Tag Archives: moving

My life is a game!

It’s been ages since I last wrote.

I’ve been here almost three months and although I still do not feel “at home” (which is why I miss François) I do feel good, and in a familiar and caring environment.

Thailand is a good experience so far. Oh yes there are challenges, but people are nice so it compensates. Well, I think people are nice but in the end I do not know!

The main actors in my life outside of work so far are P. and W.

P.is the young woman we hired to take care of dogs, W. is the morning taxi driver.

I love P, dogs worship her, and I like to think she likes me too. I hope to teach her some English and to learn Thai so we can communicate better.

Finding her was not easy: I wanted  someone who actually  loves dogs. Many of the people I interviewed were “OK” with the dogs, but to me, “OK” is not enough.
I found P. through an agency, and we had an interview via Skype.

Oh I forgot to mention, the agency said she spoke little English, they were not lying, Hello and Goodbye are “a little English,” right?
P. is from Myanmar, and I was told she speaks a very clear Thai. It’s nice, I don’t 😉 (well not yet) and the truth is that she does not speak English at all.
In fact, I don’t care what she speaks as long she takes good care of the dogs, and a little bit of the house too.

During our skype interview, I liked her, her smile, and her response to my question about the dogs (translated by the lady of the agency who was sitting with her).
It is said that nonverbal communication is very important, that body language accounts for 55 % of communication, and tone for 38%. It becomes even truer when you do not speak the same language to start with.
To me that was enough. “But you do not have questions?” Asked the lady of the agency  surprised.
No, I don’t. All good for me.

So the next day, P came to the house, and moved in two days later.

When she moved, the dogs were not there and there were no furniture in the house. Everything I owned at the time was a suitcase, a bedroom suite and a washing machine, all brand new and installed a day before my move.
I must admit that at first it was weird having a stranger in my privacy. In addition I quickly realized that she was a real tornado and everything would be tidy and washed before I have time to even think about it.

Besides, communicating is really not easy, I have to be creative, use images, mimes, google translate (which, with Thai language, is not always the best), drawings, and a mix of all of the above. In my previous life, we organized games parties with mimes and Pictionary, now it’s my daily life which has become a game!

The only pity is that our exchanges are for the moment reduced to basic needs. No further than the second level of the Maslow pyramid. I tried to ask her questions about her life, her past, and even with the telephone intervention of her friend it did not work.
Example: “Would you like to return to live in Myanmar later in your life? “Answer,” yes  at Christmas “- Me ” Really? ” Her (slightly worried)” yeah Can I take vacation at Christmas? ” And despite my best efforts, I never managed to pass the concept of “later in life”,”someday”

The first week of our life together, I did not want her to do my laundry so I hid it. Yes HID.  Hid MY clothes in MY house. In a plastic bag,  in a drawer.
And on Sunday when she left for the day, I put it all in the washing machine and laid my stuff to dry in the sun.

When P came back that day she scolded me! At least I think so, yes, the feeling of being a little girl who did something wrong. Made me chuckle.
And the week after she found my secret laundry place.
I gave up and bought  a laundry basket.

Then, the first dogs arrived, and I was able to verify that she didn’t lie. The dogs are spoiled! She plays with them, cuddles them, bathes them (wash freak 😉 ),  keeps them in her room when I travel, and removes their anti bark collars as soon as I put them on when I look the other way.

10986970_10153066149477726_2280570206860365469_n

After the furniture arrived,  I was able to verify that we all do not think equal when it comes to tidiness. I left some unopened boxes? Never mind, hop hop hop emptied and all put away. Ah yes, but put away WHERE? My life had already come quite entertaining with the mimes and all, now it added up to a permanent treasure hunt!

Be warned, if you come on vacation, any abandoned cloth will soon end up in the washing machine, any object lying around will disappear from your sight and we will need to brainstorm or team up to find them!

The magical effect is that before, I was quite untidy. That was before.
Now if I want to find my stuff without spending 10 minutes searching or imagining where P. may have put it,  I need to put it away myself .
For example I found this morning in an unexpected place a pair of earrings I’ve been looking for for a couple of days. And you? can you see at first sight the golden loops?

IMG_0665

That, added to the fact that out of respect for her I avoid leaving everything in the way, our life in Thailand starts on a tidy (and playful) note and actually, I realise I do like it tidy !

Advertisements

Happy New Life!

That’s it.

D day has arrived and time for me to leave. I’ve spent the three previous days visiting friends, and feel so overwhelmed of how much our friends care. I’m surrounded with warmth and love and it’s a fantastic feeling.

We spend New Year’s Eve packing, now my departure is becoming real and I’m starting to be a bit anxious.

The next morning as soon as I’m ready to go I just can’t stop crying, I suddenly realize I see our house where I’ve been so happy for the last time.

