Bangkok On My Mind

100 blog entries, I can not get over it. Throughout my school career, my German teachers would tell me that my essays were too short. The assignments were usually about the German literary classics – Goethe, Schiller…honestly nothing that got me hooked. To this day my favorite book is Huck Finn & Tom Sawyer, but I digress. Anyway, 100 blog entries in 365 days is not bad for a guy that peaked in 3rd grade with his essay marks.

So here starts the update. The table situation is resolved – we have chosen one, signed the contract and should get it delivered soon. We went to a “Furniture Design Mall”. “Holy smokes, batman”, you might think to yourself,”Have you lost your mind?”. Teh sort answer is No. The mall is out in the cuts and sells great stuff for way less, than what yo pay in Bangkok, where people buy Lamborghini’s just to be sen standing in traffic with +600 horses at their desperate disposal. Obviously, you cannot fill an entire mall with furniture – that would be CRAZEE – so they also have a few stores with nicknack or simply dust-collectors. One such store, had something, that transported me immediately back to my five-year-old self. a pedal car or go-cart. But not just any old go-cart. No, this thing rocked with the looks of a vintage Bugatti from the 1920. Inflatable tires, metal boy panels, 4-wheel drum brakes with an outside brake level and a cream leather set.

Although, I have to say, that a cream leather seat for a kid, that probably still poops its pants really says “We have money and we don’t know what to do with it.” Of course, I was absolutely smitten and I could see myself wanting – as a five-year old – just to ride this little thing. When I came to, I looked at the price tag 200k Baht (that’s about $6670, yes you can probably wrestle a real car – even when it’s just a Korean or Chinese car – out of a motivated car dealer for the same amount). Insane, I know, but then look at what you get. Actually, no, just the guys look, I am pretty sure most women – being more rational when it comes to cars, wouldn’t understand. Alright, it didn’t happen for you, but is that enough reason, that it also shouldn’t happen for you kid – Dad come on.

You cannot tell me that this car isn’t super cool….no, no forget about the price.

Back to earth, moving on. Bangkok is in full Harry Potter fever and magic is on everyone’s mind. You can see some back-alley magicians trying to conjure up al kind s of stuff or sever body parts. Anyway, this poor lady apparently never got properly put together after some fifth rated magicians apprentice tried the old “Virgin-Cut-In-Half” trick.

Then there is the street life in Bangkok, where anything is possible. Near the flower market we saw a street tattoo man (I m not really sure whether he was master or artists), but the guy getting the tattoo is the real man here.

There is quite a bit of drinking going on in Thailand. It’s not that you se people falling all over themselves drunk out of their mind – loss of mother tongue, half-sided facial paralysis – non of that, but it is happening. People call in with a twenty four hour flu or something and when they show up the next day they look a little hung over. So, I saw this guy at breakfast and you can see his hard days’ nights work on the shelf outside.

On one our trips into the Bangkok Hinterland (the cuts) we walked past this little restaurant by the side of the street. I saw the pots, lids and pans and knew I had to get this one.

We also went to a Jazz (da hippety bobbety Jaaaazze) club the other day. The ensemble (one doesn’t call Jazzers band – apparently uncivilized and too much Rock’n’Roll , but ensemble). Anyway, they were not bad, but started playing around with my camera and got this shot, which kind of sums up my memory of the music.

Finally, I want to show you quickly what we are currently reading, which in a twist of irony sums up what’s going on in the world – Life and War.

I am reading Keith Richards’ autobiography, while Barbara reads WAR. WAR is not an easy read, I read through it in one shot in July on a long flight and dreamt about it for almost a week – it describes the insanity that is war, but also the beauty of being human under intense situations. I can highly recommend it, unless you are an armchair general who has no problems sending others to hell, but have many excuses why you yourself just can’t go. Keith Richards on the other hand is a great account from his birth to his acting gig as Jack Sparrow’s dad in Pirates of the Caribbean.

This is the end for today. I think you have been caught up on what’s happening.

Sayonara Dudes

Yours Markus \m/

 

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Thanks Giving Or The 100th Entry

Hello all and Happy Thanks Giving to you all and your family and friends.

