Friday, 31 October 2008

Free Wheelin'

Got my self some independence, my own set of wheels...oh yeah...

Most Thais ride scooters around as they are easy and cheap to run, sadly for me they are relatively expensive to buy, as a foreigner I would also need to pay for a license conversion. Bikes are far easier and require no petrol or license fee - plus a good form of exercise.

So my independence has come at the cost of 1,700 baht, a little over £30, from good old Tesco Lotus - a regular haunt of mine as I buy more stuff.

I know part of being responsible, and a father, is when you choose functionality over extravagent. It seems like I've already arrived (some may say my journey wasn't a long one).

That's right, the sporty model with a suspension, race tyres, a light chassis, cool colour, water bottle and all the trimmings came in at almost three times the price (4,500 baht) so I opted for the family saloon equivalent with a seat/cargo rack on the back and space for a basket at the front.

It does have 5 gears though...ROCK N ROLL

Thailand: did you know?

A few observations from Thailand, in no particular order:

1. Television channels can show dead corpses, traumatic hospital bed scenes and extreme amounts of blood, yet cleavage is pixelated.

2. Muslims in Thailand eat pork. Not every Muslim, of course, but the family over the road certainly consumes its fair share.

3. Sticking with pork, confusingly it is called 'mou' (pronounced moo). And no...I know what you're thinking and beef isn't 'oink'.

4. Thailand has Family Fortunes (there goes my big franchise plan), it's quite a cult show too.

5. SevenEleven is massive in Thailand, and rather confusing it is open 24/7 (TwentyFourSeven). You'll find a branch on practically every road/corner.

6. Tesco Lotus is THE place to shop in Thailand. The local store (of hypermarket proportions) sells everything from cooking oil, fruit and veg and TVs to bikes, phones, beds, gym equipment, clothes and a whole lot more.

7. Pork scratchings are a popular Thai delicacy. The local market is a good place to get amazing quality scratchings, 'no kap mou'. See this photo I stole from someone else for a sample (and note there is no joke about my expat itch for this treat being scratched).

That's all for now, folks.

Friday, 24 October 2008

The Annoying Neighbour

Neighbours, and random people, always stop us when we are out talking The Little One for a ride in the buggy. Most of them say he is adorable, and once they hear me speak a couple of native words they launch into an 1,000 mile an hour chat which goes straight through me (I know understand that they say we're very much alike). This attention has made him something of a celebrity baby in these parts. Something I'm which is nice to see, within reason.

Just recently a neighbour came round to visit The Little One a few days after he left the hospital, accompanied by her 2 month pregnant daughter.

On arrival she asked the father-in-law, how much we spend on the buggy and how much was the cot? FIL explained that the buggy was a present from England, and I had bought the cot for around 3,000 baht, £50 (thanks, Tesco Lotus!).

The neighbour immediately responded saying that she would spend that kind of money on quality food and milk for her incoming grandson, and not purchase such an expensive and extravagant cot and buggy as they are clearly not necessary. She questioned whether we had considered this when we first purchased these "luxury items".

She then proceeded to spend the whole afternoon giving The Missus the what-for for every aspect of motherhood. Telling her even to overrule the Doctor's orders, to refrin from hot drinks as her blood is very thin and it could lead to problems - but, of course, the neighbour knows best!
My God, this women was so annoying, and so obviously trying to get one over on the farang neighbour. Most have welcomed me as a positive addition to the community (particularly given my learning of Thai) but I'm acutely aware there are some who will convict me of a lack of culture/class, say I am an unwanted Westerner or will just act plain jealous.

And all this comes before I've had the chance to unleash my sensational football skills!

Babies & F1

Reflecting on looking after The Little One helped me produce 5 reasons why caring for a baby is just like Formula 1.
  • Babies are like drivers - you want to find one? Look for the gaggle of doting women, some of whom will be holding parasols to keep the sun away.

  • Like babies, drivers are pampered so that they every need is covered.

  • Babies, like drivers, let everyone in the vicinity know when they is just the slightest thing wrong with their set-up. Then it's all hands to the pump with a dedicated personal assistant.

  • Feed time is just like refueling an F1 car. Car/baby put in position, refuel agent added and off he/she/it goes

  • Nappy changing time is just like a pit stop. Baby/car put into a stationary position (handbrake engaged) and the old clothes are removed to be replaced but a new clean set and off he/she/it goes.

Lewis Hamilton would be more than happy to own this speedster, it's the fastest thing on the block here...and certainly the only one with suspension!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Luk Kreungs

Luk kreung (half Thai) babies are doted on by Thai society. The majority of the country's celebrities are half-Western (for exampke), and they are a fascination to the people with their mixture of Eastern and Western looks and personas. For marketing people they fuse a dream combination which offers a Western influence (which is still seen as being cooler) and yet relate to 'everyday' Thais.

Now Nong Ling ('Little Monkey', aka The Little One) had scarcely been in the world for a few hours and already there were a queue of people who had heard a Farang (foreign) baby was being born, and they wanted to check him out.

This is the excitement, which includes me being stopped around the hospital and asked (in Thai) how the baby is getting on.

It went so far that, whilst we were in the market before he was born, random people would come up to The Missus and ask how it was all going and when they could see him.

People truly are excited to see him in this town and long may that continue.