Friday, 31 October 2008

Only In Thailand

A new craze has begun here (it even made the BBC Asia-Pacific News!!) the latest protesters 'must-have' accessory is a hand-shaped plastic rattle called "clapping hands". They make a sound somewhere between the chattering of insects and the clickety-clack of factory machines and that is what Chris and I heard yesterday during the protests!! Apparently they are very useful because they can be used to express either agreement or anger and they stop your hands from hurting when you clap for too long!! The street stalls here are selling them in every colour imaginable some have string attached so that you can hang them around your neck and some even have slogans such as "Clapper warrior!" or "Clappers stop the evil!". If you have one then it means you support the protest!!

I spotted this quote in one of the newspapers

"I went to a Thaksin stronghold out in the country the other day, and a clerk in the bank waved his clapping hand at me, so I took mine from my pocket and waved it back. Now we're friends."

Can you imagine that happening in the UK??

Thursday, 30 October 2008

It's never ending!!!

Chris and I witnessed something rather amazing today completely by accident. We met for a coffee at lunch time in Time Square (our nearest shopping mall) and were a bit baffled when the street suddenly went very quiet (those of you that have visited will know that Bangkok is never quiet!!), the traffic stopped and then we heard an odd noise. It was very faint at first.....then it slowly built.....and built.....We went outside to see what was going on. There was literally a sea of people all dressed in yellow marching down Sukhumvit road....every single one of them clapping in unison....the atmosphere was electric and the noise was just incredible. I have never experienced anything like it and probably never will again. We knew that there was to be a large PAD demonstration today, we got a warning from the Embassy telling us to stay away from Siam Paragon and the British Embassy, but we didn't expect it to go right past us!! (PAD stands for People's Alliance for Democracy who claim that the current Government the People's Power Party, or PPP for short, are just a proxy government for ex PM Thaksin Shinawatra)

The political situation is still incredibly unstable here (You can read the overview here (just scroll past the knitting bit), and then what happened next here and here if you are interested) . The last time I blogged about it was when PM Mr Samak was forced to step down following a judges decision that he had violated the constitution. Well the current Government's reaction to that was to appoint a new PM and who did they appoint....none other than Ex PM Thaksin's brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat (that's him on the right). You can imagine how well that went down with the PAD....fuel to fire!! Soooo, things are still very messy - the PAD are refusing to leave Government House despite having had tear gas and grenades lobbed at them and the country is still deeply divided into two Thaksin and anti Thaksin.

The reason for the protest today - Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife have been living in the UK since August, when they fled Thailand - They have both been found guilty of corruption charges and have been sentenced to jail terms. The demonstration today outside the British Embassy was for Thaksin and his wife to be extradited from the UK.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Reasons to be cheerful

I've had a real grumbly couple of today I thought I would blog about reasons I have to be cheerful

1. I've sold another picture (an original) to a lovely guy called Brad who lives in New York.
2. The commission piece that I am currently working on is going very well.

3. We are going to a birthday party on Saturday night.
4. Next month I am going on a trip to Mae Hong Son on the Thai/Burmese border to visit the Thailand Hilltribe Education Projects that the BWG sponsor. This will involve visiting remote hill tribe villages virtually untouched by tourism where people live more or less as they have lived for hundreds of years. It's not going to be luxurious....we will travel in pickups, sleep on school floors

and eat the local food. The aim of the trip is to assess the educational needs of hill tribe schools so that we can work out the best way of supporting them going forward. I've also been told that it is the "sunflower season" in Mae Hong Son so it should be stunning!!

For those interested - Mae Hong Son means The City of Three Mists as it is virtually covered with mist throughout the year (dewy mist in the winter, forest fire mist in the summer and rainy mist in the rainy season). It is nestled in a deep valley hemmed in by high mountain ranges and has long been isolated from the outside world. It is the most mountainous province in Thailand and is home to the Shans who live in the city and the Hilltribe people who live in remote villages on mountain tops. The Shan's ancestors came from the Shans region in Burma and the Hilltribe people consist of Karen, Lisu, Mhong, Lahu and Lua

and last but definately not least

5. Moon has invited us up to Issan to stay with her for a weekend in her home village which is near Maha Sarakham (The capital of Issan). Moon has told us that it's a huge honour for her that we are going to visit and stay in her home so there will probably be a party involving the entire village!! We will also visit her local temple and, if we're feeling very brave, help out on the farm!! I think it will be an amazing experience and I'm thrilled because it means that we will get to see Fa and Dawan before we go.

