Week 3 – Witty Title Here

Week 3 continues on the same workworkwork as Week 2. It was during this week that I realized just how few days were remaining before our final deliverable and presentations to both our customer and the final ceremony truly was. The following Monday was also another public holiday to celebrate Mother’s Day so in week 4 we were going to be ‘down’ 1 day possibly.

A significant focus of week 3 was to begin our final deliverable document, which was an action plan to develop a flood GIS platform. This was our key deliverable agreed upon in our Scope of Work. Anu started a template document for us with various sections and headers we believed would be important for the document and we began to assign this sections to individuals across the team to begin writing their sections. Ryusuke and I teamed up on a lot of sections, specifically around data and applications as w were more focused on that side of the research. This also gave us each a partner to review our work and make suggestions. Ryusuke asked that I read over his written work as well to ensure that it made sense. I very much enjoy this type of work partnership, where we both gain value from each others work and it also brought us closer together I found. Not to say we hadn’t become good friends in the first 2 weeks, I think the day we both went to McDonald’s really brought that together.

This was also one of the first weeks since we have arrived in Phuket that we would be working from our hotel instead of the customer site every day. This was a nice change to the normal routine as I was able to spend some more time in the team suite, share ideas, review and get updates on the other teams projects. While this also brought some new challenges of a much more busy room and side conversations, I am able to work through that without any real trouble, mostly thanks to headphones. One thing I could not adjust to was what I would consider insane levels of air conditioning. This was also an issue at the customer site, as a couple people on the team seemed to love having it set to 21 and full fan speed. This was almost next level AC though, set to 14 or 15 in the room. People would bring blankets, sweaters and our room robes just to try and stay warm. Staying warm, in a country where it has averaged around 40-43 degrees with humidity. That is definitely one thing I never imagined I’d be saying on this trip. But I digress, that will all be saved for another post later on called Challenges.

Little Break from the Normal

After posting the McDonald’s picture above, I was poked at on Facebook that ‘Thai food looks delicious’. We have been eaten well, but its spicy here. For those who know me, I don’t always deal well with spicy food. I’ve been trying to get better with it, but this reminded me of India spicy levels in some cases. I mean, even one of the dessert places we went to, the bloody cookies were spicy. No, I don’t mean pepper kinda cookies, straight up spicy cookies. Below is one of the usual spots we went to for dinner around the hotel.

Mostly seafood, mostly spicy but clean and tasty food. We tended to come as a group here to enjoy some Singha’s, Coke, calamari, prawns, soups and many other dishes. After a few visits we had a buddy who worked there that took care of us. At one point during the week he wasn’t there and we kept getting the crappy menu. When he returned we told him no more vacations please!

Here is an example of a meal we had at another local restaurant. Very tasty.

Fried calamari, morning glory, sweet and spicy chicken

If there is one thing that Thailand is not lacking, its the number of Scooters and motorcycles. This was sort of painful for me, as at this point I’ve missed my bike for many weeks and have missed driving in general. Below are some of the cooler bikes I came across during the few weeks we have been here so far.

Suzuki VStrom. Rare to see big bikes like these
This was outside of the tailor. Baby Ducati. Turns out it’s just a Honda with a sticker and colour pack… still cute
These 2 beautiful Triumph’s were hanging out in front of the hotel. Once again, pretty rare to see these bigger bikes in town.

And for good measure, of course I had to try the Colonel while I was in Thailand

It was pretty good.

Anyhoo, back to Week 3 work stuff!

This week was marred by some confusion on our team. Maybe its the lack of sleep, long work days and general stress from the program, but I was pretty pissed off to find out one of our team decided to go to Bangkok. While the person did mention in our WhatsApp group chat that they would be going to Bangkok to submit a visa request, it was in the last couple weeks when the work load was really starting to build up. What upset me most about the situation was the lack of communication that followed. Once again, this will be detailed more in the Challenges post I plan on doing after getting the 4 main weeks out of the way. monster beats pro by dre earbuds

The group continued to progress and finalize sections of our action plan and we had a target of showing a draft copy of our document to Dr Tanwa by Friday at 4PM. This was also the week we were pushing New to complete the translations from our Design session as there was some very valuable data in those post-it notes. I took the initiative to get that presentation in order and ready for our recommendations/insights. I thought this would be an easy task, but I should have realized as soon as you say that it becomes a bit more complex. 65 slides later, the presentation was completed and New was transferring his translations in to the document. This involved some late night sessions to get this organized and at least one person on the team was appreciative of the efforts (or maybe they just noticed the time stamps on my emails and last edits).

From their responses a new topic / recommendation came to light which I called a Community Disaster Service Guide (CDSG). This was an opportunity for PSU to become a leader in Phuket, not only for their flood management platform but also at the ground level for communities. PSU could become the subject matter experts and work with community leaders, hospitals, emergency response groups and NGO’s to create a guide with valuable information for Phuket. This would include locations of disaster relief centers, maintaining the Public Address system for emergencies, create a recurring event to ensure the canal is kept clear of debris among many other steps. While this wasnt part of our initial deliverable, this was evidently a new topic that would prove to be valuable to the entire community and will help PSU establish itself as a leader in this space. Dr. Tanwa and team were very interested to hear more about this topic, which led to a more detailed breakdown and recommendations on how to proceed with the CDSG.

We sent off our draft to Dr Tanwa on friday afternoon, who was gone on an extended vacation, as the following Monday is a holiday to celebreate Mother’s Day. We received some feedback over the weekend and he was happy with what was there, but we still had lots more to do.

Over the weekend, we organized a second attempt to visiting The Big Buddha statue in Phuket. Our first attempt was cancelled as myself and several others werent feeling to well. While this was once again true this weekend, at least for myself due to some late night partying… I rested, drank a lot of water, was delivered a ‘get better’ package from the lovely Chrys for a second time so far on the trip… I pushed through and made it. I’m glad I did, because it was quite surreal.

Big Buddha

The statue is located on mountain in Phuket and every morning from my balcony at the hotel, when the weather permitted, we could see this statue. Getting up to the statue was quite the adventure, luckily the hotel has new mini vans that don’t have issues like some of the scooters and older cars we saw struggling up the hill.  The views from up here were incredible and you can see out to the ocean and most of Patong.

Big Buddha Pano

Now as a fan of heavy metal, I’m used to some pretty intense singing. I was not expecting to be serenaded by Buddhist monk’s with some seriously heavy vocals. Captured the short 10 second video below of some of their prayer ceremony. It was intense to say the least. If some instrumental metal band is looking for a new lead singer, they may wanna go to Thailand and chat with some of the monks.

Rocking the watermelons at Big Buddha
Getting caught doing my photo thing

That’s it for Week 3, or at least from what I recall. I really should have taken better notes while I was there, especially since I’m writing these almost a week after I returned back home.

Cheers folks!

-ND