Thursday, December 22, 2011

Prodigal Daughter

     I know. I'm a record breaker. I broke another one and stayed gone for far too long. In my defense, I have a nasty head cold and don't feel much like posting, even now. But people actually read this thing so I'll try and do better, even if it is just me whining about having a cold in 90 degree weather. I haven't really been up to much other than working and sleeping.
     I did attend a wedding party here. Boy, was that a hotel or what? Very swanky and very beautiful. My employer explained to me that in Thailand there are specific days that are predicted every year by a fortune teller, and those are the days that everyone wants to get married on. Supposedly, there is a best-day-of-the-year to be married and a worst. It was very busy and the wedding guests were so numerous I don't think I saw the same face twice.
     I couldn't wear black since it would be considered bad luck, so I chose a fancy little blue/grey number. The food was ridiculous; there was so much to eat and it was all so good I felt guilty. I also felt a little like a crasher but then it was also explained to me that probably only half the people in attendance knew the Bride and Groom. Another thing that struck me was the sheer magnitude of pictures taken. I don't mean just by iPhones or cameras all willy-nilly like, I mean the professional wedding photos that use a spot light that is on equal footing with the sun, in terms of heat and the light emitted. The entire time I was there (about 2 hours) all the Bride and Groom did was pose for photos. Each photo was a long line of anywhere from 7 to 17 people, maybe more. I was told that it is the standard to take so many.
     I also loved the string quartet they had set up; they played so many songs that I recognized that I was singing along without even knowing it.

     That's all for today folks. I'll return and regale you with something amazing when I'm less dizzy.

Have a wonderful holiday. I wish you all lots of happy, new memories. Don't forget to watch 'It's a Wonderful Life' on Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Am I a Dog?

     We spent the day at the giant mall. And if you think I'm exaggerating... See? Told you so.
I bought some batteries and some please-stop-this-itching-from-that-behemoth-mosquito-that-infiltrated-my-bedroom-and-drank-my-blood-like-an-angsty-teenybopper-vampire-last-night cream. I'm serious. I got welts. This must have been a mosquito trained in covert operations. He had skills. I must have been bitten at least eight times before I noticed.

    I also laughed hysterically today at a communication speed bump. One of the other nannies was trying to ask me if I was tired but neither of us knew the word in each others language. So then the other nanny tried to pantomime it. Only she held up her hands, bent at the wrists and stuck her tongue out panting. Like Fido would. I frowned and asked, "Dog? Am I a dog?" Which then caused a cacophony of laughter from them because they knew what they were asking. I spent a minute or two confused while they looked up the translation on their phone (thank god for internet on phones) and then when I saw what they were asking, I joined in on the laughter.
I now plan to tease the other nanny mercilessly about this. Yay! My first inside joke. It definitely helps with that isolated feeling. I've also decided to devote at least a half an hour to an hour each night to learning more Thai each night. Today I'm feeling like I can do this and do it well.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


I know I have been remiss in posting. Mea culpa. Nothing extraordinary has happened so I decided just to post a few random things. Unrelated and moderately unremarkable.

Flossy Pork.
No, that wasn't a typo. It has swiftly become one of my favorite ingredients. Even if it does look like yarn.

Don't judge too swiftly. This stuff is yummy! It has the texture and consistency of cotton candy--only it's pork.
I first had some in some whole grain rice and though the appearance had me guessing, I went for it and am glad I did. 

I'd also like to take advantage of this lag of exciting to show you where I sleep. Nothing amazing but it's my own private room and I adore privacy. Infinitely better than when I was living aboard the cruise ships and sharing about the same space with two to sometimes five other girls. 

And now for something else completely random, check out the box the Cornflakes come in at the local supermarket call Tops.
Pretty retro huh?

     I walked up to the local mall today and discovered that I'm completely spoiled by going to Seacon Square every Friday. This mall is much, much smaller. Only three measly levels and I walked around the whole thing in less than forty-five minutes. It took me almost that long to walk up there! It takes half the day to walk around Seacon Square. There was an IMAX movie theater there. And when you see on the news that the 'Twilight Phenomenon' reaches overseas, well, yeah, it does. There was a line of about eight girls/women waiting to take their pictures with a large cardboard cutout of Robert Pattinson/Edward Cullen and a blown up wedding announcement from the movie. The movie came out at least, what, three weeks ago? And there was still of line of estrogen waiting to take a picture with a piece of cardboard in the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday...but hey, I'm all for forms of expression and entertainment and as long as it's not hurting anybody I don't have anything to say about it. Well, anything other than 'Really?'. 

     I will endeavor to do something exciting this week. Or at the very least something very specifically Bangkokian to write about.
     As always...questions? comments? I welcome any interaction. Except if you want to call me a complete idiot. Just don't. Trust me, I call myself one plenty.  For instance, about twenty minutes ago, when I slipped on a completely dry floor and bruised my buttock. Also, a klutz.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Like a Poisonous Mushroom

Yesterday, we were at Seacon Square; it's a HUGE mall with so much in it I get dizzy just thinking about it. A very funny moment occurred. I was pushing Nadia around in her stroller and we were just gazing at all the merchandise when I recognized a song playing over the PA. The melody was soft and it sounded like a crooner-tune. The voice didn't sound like Frank Sinatra but the style was exactly the same.
     So you've got the right vibe going, right? Very much swaying music.
Okay, now imagine my surprise when I recognized these lyrics.

         the extreme, I rock a mic like a vandal. Light up a stage and wax a 
                      chump like a candle...

It continued the whole song that way.

               ....Dance. Bum rush the speaker that booms, I'm killin' your brain like a poisonous mushroom. 
                   Deadly, when I play a dope melody.

I tried to find a link for you all on you tube or another site but surprisingly a lot of videos are removed due to copywrite issues. I say surprisingly because Vanilla himself stole the song and added a 'ching' sound to the end of the rhythm.

