Sunday, March 30, 2008
Sunday's are for exploring. Got up at 6am, out the door at 7am to be at the central train station at 8am - from there 1.5 h ride (85 km north from Bangkok) to a city called Ayutthaya, which was established around 1350 (was one of the wealthiest cities in Asia around 1600). The city was destroyed by burmese warriors, so all thats left from the glorious days are ruins - still impressive, though. The train ride - this is rather funny - there was a choice between the 2nd (with some sort of air-condition) and 3rd class (open windows and some fans), fair enough. But check out the price difference - 20 BTH for the 3rd and 240 BTH for the 2nd :) Wild, wild, people! Well, the first picture if of the 2nd class (I guess the main thing is that such a ticket comes with a seat number) on the way to the destination and the old lady (she had aged in such a way that it seemed she was constantly smiling... I guess I wouldn't mind getting my old age wrinkles set in such a way...) in the 3rd class on the way back. Stood up for most of the way, since it was crowded, but got to sit down in the end for some 20 minuter or so. Not that it was a good idea - once I got out in Bangkok I looked like I had "peed" in my pants :) Anyway, once there I got a tuk-tuk to drive me around for 3 hours to all the must-see objects.
Wonderful day, all in all. Very very hot here now and I cant avoid wiping sweat beads off my forehead every other 10 minutes. I will let the pictures do the talking.
P.S. And YES, I did forget sun lotion...
Friday, March 28, 2008
One of the sales guys here has quit and therefore tonight many of 'us' are gathering together for another farewell party. And I'm sure it will be fun. Until they will attempt to force me to sing karaoke... and trust me - they will :)
For the next upcoming 6 hours I will try and summon all the forces out there (hellooo, Universe!) for one wish only - let there be no English songs on the karaoke list! First, I cant sing; second, I always get so embarrassed (one of the few occasions where I can just see myself blush.... aaaaarghhh!) and third - I have no intentions to dedicate the whole day tomorrow for "reflections" - thus No Can Do :)
Thursday, March 27, 2008
It just got to me - in four month time I won't have that relatively costly and limiting consumer loan I had to take close to 3 years ago hanging above my head any longer! Which means 1000 extra every month. Percent-wise it means I will have an income increase of 15% - SU&SU loan makes the number 1000 look more wicked than it actually is :) Yeah, who else can brag about getting 15%, huh? Tell me! :)
Im off to Northern Thailand - Chiang Mai - from the 10th to 15th of April. Have an airplane ticket, a booked 3-day hiking tour. What I don't have is a place to sleep for 3 nights. Looking at some cheap guesthouses - have to hope not all of them are fully booked due to Songkran (thats when all the tourists head there...). If that will be the case anyway, I will improvise once I get there. No matter if I end up sleeping in a room or on a bench somewhere, I still need to buy certain things like mosquito repellant, some shorts and a pair of sturdy sneakers, if possible. And some socks. Maybe a tiny big larger backpack. And maybe a rubber tonfa to beat off all of em' dangerous men up there everyone's been warning me about :)
Looking forwards to get out of this Smog City and up into green mountains.
Just got a free ticket to The Environmental Auto Globalization's "The 29th Bangkok International Motor Show". What a title. Never been to a car show before - normally I can live without looking at 4 wheels - I don't have a drivers license :) But this show could be one of those that has loads of those "Out-Of-Space" and futuristic "cars" - hybrids and whatever else. Will make pictures, so you all can have a look at your future car.
Monday, March 24, 2008
One blink of an eye and it's already 3pm - untypically fast Monday. What have I been doing today? Drinking a lot of coffee (grrr - Thailand's no good for me in that aspect.. nor is any other country where coffee is legal :P). And going back in time with "OK Computer" (gosh, was I really 19 back then? I recall watching the "Paranoid Android" cartoon video on MTV quite many times). Adding and removing sentences and whatever statements from The Document. Went downstairs to chat with Ooy (she is the best diversion here that helps me to avoid watering eyes from staring at the computer for too long). Mutual help - Ooy's occasionally bored and I need a friendly distraction. Especially when I get "stuck".
