Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sawadee Suan Lum Night Bazaar

  Suan Lum Night Bazzar: September 2010
Entrance to the Bazaar
Food vendors at the Chang Beer Garden
Suan Lum Night Bazaar: December 2010
Chang Beer Garden
All that's left of the stage

If seeing the Suan Lum Night Bazaar was on your to-do list while living in/visiting Thailand, unfortunately, I think you have missed your chance. This is a shame, mostly because the Bangkok's first open air night market is probably going to be replaced with more condos or another shopping mall. Just what Bangkok needs.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas from Bangkok!

Bangkok really does a great job decorating for Christmas. It seems like every shop and mall has at least a Christmas tree with lights. Most of the larger shopping malls go all out with elaborate wintery scenes complete with the traditional Christmas themes of rabbits, penguins with antlers, and straws.

Five story Christmas tree in Central World
The elusive antlered penguin- a rare find!
Santa scaling MBK to reach his helicopter
Nothing says Christmas better than "Yeah" in plastic straw form
Christmas bunny and drinking straw tree

If seeing all of these Christmas displays wasn't enough to get you in the Christmas spirit, there is an ice skating rink in Central World that might do the trick. If only I wasn't deathly afraid of strapping boots with thin metal blades on my feet and stepping out onto slick ice. It was a lot of fun watching everyone else though.

Our personal Christmas celebration began on Thursday night (would that be Christmas Eve Eve?) when we opened gifts from Eric's sister and my mom. Thanks to Skype (as a side note- Skype is the greatest invention EVER!) we were actually able to video chat with Eric's sister and our nephews while we opened their gifts for us.

They have the same smile!

On Christmas Eve, we celebrated our friends Dani and Oli as well as Megan and Jason at a Mexican restaurant where we had "traditional" Christmas Eve burritos and margaritas. After dinner, we decided that karaoke was the best way to finish out the evening. This was the first time Eric and I had been to a karaoke place where you rent a small room and you just sing with your friends, and not an entire bar full of people. It was so much fun to belt out pop hits without worrying about the reaction from strangers. Of course I didn't bring my camera along, so I don't have any photographic evidence of how much fun we had- but rest assured, much fun was had by all.

On Christmas Day, I prepared a home cooked meal for Megan and Jason, complete with mashed potatoes, spicy fruit salsa and apple pie. Just like Christmas back home, there was way too much food so there were leftovers to eat for the rest of the week. (secretly this is my favorite part of holiday meals) After dinner, Megan and Jason schooled us at Trivial Pursuit. I did impress everyone with my knowledge of Murphy Brown though. Booya!

Sunday morning was spent Skyping with Eric's parents, opening more presents ( Buffalo Wild Wings sauce and Milky Ways-we have the best family ever!) recovering from our food coma, and playing video games. 

All in all, it was a great, if nontraditional, Christmas in Bangkok. Thank you to all of our family and friends! You guys rock!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Santa's Entourage

Our reward for braving the crowds at Siam Paragon the day before Christmas was this:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Let's Get Some Christmas Up In Here

Getting into the Christmas spirit in a tropical Buddhist country is difficult. It's hard to think about decking the halls with boughs of holly when it is 90 degrees outside and you are drenched in sweat from a trip to the market. Luckily, we have air conditioning that we can turn down really low and we were able to bring most of our Christmas decorations from the U.S., so at least our apartment is a "Winter Wonderland". It's not perfect, but it helps us deal with being away from our family during the holidays.

Our tree in all it's glory
It goes well with the lights of the city outside
Nothing says "Christmas" like sugar cookie fish, gnomes and horses
Almost too pretty to eat... almost.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Where the heck is Khon Kaen?

This weekend Eric, Greg, Mary and I traveled to Khon Kaen, a city I had never even heard of until we were invited by our friend Aor to celebrate the King's birthday with her and her family. After a quick perusal of the itinerary and info Aor gave us before the trip I was able to learn some basic info about Khon Kaen. I don't know if all Thai's are this organized when it comes to trips, or if it is just the Thai engineers that work with Eric, but on every trip we've gone on with one of them, they have given us a detailed timeline and background info on the sights we were going to see. It is kind of awesome.

Khon Kaen is located northeast of Bangkok in an area of Thailand known as Issan and is 10 hours by train, 6 hours by bus or 1 hour by plane. We chose the last form of transportation and arrived in Khon Kaen bright and early Saturday morning. We were met by Aor's family and immediately began our sightseeing tour with a visit to the Khon Kaen City Pillar Shrine.

There is a 1,000 year old sandstone pillar inside the shrine

Aor described the City Pillar Shrine as a "spirit house for Khon Kaen" It is not a temple, but many local Thai's come and make offerings to the spirits of the city. Aor's parents thought it would be good for us to visit the shrine as this was our first visit to the city, and they wanted to make sure we started out on the right foot!

