Ten on Tuesday

So, this is MY Ten on Tuesday, which will be five things I love, five things I don't, all about (you guessed it) Bangkok. It might be fun to look back upon this list every now and then, as I am sure my views about this city will change. We are still so new to Bangkok, and every corner has something wonderful and new to discover. Maybe time will toughen us up a bit...

Oh, and I will share with you Nate playing pirate with his treasure.....

So things I love?
1. Food. Can't be beat, and if you go out to eat you can do it on the cheap. If we stay away from the places that look fancy, we spend less on a night out than we would making our own dinner. And generally, the less shmancy the restaurant looks, the better value you get of a meal. A winning formula, once you get the hang of it.
2. Fruit, or food part two. I'm sorry, but where have you been all my life, mangosteen and pomelo? Rambutan? And why is watermelon and pineapple and kiwi so much better here? It just is. Sorry America.
3. Being in a land of my fellow petites. A man actually called me "long legs" the other day! THAT is something I would have never expected to be called.
4. Colors. Everything here seems more vibrant or flambouyant somehow. Even the taxis are bright pink or red or yellow.
5. Having my right-hand woman, Kookai. She's totes awesome. Cooks fantastically, keeps our house in order, and the kids like her a lot. I was not going to go straight to the live-in situation, but now that we hired her I am so glad we did. She frees up ALL my time so I can enjoy our children more.

Not so much....

1. Humidity. Heat.
2. Soi dogs. The street dogs here, while there aren't too many, are unpredictable. So when you spot one, you must guard your children just in case. And Myles has to stay in our compound away from them.
3. Sidewalks, OH. MY. GOD. why do the women here wear heels everywhere? The sidewalks are crazy, I'm not kidding. And much of the time they are taken up by vendors, so you find yourself walking in the road. And they are really dirty. Uneven. And just rickety. But you learn to deal with it.
4. Tipping. Because its a total mystery here. There really is no tipping, unless you look around and people are tipping. But generally its not proportionate to the size of your bill at all-just a 20 baht note and you're fine. And really you don't tip in a taxi. But if you don't, you might just get a driver who expected that you would. Sheesh!
5. Cockroaches.

How To Identify a Sex Tourist

I might have promised a pictorial on the attire of Bangkok women, which at first thought would have been amusing. Except, once I thought about it, there is enough woman-on-woman hate in this world. And vituperating some very attractive women for wearing short skirts and platform heels really would only make me look like a very bitter jealous woman. And finally, I actually love the way they dress. This is a culture where if it feels good, or makes you feel good, you should go ahead and wear it. No thai woman has ever looked at what I wear in disgust or disapproval, so why would it do it to them? So if you were waiting for me to poke fun at how there is no 'fingertip rule' for skirt hems here, or such, it probably isn't going to happen because I might just join them because its so damn hot here!

But I can poke fun at men, can't I?

So, enter the subject of sex tourism. Because its pretty obvious here. I see it every day. Not prostitutes on the street, exactly, but the obvious fact that this place is heaven on earth for lonely men. Single women, well, you will become very unhappy if you come here and hope for ANY attention from the opposite sex. We can't hold a candle to the young women here, and if you have come to accept that (like me) you'll do just fine.

NOT a sex tourist.
NOT a cute Bavarian-themed pub.
Things aren't always what they seem here, and I've had to be very careful about that. A massage parlor may not be an ordinary massage parlor (although most of them, like the one that advertises "men on men" around the corner, are pretty straightforward). Karaoke is not, I repeat NOT, karaoke. Pubs that look oooooooohhh so cuuuuuuute may actually be a brothel, and not the kind of establishment for people like me. Exhibit A:

Can I have a beer and some atmosphere, hold the sex please!

To be honest, if a guy that has some trouble finding female company in the States wants to come here, all the more power to him. Its easy. Its not complicated. And the women are really pretty. But when they walk by me and the kids going down the street there is that split second of awareness on their faces. Like we are reminding them of what the rest of the world sees. Holding up that mirror for just a quick moment. I swear I don't give dirty looks, its not me!
Or maybe I eye-roll. I don't know.

So let me break it down for you. This is what I see EVERY DAY:

And upon closer look, this is why it is so conspicuous.

Note the chunky white dude. The outfit is practically the sex tourist uniform on Bangkok: sweaty shirt, flip flops, godawful plaid shorts. They may look different at night, but this is pretty much the day uniform.

