When It Rains, It Pours…

… after the old late 80’s Nelson (remember them) song”After The Rain”

Yes, we have rainy season in Thailand. But this is a bit of a misnomer, because Pouring Season would be more appropriate in describing what happens. The days all start out beautifully with a picture book sunrise. The as the day goes on it is getting warmer. Around noon, giant thunderheads start to form north of Bangkok, for example in the Ayutthaya province, a popular tourist destination about two hours north of Bangkok. You can almost set the clock by it, because at 2:30PM the rain starts and thunder and lightning give a great show.

By 5:30pm the skies are clear – in Ayutthaya and as we drive towards Bangkok, you feel like driving into the dark unknown – hm, pretty poetic. Anyway, when it rains in Bangkok, the already very slow evening traffic, gets even slower – this means I ask the driver to drop me at Jattuchak Market, the northern end of the city. So far it has rained everyday. Tuesday was particularly bad. as I got off at the Asok station, there was nothing more to do, than to take off my shoes, take off my socks, roll the pant legs up and wade though the angle high waters of downtown Bangkok – what an adventure.

The two images below show what the city looked twelve hours after it had stopped raining – some streets still flooded. The admirable thing is that you don’t hear anybody bitch,moans and complain, well at least not the locals. Live in the present. For me personally, I love the colors with which nature paints these great thunderous skies, the reflections of the busy city lights, the splashed of water that spray through the air from all the vehicles trying to advance ten meters when traffic permits it.

Looking forward on my way to work

Looking back on my way to work

Markus \m/

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Different People – Different Place – Same Old Rites

Hm, we had a short weekend. Not that we lost a day in Bangkok, due to time shifts or an especially severe thunderstorm (as we had today in the evening). No, my team, after having put in long hours at work, decided to cut loose this weekend – north of Korat.

So we met Saturday morning and drove up in 6 cars. With about 20 minutes left to go before we were supposed to reach the resort, we gathered in order to proceed as “a convoy” to the lodge. We had four cars together quickly. The fifth car was a little late because the driver was caught speeding and had to pay a severe 100 Baht (~$3). When the last car did not come in, we called in and were informed that there was an “alcohol related delay” that apparently ended in the regurgitation of the previous night’s green curry in a soup of beers by one of my engineers. I will spare details here. However, we were obviously off to an extraordinary start.

Now, this trip was a lot of fun and I leaned two important things.

1.) Thais can drink. And when they do they are like black holes. Generous quantities were consumed by a relatively small group of which some only drank juice.

2.) Thais love to eat – I am not,yet, clear about the mechanics of it, how for example a 4’6″ (and may be 90lbs) woman can eat what seemed to be twice her bodyweight and drink an almost equal amount .

The third thing is not something I learned, since I had been forewarned multiple times, so I rather experienced it – Thais love Karaoke! For me this was the first Karaoke session. Unfortunately, the Karaoke machine was loaded with Thai AND other international songs (heck, they even had Rammstein’s “Du Hast” on the machine, so I could have sung in German – as was pointed out to me numerous times) – so yes, I did sing: Guns’n’Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, can you believe it. Apparently, I didn’t have the balls to sing Metallica’s “Battery” or “Fuel”. Another co-worker of mine joined in, so “Sweet Child O’Mine” became a duet – a German-American Duet…wow (as I write this).

Oh well. While we sang at one table, there was a wild Thai Poker game going on at the other table. During all this beverages kept the spirits high and vocal chords lubed. Fast forward to Sunday morning. Some of us had to wear shades others not. Since I didn’t have an inexplicable hangover to nurse,  I went and looked for a few scenes to shoot instead.

Fern Patterns 1

Fern Leaf Origins

Fern Leaf Patterns 2

Having given you this little update about our short weekend, I am excusing myself now in order to spend some time with my wife and then get some sleep. Tomorrow, we start another week…

non-headached Markus \m/

The Summer Of Markus, I Remember You

Hello gang, it’s been four weeks now since we have left our friends, family, the lakes, the mountain bike trails, the neighbors, the running partners, the biking friends, the swimming buddies, my St. Thomas entrepreneur crew and on an even more personal level, my friend Joe and my early morning running buddy Jeff. I have had “The Summer Of Markus” and very likely, there are not that many people who have had the luxury to have a Summer for themselves…at least not once you are out of 8th grade. A Summer, where whatever you do is voluntary and if you feel like taking a nap, you take it, read a good book…you just live worry free. And unlike George Costanza (the original inventor of “the Summer of [insert name here]), I had nothing spoil my Summer and I am grateful for that.

Now however, I get up at 5:30 in the morning, not because I feel compelled because Jeff is out there as well, but because, if I don’t I will not properly sweat once a day. I will also not have had any time for myself – Markus Time.
I leave for work at 7:30am and get home by around 7:15pm depending on traffic. In a quiet moment I think back with a smile to the mountain bike rides, the runs, the backyard talks. Summer of Markus, I remember you fondly.

