Monday, October 23, 2006

Fried Frogs and Chunky Monkey Muggings....

I am currently making one of my Quarterly Review trips to Hyro Thailand and have had few experiences this trip which will I am sure I will remember. I don't usually get a lot of time on these trips and am usually in and out within a week, but this time I have had a couple of diversions from the usual business focus.

Last Thursday I had the arduous task of entertaining some important business contacts at the Thai Country Club, a VERY nice golf course about 45 minutes out of central Bangkok, soon to host the Volvo Masters (Tiger Woods has a permanent locker at the course .... I wonder what he keeps in there).

After a less than impressive round (I did manage to shoot three pars in street shoes with borrowed clubs about 2 inches too short for me) it was back to the club house for "refreshments" and discussion. While the talk soon turned to business opportunities in Thailand and near shore markets, some food was ordered and I enjoyed some of the nicest "quail" I have had for a long time .... apparently this was better described as "pond quail" and I found out after about my fourth mini-drumstick that I had just experienced my first fried frogs leg.... and it was pretty good.

The second experience was that one of my colleagues celebrated her wedding on the weekend, a wonderful event held at the family home in the nearby town of Petchburi (about 120 Kms South West of Bangkok). Although the event started at 6.30 am with a parade to take the groom from the local temple to the family home (which meant a 4.00 am start from Bangkok!) it was a lovely day with a great combination of involvement of family and friends in the celebration and formal ceremonies to complete the marriage. It was a privilege and a pleasure to be invited.

On the drive back, we made a detour to the Khao Ban Dai It Temple just outside of Petchburi. This is the smaller of a couple of temples which have been built into limestone caves and they are just beautiful. The pinpoints of light coming through holes in the ceiling to strike gold covered Buddha statues have a very regal and stirring effect.. these are special places of very high importance to the people.

One of the more interesting features of this temple is that the resident Monks have taken to caring for the local monkeys. Visitors are "encouraged" to buy food for the monkeys from the temple nuns ... a little money spinner to keep the temple running no doubt. Trouble is that food for the monkeys is served in the same white plastic bags as any food for people and my friends Alice and Justin decided to grab a mid-morning snack of cooked bananas from the nuns. It only took about five minutes before Alice came under the watchful eye of the fattest, nastiest looking monkey in the temple - apparently he knew about fried banana and knew that it was good and in a move of which any action hero would be jealous, he staged a guerilla strike and tore the bag from Alice's hand .... a full blown Monkey Mugging which brought a smile to the faces of a couple of nearby monks and which, no doubt, has developed a new phobia for Alice.

So what are the "insights" from all of this .... well, the first is that the "coup" here in Thailand a little over a month ago has had little effect on the people and commerce of Thailand. All signs of business and day to day life are back to normal and some may say a little more positive.... Thailand is moving ahead.

The second is that when you get to Thailand, make an effort to get out of Bangkok ... there is so much to see. This is an old country with a lot of history and many things you won't see in other places From the pleasure of driving through the rice paddies on either side, to seeing some of the temples, beaches, mountains and more, to the sport and adventure of braving Bangkok traffic on the way back into town, you will really enjoy the experience.

Now .... more work to be done ... since we are still changing the world.

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