We were supposed to go to Trang (south of Thailand) for just one day, on
our way to some beautiful island. This city was just a stop-over.
Finally, we did stay just one day to Trang but we didn't go any further.
The weather was so bad that we couldn't hop on the boat and risk to
stay in our island resort all day without anything to do and worst stay
in an island with no possible escape to the shore. So even though Trang
isn't on most (any?) tourist travel plan, here are some of the
highlights of our only day in this city which we made the most of it,
despite the odds...
I didn’t know that being a father would take so much of my energy! I really suspect my 2 year-old boy to be a vampire, because he is literally sucking the life out of me! Waking up crying in the middle of the night to drink milk, rising up as the sun the next early morning when you are still barely able to differentiate dream from reality, monitoring any of your movement and inevitably asking you "what are you doing?", jumping on you, hitting you (for fun!?!), asking you to carry him around in your arms everywhere…. few examples of the joy of parenthood. I've already cancelled my gym membership, my new trainer is a tough one! Any little moment of peace I have, only one idea sticks to my mind: SLEEP! … or shower ? … no, it can wait… my bruised and exhausted body needs some rest. Pronto!
But something doesn't quite ring true with this bat a-like monster theory. If he is the reason why I can't seem to find the energy to open my eyes, how come when I'm away from him, I feel so empty and lifeless? I guess missing him takes a lot more energy than I thought. Must be another evil trick… Note to self: eat more garlic, avoid fangs.
Is it a proof enough ?
Even though I'm pretty sure my son is a vampire, with Twilight, True Blood and others Being Human, don't we all love our little blood sucking creatures? Don't know for you, but I surely love mine.
"Papa" … isn't it the sweetest sound when you hear it for the first time? For some people (especially within the gay community) it might be the start of a nightmare or an unwanted recognition, for me, it was more of a scream from the heart setting me free from a long journey.
Let me break it to you: I love children! As far as I can remember, I have always wanted to have one, two or a bunch of them (please … pretty please!). Sadly, I wasn't born in a baby-filled family. I'm the only child, the only grand-child and I had to live in a world surrounded by adults. It has probably helped me being more mature than most kids my age but I was lacking the play-times with youngsters and the falling-over-heels for the cute laugh of a related toddler.
I was expecting, it would take years before I would meet the right guy and start a family. I thought I would go through the very slow and complicated process of adopting a child with him, through an agency or else, our own Pitt-Jolie version of happiness. But fate has its ways and sometimes its happy endings. My perfectly imperfect boyfriend, as I mentioned in this post, has several younger brothers and one of them, 19 years of age, has a 2 year old baby boy and a 8 months girl. As he is too young to financially take care of them (and not mature enough I guess), my boyfriend is helping out a lot so much so that he is considering his nephew as his own son. So when I was introduced to the whole family, his big concern was: "will I hit it off with this little boy?" I've always heard those stories where barren couples were visiting an orphanage in another country and among hundreds of children had an instant connection with one particular child. That’s somehow what happened to me. And soon enough that little boy called me "Papa". A magic word I knew how to say but never heard.
We are spending as much time as we can together and try to get ready to welcome him in our home in a few months, figuring out plans for the future including him and probably later on his little sister. Of course his real father will always be his father but I guess there is a room for a "Papa" in his life and I'm more than ready to enjoy this role.
I was channeling through television when I heard this sentence on "The Millionaire's Matchmaker" (silly reality TV program … I know!): "I don’t usually date smart women". I was so flabbergasted by this quote that I had to write about it.
What is it with the society now that value looks over smarts, and packaging over personality. I'm not hypocrite enough to say that only inner beauty matters but when looking for a partner for life one must scan through the perfect smile and body to see what will stick until the end. What do these shallow people expect from their life together? Hot sex for a few weeks and then a whole life of boredom (probably punctuated by affairs with even dumber good-looking people)? What happened to the society if now saying "I don't date smart people" or "I have never read a book" doesn't shock anyone anymore?
Few years back, I watched a movie entitled Idiocracy (see trailer above), where a regular man woke up in the future and realized he was the smarter man alive as all the planet became more and more stupid over the years and decades. Is it what is going to happen to us? It wouldn't surprise me. After all, movies have already replaced books, auto-correcting avoids you the burden that is learning how to spell words, envy prevails on curiosity and football players are paid much more than world leaders and a thousand thinkers of all kind together.
What are we teaching our children? To try to look better because that's what they will really need to succeed or they will be bullied being named "dork", "nerd", "geek"? It's never too late to realize what is important: a good heart, a nice personality, and a well-rounded brain. American people have already invented a singing contest called the Voice where the judges aren't able to see the candidates and can only judge of their singing performance and not their looks. If American people can do it, EVERYTHING is possible! (just kidding … ^^")
So please people: read books, develop your imagination and intellect, think (!), and find someone who gets your joke and makes you laugh, cause even the hardship of time will not make THAT fade away.
