In the weeks before Christmas, I flew to Shanghai with every intention to blog about my experiences, working from the Chinese metropolis. The People’s Republic of China, however, had different intentions. Here is the report of my time behind the Great Firewall. China turned out be different from what I expected and was told.
This post started off as a follow-up to The Story of EST Cola. Thought to have come across another story of a Thai company standing up to a multinational conglomerate, I started to research The Pizza Company. Its founder did refuse to fold to Pizza Hut and he is Thai. But in another way he isn’t. This is what happens when business acumen, opportunity and sheer luck align. The tale of an empire that helped shape modern-day Thailand.
We met Laurent while he was working behind the bar of our favorite tennis club. For years he entertained us with amusing tales about life in Isaan, Thailand’s North-Eastern region. His stories would cast such an enticing net that eventually we would be drawn to Siam ourselves. A taste of paradise can slowly turn into a lethal dose of poison. This is the story of a severe case of Thai expat’s disease, as I like to call it.
Whenever I return to Europe after a longer period in the Land of Smiles, I always take a selection of products with me. Let’s skip the ones that are to be expected and let me tell you about the more unlikely apparel, cosmetics and seasoning.
Our guide to buying wine in Thailand, has had its first succes. Applying the guide to the selection of wines at the local Tesco Lotus supermarket resulted in an Australian Cabernet Sauvignon by the supermarket’s private label ‘Vineyards – World Wines’. The red wine is above acceptable, with just a little bit too much sweetness in the after-tast and a lack of body. Priced at 349 baht, it is just 50 baht more expensive than the local fruit wines and far superior. Shiraz and Merlot variants are available as well. Affordable, enjoyable and widely available in Thailand. Result.
After a few days in Bangkok, a birthday party in Korat and quite some cleaning we have just settled into our home for the coming months. The internet is littered with budgetary advice for long-time residents in Thailand, quoting all kinds of extreme numbers, from high to low. In this installment of Siam In-between I will start showing you how to live comfortably in the Land of Smiles, without breaking the bank. Not in Bangkok or any other touristic location, nor in the middle of a remote rice field, somewhere in-between.
After months and months of anticipation, I finally find myself sitting at Gate B of Brussels Airport, waiting for the red-eye that will bring me hop-skip-layover-and-away to the Land of Smiles. For the remaining months of the year, I am skipping part of winter and residing in Thailand. Why and how? I will tell you the story and my adventures over the coming period. A story about Thailand that is rarely told. Not just one of beaches, tourist attractions or large cities, neither one of rural locations, poverty or primitive conditions … One about real life in the middle, about Siam In-between.
The article below is highly interesting, but has been extremely carefully worded 🙂 The down-to-earth synopsis is: non-EU citizens contribute to Belgian society to a lesser extent than their counterparts in other EU countries. The same phenomenon can be observed with EU citizens with a lower degree of eduction. The suggested cause is to be found in elevated unemployments benefits. My remark does not reflect any of my polical views, I just love how the true message was sugarcoated and swept under the rug with rates of activity and labor market immobility. That indirect mode of communication, with built-in conditionalities, is highly Belgian in itself 🙂 Like my colleague always says, when asked if they would like a cup of coffee, Belgians will answer “Yes, maybe, if it is not too much trouble and you were making coffee anyway”. The Dutch response will likely be “Any chance of a Cappucino?”.
As a Westerner, it takes some adjusting to driving a car in Thailand.
Recently obtained insights are
1. It does not pay to be a gentlemen in Thai traffic. The best approach is to assimilate the native strategy which leads us to point 2.
2. Learn to be comfortable with the Fuck you, buddy! approach: whatever the situation is, whatever kind of nuisance you make of yourself, no matter how many other cars you obstruct, do whatever suits you best at that particular moment in time. Do this with a smile, a relaxed composure and do change your plans on a whim.
3. Where in Europe flashing headlights convey the message Go ahead, I’ll let you pass, in South-East Asia it means Fair warning, kamikaze driver approaching. Confusing both can be lethal.
4. Budget The fast & the furious enthusiasts love to ride your bumper in the fast lane. In the spirit of point 2: it scares the bejeezus out of them when you suddenly switch on your (tail)lights.
5. To entice you to approach or to move into a certain lane, Thai traffic police use the exact same gesture as the one that means Go Away in Europe. They do not have a sense of humor about this.
6. On any kind of public holiday, do not use any highway in a direction away from Bangkok, especially towards Isaan. They turn into parking lots overnight.