Bangkok: "Baiyoke Tower and 360 Degrees"

Bangkok, Thailand
August 10, 2006
9:00 pm

Dear Family and Friends,

Along with my dinner partners, I am standing on the Sky Walk Revolving Roof Deck of the Baiyoke Sky Hotel, the Tallest Tower in the Kingdom of Thailand. It's my first visit here.

Below us, as we turn through 360 degrees, are the street lights, darkened towers, and criss-crossing bright ribbons of Bangkok expressways. A police car, blue lights flashing and siren wailing, speeds along a multi-lane roadway.

In the Sky Buffet Restaurant on the 78th floor, the placemat on my table proudly and graphically and colorfully exclaims these statistics:

- The building is 309 meters tall or about the height of 182 people standing one on top of the other. (The Russian Circus, in town last month, looked up from the sidewalk and considered giving it a go. Nyet. They took the lift to the Buffet.)

- The area inside the building is 179,400 m2 or about 30 football fields. ( I guess they mean soccer pitches. )

- There are 1,740 windowpanes in the building. About the same number or windowpanes can be used for over 200 townhouses. ( Don't brag too much here. Remember the Hancock!? )

- The piling runs 65m deep underground. About the height of a 22 story building. ( I wonder if they have a Filene's. )

- There are altogether 2,060 steps from the bottom to the top. It takes more than one hour to reach the top. ( Piece of cake. )

Speaking of cake, the Baiyoke Sky Hotel Sky Buffet offers fourteen selections of cakes, custards, puddings - with vanilla sauce, fresh tropical fruits and eight flavors of ice cream. And for Lenny and Jeffrey (you know who you are), all you can eat sushi, giant prawns, extra long crab, baby oyster, saute chicken, beef curry, soft grilled Indian bread stuffed with meat or banana, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. The display traverses almost 360 degrees around the 78th floor. Don't ask me the price; I was the guest of Webster College.

Webster College contracted with the Ministry of Health of Vietnam to provide management training and site visits to nine Vietnamese health professionals and accounting managers who work in a special joint project with the Swedish government. Webster hired English Solutions, the school in my neighborhood, and English Solutions hired me to conduct several portions of the management program.

So say Hello to Brian (USA), the Managing Director of English Solutions; Bruce (Canada), my teaching colleague, Jum (Thai) the Executive Secretary/Officer Manager of Webster; Andrew (England), the Assistant Director of Admissions and Business Communications Instructor; and Sanjit (Nepal), the Director of the Webster Campus in Bangkok. ( Talk about globalization and cross-cultural influences! )

My Vietnamese dinner companions/classroom participants are Hung,Tao, Dung, Ly, Lan, Nga, Thinh, Minh and Lap. Minh brought her teenage son from Hanoi. Nga brought her eighteen year old daughter Ngoc who is headed for University in the fall. She expects to study Mathematics and Chinese.

Nga encouraged Ngoc to have a conversation with me to practice her English. Ngoc is a bright, sweet, charming, slip of a girl, always smiling and cheerful as are all the adults in the group. I promised to visit them next year when I return to Vietnam for the Tet Festival.

The classes I conducted this week are reminiscent of my days at The Sheraton Corporation where I was the Director of Management Development and Training. Our subjects include Leadership, Motivation, Problem Solving, Decision Making, Preparing and Giving Presentations, and my favorite, Time Management. ( I learned something new. In addition to a daily To Do list, it is equally important to have a To Don't list. )

For the moment, for this week at least, my career has turned 180 degrees from retired to employed.

Last week I truly crossed the meridian and rotated 360 degrees to the starting point of my career in the hotel business. Instead of The Plaza Hotel in New York, I taught at The Metropolitan, a five-star boutique in Bangkok

At The Plaza I conducted English classes for Cuban and Puerto Rican employees. Here it was English for Thai's. What fun!

But short-lived. I was the substitute for the regular teacher who was away. But that's OK. There will be other projects, and qualified pinch-hitters are always in demand.

I have to say that I felt good teaching again. I do believe it is my natural inclination. One of the Vietnamese men thanked me for my "enthusiasm." So I will be on the lookout for other opportunities. There is always something new to learn.


Are Jarn (Professor) Jan


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