Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dad - my flight details

Hi dad - flight details: Thai Airways TG457 arriving Sydney 1320hrs.

SMS not working, would call but it's 4am. Thank Christ for 3g...

Hope you get this...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Locked & loaded baby

I'm at Suvarnabhumi airport, just hours away from my family and mates in Australia!

And I can't wait to get on this flying bus, get into Sydney, and finish the year off with a couple of bottles of plonk with the old man, Mum and Cass.


Next stop, immigration...the lines look epic...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


My sister Cass kindly gave me a US$100 gift voucher for Christmas this year - a cracking gift that will give me hours of enjoyment!

So I went shopping for books's what will be coming in the mail in January...

Soft reading

Doing crazy stuff in the snow
Emo, life

I'm particularly looking forward to Norbert E. Yankielun's classic about igloos.

Friday, December 25, 2009

...and Christmas is getting loose

So we like apple martinis...


Currently at the Four Seasons Hotel smashing Bellinis with the other Bangkok 'orphans'...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The 'Australia Post are useless' post

I'm really, really pissed off with Australia Post right now.

I sent a Christmas package last week to my family in Australia, paying a fair bit of cash to have it sent express delivery so it would get there with a 4-5 day buffer.

Thailand Post did their bit - they had it processed and out of the country within 8hrs.

Australia Post however are too busy bludging to do anything about it. The package has been sitting somewhere between Sydney airport and its final destination now for a week. A week! Useless.

I'm bang up for workers rights, making sure all is fair and equitable, but really, a week to get a parcel delivered from the airport is ridiculous.

Workers pay a lot of money each year to be a member of a union. Why then, does it so often get to this point in Australia - where striking "is the only option"? Are the people negotiating at the top of the union food chain doing their job properly?

Striking is not a form of negotiation. Striking is a last resort because your negotiations have collapsed, for whatever reason. In this case, at Christmas, the union knew it had extra power, and decided to wield it - they didn't strike at New Years. They didn't decide to strike in the middle of January. They are holding a helpless public at ransom, because their leaders have been too useless to pull their heads out of their asses and figure out a constructive solution.

Jeez I'm pissed off right now.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thinking of Penny

With Clare and I going back to Australia at the end of this month, we've got a small opportunity to do a bit of pre-research and potentially lock in a date for the wedding without needing to come back for another trip. So it's all wedding planning systems go at the moment.

I couldn't help but think of my good friend Penny tonight, and of when her and Josh got married a just over two years ago.

Their gorgeous wedding was held in a small country church in the Hunter Valley, near Josh's family farm where the reception was later held. On the way to the church we were halted ever so slightly not by a herd of cows or an overzealous country policeman, but by a billy cart race.

Yep, three/four wheels, MDF, spray paint and lop-sided oversized helmets all round.

And just a heads up, but it may happen again...

The Bangalow Billy Cart Derby, last year held on 17 May 2009, will be held again this year around the same time. We're looking at May 2010 in the Byron Shire as a possible time to get married.

Potential clash? Potential opportunity.

Bridal billy cart anyone?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Anatomy of a proposal - THE QUESTION

Saturday, 5 December
Nai Harn Beach, Phuket

It’s hot. Real hot. 34 degrees.

And I’m nervous. Real nervous.

After the golf, the four of us – Gearing, his girlfriend Amanda, Clare and I - head out to the nearby Nai Harn Beach, just down on the South-Western tip of Phuket. It’s generally a bit of a rockstar beach, with a few surrounding flash resorts and plenty of Germans wandering around in far too little clothing. The beach has been well looked after, mainly due to a Buddhist monastery camped in behind the beach - thankfully a beautiful piece of Phuket hasn't gone the way of Patong.

Clare’s enjoying being able to swim in the sea. Each time she’s away in the water, I can’t help but sneak a look at the bling I’m about to give her. Jeez I hope they go down OK.

Because it’s high season, the beach is quite busy with umbrellas, deck chairs and the shrills of European kids on holidays. I make a mental note that the rocks at the northern end of the beach look to be a relatively quiet spot to head to if need be.

I keep dropping hints to Clare to perhaps go for a walk…she’s not biting…

We've been here for 3 hours now. The day is getting on. I’ve got to seal this deal. I try again.

“So, I’m thinking of going for a walk later. Want to come?”

“Sure, where to?”

“I'm thinking the rocks - maybe check out the crabs, take some photos.”

“Sounds lovely!”

Yes! 3pm. Go time.

Clare is looking absolutely stunning. Dressed in a white and pink striped bikini and a new flowery sarong she just bargained at the beach for 150Bt.

I look a little like Puff Daddy in a bad Floridian music video circa 2002 – sunglasses and white linen fisherman pants, not so much for symbolic reasons, but for the fact that I burn easily and they provide good protection from the sun. Sometimes practicality raises above any sense of style.

“Why are you bringing the bag though? You really don’t need that, you should just leave it with Dave and Amanda…the zip will get salt in it.”

“Oh, no it’s got my camera and stuff in it, I’d prefer to keep it all nice and dry.”

Clare is not pleased. I try to bust out an innocent look. Crisis averted, can take the bag. Little does she know there’s some other precious cargo in there…

We wander along the gorgeous frontage of one of the nice resorts toward the stairs down to the rocks. I can’t help but blurt out a cheeky, nervous laugh, knowing that I’m only a few minutes short of asking Clare to marry me.

Stepping down onto the rocks, there’s a small surf rolling in and a number of yachts anchored just off shore, in preparation for a big regatta tomorrow. A couple of Thai guys are fishing off the rocks too. No-one else is around. Perfect.

Right, how am I going to do this?

I had a few words rehearsed before this, but somehow my brain has started to go out the window. Self doubt begins to seep in.

What if she says she’s not ready?? What if she says a flat no? Don’t be ridiculous…you know she loves you…but she still might...

Clare’s looking at the bag, clearly worried. She asks whether it’s in the salt water. I try to get all jai yen. Salt really is the least of my concerns at the moment, but I oblige and move the bag to higher, less salty ground.

Right, the bling. How am I going to get it out?

What do I need to say?

Where should I stand?

How should I stand?

Should I stand?

I’m rehearsing the phrases I have had rolling around in my head now for the past few months.

Right, I think this should be a sit-down affair. There’s a nice level rock. Perfect. This will be perfect.

I sit down.

“Honey, want to come sit down with me?”

