Thursday Market (aka How Easily I Get Distracted By Food)

 Back the States we used to love taking the kids to the international supermarkets. At home we would open up our shopping bags and wonder what kimchee flavored dumplings were going to taste like, or sample some crazy kind of potato chip. It was always a little adventure.

Silly, I know. But it is my firm belief that stepping outside your boundaries, even just one small step at a time, will reward you each and every time. Trying something new, even if you don't like it, is rewarding because you can at least say you tried. I feel sad when I hear of people who turn their noses up at sushi or something like that without ever trying it.

Nine times out of ten, I do something or taste something new and marvel, "Why have I never had this before!"

Take last week, for instance. Phil picked up some fermented clams at a shop and wanted to try them. One whiff of them and I balked. No, I made a flat-out "EWWWWW"face and took three steps back. No way, I thought. Let Phil try it, there is no way.

In the end, I tried them and liked them. Disgusting, you might say, but now I'm ready to try fermented fish. Supposedly its delicious.

I also went to the Thursday Market and chose a few savories, not knowing at all what I was buying. If you head down Thanon Asok thursday mornings, you can browse a fantastic outdoor market. Its the usual market goods; Old Navy clothing, kitchen and housewares, accessories and cheaply-manufactured toys. I did grab some adorable headbands and goodies for my nieces. But then. Behold.

On either side of the market are the food stalls. And OH.



The food is amazing.

There was a stand entirely dedicated to jellies and treats. There was this curious pink stuff.

I wasn't entirely brave enough to buy any.

But I almost grabbed a 20 baht bag of this chili paste. I think that's what they had-it was fishy, and spicy, and mixed with dried shrimp which is usually a very good sign indeed.

If you are there on an odd week, you might be lucky enough to grab a few cakes from Tippee Bakery. I definitely recommend the orange and chocolate cakes. We also had the blueberry, but being a new englander it just didn't satisfy my craving for maine blueberries.

There were dumplings, sausages, every kind of yummy you could imagine.

I snapped a photo of this lady wrapping up her french toasts, and she wasn't too happy. So I bought one-WOW. There was ham, cheese AND something sweet in there. I just love how the thais do that. Next time I try the tuna!

By the time I made it to the second aisle, my arms were full. Bags of broth, vegetables, curry and cakes-I wanted to get more but it was time to head home and start sampling them all.

Again, I think being adventurous is so rewarding and another benefit of living in Bangkok is the variety of food we can try. There are so many dishes, that I don't think I've bothered ordering pad thai. And much to our maid's amusement, we have acquired all the tools to already make sticky rice and som tam at home. It rounds out every meal-all you need is sticky rice and some spicy som tam and you are in heaven!

But I digress....thursday market, good stuff cheap, headbands.
I'm hungry now, gotta run.

Buddha is On His Way a friend of mine who needs a little extra support. I know a lot of people going through hard times, and hopefully will get around to sending a little Dharma Drop to them all. But one at a time. And this pack needs a little something, so I'm off to go shop the back soi and pick up some amusing or thai goodies.

Rock Stars on the Floating Market

This shot pretty much sums up how the boys are received wherever we go in Thailand, so far. (Note adoring fans in background.) We could be in the greatest tourist attraction, yet our boys still seem to steal the show. For Nate, its a lot of fun. He "wai"'s like a native, and his manners cause people to grin widely and laugh. For Philip, the attention is disconcerting. He shies away and still doesn't know how to handle the stares and smiles, my sweet little man.

Saturday we hired a taxi down the street to take us to the biggest floating market near Bangkok. Still about two hours away, it was a pleasant ride. When we got to the pier we all took a little ten-minute walk to get a feel for the place. The drivers all push heavily for you to take a boat tour, and it seemed a little too involved for us-we are people who like to skip the tour and venture off on our own.