I was laughing way longer than I should have and I'm sure I might have made the other nanny self-conscious. But since we can't communicate too much yet, I couldn't really explain.

*For those that didn't get it, the song was 'Ice Ice Baby'

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Grand-Poohbah of Grand Palaces

     So today I lived up to the name tourist and visited the Grand Palace. It basically consists of royal residences, throne halls/banquet halls, government offices and museums. For a ‘farang’-a foreigner of Western decent- the admission fee is 400 Baht, about $11 USD.
     Well worth it in my opinion. I paid an extra 200 Baht for a PAG (Personal Audio Guide) and that was less than $6 USD. It is a nifty little device that offers an audio tour that you can follow along with at your own pace. There were at least twelve different languages to choose from. I quite liked it.
Paige's PAG for the day

     The main entrance was very easy to spot and I felt especially lucky, since my employer had her driver take me there and pick me up. So, yay for not having to use public transportation to such a busy venue! Plus the benefit of added security; I knew I had a ride coming and did not have to worry about catching a taxi.

     *Side note-As a frequent traveler, it is always smart to read before you go-if you can. I read up on the Grand Palace a little bit and some popular scams that are run. One, in particular, was a scam where you’re approached by someone who says ‘Sorry, closed today’ and then they try and lead you off to some fake gem sale. I was approached by FOUR people saying the Grand Palace was closed today, and I COULD SEE the people walking in/out the entrance/exit. It was laughable. Knowing ahead of time that it was probably coming was pretty beneficial and I can not stress enough how important preparation is, when you have the opportunity.*
     I saw so much in a 2 ½ hour time span that there is no way I could cover it all. Well, I could but I think I’d lose readers, or at the very least put you to sleep. In lieu of that, I’ll hit the highlights.
     When you enter you are immediately surrounded by murals and ornate intricacies EVERYWHERE. I took quite a lot of photos, which would just cause clutter here, so instead go to this Flickr page I set up to see a slideshow. Also, note the nifty new banner I made for my site at the top of the page.
     The Royal Chapel of the Emerald Buddha was soo-ay, which is Thai for beautiful. They will not allow photography inside and I’m afraid I can’t do it justice but I’ll try. You have to remove your shoes to enter and since it was so busy, I know my shoes must’ve sat alongside at least 12 to 14 different shoes from different countries. The ceilings were about (aw jeez, measuring distances has never been a strong suit) fifty? feet high. There were two very prominent, large Buddha statues on the left and right, one seated Buddha on the lowest level and several other Buddha images/statues placed throughout. At the highest point, sitting in a gilded-carved throne is the Emerald Buddha.
     But he’s not really Emerald. He’s Jade. There’s back story there, and if you want to know I’ll tell but for now I’m skipping.
     It is very peaceful, and the ambiance-the air-is filled with a deep reverence. I very much liked being in there and I sat for about fifteen minutes just taking everything in.

     Chakri Maha Prasat Hall was my other favorite from today.

Look at these door! Aren't these beautiful doors!

     It was built as the official residence for King Rama V (the King from the Yule Brenner movie-note that the movie was a work a fiction, I’m just giving you a point of reference) but now it’s only used for state banquets. The doors were gorgeous! OH, oh, oh, and another highlight from this building was the Weapons museum located on the first floor. There were weapons from previous Kings in there as well as traditional Thai weapons. But my absolute favorite-and I’m not kidding you here—Tridents. Yep. They had actual Tridents. So cool.
     One of the revolvers owned by King Rama V was so beautiful. It looked like carved ivory, and very intricate.
     I’m still stoked about the Tridents.
I forgot to mention the Belfry. So maybe I just wanted to use the word Belfry in a sentence. It’s not everyday that you get to, so I’m capitalizing. They ring the bell on special occasions. I like how the sun is glinting off the top of the Belfry. The Belfry is really quite opulent.

Belfry. Belfry. Belfry.
Ok, I’m done. I think.

     I was hot, very hot at the end of my walk around the Grand Palace, so I purchase a Pepsi for 20 Baht and a bottled water outside the Palace for 20 Baht. Remember one dollar USD is about 30 Baht. I even took a picture of the currency exchange they had outside the Palace entrance.
     It was about 12:30 when I was done so I walked across the street and got some Pad Thai from a vendor for 50 Baht (no tiny portion either) and then a Kiwi fruit drink for 25 Baht.

     I had a very full, fascinating and fun day for 715 Baht. If you do the math, or use the nifty currency converter I put at the bottom of my site, then you’ll see that it equals less than 21.00 USD.
     I love exchange rates. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Itty bitty Update

     So sorry for the lag in posting. Two days ago I walked with another nanny up to the fresh market and then to a vendor/restaurant to eat lunch. It tasted great! The fresh market had so much: fruit, vegetables, fish (raw), butchered meat, sweets, breads etc. After the meal, however, things went from 'yay, new places' to 'oh god, stomach cramps'. So...yeah, my stomach is still adjusting. The stomach cramps were about a 7.5 on a 10 scale, but that is not what caused major suckage. The bad part was walking back home through the raw fish...
     So, I'm working a half day today and I'm off tomorrow. My first days off since starting here, so expect many updates in that time. After laundry and another try at the fresh market, I'll come back with some pictures for you. And then on Thursday I'm playing tourist and going to see the Grand Palace and the famous Reclining Buddha.
    Until then...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Work, work, work

     So the leading category in my poll right now is work. Henceforth, (I just like being able to say henceforth, we don't get to use it nearly as much as we should be able to in normal conversation) I shall dish about work.
     Well, the family is very kind and welcoming. They are conscientious about my needs and even keep asking about how my mother is doing. My charge, Nadia, is so adorable. I know I've said that before but it bears repeating. It's been less than a week with her and I think we've already bonded. She has taken to me quickly; she gives me hugs and loves on me so I think that's a yes from her. I'm very excited to watch her learn and grow over the next year. We spend time everyday reading and going over various preschool activities. She is a very smart little girl and I think she will do very well.
     Usually, by the end of the day I've been pretty tired, but I think I'm getting over my jet lag...finally!
I haven't had a chance to explore the neighborhood yet. I think on my day off I'll do that and then report back. Fun Thai fact for the day: the mattresses are much harder over here. I like a good firm mattress myself but just for those discerning travelers who want to know...
     Any specific questions? Feel free to leave not only comments but questions about what it's like over here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Malls, Gas and More Food

