Tag Archives: Bangkok

Good Reasons to Have Lady Parts in Thailand

There are a lot of really great things about being a lady in Thailand. Most of them involve pampering, beautifying, and free booze (Not together. Usually. Although…quick! Write up a business plan for a beauty salon where you can drink!).

To be honest, I usually take a page out of my imaginary best friend Tina Fey’s book, who says:

If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important Rule of Beauty: ‘Who cares?’

How brilliant is that?

Anyway, in Thailand, I can afford to care a little bit more than I do back home, because I can pay somebody to do the things that I can’t do on my own.

1. Shampoo and Blow Dry

For me, this is the best value for my money because it’s something I would never pay to have done back home. At my favorite hair salon in Silver Spring, Maryland, it costs about $40 just to have somebody shampoo and then blow dry your hair.

My main questions about that are: So, is that blow dryer made of solid gold? Or what?

For some reason, getting a shampoo and dry in Bangkok is so cheap it’s shocking. I have had a shampoo/dry for 60B ($2), but I generally pay 100B (about $3). I have paid 200B (about $7) when I was in a hurry and picked a random place, but that’s way too much for me on a regular basis.

Some things to keep in mind if you want a shampoo/dry for 100B:

  • You’re not going to get a fancy place for 100B. It’s going to be a neighborhood place filled with Thai women, which I think is great.
  • You’re not always going to get hot water for the shampoo for that price. Again, that doesn’t really bother me, as it’s usually one trillion degrees in this city.
  • They’re not going to sterilize the brushes and things like they do in many Western countries. Usually they just grab a brush, rip out the hair left by the previous person, and move on. I haven’t caught anything yet (that I’m aware of)!
  • They’ll shampoo your hair two or three times, use conditioner, and give you a head massage. And then you will die happy.
  • They will take as much time and care as if you go to a fancy place. Sometimes they will take more time and care.
  • A tip will be greatly appreciated and often confusing. (“I charged you 80B and you’re giving me 100B?”)

2. Hair Styling

Back home, I generally paid $50-$90 for a simple haircut, which is hilarious because it would look awesome for one day and then go back to the exact same cut I’ve had for years.

In Bangkok, I pay about 600-700 baht (around $20+) for a good cut at Anderson Salon. Pam is Thai, but she deals almost exclusively with Western clients, and she knows her stuff. She speaks great English and has very competitive prices. I recently got lowlights and a cut from her, and it cost 1500B, or about $50.

(p.s. Pam gives the best shampoo/head massage I’ve ever had, literally. Worth it just for that!)

3. Massages

If you just go to a random place, Thai massages in Thailand will start at around 150 (~$5) to 200 baht (~$7) for an hour.  And while Thai massage isn’t exactly relaxing (think forced yoga meets WWF wrestling), you feel great after, even with the bruises. Yes, literally, bruises.

Body massages of any kind in the US cost anywhere from $70 to $100 an hour. I love telling that to my Thai friends who have never been to the US before. The look of shock on their faces is awesome. And it is shocking! That’s a LOT of money!

The best foot massage in town is a place on Sukumvhit soi 31 for 250B, but I think if I reveal the name, my friend Jonathan will kill me.

4. Knock-off beauty supplies at MBK

I’m going to be honest: I don’t really understand how to put on makeup correctly. There’s some part of my girl gene code missing, so I literally have to look at an instruction booklet to put on fancy eye makeup. But I still like to buy it and pretend that someday I’ll know how to use it.

Enter: MBK. MBK is a mall full of clothing, electronics, and crap, and is so labyrinthine that I always end up stumbling out of there after a few hours, completely disoriented, praising the sun blazing down on my head, thankful that I made it out alive.

I feel like David Bowie should be waiting for me somewhere with some Muppets.

Still, it’s all worth it because the 3rd floor of MBK has a series of stands that sell expensive brand-name makeup and beauty supplies for incredibly, incredibly cheap. I don’t know how they do it, and I probably don’t want to know. Factory rejects? “Fell” off the back of the truck? Just old products? Who knows!

Beauty Product Wonderland

5. Keratin Hair Treatment

I don’t really know what keratin is, but I assume it’s some kind of wizarding magic that is taught at the School of Magical Beauty, Hogwarts’s lesser-known sister campus. That’s how amazing it is. It takes frizzy hair and makes it more manageable and smooth, and it’s pretty labor-intensive, so in the DC-area it costs $400-500.  That’s two zeros there on the end. In Kansas City, it’s around $300.

I haven’t had it done in Bangkok yet, but I’ve seen that costs can start around 4,000B (around $130) and go up from there. That’s crazy cheap for wizardry, right?

You might also see it called a Brazilian blowout. Not crazy about that term, I gotta say.

6. Free Booze!

Most ladies nights back home are pretty lame. Maybe free admission or discounted drinks at some lame bar.

Well, Bangkok has some super fantastic ladies nights. It’s a good time to have lady parts!

