Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Bangkok at night

Last night Eric and I celebrated our wedding anniversary at Vertigo, an al fresco restaurant located 61 floors above the city of Bangkok. When I made the reservations for dinner, I was told that they have a strict dress code. Men must wear pants and closed-toe shoes and women can't wear shorts or flip flops. Most of these requirements are not a problem, I made sure that Eric and I both brought along dress clothes in our suitcases. However, I neglected to bring along any dress shoes. The closest thing I had was a black pair of flip flops. So I spent four hours yesterday searching for shoes in my size.

Those of you that know me, know that I am tall and I have big feet to match. I usually wear a size 11 shoe and sometimes it is even hard for me to find shoes in the US.  So I knew at the outset that this was probably going to be a fruitless search, but I had to try anyway. After looking in three department stores and four malls, I only found one pair of shoes bigger than a size 8. So, as a last resort I headed to the hobby section of Siam Paragon- to see if I could find any sewing supplies to alter my black flip flops. 

Success! I was able to find some black ribbon that I used to make my flip-flops look like sandals. It's not very fashionable, but it was enough to get me past the man checking everyone for dress code vioaltions at the door.
Flip-flops in disguise.

Once we stepped out on to the roof, we were blown away by the view. We could see the city spread out below us in every direction, and there is nothing like a huge city lit up at night. The highlight of the dinner was watching a storm move into the city. We could see it raining less than a mile from us, and we were mesmerized as is swept across the city, narrowly missing us as we enjoyed our dinner.

Looking east. You can see our new apartment!

The food was spectacular as well. When we go out for dinner, we rarely get desert. Tonight, we decided that since it was our anniversary, we would have desert with our meal. We ordered the Chocolate fantasy- it came with four different types of ice cream, brownies, and cookies. Eric was in sugar heaven!

Almost to pretty to eat!

All in all, it was a great meal with great company that more than made up for the hassle of trying to find shoes that met the dress code!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Klong Toei Cooking Class

Yesterday I took the first steps towards becoming a Thai master chef. My friend Mary and I signed up to take a cooking class offered by Helping Hands- a non-profit entity that helps people living in the Klong Toei slum build a better life for themselves by supporting micro-business opportunities. The Thai cooking class was taught by Khun Poo, a wonderful lady who was full of energy and laughter.

Our adventure began when Khun Poo picked us up from the Tesco Lotus located near our apartment. We then drove to the Klong Toei Market. The market begins at 2:00 am every day and is the source of fish, meat, fruits and vegetables for many of the restaurants and food vendors in our area. Khun Poo then led us on a tour around the market, stopping to point out exotic fruits and vegetables, and explaining how many of the ingredients we saw were used in Thai cooking.

Klong Toei Market.

 Pickled garlic and dried onions.

Butchers preparing pig skins. Thai people like to deep fry the skins and put them on many of their dishes.

Squid in front, sea prawn in the middle and river prawn in the back.

Crab trussed and ready to cook. 

Mmmm pork. According to Khun Poo many Thai of Chinese ancestry will leave pig heads like this at temples and shrines as offerings.

Many restaurants get their ingredients from this market. These vegetables are already chopped up and ready to use.

Grass hoppers ready to deep fry. This is the first time I've seen insects as food in Bangkok. It really isn't a common practice here in the city.

After our tour of the market, we took a van ride into the Klong Toei slums, to the small cooking classroom located across from Khun Poo's house. There we were taught how to make three Thai dishes; sum tom- a very spicy papaya salad ; tom yun goong- a soup with lemongrass and prawn; and pad thai gai- a fried noodle dish with chicken. We also had mango sticky rice for desert, but since Thai sticky rice takes 8-24 hours to make properly, we had rice that was already prepared. 

 Khun Poo teaching us how to make sum tom.

Tom yun goong boiling on the stove.

The ingredients for pad thai gai- minus the gai (chicken)

Mary and I cooking up a storm!

Pad thai gai plated and ready to eat. Tasty and good looking!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Big 3-0

National Stadium BTS stop/MBK Mall at Sunset

This weekend I celebrated my 30th birthday. I can honestly say I never thought I would celebrate the big 3-0 in Thailand! On Friday I was able to spend the entire day with Eric because we had to go to the Immigration Office to get a work permit. We arrived there at 8:30 in the morning and spent most of our time sitting in uncomfortable chairs as Jintana, the HR person from Eric's work ran from line to line, making sure we had the correct paperwork and the correct payments.

We finished with everything around 3:30 and headed back to the apartment for a quick swim before our friends Greg, Mary and Suwat came to pick us up for the night. We went to a German Restaurant located along Sukhumvit Road, the main expat area of Bangkok. The food was wonderful and the German beer was excellent! After dinner, Suwat took us to the Royal City Avenue (RCA) Entertainment Area. It is a street filled with different bars and clubs. We went to Route66. They had a couple of great Thai bands playing. They mostly played Thai music, but every so often they would sing English songs like "Billionaire." It was a lot of fun, and of course I forgot to take pictures, but there are some on Mary's blog.

On Saturday Eric and I had dinner at the Suan Lum Night Bazaar. This was our third time eating at the bazaar and this time we decided to try the beer garden out. The beer garden was similar to many of the food courts found in Bangkok. You exchange your money for coupons and then you can select food from any of the vendors that surround the seating area. There were several large projection screens showing soccer as well as a stage in the front where several bands performed. They had some awesome dance moves that reminded us of our brother- in- law Matt.

