Company Outing with a heart…

Last weekend was personally a special day for me in the sense that it is my first company outing experience working here in Bangkok. We went to a resort called Rai Kusuma in Saraburi Province, about 2 hours drive from Bangkok. What makes it special then? Well, first I am in a group of local people who speak their native tongue, have their own brand of humor and activities which some may not be the same style as ours. Food is definitely Thai including the level of spice, though I love Thai food so it is definitely not an issue…We had our team building activity which you guess it right…was conducted in Thai. The facilitator would penalize the person who is unable to follow instructions correctly or is the slowest in the group..since their is language barrier, it is doubly hard for me cos I have to mind on my speed and accuracy of action as well as the language. I truly appreciate colleagues who has to quickly translate for me what the facilitator just said before they action so that I will not be penalized. I don’t know if I looked like a burden to Anyway, the best part is that I was not penalized in any of the activities of that team building and was able to work with my team well. We were even successful creating a nice and strong tower made of newspaper!

After the dinner and the programme, we had karaoke and dancing sessions which we truly enjoyed. The night is still young so some decided to play cards while I joined a group who prefer drinking while singing and playing the guitar..some of them requested me to sing..since they do not know how to play Philippine songs in the guitar, we had to search from a laptop about music cords from International the end, we were able to enjoy singing together while helping ourselves with shots of alcohol mix. Luckily no one got drunk since singing and playing guitar is the main agenda.
Next day we had early breakfast because we had to check out from the resort around 10:00 am to go to our selected temple for visit and donation. We went to Wat Phra Baht Nam Phu which cares for full-blown AIDS victims. This for me is the unique part of our company outing. I’ve been to several company outing in the past and mostly it comprises of sightseeing, team building games, eating, singing and drinking..mostly rest and recreation. However, at this time we really see to it that we are able to share some of our blessings to others. About a month prior to the company outing date, we placed a coin bank in the office for donations to the temple. I wasn’t able to know how much is the total amount however, as I see it, many staff would drop coins or bills almost everyday. We also allotted some for buying items needed in the temple either by the monks or the patients themselves.
There were several pavilions in the temple compound. Some were individual units for the patients. The “guide” directed us to one building. Upon entry, we saw bodies of people who died from AIDS encased in glass or metal caskets. It was actually a scary experience seeing decayed bodies of men, women even children who died of AIDS. In each casket you will see descriptions of their name, age, how they acquired the disease and their statement about donating their body for purpose of AIDS research. Commonly, you can see from the description that they are either sex workers, drug users (using shared needles), women who got the disease from husbands or children getting it from their mothers at time of birth..

In another building, before entering you have to wear a surgical mask. When I get closer to the building I realized, it is the area where living patients with AIDS are housed. I actually wanted to go inside together with some of my colleagues but sadly, I didn’t have enough courage to go inside and see the conditions of these patients because before I stepped in, I saw one patient, a child (which I presume to be not over 7 years) lying in bed, very thin and looking like a living skeleton. It is a sight which will definitely break my heart and I may not be prepared to see worser conditions inside so I decided not to go and just wait outside..

It was a very hot afternoon and Lopburi is one of the hottest province in Thailand  so we only had to allot only 30 minutes inside the temple and also because the location is quite far and in the foot of the mountains though the scenery was really beautiful. In addition, we had to rush back home before it gets dark due to the still unstable situation in Bangkok. I had to admit this experience was such an eye opener for me and it made me ponder that the night before all of us were enjoying the food, drinks, games, prizes and entertainment while in another part of the country, there are actual sufferers and many had died already and only few would care for them.
Anyway, it is not too late and by this blog post, I hope some readers who are able to read it would also be encouraged to do the same by including outreach programme in their company activities to help the poor and needy which is an ingredient of true happiness…

My Lopburi Monkey Festival, Thailand experience

Last Sunday, November 29, me and a bunch of friends went to Lopburi, a province in Central Thailand located 150 km. Northeast of Bangkok to experience the annual Monkey Festival, a unique event especially created for the Macaque monkeys held every November. It is believed by local folks that if they feed the monkeys, it will give them good luck throughout the year. Apparently, for one of my friends, her luck is not present that day because just minutes since we arrived in the area, she sprained her ankle in an uneven road pavement so throughout the festival and in other places that we visited, she was in pain and can barely walk.

The festivity of the Monkey Festival is concentrated in an old Khmer temple, Prang Sam Yot. In here, hundreds of monkeys young and old alike wander around the area which is surrounded by a steel fence. Locals say the fence is actually like a border delineating the territory between the “good monkeys” and the “bad monkeys”. They say those outsiders (bad monkeys) try to steal food from inside the temple grounds but many of the so-called monkey guards from the inside try to protect their territory from the “invaders”. While we happily take pictures with the now hyper-active monkeys because they eat a lot of sweets and colas, we heard two monkey’s squeal. When we look further, we found out that these 2 monkeys are actually in a fighting mode. The guard monkey tries to prevent the invader from getting any food inside or even step within their territory. At the end he was successful.

Along the street and some short distance from the temple you can see monkeys in the electric post climbing, crossing the road through the electric or telephone lines, or trying to grab food or drinks from unwary tourist or pedestrian. We wonder how often the telephone or electric companies replace their lines because of this.

Since we arrived in the area around 10 am and after watching the monkeys eat the food being served and taking a lot of pictures, we decided to head for lunch. We went to Big-C Supercentre and eat a tasty and spicy chicken meal in KFC. After lunch, we wonder where our next stop is. Since the sun is shining intensely, we almost hesitate to go somewhere riding at the back of the pick-up but at the end, we decided to move. We went to another old temple ruins but decided not to enter because there is an entrance fee of Baht 150 per person. However, the scenery is almost the same as outside so we just spend sometime outside the temple grounds and drink a refreshing iced coffee while taking random pictures.

After that, we headed to a Sunflower farm in Saraburi Province which is almost an hour ride on the way back to Bangkok. The sunflowers are so beautiful in full bloom. Since we arrived in the area almost at dusk so many of the flowers seem bowing down as expected. Still, we managed to take excellent pictures and bought pure Honey for only Baht 100 for a tall long neck bottle.

Next, we decided to go to Pasak Jolasit Dam also in Lopburi Province. This dam is smaller than the previous one that we visited in Nakhon Nayok Province but is also an ideal place for relaxation and recreation. We see many families do picnic or engage in many recreational activities along the dam. The dam is teeming with live fish. Moreover, the landscape is very nice for picture-taking because of the good cloud formation and very calm looking backdrop.

After the visit to the dam, we decided to call it a day and head back to Bangkok since we have work the following day. Along the road within the Bangkapi area of Bangkok, we saw the local Thai Buffet style BBQ restaurant called Mukata. Price per person is only Bath 109 excluding drinks which is actually value for money if you love eating. There is a wide selection of raw food you can cook in a charcoal heated Barbecue dish. You can pick Barbecue pork or chicken, prawns, squid, chicken or fish balls, fresh vegetable and noodles and a variety of finger foods, appetizer and desserts. It was such a big big dinner that we finished after 2 hours of non-stop eating.
Finally, I arrived in my room around 11:30. It was a very tiring day but definitely worth it. At first, I am quite hesitant since it is a Sunday and next day we have to work. Moreover, I’m not a big fan of monkeys because I know that at times they get so unruly and try to grab anything that caught their fancy. However, I decided to go cos it’s a new experience for me. Luckily, I joined and definitely not regret doing so. It was such a fun traveling with lots of friends and we are in fact discussing when and where will our next trip be.