     So I’m fairly tired. But someone complimented me by saying I was a fairly prolific blogger and I have to live up to it now.
     I have been watching Nadia for three days now, and I’m fairly certain that I’m smitten. She is too cute! Things have been a little bit hectic because one of the other nannies had a ceremony to go to, so we’ve been playing hot potato with which ever kid is crying at the moment. The twins are very sweet as well. The boy is incredibly active, while the girl, his twin, is very docile and calm.
     Today, we went to Seacon Square; it was a jaw-droppingly huge mall. I think I may have seen one of everything, and two McDonald’s. I’m not kidding. There was a Dunkin’ Doughnuts, Starbucks, Swenson’s, Sizzler, plus a roller rink, a large play land for the kids, a Cineplex, the Food court and tons of little stores in between.
     OH, and before I forget. Get this…gas was 29.34 baht. If 30 baht equals one dollar—yeah, exactly—the gas was less than a dollar.
     And now we move on to the food portion of my blog. It’s going to get tedious if I post every meal I have on here, so I’m just putting up some that stand out. *Side note-my new employers bought a turkey for us on Thursday so that I could have Thanksgiving. Isn’t that so nice! I’m lucky to be with such a thoughtful family.* Yesterday for lunch I had the Thai version of chicken and rice soup.

Again, it all came in bags and wrapped in parchment. I like the way they have it set up. For those who want it really plain, you could just eat the chicken, rice and cucumber in the parchment. For a little bit more, you add the bag of broth and herbs to it, and then still (my favorite part) to make it spicier and more flavorful there was the smaller bag with the dark liquid—ground chilies in a liquid form. And finally, I met my match when it came to spiciness. The smallest bag had some, what smelled like, ginger and chilies with seeds and all. It smelled divine but I have been very smart so far and been using baby steps, so the fact that it was too spicy didn’t ruin the whole dish for me. Overall, I’d give this one a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars.
  This evening I had the one, the only, the original Pad Thai. So it turns out that in the States, when they make Pad Thai, they make it way too sweet. I just ate this…

…and it was delicious spicy.

So—any questions? Concerns? Comments? 
For now I'm off to bed. To bed, to bed I said. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Money, Food & Roosters

     I know it’s bad when my sister points out that I haven’t updated my blog! So, here I am, updating.
     I spent most of my second day sleeping. Jet lag is real people. I did explore some the morning/afternoon on Monday. I walked around and just absorbed, I walked into shops with AC in order to get out of the heat (yes, it’s winter and 90 degrees here), and I went back to my temporary room to nap. Well, the nap turned into about a six hour sleep. I woke around 9:30pm and in an effort to get on schedule, I forced myself to sleep four more hours later that night.
     Tuesday was a little more interesting. My employer took me to set up a bank account, take a picture for my visa application, and get lunch.
     My banks theme/main color is emerald green, which I find fitting. However, the whole time I was there, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Oz and the Emerald City. At least Dorothy understood what they were saying. It only helps spur me on to learn the language. Today is Wednesday, in Thai it’s pronounced Wan put - the wan sounds like the name Juan and the put sounds like a droplet of water dripping from a kitchen faucet.
Picture taking was not extraordinary, pretty much just your standard sit, smile, shoot scenario.
     Okay, lunch. I know that’s what you’re all really interested in, huh? Which, by the way, allow me to direct your attention to the right of the screen, where you will see a new poll I added to this here site. I’d like to make it a bit more interactive, so if you’re reading this, please feel free to contribute. So, we now return to our regularly scheduled programming—lunch. I had traditional Thai noodles with pork liver, loose pork, chicken, fish, bean sprouts, cilantro, and this seed that looked a bit like a cashew and a bit like a sunflower seed. There was more, but that’s what I could decipher. It came in a bag, much like a fish you buy at the pet store would. They close the bag with a rubber band, and let me tell you, they have it down to an art form. There was also a smaller bag that contained Thai jalapeños in vinegar—oh! So good! And finally, you could add sugar and ground chilli to it as well. I tried it all. I loved the jalapeños in vinegar, so I added all of that. I then, in baby steps, added the ground chilli, oh gawd was it good; it was so good I added more. The sugar tasted okay on it but it definitely was best spicy.  
     After lunch, and some surfing on the web, I took another nap for about an hour and a half. Then, around six-thirty, my employer picked me up from that house to bring me to the other house. 


This guy was hanging around outside while I was waiting for her.

  Traffic was sooooo bad. I can see where Bangkok gets its reputation as far as the roads are concerned. We had to detour a little bit because there is still a little bit of standing water on the normal route. Everything I saw was dry as a bone, though. Bangkok is big! I’ve only seen a little bit of it so far, but on the drive from one house to the other we took the highway and I must’ve seen 15 or more skyscrapers, at least 30 billboards, and more street vendors along the way than I can count. We arrived at the house just after eight and I got to meet the kids. Nadia is adorable. She was a bit shy at first but she is very curious and I think we’ll be fast friends. The twins, Nadine and Nathan, are too cute! They were born in July and at four months old they are holding their heads up nicely. I got ready for bed and by 9:30 I was out. Of course this means I woke up at 3:30 a.m. I tried to go back to sleep, I did! To no avail. So, I decided to post and then start my day.

