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Formerly a Spanish teacher in Wisconsin & Illinois, I moved to Bangkok with my husband in July 2011 to teach IT at a new American International School.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

No more flood, but a whirlWIND of events in the Big Mango

So, you know that saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all?"
Well, it's been a few of those weeks strung together. Yes, the floods have subsided here in Bangkok, but the sandbags remain, along with a bunch of really down folks. We are happy to be back at work and we appreciate having some consistency in our days and weeks, but with that comes stress and frustration.

On order and being shipped! Thanks, Mom & Dad!
With 3 weeks back at school, make up days in order, we are just going about our business at work and here in Bangkok. I think things are going well, and suddenly something happens to rattle the cage. But I figure I must keep plugging away and focus on what I am good at doing. The biggest setback comes on Thanksgiving when I 'lose' my iPhone, the one and only material thing I coveted so dearly, and its beautiful WI Badger case I treasured so much. Not even worth my time to explain that drama, but I was not going to be missing my Thanksgiving meal at the Roadhouse with the new ladies I have met through my new membership to the American Women's Club of Thailand. I was on my own Turkey Trot to the Emporium and Siam Paragon malls to find a new iPhone, but "Sorry, Madame. No have iPhone. No stock. FLOOD." Ugh... anyway, being the multi-tasker mission girl I am, I managed one, the very last iPhone in all of flooded Bangkok.

Turkey Trot in Bangkok? Mission: Must find new iPhone!
So I have had some gains through all the mess of life. Thanksgiving was a clear indicator of that. Meeting new friends is always great when you need normalcy and some motivation to keep fighting the fight. So, thank you Ruthie my dear, for wearing those terrible heels of mine  and thank you, Ms. Linda Brown, for stepping in and being the mom I needed on Thanksgiving night.

On the work front, there have been ups and downs. One up to give props to thy self: I recently submitted an article to TIE magazine (The International Educator) about some of my ePals initiatives working with classrooms of students abroad. That should be published in their February or April issue. Score on that. I finally got a chance to interview one candidate for a position that was approved months ago, and I have  list a mile long for him if hired. I think that will ease my work load a bit in terms of helping to get our school headed in the right direction with technology. Plans have turned to considering more education and possibly another Master's Degree to make ourselves more marketable in the International Teaching arena. There are decisions that will soon need to be made. But the prospect of the future and the possibilities are in place, so it makes sense to stick to looking up and ahead.

Bring on the German Christmas Markets (and Bier!)
And, plans are underway for another Tebo pad festive  party. Things are really stressful at work, but everyone's invited over for a relaxing night of Wii Pictionary on the UDraw Tablet, and for some holiday cheers.
But the biggest thing to stop and take time to look forward to...well, for a vacation, of course! Sorry, Thailand, you didn't make the cut this Christmas holiday season. Last year it was Napa and Sonoma, California for wine. This year, it is cooler temps and yes, wine! We are a bit beached out for a while, although Bali was on the list as well as Australia.
It's off to Germany and France for the holidays, possibly to Switzerland depending on how the travels go and how worn out we are. So bring on the Bier and Weissen in Germany and the Hofbrau House (yes, the original!) in Munich. Then, some long-awaited real Vino in France! Note to self: First, must by winter coat at JJ Market for cheap so not to freeze in Europe!
There are things to look forward to, and more work to be done as we get ready to coast in to the new year in less than a month.
X-mas in Paris!