“Are you serious? Not there, no way, I’ll get a green dirty bum!”

OK then. So the plan may not be so perfect. Looks like I’ll need a plan B.

Standing might be the easier option.

Clare seems distracted at the moment by the view of all the yachts. A good opportunity to get the earrings. I go to the bag.

Shit. I can’t find the earrings in the bloody bag. Be cool, look cool. Jai yen. You don’t want her seeing you freak out. They must be in here somewhere…

I look over my shoulder, Clare’s still distracted.

Under the towel? Nope. That’s my camera.

Clare’s still distracted.

Shit. They must be in here somewhere. Yes! OK, found them. Phew.

I slip them into my pocket.

If she asks what it is, I’ll say my camera to buy me some time.

Clare looks so beautiful.

By now I’m shaking. Really shaking. I can’t help it.

Get a grip!

I can’t.

I wonder if she’s caught on. I need to do this quickly before I resemble some sort of epileptic jellyfish and she suspects something. Or has she already got a good idea of what's coming?

I wasn’t expecting this to be happening so fast. I’m really starting to shake now. This is weird.

I jump over to the rock near her.

Don't slip over and break your ankle. That would suck.

My mind is going a million miles an hour now. I lose my thoughts. I stand in front of her and put my arms around her. Clare smiles. I try to smile back, but I’m absolutely shitting myself.

Clare looks beautiful in the late afternoon light. We kiss.

This might be my last kiss with her as her that's is a weird thought for a time like this...

Time for the question. My mind goes into auto-pilot. The script's been well and truly pulped by my brain. Not sure what to say. I just start talking.

"I love you more than anything in the world and would be honoured if you would marry me."

A bead comes out. Couldn’t help that one.

My proposal was in no way one of my most eloquent moments, but hey, I guess the key message was right?

Wrong. It looks like Clare’s confused.

She laughs awkwardly.

She’s going to say no!

She laughs again slightly, then her face changes as she realises I’m actually being serious.

She squeaks out a yes, and then a big smile!!!!

That’s a “yes”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shit. The earrings. I forgot to present the bloody earrings!

I pull them from my pocket. Clare opens them up. I explain why I didn’t get her a formal ring, knowing that she wanted to design her own, possibly using components from her grandmother’s ring.

Now it’s official.

Then I tell her the whole story of how I’d actually travelled to Australia to have a chat with her parents and that I’m really sorry for having to lie to her for the past few months.

It turns out through all my freaking out, she had no idea this was coming.

‘Operation Singapore’ - a success!

Then we start to get really excited, as the reality of our moment sinks in. We’re going to get married!!!!

Clare can’t stop saying “we’re engaged”. I can’t help but feel an immense sense of relief and happiness.

We enjoy the next 15 minutes or so talking through the whole story together, taking photos, loving being with each other at this very special moment, just her and I. We then call our parents to put them out of their misery, as they’ve held the secret for so long, take a few more photos then head back to tell Dave and Amanda...

Just a few minutes after I proposed to Clare...

Getting romantic, enjoying the moment. Note the elevation of the bag. No salt water at that altitude.

The bling. They look absolutely stunning on Clare.

Anatomy of a proposal – It will be a cracking day today

Saturday, 5 December

It’s the King’s 82nd birthday today. Very auspicious.

My mate Gearing and I are up at 5.45am to play an early-morning 9-holes of golf at the Phuket Country Club.

I kiss Clare goodbye, she’s still slumbering. I whisper to her that today is going to be most excellent. She's got no idea how excellent. I do. This is fun.

“Mate, I’ve got a good feeling about today,” I say on our way there. Gearing thinks I’m talking about the golf and the ‘Camberley Cup’, our jointly-contested golfing trophy.

After a quick breakfast in the restaurant, we tee off. An I’m most definitely not on my game.

It only takes until the end of the 1st hole when Gearing's inevitable question comes out: “when are you going to bloody ask her to marry you?”

“In time, I’m just not ready right now. But I promise you mate, you’ll be among the first people to know…”

HA!!! The irony!!! I’m loving this. What a morning.

Although I play like a busted ass, scoring 67 for nine holes and losing 6 balls in the drink, it’s a cracking morning, made more so because Dave’s attitude toward the game, and life in general, is always so energetic and positive. What an excellent way to kick the day off with a good mate.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Anatomy of a proposal - It’s on

Friday, 4 December

It’s go time.

I just spoke to Patto who’s managing the earrings. I'll be picking them up at 6pm, rendezvousing on the corner of Sukhumvit Soi 11, near the mango street stall guy, hopefully in enough time to get to the airport by 7pm for our flight to Phuket.

High potential this weekend will be the first Bell engagement since 1975!

Anatomy of a proposal - We want answers!

Sunday, 29 November
Marriott Hotel, Chao Phraya River, Bangkok

Clare and I are out at a delicious Christmas brunch with friends.

I just got a call from Libby. She’s pretty keen on me getting an answer.

I also got an email from Cass this morning, imploring me to "HURRY UP AND PROPOSE!!!!!!!!!!!!".

I wish I could, just waiting on the bling to come together…

Anatomy of a proposal - Designing the bling

Various dates

After various emails, design iterations, pub lunches, and further discussions about the varying merits of different cuts, clarities, carats and colours of shiny rocks, Patto and I settle on designing a nice pair of 1 carat white gold marquise diamond earrings, with the view that Clare will hopefully be able to wear them at many a family occasion in the years to come.

Here’s a few of the initial sketches…

The sketch above is the one we ended up going with, incorporating 13 small diamonds along the main part of the white gold earring, and then a nice bright marquise diamond set hanging below.

This was another idea we had - looking at two diamonds, a small brilliant cut bezel stud, with a fully-set hanging marquise.

Similar to the one above, this design incorporated the small brilliant cut bezel diamond stud, with a hanging marquise - this one in a claw setting.

Anatomy of a proposal - All about diamonds

Ajediam Diamond Company out of Antwerp have a most excellent and informative website, explaining all the different facets and options for diamond jewellery. I've spent many an hour scouring through the different options!

Highly recommend!

Anatomy of a proposal - The mission

Friday, 20 November
Gemopolis Industrial Estate, Bangkok

Day 7 of my hospital stay, I manage to fill out all manner of paperwork to negotiate a 3hr release window in between IV treatments. I’ve told the nurses I need to go and sort out some work visa issues in person.

