Northern Bangkok

Hi everyone! We’re finally posting some photos and a bit about our last days in Bangkok, Thailand. We are currently in Berastagi, Indonesia at a small homestay. The home and our hosts are lovely, and we were surprised to find out that their WiFi was fast enough for us to load photos. Hooray!

After Grams and Grandad’s visit, and just before New Years Eve 2015/2016, we decided to try out a new area in Bangkok. We had already sampled Silom and Bobae, both bustling, busy areas, full of street life in “downtown” Bangkok, and thought it would be interesting to travel a bit further north to a non-touristy area for a few days before we left Thailand. We found a small hotel called B2 and booked a few nights.

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Silly sunglass selfie in our room at B2

The neighborhood where B2 is located is quite different from places we have stayed before. It feels like an older, possibly formerly bustling neighborhood that has been altered by highway construction and “big box” development.

We could walk around a bit through neighboring streets, but it was clear that those who walked were in the minority; everyone had a car or motorbike and there were very few people out walking. We did try to get around a bit on foot, but ended up hailing a taxi midway through a walk, realizing we were a bit trapped in a vehicular maze and couldn’t get from point A to point B unless we were in a car. All of the construction related to newer highways and big retail developments had nearly completely eliminated walkable streets.

After getting stuck, we just took cabs for the short distances we needed to go. It wasn’t as interesting as walking, but we just didn’t feel the need to force a walkable city where one clearly didn’t exist anymore. I guess “progress” is the same around the world. Cars, cars and more cars.IMG_20160104_125652In this photo, we are standing on an absolutely massively scaled pedestrian bridge across a new mega-highway

We ended up spending a considerable amount of time in a nearby mall. Like back home, the mall has become the social space for many of Bangkok’s residents.

Almost every mall in Thailand has a sizeable “food court”. Food courts in Thailand are not the big name brand chain restaurants of American malls. They are essentially just a more sanitary version of a street food market. They are set up as groups of mini-restaurant operators, with each stall offering just one or two specialty dishes, prepared quite well. Thai food courts are also air-conditioned, which is sometimes an overriding factor when we consider dining options. We freely admit that, after half a year of regularly exploring new places, sometimes sweating for hours, when exhaustion and hunger are involved, we sometimes reduce dining decisions based upon whether they will provide an air-conditioned space, icy drinks and a comfortable seat. Thankfully, Thai food courts have rarely disappointed as they are inexpensive and often, surprisingly good. We were happy to find yet another good food court at this mall and enjoyed several of our last Thai meals there.

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The mall where we enjoyed some air conditioning

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The volume in this mall felt like 10 zillion decibels

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Sometimes, a simple sandwich and a Perrier is just right

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We can’t remember what made Jette react! This is one of her favorite meals, grilled salmon.

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Waco, happy with his bento

Mall food courts typically have a counter like this one where you purchase a “credit card” and load it with money. You use the card on food purchases and go back to the counter to get a refund at the end of your meal for any unused credit.

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This is the “food court” entry in the above mall

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A food court payment card

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There was a movie theatre in the mall, so Jette finally got her chance to see “Goosebumps”

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Isn’t this how you wait for your movie?

There were plenty of western style restaurants and Jette even enjoyed a pancake for breakfast one morning.

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One giant pancake with fresh strawberries and chocolate chips, please

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The top floor of the mall even had this amazing water park!

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A great way to escape the Bangkok heat and humidity

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Giant pink tubes for the lazy river

Thais generally wear conservative beach clothing, sometimes swimming in T-shirts and shorts to swim in the ocean. Bikinis are generally only seen on visitors to the country, and this water park was no different. Most of the Thai women were wearing loose-fitting spandex body suits with long sleeves and full length leggings. Spandex shorts were a common sight as well. Everyone also had to wear a swim cap per the water park’s policy.

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This is the face of a girl unhappy with having to wear a swim cap

We also finally get to visit a Tesco/Lotus store. We’d heard so much about these groceries, and we were really curious about them. The one we went to was inside of a modern shopping mall and it turned out to be a combination grocery store and “everything else” store. It was extremely busy and looked like a very popular destination. We shopped for a few items we needed and explored the store a bit. Prices were a bit lower than other specialty shops for some products, but grocery prices were a bit higher than at the local markets. There were many inexpensive, casual clothing options in larger sizes. It made us wonder what came first, the bigger shops or the bigger people. All in all, it felt very suburban, quite similar to going to a “SuperWalmart” in the States. Is Costco-Thailand next?