So like I said before, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all, right? Sometimes it just takes a bunch of bad stuff to razzle you and then you have a few positives to make you second guess why you were razzled in the first place. Let the wind blow me to  Europe for a couple weeks and blow me and the cooler air back to Thailand to refocus energies and spirits on good things to come in 2012!
Looking forward to a toast to happiness in 2012!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

To Escape A Flood, Head Toward More Water

The flooding has gotten most of us down. Yes, I miss working. I think we all do in a way. Did I mention we are now off school until Nov. 14th? Crazy. I cannot wait to hear how we are going to make up all these days we have lost, even though I don't see any flooding anywhere here in the inner parts of Bangkok. But so it goes, right? So I roll with it. Heck, if I have to work until the end of June, may as well take advantage of time off now to travel and explore the best islands and beaches that Thailand has to offer. So that is exactly what we are doing.
Josh and I left to go to Koh Samet on Halloween. There was something strange about hanging on a beach on an island on Halloween... One thing for sure was scary, though. And that was Samet Ville 'Resort' and I use that word RESORT lightly. If you think that you want to be on a secluded beach on an island somewhere, away from other tourists, do yourself a favor and really think hard about that one and what kind of place you want to stay in. The lesson I learned: Don't go cheap. You can still be frugal, but do yourself a favor and check in with yourself about how much 'budget-friendly' thinking you can handle. I chose Samet Ville because I wanted a relatively cheap getaway. Well, ants, bugs, yucko food, blah. They could not understand why we were leaving so quickly the next morning to head up toward the popular Sai Kaew beach area. Well, maybe their idea of seclusion is living with bugs, but it isn't mine, nor Josh's! I think his tent does a better job than this room did for us. Cannot... The best part was writing up the review of the 'resort' on Agoda yesterday. Yikes. Just ask Josh about his donut onion rings. That tells it all!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Krabi But Not CRABBY-A Break Away From Waterworld

So how convenient we get a little over a week off from school when Bkk is declared a "Disaster Area" because of the flooding? I'll take it. We departed from Bkk on Thai Airways Royal Silk class and were definitely treated like royalty. I don't recall booking a first class or business class ticket, but mai pen rai (no worries). We arrived to the airport in Krabi shortly after 9 a.m. on Saturday with our driver holding up a sign with my name on it. It took roughly a half hour to hit paradise in Ao Nang Beach at our comfy resort, Phra Nang Inn.
View from Ao Nang Beach. A few long tail boats.

One of the first things I noticed as we ventured out were the Tsunami evacuation signs along the beach walkways of the Andaman Sea. This area was hit pretty badly in 2004. But one would never know with how clean and well-kept everything looks.
Since it was still pretty early, and we were waiting on our friends to arrive, we decided to book an elephant trekking tour nearby. I have never ridden an elephant before, but this was one of the most amazing adventures I have ever experienced. For under $25 I could ride an elephant in the tropical rainforest, take some great pictures of the lizards, monkeys, the landscape and then feed her gobs of pineapples AND watch her bathe with her mother afterward. Nice way to start a holiday I'd say!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dexy's Midnight Runner

"Come on Eileen"...
Just kidding. But I am now officially a midnight runner by Bangkok standards. I helped raise money for 3 different charities by running in the 14th Annual Amari Watergate Charity Midnight Run to benefit children who have lost their parents to HIV. It was a little tough to see on the streets, but I did all right for myself I must say.
I was not expecting as many people as were there, but it was so much fun! I mean, how could you NOT want to run at midnight when you have those two on either side of you keeping you company?
I am guessing a nurse and doctor duo.

I had friends, my photographer husband and over 4,500 runners on hand to take to the streets with me. Because this is Thailand, I have no idea what people are chanting on the streets, so I crank up my iPod and just look down to make sure I don’t trip over a pothole on these unforsakingly terrible Bkk streets.
Fortunately, I was able to meet up with Vee Vee prior to the race. It was complete chaos, as I am learning races here are, and I had a hard time finding Josh when I left him to go get my big slashed with the marker. I still have no idea why they do that, but anyway… I am so glad Vee Vee told me about this race!

So I was in for it because my watch stopped when I was running, and there were no markers along the route to tell us how far we had run or how much longer to go. I suppose it is better that way. Then I am not always wondering just how out of shape I really am since moving here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Just gotta get away, get me outta here!

