Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thursday in Bangkok: An Urban Adventure

Hello, everyone! This is Susan reporting on our adventures.

After breakfast this morning, we did a bit of checking in to see how everyone is managing this experience. Andy and Jen said that no matter how long your stay here, it seems that emotions and energy ebb and flow in predictable patterns and that we were probably experiencing a small lull right about now. We talked about the contrasts between our experiences of home and what we see here. Andy and Jen seem to feel it is helpful to them that someone from Englewood has a sense of what their life is like in Bangkok.

Personally I have been interested in what is eerily similar to my experiences in Central America and what is surprisingly different. I have also not even tried to keep track of time since our plane landed last week. No watch, no cell phone and few clocks on the wall give the whole trip a rather dreamy, timeless, relaxed feel I have not experienced in a very long time. It is rather nice.

Today we headed off with Andy, Jen and the boys to the Grand Palace. To get there we took the Sky Train and a water taxi. We saw long tail boats, barges and tug boats on the huge Chao Phraya river. Although we have many wonderful photos (to be uploaded very soon) I have to say there is no way the photos can do justice to the scope of the Grand Palace. Each building glitters with color and fantastic shapes; gold leaf covers almost everything. Awe-inspiring is the word. We saw many Western tourists who did not know the dress code and who, when they tried to enter were sent back out to rent appropriate pants. Personally, I was grateful we had been warned (long pants or long skirts, collared shirts, closed-toe shoes are required) because those flamboyant rental pants were not very flattering and certainly marked you as someone who did not understand at all where you were.

Just as we took our shoes off and entered the Jade Buddha Temple, Hillary realized her purse was open. Ironically I had decided today not to carry my bulky purse and had asked Hillary to carry my wallet in her purse. Yep, my wallet was gone, along with a sizable amount of cash, my debit card, my drivers license and a few other items difficult to replace. I have to admit, this was not a great moment for me. Andy, Hillary and I retraced our steps, looking in hopes of finding it on the ground. We asked the Palace officials and many market vendors, all of whom sweetly and sincerely stopped what they were doing to help us. It was nowhere to be found.

After a quick lunch, Jen and I came back to the apartment with the boys and I checked my online banking account. Sure enough, three small, unauthorized transactions were pending. I was able to make a Skype call to my bank to cancel the card. My bank seems to think the thieves did not successfully get any money from the debit card, although sadly they did make off with quite a bit of irreplaceable cash. I was also able to report my drivers license stolen online and order a replacement. After Jude and Reuben got up, we played with some modeling clay they got for Christmas. Jen and I took the opportunity to have a bit of "girl talk" over the boys' heads.

While I was dealing with the bank, Andy, Caleb, Isaac and Hillary returned to seeing the sites. They also indulged in something Bangkok is famous for: massages. No, not the kind we usually hear about, but legitimate therapeutic massage, and for only about $15 per person for a full hour. They all enjoyed the experience immensely. They then rode in tuk-tuks and met Jen, the boys and me for a wonderful Japanese dinner.

After dinner, we took the Sky Train back to the May's apartment where the boys had a quick shower and headed off to bed. Andy and Jen are out on the town as I write, enjoying a rare opportunity to have a date night. The kids and I are having a quiet night, reading and playing on the computers, trying to stay awake until Jen and Andy come home. The big excitement of the evening was Caleb and Hillary sampling some fried grubs. They report that the flavor is ok, but the texture is vaguely disturbing. There will soon be a short video clip posted so that you can share the moment with us. Fried grubs could be on the next Versailles camping trip menu!

None of us can remember right now what it is we are doing tomorrow, but we are looking forward to it with gusto. We think some part of tomorrow will be Girls Night Out; already the females have announced we don't even want to know what they guys do while we are kicking our heels up, but we picture some gratuitous belching, scratching, and farting. Or I guess they could do some laundry! Hey, it could happen!

It is really difficult to believe tomorrow is Friday already! Keeping track of the days has been a bit confusing. Mostly we try to just go with the flow and be ready for anything. Thanks for reading. You will hear more of our saga tomorrow.


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