Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Buffalo

My missus is amazing. No doubt. Of her talents her never-ending desire to cook me amazing dinners (separate post with pictures required) is one of my favourites.

She is currently sporting a bump for the four months of pregnancy thus far and, though she gets plenty of rest, she still charges around like a maniac and insists on cooking said amazing dinners.

Sunday, as is often the case, truly was the day of rest and I went foraging for my dinner. We headed out to the car with the little fella en tow – he’s an easy sleeper during car drives – and took the five minute or so journey to the market.

Upon arriving and finding a decent parking space, I dashed out and ordered myself two lots of khao mun gai, not my favourite but is safe given the number of times other, more exotic, dishes have proved to be let downs when returned home to consume.

Dinner purchased, locals mildly impressed with this farang’s Thai...we’re all set to go back – via the longer route, of course, so the little man can doze off to his favourite English nursery rhyme CD. Reversing out is always tricky at markets in the darkness of evening, people walk back ignorant of cars, bikes plod along in their own world and motorcyclists weave between gaps in a hurry.

So, minding the pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists I backed out. Given I had a precious parking space it wasn’t a surprise to see a pickup flash to let me out, so off I went...then suddenly...bang...shit...did I just kill someone.

I moved the car forward before jumping out to see what I’d done – ten years as a driver, my first accident awaiting me.

Seems the guy flashing me out was actually flashing me to say I couldn’t come out. A flash of the lights in Thailand is more a warning than invitation to go...though in this situation it was usually the opposite.

He looked pissed, very pissed, so immediately I apologised, politely calling him P’ and also giving a wai, the respectful greeting in Thai.

“You didn’t look, did you?” was his response...

“I’m sorry,” I repeated, “I looked you flashed...then...”

“Buffalo,” he shouted as a crowd of onlookers grew watching this farang who’d just crashed his car.

Now that is not a respectful way to talk to anyone in Thai. At this point I was pretty angry – with myself for crashing, it was clearly my fault and with him for the insult, petty though it may be – but I managed to stay calm and told him I’d already apologised, but he wasn’t listening.

“Look what you’ve done,” he said, insinuating that I’d decided to crash into his pickup on purpose. “Look!” he shouted.

On inspection, the ‘damage’ was little more than a one inch paint scratch and a little abrasive damage to the wheel hub area.

“It isn’t much,” I told him, beginning to think he was taking me for a ride.

“Yes it is,” he repeated, “why did you do this?”

By now he was snarling at me but I managed to stay cool. Just nipping out to the market I’d left my phone, as had the missus – who had got out of the car and was coming over to see.

I gave him my number and told him to call me tomorrow, but the missus – who was getting angry after him insult me – wanted this sorted out. With no phone and little fella with us, I jumped on a motorcycle taxi and headed out to get my father-in-law, who just happens to be a local police chief and a definite fixer of situations like this.

Cutting a potentially very long story shorter...I came back with FiL who told the guy, in no uncertain terms, they were going to get the car fixed now. The guy was talking a lot, I could understand most of it, he was saying the damage would require extensive work and would need a lot of money.

FiL, on the other hand, was arguing that repairing the wheel-hub part would be fine, and his grand plans were unnecessary. It got a little heated in parts with other people and a market security guard in attendance agreeing with FiL. The argument was that this should be settled now, at a garage, with us paying the full cost of repair – more than fair I thought.

The guy looked very angry but FiL made perfect sense and, as a more senior and respected man, the guy had little choice but to go along with it. The missus and I took the little fella home in FiL car while he went on in my car with the other guy to get his car fixed.

After waiting a while, FiL got back, I somewhat nervously asked how much it came to and  was happy to hear 2,500 baht was the answer.

All-in-all I managed to escape my first accident without breaking the bank or writing off a car (as my brother did as a teenager). Though as Khao Mun Gai goes, a 2,500 surcharge on 50 Baht of food isn’t all that great – but I can live with it.

The accident was my fault, despite his flash, but the guy’s attitude really bothered all of us – particularly my mother-in-law who said she wanted to go over there and bash him up.

The guy is in his forties, was with his wife and kid, but yet he completely lost it with me being aggressive towards me, and apparently the missus while I was gone, insulting me and generally being a tosser.

This is just another example of how fortunate I am to have such great in-laws and a master-fixer of things for a FiL.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

World Cup disappointment

The most notable aspect of watching my first World Cup in Thailand, aside late match kick-offs courtesy of the five hour time delay between Thailand and South Africa, was a lack of English match coverage and technical analysis.

