Well the hubs and I had a mission today in the name of Christmas: Find the Harley-Davidson shop in Bangkok. We'd been warned that this was not the easiest place to find so we figured asking the girl at the front desk of our apartment building to write down the address in Thai would help.
Yeah, see this picture here? This is where the cab driver dropped us off. Beautiful, yes. The Harley-Davidson shop? No.
By some twist of fate, there happened to be some British guy at the temple, wearing a Bob Marley shirt (so we figured we all had at least one thing in common) and talking with a bunch of Thai people who happened to know great English. Five minutes later and we were armed with new directions.
I'm not sure I even understand WHY there's a Harley-Davidson shop in Bangkok, other than for the sake of novelty, but here it is. Harleys are about the least practical kind of motorcycle for the traffic here. Bikes need to be small enough to weave in between traffic (yes, that means while you're sitting at a stop light there are people on scooters and small motorcycles weaving through traffic...you get used to it) and Harleys are just too damn big.
Anyway, we found the shop, which is in BFE. And left several thousand baht behind as we left armed with Christmas gifts. The hubs went to check the tag on the shirts, to see where they were made (since everyone jokes that everything is made here and sold everywhere).
Yeah. Made in Mexico.
Well, if you know me, you know I'm not the biggest shopper in the world. Yeah I like a nice handbag and a cute dress as much as the next girl, but I don't spend my days window shopping like Holly Golightly. It's too depressing. Plus most of the time I'd rather spend money on something more practical. Like a tattoo.
Today was the exception. I was hellbent on having a "girls" day of sorts with my friend Amanda (one of the other "wives" here that's leaving in a few months, which makes me very cross because she's fantastic) and that we did. Most of our day was spent in retail heaven. We scored great gifts for friends, had coffee, great food, lots of laughs and normal conversation. It was necessary.
Then we went to the nail salon/massage parlor and things got a little nuts.
There was a shitload of giggling going on while we were getting our nails painted and we figured it had something to do with this woman that had just gotten tattooed eyeliner done. Yeah. We were right. Apparently she wanted eyelash extensions but that was lost in translation. Instead she got eyeliner tattooed to her face. She was yelling "pain..pain!" but the woman doing the tattooing had no idea. So she continued and sure enough. This lady was left with permanent eyeliner and short eyelashes. Ooops.
Once the smoke cleared, we started talking about something, and I was singing the "Misfits" song from "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Suddenly laughing was no longer permitted and we were SHUSHED. WELL!!
And oh yeah, while we were in Starbucks, the cashier told me he loved me. Whatevs. Maybe that means something else here. Like "free coffee", WHICH I DID NOT GET.
So, the hubs and I have been in Thailand for nearly four months and have yet to hit up the Hard Rock Cafe in Bangkok. Yeah, I know it's kind of a touristy thing to do but shit. It's not like we're long-time residents of this country. Sometimes it's fun just to do the obvious, if that makes sense.
Anyway, if you're visiting or living here and haven't gone yet, you should go. It's neat. It's not like I need to go back there anytime soon but I knocked a few gifts off my shopping list and got a groovy glass for free with my non-alcoholic fruity drink.
The worst part about this trip was walking from the BTS stop to the restaurant. We took a BTS exit further away then necessary and we had to walk through a shit storm of people shopping for stupid t-shirts and cheap shoes. My claustrophobic tendencies were not happy.
Clearly Bangkok doesn't understand how wonderfully drugs and rock-n-roll go together.
Yeah. This was an Absolut "Vodka Garden" we spotted near Siam on our way home. I guess these pop up when the weather gets cooler, though I'm not sure I'd consider 89 degrees jacket weather. These gardens feature nightly concerts and huge towers of Absolut vodka for 900 baht. Why do I have to be pregnant right now.
A friend of mine observed that the bun (aka RABBIT) statues in this country have a very Tim Burton-ish feeling to them. I have to agree. And the buns aren't the only thing. The Christmas trees here are the same way. Everything has this creepy cartoonish/dark quality to it. I'm pretty sure this is not on purpose.
