Sunday, May 31, 2015

G-Shock #23: My GSC Travel to Thailand Part I: Including Special Custom Singha G-Shock.

Half January of this year I received a private message from Todd Piti. He introduced himself as first of all a G-Shock Collector and second as the owner of the Singha Brewery (officially it’s called the Boon Rawd Brewery). Although probably not everyone living outside Thailand will hear a bell ringing, I immediately knew, he must be an serious important person. You can even buy pretty easily Singha Lager here in The Netherlands, and indeed it is a large brewery. Their largest brewery has a maximum capacity of 9 million hectoliter per year and produces only Leo beer for the national and the total production of the three Singha Breweries is 15 million Hectoliter. To compare, the Dutch Heineken Lager Beer, which can be found almost everywhere worldwide, has an annual production of about 25 million Hectoliters.
Back to the message. Todd wanted to produce a limited edition G-Shock Collectors Set of 100 pieces and it would be an honor for him if I accepted on of these sets. Wow, that would be great. We also talked about beer, because I’m a sort of beer hunter too (you can recently find me as Slorky on Untapped). He was talking about the new beer Leo, which was produced with rice to give it a dryer mouth taste and told me he would sent me some samples. To my big surprise about a week later two big boxes were delivered, but with Singha Lager. When I thanked Todd for the gesture, he told me the Leo beer got some delayed. And yep, two weeks later two boxes of Leo Beer arrived. After some comparisons, I’m afraid the Leo beer is a good thirst quencher, but for me the taste of Singha is the best.
Around that time Todd asked me how I should feel to come over to Thailand. That was a total different story. I have a relative low paid job (for Dutch measures) and an expensive hobby. I am already glad we can make it to Belgium of France on Holidays. And on the other hand, I live on a beautiful island (Walcheren) and traveling is not really in my nature. Going to Bangkok meant three hours sitting in a train to the airport, waiting there for a few hours and sitting 11 hours again cropped up in a plane. “How about a business class flight of your choice and a first class hotel”. “The G-Shock Collectors of Thailand would very much like you to come over”. Now, there was a point, as I know there are a lot of Thailand G-Shock Collectors. “The need of the many, outweigh the needs of the one”. I simply couldn’t say no anymore. I even could plan the flight and made proposals for dates for a meeting and the party. As I work at a school, I am pretty strict bounded to school holidays. Meanwhile I was often updated on details of the Limited Edition G-Shock set and the concept designs for the party. Todd Piti is not a man of half measures. His right hand Jarujin took over the contact for the Bangkok Schedules and Thiti took care of the flight papers and accommodation.
On the 30th of April, I took the train of 11:00 in Vlissingen and just before 18:00 our plane took off, arriving next day around 9:30 in Bangkok. Although it was a little bit puzzling, I soon got a call from Thiti, who picked me up in a minibus. The pursers and stewardesses had quite stuffed me full on the plain, so I was totally not hungry. Therefore we drove around Bangkok, a little sight seeing and visited the big Temple and Royal Palace, before we had a lunch. That was great. Fried rice, but then the Thai way. I have no idea what spices were used, but this rice was really marvelous. Of course we drunk some Singha beer. I still had to adapt a little to the 36 degrees (97ºF) temperatures. Around 15:45 I could finally check-in to my room in the hotel, 24 hours after I left my house. After I got over the amazement of the room, or rather two big rooms with 2 bathrooms, all for myself, I refreshed a little, asked the butler to wake me for the next appointment and took a little nap.
Todd Piti tasting and approving the Kees East India Porter.
