Tuesday, November 19, 2013

From 13 to 32: Speech transcript for Mario (PQ) and Luigi's (Junxiong) wedding

A couple of weeks ago, I made a whirlwind trip to Singapore for the sole reason of supporting my dear brother Junxiong's wedding, and boy was it a great trip. We had a heck of a time, especially in our costumes with the sisters at Chinese Garden filming our martial arts movie.

Girls, you are not 村姑,but beautiful students from 1920s China
But cannot compare with how cool we are la

I was actually also invited by Junxiong to represent the brothers to make a speech during dinner, which (thankfully) was scrapped at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances. Though I was relieved (I am sure you are too Adeline) at that time because I did not make proper preparation to do him justice, I feel that I should still publish my cancelled speech here to commemorate our friendship and to bless this cute couple, so here goes:

Sawatdii Krup. My name is Eddie and I am from Bangkok. Junxiong probably chose me to give this speech because I traveled the farthest to get here, so I am due more screentime, but I am happy he chose me anyway. 


Where should I start? We have a long long history together. Let's just start from the first day of Secondary School in 1994 (where did all that time go), when we became each other's first friends in an intimidating new environment. That was his first of many other mishaps with me. I soon conned him to become part of the Chinese Orchestra, where we were separated as I got my wish to play the erhu and he got chosen to play the cello (I suspect because of his size).

Come to think of it, he got the better deal. While my erhu is rotting at home, and can only become useful either in another Chinese Orchestra or by the roadside when I lose my job, Junxiong has skills to play an instrument that is pivotal in most genres of music, even blues and jazz. He should actually thank me for it, but he never did.


Our time in the Chinese Orchestra ultimately proved to be one of the most important chapters of our lives. It was where the 5-man team formed, with Guangjin (spelt correct or not), Guojun and Youchun completing the Pentagon of strength which is still standing firm 20 years down the road.


I am sure this was how we enjoyed ourselves 20 years ago too

I remembered us sticking together through thick and thin. Who can forget all those endless hours of practice 3 to 4 days a week, the triumphs and disappointments in various competitions, culminating with a rapturous crescendo in 1998 when we made our first trip abroad together to hold a concert in Beijing.

(Noah calls Daddy)

Every CO practice seemed to be our warm-up before we took our positions on court after our conductor finally allowed us to put our instruments down. Our basketball sessions were always too short, even though most of them ended after nightfall, when our young eyes could hardly make out the outline of the basket. It would be followed by a mad scramble to the vending machine and everyone gulping down at least 3 packets of H2O each. It was on the basketball court that we ultimately forged our seamless understanding that lasts till today.

(Noah keeps calling Daddy and there is a prolonged pause in the speech)

However, for a period of 5 to 6 years after JC, the 5 of us lost touch completely. This was when Junxiong spent the time of his life (oops) in Japan. I was told that all the bad things in his life happened there, and they will never be uncovered again (you might be able to find out more from Meicheng with some effective bribes).


When we finally met again. Junxiong was literally a changed man. He shrunk beyond recognition. Japan was not good to him. No wonder all the bad things happened there.


Look at us then. Look at all of us now. From being clearly the fattest, he is now clearly the skinniest. Aside of the evergreen Guangjin, all of us have expanded consistently with age, except for our groom today. 

This transformation is definitely not by chance. No one knows how many bad things he did in Japan to achieve the amazing weightloss, but we all know how hard he has been trying to maintain his figure for the last few years. This sheer determination cannot be taken for granted, and I am sure he will use the same determination to make our Mario PQ the 2nd happiest wife in the world, after mine.


Make sure you make her the 2nd happiest wife in the world

So now, let me represent the brothers, and everyone else here, to take our knives and do a deep cut into the delicious stuffed chicken (or not-so-delicious sambal fish) on our plates in front of us to wish them eternal marital bliss. Thank you everyone for your attention, bon appetit.

(Rapturous applause and standing ovation from Noah)

So there you have it, the brother speech that was fortunately not done on the big day itself. I would hereby like to thank Junxiong and PQ, for involving us to help you organize such a memorable wedding, and also for putting so much effort to con us into starring in your wedding video. So let me end this post off by showing this video off to everyone. Have a good laugh.

PS. Thank you Kinici Photo for the nice pictures and Andy for the video!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Boon, the 82 year-old taxi driver

This morning, as Li Li and Noah were not around and I woke up on time, I got ready much earlier than usual. Feeling hungry, I decided to visit Soi Supaphong 3 Yaek 8, the place where everything started for me, where I spent 2 memorable years in, to reminisce old sights and sounds, to savour familiar tastes. Look deep into this blog (posts from 2009-2011) and you will find everything revolving around this beautiful area.

During my time there, I met a special man. His name is Boon, an old taxi driver. He told me he was 80 (I took it with a pinch of salt he looked too healthy) years old. I had friends who did not dare to take his cab because of his age, but I felt he drove perfectly. He always held my hand and told me how I reminded him of his youngest son (he has many), in reasonably good English, how he traveled to many countries to work when he was younger, and how he was going to retire after his taxi lease expires to live in his home near Pattaya. He told me where his favourite roast chicken was, and even dropped one at my doorstep to keep his promise of helping me buy one.

