First morning in St. Lucia

Not having an alarm clock (first time I’ve stayed in a hotel without an alarm clock. I guess they want you to forget ‘time’ and enjoy the beautiful scenary!), I woke up around 7:30 like I do every morning. Except…….St. Lucia is one hour ahead, meaning it was 8:30am and the conference was about to start in half an hour! I quickly jumped out of the bed and the phone rang. “Ms. Ho, your shuttle is here to take you to the meeting.” Oh shoot.

The hotel, the Almond Smugglers Cove, is a village-style, all-inclusive resort with four swimming pools, and situates next to the beach. This is not your ordinary high-rise hotel where all you see when you get out of the elevator is doors after doors after doors of sleeping rooms.  My room was a one level suite with its own terrace, a sitting room, and a sleeping room with a bath and double sinks (the last is a luxury I don’t have back in Washington).

I showered as quickly as I could and ran to the lobby, passing rows of cute little cottages and lush gardens. Yep, the shuttle was gone and I had to fetch a taxi. What an eventful start!

I got to the Cocoa Palm Resort where the CMEx conference just began. Boy, the room was packed.

因為飯店房間沒有閙鐘(可能因為他們希望觀光客欣賞美美的風景,在這兒忘記時間的煩惱),我一如往常早上七點半起床,但是我忘記聖國的時間提前一小時,所以是當地時間八點半了,我咧!會議在半小時內就要舉行了!此時電話響了,飯店提醒我司機要來接我去會議場所。

這個飯店 Almond Smugglers Cove 不是一般高樓大廈式的旅館,可是一間間渡假小屋型式,我住的這間除了有自己的小庭院,一間臥房之外,還有寛敞的客廰,還有兩個洗臉台咧。而且旅館是採所謂 all-inclusive(全都包),也就是你付的價錢除包住還包吃,就像參加 cruise 一樣,三餐吃到飽,我衝到lobby 時快速左右看了一下,旅館至少有三,四個餐廳,四個游泳池,而且還有自己的海灘(太讚了!!)。發現司機棄我而去!我可沒時間享受這些好康的,趕快叫了台計程車殺到開會的場所。

會議在另一個旅館舉行,Coco Palm 是一個很可愛的旅館(下圖為證,外觀顏色鮮艷)。一到會場,哇,大家已經很認真的開始開會。我趕快找過位子坐下,嗯,還是一個人都不認識,而且我好像是全場唯一的亞洲人咧。深深吸口氣,聖國之旅正式展開!

We were serious about learning and exchanging ideas!

Gotta love the vibrant colors of Coco Palm!

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Re-visiting my first day (actually night)in St. Lucia

I finally have some time to write about my brief but fabulous visit to St. Lucia since Washington, DC is covered by 15 inches of snow this weekend, and that the front door of our condo is literally covered with so much snow that we cannot open the door.

I arrived at St. Lucia airport around 10pm on Thursday, Dec 3. Oh boy, the trip down there took me almost whole day with a layover in Miami. CMEx arranged a lady to greet us and led us right through the custom. I am liking this VIP treatment. While getting into our taxi, I was told that it would take close to one hour to get to my hotel and the roads would be quite windy. Oh boy….. I was immediately reminded that St. Lucia was a former British colony by their driving on the other side of the road and me constantly walking to the wrong side of the car.

My first impressions: People were friendly. Air was warm and breezy. VIP treatment. Beautiful (all-inclusive) hotel. I was ready to take a break from cold and wintry Washington, DC. Tomorrow I will begin my adventure in St. Lucia, this beautiful Caribbean island and friend of Taiwan.

(There is a custom checkpoint for St. Vincent and Grenadines at the St.Lucia airport since it is the next island country. St. Vincent and Grenadines is also a diplomatic ally of Taiwan, just like St. Lucia.)

