A Thailand Story 2006 Part 2
Landing in Thailand in July 2004 I found it a very busy night at Don Muang airport. Lots of people coming off the plane with me and the lines for Customs was long. I thought to myself it must be the high season and noticed that most were men waiting with me. Being that I was in Bangkok once before in November 2003 I remembered my friends and I paid a driver to take us to are hotel. So I went to currency exchange and picked up some baht and went up to the first person asking if I needed a limo taxi. Where you go? He asked. I told him the name of the hotel that it was in the area of Rachada which I new nothing about or where it was. Ok! He said 800 baht. No problem seemed fair to me. So off we went to my unknown destination.
The driver talked very good English and asked if I had been to Thailand before. I said yes for two weeks in November but spent most of the holiday seeing some of the islands. Koh Samui was where I stayed the longest. He asked how long stay Bangkok before. Two days I said in a area called Nana. Oh you know pretty lady in Thailand was his reply. I smiled and said yes I have good time. The driver glanced back at me with a smile and said Rachada very good. Many lady good place. Really. I said sounds great. Of course he tried to set me up with someone he knows but I said no thank you and was surprised we were at my hotel so fast. Knowing prices now I paid the 800 baht only to find out later a taxi from the airport would have cost around 150 baht that late of night being that is was around 1AM In the morning. Checking into my hotel a note was left for me saying a driver would pick me up at 9AM In the morning from the company. I thought to myself here it is Friday night / Saturday morning and they are all ready picking me up for work. I kind of wanted a weekend to get over the jet lag. And my body was saying sleep no way. It was a long night flipping television channels maybe getting two hours of sleep for the next day.
9AM No problem up and ready to go coffee breakfast sitting and waiting. And waiting. And waiting. 10:30 a.m. I see a driver pull up in a van and walk into the lobby I walk up to him and say the name of my company and he says yes I take you. I say something like I thought you come at 9 o'clock. But he says nothing not even his name as we walk to the van and drive to the company's location. I walk inside the company and I am greeted with a lot of Sawasdee ka's and sawasdee krups. And I respond back the same way. I mean I did learn a few words and how to greet someone when I came before. I was asked to sit and wait for the Director of the company Khun Roy. He was in a meeting. Great I thought to myself more waiting no problem. I sit down and some iced tea is brought to me. I look at my watch only 11AM Maybe not long.
At 12PM The Director comes to introduce himself and asks if I would like a bit of lunch. Sure I say but thinking to myself not really hungry. He takes me to some fancy restaurant in his company car talking a little business on the way saying the company works six days a week. I tell him I am under contract for 5 days with overtime based on need only. So if I have work on a Saturday I will be here to do it. You can count on me for that. His reply was no we all work Saturday and the people might not like the idea of you working 5 days only. I said listen did you read my contract it has a lot of information you already agreed to. Otherwise I would not be here. My company in America pays me every week with direct deposit and bills you for my time. So if you are paying the bill and my contract says 5 days unless needed for overtime. If I have no work to do I am not coming in. He says he really does not bother with contracts. In which my reply was well you should start by reading them if you plan on help from our side of the company. I tell him if there really is a problem with my work or the amount of time I am putting in you should take it up with the guys on top. Do you follow me? We start off on the wrong foot.
This Director Roy is someone my company briefed me on. So I was well aware of his reputation before we sent him out here to Thailand. As far as I could understand from the meeting with my company back in the United States, this Director was kind of sent because we felt this company in Thailand was really going nowhere. But we have found out later that there is more money to be made here then we thought. And sending Roy was more of reason of the company saying we really had no use for him in America. So hey, why not send this guy to Thailand? Turns out Roy now thinks he is King Roy. Being that we can get the same product done cheaper in Thailand because as everyone knows, the pay difference. We are able to offer a service at cheaper prices to our customers in America. The problem being is we have to convince customers that the Thailand product can be just as good as what we produce in America. Not an easy sale. Most Americans have no trust in other cultures.
My job as a technical consultant for the product is to teach and hope we can deliver the same quality coming from Thailand. But King Roy does not have this company up to snuff as of yet. But if we work together with ideas maybe we can pull this off. Maybe. Our first meeting does not go well. But I think to myself, well yes then three months will do. I will make this a vacation. Work and play. Just work and play. At this time I am thinking maybe my report will be that we are just going to waste time and money here. But then again this is only my very first day at work and I need to be patient. But to be honest, I had already started falling into a vacation kind of mode.
Well six days a week for the first two weeks anyway. Talk about confusion. My head hurts and I feel like I am in a dream most of the time. Turns out I am trying to communicate so much that it brings a kind of exhaustion to me. I never see Roy much at all. He is in his office and on his computer most of the time. I come to the conclusion that this might be a big waste of time but I am glad when the week ends. And my first weekend of play comes around. My first full weekend Saturday afternoon. What do I do? Well let's see. Rachada is where and how close is this Nana area I was before?
