Monday, March 29, 2010

Weekend getaway - Part 1

While the true-blue Navi is fighting the red shirts and ensuring peace in Bangkok, I have decided the best way to enjoy myself is to leave Bangkok, and this resulted in a 1-day getaway where we achieved more than what we bargained for -- Floating market, Beach and Sunflowers.

To allow my readers to have more details of the trip itself for future reference, I will split this getaway description into 3 separate blog entries, starting with the beach.

Being someone who does not swim nor owns a to-die-for sculpted body, I've never been interested in beaches. To me, going to beaches is to dirty myself with sand and to get my skin damaged by the sun. However, there are so many famous beaches Thailand that I need to see one for myself.

I made a very special decision on the location though. With the famous Hua Hin and Pattaya within touching distance, I chose Cha Am, around 3 hours drive south of Bangkok, simply because it is a beach largely un-touched by foreigners, which means that visitors are mostly either locals (living in the province) or from other parts of Thailand. Since I work here, I would like to experience what it is like to travel like a Thai, even to beaches.

True enough, though Cha Am isn't a beach with crystal clear waters nor striking blue skies, it is very clean, with fine sand in most parts, and innocent (not polluted with marketing and commercial activities). The only water sport available is the banana boat, and the people walking around peddling consist 60% of lottery ticket vendors. I think this proves that the visitors are mostly locals, because no foreigner would be remotely interested in buying lottery tickets...

Rolling up my jeans like a fisherman!

Beach dog who looks harmless enough for me to stand near it to take a picture.

And another one.

My second favourite shot of the beach trip. I think it looks like 3 people lost on an island but braving the adventure.

After feasting my camera on the abandoned blue boat above, I saw another green one.

A view from my deck chair.

No one could imagine that we drove 3 hours to a beach to paint!!

We brought figurines to do painting on deck chairs at the beach! It was innovative and fun man. By the way, for your information, you can pay 30baht for a deck chair by a table and sit for as long as you like.

Rit- artist at work - my favourite shot at the beach.

Our semi-complete art pieces. Li Li and myself did the little ducky.

What's a trip to the beach resort without indulging in fresh seafood, oops ok, not fresh, live seafood? At the far end of the stretch of beach, there's a small 'village' of identical restaurants with tanks for live seafood for you to choose from. You may buy and barbeque near the beach or pay a token sum for the shop to cook for you. We did the latter.

One of the 3 dishes we ordered. Grilled live river prawn. The took the prawn, dipped them into ice water until they die and grill them over hot charcoal. The process took.... 5 minutes? Maximum 1o.
Well, Cha Am might not be a place for water sport lovers and snorkellers, but for people like us who just want a peaceful time by the sea, with a medium-sized crowd and affordable live seafood (due to a lack of foreigners), this place is highly recommended. Please come before the boom of tourists changes the entire landscape of the area, and signs are clear that this place is ready for that commercial explosion. I just hope it doesn't happen.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A New Hero Descends on Bangkok

Bangkok is crying out for a new hero.

Everything is turning into chaos.

First the 'reds' say a million are gonna flood through Bangkok like a bloody red tide and make the new election a reality within a matter of days.

Then, the tiny drop of less than a hundred thousand did manage to crawl their way in, feebly camping in Bangkok, waiting for a miracle to happen.

Before we knew it, they DID make the bloody tide a reality, drawing 10cc of blood from any willing supporter and pouring it all over the place, chanting curses in the process, successfully drawing global attention.

When that did not really work, the remnants of the horde decided to make a weekend stroll around the capital, again drawing some glares from the media.

For all those who are worried about how the Stranger in Bangkok is getting by, I can assure you that he is well and truly okay. In fact, he has drawn his alter ego from Pandora out and turns into a heroic Navi to save the world.

If you do something wrong that threatens peace in this world, beware, don't let me find out, cos if you do, I will use my USB ponytail and download all the love in the world into your heart.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Another Gibthai Party

Sorry guys for posting my big face on my blog, but I think it's proper that I begin this post on the right note.

