Archive for December, 2007

I’ve been waiting for this PhotoHunt for a few weeks! Just over a month ago we spent a long weekend in Singapore – a city I had long wanted to visit, but never seemed to manage to make it there (even though it’s only a short hour flight from KL and two hours from Bangkok).Something about the island city-state seems so exciting and cosmopolitan – the skyscrapers right next to the ocean – sounds like the perfect city to me! Plus, I had heard that they have an absolutely stunning Christmas display every year, and we were arriving just in time to see everything get set up.As could be expected, Christmas lights in Singapore are over-the-top, glittering and twinkling on every tree, branch, pole, and building on Orchard Road. Although we only arrived at the very begining of the holiday season, we saw more lights on one street than we’ve seen in the last few years!

Towering Above

Singapore Christmas

All A Glow

Now I must admit, though these lights are especially festive, they are not the only interesting lights I have seen lately. Here are a few more, just to round out this week’s entry:In September, I saw the bright lights of Shanghai:

The Bund

In October, I saw the neon lights of Taipei:

The Brightly Lit Streets of Taipei

And how can I forget the endless lights of Bangkok:

View from Above

The German side of me gets frustrated when I see all of Bangkok’s temples and streets aglow with fairy lights every night, but I have to admit, the gently glimmering sights of this pulsating city has to be one of my favorite things about living here:

Temple of Dawn

All lit up

Bridge at Night

And, of course, we have a few bright little lights in our house as well:


What kind of lights have you seen lately?


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A Framer’s Dozen

I just found another thing to love about Thailand:

Last week we took our rather large pile of pictures, paintings, temple rubbings, batiks, etc that we’ve been intending to frame for the last three years to a framer just outside of our neighborhood.

We spent about an hour picking out the frames, the silks to use as background, and the various shadow-box styles we wanted. And then we watched as the owner spent about 20 minutes totaling up our 3 pages of charges on her enormous calculator. As we waited we discussed our bargaining approach and I mentally tallied the items I could pull from the order to try to bring the price down or to use as a bargaining chip.

And then she told us.

All 16 pieces – some huge, some small; some with silk; some 3 dimensional; some in a “glass sandwich” – for B18,000 or US$600.

Given the fact that I was expecting an extra zero on the end of that price, I just kind of stood there in silence for a minute. Then we bargained her down to B16,000 or US$525 (including delivery the following Saturday). And then we hightailed it out of there giggling the whole way.

The irony is that while I think it was a total steal, she probably could have done it for half the price… Either way, our items arrived, perfectly framed, this past Saturday:

A Framer's Dozen



Bubble Wrap

And we spent the rest of the day re-arranging our living and dining rooms and hanging our newly framed artwork (one of my absolute favorite hobbies and Alex’s worst nightmare):

Living room from kitchen

Living room from dining room

Dining room

It’s like a whole new apartment! I honestly can not believe the difference framing makes to a piece of “art” – and I definitely can’t believe how much nicer something framed makes a whole house look! Now that I know, all my souvenirs are going to be things I can get framed and hang on the walls. I guess this means I’m going to have to look for a bigger house, since every inch of space is already taken on these walls…

Next up: selecting some of my favorite pictures from our recent holidays, getting them printed, and then back to the framers!

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The Story of Stuff

I just watched “The Story of Stuff” – if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you spend the 20 minutes and watch:

It made me think about my own story of stuff:

Every time we move from one country to the next, we ship our belongings. This time around we had enough to fill an entire 20 foot container – about 3,500 pounds worth of stuff.

Sometimes, I have to admit, I feel a little embarrassed that I have so much stuff. But, deep down, I know that it’s all my stuff that makes me feel at home in a new country. Most of the stuff we have is from our first move to Munich, Germany, when I didn’t know “the ropes” of living abroad and we sold everything we had in the US and bought it all new again in Munich.

Thankfully, eight years later, I have learned a thing or two… Now, I use the school’s, often very generous, shipping allowances to send my stuff from country to country. I usually end up buying some things again and again, like cleaning supplies or small storage items. But one thing I don’t do is sell (or give away) my stuff when I leave. I’d rather invest in a good-quality item that I will have for many years, than continue to buy crap only to throw it away. 