The Three Lions performance was somewhat disappointing too, but away from the hype bubble of the UK press I was not too shocked or overly saddened (as I usually am) given team was truly dreadful and barely deserved to qualify for the knock-out phase.

Leaving match analysis aside, as I'm sure Roundball Passion, a new blog from the excellent fella behind Beyond The Mango Juice, covers this in more detail, other issues arose in Thailand.

It seems Thai broadcasters failed to purchase the rights for English language commentary and, as is often the case in Thailand, the detailed match analysis, pre and post game, which often is cumulatively longer than the football itself in England was missing too.

What a coincidence that the Telegraph's Expat section decided to cover this story here.

Eyes peeled for a very media friendly quote from yours truly, and comment from Mike, who incidentally has a new blog over here.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy learning and listening to Thai, but during the football Thai analysis is pretty low-tech and obvious, never thought I'd find myself pining for English commentary...funny how things pan out.

Now what was I saying about the joys of blogging t'other day...nice to see your name in lights.

If I'm here for next World Cup, or European Championships in 2012, lets hope a lesson is learnt and English is included. Don't get me wrong I'll be a fluent Thai speaker by then (I wish! - though my football vocab is already well stacked) but my little fella(s) can follow in English.

Friday, 9 July 2010

On blogging

Blogging, they say, is a labour of love and I couldn't agree more.

Bloggers go through the process of researching topics, chasing news, running interviews, developing features and more because they are passionate about the subject matter at hand. It often is labour in the truest sense of the word.

The pay cheque

Finding money in blogging is tough. Google's ad platform is more "cents" than "sense" while, in my opinion at least, adverts on a blog just don't do it so I've never taken up the few offers that have come my way. Fair play to those that do though.

Blogging about digital media (on my other side) has thrown a few paid assignments my way but payment comes from completing the assignments myself not the blog itself. However such leads are the best example of monetisation I've seen from my experience.

Engagement and (self)fullfilment 

The real value, and satisfaction from blogging comes from engaging with other bloggings and an audience, if you are lucky enough to develop one. Thai blogs are a particularly communal area so the chances that after linking to some and 'doing the rounds' with comments, interest the like, word will get about and the key to the expat Thailand blogosphere will be yours.

Happiness is also often found through the personal triumph of recognition - in the form of a link from a big fish or, better still, a moment of fame with "proper" media.

The other one

This blog has been going steady since I started in November 2008, having just moved over to Thailand. Thanks it to I've connected with some great people - both virtually and face in face - and have even had my name in lights once or twice.

Over at my other blog, the younger, trendy, fashionable kid on the block has had a far racier ride.

Blogging about social media might seem like naval gazing to some, but its a world I worked in, and still do from time to time, and one I see myself rejoining at sometime. It is also a trendy topic which generates a lot of interest from Big G which has  put me on Thai TV, quoted me in media, generated a steady stream of work and seen me engage with a diverse audience.


However after less than six month, it seems like yesterday that the little blighter was born, already I'm waving it off as it heads off to the big smoke and the world of Asian Correspondent.

That's right, my other labour of love is about to toss me a few gold coins each month as the hobby I (happily) do for free is now putting out. It isn't enough to retire off mind, but its a nice little earner, as they say, (particularly for Thailand) and it brings the potential of greater exposure and more potential to engage --- win, win.

There is a degree of sacrifice involved, for instance my unashamedly self-indulgent URL - jonathan-russell.com - has lost its mojo, going from host (with the most) to an invisible redirect which sends traffic to the new location at Asian Correspondent HQ.

It was never an easy decision to make but being invited to contribute to a website making serious waves was too big a chance to ignore, particularly as most of the well known writers have spent years building a reputation, unlike my vagabond blog which made it in less than half a year.

- - -

The point of this post, however, is to say that it isn't all about the money, and never should it be, blogging may not always monetise itself in the form of cash flow, but the benefits and enjoyment that come with are worth enough on their own.

But if you do get the chance, or feel inclined, why not head over to my social media blog that just flew the nest.

It seems likely that with little brother away, Jonny Foreigner may enjoy a renaissance...just to prove it isn't all about the cash.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

A visitor

Have been somewhat busy and preoccupied over the last few weeks which has seen posting slow down somewhat.

Some pics from a month or so ago when I got to play cameraman with a surprisingly friendly visitor are finally up though.