Anyway, here's a very fancy bun I spied from the BTS station. He likes Hermes. So do I.
Here's more I spied from inside the BTS. This appears to be the makings of a small bun army. WATCH OUT, THAILAND. I'm guessing a bun brigade could really fuck some shit up in this country.
This is just your everyday, ordinary, blue Christmas tree. I guess I shouldn't expect authenticity from a country that doesn't even technically celebrate the holiday. Plus, my own Christmas tree is pink, so what the hell am I bitching about.
Well, let me tell you what it's like celebrating Thanksgiving in Bangkok. It's like being in the tropics, surrounded by a bunch of people who have no effing clue it's Thanksgiving, with no Macy's parade on the TV. It's not very festive. All the same, this is the only holiday I get to spend with the hubs for awhile, so goddammit, we were going to find a Thanksgiving lunch somewhere.
And did we ever.
Of all the places, Sunrise Tacos (A MEXICAN RESTAURANT) was offering an all-day Thanksgiving feast for $15/person. The sad part? Someone else had to point out to me the irony in a Mexican restaurant in Thailand serving a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner.
This meal made me feel like I was at home. It was delicious and not just because it was familiar. It was really really good. As we were eating, I honestly forgot where I was for a moment. That happens sometimes. It's really weird.
Here's the apple pie I ordered. I couldn't eat it so the hubs had two pieces of pie. He's currently in a food coma.
Well I guess they don't do cornucopias in this country. Whatevs.
This is the Santa Claus pinata we bought at Sunrise Tacos. He got a little impatient waiting for the BTS Skytrain. Threw his ticket on the ground and everything. The hubs had to hand it back to him.
You should've seen the looks this thing got. Apparently you don't see shit like this every day.
Yeah. This is a large Easter bun next to an egg carriage and a Christmas tree, outside the Emporium Shopping Center, where we had lunch.
I don't get it either.
Unless you're pretty clueless, you've probably picked up on the fact that Thailand is not my favorite place on Earth. It's not just the medical care either...I guess it's just everything. The lack of freedom, the fact that I'm treated well because I'm white with a wallet, the lack of clean air, water, streets, and food...It's hard...there's people here on a short-term basis also working for my husband's company and it seems to be one huge vacation for them. That's not the case when you know you're here for years. Jetting off somewhere each weekend just isn't realistic or financially feasible when you're living your REGULAR life here. It's interesting to see how our experiences are so varied. For me, Thailand is just another place to live, not some exotic paradise.
You know, I've dreamt a million times about the day when I'd get to come back to the states, even if just for a visit. But I'm pretty sure no dream had circumstances like these. I'm going home alone, for months, and spending several significant holidays away from my husband. As excited as I am to see my family and friends...it's all very bittersweet for me. Couple that with the fact I'm staying with my parents, the same parents that pretty well turned their back on me for 7 months out of this year and let's just say...going home makes me nervous. I'm assuming they'd like to think I just forgot about the part where they skipped my wedding and told me I wasn't part of the family anymore. But yeah. Shit like that sticks, doesn't it? Of course, now I'm having their only grandchildren and all is right with the world! Anyway, clearly I'm harboring some resentments that will probably rear their ugly head while I'm in labor.
Of course, at the same time, I want to see them. And my friends. But dudes. I've grown accustomed to this life here. That's not the same as loving it, mind you. But all the same...I've adapted. For the past few years, I've not spent more than four or five months in one place and I was hoping for once I could make a home SOMEWHERE for a little while. Now suddenly I'm being uprooted again and I guess I'm feeling a little lost. I've finally gotten used to the weather, the access to food, getting around, driving on the effed up side of the road and now...BAM! I'm back to "normal" life. And then once I get used to that, I have babies, and then I come back to THIS.
Anyway, I know a lot of my friends are excited to see me and the feeling is mutual in probably 99% of the cases. But at the same time, I'm feeling overwhelmed. I know it'll be "ok" because trust me, after the shit I've been through, this is nothing. I'm sitting here staring at my suitcases though, and realizing that the next time I'm sitting here (after a week or so) is when I'm back here with two little babies. Yikes.
