After a surprisingly pleasant 16 hour direct flight from JFK, we are finally starting to settle in to our new home in Bangkok. So far everything has been incredibly smooth: from the excellent service on our Thai Airways flight to our beautiful new condo in Nichada Thani. Now if I could only sleep at night and be awake during the day, life would be pretty close to perfect…
Archive for July, 2007
The big day is finally here! Alex and I are off to Thailand this morning to begin our new life in Bangkok! Considering that our shipment of all our worldly possessions will not arrive for at least two more months I had to get really creative with the packing this year. Both Alex and I have all sorts of things we would not normally have for a summer vacation: suits, dress shoes, blankets, sheets, along with a professional wardrobe to last at least the first two months at school. Of course, all of this has to fit into our three duffel bags and one suit bag:
In addition to all our creative packing, we’re definitely going to have to be creative to entertain ourselves on our eighteen hour flight today…
How are you creative?
A while back Alex and I were hunting through the web for the perfect quote to laser engrave on my new iPod Nano. Which, I might add, was quite a hassle because for some reason I can not think of my own favorite quote. I must have one, but I seem to be unable to recall what it is on my own (even now, weeks later, this continues to be somewhat of a problem). And, thus, Alex was forced to spend day and night scouring every lame quotes website available to find something that:
a) represents me (oddly, somehow easier for him than for me – what does that mean?)
b) is short enough to fit on back of the iPod
c) is not too serious
d) is easy to understand should anyone happen to pick up the iPod and glance at the back
In the end we settled on a Tolkien quote (well, the one line of the poem that would fit on the back of an iPod) that Alex’s dad read at our wedding (which can still work me up into tears if I think about it): “Not all those who wander are lost.”
However, in the process, we did find another quote that I loved:
“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” — Gilbert K. Chesterton
Although I wasn’t aware of it before we started the search, both of these quotes are absolutely perfect for me. After reading Preya’s post yesterday, I can decidedly say that they really sum up my philosophy of travel and expatriation: Purposeful travel to learn about other cultures as well as yourself. Learning how to live everywhere and nowhere. Being at home in the world by seeing beyond your local horizons.
I remember coming back to the States after my study abroad in Italy (during my sophomore year in college) and thinking to myself, as I drove around town, “this used to be my universe.” It was honestly shocking to think that my boundaries truly went no farther than the tri-state area (if that). Now when I come back to the US, I realize that most people go through their entire life with those kind of horizons. For me, that’s just not enough.
After seven years abroad, I’m starting to feel more comfortable outside than inside of the US. To be honest, for me there’s a level of slight un-comfort about being in the US, where everyone is just so complacent about living in their own tiny universe. For the most part, I don’t understand them and they don’t understand me. “Why would I want to live anywhere but here?” they think. While I’m thinking “how could you live in the same place your entire life?” There must be some other quote about travel broadening your horizons that would fit well here (I’ll have to add it to my favorites list once Alex hunts it down for me).
There is something about living in an entirely different culture that excites and engages me. I find myself constantly learning and experiencing new things and I love it. I guess you could say I’m hooked on travel. The world is full of such interesting places – why settle for just one?
Why do you travel?
One of my favorite things to do with my fancy new camera is taking close-up shots of tiny things. Living things, inanimate things, growing things, basically anything as long as it’s tiny. I’m not sure I’ve mastered the art yet, but here are a few of my favorites:
Tiny baby guppies swimming around a tide pool on the coast in Oregon.
Have you seen anything tiny lately?
In an effort to continue my seemingly endless spending spree here in Connecticut, I decided to buy a new pair of glasses yesterday. I’ve had the same pair for just over two years and I still love them, but I thought I’d mix things up a bit and throw in a new look – which would be the first time in my life that I have owned more than one pair of glasses at a time.
So my mom and I went to Lenscrafters in the good old Danbury Fair Mall. We spent about an hour picking out a pair of glasses (which of course turned out to be the first pair I tried on). My mom even picked up a new pair and I was looking at prescription sunglasses as well.
