I am sitting here in Bangkok, in my Buying Office for rubies and sapphires, but the weather is making it very difficult to buy. I need to select the stones using natural sunlight. For three days in a row, the sun has not come out. We have had nothing but overcast days and some rain. Today, the temperature outside is in the mid-60’s. As an American, I find it comfortable to walk around. But the Thais have never had such a ‘cold spell’. Not one building in Bangkok (commercial or residential) has any heat, and the people are freezing. Temperatures for twelve months of the year run between the low 80’s and the low 90’s. With this weather they are shivering, and so uncomfortable. Even the cars here have no heaters. Of course, everything is air conditioned, but no heat. People are wearing three layers of clothes, as they don’t own anything that we would consider warm.
Meanwhile, I have time during the day to compose this blog post, as I can’t buy a single colored stone. It is too dark, sitting against the window, to see anything but the computer keyboard. However, I did buy some white sapphires, as I can tell from my years of buying diamonds if the stone is truly white or not, without need of a lot of help from the sunshine.
Everyone is focused on the tragic news coming out of Japan, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese people. Those who survived the quakes and tsunamis, and yet lost their homes and their clothing, and are living with the snow falling and no warm clothes, make our plight here seem so trivial. In fact, Shane Co. is going to be donating 10% of all of our pearl sales from now until April 17th to relief efforts in Japan. The events in Japan have special significance for me, as I have close relationships with the pearl farmers there, who supply Shane Co. with our cultured pearls. Like Shane Co., they’re family-run businesses that go back for generations. We need to see things in the proper perspective.
A friend of mine and his wife and baby were out to lunch with me Sunday, and the one year old boy pushed his high chair over and had to be rushed to the hospital. I continue to admire the superb Thai medical system, as well as the personal level of aftercare. The child will be fine, and I appreciate the level of concern that the restaurant and insurance company expressed toward my friend, in handling this accident. You get the feeling in Thailand that people really care about you, which is very pleasant. Every country has its strengths, and we can learn a lot from some of the Asian cultures in certain areas, just as they have learned from us in other areas. The world is truly a small place, and that bodes well for all of us. Let’s just hope Japan’s problems get resolved quickly and positively.