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Last Hurrah in Bangkok

As I write this post wrapped in a fleece jacket sitting in a cozy cottage in Yorkshire looking out at the leaden skies, the sweltering heat of our last days in Bangkok seems a distant memory.  Our tans took all of 24 hours to fade, but at least we’ve been able to dump the mosquito repellant (although, against all odds, a mosquito seems to have hitchhiked in our luggage all the way to N. England)!

Our 3 1/2 days in Bangkok added yet another SE Asian city to my fave list and it was difficult leaving this part of the world behind. Although we were all excited to spend the Christmas holidays with family in England, in two and a half months SE Asia became home to us.

Jonathan had visited Bangkok a couple of times before but was absolutely staggered by the change in the past 15-20 years.  He kept exclaiming “This is just like Tokyo”.  We stayed at the all-suite In Residence in  Sukhumvit, which was an ideal, central location and adopted an attitude of low-key sightseeing, as the 95 degree heat wasn’t really compatible with lengthy touring days.  Once again, the super-modern, air-conditioned malls of SE Asia became our refuge.

Wat Pho

Zara’s ears perked up when she heard about the Temple of The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho (its official name is the tongue-twisting “Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram Ratchaworamahawihan”), as she still lamented our lost opportunity with the Big Buddha in Hong Kong.   We opted to travel to the temple via the super-efficient SkyTrain (which is actually listed as the #1 attraction in Bangkok on TripAdvisor, make of that what you may!) and a ferry on the Chao Phraya River, so getting there was half the fun.   The complex at Wat Pho was larger and more impressive than we’d expected and the 43 meter long Buddha lived up to Z’s expectations.

Jim Thompson’s House

After our Jim Thompson cottage-hunting adventure in the Cameron Highlands, I felt compelled to visit his official house in Bangkok and J graciously agreed despite having seen it 15 years ago. The house is a gorgeous teak house on the banks of a canal.  Photography was strictly prohibited for some unexpressed reason, but the setting was very serene and the house tastefully decorated with his art collection.  Z took it upon herself, however, to make it very clear how tedious guided tours can be for children.  A highlight of the visit was watching them spin the silk in the courtyard before the start of the tour and we wrapped up our visit with a lovely lunch in the cafe onsite.

Rang Mahal

After 10 days of dining exclusively on Thai food in Koh Chang, J needed his Indian-food fix so he took us to a great meal at the Rang Mahal on the 26th floor of the Rembrandt Hotel, which combined Indian food with J’s other passion–great views.  Excellent service and food.

Vertigo and Moon Bar

A stunning venue for sunset drinks.  On the 61st floor of the narrow Banyan Tree Hotel.  Incredible.

Reclining Buddha

Reclining Buddha

2012-12-16 12.25.41 2012-12-16 11.59.32 2012-12-16 12.27.36

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

Drinks at Vertigo

Bangkok traffic

Bangkok traffic

Salon-styled

Salon-styled

Rickshaw driver

Rickshaw driver

2012-12-17 12.17.06 copy

Spinning silk

Spinning silk

Silk production

Silk production

Magic boots

“If you dream a wish it will come true, but you have to invent a pair of magic boots and believe in yourself.”

Zara’s journal entry this afternoon (with a few parental spelling edits).  The magic boots is a reference to Z’s project with her daddy that was borne our of her fervent wish to fly, but I think the metaphor holds true for anybody dreaming of breaking out of the mold.  Be creative, be industrious, but most importantly, believe in your possibilities.  And whatever your initial dreams are and wherever the road ultimately ends, the journey will surprise you.

Almost two months into our year-long travels, what I am most grateful for is the opportunity to witness the daily magic of a girl on the cusp of 6-years old in a way that wasn’t always possible with our busy lives at home.  That is what I’m trying to imprint on my brain and why I know that ultimately the places we visit are a second order magnitude in this journey.  

Image  

Z and I waved farewell to J’s plane from the pool this morning as he left for a quick sailing trip to Cairns, Australia.  (It may be a lot quicker if they don’t let him board his connecting flight in Singapore due to a slight visa stumble on our part)).  Thus, it is just me and Miss Z for the next 5 days so loads of opportunity for mother-daughter bonding (I see some manis and pedis in our future).

The last few days have been filled with beach, pool, beach, pool, work, further exploration of the island (went to Bang Tao Beach and Cape Panwa) and (most importantly for me!) steady progress on The Count of Monte Cristo (fabulous book, but one on which I’ve made frustratingly slow progress during this trip).   Am now at 85% on my Kindle!

A few nights ago we introduced Z to the world of Bond with Skyfall, at a Central Phuket cinema.  The Thai royal anthem played to a video montage of King Rama IX’s life before the film started and we stood along with the rest of the audience (failure to do so can result in criminal charges of lèse majesté)!  J informs me that the playing of “God Save the Queen” also used to be de rigueur before every movie in the UK–seemed strange to me initially, but it really is no different than our mandatory Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.  Some quick Wiki research informed me Rama IX is the world’s longest serving head of state (at 66 years 150+ days he has six years on QE II).   Z’s verdict of the movie: She likes the “spy who never dies”.

Other excitement for the week involved J erupting in a severe first case of hives two nights ago. Cause unknown. Primary suspect–shrimp.  Fortunately, Thai pharmacies here freely dispense predisone without a doctor’s prescription so we are hoping that does the trick.  And we thought we only had to worry about mozzies and jellyfish.

Finally, am thrilled that we don’t have to spend the next 10 months of world travel justifying a President Romney.

Some random photos from the past week:

Baby elephant on Bang Tao Beach

The Thais aim to please

Zara teaching her class

Thai sundresses

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