Besides, we wanted to make sure we got a taste of something cooking on these floating vendors before some tour guide whisked us away (to a cheesy vendor where the guide gets tipped for bringing in the gullible tourists, you know the deal.)
We flagged over this lady to grab a cheap bowl of rice and some fried chicken for a snack. Behind us on the pier was your typical maze of stalls with tourist trinkets and harem pants (the kind you see on all the backpackers that fool you into thinking they just stepped off a trek in Nepal.) Obviously, in order to see more, we were going to have to get ourselves a boat.

So that's what we did.

It turned out the boat tour operators were not a hard sell after all. We listened to the shpiel and then kindly asked them to skip the monkey place, the elephant ride, and the coconut farm. Since we're here for two more years, we would have plenty of time to do all of them, but with a toddler its wisest to tackle these adventures in small bites!

We hopped in a fantastic long tail boat, and the boys were thrilled to have it all to ourselves! And we took off through the canals. We passed the prettiest homes along the waterway, all of them up on stilts. After spending two months in the city, it was nice to see more traditional Thai homes.

When we got closer to the market, we did get a little bit of the push to buy from a few particular trinket vendors. After picking up just a few small souvenirs, we realized the prices were better at Chatuchak for the same exact things. So we pressed on.

This one stall was a true gem, however. We've often picked up sidewalk art on our adventures because they are really affordable, and fun to frame and hang as a reminder of where we have been. This was the floating market equivalent, so we chatted up with the artist and bought a few pieces to take home. I really want to keep them for ourselves, but come Christmas we may have to part with them and share them as gifts, they were so pretty. We shall see. I should be the good person and gift them, but they really caught my eye!

The floating market was crushed with tourists and vendors by the time we got there. As hectic as it was, it was still relaxing for us as we could sit back in our vessel, pick up a snack or two, sip from a coconut, and bask in the aromas of fish or sausage be roasted.

Our oarsman was a great guy, and kept smiling the whole way, even when we found ourselves in a floating traffic jam. The only stress we encountered was keeping the boys' fingers inside the boat, or from having to juggle pomelo slices while taking pictures!

Outside the market, a lot of people still transport their goods on the waterway. Fruits and food were being sold door to door. Coconuts were carried to the market, not only for the tourists because every house we passed had mounds of coconut hulls on the ground outside.

The only stop we had requested was to the Wat, so onward we went. Philip loved speeding down the canals, and insisted on riding in the very front the whole time.

I especially enjoy going to the Wats, as they rely a great deal on the contributions from tourism. So they are welcoming to outsiders, children, and anyone curious as long as you are respectful. They are also very beautiful, usually in colors and gold.

We bought offering bowls to contribute when we got there, and each of the boys had a chance to drop coins in the offering bowls. They rang the bells of course. Philip and I stepped up the the Buddha statue and lit incense out of respect.

On the way out we could buy pellets to feed the fish, so the boys were entertained by that too. Again, you gotta love Buddhist reasoning-buy some fish food, hey its good for the fish, and brings good luck for you! Sure, why not? Its hard to argue with that.

We had a fun ride back to the pier, and decided to head back home. Both the boys were exhausted, and it was getting near that four-PM-downpour-time. Turns out this trip was a winner with the kids, and we will most definitely come back.

But, again, we'll skip the monkeys.

The Amulet Market

Or also known as "When Things Don't Go Your Way."

Yesterday we mapped out an intricate plan to get into city, tour the Grand Palace, and see the Emerald Buddha. It involved taking a train, switching onto one going in almost the opposite direction, taking a shuttle down the Chao Phraya river, and then going back again. So, the first part of this excursion went just fine: we got on the right trains, and the right express boat. The problem was that this was H.M. the Queen's birthday, and as such, the Palace and all its grounds were closed to the public. Oops.

So we strolled past Wat Maharat and took a left. And there, parked on the sidewalk, were the amulet vendors.
Sooo cool. I had hoped to visit the amulet market sometime, so yesterday was as good a day as any.

