Thursday, 28 September 2017

STOP PRESS - Breaking News - Latest from David and Lee

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I interrupt this blog to bring you a breaking story from the Latvian capital Vilnius. 
We were been booked to stay in the Radisson Blu for two nights, this was one of a pair of upmarket hotels built in the closing stages of the Soviet occupation where foreigners were allowed to stay. Both were built with listening devices in all rooms and the KGB agents would be in their basement offices eavesdropping on the conversations of the unwary guests. Anyway, on our arrival, we noticed what seemed to be a heightened level of security and by the time we were returning  to our rooms post dinner there were several large men with shaven heads in suits with bulges where there should have been no bulges. Upstairs from our room and a door or two to the left sitting in the open door of a guest room one of these gentlemen sat throughout the night. Others were around the lifts etc. Now even I could work out that something was going on!
Next morning as we left our room for breakfast there was a strange chanting going on and it seemed the level of security had gone up another gear. Below in the foyer there were some hundreds of people lining the way in from the front door to the dining room. We were ushered around them into said dinning room and commenced our breakfast. No one seemed to have much idea what was happening, there were TV cameras, very near our table, and what appeared to be reporters. Soon people started standing and forming a reception line beside the tables in the dinning room and I asked one of the ladies what it was all about. It's the Dalai Lama she replied, he's coming through. Sure enough the great man arrived and people were getting into quite a frenzy trying to catch his eye. He reached put and touched a small girl and acknowledged a few others.



Many more lined up inside hoping for a glimpse 

The entourage made it's way to pass our table and stopped, the only one where he did so,  he reached out and briefly took my hand and then turned to Lee, held her hand and asked "Where are you from?" "New Zealand" She replied. "You were there a couple of years ago" I offered.  "Ah, New Zealand" said he. "Maybe you would like to come back." said she. He put his hand to his chest and said "I am too old and it is so far." With that he let go of Lee's hand and disappeared out through the door to where he was to have his own breakfast. I asked the TV camera man, tongue in cheek, if I could have a copy of the video. He gave me his card and said that if I Email him he will send me the link to the program. I did and so did he. As we left the breakfast room the lady who had first told us of what was happening stopped Lee and said that was the most amazing thing and that she must have real karma and wanted to hold the hand that had held the hand of the Dalai Lama, real celebrity stuff!


The program was due to be played next day in Estonia.







He was at the hotel for two nights and the security men never seemed to rest.



The way to the bus (that blue one at the end of the red carpet) was like going to the Oscars

The Dalai Lama's room top floor right hand door, our room next floor down left hand door.

It was great excitement all round and the topic of conversation on the bus for the next hour or so.

As we made our way around the beautiful Art Nouveau buildings later that morning we came across a small ooompah band playing, who claimed to have a piece in their repertoire from every country in the world. We had a few bars from Rule Britannia, the Mongolian national anthem, or some such, and then one of our party (an English friend, we are the only Kiwis) asked for a New Zealand piece and this is the result. It needs very high volume to hear it.


Po Kerikeri ana,   Latvian style.

Later that day we passed "The Kiwi Bar" and so it was a Kiwi day all round.
I just thought this a story worth telling as if I had to have a religion I think Buddhism would be the closest to my thinking.
Having told this story I have missed out our trip to Scotland and also that to Lithuania but I shall catch up. Today we catch the ferryboat from Riga to Helsinki so I may have a bit of time to catch up a little .


Not what you expect to come across in downtown Riga.

The KGB are probably worth a bit of a mention as they seem to come up time and again when our guides are talking to us. Their offices are regarded as being the highest place in the land as "you can see Siberia from there". In Estonian the mere possession of an Estonian flag was sufficient to be sent to the labour camps in Siberia. Only about 10% ever survived the experience. One guide told of her mother who had been rounded up for some indiscretion and was told to pack some food and clothes. She was a stubborn and proud woman and refused as she claimed they would have to feed her in prison. She was put in a railway wagon and spent weeks locked inside on her way to Siberia and only survived by the kindliness her her fellow prisoners for food and as it was bitterly cold, for clothes as well. Tens of thousands of Baltic people were transported in this way and many more tens of thousand rounded up and taken into the forest to be shot. They would subsequently use other prisoners to bring the bodies back into the main square and when relatives would come to pay their last respects, they to would be rounded up.
It seems justice to me that the Russian Orthodox Church in Riga had it's gold gilt stripped from it's domes and sold to Britain to buy arms for the ongoing struggle against the invaders.
That then ends this news update and I shall get back to normal blogging as soon as possible.

Go Makos

All the best and take care

David

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