This is not a particularly good picture, since it was probably taken from a moving bus. Anyway, it is one Hsiu-chin sent me from the Philippines where she is currently (together with the new camera that we bought!). She informed me that where she was staying there were no hot showers. This reminds me of trips I have made in the past to Indonesia and Thailand, where we stayed either a long way out of town or else the people who made arrangements for us did so with a view to keeping costs down to a minimum. Of course, we generally had to endure those kinds of living conditions for a few weeks at the most. For a lot of people, living like that is a way of life.
In Taiwan these last few days, there has been a lot of news and speculation (just how close anything is to being proved is hard to say), that certain members of the former president's family, who all had quite humble beginnings, have been stashing away millions of US dollars in Swiss bank accounts, in the Cayman Islands and large sums of money have even been transferred through financial giants such as Merrill Lynch, causing some to wonder what kinds of internal controls exist in such organizations. Anyway, the last few days have given us ordinary folk the opportunity to see how some people live, having millions in various secret bank accounts, living in luxury accommodation, eating in fine restaurants, wearing expensive Rolex watches and never having to do any work. On the other hand, a lot of people have been protesting, asking the government to raise the minimum wage. These are the people who have to work hard and who are getting less and less in real terms as the prices of food and gasoline continue to increase, and some of their earnings are allegedly siphoned abroad by unscrupulous moneygrubbers.
I consider myself fortunate in that, while I have to work, at least I can enjoy a hot shower at the swimming pool or at home, and I don't need to resort to credit cards unless purely for the convenience of using one. I wonder what these people with all these assets who have never worked do with their lives. They must be pretty miserable, I think. I'd rather spend my time swimming than prancing around some upscale shopping mall in Manhattan, even if I had other people's money to spend.
This week has gone quite well, although I am busy with work (so little "free" time) and I also have to cook (and buy) almost all my food while Hsiu-chin is away. The boys do help, being fairly good at shopping and cooking when they feel so inclined, but they keep different hours from me and often go out with their friends. So at times I feel a little hungry, mainly because I just get sick of preparing things all the time. Although Hsiu-chin did not always cook, at least the meals she made were tasty.
To maintain my sanity, I continue with the morning swims, but that is about it. On Tuesday, 4,300 meters, on Wednesday, 4,100 meters, and today (Thursday), 4,200 meters. I have been trying to break up the workout so that I am not just doing long, slow distance swimming. Maybe the first half of it is pretty consistent and relaxed, but I gradually start taking rests and then do sets of 250s, 150s, 100s and 50s, where I gradually increase the pace. I have not set any records this week. I "raced" my friend over 200 meters each day, and my times have been either 3m 07s or 3m 08s. I feel I am just hanging in there this week, while I try and get on with and finish various jobs that have been coming in. I don't know when things will get easier, but at least I will continue to have one swim practice each day when the pool is open.
I read on Bree's blog that she plans to do the Kentucky Ironman this coming Sunday, having had to pull out of Ironman Canada. I am glad she gets another chance to qualify for Kona, although it must still be a big challenge. These are long races. I wish her all the best and will lose a little sleep Sunday night (in Taiwan) to follow her progress.