4 Years in The Land of Smiles and Counting…

Sawadee Krap!

On this day exactly 4 years ago, I went out of my beloved country to take the opportunity of working in the Land of Smiles- Thailand. It was a gamble for myself and my would-be employer.
It was my first time working abroad in an almost 100% Thai environment and I had many questions in my mind back then as to what my future holds in Thailand.

For my employer, as in every employee that is newly hired, they are unable to judge 100%– my capabilities, my personality or even my commitment to working overseas as they’ve never met me personally before I landed in their country, but only knew me through some character references and background checking. However, since my designation is a Management post, it is definitely a gamble for them to accept me.

I would be working in the same company that I used to work for in Manila (Bangkok being another Branch office) so basically the systems and procedures are almost the same except it will be in a Thai setting and I just had to adjust my working style to adapt to Thai culture.

I had actually resigned from the company in Manila for almost a year prior to me accepting the job offer in Bangkok. I worked in a hotel group and was doing quite well if I may say so. One Sunday, I was on duty when my former boss of 7 years (which I also consider as my Mentor) Sir Nikki called me and asked where I am at that time and if he could meet me. There is a sense of urgency in his voice.

I told him I was in the hotel and just about to finish my duty. He drove all the way to the hotel on a weekend and meet up with me. He told me about the opportunity to work in Bangkok.

Naturally I was surprised by what he just told me because I really had no clue as to what his purpose is for meeting me so urgently on a weekend and I did not dare ask him earlier out of courtesy.

Besides, I am doing ok with my current employer at that time and has no plans of resigning too soon as there are a handful of projects I am heading and on the process of seeking approval from my current boss.

I would say the timing is right because at that time, I felt like the projects entrusted to me is progressing slower than I expected. I was used to having the liberty to make decisions quickly in my previous employer though I understand that the current one has to go through a long and tedious process and discussions even the very small details. I sort of felt I was not empowered.

Anyway, I still asked my Mentor what was the offer and how soon I need to fly in case I accepted the job. He told me about the position, the compensation offer and said I had to fly in about a month’s time. Once I make the decision, they have to process all the papers and stuff. It has to be decided quickly as my would-be boss will be on maternity leave for 3 months and I have to help her oversee the company during her absence.

Can u just imagine the shock on my face when I learned about it. Of course I felt flattered that my former boss still remembered me and vouched for my capabilities the reason why he recommended me for that job. I told him I cannot make the decision at that instant and I have to consult my family as it is definitely a big decision to make.

It was almost Holy Week at that time so I had time to contemplate. When I told my parents about it of course they wanted me to stay in the country. There was no member in our family who ever worked overseas so I was the first one to sort of “Explore the world”. After thinking of the big task I had to fill, I told my parents I want to take the challenge and perhaps try working abroad for a few years.

At the end, they supported me even though they still have some hesitations.

Fast forward, I accepted the job offer and  left for Bangkok.

When I saw the city, the people and surrounding it felt like I was still in Manila except that I can’t understand their language or the words written on the signs and billboards.

My mentor accompanied me in Bangkok and formally introduced me to my new boss, Khun Angie who I can say is a pleasant lady even meeting just for the first time. She only had over a week to train me and turnover some of the existing responsibilities. I must admit I was scared and worried if I can do the job well once she takes her maternity leave.

Fortunately, with the grace of God and the help of my supportive colleagues, I was able to do good (I think) until she returned. In the past 4 years I’ve been in Thailand I felt I was not an “alien” because my boss and colleagues are all kind and supportive and treated me as their own and not see me as a foreign Pinoy working in their country. They’ve also helped me grow as a person in terms of having more maturity now, gaining more confidence and having better business sense.

Over the years, I’ve also met  Filipino friends who are working and living in Bangkok like me. It is very hard to be in a foreign land by yourself but I believe my Pinoy friends helped me a lot to overcome home-sickness and in times I need some personal (or psychological?) help. LOL.

There are some who had come and go. Some are now based somewhere or back to the Philippines. Nothing is permanent in this world anyway. However the experiences we shared (whether good or bad) made our bond stronger.

Surely, tomorrow or in the longer future I would meet more new friends and I would welcome that opportunity as well.

I’ve also been to a lot of nice places in Thailand. I still have more places to go and definitely I will seize the opportunity to travel more whenever I can.

4 Years is too long for many, too short for some. As for my case, I now consider Thailand as my second home having stayed here quite long enough. I still don’t know how long I will still be working and living in Bangkok as I don’t know what will happen in the future.

But as the saying goes, Enjoy it while it lasts.