Since my time in Thailand, I have been to 3 Gibthai-organized parties and this is the 3rd one. Gibthai is celebrating their 25th anniversary and small little Eddie has once again been invited to grace an event as a VIP. The difference this time is that I brought my wife along to witness another huge occasion.

Actually, we had been a little uneasy about going this time, because 12th March was the day at which the red shirts marched into Bangkok from all angles. Oh well, we made our way there anyway, and saw some red shirts waving to us on the back of pickups (are they saying hello or goodbye i wonder, probably goodbye).

Fortunately for Gibthai, I believe more than a thousand people still turned up for the event. This event is to thank customers and suppliers alike for their support in the past years. Aside of nice doorgifts, games and food, the highlights of the show were a lucky draw and a concert consisting of 6 of the most popular pop stars in Thailand. Hmmm.... think maybe JJ Lin, Ah-Du, Joi Chai, Olivia Ong, By2 and Tanya gracing such an event in Singapore. Really, the audience had a heck of a good time......

The guests queue-ing up to get registered outside the Royal Jubilee Ballroom.

A snapshot of the prizes in store for us. Motorcycles, Bicycles, Blackberries, Luggages, Picnic tables. I was very disappointed to not be able to ride home in a new motorcycle, but I did not go home empty-handed, I won a picnic table! BBQ in Bangkok anyone?

One of the colourful but not-so-tasty desserts that night.

Each of the 6 games are a sure-win, including this simple game where we just have to catch a flying styrofoam ball and win.

While everyone was still outside playing their games and taking pictures at the photo corner, the show has already started.

Gibthai does not carry the all the premium brands in the world, neither do they sell the cheapest things in the world, yet even the manager of my freight forwarding company knows them, and everyone loves them and buys products from them.

Here's the owner Khun Nivest giving his thank you speech to the audience while introducing the team behind Gibthai's ceaseless growth. Every one of this team has been in Gibthai since I first knew them 5 years ago. A group of happy, dedicated and loyal staff, a loving and kind owner, excellent after-sales service for customers.... that may be the absolute formula for success.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Last Sunday, the new lead pastor in my church in Bangkok gave me a relatively convincing definition of grace. Before he said this, he admitted that sometimes he is so in awe of this word that he doesn't fully understand it too, but he'll try to define it anyway, so here goes:


JUSTICE = getting the fair result you deserve for what you have done


MERCY = getting less punishment than what you deserve for what you have done

then the logical definition will be

GRACE = getting something good that we do not deserve at all for what we have done

I really do not know how convincing this is to all my friends out there, but when putting it in perspective with justice and mercy, it lets me feel the greatness of God's grace in a more tangible form.

Anyway, I agree that none of us deserve His grace, nor can it be deserved or earned at all. Let's all have faith in Him and may His grace shine upon the earth.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A conclusion on Korean Ginseng Chicken Broth

I think this post might not appeal to everyone, especially those ardent Korean food fans and the lovers of Korean Ginseng Chicken Broth. Now that the picture above has made the subject of this entry clear, I shall go on.

Generally, I am a fan of Korean food, especially the unbeatably yummy doses of Kimchi-bacillus available in all the fermented vegetable side dishes. I do really believe that this is one of the reasons Koreans keep themselves healthy (just look at the lungs of the football players) despite the huge amounts of alcohol and nicotine they take in.

When we talk about Korean food, one of the most common dishes that come to mind will be the Ginseng Chicken Broth. I still remember the first time I had it in Singapore at Crystal Jade Ginseng Chicken and BBQ restaurant. Since the dish can become part of the restaurant's name, it had to be good, but suaku me was surprised to find a huge lump of glutinous rice inside the cavity of the chicken, and the dish ended up becoming a not-so-inspiring congee. So much for a first experience.

So, expecting sticky rice to appear inside the chicken, I gave it another shot after passing by a Ginseng Chicken restaurant in KOREA. Yes, in Korea itself, and in a shop filled full with locals, and only selling 1 dish (I think they do have roast chicken as well, but that's all). It just HAD to be good right? Unfortunately, it ended up being a bland chicken congee with a hint of ginseng too.