     One thing—does everyone’s neighbor in Bangkok own a rooster? There was one at the other house, and now here too. I suppose that will help with the waking up, but I suspect that it may turn annoying quickly, lol. I do, on the other hand, love all the birds. It sounds like the bird house at the zoo in St. Louis, and I’ve always loved the morning birds chirping and singing. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sawadee ka (Hello)

     I was debating about what I should put in my first blog post from Bangkok but I think I should stick to a chronological order. Therefore, I’m going to talk about my trip here as well as my first day.

     I boarded my first plane around 7 a.m. Thursday morning Eastern Standard Time and landed in Bangkok at 1:10 a.m. Bangkok time. Whoa boy. I’m still a bit tired and cramped and I had an entire day to recover so far. I think by tomorrow I should feel better. Let’s see, what stands out? Well, my first two flights were short. Flight number one to Charlotte was only 30 minutes and flight two to Dulles (Washington D.C.) was just at an hour. I had a nice conversation with the flight attendant on flight two since they stuck me in the back of the plane right beside where she sat. That airplane was a small one; there were two seats and only one aisle.  Not so bad. I had to book it to my connecting gate in Washington and was not able to sit or walk around at all. They were holding the plane for me, in fact. That plane (flight 3 from D.C. to Tokyo) was HUGE. There were nine seats in each row and two aisles. I was sitting in the middle in the middle. The last two flights were booked full too so there was no elbow room. I think I understand what cattle feel like now. They herded us into the planes in lines-to stand and wait-and then crammed way too many of us into a space that should only hold half the amount it did. Poor cattle. The last two planes were the same, a Boeing 777. Here’s a picture.

I was sitting about two rows back from that partition-wall-thingy. Yes, that’s the technical term for it. I heard them say it: in English, Japanese and Thai. J
     Oh, and the coolest thing about my flights--the in-flight entertainment. You can see in the picture that the seatbacks have a small screen about 6 inches by 3.5 inches. They were interactive and you could choose movies, tv, trivia games, audiobooks, satellite radio, and more. There was also a GPS map that told you exactly where we were at that moment. You could see the satellite picture along with our path, both intended and already traveled. At the bottom of the screen the readout told you all sorts of info; things like altitude, time left in the trip, outside temperature, and more whenever you wanted. I found myself frequently pausing my movie to find out where we were and how much longer I had to play sardine. The movie selection was excellent, there was at least 15 new releases to choose from, and about 15 more in various categories. I watched Larry Crowne, Water For Elephants, Unstoppable, Friends With Benefits, Something Borrowed, and a few more that I can’t remember at the moment. Did I mention they were long flights? The selections of TV shows were good as well. I watched a few episodes of Glee, Dexter, and Big Bang Theory. By the end of my traveling I think I accumulated maybe four hours of sleep, but I’ve never slept well during flights.

     Other than the long conversation with the flight attendant on flight number 2, I didn’t really talk to anyone on the planes. It was very bus-like. People come in, sit down and the headphones go on. What else…? OH, oh, oh man are people gross. I was in economy seating so there wasn’t really room to leave a mess. But the people in first class and business class! I mean, really? Really, people? Rolling my carryon through those areas while I was disembarking was astounding. There was trash everywhere, blankets just thrown willy-nilly on the floors, and the headsets left out, cords stretched out just begging for someone to trip over them. Those poor flight attendants! I just consider it common courtesy to put back what you took out. If you found the headset wrapped up in the seatback pocket in front of you, then when you’re done, you wrap it up and put it in the seatback pocket in front of you. In my opinion. They fed us a lot, too. I ate like 3 meals, 4 snacks and had maybe 4 sodas and 4 or 5 waters during my flights.
     Also, the signs and monitors were very easy to read and follow. If there wasn’t English available usually the pictures were obvious enough. All the restrooms had the pink skirted female form and the blue male form, so I didn’t accidentally walk into a men’s room. Which is good, ‘cause I can just see me doing something like that. Oh boy, now I’m really glad I didn’t do something like that, lol.

     Okay, so I landed in Bangkok, used the restroom, and proceeded to Immigration. I filled out my arrival card on the airplane (thank you flight attendants!) and after about waiting maybe fifteen minutes it was my turn. I was anxious because this dude with the stamp could keep me out. So I had all my paperwork ready and organized and when it came time…the Immigration officer didn’t say anything! Not a word. Not a ‘How long will you be in Thailand?’ or a ‘Where are you headed next?’, nada, nothing. He looked at my paperwork and passport for about thirty seconds and then stamped everything. 

     O-kay, so…that was easy. But since turnabout is fair play, when I next went to baggage claim, yep, you probably guessed it, they lost my bag. One bag! However, I was smart enough to bring the really important things in my carryon luggage, along with 3 days worth of clothes. They will be delivering my bag very early tomorrow morning, maybe early afternoon. I even put bright pink duct tape all over the thing so that it would be easily recognizable. Ah, well.
     My new employers picked me up from the airport around 2 a.m. and then brought me back to their house.
     I am currently staying in their ‘other’ house, yes you read that right, they have two houses. They are living in the other one and they wanted to give me a little space and time to recuperate from my trip and jet lag. Isn’t that nice? It’s a lovely home in a nice location, and close to some shopping centers and sky train stations (more on those later).
     I’ll tell you a bit more and then reserve the rest for later, I know this post is long.

This evening, they took me out to eat dinner and then to a supermarket to get a few things to eat at the house. Sorry I don’t have any pictures. I will take some foodie pics tomorrow, I promise. My first Thai meal was egg noodles and pork with a green leafy veggie in a pork sauce. It was very yummy but very tame on the tongue, mild. I added some Thai jalapeño to it and it tasted great! I couldn’t even finish the whole thing. I also tried some of Art’s dish and it was really yummy!!! Spicer and very flavorful. She said they have it at most Thai restaurants, so yay! I knew I’d like it. I was concerned about the whole new bacteria thing. I read that whenever you travel abroad, you oftentimes will have quite an upset stomach for a while because of the new bacteria in the food that your body is not used to. My stomach was a tiny bit unhappy this evening but nothing horrible, so if my body can acclimate quickly I will be a very happy camper. I leave you with some pictures of money, 'cause c'mon, who doesn't like money?