After a while, one of the ladies came over to give us some advice (read: secure her commission) and asked me about my prescription (my eyes are so bad I actually can’t get certain types of glasses because the lenses would be too thick). She took one look and told me that they can’t sell me any glasses because my prescription is 2 years and 4 months old – 4 months older than they accept.
Now I am the type of person that always goes for the usual checkups. For some reason I kind of like going to the doctor. It’s a whole hour of the day when I just get to talk about myself (the same reason I like job interviews). But this year, given that I’m in the middle of a move from Malaysia to Thailand, I figured I would just go to the eye doctor this fall so that I have a doctor in the country where I actually live. I understand that it’s more than the recommended two years between appointments, but aren’t they my eyes? Can’t I decide when I get my eyes checked?
I guess not. And I guess I’m not getting new glasses either.
Image from: http://www.thefrasergallery.com/artwork/kessi-williams/
I always used to think the best thing about summer was swimming at night (and of course the fireflies).
But this weekend, at our annual family and friends BBQ and pool party, we topped it: night swimming in the rain! After a sunny and warm day, it started pouring just as day was turning to dusk (not exactly night swimming, but towards the end it was pretty dark. Close enough to night time for me). It was that perfect kind of rain with no thunder and lighting (an odd experience for me after two years of tropical storms in KL).
As soon as the rain started coming down a bunch of us jumped in the pool, which, ironically, was much warmer than the air outside. The sound of the rain while underwater was amazing. Almost like rain on a tin roof, but different (same same but different for those of you that have lived in southeast Asia). Either way, I highly recommend it (as long as there is no lightning – don’t go telling people that I recommend swimming during a lighting storm. I bear no responsibility for your actions).
As we were swimming, a beautiful mist was rising from the pool and the ground which just made the whole experience that much more surreal. Of course I spent my “drying off” time snapping picture after picture – if it weren’t for the devilishly active mosquitoes I would have had a lot more to show for myself…
What’s your favorite summer activity?
Those of you with granite counter tops (or those of you with friends and family that installed granite counter tops), will know the saga of choosing the right granite. There are so many to choose from that when my mother did her counters over it took months, perhaps close to a year, to choose exactly the right granite. Ever since that endless span of time when I would get a daily update about granite colors (that I had never seen, given that I was living in Germany at the time), I have had an “eye” for granite.
So, a few weeks ago, while we were staying with Alex’s parents in Oregon, I noticed the absolutely stunning granite that his mom had put in their kitchen. Kind of a gold and silver flecked with slightly blue overtones. Just beautiful. Of course I had to show my mom, who has a darker, mahogany and terracotta based granite to go with her natural brick flooring.
While I was taking my photos of the granite, I noticed the shadow of a drinking glass on the counter and thought it would make an interesting shot:
What kind of shadows have you seen lately?
In order to legally live and work in Thailand, we needed to obtain non-immigrant visas before we arrive in Bangkok at the end of July. As you may remember, this entailed obtaining “security clearance” from the US government to confirm that we are not, in fact, wanted criminals.
Having received our official Letters of Good Conduct (US$25 each) back in May we were able to apply for our visas last week. Thankfully, the Thai consulate allows you to apply by mail because the idea of standing in line at any sort of government office while I’m supposed to be on vacation was, shall we say, less than attractive to me.
So the FedEx envelope went out last Monday (has anyone seen those new re-usable envelopes? Someone over at FedEx sure is smart!) and returned with our passports and visas safely inside yesterday. Success! No little red ropes dictating where I can and can not stand, no angry gesticulating or arguing over the proper forms, no resigning myself to the fact that I have to go all the way home to pick something up and then come all the way back out to drop it off. Just one trip to the FedEx office and I’m done!
Maybe this will stop the grinding…
Remember when you were in middle school with mouth-full of braces, a retainer or, worse, a headgear? Do you remember being called “metal mouth” and being totally unable to sleep at night with all those contraptions on? Do you remember dreaming of the day when you could finally call it quits and just walk around with only your teeth in your mouth, letting them chomp and chew on whatever your stomach could desire?