Now, I don’t want to come across, as if I complain – I don’t. The work I am doing is absolutely super great. I get to work with people, provide direction and help them develop to reach the best. They challenge me, I am learning on many different levels. The obvious learning is that I am learning Thai by osmosis, but I can also live out my creative engineering drive. I have a management team, that I think looks after me. I have peers that challenge me, require me to learn new subjects and become proficient in them. This is great – time passes so unbelievably quickly everyday. Every evening I leave, the to-do pile in my head grows, but I also leave with a sense of accomplishment and meaning.

But it’s not all Mother’s Milk and Apple Pie, there is the Bangkok traffic – I mean manly traffic. Traffic that never lets up, no easing – “PermaCongestion”, “Hot Oatmeal Viscosity”. If you would actually try and crawl on your nipples flat on your stomach, you’d outrun any of the many Lamborghini’s I have seen here on the road – it is insane!

O.K., those of you who doubt me, you obviously have never been to Bangkok or at the very least have never set foot outside the airport. Still in doubt about the traffic situation, here is photographic proof.

It all starts with the mopeds that are zooming and snaking through the congestions. They also set the smell floor – [inhale] poorly combusted gasoline exhaust.

If you are in a car or one of the many expat vans then traffic in the morning looks like this to you.

At night, I tell my driver to just drop me at a BTS – Bangkok’s elevated tram – station. The tram get people quickly through town.The tram get people quickly through town. As you can see the traffic is the same. The main difference is that vehicles have turned the lights on now.

But there are also quiet areas in this city. This back alley reminded me of the crime scene from the first Batman movie where Jack Nicholson as the Joker asks the small boy, whose parents he’s just murdered:”Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?” Fortunately, that didn’t happen to me and I as able to take this image undisturbed.

Okeydokey, you have just gotten a little more insight into our life here in Bangkok. Thus far it’s been a great experience and I see lots of opportunity for the future.

Until the next

Cheers Yours Markus \m/

Looking Back – Living Present – Looking Forward

Living in the present is one of the main beliefs in Buddhism and the majority of the Thai population are Buddhists. I have come to believe that this approach to life may have a few advantages. Well, when you live in the present and have all your thoughts in the present, it kinda rules out worrying about the future…not so sure whether that’s a good or bad thing, because it also means that you don’t plan for the future or at least dream about it – which is like to do particularly.

But enough of the philosophical excursion and onto why I am writing this entry. I was looking through some of my images and found a few of our last evening in Minneapolis. We had had a nice diner with friends and family and proceeded to take a digestive stroll through town after dinner. It was one of those nice comfortably warm, but not humid Minneapolis evenings, that the city has in late August. The sun started to set and provided and honey-golden light. As we walked past the First Avenue Club, I took this shot.

Now fast forward to today and our view has changed completely. We are currently in the rainy season in Bangkok – yes that means that it rains…a lot…and heavy…and streets flood…and stuff floats through the streets. But it also means that there is fantastic light available with usually fantastic clouds. And since there are plenty of new high-rises in Bangkok, there are also plenty of great views, like this one of our place.

Now with respect to the future, I have a vivid imagination of what it could hold in store for us, but no images. Hence, I will resort to enjoying the rest of Saturday evening.

So take care and do good.

Yours Markus, who is very slowly getting used to the heat and humidity.

S#@t I Read

– PARENTAL ADVISORY –

You may not want to read this post with or to your children. If you insist, go ahead be my guest. They have the vocabulary I am using in some instances already anyway, you just don’t know about it, yet.

I bought a book called “Shit My Dad Says”, by Justin Halpern at the airport 3 weeks ago.

I read it in one sitting and loved every page of it. I like the book so much, that I have it next to my bed and if I need some short comic relief I just open it and read a few quotes. I also like the book, because the books reminds me of so many things my dad has, my dad’s friends have said, things my cousin and uncle have said and finally things that my friends have said.

But unfortunately, it is in human nature, that comedic events repeat themselves as tragedies. I think Justin Halpern’s memories, the Twitter feeds and the book are the comedic part, but the TV show of the tweets and the book can only be the tragic part. Why? some of you might ask.

The Tweets and the book come across as beautifully authentic, but you can’t say “Fuck” on TV and Mr Halpern’s dad is a master in the use of the word. Much like a nice tie complements a well-fitting suit and thus accentuates the positive appearance and increases the impression of the wearer to its social setting, Justin Halpern’s dad uses “Fuck” and its derivatives to further express his thoughts, opinions and emotions on a wide range of topics. I really don’t fucking understand why the FCC and the MPAA soil themselves over the use of words that are part of everyday goddamn English – see what I did, right, I amplified and you got my point a lot better, because the use of a keyword got your attention. That’s fucking awesome – see, did it again. Heck, even in the beloved Christmas Story movie (shown around the fucking clock over Christmas on TB fucking S) the dad used the F-en-heimer, but when Ralphie says it, his mum stuffs a bar of soap in his mouth.

The use of the F-Bomb is also quintessential English language. It doesn’t translate literally. If one would use the German translation for the F-Word, the argument, no matter how well crafted, would implode and loose any punch…ANY!!!! punch, don’t do it, don’t try it. In German, for instance the equivalent of fuck would be arguably “Scheiss” followed by whatever you want to accentuate.