That’s all for tonight folks. I’ll regale you with some more awesomeness tomorrow.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I am here. In Bangkok.
I am tired.
I am cramping, cranky and generally curmudgeonly.
My new employers picked me up roughly around two a.m. Bangkok time. It was a very nice first meeting and I'll go ahead and say that I'm quite taken with them. They are very kind and I feel very lucky.
And right now I am very lucky because I get to sleep for a nice long chunk of uninterrupted time. When I am out of this coma, I will return and give you all the skinny on my 30 HOUR trip to Bangkok.
Until then...

Friday, November 18, 2011


     Odd how fate decides to time things. Yesterday I was concerned with last minute preparation, packing and saying a few farewells. That was until the EMTs had to come and take my mother to the hospital because we couldn’t wake her. Long story made VERY short because I’m VERY tired-my mom has a very bad pneumonia and is in the ICU of our local hospital. She was out of it for the entire day and night so I was unable to say bye to her (at least a two-way parting). The last we spoke was when I said good night to her on Wednesday. I debated staying. I argued with myself and then argued some more. Cutting to the chase, I’m still going to Bangkok today. I’m sitting in the airport right now waiting for my first of four flights. From my small town in North Carolina I fly to Charlotte, NC, then Washington D.C., then the looooong flight from D.C. to Tokyo, and finally from Japan to Bangkok.
     More news to come but I’m just too ugh right now to be very eloquent. Thanks for sticking with me folks and I promise more upbeat posts in the future, I swear. For now I’m going to go sleep on a few planes, try to enjoy some airline food, and read my Kindle. My suggestion for today? Tell your mom that you love her, maybe have a good conversation with her, and stretch your legs for me so I can at least be comfortable vicariously. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Blues

     I feel odd. I’m prepared. Which is new for me: not preparation as a whole, but having all my personal affairs in order ahead of time. I mean, if I were to be wearing a sash, it would state, in big, bold, elegant letters-Miss Procrastination. Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to work, or doing something for others I’m usually Miss Punctual but for some reason I have a propensity to push the clock. I don’t necessarily get off on the drama of deadlines or anything but I do usually tend to wait until the last minute; I have in the past anyway, I’m working on that. Hence, me being so prepared.

     Okay, I’m rambling, I know. Just think of it as an outlet for all my nervous energy. My bags are packed and weigh the appropriate amount, which was a fun little event in itself. Last night, I took my luggage to the airport for a dry run. I wanted to be sure that my checked bag did not exceed the limit. I heaved my bag up onto the scale and the readout stated in bright red letters 50.0 lbs. I had a brief moment of panic since the airlines website stated that for international flights the restriction was 44 lbs. However, the attendant working the desk said, “Right on the money.” So I checked, and yep, the international restrictions are-in fact-fifty pounds. Whoo hoo! Apparently packing is not a lost art with me, as I once previously thought.
     Then I preceded the gullible portion of the evening. I moved to take some of the airlines little paper/plastic name and address tags so that I could have them labeled already. The attendant told me in a very authoritative and commanding voice that they were now charging a quarter a piece for those things.
     “Yeah, right.” I quipped fairly sarcastically.
     “No, seriously. We’re charging for everything now.” (Again with the convincing tone)
This logic did not escape me. Airlines DO charge for everything. So, yes, I will admit to falling onto the susceptible train. My eyebrows shot up and I said a quick never mind. When my back was turned to him, he called out, “Kidding, kidding.”
Cue my very heartfelt, “Ha. Ha.”
     The gentleman in line behind me even said, “Remind me never to play poker with you.”
Go ahead, laugh. I am.
      For my last day in the States for a while, I spent the morning cleaning and finalizing my packing endeavor. Now, in about an hour, I will pick up Gracie and spend the afternoon with her. I’m not sure what’s on the schedule for tonight. I imagine I’ll probably post one more time from the airport. For now…I’ve got the ‘last day blues’.

Monday, November 14, 2011


     Only three and a half days remain until I make that arduous twenty-eight hour flight. There is, what I would expect to be, normal amount of anxiety and nervous energy in anticipation of my move. In these last few days I am making my final preparations, ensuring I have everything I will need to take and saying goodbye to a few folks. In my immediate vicinity, I will admit to not missing very much. I’ve always had that wandering spirit, so there is a degree of separation already present.  On the other hand, there is one five-year-old in particular that I will be missing quite fiercely.

     Gracie has a very special place in my heart and I find it easier to compartmentalize and not think about all I’ll be missing rather than concentrating on it. Instead I’m trying to think about the new little girl I will be taking care of. I’m also very thankful for technology. Skype may be my new best friend.

     Last week on the tenth, I accompanied Gracie on her field trip to the Children’s Museum and then the park to eat lunch. Wow. Chaos often comes in the form of little five and six-year-old bodies bouncing around. While I fully believe in the power and impact of socializing your child, sometimes a more concentrated, solitary effort is better. We had several different stations to visit and were only permitted ten minutes at each station. We stopped at the color station and Gracie piped out different colored liquids to create new colors. We moved onto the doctor station, where Gracie picked out a ‘sick teddy bear’ and then had to diagnose him and wrap his broken leg. She had a lot of fun looking at x-rays and determining what part of the body they were before being rushed onto the next station. We visited the dentist station, the circus station, the grocery store station and several more. All in all it was almost too much to stimulate her little brain and not enough time to fully enjoy it. The highlight for me was the last station we hit: the weather station. Gracie stood in front of a green screen and explained that there was a tornado coming J and what the temperature was. My favorite part was when she finished off her report with the cursory ‘back to you’. The stuff this kid comes up with amazes me. Little sponges.