So, there you have it.....reasons to be cheerful!!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

More Info on our HUGE news

We both really enjoy living here but I have to say that when someone you love is unwell it really hits home just how far away you actually are and that's basically the reason we have decided to come back. So.......

Whilst we were in the UK Chris managed to get five interviews sorted out. We charged about all over the country trying to fit them all in and I have to say that he did fantastically well and was actually offered four out of the five jobs (The only reason he wasn't offered the fifth one was that they decided they just couldn't justify bringing in someone as senior as he is in the current financial climate!!) See....He's not just a pretty face!! Two of the roles were based in central London and would have been doing the same as he's doing now, one was for an electronic company based in Guildford and the last one, the one he actually went for, was for Intel which is based in Swindon. It was a tough decision but he's been in consultancy a long time and decided that, in the long term, a move into an industry position would be good for his career.

The job itself is a sort of Internal Consultancy role looking at the import/export of goods, the customs duty attached to the goods and what processes are involved in moving the goods from place to place (I should really get Chris to write this since I don't really know what I'm talking about) - he'll be responsible for Europe, Middle East and Africa but, as far as I know, the only travel he'll be required to do will be to Amsterdam. The company sound so good.....there is a subsidised canteen, free parking, he will no longer have to wear a suit to work and there was a lot of discussion about the importance of getting a good work life balance so we will actually get our evenings back!!! Wooo Hoooo (He currently works at least a 12 hour day!!).

Sooooo we know that we will be living somewhere in Wiltshire but have no idea where!! When he actually went for the interview we never made it into Swindon itself but the surrounding countryside was absolutely stunning and from the research I've done it looks like there are loads of lovely little market towns in the area. We've had a chat about it and have decided that we've done the frenetic city living thing now so it would be nice to have a change of pace and go for one of the towns rather than actually live in Swindon. (Neither of us know the area at all so if you know anyone that lives in that neck of the woods that might be able to give us some pointers it would be very much appreciated!!!)

Chris handed in his notice on Monday, we told Moon on Tuesday (which was just heartbreaking and was every bit as awful as I thought it was going to be) and we are now trying to work out the how's and when's.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

I have rather HUGE news

(I kinda feel like there should be a drum roll here so if you could do me a favour and just imagine one I'd be very grateful)

We're moving back to the UK

(There....didn't see that coming did you!!)

Monday, 20 October 2008

We're back

and I was absolutely delighted to discover that the lovely Tam has given me an award which includes a Meme of one word answers.....absolutely perfect for a jet lagged mind!! (I currently have a head that feels as if it's full of cotton wool and I have the attention span of a gnat!!)

Here goes:
1. Where is your cell phone? Bedside
2. Where is your significant other? Work
3. Your hair colour? Brown
4. Your mother? Scotland
5. Your father? France
6. Your favourite thing? Food
7. Your dream last night? None
8. Your dream/goal? Happiness
9. The room you're in? Bedroom
10. Your hobby? Drawing
11. Your fear? Loss
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Surprise
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. What you're not? Grumpy
15. One of your wish-list items? Health
16. Where you grew up? Scotland
17. The last thing you did? Tea
18. What are you wearing? Dress
19. Your TV? Off
20. Your pets? Purring
21. Your computer? Working
22. Your mood? Woolly
23. Missing someone? Everyone
24. Your car? None
25. Something you're not wearing? Shoes
26. Favourite store? Stationery
27. Your summer? Drawing
28. Love someone? Lots
29. Your favourite colour? Red
30. When is the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? Friday

I am a bit behind the times on this one so am guessing that most people will have already received it.....if you've not then this one is for you!!

Friday, 10 October 2008

Delayed Departure

Well, it's been a tough few days!!! A very close family member has been diagnosed with cancer and is going to have to have an operation to remove the tumour. We have delayed our departure for a week (it wasn't possible to delay for longer) so that we can be around. I don't want to say too much but please keep all your fingers, legs, toes and eyes crossed that all will be well.

There is no internet access where we are staying so we are back relying on public library's - I will update when I can.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Sporadic Internet

I just wanted to let everyone know that we are having a lovely time but that we have sporadic internet access (am currently in a public library) so that is why I have not had a chance to get round everyone's blogs. Hopefully I will catch up with you all soon :-)