Operation Dharma Drop

Its that time again! The third installation of "Operation Dharma Drop" is ready and packed up for shipping. I had a little bit of fun with this one, after the obvious Bhudda (one of my favorites so far) and a little pretty pashmina. The placemats are sold EVERYwhere here, but they add that little Thai flava' with those cute elephants.

I spotted this strange "Black Black" gum at the store the other day. Its made with coffe powder, hmm? Probably terrible, but what the heck. And then, for your dizziness, bug bites, and whatever ails you, please enjoy the Siang Pure Oil! With a face like that, why wouldn't you?

Just for fun, I leave you with a few shots from our street at night; my new favorite restaurant, Suk 11, where each table is adorned with a candle, batik covering, and complimentary bottle of bug repellent!

And then there's the VW drive-up bars. This cracks me up. They pull up after dark, set up the bar, turn on the neon lights and some dance music, and there ya have it. The boys like to stop and boogie once and a while.

Pratunam Market and a City View

Sooooo, when I signed up for a walking tour of the Pratunam Market, this wasn't quite what I expected. If you're looking for a tranquil market filled with stalls of thai silk, you will be greatly disappointed. If, HOWEVER, you are looking for a Halloween costume, like to collect tutu's, or are assembling a ladyboy dance troupe, this is where you want to go. Oh, and cheap school uniforms. Next to the schoolgirl costumes.

What confuses me is that there must be a huge demand for this sparkly stuff, because the market went on and on. And on. And on. And stall after stall had extraordinary costumes, sequin mini dresses, giant wings, and headdresses.

But we don't get out too much, so maybe we're missing that. I mean, looking for affordable childrenswear? I haven't had much luck unless we like the gangsta' look. But there is glitz and costumery anywhere you go. So I think we need to get exploring a little more in the evenings. Carefully.

Now, that's the look I'm going for!
Rumor has it, Sukhumvit Soi 11 is the place to be on Halloween, so there might be a little shopping trip back here for me sometime in the future. Why not? After all, I've never done the 'sexy pussycat' halloween shtick, or anything sleazy like that, so who would fault me for donning a pink wig and tutu just once?  We'll see.

After the walk-through, we each paid 300 baht to ride 83 stories up to the top of the Baiyoke Sky Hotel for a view of the entire city. Kindof cheezy, but worth the baht because I could finally take in how enormous Bangkok really is, yet in this little oasis right in the center of it all, we live. I can't tell you how lucky I feel!

Towards Chatuchak Market...

See if you can spot the embassy...

And in the center of this frame, yeah, that would be our neighborhood.

Welcome to Casa Rand

Please come in!

 So we are about to spend night #2 in our fantastic new home. It was not bad staying in the temporary apartment, don't get me wrong. I almost got a bit teary as we drove away, because the people there were so kind to us and the kids. But its time to move on, and settle into the home that will be ours on loan for just a few years.

So, come on in and I'll give you the Heather-version of the tour. I can tell you the boys really like having all the space, and they are going to enjoy the outside space even more.

There is not only a great pool with a kiddie pool that we share with only seven other families or so, but the street it TOTALLY gated off. Not to mention being in a safe little haven surrounded by high concrete walls and a solid gate that hides us way from the street? Well, my zombie lovin' soul is totally thrilled. Zombie apocalypse, bring it!

Phil says this area is the carport. And he plans on putting a car IN it. Now, I think its fabulous you can park under here, especially during the rainy season, but to me it just screams "patio!" and "party!" and "sangria time!" So the car is under discussion. I have priorities, people.

Closet!! Yes that's a flash, but behind it I am grinning ear to ear. Of course, there is nothing in there right now, but as soon as the lovely people in customs release our things I will be in heaven. (Our last house, the one we own and still love, has absolutely NO closet space.)

Then there is our room. Ok, more windows, tons of space. I would convert half this room to my sewing area, but there's an office room immediately off of this room as well! Someone up there loves me, I swear. So now I have a room to gather my Dharma Drop goodies, sewing and knitting, and keep it all out of my family's hair. And I think the sewing machine and my stuff are in customs as well.....

Which is really good, because I have a lot of sewing to do, before these rooms start to look like home. The furniture that is included is really nice, and its all very neutral. So we need color. Now.

The boys share a room. Not because we are awful parents and keep the best to our ourselves, but because the boys actually LIKE sharing a room. Bedtime is a gadzillion times easier with them together because they cooperate and entertain each other until they finally fall asleep.

HOWEVER, after watching Nate scale the bunkbed in two seconds flat, they were quickly disassembled into two regular beds. The hospital is really close, but I don't want to make that visit. Been there with a little brother *ahem*

They have a beautiful view too, not the usual city filth and alleys, but this pretty little house with a patio and garden. Not that they care. But as much as possible I have always liked having the curtains open, so that's a big plus.