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Shopping at Tesco/Lotus

One of our last nights in Thailand was New Year’s Eve. We spent the day out and about exploring. Just across a main road from our small hotel was a really nice, upscale, large hotel that appeared to cater to large groups of Chinese tourists. We decided to take a peek at their rooftop pool. We took this pretty photo from there just as the sun was setting.

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Lovely view over North Bangkok and beyond

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Lobby of same hotel with a spectacular crystal light fixture

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View from one of our cab rides with New Years lights across a bridge

The most exciting aspect of our New Year’s Eve was, unfortunately, a fight that broke out in the room next door. It was actually quite disconcerting with a lot of screaming and shouting and it even made Jette break down in tears. We ended up reporting the incident to the hotel because we had serious concerns that someone in the adjacent room was going to get hurt. The front desk staff very casually let us know they would call to the room to ask our neighbors to be quiet. We were shocked at their lack of concern, but really couldn’t do much else. The argument did seem to break up after a while and it was quiet for the rest of the night.

Bangkok makes a very big deal of New Year’s Eve and we considered taking a taxi back into “downtown” Bangkok for fireworks, but Jette decided she would rather have a quiet cozy evening at “home” after all the excitement earlier in the evening, so that’s what we ended up doing. We did swing open a large window in our room around midnight to inhale our last bits of the city and ended up catching bits of no less than six different fireworks shows all over the city. We also popped some bubbly (well, really just fizzy mineral water, but it was refreshing!) The fireworks were impressive and just the right amount of noise and fanfare for us to bring in 2016.

The first day of 2016 was low-key. We did a bit of school work in a coffee shop.

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School work time

And the next day, we caught a very early morning flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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Daddy’s girl

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Mommy sleeps while Jette sneaks off with her phone

Bangkok, a great travel hub

As Waco mentioned in his previous post, we’ve just arrived in Malaysia, but we wanted to go back in time to early December. Here is a map that shows the path we took north.

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Our overnight train from Chumpon back north to Bangkok once again landed us “home” in Bangkok. This time, we decided to try a different hotel in a different part of town, Bobae. The hotel was right on a water taxi line on Khlong Mahanak (Mahanak Canal). We ended up using the water taxi quite a bit and enjoying many aspects of it. Water taxis are not touristy; we were typically the only non-Thais on the boats. It was convenient; the taxi stop was about a minute walk from our hotel’s front door. It was adventuresome; the boats never stopped for more than a few seconds to let people off and on, so you had to be quick or else you’d end up IN the canal. There was no traffic on the canal. Bangkok traffic is awful; it’s gridlock every day and a very short distance ride in a cab can take a painfully long time. And finally, the fares were extremely affordable at just 10 baht, or about 28 cents per person.

We also used the BTS system, which is one of Bangkok’s mass transit train systems, and liked it quite a bit. It was much more orderly, clean and easy to use than the NYC subway which we used for a decade when we lived in New York City. It’s an unfair comparison (5 million NYC daily riders vs. 750,000 Bangkok daily riders), but still worth noting.

Seven Luck

Standing in front of our hotel on the canal

Platform

Waiting on the platform for a water taxi

Waiting

Another day, another water taxi

Canal

Canal view

Same view at night

Same view at night

There was a large fruit market nearby and we walked by jack fruit vendors with huge piles of huge fruit almost every day. We also peeked into nearby Bobae tower, an incredible wholesale apparel operation with thousands of vendors with worldwide sales.

Jackfruit

These look like durian, but are actually jackfruit

No Durian!

No durian sign in a cab (they stink!!!)

Bobae chicken

A Bobae neighborhood rooster

Trapped

We tried not to be concerned about all of the babies and toddlers we would see on bikes and scooters everywhere. It’s just the way things are done here, but I admit I did have to hold my breath every time a scene like this occurred right in front of me. Hold on tight, baby!

Baby on board

Baby on board

We stumbled across a sweet cafe one day. The woman who owned it was the grand-daughter of the original owner and had filled it with kitschy 1950’s vintage pieces all displayed in Chinese style apothecary cabinets. She was proud to point out the original sign with hand-painted Mickey Mouse cartoons. She also volunteered to take a family photo of us in her shop. We couldn’t resist the rare opportunity to have an actual photo of the three of us together in one shot!

