Tuesday, 28 February 2017

I come from a land Down Under…

Where women blow and men plunder, or even chunder!

Mr Wren was away last weekend with his new Bangkok work colleagues. It was the annual office team bonding event.

I had to smile in sympathy when @verybritishproblems tweeted their four-word horror stories: 

Team Building away day 
Tell us about yourself 
We’ve run out of milk!
At this event, every new employee is invited, the sort of invitation you don’t refuse, to introduce themselves to the broader team of over 250 people, in an entertaining manner. 

My Wren failed the audition to join an existing group of newbies who clearly were going all out to make a great first impression. They politely told him he wouldn’t have the time to catch up as they’d been working on their performance for months. Which considering that most Thai’s will never say no to anything, was a gutsy move! 

So poor old Mr Wren was in a right flap. I was sensing he’d be more comfortable standing on stage announcing a 2017 50% reduction in bonus payments than doing his solo performance! 

He’d decided to sing the Men At Work song: 'I come from a land Down Under'. Do you know it, it's a catchy little tune? How wise this decision was and how well known the song is in Thailand remains to be seen. It’s one of those infamous Aussie songs like Waltzing Matilda, come to think about it, that would have been better… He could have waltzed around the stage, more visually appealing!

I come from a cork-hatted, blow up croc land with a big knife!
Luckily no worries mate, his old Aussie office rallied, determined not to see him back out and produced the above props. The big knife in case you were wondering was for Paul Hogan ‘that’s not a knife, this is a knife’ quote from the movie Crocodile Dundee.

Sensing the possibility for it all to go horribly wrong with an at best mass silence, no laughter, lost in translation moment... Or at worst, being the shortest secondment in the history of Thai expats. I stepped in as Executive Producer.  

My suggestion was to change the words, 'no-one will have a clue what the plunder, chunder lyrics mean'... I was sacked quicker than a Leicester City football manager for that proposal!

So I can’t wait to hear how it went 
Let’s hope that no-one chundered*!

PS Chunder means to be sick, in case you were wondering!

Linking with thanks to Tamar at Randomosity

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Two old bears living it up in Bangkok!

Well here we are at the end of our second week living in Bangkok...

1. Barely in Bangkok: We've found somewhere to live! At the moment we're living it up in a serviced apartment. This picture sums up our current life: two bears alone in Bangkok. The bears were given to us at a Valentines Day dinner and the flowers are in an old Perrier bottle as all our worldly Bangkok-bound goods, with the odd vase or two, are currently bobbing around on the high seas between Melbourne and Bangkok. The place is quite spartan as you can see, but we do have the luxury of having our beds made up each day!

From next week now I'm all sorted we start travelling, watch this space!

2. Bird in Paradise: I spotted the birds of paradise flowers in our local market, and of course Little Wren aka bird in paradise or so I keep reminding myself had to have them. There was a conversation that started with 'not for sale'...The flower lady refused to sell them to me, as she said 'no good, not fresh'. She gave them to me and has now become my flower lady for life. The people here have been absolutely gorgeous. For the most part living up to their land of smiles reputation.

3. Our new nest! After the dramas of apartment hunting with relocation agents before Christmas, I decided to go it alone and see what I could find. I have walked my rocks off in our local area, door knocking on any apartment block which looked nice but without an agent, it is not that easy. First, you need to make it past security and then it's pot luck with the reception staff - there were definitely moments when I felt I didn't live up to their resident profile in some establishments ...

I clearly look too much of a sweaty betty, hair doing it's own thing in the humidity and I have this very swish Lululemon sleeveless sports top which has a mesh midriff, which I thought would be nice and cool, but clearly I'm looking more Pretty Woman than pretty much exactly who they want to rent a place too!

But in one place I got a lovely warm welcome and was shown an apartment which will do just fine. The first thing I do when apartment hunting is go straight to the window, and as long as long as it had a nice outlook, and I didn't feel trapped in a concrete jungle, then I would start investigating further! So now we will be neighbours with the American Ambassador - well he's got a humongous place, we've got a small nest high up above the trees. But there is an elephant by the pool & I can hear the little birds sing. Perfect!

4. Chatuchak market - last weekend we headed to one of Bangkok's best-known market, it is the biggest in Thailand. It's hot, grubby and you need to have a load of stamina for this great shopping adventure! We somehow seemed to start in the animal section and then progress to the massage oil section so I am looking forward to returning to see other areas and I have my eye on some big ceramic planters as I want to fill our home with orchids!

