Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My First Official Embassy Function

This is just a quick post about attending my first official (and unexpectedly interesting) Embassy function in Bangkok. 

Kevin had a Very, Very VIP visiting today who was accompanied by his wife.  While the VIP was attending to business, the Embassy arranged for a small group of spouses to meet with his wife this morning for coffee.  Kevin heard the venue where the coffee was to be held was spectacular and told me to attend, if only to see it for myself.  Curious, I googled to see what was in store for me and just had to share this with you (from the Four Seasons website)...
Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok > Rajadamri Suite > Located on the ninth floor, the Rajadamri Suite is the Hotel'
The Rajadamri Suite at the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok
Located on the ninth floor, the Rajadamri Suite is the Hotel's premier accommodation, eminently suitable for those requiring the highest degree of comfort and luxury.The luxuriously appointed living space accommodates up to 18 guests, and includes an elegant private dining room that seats 12, a large living room, two guest powder rooms and a library with a bar. The suite also features three dual-line telephones with multi-language voice mail, cable TV, a built-in safe, a dedicated telephone number, a dedicated fax number and high-speed Internet access. The master bedroom, overlooking the swimming pool and rich landscaped gardens, offers a separate dressing room, a marble bathroom with deep soaking tub and glass-enclosed shower, a whirlpool and an adjoining massage treatment room with private entrance. For additional space and comfort, a second bedroom can be added.

This is the same hotel where Kevin and I stayed in January and our room was nice but certainly not this nice! I will admit that I brought my camera this morning and hoped I could sneak a photo or two but not a chance.  It was an experience.

Now, for why I was surprised that this turned out to be an interesting event...
In my opinion, these "meet and greet" spousal functions are too brief and superficial to be of any significance. If I were accompanying Kevin to Bangkok on his official business, do you think I would want to meet with 20 women (or, in this case, 19 women and 1 man) that I have never met before (and will likely never see again) to "chat" about their Bangkok experience over coffee? Really?!? o anyone who knows me, do I even have to ask this question?  I would rather be shopping, exploring the city, buying sapphires and rubies... you get my point. Anyway, I put on my "Washington DC clothes" and went along. I had door to door service courtesy of the Embassy which made it a very easy trip and, thanks to air conditioning, I arrived looking somewhat fresh. The suite was as described and very impressive. The VIP's spouse was older than I thought she would be and very friendly and down to earth. At one point, she was even making coffees for us out of a very fancy cappuccino machine! 

We mingled for a while and then she spoke to us about some initiatives that she is developing specifically for spouses in the diplomatic community. She has been meeting with spouses at different Embassies to get a feel for what issues and concerns spouses face while living abroad. Based on that feedback, she sees communication as being a big issue and is very interested in connecting the spouses into the "system". This connection (most likely via a webpage) would allow us to receive the same U.S. Government and Embassy emails, notifications & bulletins (as appropriate) that the employee receives. We would also have access to available resources to resolve issues we face (the challenges of moving, child/ren's education, spousal employment, medical concerns, etc.). Currently, all communications to/from the Embassy or the US Government must be channeled through the employee.  If the employee is on travel, out of the office, or just too busy, nothing can be done because the spouse's access to that line of communication is non-existent. Being in a foreign country and having to depend on someone else's access to information and resources can be very problematic and distressing. 

While this is a great idea, I am not sure how successful she will be with establishing this connection as funding will probably be very limited for its implementation. However, it was heartening to hear that she had been listening and identified an issue important to the spouses and was working to try and resolve it. 

Oh, in other big news, our Vonage telephone arrived last night!  Woo hoo... we can finally call back to the U.S.!

1 comment:

Chic Coastal Living said...

Very interesting! Glad you had a good time and hopefully her idea will work out! I can see the need for that communication! Call me! haha!