It had been a while that I hadn't visited the countryside. Over three years ago, I was living a more traditional lifestyle in Laos: no shower (just a basin filled up with water), no internet (had to walk 3 kilometers to use a cybercafé), no taxi to bring you anywhere on demand (just a bike or its motorized version) and laughs and chilled out moments with friends and their relatives to fill up the blanks.
After a few years living in Bangkok, energetic and luxurious capital of the Kingdom of Thailand, I guess you get a little "bourgeois". Life is so easy: countless restaurants, taxis circulating everywhere, at any time, internet at a cheap price at home or on my smartphone, refreshing air conditioning and hot showers at leisure, and no spare time.
Last week-end was different. My loved one asked me if I wanted to go with him to visit his family in a remote and rural thai village. Only two hours separated the departure from our condo to his birth-home but it seemed we were already in another world. An unknown universe filled with memories from my own past: the basin with cold water ready to get you wet and clean, the food we all share sitting on the ground, the spartian but warm habitat … The "simple life", as Paris Hilton would say on her reality-TV show. But unlike her, I didn’t feel like a stranger placed in an un-friendly environment. To the contrary, I felt at ease, peaceful, sitting here on the wooden porch, gazing at rice fields surrounding me.
Life in the countryside takes a slower track: you wake up early with the sun, and finish your day as luminous star ends its course on your side of the world. You eat, talk, vacate to your chores and ritual activities. You have time for yourself, time to pause and reflect on the day and the future. What a shock when you are used to the fast and hectic pace of urban life. I didn't need to look at my watch. I have time! Time, I can waste with the unnecessary and use for the essential. And so I did. I was able to get rid of the bad thoughts, the burden of doubts and replace them with a deep breath of fresh air and a sigh of relief. And right now, as I prepare myself to go back to my routine and grow bigger the crowd of busy and impatient city people, I'm under the impression that I will join them feeling a little bit lighter.
It had been a while, as I said, since I had come to the countryside. But it felt great to be back.
I got really tired last few months after accumulating bad experiences and ending up going out with the same kind of man. The same immature, selfish, "not-sure-where-we-are-going-but-I-kinda-like-you", careless and inexpressive man-child. But after each deception, I was back in business looking for the RIGHT one. Most of my friends thought I was insane (or at least slightly mentally deficient) to go back in the game with the same enthusiasm. "You should learn from your mistakes", they seem to say. But in which way was it really my fault to believe real love is possible? I've realized my only real mistake was to pick the wrong guys to share my unaltered and intensely romantic idea of romance.
I was looking at some couples, the ones you hate cause they are too perfect for each other, and thought "why not me ?". And I was right to think so … After all, who can tell you "it's not for everyone", "it happens to one in a million"? Giving up hope in your dreams, is giving up your right to live the path that you've chosen for yourself. That thought, to me, is unbearable. In love, as in professional life, one needs to stay ambitious.
And somehow, it happened.
This time, I didn’t really expect it. One fine man (the whole package, believe me) decided to enter my life, and really wanted to get a special spot. I was doubtful at first, but my walls rapidly fell apart as I fell as quickly in love with him. For the first time, as far as my bandage-fixed heart can remember, the awkward match-making of two human beings was making perfect sense. And strangely enough, all the previous relationships were making sense as well. The bad dates, the insecure moments, the cheaters, the cheated, the ones I had a crush on but weren't moved, the ones who felt for me but didn’t move me, … all this non-sense which is the quest for "the one", was finally intelligible.
As a mad scientist, I was just experimenting different formulas, using a little bit of this, or a little less of that. With time, I had eliminated few factors that made the relationship explosive or too bland. This time I feel the chemical reaction is just right. This is an on-going experience though and I can't be sure of its outcome, after all in pharmaceutical industry you need few years of medical supervision to make sure a new product is working and has no dangerous after-effect. But what I'm 100% sure of, at this precise moment, is that everything is clear: neither fog, nor doubt about his feelings or mine towards each other. We are in love and that’s just what I need to know.
So, be reassured my friends, I have learned my lesson, and I have chosen him.
You know that you have lived for too long in Thailand when ... (non-exhaustive list)
- You never wonder who are the owners of all those dogs in the street
- You have never seen that many people without a leg or arm in the street asking for money, yet you rarely see anyone in a wheelchair
- Your sentences (even in English) end up by "krub", "kha" with the addition sometimes of "na"
- You check out how your hair looks like in motorbike's mirror
- You do the same for your pimples
- In the public transportations, you leave your seats to pregnant ladies, old people, young children … and monks !
