Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

Burmese

Burmese workers are employed by the truckload (literally) for construction in Thailand. They are paid far below the minimum wage and work day, night, weekends, public holidays and during torrential rain.
Most of the big contractors, Thai and foreign, bring in Burmese workers for these exact reasons. It’s not far off slave labour. The Burmese are not allowed to travel around Thailand on their own accord. They are collected in open pick-up trucks from their cheaply self- made labour camps, driven to the work site and taken home again in the evenings. They are so crammed in they cling to each other to stop themselves from falling out. The way they fan out makes me think of a human ice cream stuffed into a cone. Their skin is very dark from working in the direct sunlight all day long.
Fin and I walk past two or three construction sites on our morning stroll before it gets too hot. Normally we arrive later and they are already working, sweat glistening on the men’s backs as they pass bricks to one another in a human conveyor belt. But today I catch them before they have started.
Their simple tents and tin shacks bustle with life as everyone starts preparing for the day. I think they bring out their entire families as I see children playing with stray dogs while their mothers try and get them dressed. I see a man, strong and lean, squatting next to a bucket of water rubbing soap on his face in circular movements. A thin trail of white smoke snakes upwards from a little fire which is slowly heating something up in a bowl.
The entire site has a green mesh netting around it but there are holes and ‘doorways’ everywhere that Fin desperately tries to dart through to play with the kids. I notice a massive freshly concreted piece of wall, about 3 story’s high. On closer inspection I see there are lots of playful drawings in the cement. Obviously when it was still wet, the children and their parents had some fun carving smiling faces and other shapes into it.
The entire camp is well organized but bare and dusty. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could sleep in tin shacks with no ventilation or fan in his heat. The temperature in the city barely goes down a degree after midnight.
Despite a great deal of ancient animosity between Thai and Burmese people, Thai street vendors cater to this massive market of legal aliens. They cycle past the sites squeezing their hooters or ringing little bells, each sound distinct and no doubt a code to what is being sold. I see frozen fruit flavoured ice lollies, plastic packs containing three cigarettes, liver kebabs and lotto tickets.
These Burmese workers have no rights. There is no union or governing body to look out for their needs or safety. Although no doubt grateful for the work and income they receive, I can’t help but feel how they, and their Thai counterparts, are being robbed of a proper living and their basic human rights because of uncontrolled greed and economic progress.

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Dinner for 1

Proof I can cook (kind of) – Robbie was out so I decided to try fish as have never cooked it before and didn’t want a witness if I messed up:
Here are my foolproof guidelines:
Fish cooked with onions and garlic, creamy mash (add milk, butter and oliver oil) and yummy avo (which is like R70 per avo out here so I only get one a month and practically eat the pip)
Season
Scoff

Fin looking Super Cool

heh heh

Brown Toast!

Did anyone see Gordon Brown’s embarrassing slip-up? He interviewed a pensioner lady who had brought up the issues of immigrants in the UK. Gordon then forgot he still had his TV mic on his shirt, got into his waiting limo and called the woman ‘ridiculous’ and a ‘bigot’ HAHAHAHAHA how bad is that?

No Smoking Logos

Australia is going to be the first country to ban all colour and branding (including logo’s) on cigarette boxes. All boxes will look the same, with the same font and colour of writing, in a bid to reduce smoking rates. I recall as a teen how much the brand meant. Health warnings and graphic pictures will remain. This is meant to be enacted from 2012.
I am just waiting for pictures of domestic violence to adorn liquor bottles and cans.

BKK Update 16:22 BKK Time

One solider killed – not sure how. BBC is covering it. It seems that the army is trying to control the Red Shirts from leaving the area. You can see the footage showing some army members aiming their guns upwards into the air, and some aiming them at people but we think they are all rubber bullets. Huge rain storm happening here at the same time this is all going on.
There are army dudes and trucks everywhere now. We walked to the shops yesterday and past groups of army guys and it is kind of creepy seeing so many of them just standing around holding guns.

BKK Drama Update

The Skytrain is now operating again YAY (for people with jobs – not me) but the army has said they may use it to transport troops if the need arises….

The Red Shirts attempted to ‘fan out’ to occupy other areas of Bangkok today. As their trucks and scooters started leaving the main area army troops fired rubber bullets into the air as warning shots. This dispersed the crowd and sent them back. Demonstrators threw rocks and home-made ‘rockets’ at the army but at least they have been ‘contained’ for now.

We heard some chanting from our condo today, no idea if it was the Red Shirts but who else could it have been?

Huge rainstorm coming, I can see thick black clouds starting to cover the city sky and the distant rumblings of thunder…I do feel sorry for the army who has to stand in the pouring rain

Odd Use of Space

We walked into the Thai Immigration today, which was in this massive office building, when Robbie exclaimed ‘that is the biggest waste of space I have ever seen’ and proceeded to insist I stand in the middle of it for a photo moment. It was rather embarrassing as random office workers were milling around but it is pretty funny. You could land four helicopters in here!!!

Sunset from Condo last night

I love my view xxx

Seen from Back Seat of Taxi

Things to do in Bangkok……