Here in Bangkok, there is no Thanks Giving. yes there is the artificial one where you can eat turkey in one of the many international hotels that are used to catering to American needs. So yes, there is the food part, but not part that makes the holiday special to me. In Germany Thanks Giving (yes we have it, too) is just an ordinary Sunday, definitely not a Thursday, just an ordinary Sunday and I think it always coincides with Reformation Day, when Martin Luther nailed his protest on the church door in Eisleben and stuck it to the Catholic church. Anyway, since 2000 we have had the great fortune, that friends of ours always invited us to come along to their Thanks Giving. We have been at our friends Barry & Mary Clair in Ann Arbor, at my friend Rick’s parents in Avon (rumored to be the mystical Lake Wobegon) and then we have spent the last five or six years with the families of our friends Nick & Sarah. We are both not from large families, but the family events we have been invited to with Hansen-Reinbold-Westphal clan is to me the blueprint, the unattainable ideal of a family gathering. Thinking about what we are missing I could get a little home-sick. The chatter, the hugs, football running in the background, the air pregnant with the smells of what’s cooking in the kitchen, the laughter and crying of little kids, the chilling on the couch. The stories we hear as we catch each other up on our lives. It is also the beginning of the holiday season, when Barbara and I start listening to our “Tote Hosen – Very Merry Christmas” album. It’s when we really get an itch for Run DMC – Christmas in the Hollies or any Christmas carol sung by James Brown, when Joe Perry, Keith Richards or Chuck Berry give their renditions of Run-Rudolph Run, when Johnny Cash dishes out his dark Christmas songs and Brian Setzer rockabillies about Santa’s predicament of being stuck again in someone’s chimney. When the likely the first snowfall and freezing temperature are still new to us and I personally start my countdown for when I go cross-country skiing with my friends or go play hockey on one of the local rinks

In Bangkok, that is a different story. It has warmed up again (~90s) and the humidity has picked up (don’t know how much, but I am dripping – like a hooker at church –  walking to the BTS)  during the day.

So what did we do for Thanks Giving? W did not have turkey, because Turkey for two is a little bit of overkill. After I came home from work, Barbara had made a great Tomato-Shrimp soup, followed by sour pork loin, mashed potatoes (the connection to US tradition) and beans. We had ice-cream for desert. It was great it was different – just the two of us, but it was not what we have come accustomed to, what we have come to love, what we have come to look forward to starting every year at Halloween.

As I write this you are still celebrating , maybe taking a nap from all the food, may be you are watching The Office THX-G episode, while we are making breakfast and then get ourselves ready to go back to work.

Alright, that is it for today. Enjoy your time with your families. Enjoy each others company. Enjoy the long weekend and don’t fall into a Black Friday frenzy. It’s not the material stuff we get that makes us happy long-term it’s the memories we create together.

Alright enough already.

 

Happy Thanks Giving To all of you again.

 

Love Markus \m/

 

P.S.: This really was the 100th Global Nomads blog entry in pretty much exactly one year. Who would have thunk? Yeeeaaaah, many more to come.

 

In Defense Of Speed

Two weeks ago I got my bike. I started by participating in a sprint triathlon. I had been swimming and running enough, that I felt confident I could pull the whole thing off somehow. Biking, I went on a wing and a prayer, since I hadn’t seen a bike since mid August – my biking legs were well rested, to put it positively.

As I got on the bike and felt the air rush past me and got a sense of speed leaning the bike through tight turns, I couldn’t help but smile, despite the exertion of pedaling. I had a great time. Since then I have gone on a few more rides, but not until did I participate in the Bangkok traffic. I can tell you right away, that it was great! There are many straight roads, where you can just hammer and go flat-out. The majority of the mopeds here have automatic transmissions, which makes them accelerate poorly, so a willing bicyclist can just pas them by at a “traffic-light-drag-race”. Off course they get you further down the line, but they also have to accept the fact, that they just got creamed by a guy on a bicycle. I rode like a maniac (while obeying all traffic laws relax mom…), enjoying every traffic light or other slow-down in traffic. I got up to 48km/h (~30mph) on Ratcha-Damri Rd and passed a inattentive Porsche Cayman, whose driver was on a cell phone (idiot, pay attention to traffic). When I arrived at Lumphini Park, I ride in and took it easy for a while. Only to enjoy the rush of speed once I was back on the road.

I love speed. But not just any speed, but the one where it’s just me and nature. Speed, that is raw, like when you ride your bike hard. You feel the burn in your legs (and in your lungs in Bangkok), but you also feel the wind rush past your body. I love the speed, when you run and at the end of the race you open up wide to leave it all on the road. The tug of war my mind goes through between sustaining the pain  (really it’s just a level of discomfort, than pain) and seeing the finish line, that rubber-bands you in. The rush of speed when I snowboard or ski. Yes, I am aware that there are risks. You may fall, bloody yourself, but that’s part of life. You learn, you improve, you gain experience, you cannot acquire expertise in anything if you don’t make mistakes, pay your dues or bloody yourself in anything in life. As long as we learn from the negative experiences, we’ll be better the next time. I fell of my bike last year pretty brutally. It wasn’t so much a due I paid, it was more of a “lump sum payment”, that shook me mentally pretty severely. But I had the time of my life as me and my friends were barreling down the gentle decent with jumps on a local trail near Minneapolis, well…until I realized I had crashed and was beaten up.