Coyote Mexican Restaurant: Free margaritas from 6-8 on Wednesdays at the Soi Convent location, and Thursdays at the Suk Soi 33 location. Seriously, free. Their nachos are pretty decent, too.

Dusit Thani MyBar: Free ALL drinks from 7-9 on Thursdays. They’ve got all sorts of cocktails, wine, sparkling wine, beer, and smoothies. The atmosphere is kind of fancy, and there are large groups of women, so be sure to make a reservation. One time I was there, half the Thai ladies ended up passed out with their arms wrapped around a toilet and the other half were face down, drooling on the floor of the bar.  Then somebody yelled at the DJ, who screamed back, cranked up the music so loud it hurt our ears, then stormed off. It was awesome.

QBar: They often (always?) have ladies night on Wednesdays, which is free admission (usually 500B!) and two free drinks for women. And I gotta say, they don’t go cheap on the alcohol.

Witches’ Tavern: Free drinks from 5-9 on Wednesdays. I haven’t been there, but I hear it’s a pretty nice place, and that their food is good. Supposedly they have super yummy pizza. Also: free drinks for four hours!

Dear Men: I know you’re going to be like, “This is totally not fair!” But, seriously? Keep it to yourself.  Give us this one thing. Give us the free booze!

7. Clothes Shopping

I know that a lot of Western women don’t like shopping in Thailand, or Asia in general, because they feel that they’re too big. I would say I’m a pretty average-sized woman, and I don’t have any problems finding super incredibly cute clothes in Thailand for super incredibly cheap prices. I will admit, though, I haven’t bought pants (trousers, Brits!) here, and I don’t mind wearing snug clothing, so that could be why I don’t have much of a problem. If something is too short, I just put on some tights and go on my way.

If you go to the street stalls, you can find amazing deals. I shop almost exclusively from the street stalls, to be honest. And while Khao San may be a nightmare for some things, there are some really cute clothes to be had there.

My favorite dresses from Thailand. 200 baht (about $7) each. Lurve.

Also, I haven’t gone shoes shopping because I have abnormally large feet for a shortish woman (5’4″), so I can’t comment on that. Asian ladies have got some tiny feet, yo.

8. Pedicures

If you go to pretty much any hairdresser or massage place here, you can get your toes painted for 100 to 200 baht, but it’s really just paint. For about 450 baht (~$13), you can get a spa pedicure at a nice place. That’s about half the price of a pedicure back home. 600B will get you some extras like a massage or leg scrub.

When I go to get a pedicure, I usually look for a place that has the pedicure chairs; you know, the ones with the basins to put your feet in at the end. When you’re looking, anything under 450B is a really good deal, but 450-500 is average for a decent place. Anything less than that and it’s probable you’re just getting your toes painted. Check for the chairs, and you’re good to go.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Conclusion: I love you, Thailand. (I can’t think of anything witty right now!)

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Dani and Megan vs. The Worst Pickpocket in the World

When I was 20 and studying abroad in Strasbourg, France, my mother and aunt came to visit me. They flew into Paris and I took an overnight train to meet them. I had taken this particular train many times over the previous months I’d been living in France, never with any problems.

Cue ominous music. (This happens a lot in my life, huh?)

I hadn’t reserved a sleeping car because:

  1. I was a broke student.
  2. I was 20 and could actually go without a good night’s sleep and sleep in a chair or something. If I tried that now, it would take me days and days to recover, during which time I’d be a total mess. Ah, youth. Wasted on the young, amiright? Now, you kids get off my yard! I have to take care of my cats!

I found a booth/room on the train that was unoccupied and settled my backpack on the seat beside me, leaving the backpack wide open and my wallet right on top. Of my wide-open backpack. I’ll let that sink in for a second.

*Sigh.* 20-year-olds. So pretty. So, so stupid.

Of course, as many of you have already predicted, when I woke up in the morning, my wallet was gone, which meant I had no cash, no credit cards, no nothing. Yes, that’s right, not only had I left my wallet on the very top of my very open backpack, I had put everything of value I owned in said wallet (besides my passport—not quite that stupid).

I got smarter as I got older, don't worry.

When we pulled into the train station, I went to the police and tried to file a report (my French used to be good enough to do that). My main concern was that I had not even one franc (yeah, I’m old—this was pre-Euro time) and I had to catch the train to the airport. Also, please note: this was pre-mobile time, so I had no way to get in touch with my mother and aunt, and they are not exactly the savviest travelers in the world (okay, Mom, let’s be realistic here—that’s just the truth).

In the end, the police officers told me they were too busy to escort me to the airport train and that since there was a transportation employee strike going on, I should just jump the gate because nobody would be monitoring the booth.

I could not make this stuff up, people.

I got to the airport just in time to meet my mom and aunt and my first now-infamous words to them were, “Got any money?”

I didn’t have a chance to confront the pickpocket who stole all my crap in France, and I’ve always kind of wondered what I would have done if I’d caught him or her.