I’m dressed, spruced and ready to go and have a chat with a mate of mine who's Melbourne-based family business does custom-made and bulk-manufacture jewelry over here, distributing to all the big chains and many independent jewellers back in Australia. Patto's fiance Liz is also a good friend of Clare's from netball, so I think we'll have a lot of fun designing her engagement ring further down the track. I'm also really happy knowing that I've started dealing with a bloke who will hopefully take care of our family jewellery for many years to come.

Clare has suggested she may wish to integrate components of her grandmother’s and great-grandmother's engagement ring into hers, so the traditional ‘engagement ring’ proposal may have to change somewhat – and there’s no bloody way I’m going to attempt to design it without her.

So I'm going to give her some earrings during the proposal. Not particularly the most traditional of approaches, but I think it will be nice to kick off our new family with a couple of heirlooms (should she say yes!) - besides, why stop at just an engagement ring!!

Once at his office, Patto educates me about cuts, clarities, colours, carats, shapes, settings and indicative costs and we get the ball rolling on designs. He’s going to come up with three designs incorporating some marquise diamonds.

This jewellery thing is a whole new world…

I get back just in time for my next IV infusion. Just in time too, as Clare arrives shortly after.

Crisis averted.

Anatomy of a proposal – No doubt

Wednesday, 18 November
BNH Hospital, Bangkok

Clare has been absolutely amazing, visiting every day after work, brightening the mood simply by just being there.

I have to marry this woman.

Anatomy of a proposal - In hospital

Friday, 13 November
BNH Hospital, Bangkok

It hasn’t all gone to plan.

The plan was to sort out an engagement gift for Clare soon after getting back into Bangkok, then maybe propose the following weekend in Ayuthya or on one of the islands.

However, a slight battle has been waging in the form of a minging skin problem related to my auto-immune problems.

In short, I’ve been in hospital in a fair bit of pain, unable to get out of bed to greet people, let alone leave the hospital to sort out some bling for Clare. I’m also left with four sores - three 1cm deep roughly the size of an Aussie 10c coin, and one big one about the shape of an egg, also about 1cm deep. Not attractive. It’s surprising Clare hasn’t given me the flick…

Pretty over this.

Anatomy of a proposal - Back in Bangkok

Sunday, 8 November

48hrs, two international flights, 640kms of driving and the suggestion of marriage to my girlfriend’s parents - I’m pretty buggered.

My back and legs are absolutely killing, I’ve popped a million painkillers, but the pain is still pretty bad. I feel like I’ve got some kind of fever or something. Need to go to the hospital.

It’s about 9pm and I’m in the cab now heading into town, now on the phone to Clare. I feel bad about lying to her.

“How was Singapore?”

“Yeah, great, good result all round. Really busy though. Sorry my phone wasn’t working. Didn’t have much access to email either. I need to head to the hospital, have a few sores that might need to be looked at.”

“Are you OK? I’ll come meet you – I’ve missed you this weekend!”

My girlfriend is such a shweetie.

Then it strikes me. Dilemma. I still have all my stuff from Australia.

Maps. P-plates. Confirmation emails. Directions. The wine Libby gave me to give to Clare. Clare’s mail.

“Oh, no seriously, I’ll be fine, just a quick check-up. I’ll be home about 10.30. No need to meet me.”

“I really want to see you, I’ve missed you!”

As I said, my girlfriend is such a shweetie.

“Um, OK, will be there in about 30mins – see you there”

I rush through my bag, locking most of it in and throwing anything I don’t need in the bin when I get to the hospital.

Clare arrives just as I’m at the counter of the hospital ‘checking in’. It's so good to see her!

As we walk toward the emergency room to get my back and leg checked out, Clare seems none the wiser. We’re talking about her weekend, I’m trying to avoid all conversation about ‘Singapore’ and anything kiwifruit related.

I look down toward my bag. Oh God. I forgot the checked-in baggage tag, clearly stating the letters ‘BNE-BKK’. Brisbane-Bangkok. Shit.

I slide down off the trolley and pretend to be looking for something from my bag, rip off the tag and chuck in the bio-waste bin when Clare isn't looking. Even if she suspects something, she won’t go looking for it in there.

I feel like I’m in some Bond movie or something.

The rest of the night is pretty uneventful, bar the fact a surgeon came in and made a 1x1cm hole in my back, excising a random infection I’d picked up probably from footy in Cambodia. Funnily enough, he was also one of my mates, and one of a handful of my Thai friends here in country, randomly working as the resident surgeon at the hospital on the Sunday night.

Back home, and I hide all the goods in my golf bag. Perfect hide.

Anatomy of a proposal - Back to Brissy

Sunday, 8 November

It’s 9am and I'm saying goodbye to Greg and Libby, about to get back on the road for the trip back to Bangkok via Brisbane.

Don’t hit the bloody rockwall.

You’ve done all the hard yards, now don’t hit the bloody rockwall driveway on your way out…

Rockwall navigated.


Couple of taps of the horn.

I’m off!

Jeez I’m tired. And my legs are feeling bloody sore and swollen today. Must be some weird thing I picked up in Cambodia on that rugby tour…

Anatomy of a proposal - The rest of the weekend

Saturday, 7 November
Yamba, NSW

The second best thing about coming back is that I am able to see Mum, Dad and Cass.

Cass doesn’t even know I am in Australia. Dad stayed overnight in Yamba, while Mum and Cass are to ‘meet’ him up there today for lunch. Cass must be thinking Mum and Dad have lost it with all this “Oh, it would be a nice little trip up there” chat.

So I’m driving down to Yamba today to meet them at the Pacific Hotel in Yamba for lunch. I’m loving being back amidst the Australian countryside, driving through all the cane fields and country where Clare’s family has lived for generations.

I call Meils as I travel down the Pacific Hwy – she was pretty stoked about the news, but as disappointed as I am for not being able to have time to go to Sydney and say hi…

About an hour in and I’m driving down alongside the Clarence River, digging the fishing culture and pelicans dotted along the way. I wonder if Penny is randomly in town with Josh and little Campbell...

I pull up a stump at a table next to the Pacfic Hotel’s grand glass frontage - I’ve got the whole of the Pacific Ocean and a bunch of surfers rolling around only a couple of hundred metres below. What a view!

And what a spectacular day. Perfect 2ft rolling surf…I just wish I had time to get the old sea tractor out for a spin.