Over the years, I’ve gained some and also lost some but overall I can say I am blessed being here.

Kob Khun Krap Thailand! Looking forward to more great experiences here.

P.S. In the 4 years I’ve been here I think I only can speak the common phrases like “Sawadee Krap” and “Kob Khun Krap” which is a pity. Ha ha ha.

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One Helluva Year


The year is almost over in a few days. Time has passed so quickly I never realized another year will say goodbye again and a fresh year will start. I had my share of ups and downs in the Year 2010.

I had a good percentage of travel this year. I went to Singapore in January, Chiang Mai and Kanchanaburi in February, Saraburi and Pattaya in April, went back home in May, Phuket in November and again Philippines in December.

I love to travel which fortunately my job require me to do so once in every few months. I am looking forward to more trips (Holiday is preferred of course!) next year. Every time I travel, I learn new things, see interesting places, do exciting activities and more. I only hate waiting in the airports, train or bus stations.

This year has been very challenging in terms of work due to slow down in business across Thailand due to the political unrest in April-May. We have to exhaust all our creative thinking and continue to motivate the team to overcome the difficulties. It is not with sheer luck that we are able to conquer the obstacles but it is because of excellent team work, dedication and passion that put us intact and that despite the gloomy business climate, we are still able to put a good smile in everyone’s faces.

I’ve been overseas for almost 3 years now and I can say I am already used to living far away home. However, this year our family went into a very difficult situation that also tested our faith as well as our relationship with each member of the family. As earlier posted in my blog, my Dad was diagnosed with Bladder Cancer and he has undergone 2 operations this year including the total removal of his bladder. It was a very tough and stressful situation. The family is challenged physically and financially. Physically as each one (except me of course) has to have a fair share of contribution of their time (in between work, family of their own and other activities) in helping my Dad when he was confined at the hospital and up to now that he is still recuperating (He is not 100% recovered yet). My contribution is more on moral (encouraging everyone especially my Mom and Dad) that we could pass this test, spiritual (through daily prayers and prayer for a special favor, etc.) and financial.

When I went back beginning of this month, my Dad I can say is on the way to complete recovery. I really encourage my parents to fix their passport and other documents this time so they can have a holiday here in BKK next year as a treat.

As far as my love life is concerned, a year after a long term and serious relationship ended I can’t say everything is the way I wanted it to be though I am still hoping next year would be brighter on this aspect of my life. I am keeping my fingers crossed btw.

I met new and good friends this year and also catch up with long time friends through Facebook, Blogsphere and Chat. When I went back home this December, I was able to meet my College friends and the sort of reunion is definitely one of the best events I had in year 2010.

They say it is better to give than to receive. I observed this principle more this year than in the past. And true enough, there is such an unexplained joy helping those in need or just sharing your blessings to family, loved ones, colleagues and friends. Definitely double, triple or hundred fold blessings just flow easily.

As early as now, I am certain God has better plans for me in Year 2011. I will gladly accept the blessings and prepare myself for the challenges ahead for surely God is using me as His instrument to become a channel of blessing to others so I will try my best next year and more years to come so when I look back, the passing year brings Heavenly feeling to me.

Have a Blessed, Healthy and Bountiful New Year to all!

P.S. Just to make it clear, the Santa in the picture above is not me.

: )

Songkran in Khaosan cancelled

Quoting an article from Bangkok Post saying that the Songkran activities on April 13-15 which is traditionally held in Khaosan and Silom Road is canceled due to ongoing political unrest in Bangkok according to the Bangkok Governor, Sukhumbhand Paribatra.

The ongoing protests along Phan Fa Bridge which is very near Khaosan Road makes it too risky to hold the celebration, according to him.

Songkran Festival which is the Thai New Year is the happiest and most popular festival in Thailand. The city is literally almost empty as many Bangkokians would go upcountry to visit their relatives or troop to the beach because of the long weekend holidays.  However, many people join the water splashing or putting powder on the faces along the streets of Khaosan and Silom. This is really such an enjoyable experience. Many foreigners visiting Thailand participate in the activities.

Last year there was a similar political protests before Songkran. The BMA also announced Songkran was canceled. However on the second day of Songkran (if I remembered correctly), the military troops were able to disperse the protesters and at the last minute it was announced that the activities will resume. My friends and I trooped to Khaosan and boy, did I truly enjoy the experience of splashing water till night time.

Well I do am hoping the Songkran Festival will be celebrated happily as usual and the differences of belief and ideologies be put to a halt even for this short period only. I am likewise wishing together with many Thai people– for this ongoing conflict be resolved very soon and peacefully for that matter.

