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.

Cloth Diapers work for us!


When I was pregnant I became an intense researcher. (go to the bottom of the post if you just want info on how many diapers I used and for how long) There was a lot to learn that isn’t easily available to you. Media and advertising are pretty powerful. There are so many books out there with contradictory information. Parenting has too many grey areas, which can be overwhelming. What works for one person may not work for another, kids can be so different so even though you plan and read and plan, life happens. I can’t say cloth is for everyone, but I can say it’s worth a try. Worth a try to reduce landfill waste (estimated 450 years for 1 disposable diaper to break down) and your garbage bill.

You can also save money buy choosing cloth and your child’s skin will not be exposed to a lot of chemicals that are in disposables. Geneveve has been in cloth since day 3 and has never had a diaper rash. I am proud that we’re still on the cloth wagon and documented a lot of details in case someone out there is wondering, “How much will it cost?” “How many do I need?” “Is it horrible and gross?” and on and on. It’s hard to jump in and try something new when disposables have become the norm and appear to be convenient. I must add that it does help to have a parent at home, but there are more and more daycares that will do cloth diapers if you provide them. Anyways, I won’t make any more excuses. If you are interested, read on. If you are not, it’s your choice. We all are doing our best with what time we have and where our priorities are.

Showing off her tie-dye

But where to start? There are so many types of cloth diapering systems out there! Thanks to the internet people are selling used items, doing product reviews with honest opinions and providing information that can encourage and support your chosen path in pretty much any realm. And it’s creating community. I found a lot of support on the forums of I bought most of our cloth diapers off craigslist and diaperswappers. When I was pregnant I had two friends with kids and they lived across the country. I liked the idea of cloth diapers, but was it feasible? It sounded like a LOT of work…and poop is scary. And time is precious. But the environment is important to me. And diapers create a disgusting amount of trash that I wanted to make it work. And I’m scared of all the chemicals in disposables. Here I am, 17 months later, still cloth diapering and honestly, it isn’t and wasn’t that much extra work. Instead of putting dirty diapers in the trash and carrying it out to the curb, they went in the bucket and carried to the wash. So I had an extra load of laundry but I also never had to run to the store to buy diapers, these diapers are reusable and can get used for the next kid and/or resold to another mom to use on her kid. I’d honestly use a little extra water than have an extra bag of trash full of poop and chemicals sitting in a landfill for close to 500 years, among other reasons.

The hardest part for me was maybe the first month getting into a laundry rhythm since newborns dirty diapers a LOT which means laundry every few days. And when it’s so new it’s hard to gauge when to wash before you run out. That’s honestly a learn as you go since not every newborn has 12 dirty diapers a day (I know one who goes through more like 20!) We cut down on diaper laundry a lot when we started EC (infant potty training) which I have another post here if you are interested. But heads up because there are potty strikes, when Geneveve started walking I couldn’t get her to sit on the potty for at least a month. So now we’re not at an 80-90% potty success, more like 50% but I can’t force her to use the toilet at this point in her little toddler independence.

Just outgrowing orange edge

I kept track of how many diapers I bought, what I liked, didn’t like and when she had to go up in size. There are SO many cloth diaper options out there it can be overwhelming. I was overwhelmed at first. Matt was scared. But I have overheard him tell other dads-to-be that cloth diapering was the easiest part of having a baby. After my exhaustive research I wanted something simple but not time consuming. I wanted natural materials, not synthetic. Karen says it simply enough over at GMD: “Cotton has been proven to be a safe diapering fabric for many generations. It’s easy to wash and doesn’t hold stink like synthetics and stay-dry pocket diapers do. No repelling issues, either. It works. It’s easy.”