Then Cass arrives. She has no idea what was going on – a wonderful moment when I tell her what I was in town for. And to see Mum again was divine – it had been such a long time. I swear Dad’s pushing out a bead.

We smash a mezze plate and a few drinks, slipping straight back into family mode. Skype really does rock – I reckon it goes a long way to helping keep that family familiarity.

Today is one day I’m really glad to be around in person though, as Mum has just found out Nan has terminal cancer. It’s not the nicest news, but I’m happy I can at least be around in person to hear it and offer support – as much as Skype rocks, a hug is something you can’t really do online.

We end up moving down to a pub just up the Clarence for lunch and coffees – Cass has been as snap-happy as a clapping Jap today. Our lunch is also attended by a pod of dolphins doing their thing in the river. Could this day get any more spectacular?

The day rolls by into the afternoon - sucks to have to leave my family yet again after just a teasingly short few hours. Jeez I wish I could be living closer.

I give Libby and Greg a buzz to let them know I’m just about to head off, Libby suggests Mum and Dad come around for tea…they accept! The dream stays alive. Party time.

And what a party it is. Greg CAN cook a steak. The BBQ is just brilliant, very Australian with all the traditional accompaniments – salads, bread, snags, top-quality meat, wine…

Clare’s Uncle Tom and Aunty Carmel are also staying with Greg and Libby at the moment, so it is a pretty full house. Clare's brother Nick has also randomly popped home for dinner, so we are able to have a good chat out on the deck, with his questions as to my intentions far harder than anything thrown up the previous evening by Greg and Libby!

With so many of the respective families home, it’s an excellent way to celebrate. The hard part now will be keeping the secret under wraps!

Clare would love this.

Anatomy of a proposal - Freaking out Greg and Libby

Friday, 6 November
Tregeagle, NSW

Greg must have been pottering about in the garden or something. He came down to see who’d just randomly rolled up.

It’s me. His face screamed a mix of confusion, surprise and wonder. Sort of like how a man would look if given an Ikea baby table to assemble minus two screws.
“Steve, what are you doing here?”

“Oh, was just in the neighbourhood. Thought I’d pop in to say hi. How about a cup of tea?”

I'm nervous as all get out.

“Sure, no problem…but what are you doing here?”

Libby was just finishing fixing dinner. I see her at the top of the staircase into their living room. A nice feeling to be ‘home’.

“Oh! Steve! Hello! What are you doing here? Lovely to see you! Oh god. What’s wrong? Something’s wrong. Is it your father? Your mother? Is Clare here? You’ve lost your job? What’s happened in Bangkok? Are you OK? Something’s happened.”

“No Libby, it’s all good news”

“Oh no, what’s happened? Great to see you. You look well. But you’ve got news don’t you? What are you doing here! Something's happened.”

"Seriously Libby, I'm here for a very good reason."

Libby starts to cry, I give her a hug and try to distract her by asking for a cup of tea.

This isn’t going to plan. Even though I don't really have a plan. More just the words.

Better just jump right in - no room for bullshit here.

“Um, well, I’ve come here to…I love your daughter very much and would like to ask her to marry me - I’ve actually come to ask for your blessing…”

“…good on you mate!!!” Greg says as he grabs my hand - big smiles all round. We shake hands and hug.

“Oh, Steve, that’s great news, I thought someone had been sick, wonderful news! Wonderful news!”

Libby starts crying again.

Happy days.

We spend the rest of the night having a bite to eat and a chat. A few hairy questions regarding my intentions for children and living arrangements - nothing too bad. It’s so lovely catching up with them both, just the three of us, and Tregeagle really does feel like home.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Anatomy of a proposal - Road trip!

Friday, 6 November

So Dad and I end up travelling in convoy, with Dad in front in the Commodore. It’s a real relief to be travelling with him, taking the edge off driving and navigating on only a few hours of economy-class sleep.

Traffic is surprisingly thick heading down the M1 toward the NSW border. After a few pit stops and chats along the way, Dad and I say goodbye at a servo just south of the Tweed river, as he heads further south toward Yamba.

I'm loving being tuned back into Aussie bogan commercial radio…belting out a bit of Springsteen, the Eagles and Barnesy. Tragic stuff. Entertaining.

Perhaps something a bit more subdued…YES! ABC North Coast, Friday afternoon. Top stuff. Jeez I miss the ABC. Mind back on task.

How spectacular is Northern NSW – what a sight! Lots of fat cows. Would love a steak right now. Don’t get too excited. Keep it under 100kmph. Not long now.

Through Teven, Alstonville, up the Bruxner – jeez all this rain makes me want to take a leak – through the macadamia farms, over the cross-road…getting pretty nervous now…

I pull into Tregeagle primary school to use their facilities and practice my lines. The hills behind the school look absolutely spectacular. It’s just striking dusk.

Back in the car now, only a few more kilometers to go to Clare’s house. Funny to think not so long ago I was dodging motorbikes on Silom Rd, trying to covertly kill time without Clare realizing I wasn’t actually travelling Singapore.

Coming up to Clare’s family’s place now.

Don’t drive into Greg’s rockwall. You’ve come all this way, negotiated semi-trailers semi-alert…don’t hit the bloody rockwall driveway.

Rockwall negotiated.

Pull in alongside the garage.

Car in park.

Engine off.

Handbrake on.

Keys out of the ignition.

Deep breath.

Smile. I love these moments.

I hope they’re home…

Anatomy of a proposal - Back on Aussie soil

Friday, 6 November
Brisbane airport

I just touched down in Brisbane, Australia. It’s amazing how long it takes to taxi to the terminal. Also amazing how ‘country’ it looks. There’s a couple of islander blokes waiting on the baggage cars wearing fluro vests. Nice to be back.

A couple more people know now. I couldn’t help but spill the beans to a honeymooning couple I was sitting next to on the plane.

Customs is great, I get through no worries. God bless carry-on baggage.

A BIG surprise seeing Dad waiting for me at the airport – definitely NOT expected!! It’s such a thrill to see him. He’d been up in Brisbane on business and had stayed an extra night with some friends.

My plan is to hire a car in Brisbane and drive to Greg and Libby’s. I’ve sorted out a little white 4-door Hyundai Elantra, so fingers crossed it will last the trip!

