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Day 5 – Teasing the Chicken Factory (Thai Potpourri)

March 8, 2010

Dateline: Monday , March 8, 2010

I looked at my notes for today and discovered that it was going to be hard finding a narrative. Instead of fighting through to a creative narrative solution, I’m going to be lazy and just list random observations.

• Thais use plastic bags for food. Not ziplocs, just clear plastic bags. If you get street food to go, they’ll put it in clear plastic bags tied off with rubber bands. If you get drinks that aren’t pre-packaged, they’ll often put it in a plastic bag with ice and slip in a straw. The sauces for food are often packaged in plastic bags. Just walk the streets of Bangkok and you’ll see tons of people headed home for dinner with bags with little bags of food in it. The easy explanation is that it’s cheaper for shop owners to use these bags rather than something more substantial like plastic or Styrofoam containers. That and the plastic bags take up less storage space for the vendors. The question is, why don’t food sellers in the U.S. do the same?

• I think I figured out why a lot of Thai light switches are on the outside of bathrooms. I flipped on the light switch to my hostel bathroom and walked in straight away. I was a little startled by a lizard that zipped up the wall and out the ceiling. Still haven’t gotten adjusted to the tropics. When I lived in the Philippines, I wouldn’t have even batted an eye. For those people who hate tropical creepy crawlers, the outside light switch let’s them turn on the light from the outside and wait a second to allow the wildlife to scatter. Alternate theories anyone?

• Bangkok feels so international, much more so than San Francisco or Los Angeles. Could be that I notice this more because I’m a foreigner. I don’t think so, though. I thought of this when I visited Becca today. Four generations of people were interacting. Becca’s grandmother (White American), Becca’s mom (Thai), Becca’s dad (White), Franck’s mom (French) and little Ananda (a little bit of all of the above). Everyone was trying out everyone else’s languages. Everyone was learning either French, Thai, or English so they could communicate more easily with the rest of the family. It was pretty cool to watch.

• I talked to Franck about his trademark practice. We skipped the boring stuff (letter writing, research, memos, etc.) and jumped straight to a business trip he’s going on in China. He was going to learn how to spot faked goods for a food and beverage company. Counterfeiting operations like this require years of investigation. They have to hire people to be employees of factories, hire people to test fake products, and hire experts to run down the paper trail.

It’s also not enough to catch someone with fake product containers and faked labels and faked products. They have to catch them red handed. For example, a fake bottle sitting next to a fake label isn’t enough to prosecute the bottle maker for a violation. The label has to be on the bottle. They also have to make sure that the masterminds are there with the goods. It was very interesting, especially since the Chinese government seems quite cooperative, so long as a private investigation brings in the perpetrators. Franck also gets to go on trademark raids where they bust the makers. This isn’t that easy, especially when you’re coming in telling 1,500 factory workers that they’re out of work because of a trademark violation. He’s practicing trademark law where there’s a potential for violence. Who knew law could be so exciting?

• In the morning, I got back to the hostel late. Luckily, I have a cell phone. The courier called me and I called Auntie. She asked the courier to wait. I rushed into the hostel looking for the guy. I accidentally asked a security guard if he wanted my passport. After that embarrassment, I was a little gun shy. I called the guy on my cell. Turns out he was standing just to my right. We had a good laugh.

• I went to the roof of Becca and Franck’s condo and took some pictures of the night skyline. The view from the 32nd floor is pretty spectacular.

• I got an e-mail from Winai. We both have been recovering from jet lag. We’re still going to try to connect, but that might be a bit complicated. I’ll keep you posted.

• On a more positive note, Uncle Jesse called and said we’d be going to the chicken factory on Friday. It’s a 4 hour drive, so we’ll be leaving early and getting back late. Because I’m a little too excited about this, it’ll turn out that I can only tour the offices and won’t be allowed to take any pictures.

____________________

Stupid Travel Tip of the Day: In Thailand, security officers are not couriers.

Not So Stupid Tip: This was a bit of a surprise; Urban Outfitter t-shirts make great travel gear. I brought two shirts that I don’t wear too often. I wash clothes every night. Because the shirts are a cotton/polyester blend, they dry in less than an hour. Who knew hipster clothing could actually be functional?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Doris permalink
    March 10, 2010 3:25 am

    Looks like you are having fun! And you could have your food and drink from a plastic bag, you just need to hang out in East L.A. a little more…

  2. becca permalink
    March 11, 2010 7:18 pm

    Lovely pictures of the skyline!

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