It's been an active week. Since I last wrote, I've explored a national park, experienced a bit of Bangkok's nightlife, shared a 25km bike ride with a lovely group of women, started a BSF Bible study, observed the Thai education system first hand, and toured the Mattel toy factory where Hotwheels are produced. Hard to believe that was all in a week...it's no wonder I've not had time to write. Rather than trying to tackle the entire week, I'm going with the old saying that "a picture is worth a thousand words". Check out our new album on Shutterfly and hopefully the pictures of the park, nightlife, and bike ride, along with their subtitles will speak for themselves.
Unfortunately, you won't find pictures of the toy factory tour as photography was not allowed. This tour was very unique in that it's not a routine experience the factory offers. We were only able to go because the president of the American Woman's Club's husband is friends with a big guy from Mattel. Lucky us! What an eye opener this activity was for me as, to be honest, I'd never even wondered about the production of toy cars. If you'd asked me how I thought they were made, I would've described a totally automated system with people supervising the work of sophisticated machines. Not! I'm surprised that Hotwheels don't cost way more than they do as they are virtually hand assembled. The employees work 10 hours a day (2 hrs. overtime), 6 days a week doing the same job over and over during peak production. During non peak times, about 40% of the workforce is cross trained on another task required to make the cars. The reason they are so labor intensive is all economics. In order to keep the price down, the company doesn't invest in the technology of automation because there is an ample workforce willing and happy to do the job for less money. I guess we all benefit- consumers, employers, and employees. However, after this tour, it all seems a little more personal. From this day forward, I hope to try and pause to admire the the skill and individual effort put into the products I buy...and also to think twice before I complain about the cost!