Monday, 25 August 2008

Rio De Janeiro!

If Sao Paulo was about being introduced to the Brazilian culture, then Rio was about being awed and shocked by the culture, beauty and reality of Brazil all at the same time. The loud music, the most exotic beaches, a warmer weather, bus breakdowns a number of times and one of the seven wonders of the world present a striking contrast between the 2 cities.

Journey to Rio: So we joined the Study Tour to Rio on 15th (which is also the independence day of India) and reached Rio at 10 pm. However, it being a Friday night we all went to a club. It was great to see the live culture of Brazil. One striking difference between the clubs in Singapore and in Brazil is the music. While in Singapore we dance on world popular songs, the Brazilians enjoy dancing to Samba music. Samba is a very close couple dance. I was introduced to the open and fun culture of Brazil. I am not sure if its true but from my observation, I think that if a guy wants to approach a girl here, he passes her a flying kiss. If the girl shows welcoming signs then they start dancing together. Another thing which I observed about Samba is that it usually ends in people kissing each other and many times being more physically intimate. It is also not uncommon to have more than 1 Samba partner on the same night. I could also see some budding AIESEC couples in all the festive mood J

The next day (Happy Raksha Bandhan to all the brothers and sisters of the world) started with a bang (no perversion intended) at the Copacabana Beach. Copacabana is one of the Best and most famous beaches in the world, and I would definitely give my vote to it. The sand was super cozy. I could just sleep on it (if the sunshine wasn’t so staunching). The water was crystal clear and to my great relief was quite cold. The waves were also quite high and I enjoyed watching some people water surfing. There were a lot of people wearing too scantily-covering bikinis on the beach which as an Asian is a rare sight for me. I also savoured the Best Coconut milk I have drunk till now on the beach.

Our next destination was the Maracana Stadium which is the largest Football stadium in the world and will be hosting the finals of FIFA world cup 2014. The finals were held in 1958 in which Brazil was defeated by Uruguay and they are now all looking forward to win the world cup in 2014 to get back their pride. We also went to the changing rooms of the players (my first time in a football team’s changing room). I had certain shots from the movie ‘Remember the Titans’ running in my mind. And when I was entering the field from the changing room, I had goose bumps.

Our next destination was Sugar Loaf. For this we could either go by cable car or hike up the mountain. Esvi and I decided to hike up (very tiring but a cool experience). The hiking was all worth it. The sight from the sugar loaf was mesmerizing. We could see the entire city of Rio De Janeiro from the top.

The next day started by going to Ipanema Hippie Fair where I did a lot of shopping. And then boom - We saw the most inspiring sight of our tour – the Christ Redeemer. I don’t think I can describe the experience in words, but it truly is one of the seven wonders of the world. (So, now I have seen 2 wonders of the modern world).

Another key highlight of the tour was striking a lot of friendships, 2 of which are quite close – with Joey (LCP, New Zealand) and Pedro (LC VP Finance, Brazil). Also, I came to know the weird Mathematics practice in Brazil. They interchange the use of decimal point and comma in numerals. Example, 1.230 is one thousand two hundred and thirty while 1,230 is one point two three.

The OC had done a great job and they were all very warm people. But now was time to move on for the Asia Pacific Growth Network Pre-Meeting (APGN Pre-meeting) which was to be held in Hotel Del Verde, Sao Paulo.