     I am never bothered when I see parents asking other adults to adjust their language or behavior around kids. It’s how they learn. So why wouldn’t a parent want to moderate what their child is exposed to? Conversely, I see the wisdom in preparing your kid. I see it almost like an immune system. One that is never exposed to viruses or germs will be easily prone to contract sickness. An immune system that has been exposed to its fair share of INVADERS will be stronger and better equipped to deal with it when sicknesses do arise. So, in my humble opinion, I say find a happy medium and just ask yourself if you are doing your child a disservice by protecting them too fiercely. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Broken Heart/Kindle

     I apologize for my lag in posting. I experienced my own little personal disaster. Two days ago, I picked up my Kindle to read some more travel guides or perhaps some chick-lit fluff, I will keep that to myself, and the e-reader’s screen freaked out on me.

     Let me back up a little and explain my relationship with the Kindle. One year and one month ago, my mother purchased a Kindle for me as an early Christmas present. I. Was. In. Love. My entire library at my fingertips? Oh, yeah! I can usually devour a book in one or two sittings, so having thousands of books at my disposal and never having to lug around heavy books; it was Heaven in a conveniently sized electronic device. I used my Kindle everyday, especially because of the ability to check my email via the 3G/WiFi connectivity. Four gigs of memory and user-friendly. If you don’t have an e-reader and you like to read, I highly recommend them. I never worry about being bored while waiting for a doctor, or say on a 28 hour plane ride like the one I have looming in eight days.
     Fast forward to two days ago when I tried to turn on my little friend and the screen geeked out on me; I cried. I’ll admit it. I sat on my bed, broken device in hand, feeling miserable and I cried. I was very upset. Now I know there are much more important things in life and I even know that I pointed out priorities a few posts ago, but that didn’t stop my eyes from leaking like a Levee in Louisiana pre-Katrina. I am a white, American female who is fully aware that I’ve got it a lot better than a great deal of the population. But I had become so dependent on my e-reader that the sudden loss was a little crushing. I can recognize my ability to be shallow and spoiled.
     After entirely too much time spent throwing myself a pity party, I called my best friend and confidant to tell him about my own personal disaster. Well, in he rides on his steed, his armor glinting in the bright sun. Within minutes he ordered me a new one.
I know, he’s amazing.
     Now, in retrospect, I’m more thankful for having someone like this in my life than getting a shiny new toy. I could do without this gadget that I loved so much. I couldn’t imagine giving up a relationship wherein someone cares about me that way. So, I’m grateful that my Kindle broke. It became a magnifying glass for me, showing me what I already knew, even closer. I was comforted and secure. More importantly, I am secure in the knowledge that I have this person in my life, and I am thankful, so thankful. 
     If you have a quiet minute to think today, my suggestion would be to ask yourself this: who in your life comes to your rescue when you need it, and do they know how appreciated they are? 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Packing: A Lost Art?

     Well, for me it is. You would think that with as many times as I’ve moved around, I should have it down pat. Well I don’t. I succumb to all the nostalgic estrogen whirling around in my body and end up wanting to bring everything. I tried to do a quick count on how many times I’ve actually moved and I came up with fifteen but I’m sure I’m forgetting one or two. As a child, my parents were constantly moving me around, and it was not because I’m a military kid. Usually we moved from one house to another house or trailer to trailer because of finances or drama. Probably drama. That’s a can of worms I won’t subject you to though.
     By the time I was eleven I know of at least nine different times we moved, and I don’t mean a temporary relocation, I’m talkin’ full out, pack up everything you own and unpack it somewhere else ‘supposedly for good’. So I guess it became a tradition with me. I have come to thrive on change. Something about a completely new environment and new people gives me a fresh outlook; it is invigorating. So let’s see, from eleven to nineteen I count six more moves. Luckily, when I moved in with my sister, things calmed for a bit and I was able to attend only two high schools.
     After high school, it was time for college, and there was no way I was staying in my hometown. So I traveled to the other side of the state to attend University. But those ants in my pants just couldn’t let me be content, so after two years of study it was time to go again. Where this time? I searched online for work and travel jobs and came upon the discovery of Glacier Bay Cruise lines; a small, adventure cruise line that hired me after one application and one two hour phone interview. I moved to live onboard ship in Alaska.
     There is more after that but I think you’re getting the picture. I’m deviating from my original point though. Packing. After all that traveling and all that wandering you would think that I pack like a pro, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong. I still want to take much more than I need and stress about it right up until my departure. ‘Well, what if I need this? I can’t leave that, I might need that set of thermal gloves in case the tropical paradise of Thailand suddenly has a freak cold spell and then I’ll be the only one left with cold fingers and then there won’t be anywhere to buy thermal gloves because it’s Thailand and tropical and they probably don’t have anywhere to buy thermal gloves because they don’t ever need them….’ And on it goes. I’m sorry for the run-on folks, but this is my brain; it runs on and on and on…..
     I’ve googled the phrase ‘travel+packing+Thailand’ and pretty much any variation you could come up with, and they all have very good advice. ‘Course it would help if I actually was capable of following said advice. I’m kidding. I’m sure I’ll do fine. But…
     Problem is I’ve only got one checked bag that can weigh no more than 44 lbs, one carryon, and one personal item. How on earth am I going to pack all my essentials in just those items? I could pay the extra $70.00 for an additional checked bag, but I ain’t made o’ money, so I’ll have to stick to what is allowed. I know, I know, logically I can buy most of what I need when I get over there but that doesn’t stop the worry train from speeding down the tracks well over the speed limit. Even sitting in my room staring at all my half-packed luggage is sending me into fits of anxiety. I want to wait until I’m within four or five days of my departure date to really pack. Nevertheless, I would also rather just pack it now and have it done.
     You see? People do you see what I have to put up with in my own head? It’s dizzying, is it not?
     I’m making a promise to myself. I will be cold and calculated. I will be merciless and unforgiving. Thermal gloves, I’m sorry but you can’t come. And that’s just the way it is!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


     This is the first of what I assume will be many posts about Thai food. I love to cook! I love food! However, I am poorly educated when it comes to Thai food and its preparation. So, I propose that you learn with me.

