Every day must be thrilling because we are traveling around the world, right? Well, not so fast. There are still laundry (above), dishes, sibling disputes, homeschooling, differences of opinion on how to spend time or money… you get the idea. Once, I looked back on the previous six days and realized we hadn’t done anything we couldn’t have done a year ago, so we immediately planned a tourist day, but still. I decided to write about our behind-the-scenes life traveling long term.
Search for a pool
It is so hot here, even though it is the dry/cool season. We don’t have a pool where we live so we have spent a lot of time looking for places to swim. We never found one close by, so most days we did not swim. Our excellent landlady let us use the pool at her apartment building, which was nice.
We have been to several rooftop water parks at malls. None are close to where we are staying, but they have been nice with excellent views! And the water slides go right out over the city!
I’ve been to more malls than I care to admit. The malls are actually very nice- clean, nice bathrooms, a/c, interesting lights and displays- but I did not come here for the malls darn it! That said, we end up there for one reason or another more than once a week. The malls sometimes have waterfalls, ponds and fish:
Many Christmas displays and an occasional parade:
Weird sidewalk art outside:
We also have seen a few movies at the malls. I personally saw Star Wars and the epic Thai historical drama Panthai Norasingh that clocked in at over 3 hours long (fascinating story of a Thai moral hero during the time of Ayutthaya). Movies cost under $3, a bit more for 3D and 4D, the latter of which involves moving seats and getting sprayed by water, etc. here are the kids with friends and 3D glasses:
A definite perk about Bangkok is the affordable massages. For about $6 usd, you can get an hour massage. There is nothing sleazy about it; it is part of the culture going back thousands of years. Some temples we have seen have wall paintings about massage, and several temples have massage schools onsite. Massage businesses are at malls, small and large stores, and they are offered by wandering practitioners at the beach. For solstice, the kids and I all had foot massages!
We joined a wonderful group of homeschoolers who meet weekly for classes and socializing. Here’s part of the group at an ice-skating activity that also happens once a week:
and here is the Christmas show the homeschool co-op kids put on:
I already mentioned the English library in another post; we go there about once a week.
There is a shrine and also these random statues we see here and all around Thailand:
We try to get it done in the mornings, with varying success. I won’t lie, Mr. Fantastic does the bulk of the homeschooling. He does a great job and I try to help out.
There are enough western-style grocery stores for cereal, pasta, canned goods. They are usually in malls, so we go when we are there.
Our local outdoor market has great produce, fresh tofu at times, and many herbs and spices I am at a loss to identify.
And lots of flowers! These are everywhere for the garlands they make to decorate shrines, statues, taxicab rear-view mirrors…
And in the mornings, you can buy food plates for monks, and you can get a blessing as part of daily alms-giving.
We had a mosquito-net ‘tree’ and homemade decorations. I loved it! The kids initiated a ‘secret Santa’ gift exchange so we wouldn’t get bogged down with stuff in our backpacks.
We went to a buffet on Xmas day with another traveling family we met.
It was at an Indian restaurant, complete with karaoke and Santa in sunglasses!
Little random things:
People bow here- there are different ways to bow that have different meanings, and I didn’t get them all but I did bow and get bowed to, which I really liked.
You can buy cold towels for those really hot days in the refrigerated section at the 7-11. BTW, there are 7-11s all over Bangkok, sometimes two on the same block!
We have a mildly eccentric next-door neighbor who walks around shirtless (very rare here) and feeds street cats. He actually has litter boxes out for them as well. This results in much cat drama on our roof and outside our door.
Speaking of cats, the kids found a place called the Cat Cafe where you can pay 50 baht (about $1.40) for a drink or piece of cake and time in a room to play with six healthy cats. They said the local young women love to do this and take many selfies with the cats.
I have a love/hate relationship with the sky train BTS. It is a beautiful, clean, efficient way for us to get around, but it eats a lot of our budget. The kids get no discount, so we usually spent over 600 baht (close to $20) just getting to and from somewhere. An interesting part of riding the public transportation here is that people are so polite about giving up their seats. The twins usually get seats from this polite custom which extends to children, monks, pregnant women, and the elderly. Thais seem so eager to give up their seats, it seems they take a seat just so they can graciously give it away. Must have something to do with Buddhism merit, or just a sense of decency I seldom see in the US.