We were in and out of Bangkok several times since it’s a major transport hub. Here are a few other observations and adventures, in no particular order:
I’m obsessed with one of the stops on the Bangkok Skytrain called Nana. The pre-recorded announcement sounds so soothing… I’m sure it could lull even the most stubborn baby to sleep:
Much like the kid in the above video, I can’t help but repeat the name every time she says it, like an obedient cult member. (It’s worth nothing that while slightly embarassing, The German much prefers this to the hours he spent listening to me mimic the British voice of Waze when we drove from SF to Miami.)
Beware the wires…
As I mentioned previously, electrical wiring is a little insane:
It’s not uncommon to hear a humming sound as you walk past. We were always extra-careful not to brush up against them as it just didn’t sound safe.
One day, we were walking down the street and heard what at first sounded like a gunshot. A bunch of birds flew off as one fell to the ground. Guns are not readily available in Thailand and people don’t seem to be bothered by birds… plus, we didn’t see anyone in the vicinity. And that’s when we had the dreaded realization that we just witnessed a birdie electrocution. (I knew that wiring couldn’t be safe!)
The German really wanted to see Arrival, but it hasn’t been released in Thailand yet so I got to see Fantastic Beasts instead. There are plenty of large cinemas in Bangkok, several of which offer a “luxury” experience. (I’m not sure why these are so rare in the US – it seems like a missed business opportunity!) The tickets were only about $2 more than a normal show, so we decided to check out the Emprive Cineclub.
It started with a lobby reminiscent of a nice hotel. The staff were all friendly, there were no lines, and the tickets looked like boarding cards.
The concession stand had 4 kinds of popcorn: salted, caramel, BBQ or “corncheese”. It turns out this is popcorn with both cheese and corn flavouring… it wasn’t awful but it was definitely weird. (Why does popcorn need artificial corn flavour added to it?)
We went mid-week, mid-afternoon and there was literally only 1 other person in the massive theatre! The seats were large leather recliners, and the theatre provided blankets (which was nice given the AC is always blasting).
Before the movie started, there were the usual ads. It was entertaining to try and guess what they were for since they were entirely in Thai.
Then there was some sort of propaganda piece about how great the King was, shot in the style of “behind the scenes” footage. They showed a group of people sitting around a table discussing how impossible it would be to convey the incredible wonderfulness of the King in only 2 minutes. Some of them wiped away tears as they talked about him, others talked passionately about how his image appears on all the currency (?)… it was certainly interesting, I’ll give them that!
Next up was a message in Thai and English that said everyone should rise to honour the King (which we did – they have thrown people in jail for years for making jokes about the King so we weren’t going to risk it, even with only 1 other person in the theatre)
The tribute that followed was presumably the 2 minute piece the weepy table folks were discussing. I actually found it very moving – lots of authentic footage of people gathering at the palace to mourn, singing and holding candles. When the visuals abruptly changed to the trailer for Assasin’s Creed, we figured it was safe to sit down.
All in all, the movie was a fun bit of escapism for a couple hours, but the whole experience of having comfy recliners in a nearly empty theatre made it even better!
There’s not really any distinction between “breakfast foods” and other foods here. While there are fewer hawker stalls in the mornings, you still see people eating anything from spicy noodles to chicken satay to seafood soup for breakfast. This is how I justified eating mango sticky rice for breakfast on our last day.
I desparately needed a haircut – it had been at least 8 weeks since my last one. I did a lot of research online and found a salon that seemed to be popular with expats. I thought this was a good approach since my short and thick hair is the opposite to that of the local girls’, plus being able to communicate in English was imperative. After a brief email exchange with a salon, they set up an appointment with one of their “master stylists”. I told The German he was obligated to come with me.
I didn’t realize at the time that the location was in the middle of nowhere… it looked like a deserted mall next to a freeway. Our Uber driver got extra-lost taking us there, and our Uber driver for the way back also struggled to find us. (I had to get someone from the salon to explain in Thai where we were.)
I walked into the salon, and while it was full of expats, they were all getting hair extensions put in… if the drive over wasn’t already a bad sign, this definitely had me worried.
It started with them washing my hair in ice cold water. The stylist then took a brief look at my reference photos, asked the assistant to use her iPad to take a pic of the photo on my phone (?), and starting cutting away at the back of my head. Every time he made a cut, I held my breath and looked to see if The German, who was sitting behind me, had a horrified expression or not.
The only question the stylist asked was if I parted my hair on the side. I offered him the reference photo again halfway through but he said he didn’t need it.
By the time he was done, I was relieved to have a solidly mediocre haircut. Though I discovered later he missed cutting one chunk behind my left ear, it’s not a total disaster so I’ll consider myself lucky. And all for the bargain price of $15 (plus 2 Uber rides).
I am looking forward to getting it improved in Melbourne.
We also went to the Sky Bar that was a location in the movie The Hangover II. This photo doesn’t do it justice – stepping outside of the building takes your breath away… the view of Bangkok is excellent and the bar feels like it’s hanging off the edge of the world.
And since we were traveling on the The German’s actual bday, we had a do-over that included more lattes and a giant steak:
It’s a bit challenging to try and make a birthday extra-special given that we don’t really have any sense of “normal” anymore… we are constantly changing countries or hotels/apartments, which results in us changing any semblance of a daily routine, too. Plus, we don’t have any friends around and we don’t really have room for more “stuff”… hopefully a vegetarian-organized steakhouse made it feel a little out of the ordinary.
Now it’s time to head to Melbourne!
Having spent several months in the hot & muggy weather of Southeast Asia, I’m worried it is going to feel cold by comparison! (The current forecast shows termperatures ranging from high 70’s to high 50’s). While I am not looking forward to things being more expensive, I am excited to be able to read everything, see some friends from SF, and get some good wine & cheese (as I am having serious withdrawals).
We are committed to staying in Melbourne through the holidays, then it’s all loose until mid-February when we head to Bali. We’ll see what happens!