5. She died serving peas at Sunday lunch!  After a morning tackling only a fraction of the 8000 market stalls I needed some calm! We ended up at the Siam Kempinski for an afternoon pot of tea for two. The music was lovely and I happened to remark to my dear Mr Wren that my Grandmother was a great pianist! Of course I get ribbed mercilessly for such comments... so what did your grandma do I asked? Where do you go after the reply 'she died serving peas at Sunday Lunch?!'

On that note time to finish up. I hope you all had a good week and hopefully next week I'll be able to visit you all!

Linking with thanks to Five on Friday and Amy 

Monday, 20 February 2017

Bangkok Blogger

Life is not about finding ourselves it is about creating ourselves!
George Bernard Shaw

Cooee! It's me calling in from Thailand. Sorry, it's been a while, it's been a tad busy. Still, we've not done badly. We've moved into our temporary apartment and are well on the way to finding something more permanent. We're overlooking the American Embassy compound, which is acres of impressive greenery in amongst the high rise buildings. I love it, I can even hear the little birds sing in the morning.

Outside our new apartment.
So welcome to my new life as .... drum roll please, Hmmm actually, I have no bleedin’ idea, so how about Bangkok Blogger for now?

How would you feel if you were to arriving in a new country, where you know no-one, and you're not even sure what your life will entail? For me, it was a feeling of excitement, crossed with a rolling of the eyes, a smile and my 'here we go again' expression. 

Of course, this always happens Mr Wren was away travelling and so I rocked up for my new Thai life solo last week. Yep on my tod. Welcome to Bangkok, said no-one.

It's been an interesting few days. With all my point of references removed, it's like being back in the first week at school where you hope you don't inadvertently say something daft and stupid. I don't know what is safe to eat, all that street food looks yummy but... and the majority of the time I don't know where I am going or what I am doing...

I didn’t know, for instance, filling in my arrival paperwork whether my brand spanking new non-immigrant Thai visa meant I could waltz in with a ‘Honey I’m home grin’, ready to set up our new life… or whether I'm still firmly in the foreigner queue. Silly me, of course, I was!

Who am I now? I have left behind my old Australian life where I was a Mother, a friend, a volunteer, and a Crazy Poodle owner. To rattle off a few of my reasons for being. I had roots, and pretty strong ones, given our ever changing corporate they say ‘jump’ we say ‘how high and where’ lifestyle. 

Here I have no kids, no dog, no work and no friends!

Ha, that makes it sound sadder than it really is. The beauty of the blogosphere is that my friends can come with me, well sort off, well virtually anyway. I have loved moving countries over the years and making new friends is on the list for future weeks. Watch out world.

But now, I am not sure what my life will entail. I could reinvent myself, perhaps my latent creative will come to the fore? There are craft and art groups here, apparently, the Aussies have a lively group called Crackers, who spend months making Christmas crackers, to raise money for charity. 

Perhaps I take up mahjong, bridge or golf? I think my inner sporty spice has done her dash and all this humidity is not likely to encourage her back out, apart from perhaps the badminton just so I can say I still can!

However, maybe I could start with fitter, not fatter so I need a gym. I want to find yoga and pilates and I really want to join in the fan-snapping, tai-chi ladies at dawn in Lumphini Park… I have managed to walk my 10,000 steps each day so far. Lumphini Park is beautiful and the weather is surprisingly kind but walking home in all that pollution leaves a strong metal taste in my mouth.

Sculpture Lumphini Park: Women in the next three decades
And somewhere hidden deep at the bottom of a trying move, our Bangkok-bound container stranded on the side of the road and we weren't sure whether the dog was at death's door or whether it was separation anxiety gone mad, is the new me. 

Just a little update, the Crazy Poodle had the audacity to add to the stress of moving, I got fatter he had rapid weight loss and blood in his stools. So I wasn't even sure if I was saying bye, see ya or Goodbye Forever. Although after various trips to the Animal hospital it certainly was ta-ra mega bucks! Anyway, his tail is now back to wagging wildly and I’m hoping his vomits was just his cheeky way of saying I've read your blog, don’t go! 

Crazy Poodle is getting his energy back!
So, as long as I don't get arrested this week, as I will have a lot of explaining to do about our family exchange of photos many of which include pictures of dog poo! I will be up for finding the new me.

 Somewhere deep inside is a Zen Wren waiting to burst forth. 
I might need a relaxing spa day first….

So who would you be if you could recreate yourself?

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Toodle-oo to the Crazy Poodle

Generally, I'm fine with our upcoming move to Bangkok, 
but there is a big elephant in the room, in the shape of the Crazy Poodle. 

Our seven-year-old Cavoodle did not score a ticket to Thailand. 
Leaving him will be really hard, even though I know it's for the best.

