Sunday, September 14, 2014

Travel: Aug 2014 - Bangkok (Work Trip)

Singapore Changi Airport

I have never spent time exploring the airport even though I used it very often. Since I have sometime, I decided to explore and I was pleasantly surprised to see Sunflower Garden, Free movie theater, a butterfly garden, a free video arcade area....

Singapore Changi Airport is really one of the best airports in the world.
It also shows that if you want to do something well, it is possible despite being a small country.

Grand Hyatt Hotel, Bangkok

One of the perks of business travelling is staying in nice hotel without paying for it. The main downside is that you are so overwhelmed with work that you can't enjoy it fully. 

For instance, I arrived at the hotel around 9pm. Initially, I wanted to explore the city but I had to do some urgent work, which I completed at 11.30pm. I took a shower and went to sleep at around 1am, and I had a full day of meetings the following 2 days.

Grand Hyatt Hotel

View from the room

Rooftop bar with a good view of Bangkok City
- free flow of wine and food.
Another perk of attending conference. =)

After wine and food, it's time for a good massage.
I was so tired after a full day of work, that I was half asleep.

Overall, I really enjoyed work trip to Bangkok. Due to my job nature (investment research), I get to meet business owners and top executives. I get to understand the current situation and issues facing Thailand. And also, I get to enjoy a lot of good things like nice hotel and nice food (plus drinks). 

However, deep down inside, I always tell myself that "enjoy it while it last".
I am aware of the Impermanence of Life, that both good and bad things don't last. So do not need to be too attached to good experiences (enjoy it, but understand that it won't last).

After some time, the utilities derived from these pleasures decreases. It is not sustainable, and that's the nature of sensory pleasures. 

After a few days of good food, I had a simple vegetarian noodle by the street. I paid only 40 Baht (S$1.60, US$1.30) for this noodle and a 500ml of mineral water. 
Frankly, I quite enjoyed this noodle.

Rod Fai Market
Vintage Flea Market

This place is quite far from Bangkok City (at least 1 hour to commute). I really like the vintage feeling and the big space of this place. This is something that is definitely missing in Singapore. It is a wonderful place to chill out as well. 

Vintage Car 
(For a moment, I thought I went back to Havana)

Old School deco

Bright Colours

Flea Market at night
It's so nice to drive a van and display your vintage collections.

Street Food!!

I ordered a small portion of fishballs (20Baht - S$0.80, US$0.60).
Since I was traveling alone, I asked the street vendor to give me half portion (as I could not finish it). When I gave her 20 Baht, she insisted on only taking 10 Baht from me. I told her it's okay, but she insisted on returning 10 Baht (S$0.40, US$0.30) to me. I mean it is really nice to meet good people along the way.

During the whole trip, 9 out of 10 cab drivers tried to cheat my money by taking the long route. I am okay as long as they did not go overboard. But there was this driver that drove me 45mins in the wrong direction, and when I confronted him, he just told me that he doesn't speak english. One of those few rare moments when I shouted at someone.

Soi Cowboy

One of the famous red-light districts in Bangkok. 

I decided to go for a drink in one of the go-go bars. The drink is actually quite cheap around 150Baht (S$6, US$5). Initially, I refused to have ladies accompanying me, but later I relented , they are so persistent and business was not really good. 

I had a nice chat with the mama-san as well as the young girl. It is not surprising, she came from the rural region of Thailand, her parents are farmers (but they were only employees and the farmland does not belong to them), she has a younger brother whom she is supporting. Life is tough, she worked 7 days a week (no rest!!) and she gotta entertain guests as well as do bikini dance on the stage. She did not enjoy her work and Bangkok, and always looked forward to go home in the village.

I got some comfort knowing that she could refuse going out with client. She told me (with pride) that she won't go out with old and fat customers. She only goes out with handsome young man. Hahaha...

The job of these girls are really tough. They had to be skimpily dressed and soliciting for business in the middle of the street. The amount of rejection is a lot. If you think that your sales job is tough, theirs are even tougher. Some of the people on the street are rude to them.

Normally, when I walked along red-light district I would avoid these ladies soliciting for business. Actually, they are just like anyone of us trying to make a living. 

I always learn not to judge.
Each of them have their own story.
Given a choice, no one would choose this profession.

I hope that they will be careful.

Elephant Tower

25 great skyscrapers: icons of construction by CNN

Bangkok Forensic Museum

Not for the faint hearted. Surprised to see lotsa conjoined twins (not as rare as I thought), baby with one eye, lotsa human bodies specimen including a few whole body specimens.

There are so many specimens, and at times, I saw them as objects and forgot that it belonged to someone who was once alive like us.

Have been praying silently for those deceased.
I am also grateful to be who I am.

Authentic Thai Food

Recommended by a friend. 
Not too bad, but the free appetizer (the one of the left) is really good.

Overall, this is a good trip. Lotsa learning and new experiences. =)

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Singapore Documentary on HIV/AIDS Patients and Volunteers: 《好人好事》第4集 8月19日

The video of the documentary in Mandarin:

This short documentary shows the the discrimination against people with AIDS/HIV in Singapore, and also shows the volunteering journey with people with AIDS/HIV. (My volunteer group was featured). 

One part of the documentary recounted the story that the senior volunteers pooled together a few thousands dollars to pay for the funeral of one of the patients (as his wife and kid don't have the money). It is really touching.

About 2 months ago, during the new volunteer sharing session, I shared my own journey as a volunteer for the past 4 years. People always asked me why I chose to volunteer with HIV/AIDS patients. I was trying to explore volunteering with different organizations and chanced upon this group of Buddhist volunteers - Maitripal. 

"Our name combines “Maitri” – A Sanskrit word meaning “friendship of universal love and compassion” – with “pals”: we befriend the patients in a spirit of universal love and compassion."

This cause grows on me over the years. The stigmatization is really bad, for instance, one of the documentary production crews refused to enter the ward after realizing it is a ward for people with HIV/AIDS. I do not blame him, but it is his ignorance that caused so much fear in him.

Who does not make mistakes in life?
Who are you to judge other people?
Do you really understand the background of the person?

We just know that these people who are badly discriminated by the society.
They are chronically sick and are suffering.
They just need some help & a listening ear. 

Massaging a patient.

Break fast with a Muslim patient.

Senior volunteers with a patient during his last few days in the world.

Really hope that there would be less discrimination and more love. 
May all beings be free from suffering.

"Om Mani Padme Hung" _()_