這個週末華府下大雪,下了快十五英吋,我們公寓門口積雪高到門沒法打開,所以一整天待在家裡,終於可以好好花心思整理我在聖露西亞的所見所聞。

話說我抵達聖國是十二月三日星期四晚間十點多了,花了快一整天的時間才到,中途在邁阿密轉機。到了聖國機場,會議籌辦單位安排一個小姐歡迎我們,竟然不用排隊等通關,這個VIP的待遇不錯哦。坐上計程車後看到司機先生坐在右手邊才想起來聖國過去是英國殖民地。不過接下來幾天我還是常常走錯邊,一再讓司機先生提醒我。司機先生說還要一個小時才會到旅館,我的老天啊,加上聖國比華府晚一時,那我到旅館不就是華府半夜時間,還好他人很好,於是我和另一個會議參加者(一個才十六歳的加拿大女孩!很勇敢吧,自己報名參加)就一路聊天。我簡單說一下因為聖國是少數承認台灣的邦交國,所以我受邀參加這個會議,討論是否可能推動旅美台僑旅遊聖國,增進兩國的友誼,並順便促進聖國觀光事業。我大概介紹一下台灣的外交處境,小女孩年紀雖小,聽得還津津有味,還問問題咧。

我們中途經過聖國首都卡斯楚斯(Castries),我蠻訝異這個大約六百二十平方公里,人口才十六萬的小國,星期四晚上十一點多竟然車子還川流不息,還塞車。比我過去去過的幾個加勒比海小島比起來,車流量多了許多。

到了旅館後,第一件事就是上線,因為昆布勞可能等很久,趕快向他報備我人已安全抵達,我也該早點睡覺,好準備迎接我明天在聖國正式第一天的行程。想到明天開會我一個人都不認識,也是會議可能唯一的亞洲人,心情有點緊張咧。既來之則安之,我就快樂大方迎接這個人生中特殊的一次經驗囉。美國有一句話 – 踏出你所熟悉的領域(step out of your comfort zone), 才會成長與新體驗,不然人生不是很無聊嗎。

(在機場等行李時看到一個聖文森的海關檢查,覺得很有趣,照了張相,因為聖文森也是台灣的邦交國。原來聖文森國是聖露西亞最鄰近的群島國.)

St. Vincent check point at St. Lucia airport

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Third day in St. Lucia

It’s Sunday morning around 9:30 here in St. Lucia and I am sitting in the conference ALREADY listening to presentation about climate change and sustainable tourism and sustainable development. What a fascinating and unique experience! The Caribbean countries started talking about climate change, and tried to work the subject into G20 or other global summit more than ten years ago, much earlier than the developed countries who are picking up this issue.

Okay, I gotta pay close attention to the presentation and the speakers. Will report back later.

Below is the photo of the view from Jade Mountain hotel where we had lunch and I had a chance to met St. Lucian Senator Allen Chestanet who is a great supporter of Taiwan. Yes, it has a pool in the room! There is NO WINDOW in this room.  Like there is nothing between Brook Shields and her Calvin Klein jeans; there is nothing between you and that gorgeous view. It is the most amazing hotel room I have ever seen.

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First day in St.Lucia

My first day at St. Lucia was so packed with meetings that I did not even eat breakfast and lunch! So many interesting stories to tell about my first day here, such as meeting the Taiwanese ambassador to St. Lucia, oversleeping because of the time difference, and chatting up a storm with fellow participants from all around the world. But I’ve gotta go to bed now because we need to be at the hotel lobby tomorrow at 8am sharp (meaning 7am Washington, DC time!) and it’s almost midnight here and I just got back from the dinner!

Here are a couple of photos of my hotel pool area which is connected to the beach I snapped while waiting for the shuttle bus to take us to the dinner.

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A warm pre-welcome welcome

St Lucia courts Asian-American market

Published on Saturday, November 28, 2009

Caribbean Net News

(http://www.caribbeannetnews.com/news-20140–20-20–.html)

CASTRIES, Saint Lucia — Saint Lucia’s tourism authorities are ramping up efforts targeting the burgeoning Asian American market and are extending special welcomes for Taiwanese Americans.

Louis Lewis, St Lucia’s director of tourism, said that on the heels of a recent familiarisation visit   of Taiwanese Americans spearheaded by Bay Gardens Resorts, the island was now eagerly anticipating the arrival of leading civil society activist Iris Ho who will be a participant at next week’s Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) being held at Coco Palm’s Conference Centre.