Flats are the old fashioned kind, a large square of cotton you fold and pin (or snappi! we love snappis! that was Matt’s condition on the diapers-no pins!) The next simplest method is prefolds, which I love. They are a little tricky when your baby gets in the wiggly phase but Geneveve has gotten past the wiggly phase and helps us put on the diapers now. But when she started walking I thought pull-ups would be the way to go. Regardless, I stuck with prefolds. Prefolds are basically layers of cotton sewn together with the middle third twice as thick as the outer third (usually 4 layers on the edges and 8 layers in the middle). Folding them is easy, I prefer the newspaper fold with a snappi but you can just fold in thirds and put in a cover. I prefer my fold because it creates a little pocket for poop and greatly reduces your chances of diaper blowouts. Prefolds come in about 3-5 sizes but they are significantly cheaper then the next step up, the pockets, all in ones etc etc. We tried those diapers (BumGenius, Happy Heiny) and they didn’t work for us. It was too much work to stuff the pocket then when it’s wet you unstuff it and have to get a whole new one on them. It also gets expensive if your newborn is going through 12 diapers a day.

A flat diaper, tie-dyed by me

A prefold costs about $2 each and a BumGenius is $18 each. (Flats are cheaper than prefolds and are usually one or two sizes so that is the most economical way if you don’t mind folding them. I think it’s fun, but Matt’s not interested. Flats clean up well, wash and dry really fast. I love the concept of flats but didn’t fall in love with them.) Since we are talking money and math, let me point out that you don’t have to pay full price or buy new diapers. You can diaper your baby from birth to potty training for under $100. Disposables average around $2,000 from birth to potty training for one kid. Cloth you get to reuse on the next one and not buy more diapers. And when you are done you can resell them! It’s pretty easy to buy them used (and it’s not gross). I bought most of my diapers and covers used off diaperswappers. It’s free to join and it’s basically a bunch of moms buying and selling diapering related items. The prefolds I love (and a lot of other moms love) are from Green Mountain diapers. Their prefolds are sized just right to fit into Thirsties covers (my favorite cover) and the owner Karen is SO very friendly and helpful. Her website has a LOT Of information on sizing as babies are just so individual sometimes. I think one of the reasons I love prefolds is that they are folded to fit her body every time. Pocket diapers have elastic legs and my little girl had barely a crease of fat on her thighs so leakage happened every time we tried to use those diapers.

Here’s two more links about disposable diapers and the environment (and I will get off my horse):

And don’t forget there’s a whole grey area with hybrids and biodegradable diapers. I do hear some controversial stuff as they still use the chemical gelling agents that are in standard disposables, but at least it’s a decent middle ground. Planning our vacation to Thailand this year I started researching alternative options and I just feel so nauseous about bringing a suitcase of diapers to fill their landfills up. It doesn’t feel right to me. Seventh Generation makes a chlorine free disposable but it’s still going to take as long to break down. I just learned about Nature Babycare diapers which are 60% biodegradable and GroVia and GDiapers sell 100% biodegradable inserts which sound like a pretty good option. I priced out these options and they all tend to run about $0.40 each with no reuse or resell value :) But luckily my husband is on board with me and we’re going to do flat diapers and wash them in the shower. I’ll let you know how that goes but I’m pretty happy to not have left a footprint yet in diapering.

Eve showing off her tie-dye prefold yet again

If you need detailed info on washing diapers, go here.

Prefolds are usually white. It was fun to have some colorful ones

And without further ado, here is my diapering log.
(born just under 7#, falls in the 10-12 dirty diapers a day category)

Diapers: I had 54 orange edged newborn prefolds (GMD) in rotation. I could have gotten by with 30 but it was nice to have an extra day to stretch laundry day. Laundry was probably happening every other day or every third day.

I tried kissaluvs because a friend LOVED them, but I didn’t care for them. They are cute and fit nice but i seriously love prefolds. hands down. I’m not much into snap diapers, I think I get a better fit with the snappi.
I was lent some second hand bumgenius and hated them. They leaked like crazy and stuffing and unstuffing them drove me crazy. They could have leaked because Eve has skinny thighs…I know some people love them but have heard that over time they get stinky (synthetic material!) and you have to strip them to make them absorbant again and the velcro wears out pretty easily.
I also tried happy heiny all in ones and at the smallest setting they didn’t fit Eve until 3 months of age, but I had the same issues as the bg’s.