My Kanchanaburi Experience

Over the weekend, I went on a trip with my Colleagues and friends to Kanchanaburi, a province in Central Thailand located 130 kms. away from Bangkok is about 3 hours drive from the Capital. Kanchanaburi has become very famous all over the world because of the World War II Movie, “Bridge on the River Kwai” which was built by prisoners of war wherein more than half of the workers died of disease, maltreatment and accidents.

Kanchanaburi is Thailand’s 3rd largest province after Nakhon Ratchasima and Chiang Mai. It is gifted with abundant natural resources characterized by mountains, rivers, valleys and water falls most notable of which is the Erawan Waterfalls –a 7-tiered natural beauty wherein each level has a distinct characteristic.

We stayed in Xen Hideaway resort, a lovely resort with lots of trees in a big expanse of lot. Prior to our stay, we passed by a local Sukiyaki Buffet restaurant wherein you can have all you can eat Suki for only 99 Baht (including drinks). Very cheap price isn’t it?..The catch is that you are only allowed to consume everything you cooked within 1.5 hours and any excess food will be charged 20 Baht per 100 gram which is not bad. Our group always have a trick with this kind of situation..We all agree we cannot talk much the moment we step into the restaurant..We will just eat, eat, eat then the talking comes later once we stepped out of the restaurant. That way even 1 hour time allotted, we can be as heavy as a hippo. Lol.

The room I stayed in the resort is nice and comfortable. Nothing fancy..but have all the basic amenities needed- Cable TV (however only 1 movie channel is available–HBO which is good enough), mini bar, air con, private shower and bath..The bed side lamp is quite unique so I took a picture..


My room is overlooking the resort’s swimming pool which is nicely landscaped and has several sun decks if anyone wants to bathe in the sun.

We had our dinner in the main restaurant. I ordered Beef with Vegetables in Oyster Sauce which I say is quite good and the price is not expensive for a resort (about 130 Baht if I remembered correctly).  After dinner, we had our Karaoke in the newly-built private Karaoke Room of the resort. What’s good with this resort is that they have a wide selection of English songs. Most of the Karaoke joints (even in the hotel) that I visited in Bangkok has very limited English song inventory. The audio of the Karaoke Room at Xen is also very good. Only thing is that the walls made of glass is not sound proof so if your voice is not good enough, prepare for the boo boos from the other guests. Good thing though it is quite far from the guest rooms so those sleeping will not have any nightmare. Lol.

Next day, after our buffet breakfast we surveyed the surrounding of the resort. The Kwai River actually passes by the property. On the banks of the river on the other side are lush green vegetation. A lot of trees and ferns grow which is very relaxing to the eyes..The river is flowing very calmly, good for bamboo rafting. There is a watch tower about 6 or 7 stories high which I climbed together with the husband of my colleague and 2 young boys. I am not a big fan of high places but I can tell you the view on top is really breath taking.

We checked out then proceeded to Srinakarin Dam which is about 30 minutes drive from the resort. It is a massive dam surrounded by lush vegetation. They say the Srinakarin lake has abundant marine life and surrounding areas even have tigers, deers and other form of wild life. Entrance is Free.

After the Dam tour, we went for a Som Tam lunch. Lunch includes various form of spicy Thai Salad including the famous Papaya “Pok Pok” salad as well as grilled pork and chicken.

We then headed to the Erawan Water Falls which is one of the most popular waterfalls in Thailand. It was a very hot Sunday and we had to trek a long trail before reaching the various levels of the waterfalls. Since it is dry season, many trees along the pathways are very dry and wilted. However, as you go deeper into the National Park, you can find a lot of bigger, older and healthier trees. Generally, the climb uphill to reach different “floors” of the waterfalls is safe and a lot of people (locals and foreigners alike) don’t mind the sweltering heat just to get a glimpse or perhaps take a dip in the cool waters of the falls.

Food and drinks are not allowed from the 2nd level up which is a given since bringing food and drinks up is prone to wastes across the waterfalls and the mountain. With a lot of tourist, if they will not control it, surely the surrounding will be very filthy in a short period of time. Many people can reach up to level 4 falls which has a slide-like surface. Many people actually try to slide down as seen in the picture.


Three of us- – Arm (the brother of my colleague), Nan (the young son of my boss) and myself decided to go further to level 5 which is about 450 meters away from the 4th level. The surface is really getting steeper as we climbed up though it is still practically not too risky. Only thing is that since we have a child with us, we decided not to go up to 7th level. Another thing is that the National Park closes at 4PM for the safety of the climbers so we decided to go down after level 5.