Turns out I kind of got to find out.

Every Wednesday in Bangkok, my friends and I get together to maintain our solid 2nd place streak at O’Reilly’s trivia night. Wooooo, 2nd place! Whatever, shut up, we’re awesome.

Anyway, one night we were walking down Silom after the quiz. My friend Dani had her backpack on, and when I looked over at her, I saw a string hanging out of the backpack. ‘That’s funny,’ I thought, ‘She has a string coming out of her backpack.’

It’s like when I thought there was a little crab coming out of my shower drain, only it was a GINORMOUS COCKROACH. Just like that. By which I mean I was thinking crazy.

I followed the string out of Dani’s backpack…straight to an ancient MP3 player in some guy’s hands. At this point, my brain went into extreme slow motion.

Waaaaaaaiiiiiiitttttt…

That’s…that’s…isn’t that DANI’S ancient MP3 player?

Waaaaaaaiiiiiiitttttt…

That’s not a string…that’s her headphones…

Waaaaaaaiiiiiiitttttt…

That guy…is trying to steal her MP3 player…

Whaaaaaaaa?

Then things started to speed up.

OHMYGODthatguyistryingtostealherMP3player!

“Dani!” I said urgently. “Dani! He’s—he’s! Stop!”

Dani stopped and we both turned around to the would-be pickpocket. We looked at him. He looked at us. And then I reached out and calmly plucked the MP3 player out of his hands. We looked at him. He looked at us. Then he did an about-face and walked very calmly and slowly away from us.

This is the point where I would like my mother, any relatives, and any other people who are going to give me a lecture on the stupidity of my next actions to stop reading. As far as you’re concerned, Dani got her MP3 player back and we all lived happily ever after!

Hooray! Goodbye, now!

Okay, so, for the rest of you, what really happened is that Dani realized her passport had been in the same backpack pocket as her MP3 player, and god only knows what else this guy had taken from her.

So, since he was still right in front of us, I reached out and grabbed his bag and pulled him back to us.

Oh, don’t worry, it gets worse.

Then I opened his bag and went through it.

It was only later that evening when I was reviewing the night’s events in my mind that it came to me—Holy sweet baby jeebus, that was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done in my life.

Luckily, we were dealing with an extremely terrible and not-so-bright pickpocket, as he let us look through his bag without putting up any sort of fight. At all. He kind of shook his head to indicate he hadn’t taken anything else, but we weren’t really taking his word for it, you know?

Well, turns out he really didn’t have anything else. I guess that taught us a lesson, huh? Moral of the story: Always trust a bad pickpocket when he tells you he didn’t take anything else from you!

We finally let him go, because…I don’t know. Were there any other options? I mean, were we going to wrestle him to the ground and keep him there while we yelled for the cops, who were not going to show up? Or if they did show up, not do anything about it, anyway? He was maybe late 20s and smaller than either of us, so we probably could have done it. But, meh.

So we let him go, and he just faded off into the crowd. He still wasn’t running, just kind of moseying away. And it didn’t seem like he was moving slowly because he was arrogant; it was more like he was moving slowly because he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.

We spent the rest of the evening kind of in shock, like, ‘What just happened here?!’

You know what just happened there? Super Dani and Super Megan kicked a pickpocket’s ass and lived to tell the tale.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

WE KICKED SOME ASS!

Final Score

Pickpocket: BIG FAT ZERO, BUT NICE TRY, BUDDY

Dani and Megan: 1 ancient MP3 player + 1 story to tell = WINNERS

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The Capital City Smackdown: BKK vs D.C. (Part 2)

Here we go, Part 2 of the Ultimate Fighting Smackdown Capital City Challenge! I realize Part 2 was supposed to be last week, but I was too busy watching True Blood and Being Erica. Sorry!

Our score stood at Bangkok:  5  DC:  2

Let’s see how they fare today.

Round 8

Shopping

Bangkok: 2 DC: 1

DC gets a point just for Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and H&M. And Target. And Politics and Prose Bookstore. Oh, and Lush.

But Bangkok…oh my god, it’s a shopper’s dream here. You can go to super high-end malls or just a little stall on the street. I’ve paid $6 on the street for some of the absolute cutest and most flattering dresses I’ve ever owned, but I could also go spend hundreds on a dress at the fancy-schmancy malls. There are markets and malls just filled with—well, with anything you want, really (unless you want an iPod case with a clip for walking, in which case, Thailand does not know what you are talking about).

Round 9

Dating Scene (for single non-Thai ladies)

Bangkok: -1,000 DC: 1

Bwahahahahahaha! I’m not even going to count this category in the final scoring because it’s so obviously stacked against Bangkok—or any Asian city, for that matter.

Look, the fact is that I actually got dates when I was living in the DC area. I’m not going into a rant about the dating scene in Bangkok, but it’s either nonexistent or sucks. I’m not bitter about it, I’m just stating facts. Done.