No, I haven't gone back on my feelings of loving to live in the Big Mango. My husband was feeling, should I say, a bit cramped down by city life, so we decided to up and leave the city for a weekend. I was out last weekend at the Dusit Thani My Bar for yes, another ladies night, and I met wonderful Helen. I was explaining that I wanted to explore Thailand and help out Josh, so he didn't dislike this experience. She suggested we jump a bus to Kanchanaburi and stay at a wonderful little joint called Apples Retreat. I heeded her advice and proposed it to Josh later that evening.
So we packed our backpacks, like backpackers do, and we took a trip up to the Mo Chit bus station. Lesson #1 learned...wrong bus station. So we ended up on a mini bus that stops every 15 minutes to let someone off outside Bangkok en route to our destination. That was after we had to endure an hour in less than turtle-paced traffic on a Friday night, last night of the month, when everyone gets paid. So most everyone and their mother is leaving the city to visit friends and family in smaller provinces and towns.

Monday, September 26, 2011

It just is what it is in Thailand, folks!

So let me just start with this because I think this tells it all. Well, sort of. There are 1sts for everything. I never thought my dream come true would land on the streets of Nana, but TIT once again. I never cease to be amazed. Those of you who know me, know I don a VW tat on my left oblique, and when I happened upon this guy with his decked out VW bus as an open-air bar, and then got to fancy a pink lady for myself, I was blown out of this world. Heck, it made the walk home to Phrom Phong MUCH better Saturday night. And the drink prices were pretty good! They were comparable to Cheap Charlie's.
Just over $2 for a beer, just over $3 for a mixer.
That's the look of happiness when you happen upon a VW that is not only Mystery  Machine cool, but also serves up delightful CHEAP spirits.

And so on the walk on the way home, near Asok, Josh dares me to ask the homeless lady how much for her puppy that was leashed to her big toe. I didn't hesitate because it'd mean we could have a puppy, with all its diseases, no dog food at home, la la la... So I turned around, strutted back to her and asked her Tao Rai for the puppy, pointing down at it. I didn't really have the guts to touch it. I'd give it a thorough bath when we got home, if I walked away with it. Part of me was just daring her, daring myself and showing Josh I would be able to walk away with a dog out of this whole charade. Anyway, turns out she was asking 1500 THB, which really is not much if you consider dogs are expensive little buggers. This pup would have run me a million head aches for about $50. Not to mention worms, worms and more worms. I am sure the vet bills alone would cost more than us having our maid, right?
Where in the world would we let it out? We live on the 9th floor, and from what I see here, the hoodies just let the dogs urinate and defecate on the road. No worries, though, since we have a great homey who has his broom out at 6:30 a.m. to greet us SAWASDEE KUP every morning and in the afternoon when we jaunt home sluggishly from school. Regardless, we went home empty-handed until I hit the 7-Eleven for a midnight snack. Probably for the best, right?

It is what it is...Who thought I would come to think of rats as cute? Or, "Look at that flying cockroach?" <insert snide giggle>. Yeah, Josh says I can pick up my own roaches now. Um, no. Still deathly grossed out if they are in my home. That's why we have a maid, right? And they come to spray here at The TBI Tower for 'pest control' once a month.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

An Almost "10" Day

So Sunday, September 18th started at 4:40 a.m.  Yes, by choice. For those of you who know me, you know I treasure my sleep and I use the weekends to catch up on such. However, places to go, people to see, yada yada  yada. I ran in the Bangkok Post Mini Marathon 10K race at CentralWorld this morning, 6 a.m.
Getting my game face on pre-race. Look, the sun's not even out yet!

I don't know who was more upset, Josh or myself, at the alarm buzzing. Of course, I could have listened to body signals to take care and get thy butt to bed earlier than I did, but so it goes. I apparently run better when I have deprived myself on sleep and ate McDonald's 10 minutes before the blow horn signals the start of chaos in downtown Bkk.