Dining room table. Another first for us. We've always had just a little eat-in kitchen. I could really get used to this.

And finally, Nate making himself at home in the sitting area. WHERE IS MY UGLY GREEN COUCH? I thought this was standard issue! I actually feel a little left out, after seeing it in so many photos before. But how nice is this! Now we just have to keep the sticky fingers off it all, which happens more than I like to admit.

So, there you have it. Casa Rand. And I'm going to refer to these pictures as the "before" shots, because I'm sure by the time we are ready to pack up and move, its going to look drastically different! Can't wait for our stuff to get here, the bright quilts, the toys, the happy chaos that follows us wherever we go. This home is wonderful, but its too perfect for my taste. But all these shelves to fill, all those white walls to cover with our family and their smiling faces-it won't be long before we feel like its right.

And some friendly faces and laughter of friends would help a lot too!

Awesome and Awkward Moments

So, today I packed up the boys after breakfast and headed to the BTS (train) station. Being Monday here in lovely Bangkok, little Philip needed to get to his soccer camp.

We climbed the stairs and headed down the walkway towards the turnstiles. I looked down to scramble through my purse for our train passes, and when I looked up, people were like

I froze. Grabbed Nate's hand. Not a single person was moving, and they weren't making eye contact.
I was like

They were like

And for a split second I really though we were in "The Happening."

And then the train above us came to a stop, and in the quiet I could finally hear that they were playing the national anthem. It finished. Everyone resumed their walking.

I wiped the look of confusion off my face and took the kids to camp.

Awesome moments?
I'm packing our suitcases back up again to move to our HOUSE tomorrow.
We bought a NEW TV, for the first time ever. Splurge-o-rama! (not really, but it feels like it!)
Nathan snuggling up with me at 6am, cooing "mamaaaaaa" and falling back to sleep for another ten precious minutes.
Scheduling interviews for domestic/full time nannies. So. freakin. excited.

Heather Translates Thai: Friday Edition

My dumplings bring all the girls to the yard.....

I'm the luckiest 12 year old on the block....

Cockroach complex below....

And this one. I got nothin'

Coming soon, we explore the wonders of Thai street fashion, which is one of my favorite things about this city. All rules are out the window. Want to wear a cocktail dress to the office? No problem! And shoes are not shoes unless they have at least a two-inch heel. But first, I have to sneak a few pictures without offending anyone. But seriously, I love the clothing here. It doesn't hurt that I'm about the same size, give or take a few pounds, as the average woman. Or on an average day, Nate and I grab lunch at a street vendor: 35 Baht
Buy two adorable neon belts in the marketplace: 100 Baht
Cute sundress: 250 Baht

Grand total of lunch and mini-shopping spree? 385 Baht or $12.15 thereabouts

Take that Anthropologie. You own my checkbook no more!

Have a great weekend, all!

Temple of the Dawn

Thank you all so much for the great suggestions! I am leaning toward "Box o' Buddha" or the "Dharma Drop" since the alliteration makes them catchy. My alliterative genius totally failed me with the "Buddha Bomb" as I totally agree with the b-word being a very unfortunate choice. I mean, it is one of my die-hard rules to not use the b-word in many cases. Such as on a plane, a train, when speaking in regards to the London Olympics, and certainly on the internet. Using it on a weekly basis could get me on the wrong kind of most-watched bloglist, if you get what I mean. So its out, thanks to your help!

This adventure actually occurred over a week ago, but since my beloved has been all Watted-Out, I had to space our temple adventures out a bit. They are, however, my favorite part of Bangkok so far. There is something uplifting and powerful about being in a holy place. Like Wat Arun, the temples and shrines of this city feel like giant conductors of faith. People come here because they BELIEVE in something. Believe in a way that I don't yet fully comprehend, but I know it is channelled here through people. I love it.

We crossed the Chao Phraya for 3 baht (that's like ten cents) to land almost immediately in front of the temple, a most gorgeous structure consisting of this sky-high central prang, surrounded by four smaller prang and a small maze of pavilions.

 My favorites for sure were the guardians Tosakanth and Sahassateja, fearsome and gorgeously armored at the entrance. Around them were spread gorgeous gardens and fierce lion statues. But these giants were beautiful and terrifying, or terrifically beautiful?