Weekend, weekend - went to Jens's birthday dinner. The restaurant/'boat' was quite far away from where I live, but I estimated that a 30 min taxi ride would do it. And was I wrong or what. First of all, the taxi driver wasn't that sure where to go (and by now I'm used to that happening on frequent basis, so - I always have my map with me... not that it always helps. Em' roads here are "nuts". He also spent around 10 minutes calling someone to find the way, hehe, when we actually were 200 m away from the final destination. I just couldn't convince the guy to drive along the way while I'd be on a look-out for the "Immortal Pub" sign. He had to call :P ); secondly - we got stuck in traffic for a while. All in all, instead of my 30 minutes me' and me' buddy taxi driver were stuck together in da' vehicle for an hour and ten minutes instead. Arrived "decent" 40 minutes late... like a real lady, eh? :P I hate being late. Talk about some German blood somewhere. The restaurant actually was a karaoke-place. Meaning - it's very popular here to rent a small "karaoke house" (depending on the amount of people willing to sing) together with some friends for a whole evening; sit down, have dinner and sing your heart out. I have taken some picture of the small "houses" - will post them once I get home.
The party itself - oh well, nobody "burned the house down" - but it's always nice to wish someone a good "half-a-century", the food was lovely and I got to see two of my work-colleagues together with their families in a different setting.
Yesterday - bed, bed & bed. No alarm. Nothing. Reading. Some ORIO cookies. Water. Bed. TV - the worst movie ever. Something extremely stupid about a guy turning into a dog. Geez.. where did the investors for that film come from?!? Sleeping again. Getting some new music. Bought a beer, but never opened it. Lovely lazy sunday. Wasted time, in a sense, but I've got plenty of it.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Today I decided that every working day I will find an interesting article to read in Russian language - just to train up my reading & understanding skills a bit. So, a while ago I stumbled on a history section of a Russian newspaper "Izvestia", where my attention was caught by another subsection - the newspaper had announced a competition about the best family legends 'in photographs' older than 1957. Anyway, this is what I learned today (the story is told by a photo-corespondent Victor Ahlomov about his own childhood) : during the WWII (namely 1941), when the Germans had neared Moscow, Stalin gave out an order to evacuate all children out of Moscow to some sort of centers. People say that during 'training' air raids, where everybody was obliged to run to shelters and subways, the 'discovered' children were immediately taken away despite them actually being together with their parents. Following the orders of Stalin, you see. Anyway, Victor's family, deliberately ignoring those instructions, stayed in Moscow all throughout the war. He remembers (he was 4 at the time) him being carried in a large bag or a backpack under the disguise of being "valuable items" to the nearest metro station during some air raids. His family lived in a 5-room apartment "community" or as called in Russian "kommunalka" - a large apartment occupied by several families, each having only one room. Time to time their home would be inspected by some true believers of the "system" - Victor was always successfully hidden; mostly on the top of the roof of the 5 story building or with other neighbors. Thus he avoided the "evacuation". Unfortunately the article doesn't say anything more about the "evacuated" youngsters.
Went downstairs to chat with Oi (the receptionist) - needed some help with locating the restaurant where the tomorrow's event is held. All of a sudden we realized there was a bird inside - you know, one of the small/grey ones that normally steal food from em' slow pigeons. The poor thing was trying to escape... crashing into the glass walls, falling down to the floor... I tried and tried to catch it, but in vain. Finally, an "escape" flight across the whole entrance hall followed by a loud thump - birdie knocked out on the floor. Picked it up, held it in my hand, tried to see if it's a fighter or a goner. Opened beak, cramped little legs, one eye filling up with blood. Didn't look good at all. Started contemplating who would be able to put the birdie out of its misery. I can't do that. Neither could Oi. Another 5 minutes passed with the bird in my palm - and then, all of a sudden - off he flew :) Maybe he will be a bird with only one good eye. Maybe not :)
Thursday, March 20, 2008
The 14-15th of April is the Thai Songkran Holiday - that basically is the Thai New Year and is celebrated as the Water Festival. This means that there is a chance to make something out of the 'extended' weekend - if I can beg to have the friday, the 11th of April off as well, Im on my way to Northern Thailand - more precisely Chiang Mai. Have already looked at flights and tour companies - there is a 3 day trekking tour starting early on the 11th - and I must be there! :) The tour includes rafting as well - that sounds like fun - getting soaked, hehe :) The nice thing is that I can go there alone and then just join a small group (max 8 persons). Geez, what if I get lucky and stumble on some hot backpackers, huh?! :P
Wish me luck to get this down!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
The usual morning ritual - get up at 7am (well.. 7.15 this morning), crawl to the shower (thats where I start opening my eyes) and spend the next 10 minutes under water "reincarnating". Anyhow, the mornings are very much alike. I must be downstairs at 7.55 on a lookout for The Black Vehicle. Nevertheless, this morning there was a small surprise inside the 'black box'. The driver guy (oops, cannot recall his name) had put one of those "Let's-learn-English" DVD's in the player. First, I nearly banged my head on the 'TV' screen while getting in; second, the minute I realized what was being played, I knew that the "circus" had arrived to town :) The result - I think I can recall how to say "I'm pleased to meet you" in Thai. Oh no, wait a sec... nope, in through one ear, out through the other :) My long term memory is not activated before 9am.
