Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Who Moved my Plant?

We have four beautiful pot plants evenly positioned around our open plan office space. They are all different and all perfectly bright green and healthy. This is because, once a month, and dude with a wheely cart packed full of plants, swaps them for fresher ones.

I am surprised at how sad this makes me feel. I know they go to a good place to be revived and sent out again to someone else’s office, but I feel quite attached to the plants placed near my desk. Every day for a month I see their friendly leaves and listen to them rustle as the aircon vent above us blows through its branches. Sometimes I imagine I am outside in a park, away from my theme-less cubicle and massive calculator.

I actually flinch when I hear the squeaking of the pot-plant-cart. I see the man in his grey overalls as a kind of grim-reaper or abattoir assistant. The guy who sits opposite me has been watching my expressions closely and finds it very amusing that I look sad every time ‘my’ plant gets taken away.

Yesterday the mean man came and took the biggest fern I have had in my four months here, and swapped it with a piddly little joke plant that was barely visible from certain angles.

My colleague, seeing my shoulders drop, said something in Thai to the cart man. Said cart man rushed off and returned with an enormous plant, so big it stoops over the guy sitting next to me like an umbrella and blocks out his strip lighting. haha


Tats & Crutches – Pattaya continued

The national flag in Pattaya should be two crutches positioned in a cross over a mini skirt. I have never seen so many old men in one small area. And I mean OLD i.e. 70+.

They are clearly retired foreigners who have come to live out the remainder of their years in a warm beach town where love, company and beer are as easy to find as sunshine. I saw one man in a motorised wheelchair with crutches attached to the back, his girlfriend sitting happily on his lap steering the vehicle with skill.

I have to admit, there is something peaceful about the ‘arrangement’ of relationships in Pattaya. In Phuket men are there on holiday so it’s a different set of short term rules. These Pattaya men live here and just want someone to hold their hand (and help them up the sidewalk) The Thai wives and girlfriends aren’t 18, they were a more respectable 35 years and up. The men blabber away in their native English/Dutch/French while the dutiful wife smiles, nods and gently wipes beads of sweat from his balding head. There was no crazy competition to get his attention or the ‘clinging effect’ you see in most tourist areas (where the girl literally clings with both hands to the man as if he is a million Dollar helium balloon) There was an order, a calmness.

In Pattaya there is a famous tattoo artist who has an excellent reputation. One (British) man insisted on showing me his stomach and upper thigh over my G&T – and I have to admit, once I blocked out his wobbly belly & crotch being inches from my face, that it was a small piece of art. He told me that the artist carried his tools around in a bag and popped into bars throughout the evening offering up his services. Meaning, you can sit there, drunk as a skunt, with your beer and bar girl, and get a new tat at 1am. S&*t, I better go check my back in the mirror……

Pattaya – land of family fun & bar fights

For the first time in 6 months I left bangkok city. Can you just hear the sigh of relief? We hired a car, packed a bag, packed a dog and drove to Pattaya – a beach town about 1.5 hours from bkk city.

Pattaya itself is rather busy, a bit like Patong in Phuket for those who know it. Too many foreigners in vests with bad tats on their forearms and calves, lording about with young Thai women in mini skirts and cheap heels. HOWEVER, if you drive a few minutes north to a place called JomTiem, it feels like a whole different world. Family-focused and chilled out.

Looking for a dog friendly spot is a challenge, but we eventually found a little bungalow:

The ocean was filled with the happy cries of children floating on bright red tubes as exhasuted parents chased them with sunscreen and cameras. We plopped ourselves in a couple of deck chairs and felt the city stress wash away.

We ate: prawns & calamari on the beach, pizza at the local Italian, BLT’s & full english breaky on beach road and late night pancakes filled with fried banana and melted Milo bars eaten standing up with a wooden stick as buttery chocolate runs down your arm on the walk back to our bungalow.

We witnessed a street fight between a go-go bar owner and three young guys who had obviously pissed him off on the famous ‘Walking Street’ I had never seen a real fight before so it was rather exciting and scary (I quickly ordered the cheque from the lady boy who was cheering for her favourite) The tiny Thai owner bitch-slapped all three guys so hard they were waiing for forgiveness on the street. Moral of the story: Do not be fooled by the size of Thai men, they know Muay Thai.