Food vendors at the Chang Beer Garden

On Sunday, Eric and I decided to do some shopping at MBK, a mega mall. We spent quite some time searching for a store that carried "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" an awesome TV show that we both love. Unfortunately, it seems like there are some things you CAN'T find at MBK. We did end up getting the fist seasons of Chuck and Dexter, so now we have something to watch when HBO is showing "Lost Boys: The Tribe" for the 20th time. We finished up the night eating room service and watching TV.  It was the perfect way to end a great birthday weekend.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Day in the Life as Eric

Hello internet, this is Eric. I am sitting in the van while our driver takes us home, so I thought it would be a good idea to send an update of what my typical work day is like.

I usually get up at 5:30 am and take a shower and get ready for work. At the moment, the apartment we are staying at provides a free breakfast, so at 6am Melanie and I go and eat. There is quite a bit to choose from, but I think Melanie talked about that already so I will not bore you with the details. At 6:25 I go back to the room brush my teeth and say goodbye to Melanie and head to the HTI van that is waiting for me.

The commute from Bangkok to Ayutthaya is usually uneventful, most of the trip I either talk to Greg, read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or play free cell on the cell phone. We take a toll way most of the way there, but the last portion is on some local highways. This part of the trip can take 30 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending how bad traffic is going into all the industrial parks. It is interesting to see all the motorbikes buzzing around and all the shops on the side of the road. I normally people watch this leg of the trip. We usually arrive at work around 8am, give or take 15 minutes.

They are still getting the office space setup so at the moment I work out of a double wide trailer. It isn’t too bad, it had internet and a few tables. But I can not wait to get into the office area.
For lunch, the cafeteria, or canteen, serves a variety of Thai dishes, so I grab some free steamed rice and a few dishes and a coke, all of which cost be about 50 Baht, or less than $2. It has only been a week and the food seems pretty good. Ask me again in a month and I’ll give you a new opinion. After lunch I head back to work.

Recently for work, we have been leaving around 4:30. We leave the same way we came. Most days I get home around 6pm. Melanie normally has dinner all ready and then we eat. After dinner I plop on the couch and quickly read my email. At around 8pm I go to bed. I know this is early, but you can’t imagine how much energy heat drains from you (and I don’t even work outside!) I hope that pretty soon I’ll soon I’ll be able to stay awake later and wake up earlier without being too tired, but right now I need my sleep. :)

I think starting tomorrow I am going to start waking up at 5am, this will give me 30 more minutes a day to get ready and maybe talk to some of you guys in the morning (your evening) We’ll see how that goes :)

Well, we are approaching the city now and I think that is probably enough writing for one day. Talk to you all later. If you have any other things you would like to hear my perspective on, post it in the comments section, and I’ll “write” about that next.

Truth *fist bumps the world*

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mission Accomplished- Again!

This weekend we finally picked out the condo where we will be living in Bangkok. Jan from Thai Property Guide picked us up at our temporary apartment and showed us five condos in our new building. Eric and I decided to live in a condo on the 36th floor. The picture above is the view of the city from our new living room.

Here are some more photos of the condo.

Guest bedroom: If you decide to come and visit us- this is were you will be sleeping. We will replace the two twin beds with our queen bed once we get our sea shipment.

Master bedroom: I am in love with the chair along the window. Eric and I can already see ourselves reading in this chair and looking out over the city.

Kitchen: The condo owner will purchase a microwave and a refrigerator for the kitchen.

Dining room/Living room.

Right now we have a move in date of October 1st. We wish it could be sooner, but we have to wait until Eric gets his work permit and for our air shipment to arrive.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Our First Week

Our first week in Bangkok has been quite uneventful. We've already settled into somewhat of a routine for each day.

5:30 am- Wake up and get ready for the day.

6:00 am- Eat our complimentary breakfast at the restaurant in our apartment building. It is very similar to a typical continental breakfast in the US with cereal, toast, juice and fruit but it also has salad and you can order off a set menu that includes sandwiches, Japanese, and Thai dishes. They also have eggs, bacon, and french toast that you can order.

6:30 am- Eric leaves the apartment for work. He has a driver that takes him back and forth to work every day.

6:30 am- 11:00 am - I use this time to talk to family back home, either through Skype or with our Vonage phone.

11:00 am- 1:00 pm- I go for a walk around our neighborhood. We live in the financial/business district so there a lot of people walking around during the day, and there are a ton of street vendors selling everything from grilled chicken to snow-cones. It is great opportunity to people watch and get to know the area. I also go shopping at the local mall and grocery store.

1:00 pm -3:00 pm - I eat lunch and play on the internet some more.

3:00 pm -5:00 pm - I go down to the small gym located in our building and use the elliptical machine and free weights. I then go for a swim and read by the pool for a while.

5:30 pm- Usually around this time, Eric will call me to let me know when he is half an hour away from home. I will then go down to the street vendors and pick up some food for dinner. This week we've had grilled chicken and pork, chicken livers ( I bought these with out know what they were- never again :-) ) and a crepe type of desert.

6:00 pm -6:30 pm - Eric arrives home from work. We then eat dinner and just relax in the apartment.

9:00 pm- Get ready for bed and to start it all over again the next day.

So there is our schedule for the day. Not very exciting, but I thought I would share anyway. This weekend we are going to pick out the exact condo we want for our permanent housing. We will keep you updated on the search!

Here are some photos from our temporary apartment.

Soi Saladaeng 1- Where our temporary apartment is located

Bangkok sunrise from our balcony