Another Year Over

Wow, it’s December 30th 2010 a few more hours and this year is over, too. 2010 was a major year for us. Talk about change. It started with a fantastic christmas gathering in South Dakota with the family tribe that adopted us over the last six years. I love big family get togethers where everyone catches up on everyone’s life, stories and laughs shared over constant food intake and use of everything we gave each other for Christmas as presents, Well needless to say, the trip ended bitter-sweet, when we bade farewell to go to Switzerland. I have written sufficiently about our experiences in this little geographically and mentally land-locked country, so no reason to regurgitate.

Fast forward to the end of March, where I fond myself on a plane back to Minneapolis – home. I had a great week before I left. I was able to take a few days vacation and spend it with my parents and in-laws as well as friends in Germany. It was great. I saw how my friend Ralph and his wife are working so hard on getting their chocolate and coffee import going. How deliberate they are when it comes to creating a unique product portfolio, that will differentiate them fork their competitors. And I have definitely enjoyed the unimaginable generosity they have shown me when it comes to sampling their basement – Jesus H. Christ, think of The wine cellar at Chateau Lafitte, but for Chocolate lovers and the really good stuff in larger quantities at more affordable prices – Thank you two for these moments of bliss. As a side comment, we all know the Italians are the true masters of style and taste (you don’t believe me, my aunt in Italy out-cooks your aunt blindfolded anytime. My cousins look is what the high fashion models want to look like when they are grown up. Rest my case with this little shout out and live to Stefan, Claudia, Judith and “Auntie G.”), but they are also the masters of marrying Chocolate with roasted hazelnuts – to die for.

Anyway, so I arrived in Minneapolis, where we were greeted by friends. I had a great Summer – as you may have gathered – the Summer of Markus. Lots of mountain biking, running, swimming, lots of photography a bit consulting. Plenty of thinking and reading. All of this was a great gift, because it allowed me to re-evaluate my life and determine what I want to do in the future. It also showed very clearly, which people are there for me no matter what it’s showed my true support system ad I have a lot of people to be grateful for. Grateful for the laughs, the conversations, the help in finding a job and getting interviews, the words of encouragement and an unwavering faith in me and last but not least to make a few dollars assisting and teaching me at the same time – you can’t argue, when you are getting paid to learn.

Fast forward to August 30th 2010, where we embarked on another epic adventure to Bangkok Thailand, where I have found employment and a real mission in life. I can honestly say: “I love what I am doing, everyday.”  Yes, I fall asleep on the way home because I am drained, but I know I have made a difference everyday. I have helped to make progress, to develop people to reach their full potential and best of all, I am learning at the same time so much myself. The first four months flew by so quickly, amazing. What a wild ride it has ben so far.

Over Christmas, we had to go back to the States to take care of some personal business. Talk about a time and seasonal shift. We were leaving Bangkok in Sumer temperatures and arrived with  a six month and thirteen hours time shift in sunny, but wintery Minneapolis. This was the first time in months, I had to wear socks or an undershirt or a hat or a scarf…I was motherf$%#*#$g cold the whole time. But it was also great to walk through the snow, see the sun glisten, soak in the cold air, walk on frozen lakes and of course shovel that snow. We got to met with a few friends and we got to spend another Christmas in the bosom of the Westphal-Hansen-Reinbold clan – always a huge treat.

Well and now, is 5:30AM on December 30th 2010, I am still suffering from the thirteen hour jet lag and wide awake at the oddest of times and dead tired when it’s most inconvenient and I have just strolled down memory lane for the last twelve months.

So all that’s left to say is, I wish to all of you a happy new year. May your dreams come true, may you enjoy life, may better things come your way in 2011 and may find it in your heart to still count your blessings.


Thanks for a great year … on to 2011.


Markus \m/

Airing Grievances

I have been dealing with this now for over three months. Bangkok is great, I can deal with the heat, the humidity, heck even with the traffic of the pollution for that matter…..yes and even the noise that appears to be the foundation the city is built on. But what has been gnawing at me slowly for some time is that Thai men with a shred of authority get a whistle as a visible sign of said authority. As it goes for whistles, these are the construction trucks of whistles. They can be heard for miles and miles, against the wind, uphill. These Thai authoritarian whistles are specially tuned to drill right into the audiences mark.

Policemen, I can see, some security guards that actually guard something of value, but not the uniformed clown that guard the yellow line that marks the border which can not be crossed unless the train has arrived as has come to a complete – repeat complete – stop and finally, the passengers that wish to exit have exited. If an uninitiated passenger wishing to travel with the Bangkok public transportation system, violates any of the aforementioned public travel laws, the whistle is mercilessly exercised. Once, yeah no big deal. Twice, alright. Three times, it gets a bit annoying. But goddamn constantly is overkill. I actually am convinced, that the city for all its whistle blowing officers has a huge whistle consumption that eats up a considerable amount of the city’s budget.

There is also the poor schmuck, whose main job it is to wave drivers stuck in traffic from Sukhumvit onto the tollway. In traffic waving school these guys are apparently taught, that traffic is accelerating considerably, when directed by whistling commands. Also do not verbalize directions such as corrections but whistle (just like in the sing, whistle when you’re happy), which is just a tad more annoying and noisier than when he usually blows on it. As if Bangkok isn’t built on noise already and there is plenty of it, but no,  the city creates a career path that starts at whistle holder and ends with senior chief principal whistler – of course that is after a 20 plus year career and to advance beyond senior staff whistler, one must have approval through peer review. C’mon people, really.

The other thing, I’d like to share is that schedules in this country are not even remotely in the vicinity of on-time. The BTS, the MRT are good – government-run (what am I saying, there is a government that can run something properly and efficiently, listen to me). But the private or less government-run bus companies use schedules, I think only, because that’s what one has to have when one run a bus company – it provides an image of legitimacy…oh, look at me, I am a bus company, I have a piece of par where it says schedule on it.

We were supposed to leave on Friday at 16:40 (4:40PM for my American friends), at around 6-ish PM the driver finally found it in his heart to start the engine and shortly thereafter he got the sucker in motion towards our destination Huahin. And it only took us a little longer than the promised 3h, with slightly over 4…you are pissing away my precious time, why do you do that?!

Anyway, I figured, I’d share this with you, just so that I am not leading you to believe that this here land is the land of milk and honey or punctual busses or just whistleless.

Alright gang, this is it. next time more positive vibes from BKK.

Sawadee Khap (as we say here) and keep it real

Markus \m/