Archive for September, 2009

Birthday wish

Twenty-one again!

The team decided that my birthday couldn’t go without celebration. Although they restricted the number of candles on the cake to comply with fire regulations…


A few of the participants at our Bangkok training


Facilitation at its best…

Look behind you

Look behind you!

Matthew working

Hard at work!

Well, the vacation’s over. After spending the weekend relaxing by the pool and recovering from jetlag, it’s time to get down to work with the team here in Thailand. Lots of material to cover and not enough time to cover it all means that we’re working long days.

I slept well the first night we arrived, but woke up yesterday at 3:45am. I finally gave up on getting back to sleep around 4:30am, and took the rest of the morning to put the final touches on my presentations before heading out to the first meeting.

When we broke for lunch, all of my Thai colleagues had a good laugh as I turned bright red – feeling bold, I had ordered adventurously from the Thai menu, and very quickly regretted it when I discovered I’d ordered the hottest thing on the menu. I soldiered on, aided by lots of water and lots of laughter.

We finally wrapped up at 5:30pm, and I snuck back to my room to catch a few minutes sleep before we headed out to dinner. I’d just fallen asleep when I was awoken by a knock on the door – the manager had worked out that it was my birthday based on the passport I handed over when I checked in, and had sent up a cake to celebrate – decorated with my full legal name and title (also copied from the passport, I guess!).

We headed out to dinner in the pouring rain, a big group meal organized by my hosts. This time I put local knowledge to work – I planted myself next to one of my Thai colleagues and let him order for me. Much safer.

More workshops for the rest of the week, then headed home on Friday. No more time for sightseeing, but not all is lost – I will be back in Bangkok in November for another set of meetings.

I’ve been working in Paris too long. Time to return to the origins of this website and report something more exotic than my exploits in Clichy for a change. Time for a report from Thailand.

Two days and two massages into my latest trip to Bangkok, and I remember all the reasons I love Thailand. Great food, great service, friendly people, and warm weather.

I flew on Thai airlines from Zurich on Saturday afternoon. The flight was perfect. My colleague made the rookie mistake of ordering the western meal (filet mignon – always sounds great but ends up dry as boot leather when cooked in an airline oven) and looked on jealously as my pork curry came out – it tasted and smelled even better than it looked. After dinner, I settled in for some sleep, and managed to squeeze in eight hours of good sleep before being woken for breakfast about an hour before landing.

We arrived at 5:30am Sunday morning. Our driver was waiting and we were at the hotel about thirty minutes later. We dropped off our bags, took an hour to have some breakfast and grab a shower, then headed out to explore the city. We started with a little shopping, then had Japanese for lunch – and ordered so much food that they needed to bring a second table (Gina, if you’re reading this, you’ll recognize the situation from our Japanese meals in Singapore!). When the food is this cheap and this good, it’s hard to resist.

I passed the afternoon with a little snooze, a few hours by the pool, and a massage – just about the perfect way to pass an afternoon in Thailand in my book. Another of our colleagues arrived on the evening flight, and we all headed out to dinner at Ruen Mallika, a Thai place I’ve eaten in before and still one of the best that I’ve eaten in Thailand.

Despite asking the waitress to warn us if we over-ordered, we…you guessed it…over-ordered. Fish cakes, spring rolls, tom yum goom with prawns that were as big as lobsters, then red duck curry, more jumbo prawns in garlic, fried heart of palm, chili beef salad, fried morning glory, rice, noodles, and more. Moral of the story: never order when you’re hungry. I had taken charge of the ordering, but I had two willing assistants cheering me on from the sidelines… “Ohh, let’s have one of those, too!” Delicious fresh mango to finish it all off, and the ubiquitous Singha beer. (Apparently, it’s the formaldehyde that gives it the unique taste.)

Lounging by the pool in Bangkok

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it…

Today was a quiet day. Slept well overnight, had a late start, then a little more shopping, more pool, and more food. Took a few hours out of my afternoon to visit our office in Bangkok where I’ll be running workshops for the next few days, then off for another massage.

We’re just about to head out to the Seafood Market for dinner – you choose it, they kill it, they cook it, you eat it. My kinda dinner.

Not quite sure how I managed to land this job, but it’s not a bad way to make a living…

Matthew in lab coat

All dressed for a visit of the production facility

I got the grand tour of the site today, including a visit to one of the production facilities. I may work in finance, but I like to see the oily bits from time-to-time, at least to get a sense of what we really do as a company.

I’m convinced that there are some very, very clever people working here. As a feat of engineering, a large-scale drug production facility is really something that commands respect. I just wish I knew how it all worked.

(sorry for the poor photo quality — cameras are banned in the production facilities, so I had to snap a quick shot with the Blackberry before going in…)