Men and women had all varieties of amulets laid out on the sidewalk, prices clearly market. No haggling required, as most of them cost less than two dollars. So we knelt down next to the people examining them with magnifying lenses. The boys selected a few for their treasures and keepsakes.

Then we strolled a bit further, and as we reached the corner it began to rain. We ducked into this covered alley that made me feel like we were in some kind of backdrop from The King and I.

And another mystery corner later, we were eyeballs-deep in the amulet market. All sorts of pendants, tokens, cases for amulets, and amazing antiquities made of bronze and clay and ivory! Absolutely Indiana Jones, people.

Hidden behind those decrepit buildings along the Chao Phraya are the most fascinating shops filled with rows of Buddhas, religious staffs, masks, gems with supposed powers, and people poring over them to find something special.

Some are molded with the images of special monks who underwent life-changing experiences, their skills supposedly to be endowed into the talisman, and therefore bringing success and fortune to the bearer. Others bear the image of a specific Buddha, like the reclining Buddha. And then there are a great many of Ganesha and other gods and symbolic animals.
I love the ones the boys chose, and now we have quite the collection.

Like this one of Ganesha that N picked out. Pretty cool, since we had quite a few boat rides yesterday, and learned so much from our mystery tour...

Another Buddha Hits the Road

My apologies if this one isn't shown in great detail, but I don't want to give away who the recipient(s) shall be! But we made a special trip last weekend to Chatuchak Market to fill this Buddha box, and I really enjoyed selecting odds and ends to fill it. All of it overseen by the serene face of Buddha, whose hint of a smile even reminds me of the person I am sending it to this week. But stay tuned, maybe at some point I should share with you who I keep sending these Dharma Drops to, and gather a few of their responses to share. What do you think?

I think I should share some Awesome and Awkward Moments of the past week. Since there are always a lot to pick from:


1. I look forward to Mondays, no, I LOVE Mondays now because our housekeeper/nanny/cook comes back on Mondays, and her cooking is PHENOMENAL.

2. There is the possibility that we may adopt while we are here. It is one of my heart's deepest desires. I can barely type it, for fear its not possible. But it may be.


1. Taking a little stroll down Soi 9 1/2 or something and finding ourselves in a mini Soi Cowboy situ. Ladyboys. Yes, ladyboys flirting with our little boys. Kept our cool and kept on going.....

Its starts out nice, with a few restaurants and bars. but next thing ya know.....

2. I keep trying to pay the gardener, but he keeps bringing my money back! I don't speak Thai, so I don't know why. When I ask the other residents what his pay plan is, they really don't know either. But I feel foolish anyways.

3. So, I have a job interview tomorrow. Great great great, except all but a few casual outfits of mine aren't going to arrive here for quite some time. I could get a suit made in two days, but I'm out of time. So I am going to stride into that interview dressed in nothing but my self confidence. har har.

Thankful Thursday

The day, yesterday.

The place, Funarium on Sukhumvit Soi 26 or other, Bangkok, Thailand.

Khun Kookai and I took the boys over to the fabulous Funarium. Much fun was had.

But now its Thursday, and on thursdays I like to reflect on what I am thankful for. And I like to get pretty specific. So this thursday I am thankful for the gift of laughter, because its easy to stop laughing. Life can get to you that way.

There is something healthful in laughter. It does something to you, if you realize how much you need it. I do. There have been times when our home hasn't had a lot of lightness. It got a little sad and dark at times. And heavy. I don't like heavy. I think the greatest mistake people make sometimes is overthinking things. So I try to keep lightness in my life.

And then the kids came along.

Now there's a lot of laughter. Sometimes you get serious about things that don't really matter, and I know it could happen easily to any of us. Dishes get dropped, walls get scratched, I don't know.....

But we are lucky. There's a lot of lightness and laughter in our home, and not a lot of heaviness. And for that, I am