Thailand: Bangkok

From 02 – Thailand

We recently returned from a 3 week vacation to Thailand, a country both Matt and I have been interested in visiting. We got a free flight from signing up for this credit card and felt encouraged to fly before Eve turns 2 and we need to buy her her own seat. Plus it’s been 2 years since we left the country and both of us had the antsy travel bug. We had an amazing time and I would return again (not really to Bangkok or Chiang Mai, but there’s more of Northern Thailand I’d love to explore and the beaches we went to were fantastic…and the food was great. Not as spicy as everyone had warned us but still delicious.)

From 02 – Thailand

The flight was LONG. Eve did great the first 10 hours but then I think we were all ready to get off the plane. But we had about 5 more hours to go! None of the books or toys I brought intrigued her but the airline had a good bag for her full of stickers and colored pencils that occupied her for a while. She also loved listening to music through the headphones, a new experience. We were well fed on the flight. We requested a vegan meal (which was pretty lame, vegetables and potato with no sauce or protein) and a Hindi meal (which was delicious every time!) We borrowed a friend’s gDiapers for the flight so we wouldn’t arrive all weary with a full load of dirty diapers to wash but I must say I’m not impressed with gDiapers. They leak and are a weird fit on a trim and tall toddler. But it was nice to arrive with a full set of cloth diapers (we travelled with 12 flat diapers and 3 wool covers and it was no problem at all. Easier than I thought.) I think next time for the flight we could either just pay someone to wash them when we arrive or try these mostly biodegradable diapers. Or the GroVia biodegradable diapers.

We arrived in Bangkok, weary and ready to sleep. At the airport we got some cash at an ATM, grabbed our luggage and got in the taxi line to our hostel, Suk 11. The city is pretty far from the airport but when we flew home we took the skytrain and it was MUCH cheaper and convenient. The hostel was right on the skytrain line so we were able to get around pretty quickly (and it’s air conditioned!). The hostel was easy to book online and included breakfast which was mostly toast and fruit but there were fun new things as well. We tried jackfruit in syrup, different fruits in coconut milk, a breakfast rice pudding. Alongside the jam and butter for toast they had a delicious spread (I forget the name!) that consisted of coconut milk, sugar and thai tea. We definitely ate our share of coconut products in Thailand.

From 02 – Thailand

Bangkok has horrendous traffic and it’s smoggy and humid and hot. The skytrain was easy to navigate and they had an underground subway and a river “taxi” that all operated on a ticket system where you pay depending on your destination and the ticket counter spits out a card or token to swipe as you enter the platform. I didn’t find Bangkok all that exciting with a sweaty toddler on my back who wants to run in the street and pet stray dogs. We did discover a great massage place near our hostel called Bua Thip on Soi 5 off Sukhimvit. There’s never a wait and it’s 270 baht ($9 usd) for one hour of Thai massage which consists of being pummeled, sat on top of and twisted and bent in all angles. It was fun! and it was a deep massage. I liked that they washed your feet before starting, it was a nice touch. I think I went there 3 times? and wished I had gone every day.

From 02 – Thailand

We explored the malls in Bangkok because that is what the locals do. The mall is everything. We went to MBK to find some lunch recommended in our guidebook but realized we were on the wrong floor. There were two whole floors dedicated to food in this mall. One floor was a movie theater. One floor was a bowling alley. It was a huge building. And there were probably at least 5 more malls just as large in the Siam district. Neither of us are big shoppers or purchasers of trinkets but it’s always interesting to browse and see what’s what. I was surprised to see a lot of people selling used Converse sneakers and Levis jeans. American brands cost more in Thailand than the US because it’s made in SE Asia, exported to the US then imported to Thailand. I think Speedo swimshorts were over $100? We discovered in one mall that the children’s department was practically a playground. There was a play house, the little flintstones style cars, a lego table, a ball pit and lots of things to ride on. Geneveve had a blast and wanted to ride the kiddie train a million times. She had no problem at all making friends with the locals except the adults all wanted to pick her up and dote on her and she learned quickly to say NO if someone smiled at her for too long. She’s not interested in strangers holding her unless they bear gifts which seemed to make it okay for her (sometimes). Between two malls one day we discovered an outdoors Ukelele Festival and that was a nice break to enjoy some music amid the hustle and bustle in the concrete jungle. Eve almost climbed on stage while a hula dancer was performing and then visited her multiple times in the VIP section afterwards. No one minded, kids are very welcome to explore in Thailand and most locals are even keeping an eye on all children at all times. I felt like Eve was a minor celebrity and she hammed it up at times. I am certain she is in many Japanese photo albums by now.

