Tigers and flat tires

For months, the plan for HDN to have a retreat has been bubbling just below the surface. Then, quite a while back already, the realization slowly materialized that, in fact, HDN was short of cash and was probably going to be short on cash for a while. Hence, for example, no roll out of partnerships platforms in 40 countries as originally planned, no marketing campaign to launch HealthDev.net and no retreat.

As an alternative, a sports day was organized last week. All expat staff cringed at the idea, quite a few thought of calling in sick, and a few actually did. But I’m sure they were of course too sick to participate.
Turned out, the day was more than excellent, with very little sport, lots of a games and an excellent treasure hunt.
Wrap up with mooketa, conceptualize this by thinking of Thai barbecue, followed by free shots at Tuskers and too many Sangsom sets made for an almost painful evening.

My time here is coming to a close. I’ve only got two weeks left on my contract and although there has been talk of a (fairly unattractive) follow up contract, nothing is definitive, yet, and I won’t have to be based in Chiang Mai.
As an alternative, I’ve struck up a professional relationship with Inis, an Irish/Thai business which focuses on ‘communication’, particularly within the NGO sector. The founder, Tim France, also started HDN, my current employer.
I’ll be doing a short term but intensive project for Inis, web 2.0, which will see me going to Mexico at the end of next month, where there’s a big AIDS conference, and which will allow me to stop for a few days in both San Francisco and Tokyo.

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Yesterday, I had decided to finally attend another hash. But it was not meant to be. First, waiting at the hash pub, the bus did not show up. Then, driving to the venue on my bike, half way but way out of town, I had to deal with a flat tire.
Tire fixed, two hours later, finally, I arrived at the venue, just in time for drinks.
Well, at least I was there for the more important bits. Besides the drinks, the ice. Of course.

A few months back, the Tiger Kingdom opened its doors just north of Chiang Mai. It’s run by a breeding program in the north east of Thailand and claims to have no connection with the Tiger Temple near Kanchanaburi, which was recently in the news for perhaps being part of a smuggling ring.
By no means is the Tiger Kingdom as impressive as the Tiger Temple. However, it does have an interesting business model. You can visit just for food as the decent restaurant surrounds the open air tiger cage, and you can enjoy the tigers for free. if you want to play with them, either with the 8 month olds or with the 3 month olds, you pay 300 baht (6 euros) for each experience.
I tried to understand the long term business model, but didn’t get satisfying answers. The story I got was that all tigers on the premises were actually born there, not in the related conservation project in the north east. However, they were also not planning to breed a new generation, which to me meant that in a few months, they wouldn’t have cubs for the tourists to play with, as I was also told they had no intention of bringing in new cubs.
Odd perhaps.

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