Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Drug Hound & Life Sentences

I met the most beautiful Saint Bernard the other week. His owner takes him to sit outside the Starbucks in the Unilever building every day, so whenever I am early for a meeting I talk to ‘Ranger’ and his owner. Ranger gets fed two cheese burgers from Mcdonalds every day and has his own water bowl at Starbucks.

Rangers brother was a sniffer dog and was registered with the Thai military. The Thai army adored him and he once flew business class, in a seat (with seat belt) to another airport where he was required. When he was very sick once, the army sent him a helicopter.

One day he ran over to a man in the airport and went mad – clearly the man had drugs. The man got so scared he kicked the dog in the leg. Turns out the man had 3kg of hash and went to prison. The dog did sustain a small injury on his leg. The next day the dog was bitten by a cobra and died.

When the tragic news reached the Thai military they were insensed and believed it was karma. The way they saw it: the dog could not get out of the way of the snake because that man injured his leg.

The result? The man got a life sentence, no appeal, no court case, the worst cell in Bangkok’s infamous prison and no hope in hell of parole.


Lady Boy Nail Technicians

I have officially found the best spot in Bangkok for nails and pedicures. The salon is called ‘Gloss’ and the entire place has been designed for maximum privacy, calm and fabuloscity. The foot spa baths are attached to huge lazy boy leather tip-back chairs with remote controls for auto back massage on three levels of intensity. YEAH!

As I was having my nails done and internally wishing I could read the Thai Marie Claire article on Lady Ga Ga’s costume designer wardrobe, I noticed the ‘lady’ doing nails at the next table had rather broad shoulders. And a big head. And a thick neck. I watched as she stood up to fetch a lavender nail varnish for her client and saw huge man-feet squished into girly cotton salon flip-flops, her heels reaching a good 4cm off the back.

She straighted the little, fitted, floral apron across her flat chest and non-existant waist and reached over to the bottle. I watched her adams apple quiver as she giggled girlishly to her friend, covering her mouth with a large-knuckled hand with perfect filed nails.

Her hairband had a large purple bow attached to it and she wore a red alice band. Eye shadow, blusher, lip-stick, the works. She squeezed herself onto the tiny stool and chatted, in her natural, deep voice, to her client.

I love the fact that in Thailand you get girls, boys, lady boys, girly boys, boyish girls, third gender, trans gender, transvestite….it goes on. Some men don’t change anything physcially, they just grow their hair and wear a dress. Some have breast implants but leave their meat and two veg in tact. Some shave their adams apples but continue to dress in a masculine way but carry a handbag.

Never a dull moment in paradise 🙂

Dosh Rules

I found out yesterday that Thai people handle their cash (notes and coins) with a huge deal of respect because The King’s face is pictured on them and are thus royal property.
I found this out because I was having lunch with a guy who, when the bill arrived, pulled a wad of crumpled, twisted, knotted bank notes out of his pocket.
The other foreigner at our table, who has been married to a Thai lady for 15 years, couldn’t hide his shock. He said ‘never ever pay with a crumpled note from that heap, it will deeply offend a Thai person to see such disrespect’
And secondly, have you ever dropped a coin and used your foot to stamp on it to prevent it from rolling away?
The King’s face is on the coin, so you are essentially stamping on his face and this is the ultimate insult.
I sat there trying to think back to how many times I have dropped coins in my local 7/11 and whether or not I had in fact used my foot……knowing me I left the sodding thing to roll under the toilet paper shelf due to effort-factor-rating.

Good to know these things when you live here as you could easily be insulting and offending people without realising it.

Stay tunes avid fans

Do Survive The Thai Toilet

Thailand also has public toilets like other countries. Here is some guidance for you when have to use them.

  • Bring coins with you every time. Normally the fee for a public toilet is 3 – 5 Baht
  • You can ask for tissues from the staff at the entrance. But preparing tissues is safety first
  • You should fold your pant legs before using the toilet.
  • Avoid bringing bags or other stuff.
  • No smoking in toilet.
  • Queue is not important or strict in Thai toilets which means first come first served!
  • Try to avoid cleaning your body with the water (please don’t ask us why)

When Copy Writers get is so wrong……..

This leaflet was handed out free at a mall today. It is all about things to do for mothers day – In Thailand Mother’s Day is celebrated on the Queens Birthday (yesterday). Check the headline copy:

Free Mother's Day Guide

Skytrain Holy Rules

I was on the Skytrain this morning clinging to my little red rope handle and eyeing up the latest footwear on two 16 year old school girls, when I noticed one empty seat. There are NEVER empty seats on the Skytrain, like in any public transport vehicle. People risk life and limb to barg infront of grannies for Gods sake. And there, gleaming, orange and empty, sat one lonesome seat. I got a feeling something was up, in my gut. I have learnt in Thailand that there is often a reason for everything, even though at first it seems to make no sense.