     Unfortunately, the only real exposure I’ve had to genuine Thai dishes has been in a restaurant wherein someone else has done the cooking. I began searching for recipes and various ways to prepare the local dishes. And the instant I started reading the ingredients from several common dishes it was apparent that I’m going to enjoy cooking most of them. This site will be extremely helpful both now and while I'm there. If you'd like to cook along with me I suggest looking at some of the recipes and testing your palette along with me.
     Since Bangkok is in a tropical region, there is an abundance of fruit, which I also love.  I’m really excited to try Rambutan.*

It’s definitely unique looking, right?
The descriptions I’ve found can’t really compare it to another fruit that I’m familiar with. The inside has been said to have a fleshy grape-like texture and it is more sweet than sour. And the plethora of fruit isn’t all.

     Rice. Rice is so important in Thai culture that when someone greets you, they sometimes will ask gin kow reu yang?, which literally translates as ‘have you consumed rice yet?.  Jasmine rice is at the top of the rice food chain but sticky rice, steamed and short grain, and boiled brown or purple rice are easily accessible.
     I read in the Lonely Planet guidebook along with several other sources, that the usual way to eat is what American’s call family style. Everyone gets a bowl of rice or noodles and several dishes (curries, stir-frys or soups) are brought to the middle of the table; everyone eats a little of this or that with their rice.  It seems very informal and oriented towards socializing. In fact, my guidebooks say that you rarely see Thai people eating alone. The more the merrier. A meal is an event, a chance to sample good food and be with good people, laughing with and talking to family and friends. Another difference is that when dining out, food is not timed and carefully delivered at specific intervals. The food is prepared and whenever it is ready it comes to the table. When it’s done it’s delivered.
     I’ll let you know within a few weeks.
     A few weeks. My original time table had me leaving tomorrow morning and now I’m not even packed yet. Still learning what I can before I go. A few weeks seems like not enough time and Too much time. Good news-the flood did not do any damage to the place I’ll be staying. The water did not even reach all the way up the street. I’ll take some pictures when I arrive so you have a frame of reference.

15 days to go…

*Pictures from

Saturday, October 29, 2011


     Because of the flooding in Bangkok, my trip has now been postponed by 15 days. My flight now leaves on the 18th of November. I am glad that I will be avoiding the disaster portion of the trip, but also a teensy bit disappointed that I will have to wait. Waiting is not fun.


     I don’t want to bore you all by just regurgitating everything I read in my guidebooks. Until my trip, I will continue to update you on how I’m preparing. I’ll draw attention to things that really stand out to me. But since I did decide to throw the rules out the window, any topic is fair game. Today I’ll stick fairly close to home.

     As you know, in Thailand I will be taking care of a toddler named Nadia. This is not the first time I’ve been responsible for a little person. Prior to this particular gig, I’ve spent a lot of time taking care of my own adorable niece Gracie. Gracie is an overflowing handful who loves attention and loves telling everyone what to do.  J

Once, about six months ago, I took Gracie to McDonald’s for the evening for a bit of socializing and playplace fun. This kid is always making friends. I don’t think she understands the concept of a stranger; no matter how many times it’s explained to her. On this particular evening she, being 4 at the time, made fast friends of two older girls, sisters, also playing in the jungle gym/playplace. I think one was 6 and the other may have been 8 years old. They played happily for about thirty minutes while I observed. Clearly the older sister was accustomed to getting her way and bossing the younger sibling around.
Well, she was about to be schooled in the ways of sassy.
The following is the exchange I overheard and tried desperately not to pee myself over.

Older girl: (In a very authoritative voice) I know! I got an idea. How about we play spies, or hunters, yeah, let’s be dinosaurs. (motions between herself and her younger sister) And we’ll chase you (motions to Gracie) ‘cause you’re a hunter. You go up there, through there and then you can hide out if you want, but we’ll find you, ‘cause we’re great dinosaurs. And then we can chase you around here and through there. You run and stuff and then we’ll get you. We can make all sorts of dinosaur noises and walk like ‘em too, while you try to hunt us, okay?

*I’d like to point out that this entire time Gracie has been patient and attentive, looking the older girl square in the face just waiting for her to finish her litany of orders.

Gracie: (pause) I got an idea. How about I be the dinosaur and you be quiet.

Then Gracie runs off happily to play, not a care in the world.
I love this kid!

     I am told from the previous Au Pair that Nadia has a very calm demeanor and that she is a very well-behaved little girl. So, calm…I had to get out the dictionary for that one. I’m eager to meet Nadia, begin teaching her English and just having fun with her.

     I’m one of those people that has kind of-oh what’s the word?-an obsessive personality. When I like something, I like it. I devour everything I can about the subject: books, movies, TV shows, accounts from other people and pretty much anything else I can get my hands on. This aspect of my personality spills over into other areas of my life. Sometimes to my benefit and sometimes not. For instance, I’ve read so much about Thailand in the last month I think my eyes might cross permanently.  

     And now I’ve got 20 days to obsess. Just think of how much I’ll know tomorrow.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


               There’s a lot of water in Bangkok today.

     Thailand is experiencing record-breaking floods. It hasn’t been this bad in fifty years. What does this mean for little ol’ me? I have no idea, yet. I’m awaiting word as to whether or not my flight will be pushed back several days or even a few weeks. As it stands now, I am supposed to fly to The Land of Smiles in eight days. While it might seem inconvenient to me, it is devastating to the Thai people. Over 300 people have been killed from these flood waters; at least fifty from that number were children.

Priorities, people.
     If you are the praying type, I offer up Thailand and Asia as an addition to your roster. What I’m learning from this is patience, humility and even more patience in regards to steering clear of really bad jokes. I want my blog to be fun and accessible for everyone, but I did see the need to take a moment out from the amusement and pay respects. May I suggest you take a moment and appreciate how dry you and your belongings are?