I understand that if you’re a single non-Thai male, the score is pretty much exactly reversed, but guess what? I’m not a single non-Thai male. I’m a single non-Thai lady and THIS IS MY BLOG. I’m sure some guy’s going to be like, ‘Nuh-uh, you got it all wrong,’ (and please imagine me saying that in a completely doofusy guy voice), but to this guy I would say: ‘WordPress has free sites. Go get one of your own and leave me alone.’

This drink is called the Sexy Lady. Sarah and I had them in Mae Sots. The drinks, that is. We had the drinks in Mae Sot.

Round 10

Bars and Clubs

Bangkok: 1 DC: 1

I think many people would disagree with me here that these two cities tie in this category, but those people are also not writing this, so…

I have to say, I actually really like many bars in DC. I like being able to get cider and martinis and play skeeball or pool or just chat with my friends. I like being away from mosquitoes and being able to wear jeans (I know this has nothing to do with the bars, but my primary thoughts of being in bars in Bangkok involve mosquitoes and trying not to sweat to death). I love sipping dirty martinis and hanging out with my friends.

But I like Bangkok bars, too. We have a great rooftop bar on Soi Rangnam, and another bar that has a tree house across the Victory Monument, and lots of other great places. Bar food is pretty decent and cheapish. The sheer number of places means that you can go to a sleek club or a down-and-dirty sidewalk bar. Frankly, I’ve had more crazy and fun nights out in my time living in BKK than in…wow–it’s been years since I’ve had this much fun. But it’s really not always that cheap to go out in Bangkok, as cocktails are often almost as much as back home, and in many places are not very good at all (if you know where to find a good dirty martini, my friend Sarah and I will be eternally grateful).

Anyway, it’s my scoring, and I say they tie. And, Jonathan, if you want to tell me how wrong I am, feel free…but I’m also free to ignore you. :)

Josh and I got to meet some Thai pop stars the other night at the Bangkok Podcast party. It was kind of awesome.

Round 11

Brunch

Bangkok: 0 DC: 1

DC is a brunch city. Bangkok is not so much a brunch city. One of the things I miss most about DC is going to this total hipster bar with my friend JB on Sunday mornings, where we would order delicious egg sandwiches with piping hot, crispy tater tots, drink $2 mimosas, and make fun of the hipsters drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon. Can’t beat that.

Soymilk and fried dough. This was my brunch in Chiang Mai. (Yes, I'm exaggerating--you can find brunch in Thailand.)

Round 12

Cost of Living

Bangkok: 1 DC: 0

This one isn’t even fair. DC is bloody expensive. You can get a room in a house that you share with 5 other people in DC for $700 a month. Sometimes more! Just for the privilege of living in a “fun” neighborhood where people vomit on your doorstep and you can’t ever find parking! But you do have cheap pizza down the street! And they say people in DC are smart…

$700 in Bangkok can get you a really nice place, with no sharing. You can also find a place for just a couple of hundred bucks that will at least not be in a neighborhood you aren’t scared to go outside in. In DC, a couple of hundred bucks for an apartment would get you, if you were lucky, a room in a slumlord-owned house in a neighborhood where you would need an armored car to get to and from work.

My super cute place in Maryland in the not-so-super-cute snow.

Round 13

Standard of Living

Bangkok: 1 DC: 1

At first, I thought that Bangkok won hands down, no contest, but upon further reflection, I’m not so sure. Yes, in Bangkok I can get my hair done for $3, a massage for $5, and eat dinner for $1. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

But Thailand is still a developing nation in many ways. You can barely walk down the sidewalks, it’s loud as hell and dirty, the sewage system doesn’t work, the water is very questionably okay to drink, and there are mosquitoes everywhere.

There are trade-offs and I think they often balance each other out. But that’s just me.

I mean, seriously?

Round 14

Weather

Bangkok: 0 DC: 1

I’m kind of bitter because we are in the Thai summer and I feel like I’m going to spontaneously burst into flames and die every time I turn off the air conditioner and/or step out of my apartment. I like the change of seasons, and IT’S ALWAYS HOT HERE, except for the two weeks of beautiful weather in March, where everybody thought the world was ending. If that’s what Armageddon is going to be like, I say bring it on!

That's an actual picture of the sun I took yesterday. Or at least that's what it felt like in my imagination.

Round 15

Sewage System

Bangkok: 0 DC: 1

You can flush your toilet paper in DC. WINNER.

You also don't need a tutorial to use most American toilets. Just saying.

Round 16

Capital City Feel

Bangkok: 0 DC: 1

Good lord, DC was built solely to be the capital city of the country. It’s just a capital city, floating out there in space; it doesn’t even belong to a state. Politics permeates the air in DC, for better and worse. Bangkok just can’t compete in that way. No place can, in my opinion. I know some people think that’s what makes DC terrible, but it’s part of what draws people to it and part of what makes it great.

The US Capitol.*

*Photo credit to my ex-boyfriend.