From 02 – Thailand

We made it to the famed weekend Chatuchak market that is popular with locals and tourists. I found my thai fisherman pants that were top on my list. And we walked through aisles upon aisles of clothes, shoes, a few punk clothing shops, pretty much you could buy anything and everything there. First thing we bought was a fresh coconut. The coconut water was Very hydrating and the 3 of us went through a lot of coconuts. Eve didn’t like the coconut jelly/meat until we told her they were like noodles, then she couldn’t get enough of them. This girl lived on rice noodles, rice and tofu. The squeeze pouches made me feel better about her nutrition, I should have brought more because she loves them and they are a nutritious and shelf stable snack. She also loved the fruit smoothies and abundance of bananas and mangoes.

From 02 – Thailand

We met up with a friend of mine from culinary school who lives in Bangkok and she took us to a fancy restaurant and we got to see the posher side of Bangkok and she took us to a mall and negotiated a tuk tuk ride (a motorcycle style taxi) to Wat Phra Kaew, the big temple that houses a tiny jade “emerald” buddha. It’s rude to expose your knees and shoulders in Buddhist temples so Matt had to rent some long pants at the entrance. It was a large compound with gleaming golden buildings and intricate work that continues to amaze me that stuff like this was build before power tools and construction vehicles. It was beautiful and I enjoyed seeing the temples everywhere, but we didn’t visit that many of them. When you buy your incense there’s a piece of paper attached to it. It is not garbage, do not throw it out. Inside is a little piece of gold leaf that you can later stick on a buddha head. I didn’t know. Now you do.

From 02 – Thailand

Our trip overlapped with Matt’s brother, Nathan so we met up with him for a day in Bangkok and went on a self-guided long meandering walking tour through Chinatown, which dates back to 1782. We found some fresh squeezed pomegranate juice for a treat and the mango sellers were ploying Eve with green mango for a smile. The green mango was something I didn’t expect to like but it was really refreshing and delicious and easy to find on the street.

Matt considered getting a tailored suit while in Bangkok but it was more expensive than we thought (still super cheap compared to US name brand suits) and the guy was pressuring us while we were hungry so we just got out of there and ate dinner and we realized once sated that we live in Portland. Matt dressing up for work means jeans with no holes in them. It would be nice for him to have a tailored to fit suit, but how often would he wear it? Not much.

From 02 – Thailand

We left Bangkok via overnight sleeper train (12 hours, $30?) to Chiang Mai up north which was a blast (even if it was super late to leave). We got our tickets last minute so we were in second class which consisted of a car with maybe 20 beds? but it’s two bunks face each other, then you walk down the aisle to the next 4 beds. It was no problem and we didn’t have a major snorer next to us like Aaron did when we did the overnight train in China. Eve woke up refreshed and was very excited to be on the train, look out the windows and socialize with our cabin mates. She makes friends easily.

Date Night

Last week Matt and I had our first outing sans Geneveve. Right before we left I almost changed my mind, but we would only be gone one hour and she just woke up from a nap and had a full belly, so an hour with our housemates seemed like a good trial run. Plus we had a Groupon for an hour at the neighborhood bathhouse, Loyly that was set to expire in days.