     I come from Southeast NC where hurricanes are the norm. In fact, we even participate in hurricane parties. The power goes out, the candles get lit, and the socializing begins. I appreciate those times because they shine a spotlight on how little we truly communicate with one another. Technology is my friend, don’t get me wrong, I love my computer, my Kindle and my iPod. However, just sitting and talking with friends and family is becoming a ‘past’ time. I vote we don’t let it.   
     This also brings to mind the meaning of flexibility. Especially in travel, I believe the less rigid you are the less stress you’ll incur. Steinbeck said, “A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”
     There is no danger in being flexible and the Thai people even have a concept that epitomizes what I’m trying to convey. The Thai use this phrase as a way of approaching everyday situations; “jai yen yen” literally means cool your heart. The best comparison I can make is to a Disney movie, The Lion King. It is very much like Timon and Pumba’s description of Hakuna Matata. No worries. It’s no big deal. Thais often operate with this in mind, eschewing the stress that accompanies being late for work due to a traffic jam. Of course, this is only information that I have gleaned from my Lonely Planet guidebook and other sources. I promise to give a first hand account as soon as I’m able. 
     For now, I leave you with one more quote (I just love quotes-there will be more) that should, hopefully, put a smile on your face. The Duke gave us this one.

     “Life is tough. It’s tougher when you’re stupid.” ~John Wayne

Picture from

Friday, October 21, 2011

Preparation is Key

     Knowing that I’ll be in a different hemisphere inside of two weeks, I feel rushed to prepare. This is my first time in a country where the language is not based on the Roman Alphabet and I am not familiar with the everyday customs. So I have been reading. And reading. And reading.
     To date, my favorite guidebook on Thailand is the one published by Lonely Planet but I can’t really make an accurate assessment until I’m over there. I’ll let you know how correct it turns out to be. The kinds of things I’m reading up on are pretty much the basics. I'm laying some foundation so that, hopefully, I don't come off as a complete American tool. Thai currency is the Baht. The exchange rate, the last time I checked, was 0.03211 to 1; the USD goes pretty far in Bangkok.

     Everyday etiquette is something I’m particularly concerned with. In Thailand, certain parts of the body are regarded with varying levels of respect. The head is considered the most sacred part of the body and therefore you should never touch anyone on their head. The feet, however, are regarded as the lowest and most filthy part. You should never point your feet at someone, and if you are in a temple or near a Buddha statue, never point your feet at the Buddha. VERY rude.
    Thailand is known as The Land of Smiles, which I find to be an odd dichotomy because while keeping a calm, polite demeanor is important to me, I’d also like to know if the person I’m currently dealing with is genuinely pleased with me or just being condescending. Growing up in the South, I place a great deal of value on hospitality and manners. Yes, manners Do matter. The truth also matters. So, I’ll let you know how that one works out as well.

     These are all considerations for after I land. I suppose you might be interested in how I got the job in the first place. After leaving college during my second year to work for a cruise line in Alaska, I developed an affinity for work + travel. The summation of this particular equation is me happy. Well, happier than if I keep my butt in one seat for too long. I develop a sort of numb bum, a rear-end rot if you will. One thing led to another and I found myself a member of, a website that connects families and au pairs/nannies.  I remained an active member of this site for several years, meeting several families but making no real connections. That is, until about six months ago when I met a very lovely family in Bangkok, Thailand. After the perfunctory emailing back and forth, background checking, and all that other boring but completely necessary stuff we did to make sure the other party was not, in fact, some psychopathic, mass murdering cyber-stalker, the family invited me to become their au pair and I graciously accepted.

     For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term au pair, it is derived from 19th century French term and it literally means ‘on equal terms’. Usually a foreigner, an au pair will look after and teach the young children in the family. In my case, I will be responsible for a beautiful little Thai girl named Nadia, playing with her and teaching her English over the course of a year.
     I think I should mention that I’m a bit of a compulsive picture taker, so look forward to many different pictures of Thailand from many different angles. I will take requests if anyone so wishes.
     Feel free to participate with me and if you’ve got any questions or ideas, I am all ears. Well, I’m not all ears because that would just look weird. But I am available to take questions. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Very Own Mission Statement

For whatever reason, you have stumbled upon the genius that is Paige. I say this with a great big grin on my face and maybe a cute little twinkle in my eye. Please don't mistake me for arrogant or abrasive in nature (though, I do possess this odd tendency to always be right). If you follow your horoscope, then you will know what I mean when I say that I am a full-blown Aries. I’m hoping to keep you coming back with my indelible charm and sharp wit, so that I have a willing audience (But I have a room set up in the basement, just in case). If I make you laugh, cry, or I say something so profound that you have to sit down and process, then…cool.
I pronounce this, my very first blog, to be a means of expression, while I spend a year living and working in Bangkok, Thailand. All the juicy details will be in my next post, right now it's my job to get you hooked.

Currently my feet are not so firmly planted in North Carolina, but only for the next 14 days. On the morning of November third, I will step onto a series of planes that will fly me roughly 10,000 miles from home. After almost 28 hours of travel, I will arrive in Bangkok, Thailand and begin a new, exciting, and probably sweatier chapter in my life. I'm not too keen on strict rules or guidelines. Never have been. Being a virgin blogger, I have no desire to follow any formula for blogging. The plan is to share all my fantastic, and even the not so fantastic, experiences I will have. I'm going to discuss everything: food, culture, people, weather, customs, money, news, and most importantly, my feelings. :) Maybe you'll agree with me on some things and maybe you won't. One of the perks to this whole life thing is that we have different opinions. Let's cherish our differences and celebrate our similarities! If you follow me and are not riveted, then maybe I’ll act as your surrogate Lunesta. Either way, I’m at your service.

The Travel Paige has an open door policy. Talk to me about anything. Ask me questions about anything. Argue with me, congratulate me, warn me, share with me, or show me ‘yours’. Though, I do reserve the right to be correct. Tell your friends; I'll be here all year.
So…are you hooked yet?