Scoring

Today: Bangkok: 5   DC: 7  (I didn’t include the Dating Scene.)

Overall: Bangkok: 10  DC: 9

Congratulations to Bangkok for winning the Capital City Smackdown Challenge! Your prize is…uh…I’ll get back to you! Call me, Bangkok!

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The Capital City Smackdown: BKK vs. DC (Part 1)

Are you ready to ruuuuuuuumble?

No? Maybe? How about read about a theoretical rumble between two capital cities I’ve lived in? Which just means I’m going to tell you my opinion about both of them?

Yes? Okay, then!

Our Contenders

Bangkok, Thailand

Stats

City Population: 9,100,000

Metro Population: 11,971,000

Major Airports: 2

Stray Dogs: 17,000,000

Average Weather: Cannot be recorded as thermometers consistently melt during the hot season.

Strengths: Food, Cost of Living, Cheap Massages

Weaknesses: Sewage System, Heat, Dating Scene (yeah, yeah, pipe down, expat gentlemen in Thailand; clearly that does not apply to you. Get your own blog.)

Washington, D.C. 

Stats

City Population: 601,783

Metro Population: 5,580,000

Major Airports: 3

Stray Republicans: Unfortunately, they roam the streets and you are not allowed to round them up and do mean things to them. BUT you are allowed to lure them into secluded places with the promise of proof that Obama faked his birth certificate and then make fun of them, hopefully until they cry.

Average Degree Level: PhD in economics AND business AND twelve dead languages. And a master’s in literature. And law.

Strengths: Museums, Working Sewage System, Trader Joe’s

Weaknesses: People Kinda Stuffy Sometimes, Taxis, Has Seasons

Smackdown Time!

Round 1

Food

Bangkok: 2   DC: 1

DC is a strong contender here, as it has some of my favorite restaurants anywhere in the world: Jaleo, Zaytinya, and Oyamel for international tapas; Dona Azucena for pupusas; Pizza Movers for, um, pizza; Hank’s Oyster Bar for—yeah, oysters; Lebanese Taverna for…okay, you get the drift.

But Bangkok…come on, Bangkok kicks DC’s ass in the food department. BKK is lacking in Mexican, Ethiopian, and good pizza, but everything else has clearly been training hard on steroids to get TOTALLY DELICIOUS. Plus, the fact that you can get a fab meal for a single dollar in Bangkok puts it well over the winning edge.

Still, DC is a world-class dining city, so it gets a nod here.

Get in my face, food!

Round 2

Friends

Bangkok: 1   DC: 1

People! If you meet the right ones, they make your life better. If you meet the wrong ones, they bring drama (‘I’d like to talk about the state of our friendship.’) and misery (‘Yeah…I’m dumping you.’) to your life. I’ve met the right ones in both cities, thank god. Okay, fine, I’ve met the wrong ones, too, but I’ve stuck with the right ones, and that’s what matters. Both Bangkok and DC attract interesting, intelligent, and super fantastic people who want to be friends with me.

TIE!

I can haz friends.

Round 3

Customer Service

Bangkok: 0    DC: 0

You know what, BKK and DC? CUSTOMER SERVICE FAIL! Both of you!

Ever been to a CVS in the DC area? Ever been to a mall in Thailand? No? Let me recreate some scenes for you.

Scene 1–Washington, DC Area CVS

  • Me: Hi, where can I find band-aids?
  • CVS Employee: *rolls eyes, points to an aisle over that way*

Scene 2–Bangkok Area Mall

  • Me, in Thai: Oh, um, excuse me…
  • Thai Mall Employee: *zzzzzzzzzzzzz* (Yes, that is the sound of somebody sleeping.)

Round 4

Taxi Drivers

Bangkok: 0 DC: 0

Jackassery abounds in both cities. Nobody wins!

In fact, we all lose.

Except for the taxi drivers.

Jerks.

Round 5

Taxi Rides

Bangkok: 1 DC: 0

Okay, a really expensive ride in a taxi in Bangkok is, like, $10. A really cheap ride for a taxi in DC is, like, $15. Screw that. Taxis in Bangkok FTW!

I felt like I needed a picture here.

Round 6

Traffic

Bangkok: 0 DC: 1

Bangkok gets 0 points because there is ALWAYS a traffic jam in the city. ALWAYS. I got caught in a traffic jam at 2:30 in the morning a couple of weeks ago (and now my mother is going to ask me what I was doing out at 2:30 in the morning–I was helping the orphans, Mom. Helping the orphans!). The DC area has terrible gridlock during rush hour, but it is entirely possible to get across the city at other times with absolutely no trouble. DC wins.

Round 7

Public transportation

Bangkok: 1 DC: 0

The Metro in DC is severely limited in how often it runs and where it goes. The escalators and elevators are constantly out of order and the trains themselves break down constantly. The Metro buses stop literally every block and are either very late or very early. There are some commuter trains that run limited hours during the week. Aaaaaand…those are your options for public transportation.

