Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Hit By a Car

Yesterday was just a typical Tuesday.  My very pregnant friend and I went to Margarita Storm (powered by Sunrise Tacos) for lunch before her weekly appointment at Bumrungrad Hospital.

Lunch was delicious.  Lori went for the street-style tacos while I opted for the American breakfast of bacon, eggs and pancakes.  Hit the spot.

We strolled through the crowded streets to the hospital where the doctor informed her she'd be having a baby in 1-4 weeks.  Since her due date is in 2 1/2 weeks, that wasn't shocking news.

We got a taxi to take us back to our hotel.  Even though he used an app on his phone to check the route he didn't have a clue.  We drove around, backtracked, ran into a blocked road due to construction (which has been going on for a year so shouldn't have been a surprise to him) and then sat in traffic, just blocks from our hotel.  We opted to get out and walk but the taxi driver had no change.  Lori really needed to find a bathroom (have I mentioned she's very pregnant and we'd been driving around Bangkok for over an hour?) so she bailed while I continued to sit in traffic.  To make it more enjoyable, the driver continued picking at the pimples on his face.  He left no blackhead untouched.  It was disgusting.

We finally made the u-turn to get back near our hotel and a store where I got change and bid my taxi adieu.  Since I was next to my favorite fruit stand, I stopped to check out what they had.  Here are some photos:

She's got a great smile.  Some of the cut fruit on offer (about $.55 a bag) is papaya, pineapple, rose apple and watermelon.

This may not look too appealing but it was delicious.  I bought the tiniest (and sweetest) grape tomatoes I've ever had at the fruit market.  The sandwich is just white bread with grilled pork from the nearby street food vendor.

They also sell whole fruit.  Mandarin oranges, mangos (ripe and green), apples, rose apples, guava and dragon fruit.

More of the cut fruit - pomelo, durian, strawberries and grape tomatoes.

Rose apples are tasty and pretty.

This friendly guy is co-owner of  the fruit stand.  The young man standing behind him sells fried chicken. 
After picking up the fruit, I headed up the street to get a massage.  Run by two friends, it is clean and quiet and they do a great job.

This is one of the beds where I get tortured.  Some call it "Thai massage".  You can also get an oil massage, head and should massage and foot and leg massage.

Clean towels and a fan, which they use instead of air conditioning when there aren't any customers.  When I arrive, the air con comes on.
After 90 minutes of bliss at the spa, I headed for the short walk to the hotel.  It was about 5:30 and traffic on the narrow neighborhood street was heavy.  People use it as a short cut to avoid the even more crowded main surface streets.  Imagine my surprise as I walked along the very narrow sidewalk to have a car hit me from behind.  Scared the bejeebers out of me but I wasn't injured - he just winged me with the side mirror.  His wheels were mid-way on the narrow sidewalk as he drove on after whacking me.    Earlier I'd almost gotten hit from behind because I didn't hear the motorbike coming up behind me on the sidewalk.  That's Bangkok for you.

This morning I did laundry.  I miss my dryer but my room smells nicely of laundry soap.

I'm hoping the pigeons don't poop on my clean clothes.

Rather than risk them falling off the balcony, I hung most of my things inside.

Eating these tiny cream puffs made doing laundry more enjoyable.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Shopping at Chatuchak and JJ Market, Bangkok

I love open air markets.  Flea markets, street markets, antique markets.  I've been to some great ones - Rue Cler in Paris, San Telmo in Buenos Aires to name two.  Chatuchak is one of my favorites.  It is over 27 acres, some covered, some not.

Be prepared for heat, crowds, smells (some good, some not), bargains, high-priced items, food and languages from around the world.  It is intense and crazy.  I love it.  Some say Chatuchak Market and JJ Market are the same thing but they're not.  They are adjacent but JJ Market is more of a mall with small, individual vendors.  It is also air-conditioned and has the kind of food court that you'll find in every mall in Bangkok.

My preference is to hit Chatuchak in the morning, wander, shop, get disgustingly sweaty and then walk across the street to the air conditioned comfort of JJ.  Lunch there with a bit more shopping before heading home to relax.

Here are some photos:

Most of Chatuchak is filled with bargain items:  cheap t-shirts, bags, children's clothes, bath salts, lighting, etc.  Much the same as you see in every market in Asia.  One section, though, specializes in higher end items - some new, some antique.  Most related to home decor.  These are antique door handles and knockers.

I loved the huge, antique carved doors.

But I would have to buy a much larger, grander house for them to work.

Tons of lighting - much of it with a Moroccan feel.  Some is clearly also from China.

Perfect for lounging by my pool with a cold beverage.

A chaise lounge made from a solid piece of wood.

Yes, yes, yes!  Perfect place for reading or canoodling.

Prices in this section of the market aren't cheap.  This light fixture was about $1,500.

More lighting.  And on the right is a sink/vanity for a very special bathroom.

Hmmmmm.  This statue is about 2 feet tall.

Lighting and bowls to be used as sinks.

Wall gardens like this are popular in Asia.  I've seen them in Malaysia made with repurposed 2 liter soda bottles.  I want one!

I also want this intricately carved door.  It will be perfect in my new, huge home since it won't fit in my current house.

Picture out...by the pool, friends stroll up to this bar for snacks and drinks.

