Who? Erwin Fraij, MSc Food Product Design
What? Four months internship with the Royal Chitralade Projects
Where? The Royal Residence in Bangkok, Thailand
It’s usual for employees to take their children to their workplace. Sometimes they visit me to practise their English. They think I’m cool because I’m the only farang (foreigner) here. Thai people work hard. The working day starts at eight o’clock, but they do stop at around 4 p.m. If I work too late, a colleague comes over to my desk and says, ‘No overtime.’ After work I usually play an hour’s badminton with colleagues, but as it is 40 degrees outdoors, it’s not long before I have to stop. Thai people are very open; people in my street invited me to sing karaoke and have a beer. One time I went to watch Thai boxing with a colleague.
One of my most unusual experiences was when the King of Thailand visited one of our projects. That was quite remarkable because he hardly ever appears in public as he is getting on in years. We drove to the lab in a royal autocade. There were road blocks on all the roads (including the motorways), and the whole way along the route residents waved little flags at us. The king looked good, despite his advanced age. He was very formal but still friendly.
Protests against the government are still being held regularly in Bangkok, and sometimes the unrest is very close to us. Once the police broke up a demonstration near our office. Army vehicles and police vans drove along the street and I could heard the demonstrators shouting. For a couple of days afterwards I couldn’t go into the city centre because it was too dangerous. Luckily, things are now peaceful again.