Rare family photo

Rare family photo

90 year old cafe

Very old cafe signage

We couldn’t come to a new neighborhood and not expect to meet a sweet dog, could we? Here is Jette at the local laundry spot meeting the owner’s dog.

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Our laundry spot

Pug

Happy girl, happy dog

This new neighborhood had a lot of manufacturing style family businesses and we enjoyed seeing the small scale of each one; most appeared busy and successful.

Door Fabricator

Door fabricator displaying samples

Manufacturing Shop

Manufacturing shop in the neighborhood

Down the street

Great example of 1960’s modernist architecture near our hotel

Shopping

We didn’t buy anything here, but had fun browsing

Bonsai Farm

Beautiful Bonsai Trees

Looks simple, tastes nice!

Chinese noodles from a popular tiny 4-table restaurant

Shipping these home for our front yard

Shipping these home for our front yard

Happy Buddha

Happy Buddha

We took in the “Bike for Dad” celebration.

Exicited about Bike for Dad

Excited about “Bike for Dad”

Bike for dad lights

“Bike for Dad” lights

Festive "Bike for Dad" street

Festive “Bike for Dad” street

There was a vendor selling these intriguing sweets which we had to try. They ended up being sweet bean treats and were definitely more beautiful than tasty to our palate.

Bikes for rent (Jette misses riding one!)

Bikes for rent (Jette misses riding one!)

Jette temporarily turned into a vampire

Jette temporarily turned into a vampire

Elephant Topiary

One of Bangkok’s amazing topiary-filled medians

Lovely cafe

Just had to get a photo of this gorgeous cafe space

We discovered a breakfast spot about a 15 minute walk from the hotel and immediately became regulars. We don’t really know the English language translation for the name of this place, but it’s a Thai fusion restaurant of sorts. It has a few incredible dishes that all three of us craved. Firstly, they make delicious, icy, Thai milk tea and serve it in frosty mugs. Their iced coffee drinks are fantastic as well. They serve hot, fresh, flaky, fluffy roti with spicy green chicken curry which is Jette’s favorite; the flavors and textures are an addictive combination. They have a signature dish that is difficult to describe, but very easy to eat. It starts with a layer of rice, topped with a crisped egg that has been fried in such a way that it barely resembles egg, yet is just light as air and crispy. Then, they top it all with a scoop of spicy “pad krapow moo” and then we make it disappear.

Walking

Walking to breakfast one morning

Secret (1)

Best breakfast spot in Bangkok!

Secret Breakfast

We love it here

Iced Latte

Iced Latte heaven

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Iced Cappucino heaven

Roti

Jette loved the roti with green curry

 

Mystery meats

Mystery meats

Popular egg dish

Popular egg dish

So Crispy

Crispy egg on rice

We also were within walking distance from a very famous pad thai restaurant called Thipsamai. Going there was amazing, not just because of the delicious food, but for the entertainment value. The cooking took place on the street and there was so much action from everyone involved in making the hundreds of dishes of food they must make every night. The line snaked around forever and the atmosphere was lively. There was fresh, delicious orange juice and a street vendor selling steamed coconut sweets for dessert after dinner; a closed loop system. Dinner, drinks and dessert all within a stone’s throw!

Thipsamai

Line at Thipsamai

Coconut Pudding

Coconut desserts after dinner

We worked quite a bit with Jette finding new cafes for a change of scenery. She accomplished quite a bit of writing and read a significant amount of ancient history.

Working

Working hard

One more math workbook finished!

One more math workbook finished!

We discovered a new dining destination called Food Loft at one of the nicer department stores, Central Chidlom. Basically, a quiet, comfortable dining space set apart from kiosk-style, small restaurant kitchens that were able to prepare almost any dish anyone could desire. One of the kiosks had a northern Thai dish called Khao Soi for Waco. Another had a grilled salmon dish that Jette liked and a third had Indian food for me. On days when the noise, heat and grit of the city would have exhausted us, we would find ourselves wanting to escape to the luxury of our comfort foods in the Food Loft’s soft chairs and plentiful air conditioning. We definitely felt pampered there; it’s funny how simple true luxury really is. It all just depends on your perspective.

Salmon dinner

Salmon dinner

The holiday spirit was alive and well in Bangkok. Jette and I had to engage in some photo silliness.