On a lighter note, this is the view I had on my walk to Starbucks today. You can't tell so much from this picture, but this man was wearing actual boxer shorts with a button down shirt, a fanny pack, white tube socks, and loafers. He gives white people a bad name.
When I first moved to Thailand, my intentions were to run the Bangkok Marathon. That idea sorta downgraded itself to a half-marathon after about two days of the heat and humidity in this country. And then it downgraded itself again to a walk once I found I was pregnant with twins.
I figured I was living in Bangkok so participating in a race in the same city I lived in would be easy enough. Yeah....FAIL. Bangkok is like NYC on steroids. The packet pickup spot didn't have an address on it. The hubs and I honestly searched for two hours yesterday, trying to find something we could tell a cab driver other than "Royal Thai Army Club." Because that wouldn't get us anywhere.
Well we figured that shit out, and were up at 5 a.m. today to head out for the race. This was the first time I've hailed a cab in a road where there was no traffic dangerously close to running me over. Our destination was the Grand Palace, where the King lives (somewhere). It's pretty much the equivalent of running a race outside the White House. Except for that the White House is functional and not made of gold.
We got there and HOLY SHIT. What an absolute cluster. I've never seen such chaos. People didn't seem clear on where they should be or which race was starting when. All I remember was the terrible dance routine performed by people dressed as cooks and airline stewardesses to a song called, "I love Bangkok."
Once the "race" started, I soon realized I was the only person not interested in a photo opportunity or checking my makeup every two minutes in a hand mirror. I was blowing past people like crazy. I get the feeling Thai women don't enjoy sweating so much.
Fast forward to the finish, and I had one thing on my mind. MEDAL. I was standing in line when suddenly some Thai person stood on a table, shouting something and holding up a shitload of McDonald's coupons. I figured out that they were shouting something about being out of medals. WELL SCREW THAT SHIT. I didn't do all of this for no medal. So as we were walking away, I saw a table with a few medals left and just grabbed one. What crap. Sorry! No medal for you but have some McDonald's coupons instead. That's not how I roll, mothalickas.
Well this time, last week, I was waxing the poetic about the fantastic haircut and dye job I got at Panipa. I think I spoke too soon. The day after, and pretty much every day after that (including today), my hair has been dripping bright red hair color each time I wash it. The floors in the bathroom and kitchen resemble 50 year-old crime scenes. Next time I'll just stick to the haircut.
"Next time" won't be for awhile. I'm headed back to the states. Check out the other blog for more info on that. I hate repeating myself.
This return will certainly confuse a few ex's in my life that may otherwise not know what the hell is going on. SCANDAL!
In other news, I finally got my wish. WATER DELIVERY. Which sort of didn't go according to planned at all. I should not be surprised. As I've mentioned, drinking water from the tap is not advisable in Thailand. So, every time you want a glass of water, it's gotta come from a bottle. This doesn't sound annoying until it's your reality. Running out of bottled water means you don't drink water again until you go and buy some.
So we called up "Sprinkle", a water-delivery company here in Thailand, and set up delivery service. We thought we'd get those 18.9L bottles since they look cool in those water-cooler machines. Like we live in The Office. Sprinkle told us they'd be here in the afternoon on Friday.
They arrived at 8:30 a.m. The hubs had just gone to bed (he's working nights) and I'm on the elliptical downstairs when suddenly i see the Sprinkle truck pull up. I knew this was for us. And SHIT. I had no clue what was supposed to go down so I had to wake up the hubs.
They brought in three bottles and this pump thing. The picture you see here is not our system, because this one appears to function. First, we were expecting a cooling system with these things. Otherwise shit like...keeping the water cold...seems challenging. Second, we figured we'd just use the pump and fill some large containers with water and keep those in the fridge. Third...the men delivering the water spoke no English so we couldn't even ask about this.
Well we eventually got batteries for the pump, only to find it doesn't work. So we have three 18.9L of water in our house , yet we're still buying water because we can't get this shit out.