More later on Pattaya fashion, I better do some real work now 😉

The Cat or the drumstick?

OMG I forgot to tell you how Fin totally embarrassed me last night.

Because Robbie is in Phuket I suffer from massive guilt about Fin, so when i get home we go straight outside, I unleash him on the grassy, gated noel inside our condo and play catch with the Kong (the only toy a staffie can’t chew through)

But yesterday he spotted a black cat. This sodding cat will literally come up the fence, sit down and stare Fin straight in the eyes. Fin normally listens to me and stays put, but this time he ran through the parking lot, out the gate and down the road. On his way to get the cat he spotted a couple sitting on a wall eating chicken. So he ran over to them, stole a drum stick and stood in the middle of the road as a truck came by.

Loud Mothers in Starbucks

What is it about foreign houswives and the volume of their voices? My peaceful morning routine, where I get myself a tall latte from Starbucks and flip through The Bangkok Post, was destroyed by a gaggle of expat mums and their demon children.

I understand that when you have small childen you spend most your time shouting over the noise that small people make. But what I don’t get is how mothers forget (or ingore) how wonderfully peaceful life is BK (before kids). These cows literally took over MY Starbucks, crowding around the teller, blocking my access to the chocolate sprinkles, and drowning out my order (luckily the staff know me as ‘khun-amy-tall-latte-take-away’ so a simple nod got me my sustenance)

As I attempted to get to the newspaper stand, three mini devils pushed past and knocked over the entire pile leaving me clutching nothing but the finance section. I cast an angry glance towards ‘the ignorant mothers’ to which they responded with one of those ‘kids, you gotta love-em’ half arsed smiles, and carried on shouting their weekend plans at each other.

When and if I have a child, I promise to remember how important a peaceful coffee is at Starbucks for those who have chosen lowered voice tones and a ‘no drama before 9am policy’ over vertically challenged bratty chaos.

Knocked Up

RELAX! Not me!

Just got a call from Robbie, who is in Phuket finalising the new hotel deal, to say our day manager has resigned. She is pregnant and wants to quit. The father? A foreign ‘waster’ who has been hanging around the hotel for a few months now. He has no job, no money, no plans……actually…he has plans:

To sail his sodding canoe from Thailand to somewhere.

How bold that sounds. Except he raised a bunch of money (with his Thai canoe partner) to fund the trip (they even set up a website to look for sponsors) and managed to blow it all on booze and board shorts in two short months. His now ‘ex’ partner tried to stab him on the beach last week but luckily (or unluckily) he survived to tell the tale.

The rumour is she wants to ‘get to the US’ which is entirely unsurprising. The only thing she doesn’t seem to realise is that a US waster is the same thing as a Thai waster, or an Auzzie waster: they have no money or ambitioin so the chances are good you will remain stuck in Thailand for the rest of your life no doubt supporting him and your child.

Skinny Jeans

Skinny jeans should be banned. Although I have to admit, Thai’s look way better in them than westerns. This is simply because skinny jeans were made for teeny tiny neat people without hips or bums.

Foreign men having mid-life-crisis can often be spotted lurking around Soi 4 in black or dark blue skinny jeans. They always make me think of ice creams – all squeezed at the bottom and over-flowing at the top like a lolly-pop.

Skinny jeans should only be available for sale in Asia and even then, only for people with 0% body fat and there needs to be a rule that nothing is allowed in their pockets (how do these people even manage to get their phones in there? it must be like trying to squeeze a vienna sausage into a key hole)

Work Point & Sexy Cars

It’s here! Thailand’s Got Talent is officially launching today in Thailand! The biggst talent show Thailand has ever seen and my client Unilever has bought the rights to it! I have been secretly toiling away on this project for months with my colleagues, sworn to secrecy. The press release is happening as I write this. How exciting to be a part of something this big!

Workpoint, the production company, invited us all to thier compound on Monday. I caught a lift with the head of Group M in his beautiful brand new sexy black merc. He plugged the directions into his GPS and off we went. Problem is, when you have the translated Thai maps you can never be sure of the accuracy.