Holiday Silliness (1)

Sparkly snowmen inspire silliness

Holidays

A holiday display we liked

In case you didn’t know, Jette is permitted a “seasonal doughnut”, meaning one per season, or about four doughnuts a year. How did she spot the Dunkin Donuts?! Check “summer” and “fall” off her list. She made sure to hold back on her “winter” doughnut in case she wants to enjoy two at the same time when “spring” rolls around. Cheeky monkey!

Nooooooooooooo

Nooooooooooooo!

Donut

Just before mid-December, we switched back to our familiar neighborhood, Silom and awaited the arrival of some very special visitors…

Boutique Cafe

Nob Cafe back in the Silom neighborhood

Nob Cafe

A cute display in the boutique portion of Nob Cafe

Happy New Year!

On the roof at the Vertigo Restaurant and Moon Bar, Bangkok.

On the roof at the Vertigo Restaurant and Moon Bar, Bangkok.

Happy New Year!  It is hard to believe that this marks the half-way point for our Field Trip X adventures. Can it really be 2016 already?! It’s all gone by so quickly. 2015 was a fantastic year for us and we hope it was for you too.

Grams and Grandad

Grams and Grandad

We’ve spent the past two weeks with family. Yep, Jette’s jet-setting Grams and Grandad met us in Bangkok on the 15th and we’ve spent two wonderful weeks with them. Jette got to show them some of her favorite Bangkok haunts, then we spent a few days in Kanchanaburi (known for the Bridge on the River Kwai) and Ayutthaya (the old capital of Thailand and famous for its beautiful ruins).

Bridge on the River Kwai

Bridge on the River Kwai

The roots of the old trees at Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya make good balance beams.

The roots of the old trees at Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya make good balance beams.

We were back in Bangkok for Christmas and my birthday, and we saw them off yesterday. They are on their way to Canada via Dubai and Dallas.  We’ll be posting about our adventures together soon.

We’re not always the best at keeping in touch with friends and family, but know that we are thinking about you and wishing you a happy and healthy new year!

Love,
Waco, Mila & Jette

Back in Bangkok

We’re still on the island of Koh Tao in Thailand, and we’re almost all caught up on past travel. In this post, Mila continues, back in time just a little bit, to the short stay we had in Bangkok just before we came to Koh Tao. With this post, she will have caught us up! Three cheers for Mila!

Our overnight train from Vientiane, Laos brought us back into Bangkok safely. We arrived early in the morning and took a taxi to the Silom neighborhood, to Silom City Hotel, where we had stayed in October. The best aspects of the hotel are its cleanliness, kind staff, quiet rooms and perfect location. There is a great street market with fresh fruit and plenty of cooked breakfast and lunch options just one “soi” (small side street) away. Jette also gets special attention from the owner whenever we happen to see her. It’s become a nice “home base” for travel in Asia as there are plentiful options for travel in/out of Bangkok.

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The visual chaos of everyday Bangkok life

Do they ever wash these buildings?

Do they ever wash these buildings?

Lovely interior of a Chinese medicine shop

Chinese medicine shop

This shop is beautifully arranged and so tidy

Lovely vintage interior of Chinese medicine shop

We had not pre-booked a room at Silom City, and discovered, sadly, that they were fully booked. They accommodated us for the evening and then, we moved to another hotel in the Bangrak neighborhood. Initially let down, we brightened when we concluded it would be really nice to stay in a new part of town, as comfortable as we had become in the Silom neighborhood.

The new hotel was also on a soi, rather than a busy main street. There was a big shopping mall at the end of the soi as well as many new food vendors, whose delicious cooking smells would tempt us as we walked about each day. Our very favorite vendor became the taro coconut pancake lady. The pancakes are a tantalizing slightly purplish color, warm, slightly chewy and totally, completely, deliciously addictive. We also had a chance to have a meal at a Bangkok institution, a 70+ year old restaurant simply named Muslim Restaurant. Jette was happy with a plain “roti” (doughy, slightly crispy Indian flatbread); I tried a “mataba” (chicken stuffed roti) and Waco sampled a “biryani” (seasoned rice dish). We also discovered that charcoal food is trending as a “detox”. You read that right, charcoal. Charcoal infused foods of all kinds were prominent in one supermarket boutique and we gave in to our curiosity with a croissant that was jet black. It was interesting. There was a very slight nuanced flavor and a slight gritty texture difference. We’re definitely not jumping on the charcoal bandwagon, but it was fun to discover and sample something new.