Pretty good start to the day, huh? Yeah, I think so! I again have to revert back to Ruthie's "TIT" This is Thailand to put things in to perspective. So I find my teaching colleague Brian at the start line, which gets pushed back and then he says to me, "Did you check in?" I'm like, "Um, I have my bib on. Does that count?" Apparently you have to find the magic marker lady so she can scribble black on your running bib. Then, the Thai guy tells us we have to rearrange where we are in the line up. So the 10K goes first, followed by the 5K. No real gun, just three gentlemen with their blowhorns. I felt like I was at the State Fair cattle herding event. Anyway, we start, I set my watch, iPod is blaring. I get to Nana area, am greeted with a bunch of drunks who apparently didn't have enough during normal hours. They had to stand on the street with their glasses and tumblers of martinis they've acquired from the stall vendors who literally mix up their concoctions right there alongside traffic. I had to pass on the mighty offer, although I take stake in the fact that I run better when I have had something in my system...from the night before, that is. Again, TIT...TIT...

Two screens to watch the big game!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Getting Down and Dirty in The Big Mango-Finding my own GROOVE!

When I think of Bangkok, I think of friendly people all around, smiling, even when they are in a shitty place. My new friend, Ruthie, has ingrained the 2 phrases "Shit Show" and "TIT" (This is Thailand) in to my head. Now, when I think of Bkk, I think of the allure, yet how fake things really are. Sort of like being in a dais in Chinatown last Sunday. "Is this really my life? Am I really here, at this moment?"  So, I am sort of starting to really dig in and see things in a different light here. Don't get me wrong, I still force people to smile on the street when I smile at them.

I think being here almost 2 months, I am still so new to life here in The Big Mango, my job, the people, the places, etc. Everything is a new discovery, yet I am coming in to my own here. I think I am finally starting to recognize things and people for what/who they are, and I am starting to acclimate and form my own opinions about things. For the first time, the dark sarcasm of Sharin unleashes herself and brings new perspective. Bringin' it!

So let's talk a bit about accomplishments and observations. Not in that order. So a few months ago, I dragged my husband to Las Vegas to experience it all. Well, on some levels, Bkk and Sin City are parallels. Yeah, they are. Patpong anyone? Just venture to Nana a bit past 8 o'clock, any day of the week, and keep the kids at home. You'll understand if you have been here and you've got your own stash of lady 'playing' cards from the LV Strip. And then there is VARIETY. Well, the TV here is one thing. I'm sorry, but I still don't get the Thai programming. I got my nails done a couple weeks ago and the entire time I was watching this group of early 20 somethings sit around, eat, and then practice their singing, LIVE. That was an hour I will never get back. I guess it is their version of American Idol meets MTV's The Real World and one groupie gets eliminated by votes, or whatever. And then there is last night's experience. Note: You will have to scroll the bottom to see that adventure... Mom' it was no Hofbrau adventure. No Pound The Peg for us...

And an accomplishment to note. I got my nails done, and then walked about 100 feet to get my teeth cleaned for less than the cost of my nail fill. Gotta love Thailand, right? Massage parlors abound, and squished in between each massage venue is a dental clinic or maybe a plastic surgery clinic where they will whiten you up. Remember, whitening is IN! Throw away the suntan lotion and just go MJ-style.
I'd love to show you, but apparently Blogger doesn't like me uploading stuff right now. So you'll have to use your imagination. Think..."1970s chick in white spandex polyester jumpsuit flying magestically through the air in an acrobatic circle  over hundreds of drunkards while people gawk at her" There, I said it.

Moving on. Then there's all the 'show' of BKK. Ruthie, you couldn't put it in plainer sight. Shit show and "WOW, isn't that pretty?!" go hand in hand here. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Bkk  until further notice. But at the same time, you cannot put up these gorgeous fascades and have people sleeping on the streets along the BTS stops. But it is Bkk so YES YOU CAN! Here's an example: The Thai love their King and Queen, and who wouldn't? They have been an integral part of most people's lives for decades and they represent peace, solemnity and piece of mind about where Thailand was, where it is not and what the future holds for its people.
How would you feel if Barack and Michelle Obama were plastered on many city buildings wherever you walked? The King and Queen are EVERYWHERE in Thailand!
And people dearly love their shrines. Remember when I wrote about changing the name to LOI? I think incense is second nature here, and so is leaving your half-full juice cups with their straws inserted when you finish up worshipping at the shrines. But they are pretty!

