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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, 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.

#6 WTF! Why, That's Funny! This section deserves to be in a post all on its own. Let's face it. This is not Wisconsin, Dorothy.
Well, then where the heck am I?
And although there are plenty of Toto's roaming these streets, quite docile I might add, Bkk is def not for the easily offended. You are going to see the strangest of the strange, and then some. How you react to the strange happenings is up to you.

Okay, case in point. I was in a grocery store the other day and in the economy aisle of sorts, I come across this mid-range on the shelf:
No, I don't wanna HANG with you, okay? I'll just deal with it!
Now, don't go running to E*Trade, Wisconsinites. Just because you tend to overindulge because those winters are so harsh and long, I still wouldn't trust this one to cure your ailing each weekend. Just head to the local Sunday brunch locale and grab yourself up a good ol' Bloody Mary instead. That's my philosophy and I am sticking to it!

And, are they seriously trying to scare the little kids at JJ Weekend Market or what?
Maybe Ronald needs a little fix of HANG up above, huh?

What's not to love about all the funny stuff I come across here? I mean, another WTF example right here. I am surrounded by the sex industry (think Nana past 8:00 for those of you here...) yet on the same side of the street I am also being passed by the famous Buddhist monks in their orange robes, on their cell phones, or like today, at Pantip Plaza while shopping for a booster for my worthless TrueOnline router, the monks wheeling and dealing at one of the  Canon camera shops. Gotta love BKK! Anything is a go, like our French real estate agent, Olivier, told us the other night when he and his wife came over for dinner. It is Thailand, so just do what you want.
#7 Thai Iced Tea and Cheap Fruit Smoothies

So we've found our bagels, our freebies and then it is a close second/third, but the cheap iced, chilled drinks here are a hit with me. I tuck away enough change in my running shorts mini-pocket for when I finish my run I can swing by the roadside window of Tea, Etc. next to Phrom Phong BTS and pick me up a fresh Apple Kiwi Iced Tea. Sounds strange, but again, folks, it is Bangkok and anything goes. I didn't  think I would dig it, but it dug me in and now I am hooked. It's either that or the 9 Baht (about 33 cents!) I pay at the BTS to get my McDonald's ice cream cone fix on the way home from work. Or, if I am really splurging, I am paying a whopping 14 baht for a choco-dipped cone at McD's. Some things you just can't pass up. Like this fruit smoothie stand. Just look-yes, it's all real fruit. I know what you are thinking. And the woman whips it up in a jiffy lickity-split for 30 baht (1 USD).

So there you have it! A few of my favorite things in 3 weeks time. I am sure these things will either get replaced by new and exciting things, but they hold a special place near and dear in my gut, on my taste buds and in my veins! Have I tempted you enough to come experience it for yourself? Even a little bit?

1 comment:

  1. I wish I could come to visit. You make a great tour guide.