Anatomy of a proposal - The Irishman

Thursday, 5 November
Gate 47, Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok

I'm at the airport 3.5 hours before my flight. Nothing’s going to stop me from boarding.

“I’ve been travelling for 19 hours, like. No, well, now it’s really about 23, like. If you count the drive from my coosin’s farm in Derry to the airport. And then there’s the waiting time, like. Yes, the waiting time. Heathrow, like. The English. They just think everyone’s out there to get them. Took me so long to get through security. Lucky I met this Canadian fellow. We had a few, like. He’d been travelling in Venice or somewhere. Or was it Belgium?”

This bloke’s definitely had a few whiskeys.

“I work for Royal Mail. It’s not really want I want to do with my life, you see. Except my father works there. And his father worked there.”

My god. Who is this tornadic Irishman?

“I sort mail, like. It’s not that glamourous, but a man’s got to have a job, like. Do you have a job?”

“Well, yes, I work here in Bangk…”

“Ireland’s full of unemployment at the moment, like. Did you know that? Lucky I’m going to Australia. I hear the girls in Australia love Irishmen. Is it true? Do girls in Australia love an Irishman, like?”

“I’m not sure, I suppose anything different can be exciting sometimes.”

“I hear all they want to do is party and do the dirty. Ha ha ha. You know. Ha ha ha. The dirty. Ha ha ha.”

“Um, maybe some.”

“It’s going to be great. I still don’t know if I’ll go back to Ireland though. There’s not a lot tying me there, like. Either way, I’ll be staying in Australia for three weeks.”

“So where do you plan to spend your three weeks?”

“I hear the Golden Coast is a great place to spend time. I might stay there for 2.5 weeks, then maybe drive to Sydney, have a look at the sights, then drive back.”

“It’s a long way, could take some time, have you considered flying?”

“Nooo, my coosin said it’s not too far. I should be OK to do it in a couple of days. He has a van. You know I’ve got a kid. Real good looking, like”

“A kid? How old?” I'm thinking now this bloke is a nutter.

“Three weeks”

“Oh, quite young”

“Yeah, beautiful little boy. Small, like. I gave his moom 500 Euro before I left. Might send some more across if I can.”

“You’re not planning to head back to look after him?”

“Oh, no, he’ll be fine. His mother is very independent, like. Great woman. Is it hot in Australia at the moment? It’s so cold in Ireland. Can you buy shorts in Australia?”

Attention ladies and gentlemen, please proceed up the escalators for an additional security check…

The people you meet while travelling.

Only 2 hours until boarding. Time to go and inspect the bookshop.

Anatomy of a proposal - At work

Thursday, 5 November
Silom, Bangkok

Day of departure and I’m dead-set jumping out of my socks. I suppose that’s what happens when you’re about to fly to Australia to ask your girlfriend’s parent’s for her hand in marriage.

I usually get the jitters prior to a trip home, but this is just something else!

  • Bags packed.
  • Maps double, triple and quadruple checked.
  • Route’s written out.
  • Back-up routes determined.
  • Emergency numbers printed out.
  • Passport firmly secured on my person.
  • Australian payment cards packed, expiries double-checked.
  • Green P-plates designed and printed (yes, I’m still on them…).
  • Confirmation emails printed.
  • Vodafone SIM packed.
I’m sure I have everything in order…probably best to check again.

I. CAN’T. WAIT!!!!!!!!

I’m pretty sure Libby and Greg won’t knock me back, but it still feels like this is an almighty job interview deciding the rest of my life…I suppose it is. I wonder what they are going to say? They’ll surely figure something’s up when I randomly call through. Is Greg going to ask me any tough questions about my future intentions? Will Libby hold it together?

All day I’ve been shaking just thinking that in less than 24-hrs I’ll be back on Aussie soil and asking my girlfriend’s parents for their blessing.

What a topic to blog about!

I'm due to fly out at 11.59pm.

Oh, and Clare? I told her I was off to Singapore to help out with a weekend-long kiwi fruit-related media event. Perfect cover.

Anatomy of a proposal

Seeing as the cat's well and truly out of the bag, I can now publish a number of blog posts I've been compiling throughout my time scheming my proposal. It's been a great outlet, as I haven't (obviously) been able to share all this with Clare.

Apologies also in advance for all the swapping of tenses in these pieces – some of the entries were written at different times of reflection.

Better get a cup of tea, there's a bit of content here.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

My breakfast

You know you’re blogging badly when all you’ve got to talk about is what you had for breakfast, but it’s still an insight into life over here:

5:45am – 4x pre-gym saos
5:55am – Milo popper from 7-11 (12Bt)
8:30am – 2 hard-boiled eggs and soy sauce from 7-11 (12Bt)
9:00am – 2 bananas bought from the street (15Bt)
9:00am – Peppermint tea

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Disco styling

Another video, this time produced by one of Clare's friends...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Trashbag chippendales

Just a regular Saturday night out in Sydney really. Might I say that Millgate is looking decidedly buff!!

Thanks to Clare for producing the little gem...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chiang Rai

A couple of months back, Clare and I ducked up north for a long weekend to check out Chiang Rai province.

Chiang Rai would have to be one of my favourite destinations in Thailand for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the greenery was a welcome change from the Bangkok polution and concrete jungle - it was great to just look out the car window and see nothing but bush or rice paddies all the way to the horizon.

The diversity of the landscape kept Clare and I guessing - with the mountainous region in the west and flat rice fields in the east. Chiang Rai reminded me somewhat of the Northern rivers region of NSW, with the long lowland landscapes and hilly regions. Less hippies though.

I also loved the individual little villages and genuine culture - too often have I seen Thai's cash in on their country's cultural heritage...a bit like Rolf Harris selling albums to the poms! Clare and I felt lucky to see people working in the fields in their colourful traditional clothing, and the Chinese influence of migrant communities in the all seemed such a world away from the streets of Patong, Pattaya and Sukhumvit.

The area also has a rich history, being at the crossroads of trans-Asian trade for centuries. Most recently, the opium trade brought black prosperity to the people of the region, however this seems to have been thwarted, at least in Thailand, by concerted efforts by the Thai government, Royal family and international pressure.

So we hired a car, covering about 500km over three days of winding roads and pot holes like doorways to the depths of hell. We dodged herds of cattle, dudes in ramshackle tractors, random chickens crossing the road (there's got to be a joke there somewhere...) and of course full families on motorbikes.

We visited the Chinese migrant town of Mae Salong; Doi Tung, the mountaintop place of royal residence and religious focus, including the royal botanic gardens; the many small rural towns dotted around the provincial countryside; a random guy's farm, after getting a little sidetracked; and a national park just north of Chiang Rai city. There's a lot to be said as well for the many hours we spent just cruising around.

Somewhere in the Phu Chi Fa mountain range - the landscapes here were terrific, when Clare and I were driving through, wispy clouds were rising through the range as the morning woke up. What was previously opium country, fruit, coffee and macadamia nuts are now grown in the area. Note the small rain shelter here used by workers during heavy storms.

Another shot of some of the mountain ranges Clare and I drove through. Pretty sweet.

Closeup shot of one of the flowers at the Mae Fah Luang botanic gardens on Doi Tung. The gardens were terrifically landscaped - rainforest, roses, water-flora, an orchid farm and a cracking little cafe among other things. Mum, you would have absolutely loved the rose garden - was about the size of a football field.

Clare smelling the roses.

It rained a bit when we visited the province, and I loved it.

Why bother with an umbrella when you can just stick a plastic bag on your head?

Driving around some of the lowlands. In the background you can see rice paddies stretching out into the mountains. Whilst this particular photo doesn't really do it justice, the colour of the paddies was breathtaking, reminscent of Young in canola season.


Clare and I with the Jazz in front of a great statue of Buddha. This photo was taken up near the junction of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand - AKA 'Golden Triangle'.

Looking down the Mekong toward Laos.

Navigating in Thai script was a growth experience.

Rice paddy and rain shelter.

German backpacker?? Ya - das vatervall iss goot.

The Khun Kon waterfall in one of Chiang Rai's national parks - it was a really great little trek up to see this one, Clare loved it. As we got higher in elevation the flora changed...there were also heaps of small insects and butterflies, indicating the area is still in pretty good nick.

Click the images for a higher-res, more detailed look at some of the landscapes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My birthday cake

Clare took me out for a delicious meal tonight at an Australian-owned wine bar / restaurant for my birthday. On the menu was a blood orange cocktail, a wonderful glass of Sicilian Syrah, white wine poached chicken and avocado, pork fillet with stewed spiced apple and port-soaked cranberries, and as pictured - pavlova with banana and passionfruit!


Happy birthday to me!

My friend Bonnie sent this YouTube video through to me for my our birthday - classic!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Just another Saturday night in the soi

Our new apartment is in a soi (street) which also houses Wat Phra Si Maha Umathewi, built in the 1860s by Tamil immigrants and one of Bangkok's most revered Hindu temples. The Central Asian population in my area is the mainstay of the temple community, while others come from all over Bangkok to worship.

Last night was pretty standard for the soi, with thousands of people converging on the temple to celebrate Diwali.

A cloud of incense and wafts of rosewater filled the air, while a percussion band kept the vibe going with their tribal beats. The flowers and offerings were pretty cool, with all manner of garlands, Bualuang (lotus), coconuts, bananas, food and even what looked to be a glass of coke (your kind of deity Angus). Firecrackers were going off until about 1am.

I was up at 7am this morning to go for a run with a mate and amazingly the soi was spotless. There always seems to be something to celebrate at temple, so by now the cleanup goes like clockwork!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The bachelor

So Clare’s been away now for about two weeks, acting as Maid of Honour at her friend Chrissie’s wedding (last Saturday); meeting the newest edition to the O’Connor clan, young Will; hanging out with her family in Tregeagle and Byron; and now traipsing around the South Australian countryside with the wonderful Mariani family, sampling the best wine the region has to offer.

She’s back next Wednesday evening.

So what’s life been like without her around? Let’s do a quick reflection exercise:

  • Pizza delivered for dinner. Three times.
  • Post-work DVD delight in the fine works of Seagal, Willis and Stallone.
  • Underwear everywhere.
  • Toilet seat fixed in the upright position.
  • No early-morning teaching-hour wakeups.
  • No express shuttles late on a Saturday night from the grog-house to the dog-house.
Of course, not all is rosy, and our new place can be pretty empty without an extra body floating around. Looking forward to when she gets home…although I might have a bit of work ahead of me this weekend to get everything back in shape!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The security of tomorrow's Thailand

I attended a small Australian Chamber of Commerce luncheon today about the ‘certainty and uncertainty of Thai politics’, presented by the Editor-in-Chief of the Bangkok Post/Post Today - what’s for certain is that I am even more confused!

I sat next to Natchaon, a young Thai woman who is currently completing her second masters degree. Khun Natchaon is studying consumer behaviour specifically relating to home and personal security (random!). Some of her interim findings were interesting from a sociological perspective…

Over this way ‘luck’ and ‘karma’ provide ways for Thais to order and explain life’s events. If, for instance, you are hit by a motorbike on your way to work, a traditional Thai would explain it as an imbalance of bad karma – doing too many bad things, or not enough of the good. To counter this imbalance, many Thais ‘make merit’ by giving to the poor, helping monks etc. It’s all part of the social fabric over here.

Despite this, Khun Natchaon found respondents to have differing attitudes to personal and home security, largely based along generational lines.

Those up to the age of 30 tended to be more inclined to purchase personal security products. Those aged over 30 were not so inclined to purchase products like home CCTV or electronic access, as they believe an instance of home robbery (‘bad luck’) is an uncontrollable occurrence directly resulting from their own karma inaction, thus a bad way to spend their money.

Why is this interesting?

It shows that for good or bad, Thailand’s next generation (middle class and up) are changing the way Thai’s frame their lives. The next generation are becoming more proactive in taking control of their life, which will no doubt flow into issues of politics and democracy, consumerism, the relevance of Buddhism, the family unit, socialism vs capitalism, and the monarchy.

Thailand will be very different in twenty years time…

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In Samui

This is a quick pic taken last month in Samui the day after the adventure race.

As recovery, I decided to go on a snorkeling tour of some of the outlying islands. A lovely day, the swim was good, but the array of sea life where we went had nothing on Koh Chang in April this year.

You may also notice I got a wee bit burnt the day before! More on the adventure race later...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Busy busy busy...

Apologies, haven't posted up photos from numerous trips away, including Chiang Rai, Singapore and Phuket...

Work has been pretty hectic at the moment, will try to find some time to write and upload photos soon!!!


9 is an auspicious number here in Thailand.