Not willing to start boycotting this famous dish, I tried again in my new adopted country, Thailand. This is the nicest looking restaurant in the Little Korea in Sukhumvit and it's always full of Korean expats. So I tried again. Equally uninspiring. In fact, the 3 that I ate in different countries tasted spookily identical.

Sigh.... I really really think that the Cantonese double-boiled soups are lightyears more delicious than what a chicken with ginseng and sticky rice stuffed in its insides can offer. Sorry Korean food fans, after experiences in Singapore, Thailand and Korea itself, you can't say that I did not try hard enough right?

Monday, March 1, 2010

STCC Chinese New Year Dinner

26th February 2010, 13th day of the Lunar New Year, and the first Chinese New Year that I was spending in Thailand. I was quite excited because it was the first time I was attending a major event organised by the STCC aka Singapore Thai Chamber of Commerce.

It all started very brightly as I was looking forward to the promised things like a great lucky draw, nice auctions, programmes starting from as early as 5pm etc. So I got dressed and arrived at the Millenium Hilton Hotel before 5pm. What a great hotel it was. First, it has a private jetty that brings people across the river from the nearest MRT station, and has an outdoor dining area that looks into the majestic Chao Phraya river.

Then there is this grand area, which is actually the wine and cheese room of the International Buffet restaurant in the Hotel. I like the design of the chandelier and ceiling.

However, everything positive technically ended here. I can really appreciate the hard work put in by the STCC, but I can't help but wonder what could have been:
1. Guests were expected to arrive at 5pm, but at 5pm, only 20% of the booths were ready, and the registration booth was not ready until after 6pm. Singapore banquets come to mind immediately, come on, this is Thailand, you do not need to behave like u do in Singapore right?
2. There was a free fortune teller's booth. However, guess what, the fortune teller only speaks Thai. Did the organisers realise that this was a Chinese New Year celebration designed for Singaporeans? Sigh, looks like they designed it for native Thais.....
3. The auction was the most ridiculous. A lawyer kindly donated a great replica of the Mona Lisa for bidding. The frame was so intricate that the frame itself cost easily around 10,000baht. So bidding started at 5000baht and ended at 11,000baht. Grossly undervalued, but the best thing was yet to come.
The winner of the auction re-donated the painting back for a second bidding, and the host started the bidding at 5000baht AGAIN! Hoho.... the proud new owner won the painting with a bid of 10,000baht, and that's 1000 LESS than the initial bid.
I was lucky/unlucky enough to sit beside the once-proud donor of the painting. He was suitably disgusted. I was too, I really lost my appetite after this whole saga. I think next time, I will volunteer to host the auction to avoid such embarassments.
4. Forgettable food. I can only remember i paid nearly 100SGD for this.
5. There was a face-changing act. This was a traditional Chinese art. The performer ended up changing faces for a while and started to perform magic tricks. This was easily the most awkward performance I have seen in a while. Imagine Michael Schumacher juggling in the middle of an F1 race.
6. The dinner started off with a combination of Lion Dancing and stunts. Refer to the picture below. The Lion dancers managed to attract some attention by standing on top of each other, with a little girl topping it off by nearly hitting her head on the ceiling.
Subsequently, a boy did the same feat, and fell! Luckily he was caught and did not die. Anyone who thought it was done deliberately was forced to think again when the next thing that appeared on the big screen was the boy crying like he has just seen a ghost.
Moments later, though the crowd was shouting "Stop, don't do it anymore". they repeated the same thing with the girl again. What is wrong with them? Maybe they did not understand English, like the fortune teller.
Okay okay, there were positives, like this one. It was the first time I saw a napkin folded in the shape of a bathrobe. Really felt like I was in a multi-star hotel, but in the toilet of a one, haha.

And of course, the people. As much as the organization of the event could be improved, nothing beats talking to people in Singlish again. I am not sure whether everyone of you can understand the situation I am in, but I relish speaking in Singlish or Mandarin face-to-face with people as I have no chance to do so 99% of my time here.

My neighbour for the night, charity-enthusiast Ms Pansy, who keeps herself in good shape considering her age, but her main job is to run a beauty parlour, no wonder!
I will still consider coming next year, in hope that the organization can improve, and to also indulge once more in my rare buffet of Singlish.

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