Mangyongdae Children’s Palace
AX2016 INVITED SPEAKERS LUCKY DRAW & SPONSORS
I must have missed the discussion where they explained what this place was and was completely confused the moment I stepped into the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace. Was this a school for gifted children, a place where the elites send their young ones to or the most elaborate and comprehensive tuition centre in the world? The building was massive, and it housed 120 rooms, dance and performance studios, a swimming pool, a gymnasium and a theatre that can accommodate some 2,000 people and even, for whatever reason, a replica of a rocket.
Performances are held in these classrooms and the students present routines they are currently working on. Visitors can observe the students practising traditional dances and musical instruments or attend a workshop, even sitting in on a Science class if so desired. Some of these performances have a strict schedule to follow.
It is unclear if the participation at this after-school centre is mandatory but the purpose and core concept of the Children’s Palace is not that questionable as there are similar facilities in China where elite families send their kids. What made observing
performers on and off stage efficiently while the lighting and props were elaborate. There was not a single hitch in the show. The students wrapped up the show with a song performance and videos displaying the country’s military prowess – plane missiles hitting targets, rocket launch footage and the works. After the grand performance, I managed to ask an American tourist heading out if this venue was on his pre-planned tour route, confirming that I was lied to. The dialogues began and over the next few days, the three Nobel Prize winners travelled across Pyongyang to present keynote speeches on their research and conduct rather intimate dialogues with the purest of intentions and goodwill. These were the highlights of this trip.
The agenda of the dialogue with the participating university's students and lecturers was simple. We were concerned about the repercussions of the strict UN sanctions and how they were affecting the daily lives of the average citizen, and it was clear to us that a common issue faced by the students was the restricted access to the Internet. As Sir Richard sharply put during a conversation with some of the lecturers: “One cannot be on the cutting edge of science if you are unaware of what everyone else is doing.”
The dialogues carried on through the next four days and our relationships with the people from the KNPC and the universities started to evolve – trust began to grow. Just like how we were nervous and apprehensive about entering a land so different from our capitalist homelands, the locals were nervous as well, unsure of our intentions, afraid to
“The production value and quality of the show by student performers were astonishing – there was not a single hitch”
A Culture of Peace” event series has taken place in Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Singapore in cooperation with UNESCO and 145 different institutions including 75 major universities and schools.
To this end, it has certainly been a major part of the IPF vision to hold the series in the DPRK. Morawetz himself visited DPRK as many as six times over two years to make this leg of the Bridges series a reality.
He noted in his keynote speech, “The foundation doesn’t take sides, but acts as a mediator by creating an independent platform for dialogue to build a culture of peace which needs the participation of everyone. Only if many ways cross and people walking these ways meet, can international understanding be achieved and problems commonly solved. If we listen to and learn from each other, we may discover that there is not only one way to achieve peace, but that there are many ways, and certainly ways we have never thought of to go.”
This belief is also reiterated by HSH Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein,
with students and professors in Pyongyang, Prof. Kydland spoke about the problems facing market economies and highlighted the “time inconsistency of optimal government policy”. He suggested a need for a commitment mechanism that ensured good economic policy.
In the field of medicine, Sir Richard J. Roberts, Nobel Laureate for Medicine at New England Biolabs in Ipswich, spoke on his interesting life journey that brought him into the field of molecular biology.
In a twist of fate, Sir Roberts mentioned that if science had not peaked his interest, it was likely that he would have become a professional billiards player. However, his foray into science led him to cultivate an interest in sequencing DNA and he eventually became a pioneer in what is now called bioinformatics.
His talk at the Bridges events touched on his philosophies toward business and life and cultivating a keen sense of questioning things that people already know about. He is particularly interested in how commercial success can fund and foster development in innovative research.
The medicine revolution and the part chemistry plays in the scheme of how diseases will be handled in the future was the theme by which Nobel Laureate for Chemistry Aaron Ciechanover from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, centred his talks around.