Then, all of a sudden, he disappeared. I heard he decided to park his taxi somewhere else in the vicinity, but I did not get to bump into him. I tried calling, but he always didn't seem to recognize my voice. Sometimes, I thought of him and wished he was still healthy and living life positively.

It's been at least 2.5 years since I last saw him, and guess who I met during my brief visit back to my old haunt?

Boon! What a priceless picture

He has aged. A lot. Even the Beauty Face app on my Note 3 (which made my face look like a mannequin) couldn't do much to make him look younger. He remembered me, and it really touched me when he sat down, held my hand again and wished me well. He said he's 82 now, and I believed him, though it made him 78 when he told me he was 80 nearly 5 years ago.

Thank you Boon for being the very special taxi driver who brought sunshine to my lonely life when I started off in Bangkok. I am glad that you are still happy and well. It's 1 year to your retirement, so please take care of yourself in the meantime and make sure you spend some good peaceful years in Pattaya after that, because you deserve it.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Annual Trip to Ubon Ratchathani: Version 2013

Feeling Zen looking into the peaceful forest
In my annual agenda, a visit to Ubon Ratchathani has always been necessary. It's a very endearing province sitting by the Mekong River on the Northeastern Border of Thailand. More importantly, it is the home of my company's first official customers when we started operations nearly 5 years ago. Though it's technically a business trip, it's no longer one filled with boring academic business discussions. In fact, business is the least of our worries. It's more of an overdue get-together of old friends.

This time, my customer equipped himself with his new camera and took numerous pictures of me as he brought me around, doing many things I have never experienced before (I also got to know my first helicopter pilot friend as well as a couple of local Democrat Party elected members of Parliament). Though none of the activities were extremely exciting, it was still very heartwarming to see these precious moments captured.

I had Bak Mor for the first time, a steamed rice pancake stuffed with lots of fresh spring onion and minced pork. I am sure I will dream of having this soon.
I did this before at the Chinese Garden in Singapore, but fish feeding was a first for me in Thailand. I even had time to show off my smooth motion of bread-hurling.
My first buggy drive
My first ATV drive
My first long speedboat ride, along the majestic Mekong River, no less
Being an entrepreneur in a foreign country isn't easy, but as you can see, once in a while, it does have its perks, as a fundamentally serious business trip can be intertwined with many joyful moments.

It would have been perfect if I did not need to drink all that whisky........

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Protect-A-Bed's official launch in Thailand: Sharing the game-changing decisions

After a year of intricate planning, my new venture finally had its chance to properly launch itself to the public, thanks to The Mall Group's support, at the Discount Overload warehouse sale at IMPACT Muang Thong Thani last month.

Anyone who knows me long enough would know that I am no stranger to trade shows, in fact, I can be considered an expert in them, but a day into the event, I realised that a warehouse sale in Thailand was no trade show. Visitors were 99.9% local, and were more attracted by celebrities and bargains than anything else. Launching a completely unknown brand (fyi we are selling waterproof mattress protectors) under such circumstances was not going to be straightforward.

Our initial strategy was simple. Look professional and foreign (making it clear that this is an imported product), make our booth accessible and welcoming (thus the 7-11 concept) and arm ourselves with 2 pretty PCs (product consultants) who were well-trained in the product.

The cashier was behind the booth, so we kept the back open so that customers will come in and browse after paying for other goods
The mattress protector minimart

Not helped by almost an entire day of torrential rain, our first day fell flat. There was some interest but 0 sales. Being the captain of the ship, I had to react, and over the next few days, changes were made everyday and rewards were reaped. Here's to share some of the game-changing tactics adopted that will ensure you do not make the same mistakes:

1. Close the booth up, it's a pop-up store, not a walkway

Customers can't walk through anymore

Yes, the booth needs to look open and welcoming, but it cannot be so open, especially on both sides such that it becomes a convenient walkway for customers to cut through to get from one point to another. Having uninterested traffic passing through does you no good, and is extremely distracting.

2. Communicate the concept effectively

As proper as our first design looked, customers could not link the booth to beds at first glance. This was very serious, as Thai people we already unfamiliar with the concept of mattress protectors in the first place.

My 2 pretty and hardworking PCs 
Once the mattress rolled in and the products were displayed, things started looking up, as very much less explanation was required to communicate our ideas to the customer.

3. Localise

The initial concept of looking imported worked, but to a limited extent. As important as it was to impress the public, it was even more important to attract their attention. It became obvious once it was clear that there would be no expat crowd and that most of the people came looking for huge bargains.

We quickly designed a new sign highlighting some main points in Thai, and of course about our discounts

4. Stop the crowd

This final and most important game-changer, was unfortunately, not initiated by me. Knowing our struggles, the organisers threw us a lifeline. They came to us with 2 racks which could be placed at the centre of our walkway, which ensured our products would intercept all passers-by.

The ultimate game-changer
Once the potential customer stopped, the selling could begin, and with a good product and some extremely committed sales people, there would be at least positive vibe generated from all the discussions. Our sales figures finally shot up considerably after this change completed our jigsaw of adjustments.

Though I would not consider our launch event as a rousing success, we definitely made the most of it and learnt some valuable lessons along the way. More importantly, it gave us a good feeling of the potential of our product and the motivation to move ahead and make bigger splashes in the market.

See you at our next event, most probably at Big C Rama 4 from 16-23 November 2013!

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