Covers: The tiniest covers I liked were bummis xs whisper brite
Once she outgrew those I pretty much stuck with Thirsties.
I had 8 newborn covers. On a typical laundry day I had 4 covers in the wash. I could’ve gotten by with 5 or 6.

The orange edge lasted 3 months but some people skip this size if they know they will have a bigger baby or want to save some money and just start with yellow edge (Eve was a small baby and slow to gain weight…but if your baby is a chunky one they probably will grow out of orange edge fast. They were just nice to have when she was itty bitty (and resell well so i’m not worried about it).

3 months:
We switched to yellow edge gmd prefolds and I had 30 prefolds and 3 thirsties small covers in rotation.
We do laundry every 3 days and have about 2 covers per load. It also helped that we were dong EC pretty regularly at that point so you may still be doing laundry every other day. You could always get by with less diapers and do laundry more often.

5 Months:
Eve was 14 lbs and was awesome at the potty so diaper laundry was every 4 days and the yellow edge gmd’s were getting snug.
At 5.5 months I switched to red edge gmd’s and she’s in thirsties small. I had 18 red edge prefolds and 6 hand me down unknown brand blue edge prefolds (same width as red edge, a little longer) and 3 thirsties medium covers (and 3 thirsties smalls as backup) in rotation. I had barely 1 cover in a load of laundry because most of her poops are in the potty at this point.

7 or 8 months:

Diaper laundry was once a week but that was because she used the potty so much. Still in red edge. At some point I supplemented my diaper stash with 6 blue edge Imagine prefolds to stretch wash day. She had a “potty pause” as learning to crawl was more exciting.

13 Months:

We’re in brown edge gmd’s right now and we have 18 brown edge prefolds and 1 thirsties duo size 2 cover in rotation. I do diaper laundry once or twice a week. I do have a dozen flats on hand (from trying them out and not loving them). I like having them just in case I need them but lately they work great for accidents and spills.

She sleeps in homemade lanolized wool pants but under that is a prefold layered with a babykicks hemp soaker and fleece fabric cut to the size of the soaker so that way if she pees at night the hemp soaks up most of the pee and the fleece keeps her dry. It’s just a backup since she maybe pees once a month at night. During the summer she slept in wool shorties. I have one disana pair and one hand knit pair that are lanolized and the hand knit weave is too loose (and it takes too long to make! I’d rather just sew another pair with felted wool from old sweaters like I did with the pants. I did make newborn soakers with wool with the previously linked pattern but with a frog-legged newborn I didn’t want to wrangle her legs into pull on styles in my tired stupor. Velcro and snappis were simple and easy. I do love wool now, though. Wool is more breathable than the PUL covers, but bulkier. So we tend to do wool at home and PUL when out and about.

First steps!

I do need to put in a plug for legwarmers and ease of diaper changes and potty training. Eve spends a lot of her time at home just in legwarmers (babylegs are the popular brand (and easy to find used) but a local Portland mom makes some really fun ones as well).

I hope this helps someone out there!

We have returned!

We have arrived back on our native soil.  The flight was fine, except for the second security check before getting on the plane in San Jose (and it was NOT thorough and a disruption of our movie watching) and the lack of a meal without pig on the plane.  We packed food and were fine, but seriously, the options were pasta with ham or chicken with ham.  We requested a veg meal and they told us they don’t do ANY dietary requests.  Well, we have returned to a country that sometimes cares about customer service and attempting to garner repeat business.

And it is nice to return to something familiar.  I remember being homesick while is Spain, but this is a completely different situation.  We aren’t having too much reverse culture shock and the biggest thing I have to retrain myself to do is to flush toilet paper.  I keep looking around for the bin.  It’s nice to wash my hands with soap and not fear intestinal anger.  There are things I miss about Peru, and it was a great experience, but right now I am enjoying being able to walk barefoot, stretch out on a couch and see family and friends again.

