In 2008 I opened a guesthouse in Phi Phi Island called pirates House. In 2009 we made it into a restaurant as well. Working there is, of course, mostly Thai people and a few people from Myanmar – which is also referred to as Burma.
The cultural differences from home are huge when running a place like this and it often result in huge misunderstandings and confusion. I want to tell some of these stories in a series of different blogs as it is too much to tell in one blog post. The blogs will appear spread out among the other blog posts.
I also want to stress that these stories are not meant to humiliate Thai people, and readers should keep in mind that most of the stories are dealing with close to illiterate people, or at least people of very poor education. I certainly could have chosen to tell stories that put these same people in a positive light, but it would probably not be as entertaining.
The cultural difference between Thailand and Europe when it comes to managing people is huge. There are a number of assumptions that most people would bring with them from the west that just doesn’t work in the east.
One of the first lessons that we got to learn was that one cannot trust people to keep their promises. On several occasions, right before we opened our business, we had people promising us to start working, but when it came down to it they just found something else to do or it was not possible to get a hold of them. I also remember one of the remarks that was going to be a premonition of the problems that we were going to have in the future. The first cook we hired said that she just quit her previous job. When we asked why she said: “because the boss was talking to me when I was working”. We both thought this sounded a little strange, but to get the business started we did not have a choice, but to hire what people we could get.
In the beginning it was hard to train people because many Thais with poor education do not have the foundation for the common sense in which we build everything upon in the west. For most waiters in the west it will be common sense to place 1 person on a table for one or two and not on a table for 5. It will be common sense to just give the costumers knife and fork and not wait for the costumer to ask. It will be common sense to clean everything on a floor if asked to clean up a certain stain on the floor and not just that one stain. It will also be common sense that you don’t use the toilet brush to clean the walls and floor in the bathroom. However, in Thailand, this is not always common sense. These are things that has to be taught.
For those who don’t know Myrath I can tell you that it is a progmetal band from Tunisia. This band is the first from the east that I have heard really kick ass in this genre (I would like to say with exception of some bands from Japan). Myrath origionally started covering symphony x songs, but moved over to their own repertoire, and that was a good move.
The vocalist is solid and he is quite unique in the way that he uses quartertones when he sings. This, in itself, is an art that is difficult to do as one is basically balancing between two half tones. Usually we call it off tune, but when it is done with great skill and artful precision we call it great music.
My understanding is that the band has released 4 albums and the last one hit the stores about one month ago. All have gotten good critics and the band seems to be doing well. I have kept my eyes on them since their second album “Hope” came out. Back then they were new and undiscovered. For those who have not yet discovered Myrath you can find them here: www.myspace.com/myrathband.
So how does this band relate to what is going on in the east? As it were Metallica just played a concert in India, Linken Park in Bangkok and you can hear about many Asian/eastern countries that are visited for the first time by western metal bands.
I remember back when Illusion Suite was started I used to say that metal would be almost mainstream in about 5-10 years. I think bands like Myrath gives us a glimpse into a future where Asia and the east has just started to fumble its way towards something I would refer to as a musical revolution. Perhaps the metal audience will double in a few years throughout the world. Maybe we will see a lot of eastern or Asian bands in the future playing awesome metal…
Making it must be like
composing music…” This was my thought when eating Italian food in London a few
days ago. I felt a little bit like Hannibal Lector when I closed my eyes and
enjoyed the food and music in utterly silence, alone in the restaurant. It is
quite rare to experience such a sensational feeling when eating.
What is so fascinating about Italian food is
that you can go around all of Italy, and other places in the world for that
matter, and never get the same Italian pizza or the same Italian pasta twice.
The chefs all have different ways of making their food, yet they stick to a
core that makes you realize in an instant that you have been served by an
I haven’t gotten the
chance to eat a lot of the “pure” Italian food up until now, recently. After a
trip to Italy this summer I realized that food is the number one reason to
visit Italy. Actually it was better than all the Catholic churches and all the
other tourists stuff combined.
So if you still haven’t been to Italy go there
to get a taste of the food. There is no other country with such a distinct
culture for food. However, if you go to Venice don’t go see the show: “The
story of Venice”. And if you go to Corleone don’t talk about the mafia. And if
you go to Rimini don’t expect to go out partying. And first and foremost: Don’t
buy tickets on first class train thinking you will have a comfortable trip when
you in fact have to stand so close to people the whole trip that you cannot
even sit down on the floor. But do enjoy your dinner!