The meaning, though, is for my colleagues to practice English - not that much for me to learn Thai. But they're getting a kick out of listening to my lame attempts to pronounce sentences in Thai, so I guess that's not that bad of a trade-off after all :)
What else is new - the Danish guy Jens that works here is throwing a 50 years birthday party this weekend. Don't know why, but I also got an invitation. Have sent a positive rsvp and now the challenge - what about a gift? Any ideas, let me know. I have no idea how formal or informal the event will be, but will have to adapt; also, one can't put a price on networking possibilities, right? :)
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Friday was dedicated for a speed boat trip to Phi Phi Islands, which are around 30 min 'speedy' boat ride away from Nopparat Thara beach. There is some bliss involved when booking a complete day (from 9am - 4pm) tour - we got picked up at our hotel and driven to the above mentioned beach. There the guides 'color-coded' us - each got a different color sticker depending on the destination :) Yellow group - Phi Phi! We were around 22 persons on "our" boat - a rather peculiar mixture of Thai people, some Americans (one of them seriously reminded me of Ole Henriksen with a dash of Elton John :P), a couple from France and us.
Man, I had forgotten how much fun it is to be on a speed boat (boat no. 99 in one of the pictures) - the last time I've done that is a few years ago in Florida. The best part, of course, is the moment when the boat hits a larger wave and jumps up in the air :)
Anyway, the tour took us to several of the islands belonging to the Phi Phi group and we got to snorkel in 3 different locations. I had never tried snorkeling before, so that was a whole new experience for me. One of the reefs was in the open sea - absolutely beautiful - now I can understand why so many people get utterly fascinated by the underwater world and keep on re-living that special experience. All the fish in such bright colors (and that includes Dorothy from "Finding Nemo"! :P) - I don't have enough words to describe everything properly. Oh, and sea cucumbers are as disgusting as people say! :)
What I can say, though, is that the water in Andaman Sea is much more salty than in the Baltic Sea - very unpleasant to swallow, but somehow I didn't fully manage to avoid doing that :) Another lesson learned - it IS very easy to get a burned butt while snorkeling :P Used loads of sun lotion (factor 35 even) all over ourselves, but somehow our 'sitting areas' got excluded from the preservation treatment. Outcome - hmm... you can imagine :)
Amazing, amazing day - the beaches on the islands are even nicer than in Krabi; the white sand is so fine that it feels like you're pacing around in vast amounts of coffee creamer instead of sand. Unforgettable.
And where we knackered in the end? Oh yeah.. so much that 1.5 hours airplane delay was about to send as into white rage :) Also, I think Christina's hearing was slightly impaired - during descent to BKK the pilot did the usual bla-bla talk (fluent English but with a very heavy Thai accent). All of a sudden Chri's looks at me and asks if I heard the same thing - did the pilot reeeaaaaally say: "Miss, please be seated properly". Well, what I think he said was "Crew, prepare for landing". This naturally led to some violent giggles (and yup, Im 100% positive we were highly annoying to the other passengers, hehe), but we couldn't help constructing different situations in our minds, where it would be appropriate and justified for the pilot to say that. And why would there be a "Miss" in the cockpit, and what would the "Miss" be doing and how could the "Miss" NOT be seated properly :)