It was indeed a very tiring but such a great experience which we can definitely not find in the city and this activity cannot just be done as we please cos it takes a lot of travelling and efforts to go there.

Next and last stop and is a must to go otherwise, you will not feel you’ve been to Kanchanaburi is the Bridge on the River Kwai. This Bridge was built as part of the Burma Railway or commonly known as Death Railway. It is kinda scary to walk on the bridge because there are a lot of big open spaces. If you are not careful enough because of a lot of tourist walking back and forth, there might be a chance you will fall down the river.

There are many local foods being sold at the foot of the Bridge including a local Ice cream made of Pepsi products worth 5 Baht each. I just tried. The taste is plain though and Pepsi in can is definitely better but the Ice cream is worth a try.

On the way back to Bangkok, after all the activities of the weekend, everyone just sleep in the Van tired but ready to work on the next day.

Looking forward to my next Thailand expedition…

My Koh Samed, Thailand Trip

Koh Samed
Koh Samed
Koh Samed
Koh Samed

 

As an Expat, I am always fascinated with how different our culture is with Thailand even though this country is still within Southeast Asia and only 3.5 hours away from Manila. To make my working life here in the City of Angels easier, I try to adapt some of their way of living but of course this doesn’t mean I am already forgetting my Filipino roots. I guess we Filipinos adapt easily to any environment or culture for that matter. I am always trying their local food, courtesies, simple living like riding an ordinary bus, tuk tuk (their own version of tricycle) and even a motosay (a public motorcycle you hire to roam around the city faster) whenever I can.

Another thing that I would want to maximize while I am staying in a foreign land is to visit as many places as I can during my stint here. Thailand as we all know is known for very scenic spots such as beaches and mountains. So far, I have been to some places mostly within short driving distance from Bangkok like Pattaya, Hua Hin, Nakhon Nayok, Ayutthaya and the farthest would be  Koh Samui, an Island destination south of Thailand- which is an hour flight from the capital.

Last weekend though, I was fortunate to be able to visit another “up and coming” popular spot especially for Bangkokians— Koh Samed (Koh Samet).

Koh Samed, approximately 3 hours travel by land from the capital and another half an hour boat ride is the closest perfect island destination from the hustle and bustle of city living, so to speak. Koh Samed is lined with white sand beaches in most of its part. Unlike the more popular Phuket or Pattaya, Koh Samed is not as crowded but is equally charming as the 2 former spots mentioned.

The most popular beach is Sai Kaew Beach located in the eastern part of the island. It has a long stretch of white sand beach dotted with a good mix of resorts and other lodgings. The most popular bar and restaurant is Plowbar. What attracts many tourist to this joint is the nightly “Fire Dance” being performed in the beachfront to the amazement of people enjoying food and drink on tables set-up in the sand. Sad thing is that this performance is quite dangerous especially since they are literally playing with fire and what’s even worse is that most of the performers are minors (the night we watched, the youngest performer was a 12 year old boy who does this job during weekends or every school break to help the family earn income).  

The weather was perfect during our so-called holiday. Although this month until October is still considered the monsoon season, the sun is very warm. Only thing is that the sea is a bit rough even though there is no storm whatsoever. However, the boat was big enough (capacity of 70 persons) so it is more comfortable since the boat just go with the waves compared to taking the speed boat which is like taking a car passing by a very bumpy road.

We stayed in Sai Kaew Beach Resort which is the biggest resort in the island at the moment. The room is spacious and has full amenities. The resort is only a few steps away from the beach and offers complete guest amenities such as a modern swimming pool, fitness centre, souvenir shop, seaside restaurant, massage service, pastry shop called The Mango (which serves one of the best tasting dark chocolate cake and blueberry cheesecake I tasted in the many hotels or restaurants I’ve visited). If you happen to be in this island, please don’t miss these delectable desserts.

We’ve visited several other resorts and my favorite is Paradee which is located in a more secluded southern part of the island. The pool villas offer not only your own private pool but also a magnificent view of the sea. The beach is literally few steps away.

Too bad our stay in this island is limited since the next day is already a working day. Fortunately, Koh Samed is very accessible from Bangkok and you need not save too much since there are many comfortable but low cost accommodation and transfers available.

Surely, I will go back to this place very soon. Hope next time it will be longer. I’m posting snapshots if this trip. Hope you enjoy.

Koh Samed, Thailand
Koh Samed, Thailand
Koh Samed
Koh Samed
Koh Samed
Koh Samed
Koh Samed
Koh Samed
Koh Samed
Koh Samed

 

Koh Samed

Koh Samed
Koh Samed