture. Some are afraid of disciplining their kids, some don't have much a relationship with their spouse and some are just worried about sibling rivalry. One family had sent their youngest of four, an eight year old, to a boarding school in England just because the child thought he really wanted to go. Then he called home crying to come home and they had him stick it out and stay. Now he's twelve and still there except for school holidays four times a year. They are loving, caring parents and they talk to him almost every day but....wow...what a sacrifice! For the most part these great people are just terrific families doing their best with the way they were raised as a backdrop.
The traditions in Asia are fabulous. yesterday was a huge celebration day here that occurs only once a year. They decorate small floats or boats (most are only about 12 inches across) with flowers, incense and candles and send their lighted floaters down the river after dark. Some say it is symbolic of sending your sins down the river and if you don't, you'll have bad luck for 10 years. Others say it also signifies saying "sorry" to the river (and the goddess of the river) for the pollution. Both are delightful ideas. The fireworks and lighted boats (huge boats full of people along with the little ones) going down the river last night after our event were spectacular! Wish you could all have been here!
Today we are going to see the famous reclining Buddha and the royal preparations for the cremation and funeral of the King's sister which will be tomorrow. This is still the Kingdom of Siam! Nothing bad is EVER said about the royal family...unlike the royalty situation in England. It seems as though even though we are sitting in one of the great business markets of the world, the good citizens here are also very aware that they are part of a great Kingdom!