It really is a weird feeling, this is our choice and we’re all excited over it, nevertheless the fact that I leave on my own to begin with makes it harder, I wish we could all stay together. But Francois needs to stay to sell the house and Louise will finish the school year here.

This new life will not fully start until they’re here.

I shed more tears at the airport and I’m off on the plane, bye France for now.

This trip will not be a memorable one. Long haul flight full of kids, unhappy flight attendants, old plane, I can’t really sleep and wait patiently till we land. Bangkok at last, home. Is it?

This first day I spend between the hotel and work, I’m exhausted but want to go to bed as late as possible and sleep late the next morning to really avoid a bad jetlag effect.

Today, I started furniture hunting. It’s complicated, I wasn’t too sure where to go so I ended up roaming the huge malls that are Siam Paragon  and Central World  Just fantastic, disproportionate. Not really the place to buy furniture I think, but I feel like a kid for the first time at Disneyland.

I finish the day in a wine bar with the only regret that Francois is not with me to share this moment.

In fact he is right, using the references that we have, this city is a perfect blend between Bangalore and Tokyo. The mess of Bangalore with the Tokyo modernity. This thought crosses my mind as I walk through the bright lit tunnels between Central world and the Chit- Lom BTS station.

lumi1 lumi2

Tomorrow I finally sign the lease of the house, and I meet with French friends in Chatuchak. They know their way around a little bit, maybe it will be easier than last time!

And that’s the end of my second day in Bangkok, I have not even noticed the holidays with all that moving turmoil, there is yet still time to say Happy New Year, Happy New Life!

!

HOME! [Second house-hunting day – and the next ones]

On the second day, our enthusiasm has slightly decreased. We didn’t like much what we saw, and S. was not being very supportive, just telling us over and over again how difficult meeting our requirements would be.

I’ve had contacts with W. through a Thai real estate website, and I picture her like a tiny middle age lady, but she ends up being a tiny and dynamic very young girl who arrives right on time. She looks like a doll, her smile is a real one and she looks really kind. We like her right away

She’s doing the driving and taking us to the only house we have planned to visit with her, in the same moo baan as we were the day before.  We then have the opportunity to realize that we came back at the right place the previous day, the moo baan has actually two gates and we went through the back entrance with S., but the taxi driver had taken us to the right place, but at the main gate!

As soon as we park in front of the gate, we just know: this is THE house.

Photo 17-12-14 07 03 10

The owner meets and greets us, another nice woman. We go around the house trying to somewhat hide our enthusiasm but we are in reality over excited.

The house sits on 1 rai of land (around 1600 sqm) and is a somewhat old thai house with a big living area, a family room, a guest room and a cold water bathroom on the ground floor, 4 rooms, plus a relaxing area, all with a fantastic teak flooring upstairs.

IMG-20141220-00035 Photo 17-12-14 06 47 45

The moo baan is huge and holds several Thai markets and restaurants, plus shortly a huge pool (currently under refection) and tennis courts (how could anyone want to play tennis with the heat?). The BTS is a short drive away, we could experiment around 20 minutes with heavy traffic on the previous day.

Upon renting a house, Thai are not very demanding, all they want is enough deposit funds where we need in France several salary slips and sometimes an external guarantee of a third party.

Getting the deposit together is a bit of a nightmare as it proves much more complicated than we thought to get fund over from France, (we would never have thought that international banking would be so bad on the XXIst century)  but after a frustrating day of pulling our hair out we finally manage and meet the owner again to sign a pre rental agreement, and that’s it the house is ours at last!!!

On our last day, W. takes us to walk around the house with the owner again, we’re over excited.

We trigger the hilarity of  W. and the owner twice: the first time when we ask if there are  lots of snakes, the second when we are surprised that there is no hot water in the ensuite bathroom to the maid quaters (in Thailand there seem to be individual water heaters in each bathroom). Crazy farangs! I think we have a lot to learn!

But that’s it, our project is becoming real, we now have a home, [our new] life can start!

Tomorrow is another day [First house hunting day]

When we arrive in Bangkok, we get our luggage without problems. The process is a bit long but smooth.

Taxi, check in, we are exhausted but I still have to go to work and we even find the strength to go out at night. The next day will be a big day: the visit of our first houses.

We have two options: relocation service provided by my company, and a contact that I found on a Thai real estate website searching the online classifieds of the Bangkok Post.

The first day, we are to meet with the person of the relocation service  who will pick us up at  9:00 in the lobby of our hotel.

9:00!  With jetlag, it’s hard, but that’s not a problem, we are motivated.

We are ready to leave the room when the phone rings, it’s S. warning us that it will be late because of an accident, but not more than 10 minutes. I make her repeat, yes yes TEN MINUTES, not one more.

Okay.

We eventually get to the lobby and after a while we must admit that a Thai minute does not have the same value as a French minute. (François will love it here)

Half an hour later, S finally arrives, all stressed, but let the visits begin!