Waco's biryani at Muslim Restaurant

Waco’s biryani at Muslim Restaurant

Muslim restaurant

My chicken mataba

spicy salad

Spicy salad at Muslim Restaurant

I love kiwis

Prettiest kiwi

The prettiest kiwi

charcoal

Charcoal croissant

Our hotel also turned out to have a very popular and tasty restaurant on the ground floor. We enjoyed dinner there one night while people-watching and planning our next destination. Towards the end of dinner, as we waited for our server to bring our bill, I did a double-take. When I was sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me, I pointed, awe-struck, “There’s a turkey right there!”. Jette and Waco turned around to see a very large, live turkey standing in the middle of the road. It seemed quite comfortable to be where it was, on a small side street, late at night, in the middle of Bangkok. We paid for our dinner and walked slowly over to it. We took pictures and giggled at the surreality of the moment. Later that night, we could hear turkey “gobbles” as we turned out the lights and went to bed!

Very popular restaurant at our guesthouse

Very popular restaurant at our guesthouse

Welcome to Bangkok; where turkeys roam at night

Welcome to Bangkok; where turkeys roam at night

Our friendly neighborhood turkey

Our friendly neighborhood turkey

Our new location, near a shopping mall turned out to be perfect. I was able to replace a worn pair of sandals and Waco replaced a broken watch. Jette discovered an arcade and tested her basketball skills.

We found this beautifully packaged soap

We found this beautifully packaged soap

giggle

Getting a giggle from misspellings

A little basketball practice

A little basketball practice

Swish!

Swish!

Cooling off inside a cute cafe

Cooling off inside a cute cafe

We all treated ourselves to foot massages one afternoon. There happened to be a very pampered little dog that had a bed behind the reception desk. We were all surprised when we realized it was hiding there.

Pampered dog

Pampered dog

Can you see the little dog behind the reception desk?

Can you see the little dog behind the reception desk?

If you know Jette, you know what an extreme connection she has with animals. Back home, she volunteers each weekend at Operation Kindness, and really misses her contact with the dogs she walks and bathes each week. During our travels, she has given love and affection to any animal that she comes into contact with. When we were in Singapore, we happened to walk past a “cat-cafe”. Cat cafes are cafes that also happen to have a group of cats that can be pet and cuddled. Jette had requested to visit one, but logistics prevented it in Singapore. Waco and I decided to surprise Jette with a visit to a place we found that would exceed all of Jette’s cat cafe dreams. We found True Love Cafe, a similar concept, but with Huskies, Australian Shepherds and one adorable dog named Momo, a Shih Tzu/Chinese Pit mix. We took a taxi to Phaya Thai, an upscale neighborhood about half an hour north from where we were staying.

Upon arrival to True Love Cafe, which we had kept secret from Jette, she quickly recognized the sign as one she had seen while researching cat cafes online. She was, in a word, ecstatic. The cafe is only open to the public during certain hours and a reservation is required. We checked in and were issued drink and cake tickets, which were included in the price of entry. The cafe is run like a very well-oiled machine and we were given a short time to order and consume our snacks. Shortly thereafter, the owner gave safety instructions in both Thai and English. The health and welfare of the twenty-nine dogs was explained as everyone was asked to wash hands and take off our shoes so that we were not exposing the dogs to any unwanted micro or macro-organisms. We were given sanitary, single use, blue plastic booties to wear while with the dogs. It was explained that the dogs were given outdoor play time five to six times a day, and that otherwise, they were in cool, air-conditioned indoor spaces. Our time with the dogs was during one of their play times. They received big metal bowls full of ice. They barked, jumped and played with each other for a while, and then some of the older, calmer dogs started to lay down to rest. We were instructed that the dogs that were resting could be approached. Jette found several dogs to pet and pet and pet. She found time, unsurprisingly, to do some gymnastics in the large outdoor space. Our time with the dogs passed quickly and soon, their dinner bell would ring. Visitors walked over to the entry of the building where the dogs would run for dinner and pushed “record” for videos. A rush of fluffy boisterous, excited dogs ran as a happy pack and each jumped obediently right into his/her own kennel. These dogs knew exactly what to do. We were so impressed with the owners and trainers for this beautiful group of dogs and were happy to experience and support True Love Cafe.

