Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Weekend with Friends in Bangkok

Minnie & Gene - my former classmates & forever friends

I know I haven't been in Singapore that long, but I was still craving a get-away weekend. The weeks leading up to the move had been exhausting and I had no time to de-compress after arriving and starting head-long into my new role. What I needed was a fun weekend where I could envelop myself with good friends. Luckily for me, I had good friends just a short 2-hour plane flight away in Bangkok, Thailand.

Minnie and Gene were my classmates in grad school. Both were single at the time, yet Gene was the only one of us guys who had the courage to ask out one of the prettiest and smartest girls in our class. We guys were all amazed when Gene's gutsy move was met with a yes from Minnie. That first date eventually lead Gene and Minnie down the aisle of marriage almost five years later on January of this year. They are a fantastic couple and have a relationship to be admired. Both have sacrificed for the other and now both are finding joy in a new life forged together.

Gene was a successful strategy consultant for PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and Minnie a sharp product manager within the mobile software industry. When Minnie's father back in Thailand called his only daughter, who had a successful career established in the States, and asked for her to come home to Thailand and help run the family business, there was only one response Minnie could utter. Yes, she would return to Thailand to help run the family's established nation-wide network of automobile dealerships, but what would this mean for the relationship she was building with Gene?

Gene, in his selfless love for Minnie, decided to quit his successful job with PWC and move to Thailand to help support her decision. It was not long before the two of them were in-country in Thailand: Minnie making her own mark on the family business, and Gene trying to seek out a new position with a Multi-national organization in Bangkok. It didn't take too long before Gene found a role with Nestle corporation driving marketing programs for their S.E. Asian ice cream segment.

Both Minnie and Gene are a constant success story in the making. Minnie is modernizing her family's business and has been recognized in her region as an enterprising female business leader in subsequent Thai publications. Gene was just recently promoted to Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Nestle's chilled food and beverage segment for all of Thailand. I am so proud of both of them and know that great things will continue to come their way.

Even though I have not seen Minnie or Gene in over three years, we have kept in contact via email. Both were excited to learn of my new job in Singapore and they encouraged me to come to Bangkok for a visit once I had arrived in the region. I couldn't wait to reconnect with my old friends, so last weekend I boarded a Singapore Airlines flight to Bangkok.

Gene had given me the address to their home on the outskirts of Bangkok so that I could give it to the taxi driver at the airport. The driver knew exactly where this area was, so my mind was instantly put at ease. Another thing that put me at ease was the fact that my new found taxi driving friend was a big fan of American Westerns (movies).

Even though his English vocabulary was small, the driver was able to confirm that I was American and then immediately started spitting out names like Billy the Kid, Doc Holiday, Jesse James, John Wayne, Kirk Douglass, Clint Eastwood. The list was a virtual who's who of the American West and the movie stars that personified this period in American folklore. This driver had probably never picked up an American history book, yet he kept saying, "1776...George Washington...fight British....Civil War...Many people die....Alamo...fight Mexico". It is a true testament to how American media and culture has permeated many seemingly isolated pockets around the globe.

Minnie and Gene's home is a beautiful place. Sitting nicely at the end of a street and protected by four nice dogs and one mean one, is their home. It is airy and spacious and is decorated with Minnie's local flair. Thai antiques and wall hangings adore the interior, while Minnie and Gene's latest passion remains out of doors.

The two of them have spent considerable time landscaping their spacious back yard into a tropical oasis. They've adorned their garden with a miniature Thai hut and fountain, and have incorporated local flowers and trees into the mix. It looks amazing, but has been plenty of hard work of which they are rightfully proud.

You can't go to Thailand without indulging on Thai food, and since Thai is my favorite cuisine I was in heaven. Spicy noodle soup dishes, pork, fish, crab, beef, and chicken dishes all prepared differently ranging from black pepper to garlic to lemon grass made each dish unique and tasty.

The fact that I have traveled to Thailand before allowed the three of us to skip the typical tourist routine and simply catch up as friends. Besides walking through an amazing Buddhist Temple, our time was spent observing three years melt away before our eyes as we all fell right back in-step with one another's lives.

I got to see their amazing wedding photos and high quality DVD of that special day in their lives. Their wedding symbolized their special union in this life. It was so uplifting to see not only two families but also two cultures come together to celebrate the future of these two very special people.


At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very cool - sounds like a great weekend in one of your favorite cities.

At 8:57 PM, Blogger Ferg said...

damn Gene! you have to keep rubbing it in, don't you Fos?

hey Fos! I hope you're having as good a time in S'pore as I am reading about it. keep it up!


At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my god ok its real life sooooooo get real!! wat we do these days rnt thet booooring get a life


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