Bangkok has the BTS (above-ground Sky Train), the MRT (subway), the Airport Link, buses (free, not free, air-conditioned, not air-conditioned), and canal taxi boats. I feel like I’m missing something. The canal boats were a recent revelation for me—I can get halfway across town for 9 baht (30 cents) and no traffic? Sign me up—I do not even care about the disgusting canal water splashing everywhere. Also, people complain about the BTS breaking down here, but believe me, it is nothing compared to Metro breakdowns.

I do have a fond spot for the DC Metro, though, and I’m not sure why. Still, for sheer quantity of public transportation choices, BKK is the clear frontrunner.

BTS platform. I wish this picture had been staged, but it's actually just me being naturally ridiculous.

Score So Far

Bangkok: 5  Washington, D.C.: 2

It’s still anybody’s game, people!  I am going to say, though, tomorrow (or whenever I get around to it) I’m going to tackle the Dating Scene and the Sewage System, so things might not fare quite as well for Bangkok in the future…

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Songkran: You’ll Never Be Dry Again!

My mother is a wonderful human being. She is the kind of mom you hope you have and the kind of mom you hope you will be. She is kind, generous, loving, intelligent, responsible, and thoughtful.

Except for on the 4th of July.

Every year for the 4th of July, my mother is the leader on the path that takes my extended family straight to insanity.

She starts water fights, mainly with the kids.

She throws firecrackers at people, including her own mother, who is in her 80s.

She leads a bottle rocket and Roman candle fight, where two teams stand on either side of the lawn and just shoot things that are on fire at each other.

She instigated a “game” wherein my uncle rode his riding lawn mower across the yard and everybody shot bottle rockets at him.

She encouraged the same uncle last year to put a big ol’ firecracker of some kind in a watermelon and set it off. (That was actually pretty cool, and my uncle truly didn’t need much encouragement.)

She routinely gets body slammed or thrown into kiddie pools by a family member who has just had too much.

What I’m saying is, my mother would fit in perfectly with the Thai new year, Songkran.

Yup.

The Thais grab onto any excuse to have a party. Western new year party? Check! Chinese new year party? Check! Thai new year 5-day-entire-country-on-holiday-crazy-ass-party? Double check!

Since everybody in Bangkok had the week off for Songkran and had left for their provincial homes, being in the city for the last week was amazing. The traffic was light, the streets were empty, and the BTS wasn’t packed. You could actually get across town in less than 12 hours and walk down the sidewalks without tripping over people and things. There were no ladies pressuring me to get a massage on my walk to the train station (“Massaaaaage, lady?”), and only the most dedicated street vendors were out. Even the stray dogs and cats were taking it easy. It was great.

For ease of explaining it, I’ll just say that the Songkran festivities are divided up into two parts:

1. Lovely religious activities at the wats (temples), including bathing Buddha statues, building sand castles, and being blessed by monks.

Sarah and Megan making sand stupas. Originally the idea was that you would bring the dirt back into the wat that you'd brought out during the year. For me, the idea was, 'SWEET! Sand castle!'

Thai dancing. And Thais dancing. Thais dancing Thai dance!

Sarah bathing a Buddha statue to make merit and bring good luck.

Buddha, nice and clean.

2. Crazy insane water party fight ridiculousness. Including buckets of ice cold water and ginormous water guns. And booze.

Part of Silom Road in Bangkok at Songkran.*

Songkran on Patpong. Still full of lady bars and creepy white men, only now they were all armed with water guns.*

*Photo by Melanie.

This guy REALLY wanted me to take his picture. Seriously, he stepped in front of my camera like this and wouldn't move. So I took his picture. I am nothing if not generous!

This was right after four guys surrounded me and dumped huge buckets of ice water on my head and wouldn't let me leave until the buckets were empty. Also, yes, turns out that shirt is transparent when wet. Valuable information I wish I had known before. All the important parts were covered, though, don't worry!

*Photo by Melanie.

Melanie, Eric, and me. Good times.

That paste on our faces is clay or chalk or something. It’s all part of the good times. You’d get a big “Sorry!” and then somebody would plaster your face, back, or neck with that stuff.

By the time I got home from the water fight, my clothes were still dripping water and the clay was drying on my face, so I looked beyond ridiculous. Thai people were literally stopping in the streets, pointing, and laughing at me. WHATEVER. I fully participated in your holiday, Thai people!

Overall, I have to say this week of Songkran was one of the best I’ve had in Bangkok in a really long time. I did some crazy water fighting and I did some cultural things, but most importantly, I got to hang out with some amazing friends (cue vomiting because of the cheesiness).

Now if everybody would only stay out of Bangkok…

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Filed under Awesome, Special Challenge, Thailand

Challenge: Having Guests

I’ve lived in Thailand for about 7 months now, since August 2010, but the first time I visited Thailand was in August 2004 with my younger sister, Marlee. We went to Koh Phagnan for a few days, hit Bangkok for 1 day, then went back to Japan, where I was living. It was a whirlwind trip.

