The Clips and Trips blog was put together in preparation for our leaving the U.S. on an indefinite world travel adventure which started around August of 2009 and returned us home in December of 2012. If you want to see where it all began, read our mission statement from before we left.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Lumpini Park is one of the largest parks in Bangkok's city center. We had been staying near it for the last week, but we simply used the park as a landmark to orient ourselves when wandering around Bangkok. We learned there was a public pool in the park. So, in an effort to keep cool, we walked over to check it out.
It's the average city park. It is clean and does provide many park activities for Bangkok residents. There's a pool, an outside weight room (like Muscle Beach), small manmade lakes, trees, exercising people, people pickinig under trees. Everything about it was what you would expect, except for the gigantic iguanas swimming and hanging out along the lakes edges. It was pretty alarming. I regret that I don't have a picture of it.
Thursday, August 20
Thank you so much for reading our blog and posting to it. It's so much fun to get internet access, see our blogs, and read your comments. It really means a lot to us to get to share our adventures and to feel connected with all of you.
Lots of Love
Atop the Banyan Tree Hotel on Sathon road in Bangkok, the Moon Cafe bar and restaurant is a must experience. It sits on the 63rd floor in the open air. Drink prices are outrageously expensive for Thai standards at $5 - $10 U.S. per drink, but it's definitely worth at least one. There was a crazy electrical storm in the sky while we were there. Luckily it was off in the distance and didn't produce any rain over head.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
We took a public river bus along the Chao Phraya as an economical river cruise -- price: 13 BT (38 cents). We got off at the N13 stop and walked around toward the Kao San Road area, which was where young tourists hang out. Everything was overpriced and westernized so we continued on wandering around and ran across a red shirt ralley (see video below).
The Red Shirts Are Coming!
We stumbled apon a red shirt rally. Tons of people pouring out of tour busses and just hanging out trying to find their friends, or slowly walking along the sidewalk. They weren't threatening or angry, just being there. Being a presence as participants was enough to express their political opinion.
We took the subway and then the skytrain from our new place in south Lumpini to the Chit Lom area where our course will be held so we could get a visual on it. The subway was incredibly clean and fast, and seemed to be 4 levels deep with different lines. It was very intuitive and easy to figure out how to use it. The skytrain was nice too, and it seems you may often have to use both systems to get to where you're going. Next we'd like to try the water transit system, as the canals look really cool too.
Inside one of the super malls we found a food court that blew our minds. It was so cheap and restaurant quality. We ordered a beautiful crab fried rice and papaya salad and watched while it was prepared fresh on the spot. They sold beer with an interesting tower option that was their version of a pitcher but had a tube down the middle for ice and a dispenser tap.
The area reminded me a lot of Times Square in New York. Mega glitz and electronic video-advertising jumbo-trons all over the place. Many ultra high rise buildings with first rate architecture. What was striking was the economic disparity in the area. You had extremely high end shopping plazas right next to people living in what looked like condemned buildings.
August 18, 2009
I don't know why, but mosquitoes love me, and they especially love my eyelids. Anytime my family was in the Philippines, I'd get bitten on my eyelid while I was sleeping. My eyelid would puff up so much that I wouldn't be able to see. My family is accustomed to seeing me like this; they just laugh at me when this happens.
So, here I am in Thailand, and I'm finding that Thai mosquitoes love my eyelids too. Despite the hot weather, I slept in long pants and a t shirt. Any exposed skin was attacked by what I suspect was one mosquito that had been buzzing around the room. It bit me several times on my forehead, once in between my eyebrows, and of course, on my left eyelid. All the bites became swollen. My forehead looks like a Klingon's forehead, and my eye looks like Quasimodo. Eric affectionately nicknamed me Klingmodo.
** Note: I'm not winking in the above photo.
I've never really given much thought to the fact that Eric and I are an interracial couple. No one in San Francisco ever stares at us. Then, we get to Bangkok, and I'm suddenly aware of eyes constantly on us. Since everyone here thinks that I'm Thai, I'm guessing that people are thinking one of three things:
- Eric's a sex tourist, and I'm his rented Thai girlfriend
- I'm Eric's mail order bride
- Eric's an ex-pat and I'm his Thai girlfriend
This old Thai man, saw us in the mall and started speaking to me in Thai. He pointed to me and Eric, and actually gave me a thumbs up. I'm not sure what to make of that. Does that mean, "Good for you girl - You've got a farang to pay your bills" or was the thumbs up intended for Eric? He could've been congratulating us because we make such a handsome couple, but I highly doubt that.
Even the expats are confused. Yesterday, an English expat asked where we were from, and asked if we were in a long term relationship because my English was excellent. He couldn't believe I didn't speak with a Thai accent. Even when I explained that I was born in California, a native English speaker, and my parents were from the Philippines, he still couldn't wrap his mind around my American accent. So, he finally understood when I said, "I'm from LA, I have a Californian accent."
Sometimes, I find myself making an effort to speak in the most perfect, clear English when in public. I don't know why it matters so much to me. I guess I see an older Caucasian man with a young Thai boy, and I think, "EW.." So, I don't want people to see Eric and I together and have the same thought. It's probably just the super, ultra sensitive, politically correct side of me that cares. Whatever the case, I'm getting a kick out of it.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
We expected it to be raining with intermittent thunder showers for the first 4 days in Bangkok but so far it's been dry, and by dry I mean unbelievably humid and very hot... but not raining. Yesterday was very sunny most of the day, while today is a little overcast but still very hot. We drink more water than you would believe in an effort to remain hydrated after sweating so much of it out.
Our first two nights were spent at a nice hotel in the Si Lom neighborhood, which turns out to have quite a bit of night life. In fact, when we first arrived at about 2am we were awake and decided to wander around for a while. We saw many people out and about well into 4am.
We had a full day of shopping yesterday for our next place to stay. We are looking for something a bit less expensive and saw everything from the very rank, to the possibly livable, to the well overpriced. We found some good options and are debating between 2 places now, which we'll stay in for only 2 or 3 days before finding another place closer to where our course will be held.
Our first morning we used a coupon we had for a complimentary breakfast at our hotel. The Japanese breakfast option looked the best, and it consisted of pork katsu, rice, strange pickled things, salty seaweed flake sheets, miso soup, and rice. While walking around we stopped at a street vendor for a bag of corn that had been cut fresh from the cob, and a bag of rambutan fruit.
Our first real Thai meal was at a small alley restaurant and we ordered green curry with vegetables, and shrimp with a basil and chili sauce. Both dishes were extremely spicy even for our normally spicy pallets.
This morning we had our first dose of street food -- tom yam seafood soup(which ended up having some chicken in it too), and stir fried mixed vegetables(which turned out to be a deep fried pork and onion omelet... um, language barrier). Both were very tasty. We were also served unwanted cups of watery tea. We have been avoiding unbottled or unboiled water. We took a few sips, I'll let you know.
We had heard to stay away from the wild dogs around town. They are all over the place and look pretty mangy, but they seem to keep to themselves. We also see a lot of wild cats that don't look too healthy either. No mosquitos so far, and a very few but really large and fast beetles from time to time rush past in front of you on the sidewalk.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Having to go to the Thai Consulate in Los Angeles, I feared the worst. I anticiapted long lines, lots of confusion, and lots of questions relating to our stay in Thailand. So, we went early. Turns out it was easy - no questions, no long lines, no confusion. We walked in, dropped off our application and passport, and came back the following day to pick up our visa. I doubt that business is done so efficiently in SE Asia. But, who knows, maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. I do love surprises.