It’s been weeks since my last update. Where have we been? What’s been going on? Did we eat anything scary? You must be full of queries for the Red Suitcase! Just so you all know Josh did finish his book (wild applause!) and I am over halfway there (supportive clapping). Max and Emma both made progress on their projects and will post soon.
Thailand is, as you might imagine, wonderful. We’re now relaxing at a beautiful beach resort in Khao Lak (1 hour north of Phuket). After our writing retreat in Laos– so much to say about this that it will be a whole other blog post very soon–we spent 4 nights in Bangkok. I had rented an apartment on the Chao Praya riverside. It was a high-rise that looked out over the city. Coming from laid-back Luang Prabang, Bangkok was noisy, crowded, and hectic. The heat was quite surprising. I thought we were acclimatized to the heat after weeks in Laos, but somehow the city was more stifling. Hanging in our a/c apartment was very comfortable but after even a short walk on the streets of Bangkok I was sweaty mess. Our apartment was just across the river from the Skytrain (Bangkok’s metro system). We’d hop aboard the water taxi to cross the river and then hustle up two flights of stairs to get aboard the efficient and ice cold air conditioned train. The contrast between inside the train car and outside was dramatic– like 20 deg F. Some days getting on and off the train made the heat feel even more intense.
Street food is everywhere in Bangkok. We were surround by ladies with roasted eggs in baskets on their shoulders, pushcarts of sliced mangos, and street stalls full of meats grilling. Since our visit to India, I have been hyper-vigalent about clean food and drink. So we took only photos of street food and played it safe.
I know that we missed out on some amazing flavors, but we didn’t have time or interest in chancing getting sick this time around. I wish very much for a tall glass of fresh brewed Thai iced-tea right now. When we walked by this stall, Max and I stopped and smelled. The nutty, sweet, roasted scent of tea poured over ice with sticky condensed milk was very tempting.
Unfortunately our stay in Bangkok was interrupted by Max, Josh and Emma all getting a bad colds. I spent time on my own finding reputable pharmacies that carried kleenex and antihistamine to bring back to the “infirmary.” I actually took Max to the Dr. in Bangkok when his cough took a turn. Navigating the medical system here was an adventure. Apparently there are quite a few people who come to Thailand for “medical tourism.” There’s a very efficient system– kind of like Kaiser– to serve tourists. I took Max to a hospital that looked like a 5star hotel, checked him in as an outpatient was seen by a Dr. and filled a scrip for antibiotics and was out the door in 1 hour. I’m not suggesting that I want to come here for my next elective surgery, but getting Max’s cough checked out was easy.
Recovery from colds in the heat left the three of them uninterested in the sights. So we opted out of touring temples, gardens, palaces, floating markets, and bike tours. I did get to out the the fantastic Chatuchak Market– the largest market in Asia. over 35 acres of stalls.
I didn’t get lost at all! I went with the intention to wander. Being lost means that you are not where you thought you should be. My wandering in the market was the direct opposite. I wanted to be wherever I was. I found all kinds of handicrafts, silks, and ugly t-shirts. This is a wholesale market for all of Thailand, you can get anything you ever thought to look for here at the market.
As always, we found a great place for High Tea and enjoyed tea and treats surrounded by elegant orchids. We saw lots of photos from the 1870s of King Rama IV and his wives and children. You will all know forward-thinking King Rama because he was considered the “father of science and technology” in Thailand. He invited Anna, a British woman to come and educate his children. He opened Siam to the world and encouraged western thinking, dress and customs. Etc., etc., etc.
After our city stay we hopped on a short flight and arrived in paradise here in Khao Lak. This area was entirely wiped clean by the tsunami of Boxing Day 2004. It’s humbling to look out across the aquamarine Andaman sea and imagine a wall of water over 4 meters tall slamming onto shore. It is a solemn reminder that life is very short and not without risk. So we are living it up! The kindness of the staff here and the relaxing pace of beach life is a welcome respite.
There are over 3 km of pools interconnected at the hotel and a fantastic beach with warm waters. The kids spend most of the day in the water and we’ve been hyper-vigilent about sunscreen unlike most of tourists here who come in 2 colors: leathery or lobster. Josh is having a “massage-a-thon” trying to log as many $10 massages on the beach as possible in the 5 days we are here.
In the evenings we wander down to the beach to look for dinner at our choice of thatch covered restaurants where fresh fish, satay and curries are delicious. Max enjoyed drinking his first young coconut. We are playing lots of Spades and Team Awesome (Patty and Max) are getting close to beating Team Blue-Green (Josh and Emma) now.
Last night on the full moon we lit a wish lantern. This is a traditional Thai tall paper lantern lit by a candle. When it burns and creates enough heat it can float. We held on to it as it filled with light, all making a wish and then let go into the night sky. Soaring higher and higher, it sailed far off into the heavens and we watched it until it was as small as the stars in the sky. Then in blink, it winked out. We walked home the gentle night breezes blowing onshore and cool sand between our toes.