He's not good with change, hates all suitcases and our lovable velcro dog displays all the hallmarks of canine separation anxiety. You'd think he'd be used to it with the amount of travelling our family does, but as soon as those suitcases appear, he goes into full-on poodle sulk!

Without a suitcase in sight, he's a different beast, happy as a pig in mud. 
Content and relaxed, he sleeps at our feet without a care in the world.

However the moment he is left home alone, he is on guard. 
Alternating between being on surveillance with his nose and all four paws perfectly aligned under the gate. Or, patrolling the perimeter fence 
checking for likely possum or feline intruders.

I know we can't take him to Bangkok although plenty of expats do have dogs. There would be many issues. 
Firstly, with rabies, Bangkok is a non-approved country. 
So whilst the journey out would be one thing, 
any return would be mean a time in quarantine. 
I know he's better off at home bored with our adult kids, 
than going through this.

Then there is the hot and humid climate, a huge part of the pleasure of dog ownership, other than companionship is walking the dog. I've seen humans in Bangkok displaying aberrant behaviour walking around the lift foyer in a vain attempt to get some exercise without enduring the outside sweaty conditions. I'm not up for a sweaty Betty walk in Lumphini Park with a hot dog on a lead when we're used to long walks on gorgeous beaches.

So what do I do? 
Do I sneak out without so much as a see you later? 
Or do we have the whole teary see you sometime farewell?

What would you do?

Linking with thanks to Eileen at Saturday's Critters

Friday, 3 February 2017

The Year of the Rooster

... or the Year Of The Cock-up?

Maybe it wasn't an auspicious date to be planning to move house during Chinese New Year? Those born during the year of the Rooster* would be amazing to have as friends. The Rooster is they say almost the epitome of fidelity and punctuality and come to think of it, should have been part of my selection criteria for the whole team involved in getting us to Bangkok. 

So things did not quite go according to plan but hey we made it!

1. Firstly our removal company rescheduled our move without our agreement or knowledge. So Mr Wren and I, having run around like headless chooks on Australia Day, with not even enough time to fly our Aussie flag as in previous years, were sitting there in splendid isolation on what we had thought was our big packing day... 

Waiting, waiting...

22Now, this would have been an ideal time to practise all those new skills we need in our new country. Like being relaxed, happy, keeping our cool, avoiding conflict and not losing my temper. But hey we're still in Oz and I was definitely not best pleased! 

It was also a perfect opportunity as Mr Wren & I are moving to a country where we know no-one, to practise the gentle art of conversation. But it kinda went like this:

Me: 'They've stuffed up'
Him: 'Let's go!'

3. After a false moving start, I returned the following day to the Mornington Peninsula to find the team of three packers hard at work. They had started in the kitchen and were pleased with their progress. 

My 'where's the kettle?' wailing fell on deaf ears... I mean what school of packing forgets to teach that you never, ever, ever put the kettle in the first box??

Keep Calm and Move On! 

4.4 As I sat in the driveway looking at boxes and boxes through our empty wine rack, I realised that is why they don't allow you to pack any alcohol or wine. It's not the horrendous import tariff that makes it prohibitive, it's the fact that they know that take a woman's chance for a cuppa away from her and she'll hit the booze!

I did chuckle at all the things we were not able to take to Bangkok for a variety of import reasons... All my wonderful Buddhas, not allowed. Big no no, even when they never came from Thailand, nothing antique (too much paperwork) sporting goods (taxed as a luxury item, alcohol (massive tax) and for some reason only one of every sort of electrical item... 

Mr Wren has been travelling back and forth for a number of months. Each time if he had been ever stopped by customs I'm sure they would have raised an eyebrow - he looks like an alcoholic, elite athlete. He goes in with the full duty-free allowance and every sporting item we can muster; tennis, golf, you name it.  I mean we haven't played badminton for thirty years but a couple of apartments have badminton courts, so our badminton racquets are now in Bangkok. 

5. Finally just as I thought I'd waved goodbye to our two containers worth of household goods, one off to storage, the other on it's way to the Kingdom of Thailand, the driver returned without the second trailer. 

'Have you got a padlock?' he asks clearly flustered? 
"Errrrr no",  I was going to reply. 'You've just packed up my entire house...'

'The tow bar's bust, we'll have to pick up your trailer tomorrow...'

We always knew it was going to be hard to leave Australia
But maybe not quite this hard! 

           Oh well, never mind. I'm sure it will all work out.
Our removal company have been very apologetic and 
this is the new Thai Zen Wren talking.
Keeping calm and moving on!

Oh, I forgot to ask does anyone have a spare shuttlecock? 

The Years of the Rooster include 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017

Linking with thanks to Amy's Five On Friday