This Is My Happy Place

I have to say, it’s not always balls, events, and beach paradise here. My love of Thailand comes and goes in waves, and sometimes comes totally crashing down (just briefly) now and then. I get sick of the traffic, the smell, or the humidity. Sometimes I get tired of being nice about everything, despite things not turning out the way I want.
You really have to get used to receiving a “reasonable facsimile” of things. The food, the clothes, the groceries... That’s why you hear of a lot of people getting deliveries from Target, Walmart, or Amazon every week. I don’t, because I try to enjoy what Bangkok has to offer.
Most of the time I can enjoy “neerios” or having my hair dyed blond-ish, or wearing shoes that looked nice but fell apart in just a few weeks. Sometimes I can’t.
Last weekend I got sick and tired of “same-same.” When it happened I wanted to have a toddler-style tantrum. There was the danger of tears. And it was about soup. Just soup. But the soup I got for lunch was not the soup I ordered, nor the soup in the photo, and that was the last straw. No more same-same, I wanted to go HOME.
It being close to the birthday of the U.S.M.C., there are a lot of unhappy faces walking around the Embassy due to same-same issues as well. Last year I was right there with them, so I totally sympathize. A year later, however, you get used to the fact that the dress you requested from the tailor and the dress you dreamed of in your head are going to be some degree different from the dress you finally get. It’s better to find what you like about your formal dress and focus on that, but when you’re new to this culture it can be a huge disappointment. And you’re not supposed to show displeasure or anger here publicly. It’s a big No-NO.
My advice, however, is to be happy! And if it makes you happy to part with cultural norms and voice your displeasure, decide you don’t want the dress, or send the soup back-do it! Because it’s better to let your feelings out rather than simmer with the frustration of same-same! Grrrrr.
On a more cheerful note, before I was given the soup, we rambled down Sukhumvit Soi 49 so I could find my happy place: the Big Knit Café.
This place is heaven-it’s different from the yarn shops I’m used to, but it’s also cheerier. It invites you to actually sit and stay awhile! You could actually stay a very long while, because they serve coffee, western food, thai food, and pastries. So there you have it. When I get close to another same-same meltdown, just drop me off here for a few hours and problem solved.

How To Spend Chulalongkorn Day

Its such a treat to have an extra round of holidays added to our work schedule, thank you foreign service life! Last year they would catch me totally by surprise, and I wouldn't have a clue until we were dressed and waiting for little P's bus. When it didn't arrive, I would double check the calendar and discover it was some Thai holiday that I couldn't pronounce. This year we are really more cautious, and it helps to be working too, so I'm aware of our breaks from work or school, which don't always collide! But oh well..
So Chulalongkorn Day fell on a wednesday, which made some people groan because they couldn't go away for a long weekend, but that doesn't bother me at all. Between our busy social life and our all-encompassing work life, I'm just grateful for any day at all that we can spend with the boys. Like peddling around a park for a few hours.
We packed up some water and went back to Wenchirabenchatat Park (a.k.a. Rot Fair Park) since the heavy rains have finished, and Bangkok has quickly dried itself off and bloomed anew. We rented two bikes from a young man who reeked of whiskey for 20baht each, and enjoyed the sunshine and gentle breeze.  I like to think of Bangkok as the land of the eternal summer, and even though I was born and raised in multi-seasonal New England, I don't see any sign of myself getting tired of the heat. In fact, I don't ever want to feel cold again-its wonderful to wear light clothes all year, run when you want to, hop in the pool when you want to, or slip on some sandals and run errands when you want to. When I'm ready to bundle up, shovel snow, or rake leaves again I'll let you know.

But don't hold your breath.

After riding bikes, visiting the butterflies, and stopping for a lunch of grilled chicken and sticky rice, we packed up and went home for a break and then planned a family dinner at someplace completely different: Bangkok Seaview Restaurant. I'm still not sure why they call it that, as the trip took us almost 40 minutes outside of Bangkok, but it doesn't matter. What does matter is that this time I picked a winner (unlike the samurai-robot-sushi-bar).

We invited Khun Kookai, because hello, she loves to go on foodie adventures too! And after driving past dozens of roadside seafood restaurants that were beckoning us to stop, we came to the dock for our final destination. Here, you have to buy tickets for their shuttle, as the restaurant is not accessible any other way. Mission accepted!

Then, we hopped on the water shuttle and, as the sun started to set, began a leisurely trip through the waterways where you could see people fishing, living, and relaxing. As the sun hit the water, we arrived. The restaurant was a large stand-alone structure in the middle of nowhere!
So we stepped off the shuttle and selected our table, excited about the meal to come. There were prawns, scallops, mussels, fish, crabs! Fried, steamed, broiled, anyway you like it! No chicken. No pork. No steak. This was strictly seafood. I was in heaven.

But the waitress delivered the devastating news.

They were out of fish.

I know. We glanced over the side of the restaurant, and considered asking for a rod & reel. To come so far, by car then boat...and no fish. At a strictly seafood restaurant. As we grilled (a-ha) the waitress: "Grouper?" no. "Blue fish?" no "Snapper?" no, we could not hide our disbelief, but it was pretty funny too. Then she interjected-they did have a whole deep fried grouper with spicy fish sauce. I almost jumped over the table to tell her we'd take it. The last fish, I repeat, at a seafood restaurant. And it turned out to be so. damn. good. We feasted anyways-on blue crab in a sweet curry sauce, fried rice, grilled prawns, mixed seafood salad, until we couldn't eat anymore and were one of the last tables remaining.

As lighting flashed in the distance, we stumbled back onto the shuttle boat and enjoyed the lights glimmering on the water as we rode home (and got a cute souvenir family photo for just 100 baht!). I definitely can't wait to go back and in just a few weeks my parents will be here, so we can bring them! I just hope next time they don't run out of fish.....