In addition to the antique items are tons of new home decor items, many with religious themes.  I also saw a number of beautifully done, huge portraits of the recently deceased king.

We were shopping mostly for baby clothes.  There were adorable little girl clothes everywhere!

Lots of sundresses and hats.

These cute, well made dresses were 200 Baht.  That's about $5.60 USD.

C'mon - all that cuteness for less than $3?

Little girls wear a lot of dresses like this out on the street.

And more...

Hard to see in this photo but this is the back of a pair of toddler shorts - that's an elephant butt, with a 3D tail hanging off.

This stall sold stuffed animals and bags (some for the kids, some for the moms).  I liked this one that had a detachable stuffed toy.

Lunch was in the air conditioned food court in JJ Market.  I got my favorite, the #2 - oysters tossed on a red hot metal plate and topped with a sweet/savory/spicy sauce and fresh sprouts.  $1.70 for about a dozen small oysters.

The picture above was the menu photo.  This is the deliciousness I received.  Soooooo gooooooood.

Here's the deal with Thai food courts.  You go to the centralized cashiers where you trade cash for a card like this.  Then you go from stall to stall, ordering what you'd like.  They swipe the card and give you a receipt with your new balance.  You can keep the card to use for your next visit or cash it in after you dine.  Brilliant idea.

The food court was crowded by the time we left.  It looks like a food court in American mall, but instead of American chains, it's locals, selling one or more dishes they've honed for sometimes generations.  Singapore calls them "hawker stands" and is famous for them.  I like that you can get several small dishes - in this case, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese or Chinese.

I fell in love with this necklace but only came away with the photo since it was an antique and the price was about $1,400.

These trinkets were cheap, cheap, cheap.  So much to see!  27 acres of tables like this.

Interested in more modern items for your home?  These ceramic dishes were on sale.

Beauty products are sold everywhere.  Skin whitening is really popular.  In Myanmar I struggled to convince some sales ladies that I didn't really need deodorant that also whitened.

Because they've already started the Chinese New Year celebrations, they had new Hondas on sale.  As I looked at them, not a single sales person approached me.

Open my kitchen cabinets and you will see piles of white dishes.  Killed me to walk away from some of these uniquely shaped ceramic items.

Baby onesies and leggings.  About $1.50 each.

Live music and sales.  Let the celebration begin!

The reasons I'm in Bangkok - my friend Lori and her "due to be born in 3 weeks" daughter.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

This and That in Bangkok

Last night was "market night" at Avenue Major Ratchayothin .  In previous Wednesday evening market nights we'd enjoyed upscale street food and food trucks.  Imagine my disappointment as we approached last night and saw for sale....clothes.  No dumplings.  No schwarma, No tom yum.  Clothes!

Luckily, they'd set aside space for about 8 food trucks.  They sold a variety of foods from Vietnamese pho to pizza to burgers.  My very pregnant friend Lori choose the "extra cheesy burger" and fries from the "Sorry I'm Hungry" truck.
The Extra Cheesy Burger from "Sorry I'm Hungry Cafe" food truck.  Only $6 for miles of cheese strings.
I wasn't that hungry so moved off to order a couple of small chicken kebobs.  I felt decidedly sad as I watched Lori pulling her cheesy goodness from its container.  I discovered via the internet later that they not only have a food truck but also a cafe and hostel.  I think they may have the best cheeseburger in Bangkok.

Tonight, we stopped at a fruit stand on our way back from dinner.  I'd stopped there yesterday, where I purchased a bag of freshly cut pineapple ($.50) and a bag of cut green mango ($.50).  The owners baby was asleep on the cart next to the fruit so I asked if she was for sale as well (for $.50).  The dad said yes, the mom said no. 

Tonight I got more green mango and also some ripe mango.  Total price was 45 Baht (about $1.10) but when I offered 60 Baht, they just took 40.  A discount for a returning customer.  I'm going to really miss the fresh fruit at such a bargain.  Along with the friendly vendors.

As we continued our walk to the hotel, dodging cars and motorbikes, we paused to let a dog run past.  He was heading to the fence to challenge a dog in the yard.  What made the encounter unusual was that the street dog was wearing a flowered dress.

Yup, just another evening in Bangkok.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Just Chillin' in Bangkok

Unlike the typical tourist, racing through Bangkok at breakneck speed to see every temple, mall and market, I'm just hanging out, waiting for baby Eileen to be born.  To my friend, not me.

Since it's hot out and I'm feeling even lazier than usual, I'm just going to enjoy the air conditioned comfort of my hotel room and share some photos of recent days.

View from my hotel room.  It's known as the Elephant Building.
Evening at Major Ratchayothin Cinema complex.  Shops, restaurants, movies and a bowling alley.

Spicy basil pork, sweet corn and fried eggplant.  About $2.

Watching them work on replacing the lines is both fascinating and scary.

I found my happy place at Chatuchak park.

Awesome grilled chicken, spicy green papaya salad and the best dipping sauce in the world.

Well of course it's instant - who wants to wait for their durian beverage.  Yuck!

Bathrooms at Chatuchak Park are clean, convenient and have these cool outdoor sinks.

Pannapat Place. All the comforts of home for $17 a night.