November 26 – December 4, 2019
From Chiang Mai, we flew to Bangkok.
We contemplated taking a sleeper train that would add about 12-13hrs to our travel but then decided against it. The cost of the train was not less than flying and we felt that we were busy enough in Chiang Mai and were going to be busy in Bangkok again that we didn’t need to add additional stops in between. I completely understand that there are tons to see along this supposedly gorgeous train ride. Still, when you are a party of 5, you gotta pick your path based on the overall mood of the group. We are not traveling for 2-3 weeks and have to just plow through it, with no regard for how much energy it takes day in and day out. We are in this for the long run and must make choices based on the overall energy level to sustain the mental health of everyone involved. Hence, a quick flight to Bangkok vs. a more picturesque train ride was the best choice for us.
It was hot in Bangkok.
We stayed in a hostel in the old part of the town, close to the well-known Khaosan Road. Our room was big enough for 3 bunk beds plus a bathroom. It gets crowded in such accommodations, especially when the length of stay is longer than 2-3 days. We were there for 8 nights. Kids did a ton of schoolwork in the lobby, especially Maki who was doing a lot of writing there and practiced typing daily. Right after we arrived, Nina fixated on some green shirt with flags that they were selling in the lobby of our hostel. He insisted we buy it for him. It was only $3 so I was not against getting it even if just for a few wears but it was so darn ugly. He loved it though, really loved it. He was sold on flags and names of the countries on this darn shirt. Eventually, we got it for him and he was happy wearing it for days. Now he will not let me get rid of it. Learning – can’t get a new piece of clothing without getting rid of something you already have.
Bangkok is huge, it’s interesting, I wish it was our last stop before going back home so that we could do some serious shopping there. Most of the things we would buy would be fakes but we are not sticklers for high brands. It was great to see some items (Calvin Kline underwear for example) that usually can cost up to $50 in the States sold in Bangkok for $3. I don’t know about you but I don’t need $50 underwear (I especially don’t need Calvin Kline underwear to peek under my waistband). $3 quality will do 😉
Same for electronics. You can get some electronics that look, feel and behave exactly as the original and but of course they are not. Not sure what sort of life you can get out of them but if lucky, a good enough fake might not differ much if at all from the expensive brand one. Speaking from experience here 😉
Huge malls were overwhelming for us. There seems to be a mall for any sort of product in Bangkok. While we were in electronics and games malls, Nina bolted into a store that was selling fancy video game action figures. He went straight for live video production of some YouTube channel. It took me a couple of minutes to get him off their set, so for that little bit of time, he was part of a live show 😉
I’m deathly afraid of snakes, Nina too, but I saw that we could attend an educational session on snakes at the local chapter of Red Cross. I thought that Nina and I should stretch our comfort zones and go see it. We stood a bit further away from the action while Maki, Pedja, and Petra were in the front row. Maki even volunteered to be part of the program and was ‘surprised’ with a huge snake put on his neck. He did a great job confidently answering questions in front of a big crowd, In the end, he handled a snake that was hard for me to even look at, let alone touch it.
Petra, Maksim and I went on a little adventure of our own. It turned out a bit scarier than I would have liked it to be. We took a boat to a bit underdeveloped part of Bangkok where we rented bikes to ride around that area called Green Lung. It turned out the bikes were super old and kinda rickety, and the path we rode was about 4 feet wide and 6-8 feet above the ground (with no railing). I ended up dropping my phone in the thick green bushes, 6 feet below our path. There was no way in hell I would have gone down to get it (especially with my fear of snakes). Thank goodness there was a young boy who was not as afraid of greenery as I was and he got it out for me (and I rewarded him handsomely)! Then, later on, Maksim was riding ahead of me and stepped on the breaks suddenly and I fell off the bike behind him and scraped my knee. It was a much better option for me to crash behind him than to fall off the path into the swampy marsh under us. Since most crazy things come in threes, we had another mishap on this adventure. Maki popped his tired so for the last 2 miles, Petra carried Maki in the back of her bike and Maki’s bike on her handles. Overall, it was a memorable experience that we thankfully survived and can now tell stories about.
In Bangkok, Petra, Pedja and I went out for early morning walks and a few workouts. A few parks had workout equipment that was free to use so we took advantage of it. We even got to play ping-pong with the locals once. One morning, all 5 of us came out to the park and Nina got to lift weights too. He was so proud of himself. It was a bit unnerving to see that his right side of the body is way weaker than the left side. It’s understandable since he has always had a lot more epileptic activity in the left side of his brain. At times, I could see that he was not doing well by how much he used (or did not used) his right arm. Not sure what to think of the current state of his health because, among these worrisome observations, I also see some good progress in other areas. He read for me aloud when we were at the snake museum, the first time since 1st grade!!! That was HUGE!!! I knew that he can read really well, really fast but he would not say the words aloud. With the incentive of going on a hunt for Pokémon cards in Bangkok, he read every display at the snake museum. I was on a brink of tears when I heard his voice reading aloud the first time after so many years!
People love Nina. Wherever we go, he attracts good. Once in Bangkok, he wanted me to get him some random painting. Knowing fully well that there was no way for us to carry it with us, I kept telling him that we cannot buy it, that he didn’t bring his money with him, that we have no way to carry it. Then the store owner took one piece of art made out of cloth with Buddha on it and gifted it to Nina. Despite my protests, he insisted on giving it to him and Nina was eager to take it. I took a photo of Nina and his new friend and included it with this post. This painting of Buddha (thank goodness it was done on a piece of cloth) is now folded in Nina’s carryon luggage and he regularly takes it out to proclaim that he “got that in Bangkok, it’s a picture of Buddha. This Buddha was zilch, zero, nada bath” (bath = Thai currency).
In Bangkok, Nina started a new thing when he got in trouble. Once when he got in trouble enough that we said “you lost your iPad for the rest of the day”, he got all quiet for a few minutes and then asked all of us to come to give him a group hug. We thought “oh, how sweet is this’, until in the middle of hugging us he said, “I can get my iPad back now???”. It was all cute and funny the first few times but then it got quickly old when he started using this trick whenever he got in trouble. He would demand daily to get a group hug so that he could just get out of losing an iPad. He is cute, so darn cute sometimes!!!
We had fun in Bangkok, we were busy every day, we saw and did a lot, we got tired of our hostel room with 3 bunk beds and we were ready for the next part of our Thai journey. Next up, Thai beaches in the south part of the country.