Monday, January 18, 2010

Thailand Day 2

By god, it was hard work getting out of bed this morning.

Whether this was down to a very enjoyable evening drinking with a long-lost friend, missing sleep on Saturday night, or the sleeping pill I took to locate a doze on the harder-than-the-tiles mattress, I can't be sure. Perhaps it was simply the thought of going to work.

Well, I say work. Today was actually spent at the Australian Embassy, meeting people who occasionally seemed less sure what I was doing there than I was. My co-intern and I bounced from department head to department head, regularly feeling envious of the life of a diplomat. At least, envious of the occasional 3 year stints they pull overseas. Not at all of the countless years they spend in Canberra. Canberra. I have more than once considered a career in the diplomatic service (no, don't laugh), but that word has always been enough to quash such a career in the idle-fancy stage.

The Australian Embassy is an impressive building, floating on a murky pond on the South Sathorn Road. Clad in golden tiles and draped in green ivy, it seems a monument to every sporting team our nation has ever fielded. (Actually, gold is the Thai king's colour of choice and the ivy just sort of grew there, so this is coincidence rather than Ocker patriotism.)

Most of the staff are Thai nationals, which is understandable, given they come at a bargain rate. Most can expect to earn a tenth of that earned by any staff covered by Australian pay conditions. Nonetheless, they seemed very friendly and helpful to us interns as we spent a relaxing day reading newspapers.

A lot to get my head around for my forthcoming gig at a local paper, considering how fractious Thai politics is, but more perplexing is the use of red to highlight certain words in headlines. It seems as if the reader can't be expected to bother reading a whole headline.

The Sky Train is proving invaluable, with a trip across the city proving reasonably quick and painless during rush hour. Although the crowds at Siam, as I changed lines, did suggest there would be less of the rush and more of the hour. Still, a few minutes later I was packed in for delivery to Sala Daeng.

On the way home, I stopped by Pinky Tailor, with a view to buying a blazer. Unlike the other farang (foreigner) traps, his shop is hidden away at the back of a retail complex, and I was pleased by such a lack of attention-seeking. The assistant was also very relaxed and remarkably forthcoming, indicating self-proclaimed woollen fabrics with hidden polyester. He didn't even try to nail my boots down as I made for the floor. Promising, I thought. If all works out, this year I will mainly be wearing tweed.

A tweed snuggie, obviously. For working from home. (Doing what most people call freelancing, but I like to call "pyjama work".)

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