We entered the main pavilion to discover the walls inside lined with these luminous golden Buddhas. I made sure the boys behaved respectfully, which they usually do. There's something about a holy place that usually puts them on their best behavior.  Ok, maybe the demons standing guard helped a bit too.



From a distance, the central prang appears grey or almost muddy in color, but up close it was extraordinary. Every inch was decorated with bright colors, shards of glass and porcelain put in the shape of flowers. More demons stood side-by-side around several levels of the spyre, like they were holding it up together.

After paying a very small fee, and checking that our clothes were appropriate, we got to see it up close. The Philips even climbed the steep stairs, while Nate and I took it in from below.

There were tears of apprehension, and I heard some cries of terror on the way down. But they did make it down safely. Phew.

We went on to visit another great Wat that same day, but I'll share that another day. For now.....


Introduction to Tinglish

Tinglish (also Thenglish , Thailish or Thainglish ) is the imperfect form of English produced by native Thai speakers due to language interference from the first language. Differences from native English include incorrect pronunciation, wrong word choices, misspellings, and grammatical mistakes.

Welcome to the first edition of Tinglish, according to yours truly. Before I launch into my pictorial of Tinglish from the past week, I have to explain the meaning of 'same same' or what I understand of it so far. 'Same same' is a really popular phrase here, usually popped in there to describe when something isn't exactly perfect or exactly what you wanted, but preeeeeetty much close enough. Most of the time, you should smile and accept it. Like the coke vs. pepsi obsession americans have? You should probably just get over it, because if you order a coke, you might just be given a pepsi. Or vice versa, because the rest of the world pretty much feels they are close enough alike. So don't be a bad farang. Just drink what they give you, because really, it IS same same. Just different.

So if you were rude enough to point out grammatical errors here, you'd sound pretty foolish. Because if you get the point being made, what's the problem? Same same.

I could be wrong, and will be sure to let you know, the longer we are here. But this is what I understand so far:

 KEEP in mind, you sex tourists!! You're not welcome here, and we hereby discharge you.
Oh, and No Foods Up. Got it? You get the point, so that's all that matters. Same same.

This one time, my belongings totally attacked me.
No? same same.

So there's a slight typo on our awning. I hope you are smart enough to figure out this is a chinese restaurant (not chiness) from the decor anyways, why order it fixed? That's costly and takes time, so...
same same.

And this one is not at all Tinglish, but just something that took a while to get used to. There is a hose beside each and every toilet I have visited. And its not for washing yourself (as this picture clarifies for any confused farang). Especially not feet-washing. Got it?

You should also know, paying 2 baht to use the toilet does NOT guarantee the washrooms contain toilet paper. (although they will be marvelously clean!) So carry some with you at all times. But don't flush it-we shall not get into that.

Put A Little Buddha In Your Life

I'm going WHERE??!
 Before we left Virginia I hatched this crazy idea of sending 'buddha-bombs' to our friends totally randomly. Just because. If anyone ever sent me a Buddha out of the blue, it would probably confuse me at first.

But then I would probably imagine the sender, some fantastic friend of mine with a quirky sense of humor. The geeky one who still thinks its funny to break out her robot moves in public. Or sings to herself out loud. Sound familiar to any of you? Well, that kind of friend might delight in sending random objects like carven buddhas, or personal hygeine products with undecipherable labels. Just for kicks.

So this week, the first buddha-bombs went out. And I REALLY need you all to suggest a better name for my buddha missives, because I'm just not a fan of calling them bombs. So suggest away. And beware, if I have your address or can locate you, one of these might be coming your way.

Tuk-Tuk created from a can of Singha. Keepin' it classy, people.
I have two years. And PLENTY of addresses.

The View From Here

The day after we hit JJ Market, I decided to steer the boys toward a more spiritual experience, although some might find shopping totally spiritual. I don't. So one long taxi ride later, we began to ascend the steps of the Golden Mount to Wat Saket. I have to admit, I think we were all a little timid about taking our first steps onto Buddhist territory-what to do, what to wear, how to be respectful- but it was all for naught. Buddhists, are, well Buddhist. So children can be children, noises can be made, and smiles were still boundless wherever we strode.

Gongs and bells were meant to be struck. Softly or loudly.

Young monks didn't mind our curious glances.

And children were welcome to enter the beautiful shrine.

The view was breathtaking, but the mild breeze was not enough after that climb.

There were some interesting practices going on, some which I had already read about, some that left me wondering. Like why people were pinning small bills to a line, and then writing on a long piece of red fabric. Or what it actually meant when visitors rang the bells, one by one, as they walked up the temple. I have to do some research...