So I am gearing up for my 10K Bangkok Post run tomorrow, and today I decided to do some shopping at Platinum Fashion Mall for some cute dresses=Bargains.

 What do you think?  3rd Floor is all handbags, and a 1980s flashback apparently.

 But I also picked up another race packet for a 6K midnight charity run on Oct. 8th at the Amari Watergate Hotel. We get free cocktails after the run at Henry J. Bean's pub inside the hotel! SCORE!
 And now for something completely different...or just realizing it is Thailand...
A group of us celebrated a birthday for a co-worker at Tawandaeng German Brewery. So we walk in and I am expecting schnitzel, pretzels, weiners, wursts, maybe some sauerkraut and good steins of German beer. We got our beer. But what we also got was a Cirque du Soleil show, coupled with Thai-style German food in a beer hall. At least the beer was good. Did I also mention that The Price Is Right was also there? Josh tried getting in on that, too. Jeff, I hope you enjoyed your birthday with a few laughs. Lord knows we walked away wondering what we just experienced and why on earth others keep coming back to that German hall.

Josh and I before we knew what we were getting ourselves in to.

So I will update you on the run(s) and I participating in and hopefully I start to really fit in here even more, you know, running alongside the Thai with all their run gear on. I am still the only female I know here who wears a sports bra, a pair of shorts and stops at 7-Eleven to buy an iced coffee after my run. So maybe not...but if anybody wants some run jerseys, they seem to like those here a lot. I plan to hit up the local brew pubs for brunch after these early runs. Six o'clock start time tomorrow is sure coming fast.

More ramblings to come as we close out September and move beyond the rainy season in to the cool(er) season here. Vacation is right around the corner!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chinatown--when it rains, it pours!

So we ventured to Chinatown this afternoon. It started with a trip on the MRT to Hua Lamphong and then we took our first tuk-tuk. Ugh... and then 150 THB later, in the wrong section. Guess that was our first clue, right? So, we ventured around in the rain, saw a gazillion fabric shops, ate lunch... Blah, blah blah. Well, sort of. There were these ads on my Nancy Chandler map asking us to refrain from eating shark fin soup and bird's nest soup. Naturally, that is all that was on menu in a nutshell, but we found some grub. And that was about it. Josh didn't care one bit for it, but that was to be expected I guess. We talked about all the foods we have tried here, all the things we weren't sure of, what we were really expecting from the food and we agreed we both like our egg roll lady and our fried chicken guy on the walk home from the BTS after school. The KFC delivery isn't too shabby, either.

Anywho, Chinatown was a trip, what can I say. My mother-in-law would have loved all the fabrics and textile shops, but I was overwhelmed. Just too much. Felt like JJ Market in a weird sort of way. I almost felt like the iced coffee I picked up at the 7Eleven before we dug in to our jaunt through C-town was spiked, because I just felt like I was floating along the whole time in a different world of some sorts.

This is what I think of, Shrines Galore, when I think of Chinatown

This is what I imagine Chinatown to be like, after visiting C-town in San Francisco and Chiago. Lots of signs lining the streets!

No idea who put the Thai King next to the pig. I would find it insulting myself, especially considering the severity of dissing the Thai Royaly if caught!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

You're Such A THAI!