- You know now why some guys keep the nail of their pinky longer (and you are still disgusted by it)
- You are obsessed by the 7/11 door ring
- You aren't surprised people sell food in the street, you aren't that concerned about the hygiene and you even buy some home every night
- When you sing along without understanding the lyrics of any Japanese or Korean song, you are very happy to be able to just sing out loud "Baby", "lady" or another variation of those words
- Whenever you buy something at any 7/11 you wait for the receipt and systematically throw it at the garbage can right outside of the shop
- You started a collection of plastic bags
- You have at least 20 plastic straws in your home and you never use them
- You have at least that many wooden chop-sticks
- You have been told "your skin is so white" and you take it as a compliment
- You go on a motorbike, take a tuk-tuk or a taxi without any fear for your own safety
- You hear "farang" every 2 minutes but you don't pay attention to it
- You smile to strangers and feel that people back in your home country are all so negative …
Australia, Brazil, Thailand, Mexico, California, Mediterranean coast, ... so many destinations that make salivating with envy the tourists around the world. But if some benefit of the coconut trees and beautiful sandy beaches, there must be some people who are working! Yet even after months or years to work in these paradises, as you return to France, recruiters look at you with a funny look. Your CV seems like a holiday long overdue
For several weeks you try to find work in France, after you have worked very hard for years in a company located in a country so "postcard" that all your French friends have passed the word to come to visit you at least once. However, if the beach may be famous in your last hometown, you did not see it as often as you'd hoped. Like thousands of locals, your week was summed up by these words: subway, work, sleep. Little by little, your efforts have paid and you have climbed one by one the hierarchical levels. It is proud of this experience - but not without sadness – that you've plunged back into the French labor market. Yet you can't find a job. After yet another rejection, you boil: "But why recruiters do not take me seriously?". The reason is well known: the coconut résumé syndrom.
The coconut résumé syndrom...
To acquire professional skills abroad, so deserving they may be, is not necessarily judged in its just value by HR who don't have all the keys to understand this totally foreign universe, in the reading of your curriculum vitae. " I lived for 3 years in Greece. Hanging of this time while I was on parental leave, I received a successful MBA in English accredited by the international association. (…) In my return, my company dismissed me and I look for a work. Companies look at my CV and have fun with this training in Greece. A PRESTIGIOUS diploma became a joke!!!! ", so explains Melissa. The surprise is sometimes such as you become a curious animal. Delebecque experienced it: " I lived in Seychelles and worked in it. An employer convened me to an interview just to see the head of somebody who had worked in Seychelles and said it! "
... Or narrow-minded HR ...
Contact a former employer in a different language to confirm your words can scare recruiters. Like living your life in an earthly paradise makes you look a privileged who will ask for too many wage demands. In the end, seen from France, it is often difficult to evaluate an experience beyond our borders. "I work or live abroad (including Brazil) for 15 years, but I think to go back to France. Guess what worries me most: the narrow-mindedness of some members of the departments of human resources in France, as depicted anywhere on the net: 'Working too long abroad is not good! You work in college, not good! You installed your own business, suspect! You took an extended parental leave, not good! You are fluent in a language spoken only by a half-million people, crazy! You took a year sabbatical, clear! ", shows Sylvain. A counselor at the job center, however, confirms this lack of decline of some recruiters. "I can attest to the narrowness of mind which is reflected in the " philosophy" of Pole Emploi. In the computer file of the job seeker, the experiences in abroad do not count! Absurd! "laments Veronica. Sandra seems slightly more optimistic: "The narrowness hit France like a plague! But do not worry, everything can be cured :)"
Open their eyes!
Your complexion may be a bit more tanned than the other candidates' - although the neon lights are the same in the offices abroad or in Paris - but that does not mean that you have spent your time to bask in the sun. "Work experience is an experience, and the environment should not change that," said Sylvain. If your resume is a little erratic, take the time to detail your career choices and responsibilities shouldered during your atypical path in your motivation letter. Your curriculum will intrigue, for sure, but it is also an advantage to get an interview where you can further enhance these skills hard won in the tropical heat. Up to you to open the minds of your future employer! "From the perspective of the business, you have proven your openness, your curiosity. But you will truly make it all a" plus" professionally if you are able to show your value to the company itself. If you want to enhance your experience, you have to find the right words, beyond anecdotes, to describe how you've learned your skills acquired abroad directly and effectively. It is a major effort to do. "said Claude Mulsant, deputy director of Magellan *.
From Dream to Reality
Expatriation obviously enriches your life path and your career. The return to France should allow you to take advantage of the skills and knowledge acquired on the spot. Working abroad, even if the word "winter" does not really make sense in the local language, is not synonymous of a sabbatical year. Remember also when you had to work in a real sauna at the slightest failure of aircon or those evenings when you stayed cloistered in your office when there had been a notice of tropical storm. So bring back to reality the dreamy recruiters, stuck in their hazy weathers. Make them realize that the hard hours of labor are the same in Rio or in Maubeuge, and even more complicated because of the language barrier.
With a bit of explanation and openness, they will quickly realize the benefits of your arrival in their company. They still may envy you a little, but who could blame them ...
* The Magellan Network is a professional meeting, exchange of information and targeting those responsible for International Human Resources, International Relocation and Compensation & Benefits.