Waco with his cake & mine in the foreground

Waco with his cake & mine in the foreground

Jette and her cake

Jette and her cake

Momo

Momo

The owner snuggling one of her dogs

The owner snuggling one of her dogs

He'll fit in my backpack

He’ll fit in my backpack

Please come home with me

Please come home with me

You're cute

You’re cute

Relaxed and happy

Relaxed and happy

I could definitely stay here

I could definitely stay here

We took the Sky Train back to our hotel, sampling these Kanom Bueang on the way. They look like tiny tacos, but are actually like a mini crispy dessert crepe. They were too sweet for us, but yet another fun street food to sample.

it's not a taco: it's Kanom Bueang

it’s not a taco: it’s Kanom Bueang

looks cute, tastes sweet

looks cute, tastes sweet

We all decided that a beach destination would be next on our travels. The somewhat remote island of Koh Tao was chosen. After weighing our options, we booked a room with a sea view and were beach-bound!

Bangkok in a nutshell

As usual, I’m playing catch-up with the blog posts. Documenting our adventures takes a back seat to experiencing them! Before I fill you in on Chiang Mai, I thought I would try to do a quick overview of our time in Bangkok.

Bangkok...traffic!

Bangkok…traffic!

We did a post about the Snake Farm and we posted a couple of rambling video updates. That barely scratches the surface of what we did in Bangkok, and we barely scratched the surface of the city! It is an awesome city with so much going on and we really enjoyed it.

Let’s start with the shopping malls. Like Singapore, Bangkok now has lots of huge, modern, luxury shopping malls. for those of you in Dallas, think Northpark, but add another 6 levels, a Rolls Royce showroom, some avant-garde local boutiques, and about 50 good restaurants. No joke. These places are massive and impressive.

Outside Central World Mall

Outside Central World Mall

One of the malls even features life-size model apartments for a local development:

Life-size model apartments in the mall

Life-size model apartment in the mall

One of the big, popular malls is Siam Paragon, and while we’re not normally drawn to malls, this place has an aquarium – Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World – in the basement and a cool mini-city built for kids – KidZania – on the top floor.

Jette loved both.

Handstand in Sea Life Ocean World Bangkok

Handstand in Sea Life Ocean World Bangkok

I sat in one of the many cafes and worked while Mila and Jette visited Sea Life Ocean World, so I can’t tell you much about it, but I can share some photos…

Hands-on with a starfish

Hands-on with a starfish

Big fish!

Big fish!

Awesome aquarium

Awesome aquarium

On the glass-bottom boat

On the glass-bottom boat

"Oh, they're adorable!"

“Oh, they’re adorable!”

Suffice it to say that much fun was had at the aquarium and Jette learned a little bit more about local aquatic life in Thailand. Jette likes the TV show River Monsters, and having seen a couple of episodes on Thailand, already knew a bit about the giant rays and snakheads found in Thailand’s rivers. Scary!

So the quarium was on the bottom floor, but 8 floors up is KidZania. KidZania is basically a mini-city for kids (4-14 years old) built indoors. Imagine a Disney city with shops, car dealers, beauty salons, restaurants, firemen…a place where kids can learn, where they can earn their own money and make their own financial decisions…

KidZania entrance

KidZania entrance

Cashing a check at the bank, just before Mom got kicked out. Sorry Mom, this place is for KIDS ONLY!

Cashing a check at the bank, just before Mom got kicked out. Sorry Mom, this place is for KIDS ONLY!

Adults please observe outside!

Adults please observe outside!

Upon entry, each kid gets a check for 50 “kidZo” (the currency). Inside the “city” they can spend their money at the local shops. They can also choose to work or study and earn money. They can even open a bank account.

kidZos

kidZos

For example, they can work at the Vet CLinic and earn 8 kidZos:

Vet clinic

Vet clinic

Or pay 10 kidZos to  take a course at the local Culinary School:

Culinary School

Culinary School

Here’s the story behind KidZania:

How it began

The history of KidZania starts like all great stories start with unwavering passion, idealistic vision, and the desire to be a catalyst for change. This particular story happened across cultures, across continents, and, more importantly, it happened in the minds of kids. The kids of the world became fed up with the current state of world affairs. They wanted a world where governments operated efficiently, societies were equitable, and resources were valued. This collective state of mind led them to envision a better world full of possibilities.