But the rush I had experienced until I found myself lying on my back, was great. Speed, is my drug, my addiction. Interestingly, it’s only if I can experience it in a certain way – the raw way. When I drive my car, I am pretty tame. Sure, I like to go through turns in an efficient manner. I also like the instant acceleration and jolt of adrenaline a d motorcycle or snowmobile can offer, but the feeling is not the same. I think for me the sweat and muscles screaming part is missing. The rush of speed I get when I propel myself is a band-aid to the exertion my body is undergoing….it makes me feel so unbelievably alive. It’s great.

When I watch others going fast on their own power, it is less of a rush for me, but I enjoy watching the beauty of others move. When people propel themselves fast, regardless what the discipline everything tightens up – they become more slippery, provide less resistance, create less drag. Movement becomes more fluid. Even though faces may be contorted, breathing is hard, there is an ease about them, that allows them to move fast, yet make it look effortless. Look at a cyclist or triathlete on a bike in a time trial, the whole body submits to a single purpose – go fast, maximize speed. There are great slow motion studies of swimmers speeding through the water – you can see the raw power, but also the perfect execution of every motion, that enables the speed – and therein I find beauty. Try it out yourself, do something you have confidence in doing and push the speed…..and up comes that feeling when you had your first bicycle and started playing with speed, maybe going faster than your dad or mum could run next to you, and….there it is, even as you read these lines, the smile on your face brought by the sense of speed. Children sometimes scream with pure joy, when something goes fast, whether they are in a go-cart,a stroller, or their first bike ride. Speed is your friend.

So today, I will get on my bike again and ride down to the river to take a few images and explore the area. And yes, I will be careful….no worries.

Take care and go hard.

Markus \m/

A Little Shot Of Daily Beauty – Happy Places

Hello Dear Readership.

Today we are going to be discussing life’s little sweet moments – the little 5 second vacations to Happy-Happy-Land in a perfectly legal manner.

This morning I got up and saw that our Hibiscus had blossomed over night. I love Hibiscus blossoms, they really make me happy. They are so delicate and detailed, but also so strong in color and shape.

Also, we received our container last week. The container contained (weird, right) among other things our little coffee machine and some extra special roast coffee which my friend Ralph (yes the coffee and chocolate importing friend…I must have surely mentioned him in earlier posts). So we brewed some coffee and I made Latte Macchiato.

Did you notice, how I snuck an été handbags advertisement in – amazing, only your sub-consciousness would have retained than information and then your would have found yourself having these insane urges to buy handbags – completely inexplicably…..well now you know. So celebrate this insight, here’s the aforementioned Macchiato.

Man, that was bliss in a glass – we just sat there enjoying the moment, sipping away.

See what I did – AGAIN – although, I admit even subtler than before. Buy été handbags….the voices in your head command you!

Then finally, I took this image in the BTS (Bangkok public transport) as I was riding to our meeting point in order to get to work. Due o the traffic, we have ditched the getting picked up at the house and have opted instead for more leisure in the morning and then a quick BTS ride to the Ploen Chit station from where we can get onto the highway quickly – leisure recaptured about 40 minutes..that’s efficiency, baby!

Ready To Robot!?

Well, that’s it gang. I know I lured you in with the promise of sharing life’s little vacation moments and then – two crummy commercials.

BE OUTRAGED!!

(and to soothe yourself buy handbags !-) )

Until you have calmed yourself down and satisfied the inexplicable urge to buy été handbags.

Take care and a do one good deed a day….try it*

Yours Markus \m/

* Doing one good deed a day is almost as satisfying as buying an original été handbag.

 

Puss(h)y Galore

Hey, what the hell are you thinking. This is how my day ended today – with Pussy Galore, the lady in the James Bond Goldfinger movie, which I was watching at home. Jeez, man, you guys have got to get your mind out of the gutter. But let me back up, since it’s been a while since I last wrote. I have been extra busy at “the ranch” and hence, my leisure after work was limited.

Nonetheless a lot has happened – so let mem catch you up.

