Bangkok & Condoms
After Tennessee, I had three weeks at home before my next trip. We had been working up the next HOp’s meeting in Thailand, this time in Bangkok. As you read more of this story, you will see how Bangkok & Condoms becomes an interesting subject. Not what you would expect, especially from an Evangelical Christian organization. Regardless the trip itself was fun, as you will see.
However, before getting into my second trip to Thailand, I did have time to enjoy in Costa Rica. When I returned home, I had installed all the parts purchased in Tennessee on my Fat Boy. There was one planned ride before I set off into the big blue sky, and I was going!
Santiago de Puriscal
The bike was evolving into how I had imagined, but there was still much more I wanted to do with it. For now, it was more functional with the saddle bags. A ride was planned for March 12 to Santiago de Puriscal by the Cost Rica chapter of the Harley Owners Group (HOG). There were many rides ahead, but now Paula and I were getting serious on riding.
Riding in Costa Rica was beautiful with lots of mountainous and curvy roads. Although, not always safe. Riding laws in Latin America are not as strict as in more developed countries, nor are motor vehicle laws in general. We had taken a nice route to Puriscal, which in reality is not far from San Jose. One thing about March in this region, rides begin to get shorter. Winter, or rainy season, approaches reducing the time on the road.
It was a beautiful day for a ride through the Costa Rican countryside followed by lunch in Puriscal. We departed San Jose around 0900 in the morning and had lunch in Puriscal by noon. Having the additional storage in the saddle bags allowed for carrying our wet weather gear, which during the ride back, we needed. At this time of year, the rain could be counted on in mid afternoon.
Preparing for Bangkok
The HOp’s meeting was scheduled from April 4-10 in Bangkok. At the same time, there was a planned meeting in Los Angeles for the annual OCS meeting. Mike T. had requested that both Vince and I attend this meeting as well, which meant some travel juggling. The OCS meeting was on for April 8-13, and I could not be in two places at once. So, it was agreed I would spend the first few days in Bangkok before traveling onwards to Los Angeles.
Initially, my flights for Bangkok, Thailand were scheduled for April 1, 2013. My route would have been via New York and Tokyo, but April Fool’s day is not the best travel day! Arriving for my scheduled flight to New York’s JFK airport, everything was normal. Checked in, passed security and boarded the flight, which took off on time. Somewhere over Honduras, a fuel pump in one of the engines gave out, meaning a return to San Jose. This threw everything off for this trip. Landing in San Jose, we were met by the fire crews and the plane was escorted to a safe location away from the terminal.
After sitting here for an hour, we were taken back to the terminal and off the plane. Now I had to be creative in re-planning this trip. Back at the ticket counter, I was offered a hotel room in San Jose for the night before the next day’s flight. Implying that I lived here seemed a great relief to the agent. After some long negotiations and being very polite, I was able to find a new route to Bangkok. This time, I would depart on April 2 traveling east instead of west. This meant this trip would be a true global circumnavigation!
Flying to Bangkok this time would be via Dallas and London arriving in Bangkok on April 3 late, in time for the April 4 start date. The additional bonus to the previous day’s malfunction, I was upgraded to business class for all three flights.
Second trip to Thailand, second location. Bangkok is a change from Phuket, where I had been six months earlier. Generally, I was not impressed by this never sleeping giant, and happy I was only here a couple of days. The HOp’s team stayed at the Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel, which was quite nice. Always impressed by the World Vision budgets and never shirking on anything. The hotel is located in the business area within walking distance to Bangkok’s well-known shopping mall, the Emporium and sky train station.
The view from the hotel could have been better than overlooking construction. If you did not have to look outside, the hotel itself was quite glamorous. Our conference also took place in the same location, which was convenient. Most of the team was here except for a few who had started the scoping mission for Syria. This included Vince, who would be in Los Angeles but not in Bangkok.
The meetings were similar to those the year before in South Africa, more of an opportunity to have the team together. This would be the last meeting for Perry M. as he had taken on a new role in the organization. Perry would become the new Country Director for the South Sudan office, leaving the HOp’s team. However, this would not be the last time I would work with Perry, we would be reunited in less than a year.
Most of the meeting was working on the new World Vision Disaster Management 2020 concept. Where the organization envisioned itself in seven years and beyond. There was also a lot of discussion on reshaping the HOp’s team internally. An organization with matrix reporting all over the place, things are constantly moving and re-aligning. This would have an impact on the security unit later in the year.
Saving the best to last, what is an Evangelical Christian organization without it’s controversies. I have already discussed mission love and consumption, but this was actually quite funny. The awards dinner was held the night before I left Bangkok for Los Angeles. The dinner was held a restaurant called “Cabbages & Condoms”. This restaurant is themed around planned parenting, which is not a bad theme to have. However, in the Evangelical Christian world, planned parenthood is not accepted. For World Vision, this seemed a bit of a hypocrisy.
I am pretty sure this goes against World Vision’s Core Value #4. “We Are Stewards
We are faithful to the purpose for which resources are given and manage them in a manner that brings maximum benefit to the poor”. Anyway…
The dinner itself was quite delicious. Many memories made with the team and awards handed out.
The meetings in Bangkok would continue until April 10 before the team started their journey’s home. Me, on the other hand, departed the day after the unique dinner at Cabbages & Condoms. I left Bangkok for Los Angeles, continuing my global circumnavigation via Hong Kong. This was the first time I would see the new Airbus 380 in action, in Hong Kong. What a beast this aircraft is to watch take off.
I was looking forward to spending time in the City of Angels, a bucket list location for sure.