The first thing she tells us is that finding a house with garden within our budget in Bangkok is VERY difficult, so we will have to make concessions. So the first house we visit has no garden .

If there is indeed something on which we can NOT make concessions, it is the garden, because of the dogs. It’s not like it had not already been said and written many times, especially when S had sent a first list of potential housing with… apartments.

And so we start the visit of our first Thai house, no garden, wedged between two buildings, no air conditioning on the ground floor and overpriced, but close to the BTS Skytrain, while S explains to us we can put a strip of land in the yard with grass, for the dogs.

We like the second house we visit better. The garden is not very big but it’s not bad, and the house too. It is not the house of our dreams, but it is not very expensive and might suit us after all, on hold.

I ‘m not sure what to make of S. She is kind and smiling but when she looks away her face closes and hardens, I feel that she is not very happy to have customers that come out of standard serviced apartments she is used to.

She didn’t like either that we have an appointment with another agency,  and starts explaining to me that if we deal with them, they will have to give her half the commission because “an exclusive contract with my company “of course, we have never heard of such a thing and even in Thailand it seems weird. I promise to clarify with my company the next day.

The third house is one of the two that we’re supposed to visit the next day with my internet contact, W.
We are already more enthusiastic, located in a huge moo baan (residential village) there is a pond in front with a small bridge, it’s rather nice.
After a quick tour, we decide it’s the one we like the most, but we are still not fully satisfied.
On the fourth and last house, we get out of the car just to please S, there is no outside space at all.
It turns out the house is great, too bad, we can’t even think of it.

We get back to the hotel slightly disappointed by all we saw, but then decide to go back to the moo baan by ourselves to evaluate the travel time from my office at home.

So off we go, from the hotel which is near my office to the On Nut BTS station (15 minutes), then we get into a taxi and then the trouble begins.
I’m quite certain I correctly pronounce “Pattanakarn” but from the blank stare returned by the taxi driver it’s only an impression, then a woman from the nearby market steps in, and although their English is only slightly better than our Thai we manage to get understood.

Except … when we finally get there we don’t recognize the Moo Baan entrance.
The driver gets a bit agitated, especially when we timidly ask to take us back to On Nut..
He seems to think it’s a joke however as he continues to drive around and cheers loudly in relief, happy for us when we finally ask him to stop.

We get out of the car giggling like children, we have no clue where we are, it’s dark and we’re [almost] in the middle of nowhere.

We take shelter in a restaurant, there’s nothing like a good Tom Yum to get some comfort.
Tomorrow is another day!

The Grinch

The countdown has started.

It has too: next week at the same time we will be on the plane en route to Bangkok and we hope to find a house during the next week; then another three weeks and it’s my final departure, and the beginning of our new life!I have my visa B, the relocation company came to do a quote for the removal, we’re getting there for sure!

It’s a little weird because at the same time it’s quite difficult to actually realise that in a just a few weeks’ time, we’ll be pressing the “reset” button of our life, ready to build something new, somewhere else.

Because of that, we are totally missing all the excitement around Christmas, and while Christmas trees and decorations start spreading all over the streets, shops, and social networks, our house does not look like anything but a huge happy mess of plastic crates and boxes, here whatever needs to be thrown away , there the stuff to sell and give away and overthere the stuff we take with us …

BUT WHERE IS CHRISTMAS ??? i

I know!

This move… IT’S THE GRINCH!

how-the-grinch-stole-christmas-original

All you can eat… and more

One good thing about France is … food.

We have all kinds of beautiful dishes, especially when it’s getting cold: Fondue, raclette, Choucroute, Duck Confit, not to mention plump and juicy steaks with fries, foie gras, sausages, and a great variety of cheese and cold cuts.

Once we’re gone, it will be a little more difficult to find all these and even if we did, who would like a fondue by 35 degrees Celsius?

So I think it is legitimate to want to taste everything [at least] one last time before leaving, right?

Of course Thai food is great, but I know that a time will come when between two pad thai, I wish I had a good little confit with sauteed potatoes…

So I stock up on “gustatory memories” anticipating these moments.Fondue, raclette foie gras, confit etc .. All are on my list, and more.

And tonight, it was ravioli Nicois with Cèpe sauce. Just fantastic!

ravioli

Fantastic and great … as my waistline is now becoming, slowly but surely, because of course there would be no point in storing broccoli and green beans in my now famous “gustatory memory ”

In fact, I find broccoli and green beans uninteresting, even if they have the remarkable advantage of being low in calorie and approved by Weight Watchers.(Unlike the rest that you just need to look at to put weight )

Oh and after all, I ‘m sure the heat and change of diet will will quickly hep shed the extra kilosSo let’s see … what’s still missing from my stock of “gustatory memories” mmm?