We called over the weekend to report the problem, only to be told we needed to call back. Then we call today and they need to call us back with a "time" in which they'll come and fix the pump. Eventually we're told it'll be "sometime before noon." Yeah. The hubs observed this is just like the cable guy shit in the states.
Well the time had come. I moved to Thailand three months ago, swearing I'd never get my haircut by anyone other than my fabulous stylist back in Eau Claire. I figured I'd just grow my hair out and do the whole "ponytail mom" thing until we moved back home. WHICH WE WILL. But dudes. I have thick, curly hair that kinda looks like shit once it starts getting long. I need someone to trim up there, or whatever the hell it is that's done. Otherwise the sides get really heavy and it's a DISASTER! Yes. I know this is absolutely fascinating.
I consulted my handy "Bangkok Guide" and found this place only about 20 minutes (on foot) from our house called "Panipa." I can't remember this name for the life of me and have had to look it up three times now in the writing of this post. Anyway. I decided I couldn't deal with my hair any longer so today was the day I was gonna take the plunge. It sounds stupid but I was absolutely terrified to have my hair cut here. I didn't know how well the people would be able to speak English or cut "Western" hair.
I get there and the door is effing locked. Yeah. It's one of "those" places. I had to ring a doorbell. I must've passed inspection since someone let me in. I walk through the door and the whole place just turns to stare. Then I sit down and tell them what I want done (they actually knew excellent English and got what I meant when I said, "Yeah I want it stacked up in the back and bobbed down on the sides. And also I want it very red." But they must not get a whole lot of curly-haired women in there. EVERY single woman who works in there had to come by and touch my hair and mumble something in Thai which I approximated to mean, "Who's the sorry SOB who has to deal with that mop?" And they kept asking me, "PERM?" NO! Then I think they wanted to give me "another perm." For chrissakes.
Then I told them the hair color I wanted and I thought they were all gonna flip. They're like, "You want to go that dark of red. ALL OVER YOUR HEAD?" Yes! I do!
Then one woman rinses my hair, another woman brushes my hair, yet another woman brings me coffee, and finally someone comes over to cut my hair (you can understand why I was puzzling as to how in the hell I would tip for this shit). I actually love the cut. I assumed this same woman would be coloring hair, but nope! Wrong again. THREE different women came over, put a base red in my hair (yes three women were putting color in my hair at once....it was effing chaos) and then they blow dryed the shit out of it for like 15 minutes. Until I almost had to say....HEY. STOP. MY SCALP IS BURNING HERE. Then they put another color on it and let me sitting there, without saying a word, for 40 minutes. Then someone else rinses my hair, and yet another woman comes over to "style" me. I don't have my glasses on so I don't know what the fuck is going on. Half an hour latter, I put my eyes back on and see that I temporarily have perfectly straight hair. I hardly recognized myself.
On the way home, some Thai guy looked at me and said, "Cool!" So I guess it looks alright.
Well if you know me, you're already well aware of my problems with directions. Or maps. Or pretty much getting around. I used to have to print Mapquest directions for both ways, whenever I went somewhere. Which pretty much involved every trip to Minneapolis. Anyway, my challenge today was to find the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center. This involved the sky train, with an interchange to another sky train. The hubs and I had done this together but I had never gone alone. Today was the day.
I was hoping for a great "I got lost" story but no. I DIDN'T. I'm pretty sure I stood next to the Jersey Shore boys on the sky train but maybe Bangkok makes it own Italian guidos.
Well, the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center is pretty cool. I'm not going to pretend that I LOVE art and museums and shit like that. But I do love free admission and going on adventures. This place is pretty tolerable too. A lot of the art was pretty accessible (meaning it wasn't abstract shit I didn't understand) and I'd guesstimate you could tour the place in about an hour. They had a film festival going on too, but I needed coffee. Not French cinema at 2 p.m.
I have no idea what this is about but I really dig it. I'll post the rest of the pics from my visit in the gallery. There's some really beautiful traditional Thai pieces.