This was us in 2004. So young!

This time, my sister came with her husband and we all stayed together in my small one-bedroom apartment. I was worried that this would cut into my sitting-around-in-my-underwear-in-front-of-the-fan time–which it did–but that’s okay.

I like having guests. I always thought I would be a good tour guide because I have lots of opinions about things and I like to show off information I have about a place. Plus, if you have guests, they don’t know anything and they’re at your mercy. They’re like kids; you can mold their minds into whatever you want. Best restaurant? BOOM! Best bar? THERE IT IS! Worst food? Don’t even tell them about it and they won’t eat it! Problem solved! It’s all kinds of awesome.

Of course, the downside to having guests, especially in a foreign country, is that they rely on you for everything. Fair enough; I relied on my friends for a long time when I first got here. If my Thai were super fantastic and wonderful, this wouldn’t be as much of a problem. As it is, my Thai is pretty crap. I can usually get a taxi driver to understand where I want to go and I can usually order food and make myself understand. That’s about the extent of my Thai ability, but it’s generally enough for me to get by.

As everybody knows, though, when you have people looking at you expectantly, no cab drivers will understand you and all things you order will come to you with problems, which you are then powerless to resolve. And you look like an idiot, and you have to protest, I swear that I have never had this problem! And they’re like, It’s okay. It happens to everybody sometimes. And then everybody is slightly annoyed and embarrassed for the other person, but can’t say anything about it because that’s rude.

Anyway, I love having visitors, and if you want to visit, I will probably give you my bed and sleep on the couch. Because that’s the kind of host I am. Just saying.

The rest of the trip in photos:

Day 1: Street noodles, Chatuchak Market, and a recording of Bangkok Podcast, which I’m pretty sure my mother still has not figured out how to listen to. Also, Chatuchak Market on the weekend makes me a nervous wreck. It’s about 10 billion degrees, half of Thailand is there, and it’s a total maze.

Matt eating some pad see eu from the street. 30 baht (~$1).

Day 2: Wat Po, Wat Arun, walking around until we have sweat off 20 pounds, and then introducing my sister to mango sticky rice. You’re welcome, by the way, Marlee!

I'm not going to say it was hot, because it's Bangkok, and of course it was hot.

Days 3-5: Sitting on the beach in a lovely resort in Phuket. I read, like, 6 trashy beach reads and took naps. And we ate some food. Good times.

The sisters in Phuket. Yeah, she's 2 years younger and several inches taller. And somehow she has smaller feet, which doesn't seem fair.

Day 6: Thai cooking class!

Marlee and Matt, getting ready to cook some Thailandian food.

Gonna chop some stuff up.

Day 7 (Saturday): We send Matt off to the airport by himself because he had to leave at 6 a.m. and we were both lazy. I was like, Thanks for traveling 24 hours to come see me! Later, sucker! Marlee and I spend the entire day staring off into space, with me occasionally asking if she wants to do something and Marlee assuring me that she is too tired. We leave the apartment for about 10 minutes to get some noodles.

We decide Saturday afternoon that we should go to Chiang Mai the following morning, so I book tickets on Air Asia. Only I book the complete wrong times and Air Asia are total jerks to me and I hate them forever although I will have to fly them again because they are so cheap. Bastards. I put Marlee in charge of the hotel because I’ve already screwed up the flights.

SO Day 8 rolls around: We’re at the airport, trying to figure out our hotel reservations and it turns out that instead of one room with two beds for two nights, Marlee has booked two rooms with two beds for two nights, and we can’t get our money back. After we laugh hysterically, we start to wonder if maybe this trip was not meant to be.

Well, Day 8 and Day 9: Are awesome. We see some of my friends and walk until our feet are about ready to fall off. Also, we eat khao soi (curry noodle soup) about 15 times in two days because IT’S SO AMAZING.

 

See, Mom, we were thinking about you!

Day 10: I’m getting tired of writing all this now, and I’m sure the only person left reading is my mother. We eat at a raw food cafe in BKK, which was surprisingly good, although I generally like my food pretty cooked.

Day 11: Fabulous spa day, where we spend 3 hours getting massaged and facialed. For my sister’s last meal in Thailand, we go to 7-11.

I'm the best host ever!

Final Score

Having Guests: 0   Megan: 1

It’s always hard to show people everything you want to in a city and country you love when you just have a limited amount of time. Still, I think I did a decent job of showing them around and forcing them to eat lots of food they’d never tried and all that.

If anybody else wants to visit, let me know! I really do love having visitors…

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Filed under Living Abroad, Special Challenge, Thailand, Trips

Challenge: Bangkok Podcast and Not Forgetting Stuff

So, the lovely guys at Bangkok Podcast asked me to come on the show and talk about my experiences as a relative newbie here in Thailand, and after I’d asked them what they were smoking (they said nothing) and determined they were serious (clearly they were lying when they said they were smoking nothing), I agreed to do it.

