Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spirit House Ceremony and Grand Opening

Unlike the United States, Thailand does not separate religion from any thing, it sneaks into business life quite often. For example, when we first started building the plant one year ago, they had a Stone Laying ceremony. Another ceremony that most business in Thailand have is the Spirit House ceremony. 

For those of you that don't know, almost every building in Thailand, from large hotels to a small homes have a spirit house .This is where is where the spirits of the building live and offerings of food, flowers and incense are made to appease the spirits and to bring favor to the home or business. They are highly respected and most employees wai to them as they walk by.

When our plant's spirit house was assembled, there was a big ceremony associated with it. All the employees went outside and listened or prayed with a monk, then about 16 people lifted the main house part on top of the pedestal. Most of the people were managers, but I happened to get selected because I was close by, and because I am known world wide for my feats of strength. So I helped lift the house! Yay! And during the lifting and moving process I almost fell into a drainage ditch. Which could have been rather embarrassing and probably bad luck. Luckily I looked where I was walking and was able to avoid the fall.

Fast forward to February. The next ceremony we had was our Grand Opening. This is when all the "Big Bosses" fly to Thailand and meet local influential Thai people, like the Governor, customs officers, lawyers, police officials, US embassy people, well, you get the idea. For this ceremony there were also dancers and baby elephants. Oh, and MCing the whole thing was a famous news anchor lady. There were a lot of speeches, some dancing, watching elephants and more speeches.

After the speeches and dancing were all done, I had to be part of a mini plant tour. We each stood by a window that looked into our manufacturing bay and briefly explained our process and how awesome we are. If you know me very well, you know that I am quite shy around people I don't know. (but once I know you, I don't shut up) So it was stressful for me to talk to all these big wigs, no one laughed at me and said "you suck!" so I'll take that as a victory!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Iron Craft- Secret Ingredient: "Green"

In January I joined a craft-a-long on a website called Iron Craft. Each week we are given a new secret ingredient and we have a week to create something using that ingredient. This was the first week that I actually had enough time and materials to create something.

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, this week's secret ingredient was the color green. After pondering this for a few minutes, I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to spin up some fiber I've had in my stash for a while and create some thing useful- a Thai sized beer bottle cozy. 

In Thailand, most of the local beer like Chang, Leo, and Singha is sold in 640 ml bottles. These bottles are much larger than the 12 oz bottles that are used in the United States, and by the time you get to the end of the bottle the beer can be pretty warm in this hot weather. Therefore a bottle cozy is a necessary item!

Wool roving I bought eons ago
Singles on a bobbin
Finished 3 ply yarn (Navajo plyed)
Finished cozy on a GIANT BOTTLE OF BEER!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Singapore's Other Attractions

While we chose to travel to Singapore because of their beer selection, we were able to drag ourselves away from our riverside table at Brewerkz in order to see some of Singapore's great sights and eat some amazing food.

The first place we visited was Fort Canning Park. It was the first time we actually walked up a hill in almost 6 months. Living in flat-as-a pancake Bangkok almost made me forget what a hill looked like.

Fort Canning Park
What are those called again... Oh yeah, hills.
Former police station turned Ministry of Art and Communications

Very convincing "Keep Out" signs
Our next stop was to Singapore's Chinatown. There we wandered through a market that sold everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to women's clothing.

Entrance/Exit for the MRT subway in Chinatown
mmmm... fresh fruit
On our third day in Singapore, we really didn't have anything planned, so Eric came up with the brilliant idea of just hoping on the MRT and taking it to a random stop. We eventually decided to get off at the Harbour Front stop, because we wanted to actually see the harbor and marina. Once we arrived at that stop we spotted signs for a cable car, and continuing with the spur of the moment theme, decided to try it out. 

Waiting to exit the loading area
Boy, was that a great decision. The cable car took us up and over the harbor and to Sentosa Island, an island covered in amusement rides, resorts, and casinos. While we didn't feel like going on any amusement rides, we did enjoy people watching and exploring the island.

A unique view of Singapore

Shipping containers galore!
Monks in their beautiful orange robes fit right in this garden
Merlion- half lion, half mermaid
On our last night in Singapore we decided to check out the area further down the Singapore River, There we wandered around, soaking in the unique architecture. My favorite building was The Esplanade, an arts and cultural center also known as "The Durians" because the building looks like two durian fruit. My least favorite was the brand new Marina Sands hotel/mall/casino- to me it looks like they plopped a boat down onto three buildings, although the inner geek in me loved the double helix bridge with its a to t and c to g lights in the floor.

Luckily they don't smell like durian

Double helix bridge leading to the Marina Sands
While we were out and about in Singapore, we took the opportunity to try some awesome food and drinks at some very unique restaurants and bars including:

Da Dong Restaurant in Chinatown. This was the first time that Eric and I had tried dim sum. It was always something that I've wanted to try, but for some reason never had. I think I am hooked now- I mean steamed buns filled with meat, what could be any better??
Sooo much dim sum...

Glutton's Bay near the Esplanade. This is a collection of great hawker street food vendors, and we had a hard time choosing our dinner. In the end we decided on the satay and the roti john. Washed down with an ice cold Tiger beer of course.

Satay and beer- they were meant for each other.
Messy but delicious.

I think the weirdest place that we found though was at Clarke Quay. Located across the river from our hotel was an entertainment area filled with interesting bars and restaurants.

When the outside looks like this, I can't resist checking it out
Inside this entertainment area, we found a bar called "The Clinic". The first time we walked by the bar, we had to stop and do a double take. We then shook our heads and kept walking down the sidewalk. About 15 minutes later, our curiosity got the better of us, and we had to go back and try it out.

In this outdoor bar you sit in chairs that look like these:
Yes, that is a gold wheel chair.
And you drink your drinks out of this:
I.V. mixed drinks
The business end replaces a needle with a straw.
We had a great time, sitting in our wheel chairs, drinking IV mixed drinks and basking in the confused stares of other pedestrians. It was definitely a unique experience!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Epic Search for IPA- The Thrilling Conclusion

As promised, here is the thrilling conclusion to our epic search for IPA beer in Bangkok. 

And the thrilling conclusion is this: IPA beer CANNOT be found in Bangkok- it just does not exsist in any bar, grocery store or back alley market. Sorry for those who read my first post in the hopes of finding a super secret source of IPA beer in Bangkok.

Our first taste of IPA beer in Bangkok was actually provided by our awesome friend Jamie, who brought us some bottles of Samuel Adams IPA on her recent visit to the Land of Smiles. This was a suprise for Eric, who almost broke down into tears of joy when presented with the bottles. Seriously, I have never seen someone so happy about two bottles of beer!

This is the face of a very happy man

Since we couldn't find IPA in Bangkok, we had to resort to drastic measures to get our hop fix. We decided that the only solution was to plan a vacation getaway to a location nearby that had IPA beer. We decided on Singapore because it not only has IPA beer in bottles, it is also home to Brewerkz, a microbrewery that brews 13 different beers, including TWO types of IPA. We planned our entire vacation around this brewery, even picking a hotel that was within walking distance. Some may say we are crazy to plan an entire vacation around beer, but those people have obviously never had an IPA before.

Brewerkz is located on Clarke Quay along the Singapore River. It is a bustling tourist area with a huge selection of bars, restaurants, and other eateries. Despite this fact, we still went back to Brewerkz every night for the four nights we were in Singapore. Yes, we did explore the city (more on that to come) but a large portion of our time was spent sipping IPA next to the river. It was one of the best vacations ever.

It is a thing of beauty

I was really impressed with the selection of beer

Sign on the floor to direct you to the bathroom