Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Challenges of Living Abroad

We have been slowly settling in to our new digs. It has been a roller coaster ride of emotions lately. I don’t think either D or I thought that this would be an easy transition, but I don’t think either one of us was really prepared for how challenging things could be. We are both trying to adjust to the Thai way of things, which is proving a little difficult for our American brains. Things just happen differently here, and that is one of the great things about living in another country and also one of its challenges. I’ve definitely had some low points of frustration and exhaustion, which isn’t particularly motivating to write about. We are learning to navigate the waters and life is taking on a sense of normalcy. We also equipped the kitchen with some items, and I am starting to cook again (which if you know me, is an important part of life). It has been a long time! Recipes and misadventures will be coming!

*And big hugs for the pictures I’ve received (you know who you are!). They have helped me more than I could ever say.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Moving Day

Well, it has finally happened! We’ve moved into the townhouse!

Moving was a chaotic day of checking out of the hotel, meeting with our real estate agent, Nong, D heading off to work, Nong and I heading to the townhouse for a walk-through with the building manager and meeting the shippers who had our boxes from home, the building manager deciding to have the place sprayed for mosquitoes, waiting for D to arrive with all our stuff, and waiting for the boys to arrive via the vet! I did end up having lunch with Nong at MK Restaurant, a local chain of suki/hot pot restaurants. It was very good, and I don’t think I’ve eaten so much since we’ve been here. Nong ordered all the fixings and was pretty insistent on tasting everything.

In the afternoon, D arrived with all our luggage from the hotel, and soon after the vet arrived with the boys. It was a joyous reunion and they were quite happy to see us. Finally we were all together again! Since we had no pots, pans, plates, silverware or real food items, we decided to explore our new neighborhood and find something for dinner. At the end of our Soi (not to be confused with our sub-soi!) is a small mini-mall. We found a cafĂ© that serves up some really delicious Thai food in a chill atmosphere. We had veggie Tom Yam (since it is typically made with shrimp aka death!) that was fantastic! The flavors and the layering of said flavors were amazing! D ordered noodles with black soy sauce and chicken, and I ordered green curry with chicken. The noodles were good, and the green curry was some of the best I’ve ever had. My mouth is watering typing about it. Rich and pungent, so good! I think we have found our new neighborhood place.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Petronas Twins, originally uploaded by Dianthus.

D and I headed down to Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, so I could apply for a new visa and D had some meetings set up. We learned a few lessons on this trip. One, flying cheap airline wasn’t necessary the best thing. Our flight was delayed for an hour, we had to buy snacks on the plane, and where said airline flies in to is not the major airport, but a smaller one an hour drive outside the city. Our taxi driver from the airport was quite a character and made the ride slightly more entertaining. As we got closer to our hotel, we were able to get glimpses of the Petronas Twin Towers. I had been stoked to see these buildings, knowing that they were once the tallest buildings in the world and watching a Discovery Channel show on the design and construction of them. I wasn’t disappointed. They were stunning all lit up. The towers are surprisingly delicate. They don’t give the impression of being as tall as they really are.

Friday morning it was off to the Thai embassy to apply for my visa. After some confusion about where to go, which line to be in and a super fast walk to an ATM for Ringget (we had been told to bring dollars), my application was submitted and they told me I could pick it up on Monday. What a relief! D and I spent the rest of the day exploring around the Patronas Towers. The actual towers are offices for a large petroleum company, but they smartly built a shopping mall at the base. My planning/design nerd brain kicked in, and was impressed with the entire complex. The Towers and adjoining shopping complex back up to a large park area with the KL Convention Center on the side opposite the Towers. It was very nice, and judging by the amount of people we saw, well used. We walked around the park taking pictures and people watching. We decided to stay and have dinner at the mall, since I had spied a California Pizza Kitchen there. I know, I know, but sometimes it’s nice to have something familiar.

