In mid December, we enjoyed a brief 4-day family holiday to Bangkok, which had been booked six months previously through the Air Asia “free” ticket offer–six months before we knew how crazy our month would be. (For those in Cambodia, twice a year or so, Air Asia has a promotion which includes free airfare to various Asian cities. The “free” part is slightly deceptive as you end up paying for your baggage, taxes and various other fees, but it’s still a great deal! They’ve recently changed airports in Bangkok, unfortunately, so it is less convenient now–it doesn’t connect with the train). So, even though the trip added more insanity to our already busy month, it was so much fun to have a little taste of America in Asia–gorgeous Christmas decorations, Starbucks, other Western-brand stores and restaurants and “Big-C”, which is the Asian version of Walmart. My highlight of the trip was a shopping spree to IKEA (Thanks, Mom, Dad and Sis for the spending money!). I’ll have to admit that my eyes were a little wet when I walked into the very familiar floor plan of the megastore. It was a taste of home–like I was immediately transported to Palo Alto, California. As I saw the neatly arranged, color-coordinated items, I was truly in awe of the beauty and order of it all. Psychologists call it “culture shock”, but I embraced the moment with a grateful heart. I was created to be aesthetically minded, and I’m fairly certain that I can theologically argue that we were all created to be aesthetically minded.
Ok…moving on…Another highlight of the trip was an outing to one of Bangkok’s beautiful city parks–Lumpini Park. The difference between this park and any other average city park, is that you can’t walk very far before running into a slithering giant monitor lizard. I unwittingly walked right by one of these large six-foot reptiles, which was perched in a tree beside the path (see picture below). I usually don’t have a problem with reptiles…as long as they aren’t in my house (with geckos as the exception). Ava enjoyed playing on the playground–though we had to chuckle at one of the slides, which had a one foot gap in it–without any warning or caution signs–oh my. Our little hotel, the Aphrodite Inn, was very close to Big C, and while it definitely wasn’t the luxury experience, it was quite adequate for the price (though the carpets could probably be replaced…I think that carpets just gross me out in general, now that I have tile floors throughout the house). It was very centrally located to the various malls and attractions and the complementary breakfast was satisfactory (though it didn’t include the kids and was not “buffet style”, more like two pieces of toast, a hot dog, choice of egg and juice OR coffee).
The Christmas decorations in Bangkok are truly exquisite and more extravagant than anything I’ve seen in Cambodia–over even the U.S. for that matter. The Paragon Mall and Central Mall were amongst our favorites. When we were exploring the angel-themed decorations at Central Mall, a news reporter spied Ava thoroughly enjoying herself and asked if she could interview “us” (meaning, Ava, of course). Well, Ava, our anti-social little miss, missed her big opportunity and when the news reported bent down to ask her sweetly, “Do you like Christmas?” Ava with a “you’re a stranger and don’t get any closer to me” face, quickly answered, “No!” and the poor news reporter lost her big story for the night. And, I’m really not exaggerating when I say that–our little blue-eyed, blond-haired kids are the object of great interest and fascination in Cambodia AND Thailand. Everywhere we go, people are trying to touch our kids to get the “white magic” (I’m not joking) and needless to say, Ava is a little tired of all the attention. So, having a little blond kid on the news saying how much she loved Christmas–especially in Thailand–would have been quite the story. Since Ava was not complying, the news reporter briefly interviewed me–though, I suppose we’ll never know if it made the news or not.
Here are some pics from our adventure. To enlarge the photo, double click on the image: