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