Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Stranger in Bangkok. The Prequel

In the light of the recent release of "The Hobbit", which is actually the prequel to the "Lord of the Rings" franchise (and is going to evolve into a major franchise on its own), it seems like prequels are the new "in" thing for movie-makers to reprise old themes into new moneymaking material (think "X-man", "Wolverine" and "Star Wars" but to name a few). How can I miss the prequel train? I had a life before I became the Stranger in Bangkok as well, so let's call this blogpost "Stranger in Bangkok. The Prequel".

Prequel eh? But please, don't wind the clock so far back, I can't remember what happened 30 yrs ago!

From 2004-2008, I was working for a company based in Singapore, doing international sales and marketing (and basically everything else) for their new product line, and as a result traveled to every country you can think of on the globe to set up a new distributor network. It was an absolutely brutal working environment, long hours, a management who never fail to become the cause of your nightmares, incessant travelling on a shoestring budget, barely-acceptable salary etc. It is probably one of the most demanding jobs a fresh graduate could ask for. However, thinking back, aside of the last few months when I suffered the customary deliberate mental torture by the management before finally leaving the company, I have nothing to complain about during those 4 years of hard work.

The tough times were really unforgettable, but not necessarily in an unpleasant way. The mental grilling by the management with no lack of the vulgar-est vulgarities (in assorted languages involving everyone's parents, no less), the setting up and tearing down of exhibition booths which involved products weighing hundreds of kilograms (while dressed in suits manning the booths during the exhibitions), the living in 2* establishments and asking clients to pick me up at the 5* hotels nearby, the sleepless jet-lagged nights overseas clearing emails after a full day of meetings, the frequent stays in the manufacturing facility making sure the customized orders were made properly etc. etc. etc....

But hey, there's always the glamorous side of things. Being 1 of the only 3 or 4 colleagues who hit the road consistently, I was one of the 'faces' of the company. The one who was at every exhibition, every international dealer meeting and every end-user seminar, in any country/province/town/village. I convinced professors our products were the best, I made an entire auditorium of Argentinians laugh and clap during my animated training seminar and even went to South Africa to close a branch office down when I knew almost nothing about running a company, not to say close one down.

In addition to that, though I mostly stayed in budget accommodation and spent 90% of my awake time abroad either on the road, at the airport or at my customer's office, I can say that I have left my footprints on more places that I would ever imagine to have been able to by the time I was 28.

Please be warned that there are many photos coming up that were taken when I was a skinny boy in a suit,  and now I am a fat Daddy running around in T-shirt and flip-flops. How times change (for the better)!

I almost froze to death in Chicago

I fell in love with Greece, leading to it becoming my honeymoon destination

I grilled my own Argentinian steak in Buenos Aires. I still cannot forget the aroma of slow-roasted Argentinian beef

I viewed the majestic Pyramids and the Sphynx 

I dined under an old French tree 

I strutted my stuff in India

I attended a wedding in Iran!!

I drank, and drank, and drank, and drank Soju in Korea and realised for the first time I look very Korean
Then got tricked to eat live octopus (see video below) which I did not swallow.

video


I visited an oil refinery in Mexico

I took a picture with the Disneyland castle in Munich

I was in New Orleans shortly after the Hurricane catastrophe

I partied in Peru

I touched baby lions in South Africa

I sang to trained hundreds of locals in Vietnam, and this is what I usually do when I travel

I went to many more places, but I shall not bore you with more poorly self-taken pictures during my lonely adventures, bar this final one which might have paved the way for the next chapter in my life: Becoming the Stranger in Bangkok.

I made yearly business trips to Thailand!

Everything happens for a reason, and God's plans can never be anticipated, neither can they be pushed away when they pan out in front of you.

If not for the torturous years in my ex-company, I would not mature from a raw fresh graduate into a confident, focused and street-wise young man in the space of 4 years. I could have earned a lot more money in another company, but experience cannot be bought.

If not for my annual trips to Thailand and enjoying every minute of it, I would not jump at the opportunity to work in Bangkok once it presented itself.

Here's my prequel, a special part of my life presented to you on this space, an unforgettable, immensely gratifying yet very challenging few years that has never before been mentioned in detail on this blog. Hope you now understand me more because of it.

If you are still wondering why I so bravely took up the challenge of relocating to Bangkok, you might have found a large part of the answer here.


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