Trying to not make a fool of ourselves
A man selling birds to release
We could see the shrine from our hotel room

After a wonderful breakfast of sweet sausage sandwiches ( say THAT 10 times fast), we made our way to a dinosaur museum. They actually found dinosaur bones outside of Khon Kaen, and the city really embraced their dino heritage. There were random dinosaur sculptures everywhere in the city, from the airport to this one we found in a small back alley.

I call this one Mega Toeasaurus
Look, I made a friend!
It's all fun and games until a dino rips your head off.

The elusive Stringosaurus
Our other sightseeing visits included a beautiful temple on the top of a hill, a hydroelectric dam, the King Cobra Village and the Nine Story Stupa at Wat Nong Waeng.

Yes, we did climb all those steps

On Sunday we went to the Silk Fair in Khon Kaen to celebrate the King's birtday with what seemed like the entire population of the city! There were so many people, that it was hard to maneuver though the crowd, but Aor was able to steer us towards a front row spot so we could see how the city celebrated the King's birthday. After all of the government workers in the city presented gifts for the King, a marching band struck up and the crowd sang for the King while holding candles. After that- fireworks!! 

Aor and her sister Oh

Even though we saw many beautiful sights, all four of us agreed that the highlight of the whole trip was spending time with Aor and her kind and generous family. They prepared a feast for us on Saturday night and played tour guide for the whole weekend. They have already invited us back, and I am sure we will take them up on that offer soon.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Getting My Craft On

Even before we moved to Thailand, one of my favorite things to do was to make stuff. During the three months I've been here, I've had a ton of free time so I've been sewing, stitching, dyeing and baking up a storm.

A fun felt garland
Grumpy snail
Swirly Abstract Circles
"Pink Sky" hand dyed merino wool
Fun Fact: Apple pie can help cure homesickness
Whole wheat french bread

Monday, November 29, 2010

What's for Dinner??

So, just as an advance warning- this post will contain copious amounts of food photos and absolutely no photos of cute monkeys or beautiful Thailand scenery. Consider yourself warned!

Both Eric and I get a lot of questions from friends and families back home. A lot of those questions have to do with food; "What's the food like?" (Answer = delicious) and "Have you eaten any bugs yet? " (Answer = no, not yet. But it is on my to-do list) "Do you eat rice everyday?" (Answer = nope)

So to alleviate some of our families' concerns about our diet, I thought I would  take a photo of what we ate for dinner for a whole week. I am sorry that some of the photos show half eaten food, sometimes we were so hungry that I was halfway through my meal before I remembered to take a picture.

Monday: The Dubliner Pub in Bangkok.
Club sandwich for me and a burger for Eric
You can't go to a pub and not get a beer, right?
 Tuesday: Tacos and homemade apple pie
All that is missing is the cheese

 Wednesday: Pad Thai and a salad from the street vendors
All of this cost only 40 baht ($1.50)

 Thursday: Thai steakhouse that I can never remember the name of.
Chicken Cordon Bleu

Friday: Hua Hin Night Market
Yes, that IS a 1/2 pound shrimp!
A napkin bikini to complement my girly drink

 Saturday: Hua Hin beach restaurant
BBQ ribs and deep fried sea bass
Som Tum and Tom Yum Goong

Sunday: Street Vendors at the Loy Krathong celebration
Pork, pickles and eggs, oh my!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Break It Down

While we were in Hua Hin, one of our stops was the Cicada Market, which besides having a cool stage show and market stalls, also had an impromptu break-dancing exhibition by the front gate. I was in awe of what these Thai boys could do!! Here is just a sample:

Celebrating Loy Krathong

This weekend we celebrated our first Thai holiday, Loy Krathong, with our friends Suwat and Tanya. The day actually began with us being woken up by a procession outside our hotel in Hua Hin. A large group of Thai men, women and children were singing, dancing and playing drums as they moved down the street. They grabbed Eric and were trying to convince him to dance with them down the street!

One of the things on my list of things to see in Thailand was monkeys so after breakfast, Suwat took us up to a monastery overlooking Hua Hin. I forgot the name of the monastery, so I dubbed it "Monkey Monastery"

Looks so peaceful, hard to believe it is full of monkeys!
Maybe I should rethink my idea of taking a monkey home as a pet...
Someone left food in the back of their pickup truck- big mistake.
Awwww... baby monkeys!
It was scary watching the monkeys fight over the corn cobs on the ground.
Meditating monkey

I can't believe this monkey is giving me the bird!

After leaving the Monkey Monastery we left Hua Hin and headed back to Bangkok. Along the way we stopped at the Amphawa Floating Market to buy our krathong. This is the first floating market we've been to in Thailand. It was cool to see boats moving up and down the water, selling food to people sitting along the docks.

Our krathong

At dusk we made our way to the Rama VIII Bridge in Bangkok in order to release our krathong into the Chao Phraya River. It took us about an hour to travel the short distance to the river, trying to avoid hitting the throngs of people making their way to the river. Once we finally made it to the river, we were hit with a wall of light- with lanterns floating over head and fireworks exploding over the river. We then lit the candle and incense on our krathong and send out worries floating down the river, to be immediately scooped up by men in boats right offshore. Oh, well- it's the thought that counts!