• Sunday, December 10, 2006

    International relations, Israelis in Thailand and the weather..

    Occasionally there will be a profile of an ambassador or letter from one in the papers here. Normally these will be the usual nonsense written by ambassadors and make for dull reading. In today's Bangkok Post there was a feature about the Israeli ambassador to Thailand, who is also the Israeli ambassador to Cambodia.

    She's one of only five female ambassadors in Thailand, the others being South Africa, Norway, Cuba and Bulgaria. Her name is Ms Yael Rubinstein and she came across as a really, genuinely nice person who clearly has a great love of Thailand.

    There's something like 140,000 Israelis visiting Thailand every year, quite a high number given the relatively small population of Israel (about 7 million). Israeli businesses appear to be on the rise in Thailand too. Trade between the two countries is increasing and the relationship is looking good.

    I've noticed that there are increasing numbers of Israeli owned businesses in Banglampoo too. A good number of the jewelry shops and silver wholesalers on Khao San Road are Israeli owned. In fact, my favourite restaurant in that area is also an Israeli restaurant, that makes excellent chips (OK, so that isn't exactly Israeli food).

    Something I've noticed about Israelis, and also people from other nations, is their sense of social cohesion when out of their own country. I don't know if it is true but they appear to work with one another as a community. Thais are good at this. When we lived in the UK we noticed this with the Thai community, who would join together to help each other in business and organise entertainment together. As a Brit I've often felt we lack this. Maybe it's me or maybe I'm wrong but I always feel that we Brits tend to act as independent cells.

    At embassy level the British Embassy is definitely a closed club; education and who you know are more important than anything there. I used to have a friend in the US Embassy here in Bangkok and couldn't believe how relaxed they all seem there. I'd occasionally drop by for coffee and a chat and be quite welcome. If I were to try dropping into the British embassy for a chat I'd be shown the door straight away.

    There's a British club here but it's typically British; closed door and selective. You have to pay over a thousand pounds to join and can only join if your name is recommended by two other members, and if no other members veto your application. To my knowledge I don't know anyone in the club so I can't join the British club. No real tears about this though.

    Maybe there is something in the Israeli or Thai culture that is lacking in British culture, something that binds the people together as a unit rather making them work as separate entities. Whatever it is it's inspiring stuff.

    Once again the sky is a sea of blue and the sun is ferocious. It's looking like being another scorcher. Lovely morning here. The moo baan is silent. I can hear my daughter singing as she gets ready for ballet and there's a bird cooing like a pigeon outside. Other than that there is complete silence. Lovely Sunday.

    International relations, Israelis in Thailand and the weather..



    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Nice article. I enjoyed reading this.......thanks

    1:49 am  
    Blogger Life Out East said...

    Thanks for that, nice to hear. Feel free to link to the blog. Cheers!

    6:07 pm  

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