So in conclusion. Justin Halpern’s book good, Justin Halpern’s Tweets good, TV shit, Cash Halpern makes from the TV show probably fucking awesome.

There you have it.

Markus \m/

P.S.: If there is sufficient demand from the readership, I can post a dictionary of swearwords in a variety of different languages.

Nightlife From A Far

“Well, this is the night life. Aaaaaiiin’t no good life, but it’s my li-hi-hi-hife…”

So sang Willie Nelson, later cover by David Lee Roth (apparently in a weak moment of great desperation, because his career was sitting flat on Rock Bottom). The song is great, actually both renditions…..but wait, I totally digress…..off on a tangent…again!

Alright, I took a few images of the city from our balcony. I m very happy about the outcomes for various reasons.

1.) The engineering reason: I am just amazed by all this detail of a scenery that is about 1.5 miles away and about equally wide on a chip the size of my pinky nail (o I do not have particularly large pinky nails).

2.) The mood, the bright city lights juxtaposed with the reflections that make the tranquility of artificial Lake Ratchada and its greenery.

3.) I can’t think of a third one right now, but there’s gotta be one more. Let me take another look.

Alright, here it goes…two different nights, same view. You be the judge.

Saturday Night In Bangkok

Monday Night In Bangkok

I felt, that you were probably wondering how we are doing. Well, you can see at least me in the mirror window of the incoming train. I will see that I get approval from Barbara to post an image of her as well…you know how it is with women.

Gang, this is it for today, I wrote this entry after a long hard day at work (da-daa-dada…naw, naw we’re not going there again). It’s “Biggest Looser Time” now…guilty pleasures!

Take care and keep it real

Yours Markus \m/

In The (Public) Restroom Of Vanities

– PARENTAL ADVISORY –

The following entry is perfectly PG or if there is such a thing, totally G.

Bear with me and trust me.

We went furniture shopping, because sitting on our camping mattresses is less and less exciting with every day that passes. Hence, we went to Future Park, a big shopping mall with tons of furniture stores. And…we were successful. But here’s the thing. When you shop and you pay with plastic, your purchase becomes a 5 man job on the seller side. The first person is the dude you interact with. Upon the client expressing interest in initiating and completing the purchase, he calls his manager – usually a tiny woman, who looks about 12 but wears tight clothes and 6 inch heels. Upon visual inspection of the card, she then calls her manager who will bring dude #4 into the game. His primary purpose is to carry a wad of forms and one lousy ass additional plastic card – a consumer card that provides you with 0.5% discount after your 25th purchase of more than 500 Baht. Now we get up from the seats where we have been directed – probably in order to get comfortable while we wait to complete said purchase. Enter scene left, the person who knows how to operate the credit card machine. We hand the card to the first sals dude, who hands it again back to his manager, who skips the chain and hands it over directly to the credit card process lady. We should be outta here in no time, or should we?! Teh credit card machine is spitting the receipt, approval successful, but no the manager’s manager is calling for a time out. The telephone game proceeds in reverse, The manager’s manager speaks to the manager and so forth until the first sales dude is telling us, that we will have the receipt in 10 more minutes – what, why, no…..aaahh. They are moving in for the kill, ah, the map….the map the shop will use to direct the delivery van drivers to our abode. The cool thing is I can draw the map now, quite well and with a god sense of scale. Bing, after about 10 minutes, we get the receipt in a nice envelope, we khap khun khap each other and move on.

We went through this process twice today – very successfully. All this map drawing made us thirsty – coffee shop it is. Fast forward 20 minutes, what happens after a coffee. Right – this is where I connect to the headline of this posting. I found the mens room, the place is packed – no, I really need to go. But wait, the only room that’s packed is the room with the sinks, the faucets and THE MIRRORS….Mirror Mirror on the wall…

Now I am curious, I would like to wash my hands after the main purpose of my visit to this room has been fulfilled. But no, I need to wait, because in front of each and every sink, is a queue of 3-4 teenaged, scrawny gentlemen in very tight pants with a sagging butt (worn low as the white suburban kids to as well) who meticulously arrange and fine tune their hair-doos. Quite the spectacle – a little bit of pulling  here, a little bit of wet punching strands on there, one final look from the side, then the other side and we are PRETTY!!!! What do I regret about this observation? – That I didn’t have the balls to take images on my phone, because now you just have to take my word for it – Thai men are very hair alignment conscientious. I myself am more a butt man, as in “Does my butt look good in my pants?”, I check that when I buy the pants, that’s it! But then I am not 18 anymore and I don’t wear lip gloss either.

Cool, so that was totally G, right?!

Great, take care

Yours Markus \m/

P.S.: I just re-read my entry, does this mean I am old now? Old as in Old Fart. I can be hip, look I said numerous times dude and I know how to use and pronounce the word properly, please don’t let me be Old-Fart old, please. I will go now and cry myself to sleep now.