I watched as a tired expat made her move, shimmying through the exposed armpits, not taking her eye off the prize. As she planted her bum on the seat and released a sigh of relief, all eyes where on her, and not in a good way. They were all glaring, with evil, locked, non-blinking stares. She soon noticed and started glancing around, desperate for some confirmation or assurance that she wasn’t being telepathically murdered by thirty Thai bystanders. Suddenly she looked at the wall behind her seat and noticed a sign that made the blood drain out of her face….

‘Monk Seat’

I am sure glad this happened to her and not me. Talk about bad omens. Every carriage has one seat for the use of Thai Monks only. It seems even when there are no Monks in the carriage it remains disrespectful to use.


Embarro Moment

Last week Friday I went on a consumer emersion session – which essentially means you spend a day (or a few hours) in the life of your typical target consumer. Anyway, I was obviously the only one on the team who can’t speak Thai so I brought along my professional-looking big lens camera and promised to win the photo competition to make up for my lack of general assistance. I took loads of photos, mostly from waist-height ,as you aren’t allowed to photograph in malls, so I felt like an undercover reporter (ignore loud click/whir sound and my sheepish left/right glances).

This morning I took my flash drive loaded with photo’s to my client for her to present (in Thai) As she was downloading them she said ‘oooh look at your shoes!’ I had totally forgotton that I took that (fabulous) photo of my new shoes for amog (short for ‘amy blog’) HAHAHAHAHA I of course went bright red, and as I looked down realised I was wearing them! I saw her eyes cast downwards and flicker politely back to deleting the irrelevant photo……..

Talk about putting your foot in it.

Sequins & Apologetic Elevators

Women in Thailand, especially the ones I work with, are exceptionately well-groomed. I am not just talking about good nails and clean hair, I am talking about the fact that most women find time to go to the salon before work to get their hair styled. They also tend to wear posh clothing, that I would reserve for an evening out, to work. I am talking about combos like sky-high glittery heels, black dresses teemed with a little sequin jacket and red PVC clutch. I am talking about having five different hair styles for every day of the week. I am talking about a full nail varnish colour change weekly. It is insane. The only good thing from my side is that my wardrobe choice has increased as now I can include items such as little black dresses, my silver sequined top, floral 3D heels & my evening accessories.

Oh, and our office elevator apologies if you wait longer than a certain amount of time. Annoying (American) female accent hollers out ‘sorreeeee to keep you waaaaaiting’ and I always feel like saying ‘try harder next time’  How odd.

Attached are newly aquired heels for ‘work’ wardrobe.


Side Saddle & Bkk Traffice

It is pouring with rain most evenings in Bangkok due to the rainy season this time of year. One minute you are sitting staring at a blue sky and the next you watch as a thunderous bank of pitch black clouds claw their way over the sky scrapers, blocking out all natural light. Traffic comes to a total stand-still when it rains. Due in two parts to road flooding (bad drainage) and Bangkok drivers who tend to go a bit nuts in the rain.

As I leapt, side saddle, onto the back of Robbies scooter (to the great awe and amusement of the security guards) and started weaving our way between rows of stationary cars, I couldn’t help but laugh to think of how much my life has changed. I adore not having to drive or find parking.

Two tuk tuks had got bored of being stuck in traffic so they had attempted to drive down the wrong side of the road into on-coming traffic and gain a few blocks. Of course this didn’t work out as cars came towards them and were forced to stop. So there in front of us are two cars with one tuk tuk stuck in between them. The tuk tuk driver then vacated his vehicle to buy some street side food and have a smoke. No one hoots. No one shouts. Life goes on.

My boss suddenly calls to ask about something at work. I answer while we are sneaking up the pavement and darting between food vendors. Unsuspecting foreigners jump out the way in horror and locals simply move to the side without as much as a grimace. My boss asks ‘where are you?’ and I answer “on the back of a scooter, in the rain, on a pavement” and realize how bizarre this must sound.

My Stalker

I was innocently tottering home on my 5 inch heels with brolly (light drizzle) when a man dressed like an old fat version of Aladdin leapt infront of me and told me I looked like Alice from Alice in Wonderland…..mmmmm my Dodgdar (that stands for ‘dodgy radar’) beeping off the hook so I quickened my pace as fast as possible considering the cracked pavement lined with lady boys in mini skirts and a woman who nearly knocked my head off with two dressed half-body mannequins???!!!! Fat Aladdin continued his persuit mumbling on about what he sees in my future, his white robe skimming the ground like a scary floating baloon…… and I literally side-dived into a tuk tuk that was parked at the red lights and yelled (shrieked) DRIVE! I couldn’t believe how I had launched myself about 2 metres, in heels with a brolly and handbag, head first into this dudes ride! The driver got such a fright but when he saw my face with Fat Aladdin hot on my heels he performed a 180 degree turn (on one wheel) and we sped off in the opposite direction laughing out loud!