(It has been a while since my last post, due to "technical difficulties" - hopefully the issue has been resolved!)
We have lived in Thailand for nearly two-and-a-half years, yet I had never been inside Tim's workplace. This week I was there twice!
A couple of weeks earlier, Tim and I had an appointment with the American Consulate in Bangkok to apply for new passports, as our old ones were about to expire. We were excited to see the inside of the embassy for the first time. We kind of expected a nice welcome and special treatment from "our own," but other than being able to bypass the lines of non-Americans waiting to apply for visas, it was a bit of a letdown. We got "American" badges to wear for about thirty seconds while we waited outside to pass through security. Then our badges were confiscated, along with our cell phones and bags before we went through the metal detector and got "wanded." We were pointed in the direction of the "American Citizens" office, and entered a tiny waiting room with four or five rows of chairs and a flat-screen TV showing an American news channel.
We took a number and waited maybe five or ten minutes before being called up to the window. It was a nice change to have someone who spoke American English on the other side of the counter. We turned in our paperwork, then went to the cashier and paid. That was it! We were on the road back to Rayong by ten thirty, where we dropped Tim at work then drove back to Pattaya - over six hours in the car - ugh.
We were finally notified that our new passports were ready, so I went back to the embassy to pick them up. I had to stifle a giggle while waiting in line: the guy ahead of me was picking up a new passport for his daughter. The clerk asked how old the daughter was, and the man said she was one month old. The clerk's response? "So, is this her first passport?"
While waiting in the chairs for my number to be called, CNN was airing a show called "Believer," In this particular episode, a religious scholar by the name of Reza Aslan was interviewing a nomadic tribe of cannibals in India. The Aghori he was interviewing gave him a piece of human brain to eat, and smeared the ashes of a cremated body all over him. Then the Aghori proceeded to poop into his own hands and eat it, flinging it at the interviewer. It took several moments of disbelief before it registered with me what was going on. That's right - all on the TV in the lobby of the American Consulate. That is what I will remember of my time there - nauseating. So glad when my number was called.
Back to Tim's workplace we drove. Tim met me in the lobby to take our passports to HR, as we would need to quickly get our Thai visas transferred and updated. He gave me a quick look around the grounds - quite a nice, big place. Didn't make it back to his office, which is some distance from the main entrance. Then it was back to Pattaya again - another six hours of driving.
The next day Tim's workplace had a special event, so I rode in to work with him in the morning. I got a little taste of what he sees everyday (but no elephants working in the fields today).
|Always someone selling fresh Buddhist flowers|
to hang on the car mirror
|Too much traffic? Just make a new lane...|
|People in the back of pickups - everywhere|
|Motorbikes swarm around the cars and trucks|
It was Diversity Day, and this year FTM invited some of the wives to present food from their particular countries. Most of the women in my group were from Australia, with a couple of Americans. Our table was mostly western-style desserts (is Australia really considered western?) I baked a hundred brownies, and spent a couple of hours wrapping them all individually the night before. So funny to think of brownies as a "diversity" food.
|They had a meeting room set aside for us to set up|
|Ready for our guests|
|The Philippines flag|
Groups were on hand from the Pattaya Children's Home and the School for the Deaf. Students from the Children's Home sang some traditional Thai songs. The music sounds a bit foreign to our western ears. I learned from my Thai teacher that Thai words do not lose their tones when they are sung, so the melody seems, to our ear, to go up or down in unexpected places. I find this pretty amazing - you can't just write a melody you like, then put words to it. You have to consider the tone of each word.
I made a point to stop and talk to the young ladies from the Deaf school, and discovered how very different Thai sign language is from American. One young lady had spent some time at a school in Australia - her lip-reading was amazing, especially when you realize she is not lip-reading in her native Thai language. They were all very sweet, and gave out booklets with some simple Thai signs and the signed Thai alphabet. I learned to say "Korb Koon Ka" (thank-you) in sign - basically, you put both hands facing in toward the center of your chest, and open them like saloon doors. Now you try!
Some of the managers, Tim not included, dressed up like superheroes for the event. The idea was that co-workers would make a donation to have their picture taken with their favorite superhero - Batman, Spider Man, Thor, Captain America, Superman, Iron Man or Maleficent - then the superhero with the most donations won bragging rights. The money went to local charities. Everyone got a big kick out of seeing another side of their bosses. I felt sorry for these guys dressed in such hot costumes in the Thailand heat.
The staff kindly brought out box lunches for us from the cafeteria - some pretty tasty cashew chicken with rice and the ubiquitous fried egg on top. We gobbled down bites of food as the employees picked up the last of our goodies. I enjoyed getting to meet some of Tim's staff, including a couple I recognized from the choir at St. Nikolaus Church. Lots of lovely people.
A few of the women had their kids come for an afternoon tour of the facilities. I said my goodbyes and headed back to the blissfully cool air of our car and the drive home. I am thankful to Ford for letting us be a part of this uplifting event, and to my fellow Ford wives for their enthusiastic participation.
|The Aussies made me do it!|