On Saturday, we explored Bintang Walk, another shopping area within the city. We went and had breakfast there, since we had been unimpressed with the breakfast offerings at the hotel. After breakfast, we wandered around some more and rode the KL Monorail back towards the Towers. We walked through what seemed like the foreigner/visitor area, complete with lots of over-the-top bars. It was entertaining to say the least. We had an early dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant and headed back to the hotel. KL has been much more hot and humid than we’ve been used to.

The rest of the trip, we’ve mostly been around the hotel and over to the Towers. I picked up my visa from the Embassy (yay!) on Monday morning, and spent part of the afternoon at the park. It finally got too hot so I headed back to the hotel to cool off. The head of the office here kindly invited D and I over to his house for a drink, and we had a fun filled evening talking with him and his wife. They are both very interesting people having lived all over. They invited us to stay for dinner. It was so generous of them, and it was extremely nice to have a home cooked meal after a month in hotels and eating out.

Soon we will be back in Bangkok, and hopefully moving into the townhouse. I can’t wait to see the boys!

We are back in Bangkok, after another ridiculous flight on forementioned low cost airline. Another hour and a half delay in KL! Never again low cost airline!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Hello Malaysia!

D and I are off to Kuala Lumpur til Tuesday! I'm making a visa run and D has to work. We'll have internet at the hotel, and I will try to catch up on some posting. KL (as its known) is another hour ahead of Bangkok, which puts us 16 hours ahead of the West Coast.

At the Airport

Two Heads, originally uploaded by Dianthus.

The new Bangkok airport is pretty dang cool. Its nice to be there when I'm not completely jet-lagged and freaked out about the dogs. This was part of an amazing sculpture in the terminal and I had to post it up.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Finally a break through! We met with the townhouse owner, our agent and the building manager today to go check out furniture, and clarify the things that we wanted changed. The owner was very nice, and it turns out that she lives in the same compound. Our hearts sank at the news that the move in date wouldn’t be until the 23rd. We explained to the owner that we were hoping for an earlier date, since we had been without the dogs for almost a month and how much we were missing them. She immediately understood and sympathized with us! Apparently she is a dog owner too! She said it would take a week to get the mattresses, but that we could maybe move in as early as the 17th! Both D and I were thrilled since we are off to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow and will be getting back on the 16th. Hooray!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Laying Low

I’m not sure where all the time has gone, and it is amazing to me that we have been in Thailand almost a month now. D has gone back to work, and we’ve been hoping for progress on a potential move-in date on the townhouse. At the prodding of several of D’s co-workers we went out with another real estate agent and saw two more houses. They were both nice, one was way too far from Skytrain for us, and the other was nice and about 5 minutes from where the boys are! (and 10 minutes from Skytrain) We decided that it was a good ‘Plan B’ if the townhouse fell through. I’ve been keeping closer to the hotel the past week, since there has been no breakthrough on who is responsible for the bombings. Mainly, there is a lot of finger pointing and denials on all sides. Kind of feels like the US, between the Republicans and the Democrats (except the whole bombing thing)!

Monday, January 1, 2007

A new year

lettuce, originally uploaded by Dianthus.

After our day exploring Chinatown and Khao San Road, we managed to stay up until midnight and watched some of the fireworks through our window. On a total whim, I checked my email to see if anyone had sent a New Year’s message. There was one message from my brother asking if we were ok, that he had been reading about bombings in Bangkok. I was shocked! I quickly pulled up Google News to see what was going on. We hadn’t seen or heard anything while we were out, or anything on our way back to the hotel. I wrote an email to our families to let them know we were fine and safe at the hotel. The initial reports told us that the bombs weren’t anywhere near where we had been or near our hotel.

We woke up to find the bombings all over the newspapers. At first it was only 6 bombs nowhere near us, and then found out later that the police had disarmed a bomb at Khao San Road a few blocks from where we had dinner (although, we had been gone for a few hours at that point). In the papers was a lot of speculation on who was responsible. The main parties seemed to be supporters of the government that was ousted by the coup or the group in the southern portion of Thailand (where things like this happen on a daily basis).

We decided it was best to lay low and stay at the hotel. Both D and I were glued to our computers reading the news trying to find out more. We did some laundry and went to a nearby restaurant for dinner.