Yes, my colleagues often look at me with amazement when I share that all of this stuff doesn’t really include furniture. We’ve lived in furnished apartments for so long that I usually don’t bring much of my own (well, except a bed – I don’t like the idea of sleeping in someone else’s bed). So this stuff really is just that, stuff. Books, DVDs, kitchen-ware, clothes, shoes, travel purchases, technological equipment, etc.  

However, despite my astonishing accumulation of stuff while moving internationally every few years, I am actually proud of the fact that I buy things and retain them for many years. I don’t waste money on frivolous junk just to have it. I usually buy things I know I will like for a long time so I won’t feel the urge to buy something “better” as soon as it comes along. To be honest, it’s not the best I can do, but it’s better than nothing…

What’s your story of stuff? 

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This summer I bought a Nikon D40 in an attempt to improve my photography skills.

Now, I know that people say the talent is not in the camera, but I’ve just been through all the pictures I’ve taken in the last three years, and something about the Nikon has drastically improved my photography. Maybe it’s just the fact that when I hold that camera I feel like I know what I’m doing, and since I can pretend that I look like I know what I’m doing, I seem to have more confidence, which leads to better pictures…

Anyway, one thing I’ve learned is to capture small details that represent the larger whole – instead of having one picture to capture everything that’s happening in one scene, focus on the details. And with that in mind, I give you some small details from the fabulous Jatajuk market here in Bangkok: 

Pile of Color




Tribal Pillow Patterns

Solitary Lotus

For those of you that don’t know Jatajuk, it must be the biggest weekend market in the world with over 15,000 stalls and 300,000 visitors on an average weekend day. They have absolutely everything and anything you could imagine – from strange wild animals, to silks, to plants, to clothes, to toilet bowls. It’s amazing. And, clearly it’s going to be a few dozen more trips before I even start to touch some of those other sections – the silks and handicrafts are just too interesting for now!

What small details capture your weekends? 

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Splurging in Singapore

A few weeks ago, Alex and I headed down to Singapore so that I could present at the Teach IT conference at Singapore American School. We were lucky that the conference coincided with a long weekend here at ISB, so we could spend some extra time with our wonderful friends Susan and Kent, who teach at SAS.

Things have been totally hectic here in the superkimbo household ever since we moved to Bangkok, so somehow, when I was booking our trip to one of the most expensive cities in the world, I got distracted and ended up reserving us a room at the Grand Hyatt on Scotts Road. No discount, no special deal, just the normal “rack rate.” I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking when I booked those rooms – I just know I was totally frazzled and busy with other things and didn’t want to worry about finding a hotel anymore, and before you know it, I had entered my credit card details and reserved the room. The very, very, very expensive room.

Now, I do have to admit that I usually try to find the nicest place I can, for the most reasonable rate – Alex likes to say that I have “expensive taste,” but I don’t usually blow giant wads of cash on my holidays. Now that we’re back in Bangkok, and I’ve actually paid my credit card bill for last month, I’m claiming that it was a 30th birthday treat to myself. That’s reasonable, right? 30’s a big year, isn’t it? 

Plus, as I continue to rationalize the expense, I booked us an “executive floor” room, which means we had free access to the “executive lounge” with free breakfast, free drinks all day, and free snacks and cocktails in the evening. The breakfast was absolutely the best continental breakfast I’ve ever had: fresh raspberries, strawberries and blueberries (super expensive here in Aisa), an excellent variety of tasty cheeses, breads and crackers, all sorts of delicious pastries, a huge selection of teas and coffees and every kind of fresh fruit juicce you can imagine. That’s got to be worth something!  

The real problem is that I liked the hotel room. A lot. And I kind of wish I could go back and stay in that same hotel again. And again. And now I clearly have certain “expectations” for other hotel rooms…Lifestyle is a dangerous thing, isn’t it? 

What do you like to splurge on (and then rationalize away)? 

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One of my favorite things about living in Bangkok is the bustling pace of life on the Chao Praya River. We live close to Nonthaburi Pier, and occasionally take the river taxi down to the city center. I love seeing the temples from the water and the sophisticated skyline approaching in the distance.One of the best ways to get from one side of the river to the other is the ever-present long-tail boat:  

The Long Tail

All along the river, at any given time of day or night, these boats are racing up and down and back and forth, their long-tails churning up the water as they speed by. There’s nothing better than exploring the hidden canals of Bangkok, than by a colorful long-tail boat!

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