I take a taxi, seems like it takes forever, how far are we I think to myself. We are stuck in traffic so I ask the driver how far? No answer from him. We are next to the sky train so I say which way Nana? He points straight ahead so I pay and walk. Hot. Man is it hot. I pass by a bar when about five ladies yell "hi handsome man". I look at them and smile. But I do not see anything or anyone of interest. But I think man is it hot and a cold beer might not be such a bad idea. I sit down and order a beer when up walks a young woman handing me a cold towel. I thank her. When she replies back in English. She then sits next to me. Her name was Joy. I have to say that the other ladies sitting around the bar just did nothing for me and I think that must be common for most men looking for a lady. I mean we should take our time to choose the person we plan to meet. But this young lady Joy I have to say was very beautiful. We talked for a while and of course I start to feel the vacation spirit coming on. Buying drinks. Laughing. Getting to know the mamasan. I did not know how close I was to Nana that day. But felt like I found the spot for the day and the smiles just kept on coming.
Sunday I wake up with Joy next to me. I had just a great time with her what an angel. I think to myself that Matt and Brad were right. It was a nice feeling. I mean she felt to me like I have known her for sometime. Not like we just met. She did not act like a bar girl or what I thought a bar girl would act like. Of course we spend sometime together and again she stays with me until Monday work day and leaves when I do in the morning. In two weeks from the first time we meet. Joy and I become very close. She calls and comes to see me most every night since I met her. Room service I think. She comes to me at my hotel.
At work there are problems but with pressure from the top. Things start to go my way. I have an assistant who I hand picked, someone I felt I could trust. What a fight to get him. The management protested that I give this nobody from the company, a non-manager, a title of respect. They wanted to pick my assistant for me but I protested. I mean they had no-one to offer me and they knew that. But they did not want to lose face. Something I have done much reading about and of course I was buying books and reading more StickmanBangkok.com for help and ideas of how the Thai people think.
Roy was walking a fine line between me and the Thai people who work for us. You see even though we own this company out right we have to let the Thai people feel like it is theirs to run. But so far I have found out that letting them make decisions can put us in a very deep hole. And Roy wants to make sure his food is delivered and his back massage comes everyday at the same time. He is more worried about what he loses which is the pampering from the staff. And here someone like me comes along and ruins everything by asking these people to change their system for our line of production and make them work to change it.
I can say the first month of working with the Thais has been very hard. And I am not a very popular person and not much help is offered from them. I ended up having to find my own apartment during this hard working period and moving from my hotel to my apartment. I lost contact with Joy. I told her I would come and see her after I moved into the new place. But we went on another long work week that lasted two weeks. When I had the time I found out that my little lady Joy had a customer and was long gone. Maybe two weeks said the mamasan. Man pay bar she travel with him. Great I said.
For two weeks after I worked and played. Making good friends with my new assistant Nok. He told me a lot about meeting a good Thai lady and how she would take care of you the rest of your life he would say. And Thai lady was born to take care of man. He was kind of warning me of the bar girl. Not that he had a problem with me having sex with them but he did not want me to fall in love with one <Sounds like a bright guy – Stick>. I said Nok without knowing a lot of the Thai language it would be hard for me to get to know a normal Thai lady. And I will not mess around with anyone at work. Could be big trouble for me if my company found out.
But I did wonder about what a normal Thai lady would be like. I mean you live in this country and you wonder are any of them really normal? Or do they all have secrets like the many stories I have been reading? Well as luck would have it. I found Joy back at the bar working. I was kidding with her about her vacation but she took it well. She was a friend and a lover and I was happy with that arrangement. I took her by the apartment which was a very nice two bedroom, two bathroom, swimming pool, gym etc. We had a good time and we went back to the call me and come over type relationship. I found this just fine.
I was learning where to go for fun around Bangkok. Taxi. Skytrain. Subway. So having one woman was not in my plans. But Joy and I were close and she would talk of love and committing to me. No I would say to her, this is fine just the way we are together now. I like it when you come around sometimes. She told me she was going to have some time off from the bar, maybe three months. I said good, maybe you go see family. And maybe sometime we take a small trip, ok? She said yes she would like that.
I had to work that coming Friday very late. Did not get home until 3AM In the morning. Saturday I hear someone knocking at my door. I look at the clock and it shows 7AM. Who in the heck is knocking at my door at this time? When I open the door Joy is standing there with her luggage. I look and say no Joy, no way. But every time I start to speak she puts her hand over my mouth and says I stay only three month. No Joy. No you go not stay. Again she covers my
mouth. Two months I stay with you only two months. I take care. Please! No Joy can not. You can not we talk about this. No you go. She says I stay with you one month no more really just one month I stay. I say no. But listen Joy I make deal. I'll give you only two weeks. After two weeks pass you go. She says three weeks. Please. Please! I stare at her and say. All right three weeks. But then you go. No cry. No fight with me. You go all right? All right she says. Three weeks stay then I go.
And I just wrote an article about how you should be so careful moving them in….oh dear…