So today - 09/09/09 - the Thais are going absolutely mental.

At 0909hrs this morning, an eruption of nationalism spewed out in front of my work, where bank employees gathered to sing two songs in honour of the King (you can see his picture in the background).

Standing there listening to the songs, I thought of a couple of things:
  1. Would people do this for KRudd or the Queen?
  2. Days like this are an absolute boon for the bloke who manufactures paper flags.
  3. What is the King doing now?
  4. I wonder if Clare was right when she said last night that a lot of pregnant women would be induced today?
  5. Why does Clare keep bringing up so much talk about babies?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

That's not a supermarket...THIS is a supermarket!

The mother of all supermarkets, Makro is probably best described as two parts aircraft hanger, one part disneyland and one part Coles.

I reckon they'd need a staff shuttle bus any time a checkout chick needed a price check...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bangkok by night

Just finished up at a work dinner at The Peninsula hotel, a flash place on the Chao Phraya river.

Great nosh, smashed about at thousand lamb chops.

Anyway, the above pic is of me on the wharf waiting for the boat. In the immediate background is one of the Lanna style boats (with lights), and far behind are the lights of State Tower and the Dome.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

‘O’ for Awesome

I’ve just started boxing training once a week as part of the lead-up to the adventure race, with a good mate of mine training myself and a bunch of other mates at a little Muay Thai boxing gym, roughly 20 minutes from where Clare and I live.

I’ve really enjoyed learning the basic technique, not so much the 5:20am starts, and have been feeling good after some pretty tough sessions. This week I jumped into the ring for my first ever (thankfully short!) sparring session, up against a mate who used to be a British Navy Champion boxer. Needless to say, my mate Steely can hit.

I don’t plan on becoming a professional boxer. Why? Check out the clip below featuring ex-NZ champion David Tua, who became a NZ national heavyweight champion at age 15 and a bronze medalist at the Barcelona Olympics.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sausage roll madness

With just 23 days to go until the Koh Samui Adventure Race, it’s articles like these that just send my fat-boy instincts well off the radar.

The SMH published an article this week in Good Living on where to get the best sausage rolls.

With recipes such as traditional pork and beef (with mace and nutmeg), lamb and pine-nut (with parsley, lemon and mustard), pork (with fennel and grated carrot), and lamb and harissa (with almonds, currants and poppy seeds), it’s one of the few times I’m glad I’m so far away from home! It would be carnage.

So where can you find the best sausage rolls around Sydney (according to Good Living)?
  • Berry Sourdough Bakery and Café, Berry
  • Summer Hill Village Patisserie, Summer Hill
  • Bourke Street Bakery, Marrickville
Any other suggestions? What about the bakery on the way back up to Coffs?

Meils – please do an intelligence mission for me on the Marrickville one and report back…if it’s any good, I’m thinking we should go on an excursion there next time I’m home…

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How my family celebrates birthdays

It was my Dad’s birthday today. I spoke with him and Mum over skype and chatted to Mum about what she was preparing for his birthday dinner…very much indicative of how my family celebrates!!

Sad I have to miss yet another family event, but happy knowing they’re celebrating in style!!


The beef is seared until crusty but still rare inside, dressed with extra virgin olive oil, horseradish cream and lemon juice, and strewn with capers and rocket leaves.

Roasted pumpkin, fetta and sultana with a sage beurre noisette.



Roasted tenderloin served with steamed seasonal vegetables and a mustard sauce.



Something sweet
Selection of mixed berries with a white chocolate sauce.



2008 Giesen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
2000 Mount Pleasant Rosehill Shiraz

Wallabies support Sydney Convicts

The Wallabies have shown their heads are in the right place in making positive steps toward eliminating homophobia in sport. Captain Stirling Mortlock, Al Baxter, David Pocock and Stephen Moore got together and were photographed with a number of provocative placards. Check out the flickr slideshow here.

Some of the slogans included:
  • “All rugby players are boofheads? All gay men are weaklings? Reject stereotypes, accept people.”
  • “It’s not who you are, it’s how you play the game.”
  • “We support diversity in sport.”
  • “Everyone deserves a sporting chance. Stand up against homophobia.”
The rugby league Footy Show, known for its homoerotic skits and homophobic fervour, spat out a hideous PR exercise that somewhat backfired a few weeks ago. The producers got two of the Sydney Convicts on the show to talk about the club and gay men in sport, but the awkwardness shown by the host Fatty Vautin was unmistakable, and no doubt the show will continue to propagate the same stereotypes in the future. I really like the footy show - there’s some really smart football minds on there - but the segments featuring such mindless humour has often got my blood boiling.

Let’s hope this terrific partnership between the Wallabies and Sydney Convicts continues, and closets in dressing rooms across the country can open up.

Monday, August 17, 2009

One Year On: Beijing 2008 Olympics

Just over one year since the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games flew out of the starting blocks, I found these statistics on the magnitude of the opening ceremony on a Chinese business website:

“In the past two years, I dared not slack at my job. I have never led such a huge team, with so many performers, staff and volunteers," said Zhang Yimou, Artistic Director of the Opening Ceremony. “There is one simple sentence from the bottom of my heart, ‘I hope you enjoy yourselves tonight.’”

The 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony officially “combined the ancient elements of Chinese culture with modern forms of performance.”

Fireworks erupted from 287 points on top of the Bird's Nest National Stadium, 12 positions across the Olympic Green and 29 locations across the city. A total of 11,456 fireworks were set off from atop the Bird's Nest National Stadium, and another 8,428 in central areas of Beijing.

110 minutes of music was specially created by 18 composers, with 2,583 special lights, 15,153 sets of costumes in 47 styles, 516 sound amplifiers and 160km of power cables used for the show.

Some 4.5 million visitors have visited the Bird's Nest National Stadium since it opened to the public in September 2008, with the adjacent Water Cube National Aquatics Centre having received 3.8 million people, according to the Beijing Tourism Board.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Head in the clouds

It's 6.30am and for the first time in quite a while, I've woken up to the morning reverie of wild birds.

What makes it even more significant is that the closest Clare and I get to nature these days in Bangkok is in caring for our little struggler of a baby frangipani tree.