And then I panicked.

I started making a list of things I wanted to talk about so I wouldn’t forget in the heat of the moment. Very Important Points! Things that I needed the world to hear! I have opinions! Lots of them!

And of course I forgot the list at home when I went to record the show.

This was the first time I’d had a microphone in my face (I was at their Halloween show eating bugs, but I was one of many) and I was really nervous.  My sister and brother-in-law are visiting and my sister reminded me not to say um all the time, so all I could think was, ‘Don’t say um, don’t say um, don’t say um’, which meant that all other Very Important Points immediately vacated my head.

My sister and me in Bangkok in 2004. We look WAY different now.

When Tony asked me what was hard for me when I first came to Thailand, I went, “Uhhhhh….”

Because there weren’t a billion things that were hard for me? For the love of god.

He helpfully offered up cockroaches, and I latched onto that and talked about gross cockroaches and bugs and appendicitis and stuff (truly, the appendicitis sucked, but the hospital stay was kind of awesome).

Cockroaches are gross.

BUT what I REALLY wanted to say—and it was on my LIST AT HOME—was that the hardest thing for me when I first got here was loneliness. It’s still my biggest challenge, to be honest. I think this is true for a lot of women who move here by themselves, or even women who have moved here with spouses.

At least I hope I’m not the only one who’s experienced this. Tell me I’m not the only one who’s experienced this!

I don’t mind spending time alone. I don’t even mind spending a lot of time alone. I have the internets in my apartment, I have all episodes of 30 Rock, I have potato chips, I have Scrabble for my Kindle, and I also just successfully downloaded 866 books to read (not a typo, people!).

It’s just…living abroad by yourself can be kind of lonely sometimes. I’m not sure why it’s lonelier than living at home. I guess because I don’t have the same base of friends (although I do have awesome friends here), and I don’t have the same comforts of home when I get grumpy. In Bangkok, it takes a lot of effort to meet friends who live outside of my neighborhood because I don’t have my own transportation and traffic effing sucks in BKK at all times of the day.

I’m really worried about sounding pathetic for talking about this, so I want you all to know that I have a happy life here, for the most part, and I do stuff and know people and all that. If you do feel sorry for me, though, I’m sure I would feel much better if you sent me large sums of cash. Just saying!

But I’m also hoping that maybe an expat woman who’s feeling kind of lonely in Bangkok (or anywhere, for that matter) and happens upon this post will feel better that she’s not alone out there. It can be lonely. I get it. It sucks. Email me and we’ll commiserate.

I also feel better that I can say this since I forgot to say it on the podcast. Stupid brain.

Here is the list of things I wanted to talk about (with some lame notes so you can understand what I meant):

WTF?

  • Taxis (upcoming post on this)
  • Sewage (can’t flush toilet paper)
  • Noise (soooo noisy in BKK!)
  • Laughter (stop laughing at me, Thai people!)
  • Saving face (exhausting sometimes)
  • How some things are always more difficult in another country (phone, internet, etc.)

Awesome

  • Pampering (hair, massage, etc.)
  • Fun
  • Food—street food
  • Street vendors in general
  • The mix of new and old
  • You can get anything you want
  • People

Difficult

  • Language
  • Making friends (since I’m an introvert)
  • Knowing the city
  • Dating

Here is the list of things I actually talked about:

  • Cockroaches
  • Ants
  • Potato chips
  • Heat
  • How before I came here, I thought Bangkok was “…not backwards…but…what’s the word? How do I describe it? Like, not technologically advanced? But I was wrong.” SIGH.
  • Shopping
  • Prostitution (WHAT?)
  • Dating
  • Thai men vs. Japanese men
  • Va-jay-jay tightening serum
  • Pink nipple cream
  • Missouri
  • Squat toilets
  • GOD ONLY KNOWS WHAT ELSE

I mean, it IS pretty interesting to talk about...

Final Score

Bangkok Podcast: 1    Megan: 0

They kicked my ass. I was so nervous I felt kind of sick to my stomach, but it was also so much fun! Greg and Tony are two of the nicest guys you will ever meet in your life and are super easy to talk to. And hopefully Greg will edit things so I don’t sound like a bumbling idiot. Yikes.

Okay, and by the way–ladies in Thailand and especially Bangkok: There’s a website out there called Chicky Net that’s kind of like Facebook just for women in Thailand. It’s a great resource and is used extensively by women in other cities throughout Thailand, but we here in Bangkok kind of neglect it. I’m guilty of it, too. Berthe, the woman who runs the site, said she’s tried various ways to get women involved in Chicky Net in Bangkok, but we’re not taking the bait! So, hey, Bangkok ladies, let’s be friends and do stuff in real life and all that jazz. I’m on there as Megan K, so find me!

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Filed under Living Abroad, Special Challenge, Thailand