I feel spoiled because I have been to a lot of bathhouses and two of the best ones I have ever been to are in Seattle (Banya 5 and Olympus). Loyly was a nice, quiet, clean facility and it’s less than a mile from our house, which you can’t beat. But the options there are very basic: dry sauna, steam room and a cold pull shower (which is easier to avoid or just put part of your body in than the full body immersion cold dunk pool at Banya 5. I LOVE that cold dip pool as well as their salt water tub) It was very relaxing, nice to take an hour alone with Matt to sweat and be calm. And when we got home the house was quiet, then I heard Laura say, Mommy’s home! and Geneveve started crying! but not for long and they said that she was a little fussy but not the whole time. Apparently she liked it a lot when Eric beat-boxed for her.

I have another Groupon for the bathhouse at Common Grounds up in Alberta neighborhood, I think we’ll try that one on my birthday. Also a one hour soak, which is plenty of time for me lately and pretty much my max at time away from the baby. So far I have been to a cafe (walking distance) twice away from the baby but that’s fine, I’d rather be with her and have her know that I’m near. Everyone likes to tell me again and again that it goes so fast, so I try my best to stay present and enjoy that she needs and wants my company and I try not to think about the inevitable days when I won’t be the center of her universe anymore. Overall, though I’m glad we made the time for a soak, my aching bones need it! Lately Geneveve is very distractable and loves the world and people and it’s hard for her to focus on nursing and falling asleep in public because she’d rather see what’s going on around her. So the best success we have is nursing in bed and naps in bed, which is tough on my back! But I’ve got to love those Groupons! It’s a great way to save money and try new places. I just bought one for the Bar Method (just 5 classes) so hopefully that will whip my core back into shape.

Science Center

We have had a very rainy spring. I haven’t had the energy nor the motivation to work in the yard and when we’ve had so many sporadic downpours, hiking has been at a minimum. So after two years in Portland, we finally made it to the science center, OMSI. We decided to join, so if you come visit us you can be our guests of honor. We only scratched the surface at our first visit but there was an extensive exhibit on prenatal growth and pregnancy, which was fascinating, especially to me. We saw some dinosaurs and played with some interactive displays and it was a good day. I look forward to seeing something at the OMNI max theater, as those science films are fun, interesting and on the big curved screen. I do have to say that the membership offer is not as amazing as the Seattle Science Center (we were members there for a year, once upon a time) but it’s still worthwhile if we go more than 3 times, which I think will be totally doable.

My husband ran a marathon!

26 miles completed, 0.2 to go

He did it! After months of training, it has happened. Matt ran the portland marathon, and in better time than he anticipated. He hobbled around for a few days after the event, but no major blisters or injuries and he has accomplished something that most people don’t do (although watching the marathon, I felt like everybody does it except me). Matt parents and brother came into town and stayed with us. We saw him at the 20 mile mark and just past the 26 mile mark and he looked strong. He made it look so easy but I won’t be fooled into signing up for a marathon. It’s a lot of work and time and dedication. I’m impressed and proud of you, Matt!

Snowshoe Commuting

Who needs a car?

We are having record snow in this city that owns no plows.  It’s beautiful, fluffy snow and has encouraged us to better insulate the house.  Last weekend we spent most of the day putting up the shrink plastic over our single paned windows and Matt put up insulation under the dining room floor.  I think I can feel a difference already, and just in time.

It’s been snowing everyday for almost a week now, making it a little unsafe to ride my bike to work (and now unsafe to drive.  It’s currently illegal to drive in Portland without chains on your tires).  I’m glad I only live a mile away because walking has been pleasant until the snow started piling up.  Matt had a snow day today, but my store stays open because when it snows, people want to go to the store and get food.  Today I dug out my snowshoes and happily trod to work among a slew of other people on foot, snowshoe or skis.  I love how our neighborhood so easily adapts to the change.  It’s great to see a lot of other people on skis/snowboards.