Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Secret to Punctuality – It Ain’t So Difficult, People!

          So recently, my (Thai) friends announced that they were turning over a new leaf. They informed me - I was flattered - that they were no longer going to conform to one aspect of Thai culture: being late.
          Since I stand for punctuality (and nonconformity), I give them my full support. I will definitely receive my share of benefits out of their new understaking. For instance, not having to wait alone and pathetically at meeting points. Not having to lie and say "it's okay" when people arrive with an apology and smiles. To be honest though, I think a vow to be punctual is such an easy one to make that I feel like I'm being cheated. But I guess, I should be more forgiving. Not everyone was raised my time-Nazis like my dad. So instead of complaining about (Thai) people's inability to be on time, here I offer some noncritical comments on how punctuality works: 

  1. "(Professor) Kennedy is so strict. If you're 15 minutes late, you're marked absent!"
    This is a statement one of my classmates made this week. (Sorry, dude.) He was obviously at least 15 minutes late to Professor Kennedy's class that day. What I wonder is if he ever went to high school. Because as I recall, in high school there was no leeway for getting to class on time. So even though Kennedy may be stricter than other professors, his "unreasonable" policy is for unreasonable behavior, and therefore suiting.
  2. Planning to arrive at exactly the designated time is not punctual.
    I never understand people's pity when they call me at the designated time and find out I've been waiting there for 30 minutes. 30 minutes is bearable. And if you really feel sorry for me, then why not show up as soon as you can?
  3. If you're Thai, you grew up here, you should be an expert at the traffic. No excuse.
    To some degree, the traffic is predictable. There are patterns. For example, I know that if I leave the house at 7, it'll take me at least 1.5 hours to reach university. If I leave the house at 9, it'll take me about 1 hour. Learn these things!
  4. Punctuality is attractive. Which is better: a date who almost stood you up or a date who planned to be with you? Chronic lateness is truly a turn-off. Good looks and wit don't make up for it!
  5. The US, Europe, and Japan are known to be time-oriented societies.
    They are also the A-listers in development... Hint, hint.
  6. McDonald's breakfast ends at 11:30, maybe, so get there earlier!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

January 2012 - Friday the 13th

Despite not scoring lucky on last night's poker game - haha, yeah, big deal - my life has never been more on track. Maybe the key to a good start of the year is to not have any resolutions. When we worry too much about meeting expectations (or fall for superstitions about an unlucky number and day of the week), we might miss wonderful packages that randomly take a seat next to us.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Feastin' the Philippines

Disclaimer: this post shows no reference to any traditional ethnic food of the Philippines, but rather, international foods that can be enjoyed in the Philippines (with assistance of  a generous patron).

Unlimited Seafood @The Sofitel

Sweets @The Sofitel

[Too Much] Tempura
The grill's flames were so weak, it took us forever to finish our meal. Plus, we over-ordered on meat. 

Korean BBQ

Sbarro's Pizza @The Mall of Asia
The most succulent pizzas.  Really enjoyed my Spinach-Mushroom choice.
And look at those thick quiches!
Pon's taking out her post-debate aggression on her Caesar salad. =]

Krispy Kreme Room Party

Chinese Food @Makati

French Cuisine @The Sofitel
Hams, cheese, pâté, and an unethical amount of foie gras - don't ask! I feel bad.

Friday, January 6, 2012

3 Things That Come To Mind When I Think of Manila

          [Hello, I'm back from the 32nd Worlds Debate Tournament that took place in the Philippines over New Year's. Thanks for waiting patiently for me to update. I have more things to write about than is enjoyable to read, unfortunately. So here I offer the highlights of my first time experience in Manila. I might cheat and have a follow up post  though. Enjoy.]

          Filipinos are sincere. I must mention this first because it really impacted my stay in the Philippines. From the runners in the debate tournament to hotel staff to employees at any kind of store, they all treat you like an honored guest. Every night when I would return to the hotel exhausted from debate rounds, runners who should be as equally exhausted would be waiting to greet and assist me. And they would do so without the indication that it was simply part of their job description. In the morning, they would be up early to shepherd debaters from Sofitel to the university - which is no easy task because debaters are lazy and uncooperative in the morning! They deserve more credit for coordinating with the hotel to come up with a solution for elevator traffic. Speaking of the hotel staff, they really go the extra mile. For instance, in my experience with hotel buffet chefs who cook or cut for you on demand, they usually just follow your order without any engagement, which is totally fine. But at the Sofitel in Manila, more than once did a chef make unique comments to me. Also, the hotel got us an awesome private driver one night who found us a Korean BBQ place to eat when most places were closed at that hour, especially around the holidays.  As for Filipino waiters and store clerks, they are genuinely friendly and helpful. The difference between them and their counterparts in regionally similar nations (eh hem, like the one I live in) is that their sincerity is wholesome and consistent. You especially notice this when you leave a place. How they give you a goodbye and thank you is as if you've made a lasting impression on them. That you're not just another forgettable customer.

          I'm referring to the totality of video, music, and graphic accommodations in the tournament. Moving short films put together within a day. A creative triplet of songs played during each team match-up session to hint motion topic. (Example: "Get Back" by The Beatles to hint a motion about immigration.) A funky live band for comedy night. A world class strings ensemble to play "The Sound of Music" for team Monash's stage entrance. The "voice from the sky" giving us the dos and don'ts in the auditorium. UPSTANDING QUALITY.
          Here's the video they put together for the Championship Dinner, after 8 grueling days of brain-racking:

          Many things to note. Firstly, I'm very impressed about the reading society in the Philippines, more specifically an appreciation for comic books. The National Bookstore, a stationary shop, is quite prominent in malls. Smaller, independent bookstores can also be found within any mall. This is my hope for Thailand. Another thing to note about malls is the fastfood. I would say that the Philippines is more similar to the West than East in this category. Lots of burger and pizza places, and even an El Pollo Loco! But most impressively, they've got Seattle's Best in the Philippines. If only I could find it... Had to settle for Starbucks:
My Starbucks alias.