26 July 2012

“I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine.”

-Jack Daniels, as we deplaned in Bangkok

One week down, 99 to go! J/k, I’m not doing a countdown. That would be super lame.
The bedroom in our hotel.

The living room in our hotel.

We are not yet in our permanent housing, and we are living in a hotel a couple of blocks from the Embassy. This has its pluses and minuses. Minus: our permanent housing is currently being vetted and leased by the Embassy, and there are several families like ours waiting to move in. It could take up to a month for this to happen. Plus: we found the website for our building and the place is gorgeous. Also, our air freight stuff arrived before we did! It’s still going through Thai customs, but should be ready for delivery by the time we move in, so we won’t be living sparsely. Minus: living in a hotel extends the “in-between” time we’ve been stuck in since we got married. I have yet to feel like I’m living in my own place. Plus: I highly recommend hotel living for a moving transitional location. In DC, we were in a Residence Inn, so we had a fridge and kitchen. And here we do as well (note: this place is both larger and cheaper than the RI), plus an in-room washer/dryer.

Since no one likes hearing people complain, I won’t say anything more than this: I will never ever again buy a phone from Verizon.

One of the best things about Bangkok is having Jack Daniels here to tell me what food to eat. If I had come here on my own, as a tourist, I would have missed out on a lot of things because a lot of places don’t have English menus. JD said that I could always just point to something, but I know I’d go for the blandest looking thing, because I’d be afraid the spiciness would kill me.

One day this week, we went out to lunch with some of JD’s coworkers. We went to a place that looked like a warehouse (with no walls, just a big ceiling on posts). Food stands lined the edges, and there were a bunch of cafeteria-style tables in the middle. JD showed me to an Isan place. He spent a year of the mish there and the food sounds really interesting. So I just told him to order me something awesome and he did! At one point while he ordered, he gestured to me and he and the stall guys laughed. I knew he was telling them to go light on the spices for his poor wife.

That lunch was SO good. It was still plenty spicy for my taste, but never to the point of unpleasantness (although it took two Cokes to combat the heat). His coworkers (a Thai, a Filipino, a Vietnamese guy, and an Indonesian) ordered their own food and ordered this dish that JD told me about back when we were first dating. It involves fermented fish sauce. I tried it and it wasn’t that bad, but JD had ordered a non-fish-sauce version of it and I liked that one more. His Thai coworker got me a dessert made with coconut milk, grains, ice, and these gelatin chunks, and it was delicious. JD hadn’t heard of this before, but he liked it as well. This was probably my favorite eating experience thus far.

A bonus to this experience was walking by some fruit stands on the way back to work/home. I saw a fruit I’d never seen before, and neither had Daniel. He asked the seller about it and the guy gave us a free sample! It tasted pretty good, and I will totally buy one later. It’s called salak and this is what it looks like:

Things I Really Like about Thailand:

Food is really damn cheap. And, obviously, I really like it.

Coke is different here but it still tastes pretty good, so I’m happy. (Plus, if I really need an American Coke, they have it at the Embassy commissary.)

People are really into Premier League football here, which is great because I arbitrarily decided a while back that I want to become a rabid Man U fan.

Being a dip is pretty cool. Basically, I can live in this awesome country, but I can psychologically retreat to America if I want to.

Things I Don’t Like or Will Take a While to Come Around to:

The smell of hot fermenting garbage on many of the roads. Thankfully, there are about four or five different sois (side streets) that we can take to walk to the Embassy, and luckily I discovered a non-stinky one early on, so that’s my commute of choice.

I have marveled a few times about the scary-looking things people will eat here. “Why can’t they just eat normal food?” I obviously haven’t vocalized this, since I understand that’s my Ugly American-ness rearing its head.

I’m bored without a job. Hopefully that will change at some point.

My hair has not yet adjusted, and is just a giant frizzball.

The view from our temp housing.


Haley and Lance (but probably just Haley) said...

I'm so excited for you! And jealous of all your Thai-food-eating. Keep up the blogging!

Shauna said...

I have been waiting for an update! Love the post and I really miss your face. Can't wait to come see you! You better be starving for some Shauna time ;)

Your post reminds me of the Philippines! Home sweet home.

SJ said...

I wanna see the frizzball

Audrey Crisp said...

Thai food is good. That hotel looks nice! I hope you get to move into your place soon!

Rob Fisher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Fisher said...

Awesome! I completely plan to live through you guys, in Bangkok, for the next two years!

From your picture, I'm guessing you're staying at Centre Point Langsuan (or really close to it)? I love the Bangkok skyline! Do they still light up that GE building at night with blue and red neon on the top? Our apartment faced South, overlooking Lumpini Park, with the HSBC Bank Building, Westin Banyan Tree, the tall one with the square hole in it, and the Standard Charter Building as our view.

We used to wander around Lumpini Park, I would rollerblade there a lot when I first got there. There is a cool fountain on the South side of the park, that has this giant round stone that spins because of the water pressure under it. The elderly Chinese ladies doing Tai Chi in the early mornings were awesome too.

I think I honestly miss the hot garbage smell sometimes, it was always strong along Thanon Sarasin and the Langsuan intersection. You'll get used to it, and it will bring back memories after you leave.

Check out 13.734440,100.539571 (Google it) the alley next to Brown Sugar on Sarasin. It has amazing gwit dio moo dang (It's an amazing noodle soup with a flavorful broth and I liked it with Red Pork... something like Pho).

If you haven't tried the pineapple sold by the street vendors, do that, oh and get the fresh squeezed orange juice they sell from the street vendors too. Totally AMAZING! The best orange juice I've ever had.

If your well rested and ready for shopping and to see tons of stuff, go check out Chatuchak Weekend Market, you can get there on the SkyTrain, I think it's the Mo Chit stop, the last on the line that goes North and West.

Also, have you guys been to Yaowarat (China Town) yet? Sampeng Market has fabric. Pak Khlong Talat is a huge flower market there too. From there, you could jump on a water taxi and go see Wat Arun...

If you're missing a good steak, I think the best place, around the Embassy at least, was Neil's Tavern, on Soi Ruam Rudi. There was also a place on Soi Ton Son behind the "new embassy".

Other places to know about.. the hospital, Bumrungrad International Hospital, on Sukhumvit Soi 3. There are many, but this one is one of the best. The other that you may go to from time to time is BNH, Bangkok Nursing Home Hospital on Convent near Silom.

For Jewelry go to Venus Jewelry on Thanon Witthayu, ask for Khun Parn, and tell her Khun John Fisher’s son sent you. Most of the Embassy goes there, and they won’t rip you off.

...ok, that's enough I know, I'm just so excited for you guys! Take lots of pictures and post a lot!

Rob Fisher said...

Also check out Thanon Khao San at night, lots of food and fun stuff to see, and shopping. It's in Yaowarat as well.

There's a traditional thai massage place I wanted to tell you about too, but I can't remember the name. It was like a *U.S. State* hotel, south of Rama IV a bit. It was totally on the up-and-up. We took my Grandparents there when they came to visit a few times. Very relaxing. I'll ask my Dad if you are interested.

K, now I'm really going to mow the lawn now.

Christina said...

I'm going to try to refrain from saying things like, "I'm so jealous!" every time you post from Thailand, but I'm not promising anything. All I have to say is that those fruit vendors were the best part of my day, every day. Pineapple and guava.... mmmmm. Also, come next hot season you'll be able to get mangosteens and that is a life-changing experience. And lastly, not to ruin your day, but your hair will never come to terms with the weather. You will have to come to terms with your hair. :)

Rachel said...

so excited to read about all of your adventures. and then come visit!