Yep, I said it! I am officially now Thai. Wait a minute, what the heck you ask? Allow me to explain. For starters, I am not a FARANG to the natives here, well, not so much in words anyway. And if you are wondering what that word means...well, everyone seems to have their own ideas. I mean, Lonely Planet forums I have read have said it means Honoured Guest. Yeah, right. Honoured to the ladies of the night maybe...
And then, the highly-trustworthy Bangkok Post (insert LOL here) seems to have their own take on the word. I guess we are all transplanted here to be big ol' guava fruits. In any case, if you do read what the Bangkok Post says, you will learn that us FARANGS are actually well-respected, highly civilized human beings in the LOS (Land of Smiles).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A few of my favorite things...well, so far anyway!

With almost an entire 3 weeks under my belt, and 2 full weeks of work complete, I am settling in here in Bangkok nicely, and I am realizing little by little just how things work here. I have learned a little bit of Thai, how to say not on your life to certain items at the food stalls on the street, yet still eat on the street. Wait, that probably sounds really bad...although unlike at least 3 others I have come to know, I have not gotten food poisoning...yet <Insert BONUS>, how to communicate on the most basic of terms with the cab drivers: Turn left, Turn right, I live on Sukhumvit soi... (very important, yes?!), and how to ride sideways with a skirt on the back of a moto taxi to the grocery store. Just kidding about sideways on the motor taxis, but I will get there in due time! What I have really learned, I've had the pleasure of learning the hard way with a small burn on my inner left calf. Relax, Teresa, it is not as bad as the twin burns you had the first time you hopped on a motorcycle. Hey, I had my own Genuine Buddy scooter back home, but I wasn't riding as passenger on it to get burned, so that's my excuse. Lesson learned, until the next time...

So, being the socialite I am, Madame Social Butterfly, (yes, it is true, I am 'MADAME' to the Thai, who wai to me, & whether or  not I deserve it is another thing), has so far learned what she likes here in the Big Mango and what will keep one alive, tempted and coming back for more. So here's a quick run down of a few of my favorite things here in Bkk thus far.

#1 BAGELS @ Bkk Bagel Bakery! I have found Heaven, finally! I will refer to it as B3. Thank you to Megan and Melanie for helping me cure my obsession with the big Cheerio carb! The Bkk Bagel Bakery is conveniently located off the Chit Lom BTS. And, Eric (the American expat owner) took our recommendation quite nicely when we asked him to add a HOT TOMAZZO to his sumptuous menu. I've been on a bagel mission since I arrived. I checked out the Gourmet Market first, in Emporium, 5th floor, thinking "if anybody carries the big Cheerio, it's gotta be Gourmet Market! They have everything and then some!" I was wrong. <Sigh> Later, I found out I should try Villa Market, way cheaper (hint: dirtier, too) and really just a hop/skip/jump off the Phrom Phong BTS. So yeah, found them, but not really what I was looking for...

Josh's Verrazano meets my Showstopper at B3.
Anyway, everyone else recommended I try Au Bon Pain, and I did, but I found B3, and I am sticking with it. We'll see if Eric heeds our suggestions and follows through with a hot tomazzo, or at least some hot/melt bagels. We left telling him we'd be back for more! I can see this being my Saturday morning hangout. Hey, folks, I was up before noon today, and made it there AFTER a run and before they closed at 3, so take that peeps who know not to call me before 1 p.m.!

Gimmie some of that Turkish Delight!
And while I am on the food kick, I have to give severe props to the Turkish kebabs I have found near Pantip Plaza and Fashion Mall on my mission for bagels. I was still full from the Showstopper I savored at B3, but the cheap smells wafting through the air almost got to me. I think it's the sauce they put in the wrap, as I had one at the Chatuchak weekend market a couple weeks ago. For a mere $1.75 or so, who could resist when you see the meat just falling off the slicer. We will meet again real soon, kebab. You and me...