We flew up yesterday morning to Chiang Rai, in the mountainous north of Thailand, near the borders of Myanmar and Laos. We decided to brave the Thai roads and hire a little 4-door Honda Jazz - an absolute winner of an idea from Clare - spending most of yesterday driving along the back roads, checking out (modernised) tribal villages, cloud-swept mountain landscapes, postcard-perfect rice paddies and enjoying the cool air!

Until now, I had thought the authenticity of Thailand's cultural and ethnic heritage had been sold out to opportunistic travel operators. Not so in the north, with a modern tribal co-op system still working among the villages, embracing the advent of the new world, while seemingly keeping many of the traditions and cultural markers of their forepeople. The opium trade has challenged this in the past (and still), however I understand there to have been a significant shift away from the golden days of the Golden Triangle (more about this later).

We stayed last night on Doi Tung (Mt Tung), atop which the Queen Mother used to live. There's also a botanic garden here, which we hope to be able to visit today. Pictured above is the view we've just woken up to - so lucky!

For Karla - the government has worked to replace opium with coffee bean production as a means of resident income in the area, meaning some delicious fresh coffee available everywhere! You'd love it!!

(Apologies for the grainy mobile photo...will blog some decent ones when I get back!)

Friday, August 07, 2009

Congratulations Penny & Josh!

News just in that Penny & Josh are the proud parents of a baby boy!!!

A foodie’s rant

Gloriously titled, the article ’10 things I hate about chew’ runs through a number of Simon Thomsen’s pet hates when dining out. A wonderfully insightful piece on the state of dining in Australia - the bloke can write too!

Meils – take notice!

Some of the funnier pieces included:

3. Seasoning. Also known as The Pepper Grinder. A growing number of restaurants don't offer any salt and pepper on the table. That's fine - the chef should season, but bringing a pepper grinder the size of a nuclear warhead to the table and asking if we want some before we've tasted the food is inane. I ask for it to be left on the table and promise not to steal it.

6. Overblown menu descriptions. Sometimes it sounds like the ingredients are having sex in a Barbara Cartland novel.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

What’s in a name?

I work with a person here at the bank whose name is suffixed by ‘Na Ayuthaya’.

I asked one of my Thai colleagues what ‘Na Ayuthaya’ meant, suspecting it had something to do with social standing – apparently it indicates a person’s familial lineage, which is usually traced back to the royal family. There are several types of these ‘extra’ names given to those fortunately born in the right place at the right time, or who have married someone in ‘the family’.

I was trying to figure a Western cultural equivalent (such exercises help make sense of this country). All I could think of was an OBE, MBE etc.

My colleague wisely said that therein lies a wonderful illustration of the fundamental differences between the two cultures. In a general sense, where social status (think jobs, opportunity) is delivered via one’s blood lines in Eastern cultures, in Western cultures, status is earned and generally related to positions attained or money earned.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Interesting segment from the ABC's Bush Telegraph on mulesing from last Friday...

Listen in here.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

I think I need to Take 5

On page 69 of this week’s Take 5 magazine, a social journal of high repute, you will find a picture of Clare, a surfboard and a mysterious-looking orb (I’ve previously blogged the photo).

My mate Millgate submitted the picture on my behalf into the journal’s resident psychic Jenny Smedley, asking her what the orb in the photo means for us both.

As you can see in photo to the right, it sounds like there’s a baby on the way…

Monday, August 03, 2009

Panda PR

It's panda-monium in Northern Thailand at the moment.

The Chiang Mai Zoo has painted their elephants to look like pandas in a PR attempt to help remind Thais of the plight of the national symbol. Not sure if this is brilliant, weird, animal cruelty or all of the above.

As background, the Thai public went absolutely nuts after a rare baby panda was born in Thailand in late May this year. Since then, there's been a panda frenzy amongst the Thai public with panda pens, panda screensavers, panda mobile covers, a panda song and other assorted panda accessories on sale left right and centre!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Golf's got it right

From last weekend's Fitzfiles:

I WANT to pen a paean on golf. In what other sport can you get anything remotely close to the scene we witnessed at the British Open last weekend? I mean, a legend of the game such as Tom Watson - whose last major win was 26 years ago! - taking on the world's best, including not only Tiger Woods, but a 17-year-old from Japan, a 16-year-old from Italy, other players of all ages from as far afield as Colombia, Argentina, Denmark, Sweden, South Africa, Spain and Fiji … and getting within a single shot of winning the whole tournament! Not one of them threw a tantrum; not one raised hell in local nightclubs before or after their rounds, all behaved impeccably. The sporting theatre of the whole thing was spectacular, and there were no corporate billboards flashing, no logos emblazoned on the greens, no nuttin'. In all the codes in all the world, golf is the big-time sport that has got it absolutely right, and Watson's achievement last weekend served to highlight it as never before.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Face is a funny thing.

Back home, the word face commonly means the outer-front-side of someone’s head, some of which are quite nice to look at. In Asia, it is a misty mystifying social veil of beauty, frustration and humour.

Beauty in the sense that the concept of ‘face’ and ‘saving face’ is so culturally intricate, thus difficult to understand and at times exclusive. You just can't help but admire the social pillar.

Frustration in the sense that its unspoken language can be excruciating at times to navigate. Why hasn’t he returned my emails? Why do they have such dark tinted windows on their BMW? Why say the bus would take 4hrs, when it always takes 16?

Humour, well sometimes you just need to sit back and smile. For example, I’ve been meeting weekly about a forward sponsorship strategy with a whole bunch of the bank’s VPs and execs. Every week, this important-looking dude walks in, is wai’d profusely by those in attendance, sits in an remote part of the boardroom, doesn’t say anything, then leaves after 5-10 minutes.

Reason? All for face I reckon. It’s important to show respect in meetings by turning up in person (as opposed to just sending apologies). It’s also not necessary to contribute to a meeting if you’re not an important cog, and it’s cool to send a minion there on your behalf to report back to you. It's also cool to just leave after 5 minutes without contributing.

With all due reflection, every country and sub-culture has its own language of face. At home, you never visit someone for a meal empty-handed. Or you always remember to return a shout at the pub.

It’s quite an introspective human behavior really, fascinatingly manifested differently across every culture. The world is quite charming, isn’t it?

It would be interesting to know what variations of ‘face’ you see where you live, or what circles you hang in?? Rural, city, European, beach, work, gay, sports clubs, shopping, politics…

To Saigon!

I'm on my way to Saigon for the weekend for a rugby tour. Just got through immigration and am having a quiet one while the other blokes arrive.