A nation is born

In development of this new world, they recognized a need to document their beliefs and their wish for independence. They began by establishing 6 fundamental rights: to Be, to Know, to Care, to Play, to Create and to Share. Inalienable and timeless, these rights are more than just entitlements; they are the foundation for real world training and the achievement of happiness. The children proclaimed their beliefs by writing an official Declaration of Independence, a statement of their independence from adults and an unequivocal announcement of their new nation’s existence. Next, they made a great leap by calling themselves a nation united on ideals rather than geography or culture. The kids decided on a purposeful name: KidZania, which means ‘Land of Cool Kids.’

Cities Evolve and Continue to Grow

Since they wanted a place where KidZanians could experiment and train, they decided to create their very own city. This is because cities are places where people live, share ideas, care for those around them and contribute to a greater whole. Since they wanted to learn quickly and retain their knowledge, the kids knew that the environment needed to be fun and realistic. After much work, they settled on a design and the first KidZania came to life. It was in Santa Fe Mexico City because that city has the largest population of children in the world. Thousands of children came and the success of their first city drove the kids towards growing their vision to more and more cities around the world.

Rights are Kept

The kid founders of KidZania gave a great deal of thought to their nation’s future. They knew they would each outgrow their ability to be active members of the community they founded. To guarantee that KidZania’s belief system would continue even after the original kids departed to participate in the grown up world, they created “Rightskeepers” that would live at every KidZania and never outgrow it. These rightskeepers – Urbano,Beebop, Chika, Vita and Bache – would help carry on the traditions, serve as role models and represent the values at the core of KidZania. Urbano represents KidZania’s infrastructure and learning, Beebop symbolizes its artistic phase, Chika characterizes its trends,Vita personifies the commitment to the environment and Bache reminds everyone to have fun. Each would remain a particular age, but could evolve over time in personality and thinking to reflect the fresh ideas every new KidZanian brings. The characters would be exemplary in their thoughts and actions and would be model citizens the kids could look up to as they looked to ready themselves for, and help create a better world.

Our favorite vet

Our favorite vet

Our vet waiting in line

Our vet waiting in line

Neighborhood signs

Neighborhood signs

Neighborhood theatre

Neighborhood theatre

Yep, even a 7-11

Yep, even a 7-11

One of the really fun activities was a climbing wall that was a building facade!

Ready to climb a building

Ready to climb a building

On the way up

On the way up

Getting to the top

Getting to the top

Coming down with a smile

Coming down with a smile

Our photographer on assignment

Our photographer on assignment

After the beauty salon

After the beauty salon

Jette had a great time at KidZania and is eager to go back!

When I think of Bangkok, I think of traffic. There is a LOT of traffic.

More traffic

More traffic

Of course there are tuk-tuks:

In a tuk-tuk

In a tuk-tuk.

Tuk-tuking (is that a verb?!)

Tuk-tuking (is that a verb?!)

and taxis:

Sleepy taxi

Sleepy taxi

and river taxis:

River Taxi

River Taxi

On the river taxi

On the river taxi

And perhaps best of all, the Sky Train (or BTS). The Sky Train is an elevated train that snakes through the city above the traffic. Nice! Like Sinagpore, it is clean, cool and very orderly. Folks like up in single-file lines at the station:

Waiting in line for the sky train

Waiting in line for the sky train

But enough about traffic and transportation. We also went to the Bangkok Zoo:

This croc don't bite

This croc don’t bite

At the zoo

At the zoo

And Chinatown:

In Chinatown

In Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown street

Shopping on Sampeng Lane

Shopping on Sampeng Lane

Sidewalk vendor

Sidewalk vendor

More shopping

More shopping

Panda ears for Halloween

Panda ears for Halloween

We also went to Wat Po – the temple of the reclining Buddha. In addition to being a beautiful temple, Wat Po was the first institution of public education in Thailand – the first University if you will, and is still today a teaching center for traditional Thai medicine and Thai massage. We got massages while we were there 🙂

Most Thais are Buddhist, though Thai Buddhism has it’s own own unique “flavor” heavily influenced by local traditions, Chinese traditions, and Hinduism, among other things.

Bananas at Wat Po

Bananas at Wat Po

Arm of the reclining Buddha statue

Arm of the reclining Buddha statue

Whimsical statue in Wat Po garden

Whimsical statue in Wat Po garden

Into one of the temples

Into one of the temples

Temple complex

Temple complex

Of course, we did a lot of other things too, and ate A LOT of yummy street food!

Bugs anyone?

Bugs anyone?

Bangkok was fun.