Iris Ho
Saint Lucia has often explored the potential for “ethnic” tourism in the Caribbean, and the tourism authorities are assessing the potential to market Saint Lucia to Taiwanese Americans. CMEx meets next week under a theme which examines multicultural tourism markets as well as climate change.

Saint Lucia is attractive to Taiwanese Americans not just on the strength of its natural beauty and merits as a vacation spot, but also because the island is one of a handful in the Caribbean that recognizes the Taiwanese government.

Ian Williams, an acclaimed journalist who has defended the right of the Taiwanese to self-determination, and Iris Ho who represents a major Taiwanese American advocacy organization in Washington DC will be present at CMEx to explore opportunities.

Among others, they will meet with Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Senator Allen Chastanet, Director Lewis as well as Taiwanese diplomats on the island. “It’s a long way from Taiwan, but we have hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese in America, who remain attached to their home country. They are now a prosperous community and include many professionals and business people. Like most middle class Americans, they like vacations and we think they might like to show their appreciation to Saint Lucia,” said Iris Ho.

Senator Chastanet pointed out that Saint Lucia has long been recognised as a legendary honeymoon destination, but with the addition of world recognised boutique hotels, new golf courses, additional shopping attractions and casinos, the destination is embarking on broadening its marketing appeal.

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Countdown to my trip to St.Lucia!

A week from today, I will be sipping rum and coke, enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful beach in St.Lucia, a Caribbean island and one of the few diplomatic allies of Taiwan.

When your country (in my case, my birth country, Taiwan), a democratic, free and prosperous one, mind you,  is thrown in the same lot with several internationally-certifiable, rogue nations like North Korea, Cuba, or Iran that are not recognized by the United States, my adopted home, you appreciate the friendship and recognition of those few, such as St. Lucia.

Out of Taiwan’s twenty some diplomatic allies, I’ve been to St. Kitts and Nevis (also known as St.Christopher  and Nevis.) I went there because my husband and I are big fans of Alexander Hamilton who was born in Nevis. (May I brag that I’ve also visited St.Croix where he grew up?) But let’s save “Finding Hamilton”  for another blog entry for a later time.

So why am I visiting St.Lucia? Well, in view of the diplomatic tie between Taiwan and St.Lucia, as a Taiwanese residing in Washington, DC, whose paying day job is to promote Taiwan’s international recognition, I am invited to participate in the Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx) international tourism conference over there next weekend. I will be brainstorming on how to promote tourism ties between St.Lucia and Taiwan and Taiwanese American community with my fellow fabulous conference-goers!

St.Lucia, here I come!

不到一個星期之內我就要造訪美美的加勒比海島國, 也是台灣邦交國的聖露西亞!其實早在去年我與老公就想去那兒渡假, 一直未成行。我們最近幾年常跑加勒比海, 想說人在美國, 我們又超愛晒太陽, 加上加勒比海又是著名的渡假聖地, 所以我們如果沒有回去歐洲看老公的家人與我的越母(還不知道怎麼使用Apple Mac 筆記電腦注音打中文,如有怪怪的用字, 請多多包涵囉), 就是跑加勒比海。

台灣邦交國雖然不多, 但是一堆都剛好集中在加勒比海, 我前幾年去了聖克里斯多福, 可能因為我是唸國際關係, 有生之年能夠造訪承認台灣, 聊聊無幾的邦交國, 以及美國開國元老之一亞歴山大漢彌敦的出生地(我與老公是漢彌敦的頭號粉絲), 可謂是雙重興奮。不過,「尋找漢彌敦」就以後找個時間再來寫吧。

回到正題,剛好有位英國很支持台灣的朋友認識聖露西亞的觀光部長, 熱情邀請我去參加下個週末在那兒舉行的一個國際觀光會議 – Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx)。我的任務就是和與會者一起探討如何增進聖露西亞與台灣和旅美台僑的觀光合作。不是純渡假哦,可是要認真動腦筋的咧。

所以才會弄個部落格來記錄我在聖露西亞的所見所聞,以及聖國出名的美景囉。(P.S. 中英不一定相對照, 因為 ….. 我是懶人)

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