We’re spending some time in Florida, working on our awesome tans.  Our plan after this is undecided as of yet.  We’re thinking of looking for jobs in Portland, Oregon and see what happens.  It’s smaller than Seattle, has a really foodie vegan scene and tech jobs, so there will be room for us to grow and learn there.

Nazca Lines…or not

taken by chillntravel

We had a little time to kill and there was nothing left to do in Paracas except play cards, so we decided to head to Nazca for a change of scenery (and expand our eating options, Paracas was lame) and get our buddies a few hours closer to Cusco before we parted ways.

Nazca is famous for its lines. These lines are basically moved rocks in the desert, exposing a lighter color underneath. The lines form hundreds of crazy shapes (geometrical shapes, a monkey, birds) and the only way to see them is by paying a tourist price for a plane ride over them. We have heard if you are really interested in the lines, it’s worth it. Otherwise, you can enjoy the pizza in town and their very clean plaza.

taken by Anselmo Herranz

We chose not to do the lines but did an observatory show that talked about the lines and Maria Reiche, a German woman who spent the majority of her life studying them. Her theory is that the lines were for astronomical purposes, some of them pointing to the horizon at the exact spot the sun sets or rises on the solstices. Some of the lines lead to water sources, mountain passes or served as ceremonial sites. Scientists carbon dated some ceramics and the lines were made between 200bc and 700ad. And the lines don’t fade away. It’s one of the driest places on Earth nor is there much wind. Their only enemy is the highway, which goes through the lizard shape and people driving on the lines. It’s now a protected area and from the highway it just looks like rocky desert. I heard that the lines weren’t discovered until well after they built the highway. One shape looks like an astronaut and another looks like an alien…so either the Nazca people were clairvoyant or they were the aliens. The world may never know…all I know is that I could never live in that place. Too dry for me.

So I hoped you learned something new because our time in Nazca was not very exciting. Lots of Euchre playing, cooking and eating.

Islas Ballestas, “the poor man’s Galapagos”

We tired quickly of sand dunes and desert so we headed north to Paracas, on the coast just south of Pisco. So we gained water,but it’s still desert. Our reason for coming to this town empty of anything to do except eat or buy seashell necklaces or swing on one of the 5 rusty swings in town is for the island tour.

Lonely Planet calls it the poor man’s Galapagos because
for $10 you get a 2 hour sealife tour (instead of $5000 to see the Galapagos for a few days). We could have seen the Galapagos but it would have cut our trip short, by, oh, 6.5 months. We bargained a little for the tour price (they started higher than they should have!) and joined a boat full of teenage British kids.

Poor Laura got really sick from the typical who knows what but she endured the boat tour and we saw Humboldt penguins hopping all over the place. We also saw blue footed Boobies, sea lions (and their nursery) and other birds I couldn’t identify. We saw a line on the tour just like the Nazca lines that was a cactus or an alien or a Hanukkah candle…no one really knows why or what these lines are, but they were neat.

That afternoon Laura slept while we toured the Paracas Reserve, which was basically a drive in the desert with some stops along the shore. I don’t think I’d do it again, but we saw a red sand beach and the guys swam a little while I watched kites dive for fish. The nicest thing about the whole tour was the visitor center (that didn’t seem too well visited). They had a huge conservation angle and weren’t afraid to have guilt-filled signs about not littering or eating turtle meat or harassing birds. It was wonderful. Litter is a big problem here and I haven’t really seen people NOT litter blatantly anywhere except touristy towns.

So go to the visitor center and see a sea lion skeleton and learn a little about conservation. If only they could teach this stuff more in the schools here…I get so angry watching people throw their wrappers out windows and parents catching pigeons in the plazas and letting their kids pet them (for real!). But, it takes time. Happy thoughts….penguins! They waddled all over the rocks and I wanted to hug one, but we didn’t get out of the boat (and I think that falls into the harassment category).