‘Keep left’ came the monotone female voice. Then, at the last minute as the road forked, ‘keep right’ and in a mild panic (you don’t want to get onto the wrong freeway in Bangkok, it may be days before you see anything you recognise) he swerved into the right lane and straight into a pick-up truck. Crunch. Cringe. small tear for beautiful merc.

After standing on the side of the highway trying to communicate with the truck driver I managed to step in the biggest mud puddle ever seen to man kind. I then had to get back into the brand new leather car trailing goey chunks all over the back seat (which is not designed for passengers, let’s be serious) Talk about drama and awkwardness. (I also had a coughing fit in the back seat – one of those ones where your eyes water)

We finally made it to WorkPoint –  This 600m THB compound (the biggest in Asia) is where they shoot many of the biggest local TV series, dramas and sitcoms.

I have never been to a real ‘set’ before and it was incredible to see how entire houses were created in a warehouse, each room a perfect little model of the real thing. A few colleagues of mine starting touching the set props and nearly gave the resident continuity presenter heart failure!

Seeing the lighting and sound crews, the massive camera’s and the thousands of meters of thick gray cable taped to the floor made me want to be on TV. Stage audience scuttled around from place to place guided by men in black shirts. A famous comedian in a sequined black dress, fishnet tights and thick orange plastic flipflops shuffled past me giggling into her blackberry.

Workpoint organised a two mini shows for us – the one was a troop of cheerleaders who screamed, clapped and tossed one another in the air amist fluffy pom poms and glittery shoes, the other was a girl group called ‘sugar eyes’ who performed in perfect unison, and sang a Celine Dion number in demin hot pants with lots of hair flicking.

We got to peer into the editing rooms and see the massive walls filled with dials and buttons gleaming in blue, red and green. Funky men and women with geek-chic horn-rimmed glasses smiled and nodded to us from within.

What an amazing experience…….

Sunday Brunch

We finally agreed that Molly Malones was the best spot for a proper Sunday Roast. Pork with crackling, yorkshire puddings the size of your head, thick home made gravy, creamy cauliflower cheese, buttery carrots, mint sauce, apple sauce, mushroom sauce…….

We sat on a table with this hideous down-lighter above our heads. It was so bright my eyes were watering and I kept wanting to hold the salt shaker to Robbie’s mouth and yell ‘where were you on the night of the 4th?’

Robbie, being Robbie, had to fix it to make me comfortable…..he stood up, attempted to twist and turn the bulb and ended up pulling the entire thing out the ceiling and with it about 3 years of bugs and dust which fell straight into my freshly poured cup of tea.

Thankfully the brunch was delicious enough to distract from the lack of personality the pub has. No music, scatterings of single British men scoffing down pea soup and buckets of Guiness, dim lighting (except for our table) and bored staff.

Exhaustion & Rice Cakes

Wow, my week is finally over. The hotel food, early mornings, late nights and high heel wearing for 14 straight hours at a pop are behind me.  

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE hotels, especially 5 and 6 star ones. I adore thick carpets and white gloved staff with constant smiles and hot cups of imported tea. I love it when someone runs to hold an umbrella over my head as I make a dash to the outside smoking section. I love luxurous toilet paper folded to a point and customised leather and gold stationary. Everything works and flows and sparkles…..except my brain after four solid days.

The Kempinski Hotel is meant to be Bangkoks most luxurious. The launch event of Pond’s Destino (new anti aging range with actual gold extract) was perfectly matched to the gold themed ball room. The professional photographer kept asking me to crouch down in photo’s though, which is hard to do elegantly.

The girls (leah and rachel) have left. It all feels rather empty and sad. Leah and I did go for a 9pm foot massage on Friday night which was brilliant, until someone called and started negotiating an hourly rate for one of the massage girls. They eventually agreed on a price so the said massage girl whipped off her uniformed sarong and slipped into something more spangly, topped-up her make-up and double-checked the hotel room number before slipping out into the night (and giving Leah a knowing little smile) She is 3,000 Baht an hour or 10,000 Baht for the night in case you were wondering.

This morning as I got up and felt sad at how empty my house felt without the girls, I opened a cupboard and a roll off rice cakes fell out. I then started to make a cup of tea and……….did you know that rice milk is brown?

We are off now to find a Sunday roast. laters x