Thursday at some ungodly time Barbara flew back to Minneapolis to run some errands – which makes me kind of lonely. Good thing, I have my harmonica and can play the blues. Bad thing for the neighbors, that I have the harmonica and play the blues. To cheer myself up, I decided, that on Thursday after work, I would go to CentralWorld – a giant shopping mall – because they have among al the stores and attractions two super cool Guitar stores. I am looking to buy a new guitar, that I can play here. So I played a few and found a Takamine, that I will probably end up buying. But the second store is really porno for musicians – no guitar players. It’s called Guitar Avenue and all they sell is electric guitars and amps. No basses, drums, keyboard or acoustic stuff – just electric guitars. I played a Japanese Les Paul Knock-Off on a Dutch tube amp (Koch) – the sweetest setup I have ever played. I am still getting all nervous just writing about it. The sound was just what the doctor ordered – full basses, clear middles and screaming trebles. I played “Paradise City” and “Down On The Farm” and got a little carried away and then the intro to Guns’n’ Roses “Chinese Democracy” (not their finest hour, the whole album kind of stinks, far too polished, but the song was in my head). Anyway, I had one hell of a good time. After diner at an Italian place in the mall, I had a swagger in my step. I saw a jeans shirt in an Esprit store and “swaggered” in, when a little dude with perfectly tousled hair and make-up in a pair of ultra-skinny Skinny Jeans with a saggy butt (think the rapper pants that kids used to wear in the US an few years ago, but in skinny)  approached me to offer his help. I asked for the shirt in my size and he cam back handing me a shirt that was too small. The next size I tried on, was still a bit small, but to confirm the dude checked it personally, by cupping my pecks – I felt violated, I had been taken advantage of. All I could utter was a “Whoooaaa, what the hell?!” as I took a step back. So much for my shirt. Now, obviously this is Barbara’s fault. This stuff does not happen when I have her with me. She marks her territory quite clear.

But not enough with that. The Thais love nicknames; everybody’s got one. The nicknames here are not like they are in Western countries, where your overweight buddy may be called Slim or a John becomes  Jack, because it sounds more manly. No here the nicknames are more cutsey, like cat or little or orange and so forth. The focus is on being cute. I asked my crew whether they had a nickname for me? The answer was that my nickname was a wordplay on my last name. The nickname is Mangkoot. I was cool with that, until, they explained to me the great honor, that had been bestowed upon me. “The Mangkoot” they explained,” is the Queen Of Fruits.” The Queen of fruits, are you kidding me…have you lost your mind? Thank you guys, that is super!” And why am I discussing this with you guys – yeah you the reader. The harassment will not stop, I know that one for sure.

Anyway, you see in addition to work, I have to put up with this kind of stuff and smile – Super Happy Fun Hour 24/7!

But now is the weekend and I chilled. Yesterday, Saturday, I went with two of my engineers upon their explicit invitation to a Buddhist monk. That was a great experience. My engineers meet with the monk every two weeks and discuss Buddhist teachings. What I liked was that the whole meeting was very unpretentious, not something I have experienced in Germany in church, where the priest always knows best and it feels more like indoctrination, that a dialog. But I will not elaborate on faith here, but yesterday was a great experience and a good time. In the evening, I went swimming with a buddy of mine from England. We put about 1500m in and felt good. I spent the evening watching a James Bond movie on DVD – The adventures and demise of Dr. No.

Then today, I met with two friends to attend a yoga class. I was very excited about that opportunity, but what a disappointment. The grass is always apparently greener on the other side. In the West we practice Yoga to find balance and to calm the mind. While in Thailand the focus is on getting through the vinyasas and asanas as fast as possible – it sucked. I was not a happy camper. In fact I was longing for Holly my Yoga teacher in Minneapolis. As the Stones said “You can’t always get what you want, but you’ll get what you need.” Well, I made it through and after a nice lunch at Siam Paragon’s expansive food court we watched a movie – Jackass 3D in 3D. Excellent!!!Barbara, is just shaking here head, she cannot see the humor in it. In fact, I guess most women fail to see the humor in Jackass. But here is why I see the humor: When guys get hurt and they didn’t know they were going to get hurt, than that’s a tragedy. But when the y they are going to get hurt and the still decide to pursue whatever it is they do, then that is comedy – voilà humor.

Well and now, I decided to interrupt the nail-biting adventures of her royal highness’ secret agent James Bond as he fights Mr Goldfinger and his sidekick Oddjob to let my fingers pour out musing.

But I am tired now and will go to sleep. Tomorrow a new week starts, which I shall begin with a bike workout followed by a fast 1k run. After which I will be so tired, that I will sleep in the car on my way to work.

Until the next time. Keep it real homies…

Markus \m/