#2 Ladies Nights!
Hey, it really is all it's cracked up to be. Trust me. If this isn't a reason to splurge on the round trip tix to come see Moi, you lady friends of mine...I don't know what is! Josh even likes 2/1 at various joints and brew pubs. So here's a run down of what I have come to love thus far, & joyously with most in walking distance from my pad!  My Bar at the Dusit Thani Hotel on Thursday Nights from 7-9 offers ladies an exquisite array of delicious cocktails to savor and toss back, all whilst the cocktail wait staff beckons to your call. Or, you can just meander up to the bar yourself and choose there, as they line up all drink menu selections up on the bar for the taking. I have tried their margs, martinis, Brut, vino...they are all wonderful. Not saying I would pay full price to drink there any other night of the week, or splurge on the $50/person buffet at one of the restaurants at the hotel, but the do up a mean Ladie's Night. And they serve up these Doritos, but they aren't just Doritos. They come equipped with an assortment of splendid dips to plunge those nacho cheese dips into. Me LIKEY! But what a steal and what a clean, beautiful bar to celebrate Thirsty Thursday with the Chickies! Very easy to get to, situated right off the Sala Daeng BTS.

Thought of the day at Witch's Tavern. Shall I adopt this mantra, no?
Next up is Witch's Tavern on soi 55 Thong Lo offers free beer from 5-9 for the chicas, but also offers FREE PIZZAS from 6-8, coupled with 2/1 bottles on Friday nights Happy Hour 2-9 p.m. It is an English style pub, and you can't beat the free Wi-Fi. Lots of expats, but a friendly staff and good food!

And Coyote (two locations) offers up free margs to the Chicas on Thursdays. And they're enticingly big! They serve up some delicious spicy popcorn for free, to munch on while you catch up on the local stuff happening in BKK. I haven't been to the Convent location, which I hear is better. I just walk to the one up from me near Phrom Phong BTS. English-speaking staff is always a plus, too.

And a new favorite, although Monday is not a great night to be out late, is QBar on Soi 11 (Nana BTS). Beginning this month, they offered up M&M--Margaritas and Martinis for a mere 100 baht to the lady venue. That's not bad considering a bottled water will run  you over 200 Baht here, at this posh, trendy bi-level club. They don't open til 9, and you need to arrive before 11 if you want to nab a seat.

#3 World Class Supermarkets (AKA Gourmet Market)
She's in charge of cutting up this sweet pomelo fruit at Gourmet Market.
I suppose here is where I should play on the awesomely free samples at the supermarkets. That is a thing of the past it seems back in the States, unless you are really lucky and get up early (unlike some of us) when they offer them on the weekends. In any case, it doesn't matter if you are at a cheap Tops, a Big C grocery store, Gourmet Market, or any other market here, they still love to offer you anything they are serving up. The nice thing is that it is all pretty darn yummy! That is how we found out about our little kit with the leaves that you cup, and empty in all the fixins, then toss in your mouth. Sorry, I have no idea what they are called, but those of you here will know it if you saw it at Gourmet Market. Who in the world gets dressed up like a chef at a grocery store these days anyway? Just wondering. I have to vouch though, the fruit selection bar far exceeds anything I have ever seen in the States, at least at Gourmet Market. The freshest of fresh, and only because you are right there watching them cut the stuff up in front of your face before they Saran Wrap it up and label it for sale. And we are talking cheap! I can get fresh cut up mango, sans pit, for about 1USD, along with the tastiest, mouthwatering pineapple with these little pokers to make it easier to eat.
My only criticism about the grocery stores here so far is how much plastic they waste. Really, does every little yogurt container need to be wrapped up, with their own individual spoons, also wrapped in plastic? And why the heck does the plastic have to be so darn difficult to rip open? Geesh! No wonder the Thai are so slim! They get a work out every time they want to eat something!