That night we had a special meeting in Est. 33 microbrewery with some selected G-Shock collectors. That was where I first met Todd Piti and Jarujin in person. Of course I tried all their four draft beers, brewn in the beautiful glass brewing kettles. As a surprise, I brought some bottles of the first bottled beer of the brewery where I work sometimes in the weekends and holidays, Brouwerij Kees. I was very content that Todd explained to me in detail why he liked the beer very much. No need to say, it was a great evening meeting new G-Shock collectors. I even got a very cute Post Pet Databank from Yupadee, who even came over from Japan for the party. Through Jarujin, she had heard I am fond of PostPet and I was actually still looking for a second (used) PostPet DW-6900. In the meantime she has found a cheap PostPet DW-6900, which can now be found frequently on my wrist. As I already told above, I was completely stuffed full on-board of the plane and therefore I still wasn’t very hungry. Est 33 has quite a good kitchen though. I have eaten there the most delicious tuna salad ever, with pieces of fresh raw sashimi tuna. After dinner we did a photo session and I signed several G-Shocks and related items,before we left for a quiet drink to Todd’s house with Jurajin,Thiti and Yupadee.
Me with Yupadee and Todd in his collection room.
No surprise there was a large fridge, filled with cans of Singha Lager. Todd proudly showed me his G-Shock collection, which is a quite impressive one. After showing around his collection room, he showed me some customized G-Shocks. The members of G-Shock Collectors (Thailand) have developed a very good way to customize the resin parts of G-Shocks, while some of them are also truly masters of designing the face plate. He showed me a box with a lot of customized models in it. They were made for a contest and would be on display at the big party on May 2nd. Most of the custom G-Shocks had a Singha theme. The mythical lion could be found on many straps and faceplates. Of course not really surprising, the contest was organized by the managing director of the Singha brewery.
One of the models got my special attention. It was white and had a lot of nice red details. It was dedicated to Singha Soda Water. I had not really looked deep into the business of the Boon Rawd Brewery, but indeed, they do not only make beer, they also have drinking water, mineral water, soda water, lifestyle health drinks and sports drinks. And if you think it’s only about drinks, the Singha group also produces rice, seaweed snacks and rice crackers. Also the box was very nice, a plexiglass cube with a beautiful printed inlay. Not this was the only good looking one, also the other watches in the box were pretty well designed. Todd showed me the G-Shock Collectors set, that would be launched at the party. It was plain awesome. So many details, such a great backplate and I even had not seen the boxes yet. He showed me the back. All watches are numbered xxx/100. Todd’s personal set is numbered 012/100. One thing I didn’t know yet was that 12 was Todd’s lucky number. If you look around more into his business, you’ll find that this number pop’s up everywhere. For instance his cars have all license plates containing the number 12, or a cipher combination, which makes 12. Pretty cool. Then Todd gave me a special present. He had already promised me. It is a special customized DW-6900 CB with in gold a print of Singha Beer on it. Needless to say, I was speechless. Now I knew what I wold be wearing the next day at the interviews and party. It was number 11 of, of course, 12. Before I left to the hotel, I had to sign on of his big watch cases. At the bus, Yupadee and I had a little fun with the cars and number. One of the coolest cars of Todd is an original Volkswagen T1 in pristine state. License number 606, the number of one of my favorite drum machines.
The DW-6900CB models were released in February 2010 as the Crazy Color Series. In contrary to the blue, red and silver models, the black and gold version is still produced, which is remarkable. Most limited runs do not last 5 years. This special modded version has a black face plate, instead of the usual gold. On top of it there is the gold Singha, the logo of the Singha beers. The short strap shows some silver details and the gold Singha text logo, while the long strap shows the head part of the Singha over some silver details and a smaller text logo. The back is not specially modded and shows the original sticker of the Central Marketing Group, the Casio distributor for Thailand.
Well, it had been a very long two days, with only less than 2 hours sleep. So, I was very happy I got back in the hotel to catch some sleep. Still, first I wanted to do some nightscape photography at my hotel room, as it overviewed a beautiful part of Bangkok. That appeared not to be quite easy, as a gigantic floodlight was lighting the whole hotel. After some small tricks I think I made some near
Note: Most photo's are by me, but some are taken by jarujin, Thiti and Yupadee. One photo was even taken by the guide of the Temple and Royal Palace.