Archive for January, 2009

My Kung Fu

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

1994, early Mos Def before he turned into a wanker

The Eagle Has Landed

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

karma chameleon

Where am I? I am in the Coffee Bean in Bahrain. A Starbucks lite place also found in Shanghai oddly enough. Pudong Airport was dead when I flew out on Wednesday night. I slept most of the way and awoke in Dubai dazed and confused. Another 4 hours of aimless wandering until I caught the connecting 55 minute flight to Bahrain. A brief drive to the serviced apartment and it was like I have never been away. Then a quick drive to my companies head office to sign some forms and the rest of the day was mine. I brought some food and crashed and slept for 11 hours. The next day was a Friday which is the first day of the weekend here so again I had time to burn. Thankfully I knew people out here that I have worked with in Shanghai and its all been very friendly and jovial and a world away from the tension and gloom of our office in China. Its Saturday morning and I am due to look at some houses and meet the people I will be working with over the next few years. I hope the next few years. If I have to move country and find somewhere else to live in the next six months I will know I have been cursed or my Karma is fucked.

The Long Goodbye

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

hilton drunk

Where am I? I am in a hotel and I can see the Bund and the Pearl Tower and the glistening lights of Shanghai. The last few days have been bad emotionally but I am now tired of the lingering and wishing to get stuck into my job in the Middle East. Sunday, like Saturday was a wash out. I awoke and took a cab to the hospital for the last of my jabs. From there I went to my office to type and print out the reference letter for my Ayi. My Ayi. Such a wonderful person and very symbolic of my experiences of the average Chinese citizen. Firstly we didn’t employ her to work weekends but she offered to do so and she worked every day until I moved out. She made me tea and toast every morning and cleaned the flat every day. She helped pay my bills and she helped with anything I needed with nothing less than the wish to do so as if it was her duty in life. She never once rolled her eyes and never once gave it anything less than everything. This is what those fuckers that manoeuvred to get me fired fail to realise – attached to me are people that depend on my employment; our Ayi, our driver, the pizza delivery guy, the City Super Supermarket that sells crap imported food for high, high prices. All these people depend on me and now I have gone. I couldn’t give a jot either way obviously apart form the Ayi. To me it was, and still is, the very worst part of leaving here. Knowing that someone, so kind and so warm and happy in our family and adored by my son has to be fired and work with another family. Its very very sad.


too much too young

Saturday, January 10th, 2009


What am I doing? I am sitting here alone in my flat. A flat that was once busy with life now silent and empty. My wife and son remain in Thailand so its my last weekend in Shanghai and I am going out with a bang. As I sit here I can see my sons toys laying there tidy and gathering dust. I can see my wife’s books on the table. I can see little traces of life that, this time next week, won’t be here anymore. Someone else will move in and these walls will be able to tell a new story but ours is now over albeit far too early. Last night I attended the works annual Chinese New Year Dinner in some godforsaken Holiday Inn in the arse end of Shanghai. I was really not looking forward to it but was pleasantly surprised how good it was. The Chinese, as group, really do know how to have fun. There is something almost childlike in the sheer intrinsic joy they experience putting on shows and enjoying themselves. They are not concerned with being cool or a fear of making fools of themselves but instead put all of their energies into making the occasion as good as they can. They pull together. In the UK the jist at any office Christmas party is to get as pissed as one can but the Chinese have a great time sober and together.

Swayzak – Ikea

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

The Time Of Your Life

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Please excuse this rather self indulgent post but I want to just record the things that have happened to me as I don’t think they will happen to me in the same way or at the same pace ever again and I know I will forget it all as time goes by so its A GOOD THING to have a record of these crazy scenes. December was a hectic month for me and my family and at the time when people are beginning to switch off and think of long holidays I had to step up and represent myself in Bahrain. It all went well and you find me now in Shanghai killing time waiting for various formalities to be completed before the family things are again packed up and shipped to Bahrain. Anyhow I digress. I spent my last day in Bahrain working and wandering the streets in the evening trying to soak in the last of the atmosphere and I confess a feeling of sadness. That night I flew to Dubai for a transfer and then a nice empty plane to Shanghai. The next day in Shanghai, jetlagged, I met my boss and confirmed that I wanted to work in Bahrain and it was all good with him. Then, back to my office to speak to colleagues who were seemingly pleased to see me (apart from my wanker of a boss who hid in his office). Then, following an extended meeting, a frantic dash to Pudong airport where I caught the late flight to Bangkok for Christmas. Landing in Bangkok at midnight I was pleased to spend the next day at the house and in the evening attend the Christmas Party at Sports Club. The following day was the funeral of the Big Man of the family and it was a semi state funeral with the Prince of Thailand in attendance. I had no idea how important this relation was but as we followed in a police convoy and as the coffin was being driven from his house (where his body had been in state for 100 days) to a temple I was struck to how small the world is right now. In three days I have worked in the Middle East, lived in my flat in Shanghai and then gone home to my family in Bangkok. Three different worlds in three days.


Corrupt Cops and Crack Rocks

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

With corruption you know where you stand. Much vilified I am a Big Fan. Take last Thursday for example. This time in Bangkok I have taken to driving around one of the family cars rather than using taxis or the Dreaded Driver. This has opened up the city to me but also made me more vulnerable as I am now outside the protective bubble that has served me well since I first started coming here. Driving in Thailand is dangerous, chaotic and unpredictable. The sheer variety of vehicle types using the highways of Bangkok makes driving here a challenge on its own – tuk tuks, old busses, taxis,sports cars driven by rich morons, families jammed inside those hideous Mitsubishi trailer things and gazillions of motorbikes all packed on the narrow streets and being driven in a hugely erratic fashion. Against this backdrop and in the stifling heat police are stationed at all the major intersections ready to pounce and fine/pull over (for no real reason) anyone that takes their fancy. It is regrettably a fact of life here and one that seldom affects the rich or those driving expensive or foreign cars who happily float above this facet of city life and instead the poor get pulled over and they have two choices; ‘pay a fine’ aka a bribe or a long drive to the appropriate police station that handles these matters and, seeing as these particular police stations are in another part of Thailand there is really no option but to hand over the hard-earned and be on your way. If you are able to drive a nice, big car then this will seldom ever happen to you and even if it does, and you are a big man, then you can wave the annoying copper away and threaten to have him fired when you play golf with his boss next week.