#4 All the cheap massages! Okay, not all are created equal, folks, so shop around.  Fortunately, with a little help from my newly found amici, I have weeded out where to venture and where to stray from. So, #1 so far on my lista will have to be The Asia Herb Association, conveniently located on Sukhumvit Soi 24. I dig it here--clean, relatively cheap... Let's face it. Before Bkk, I only got a massage when 1-Josh rubbed my disgusting Billy & Bobby twin bunion feets and 2-post marathon when I needed a good, firm rub down. But here, I just pop in and pay my $8 for a foot massage or splurge on a traditional Thai massage (trust me, this is not for the sensitive--they will twist, pull and pounce on you, but it's worth it in the end) or an aromatherapy oil massage for maybe $15/hour. Yeah, I am telling you...if you don't do anything else I have listed above, you MUST go for a massage here in the Land of Smiles. I have entered it in to my new iPhone calendar so I make it a priority to have one/week. Don't knock it--it saves Josh plenty of time rubbing my feet on the couch! See, I do it for the both of us!

#5 Conversing!  I have been able to meet so many great people here already, and for only being here 3 weeks, I say that is pretty darn good. I haven't replaced any of my friends back home--come visit so I can introduce you!  But I have learned that if I want to have fun here, truly LIVE here and experience everything Big Mango has to offer, I have to do the talking. Josh spends most of his time talking to the little old Thai lady in our building lobby, asking how to say this and that (he can tell time, count to 999, and communicate well with the cab drivers!), while I spend a large majority of my time looking like a tourist, asking people about this and that. It's the way I work, knowing my surrounding and becoming an 'expert expat'.Yeah, like that's a real term.

Friday, July 29, 2011

And the adventure has officially begun! WOWS and OMGs galore

We have been in BKK just under one week, but have just finally moved in to our new home. We were able to negotiate a great price for what is the equivalent of just over 3,600 sq. feet. We are very pleased with our new home!
But before we jump to that, I have to highlight some of my WOWS and OMGs before they become monotonous. The first thing that sticks out...and only because I have a serious addiction to McDonald's cones back home...Mr. Ronald McDonald doin' the wai, which is a polite gesture when greeting someone else. Some say he is downright scary, but I kinda dig it. Have a look and see for yourself. And who puts E.T. in the back of a hot pink VW Beetle? Look closely. He DID survive the 80s. I wonder if my mom still has that E.T. costume I got stuck wearing 3 years in a row for Halloween. I digress...
E.T. doesn't even qualify for shotgun here. He must be scorching because this car hasn't moved in the last week I have been here. 

So when's the last time you were walking in your neighborhood and you saw whole fish with a pretty big stick stuck through its mouth and body, ready for purchase? I see these little guys everyday. All in good time, and I will try one...
"Come on, eat me! You know you wanna...Or, pass this time, but I'm not going away anytime soon."

...but not quite the same for the chicken feet. I might have to have a few drinks before the courage magically appears like Zorro to dig in. Do you want a wing or a leg, man? Um, hold those. I'll just crunch on these bony feet. I think that one on the left is pointing at me..."Hey, you, gimmie your attention!"


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Prepping: Cheesehead to BKK

Those of you venturing on to this new site are well aware of where I come from, Green Bay, WI. Yes, I am a glorified CHEESEHEAD, or Cabeza de Queso, as tell my students. But come July 22nd, I will really have to change my thought from dairy products to fresh, tropical produce. You see, my husband, Joshua, and I, will be trading our lifestyles of cold, dreary winters, watching the Superbowl Green Bay Packers for life in "The BIG MANGO"-Bangkok, Thailand, or BKK, as it is often referred. Each of us will be teaching at a new American International School, Berkeley International School. I will be teaching IT (Information Technology) and Josh, Phys. Ed. We are excited, nervous, anxious, nervous, and um, did I say NERVOUS???!!!

Yes, we are moving to Bangkok. No, I have not yet seen The Hangover Part II, where it was filmed, but it is on my summer agenda, along with packing, packing, and um, yeah, more packing. No, I won't be bringing my cheese head puppet I used for skits and role-plays. It's endured enough over the last 11 years of teaching Spanish. Please rest assured, Mr. Cheese Head, you will always hold a near and dear spot in my plastic storage container in Jim and Cherie Tebo's basement, anxiously awaiting our return in two years.