Well, I do. And I have to say, it’s been a glorious 17 years of a contraption free mouth. After taking my braces off early because my orthodontist died (long story, we’ll save that for another time) and wearing a retainer for a few months before I gave up in frustration, I’ve come to terms with my crooked smile. Everything was just dandy until one fateful evening at a sushi restaurant (of all places!) in Mont’Kiara this past June.
We were out to dinner with our lovely friends from the IT department: Darby and David (who are in the middle of moving to Taipei, Taiwan this summer) and our colleague Norayr (who will be in Malaysia for another year). I was enjoying a tasty spicy salmon skin roll when I bit down on the right side of my mouth. And thus began the shooting, searing pain.
Being the somewhat lackadaisical and unconcerned dental patient I am, I decided to “wait and see” how the tooth felt for a few days. After a week of being unable to eat on that side of my mouth I finally decided to call the dentist. Unfortunately for me, the wonderful Dr. Eugene was full for the next two weeks (my last two weeks left in Malaysia).
Eventually (after some persistent pestering) I was able to squeeze myself in on the Saturday before we left, only to find out that I had fractured my tooth. Of course because it took me so long to make an appointment (some of that was the receptionist’s fault, but I’m not laying any blame here) he wouldn’t have enough time to make a crown for me. My job was to not eat on the right side of my mouth, and be very careful about not grinding my teeth, until I could get a crown on tooth number 3.
Seeing as I had two months in the US, I figured I would just go in to my parents dentist here and see what she said. Sadly, she agrees I need a crown (does anyone know a good dentist in Bangkok?), but that I can go for a few more weeks if I get a night-guard while I sleep (due to the relentless grinding I started the night after I saw Dr. Eugene).
So now I’m back in the world of dental apparati and it stinks. I’m drooling like a dog all night and my teeth are clamped down so hard on that night-guard just so it stays in my mouth that I’m probably doing more harm than good. And all this just to prevent further injury to the traitorous tooth that couldn’t handle one bite of a spicy salmon skin roll in the first place. What a baby!
So what’s the deal with this whole crown thing? Will I be able to chomp to my hearts’ content after I get one?
Image 1: http://millennium.fortunecity.com/rover/692/data/headgear/brc05.jpg
Image 2: http://www.school-for-champions.com/science/images/x-ray2.jpg
Image 3: http://www.mynewsmile.com/images/dental_crown.jpg
After two weeks on the west coast, Alex and I returned to Redding, Connecticut (where I grew up) this week. I’ll be spending the next three weeks in my childhood home with my parents and my sister. Since my parents are retired and my sister is also a teacher (finishing up her degree and living at home), we’re all home – every day, all day. As you can imagine, this can be a recipe for disaster, but so far things are working out well…
I am always amazed that every time I come home (even though it’s only once a year), it’s pretty much like I never left. Sure, things change a little every year, but for the most part, seeing friends and family feels like just yesterday. I love that feeling!
This summer has been especially lucky for us – we’ve been able to see so many of our friends (several of whom we haven’t seen for three or four years!). First, in San Francisco, I had dinner with one of my best friends from college, Heather:
Then, while in Oregon, we were able to visit our friends, Annaliese and Jeremy, at their new home in Portland:
Now, back in Connecticut, we have spent some quality time with our other best friends from college, Lisa and Jay:
In addition to all this quality time with friends and family, my favorite pastime while in the US, is shopping. I am American, after all.
So far I’ve been on two trips to various factory outlets with two more planned for this week. I bought the best camera ever, plus a new iPod which was just delivered on Friday. Basically, I plan to spend the rest of my summer spending money. Handily, I am able to rationalize all of this spending by “saving myself money on future flights” because I have several credit cards that partner with various airlines. This summer we even flew from Eugene, OR to New York for free! While I realize that I probably could have gotten that flight for about US$500 for the two of us (instead of the thousands and thousands that I had to spend to earn those miles), it still feels pretty cool to fly for free. Plus, with all these trips to Asia I should be able to work myself up to some free flights faster…
What are you doing this summer?