His work for the past 30 years has been about the degradation of protein in cell tissue and how this leads to a better understanding of how the human body responds to disease. He also highlighted how the ‘one size fits all’ ideology that previously drove the development of medicines is now fast becoming obsolete, and that we are now moving toward an era of personalised medicine in the treatment of diseases.
The humanitarian efforts that have been evident in the work of these Nobel Laureates is hoped to inspire innovation and future-thinking in the Bridges events participants.
The IPF is already planning its next series; the 6th ASEAN “Bridges” event series will commence in January 2017 and will take place throughout Indonesia until March 2017. ag
as Captain, insisted that it had to be a specific model made between the years 2007–2009 because of the way the piston is made.
“In newer models of the Honda Wave 125, the pistons are angled at a different degree, making the bike run faster. This was not what we wanted for the journey. It would not be suitable, as we are not looking for speed but comfort, safety and reliability, and that was why we looked for an older model,” explained Bak Kau.
And so on 9 May 2015, the group of nine Malaysian riders, including one woman, gathered outside the iconic HSBC building on Downing Street, located within the Georgetown UNESCO Heritage Zone in Penang to bid farewell to family and gather for a group shot with the local press.
“Our family members were initially worried, of course. But we had their full support and we promised to update them through Facebook and Whatsapp,” recalls 62-year-old Eric Lim, one of the three who made it to the finish line. “We were heading towards the unfamiliar and none of us knew what lies ahead, or what to expect. We have heard so much about places like the Karakoram Highway, Xinjiang, Pakistan and Central Asia, but only from the news.”
The group was aptly named “Touraride Downing Street Penang to Downing Street London”; Touraride because it meant “tour as we ride”, while the street was named after Sir George Downing, a 17th century Anglo-irish baronet and diplomat. The furthest that any of the riders had been to on two wheels was to China.
Alas, only three riders made it to Downing Street in London, however, as the proverbial saying by Ralph Waldo Emerson goes, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Veteran biker Eric says, “Our motto and motivational riding theme was ‘one for all and all for one’. Whatever we did, we had to do it together.”
“We were heading towards the unknown, and none of us knew what to expect in places like Xinjiang and Pakistan”
inaugural Asia Xpedition 2016 (AX2016) was Singapore’s first adventure, sports and travel fair, held at Suntec Singapore Hall 404 from Friday 15 April to Sunday 17 April 2016, and our visitors had a blast. From great deals by our various exhibitors to our lucky draws and our many activity zones to our inspiring speakers, visitors were spoilt for choice.
The event was a huge success with a turnout of more than 10,000 visitors. Everyone who came not only had fun, but got the chance to learn new things and widen their horizons on the type of adventure sports available out there.
Leading up to AX2016, the Vlog and Travel writing contests were held to gather some pre-ax buzz. The contests were a hit, with people of all ages and from all walks of life submitting either 30-second videos about the craziest thing they’ve ever done, or short 300-word essays about their amazing travels in Asia.
Our three Vlog contest winners submitted exciting clips of themselves doing crazy adventurous things, such as going on a giant swing across a valley or sliding down natural rock slides into rivers. The attractive prizes were kindly sponsored by Key Power International, Outdoor Life and The Bag Creature. The entries to our Travel Writing contest were equally as exciting and adventurous, ranging from climbing mountains to exotic trips around lesser-known gems in Asia. It was Mao Ai Lin’s story of her Chadar trek, however, that captured our hearts and won the Grand Prize. Her essay describes the majestic frozen trek in the Himalayas in detail, embodying the spirit of AX, which is about adventure, sports and travel in Asia and challenging oneself to scale greater heights. The runner up, Wong Quan Ling, also wrote an animated and interesting piece about motorcycling in Cambodia. We would like to thank everyone who participated in our contests.
AX2016 would not have been successful without the support of our sponsors and partners. More than S$10,000 worth of fantastic prizes were given away, including the grand prize of the Focal Dimension Soundbar. Other prizes included Rudy Project lifestyle eyewear, cash vouchers, hotel stays and more! Once again, we would like to thank everyone who made AX2016 the success that it was.