Category Archives: Thailand

Back 2 Bangkok! ⎮ Louisa, the Negotiator

After a few weeks in Myanmar/Burma, I think we were all ready to go back to urban and westernization for a little while!

All this trip, Mommy and Dad (mostly Mommy) had been raving about the awesome markets in Thailand. We finally arrived at the Chatuchak market and it already reminded me of Disney World. The mad rush of people that never ends…oh well. I figured if there were so many people, this must be some pretty good stuff, like Disney World. We started walking around and there were SO MANY shop stalls! From just clothes to juices, every step you took there was a stall. Literally. Anyway, we were walking around and for some reason, I have no idea why, this navy blue Abercrombie T-shirt just caught my eye. On it said ‘Abercrombie Prep Athletics’ with a set of lacrosse sticks crossed over one another. I thought that shirt would be just perfect for me since I wanted to start lax again when we get back home. Of course, I walked over to it to check it out and it was EXTREMELY soft! It is the softest cotton I have ever felt! It almost feels like cashmere! I am not sure if you know, but it felt like the bamboo fabric. Except, even softer! So I asked the man how much it was and he said 300 baht – the Thai currency – !! That is equal to about $9.00 USD. That is VERY inexpensive for an Abercrombie product, but for Thai baht, nope! So this is where my negotiating career began! 🙂 I started negotiating for 200 baht and this man was rock solid! He was not going to move his price down 100 baht. So I kept raising the price until I didn’t want to raise it any longer and came to a conclusion for 280 baht. You will see later how much better I got at it!

Then, we did a LOT of walking and window shopping for a little bit. Next up, the shoe store! Man, let me tell you, this shoe store was a little room-full of chaos! It was maybe around the size of our living room packed with around 20 people I would say! When you would step back outside, your reaction would be, “AIR!!!”. Mommy went in first and I followed. She liked a pair and was going to buy it when Dad, my shopping advisor, started pointing out all these shoes to me! He would say, “Look, Louisa! These are nice…Ooooh! What about these! No? I like them…” Most of the time though, I have to say, my Dad has some pretty good taste. I ended up buying a pair because of that. (Surprisingly, I would not have if it weren’t for him)  After that it went back to a lot of walking and window shopping. At the time, we were also trying to find an ‘Oscar’ Chelsea FC jersey for Sebastian, but we did not succeed. I am positive we will find one in London Sebastian! No need to fear for your awesome sister is here to find a cool jersey for you so you can be happy and not bother her when she says STOP fifty five times in a row! 😉 We were also searching for a silver chain for myself, (for when I become a Kiwi @ camp Kiniya next year) but again, no luck. (We ended up finding one in another mall)

When we were still walking around, my shopping advisor, pointed out some pretty cute/cool shirts. Once again, I walked over to check it out and I saw a nice London blouse to go with my London shoes I just bought! I asked the woman there how much it was and she said “200 THB” thinking she would receive 200 THB. Not so fast! This is where I really get good at negotiating. I asked her if she could do 100 THB just to test her solidness. She obviously said no, so I started raising the price again. I came to 120 when I was saying, “Uggh! Please, 120?” She responded and said, “Okay, 120.” I then said, “115.” And the women gave it all up and started hugging me all over. She was saying, “Oh! You are so cute! I will give you 100! You are just too cute! Oh!” and basically repeating that over and over again. And then obviously my Mom and Dad started laughing and talking. So now, I am the negotiator in the family and am called over whenever someone wants to buy something.

Just to make myself more famous, we went home on the sky train, Dad turned on the TV, and I was on it! The titles ‘The youngest negotiator in all of history! – Louisa’ was all over! (Just kidding!! I fooled you!)

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Because we have no photos of the Chatuchak market, here are some extra bonus shots of Bangkok.

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The ferris wheel at Sky Asiatique

 

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Sebastian’s GINORMOUS watermelon juice at Eathai

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The Jim Thompson House

 

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The Flash! At the Banyan Tree skybar

 

I ♥ Bangkok

We departed Siem Reap, Cambodia, early in the morning via bus to Bangkok. Compared to our 2 awesome bus experiences in Singapore and Malaysia, this version was truly the cattle call from start to finish. Just picture a bunch of western tourists waiting on the side of a busy polluted Siem Reap road to the fear of said same group nearly losing the bus at the chaotic border crossing into Thailand and you get the idea. But we survived, tired and dirty and arrived in Bangkok late in the afternoon. Our Airbnb host, Toy, picked us up at the bus station in Chatuchak which in itself was wonderful after the long ride.

It was the 2nd visit to Bangkok for Chris (1989) and myself (2008) and we were both excited to return to this crazy city. We split our 9 days in Bangkok between 2 Airbnb apartments. The first half we stayed in a trendy building – Urbano Absolute, in the Riverside area. Imagine working out in the gym followed by an infinity pool swim on the 40th floor with 360 degree views of the city. We walked to the Hilton Millennium SkyBar for drinks/appetizers and of course amazing views. Another day we toured the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and its Reclining Buddha where the kids made contributions to the 40 different wishing pots – I hope they come true!

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Another day we shopped the Chatuchak Market. Louisa quickly became the guru of negotiations by befriending many a vendor to wheel and deal for all kinds of goods! It is entertaining to watch your daughter negotiate with people and she certainly did a great job! We also got lost in Chinatown meandering around and rode the touristy tuk-tuk for a ride. We also visited Sky Asiatique, a riverfront area with tons of shops and restaurants, and the highest ferris wheel in Thailand.

Our 2nd apartment relocated us on the same street of the fabulous Jim Thompson House in Siam Square. I liked this area better because of the action and activities nearby. Skytrain, the National StadiumMBK Shopping Center, Siam Paragon, BACC, and many other fun things to do are just steps away.  The Jim Thompson House was certainly my favorite attraction and a nice break from the temples. The architecture and peaceful garden are unique, not to mention the cute store with beautiful silk items! We even returned for dinner at the JT restaurant and were not disappointed as the food and service were excellent and we enjoyed the Thai delicacies.

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I could not finish the blog post without mentioning Thai food. Just as in Penang, food is a vital part of our trip and it could not be any different in Bangkok. The street food is really out of this world and generally safe to eat. Just on our street, for example, there was a nice lady with her food cart every day and we became regulars trying nearly all of her dishes. I love all the fresh fruit and juices that you can buy on the street too. My favorite dessert is Khao Niaow Ma Muang (sticky rice with mango), which is a Thai classic. So yummy!  The malls also have some amazing and diverse food courts. We enjoyed the 5th Food Avenue at the MBK and the fantastic Eathai, at the Central Embassy mall, the upscale street food court with a wealth of regional Thai food.

Why do I love Bangkok? Well, some visitors may think that 2-3 days in Bangkok is enough. I, on the other hand, think that 10 days cuts you short! There are so many interesting sites and one of the best things about Bangkok is simply sitting at the food stalls and observing the surroundings, the people and the chaos. Yes, it is a chaotic city but it has also a touch of ultra-modern and cosmopolitan attractions, just like in Singapore, but keeping it a lot more real, diverse and true to its origin.

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Sebastian’s favorite soccer player is here!

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The boy scouts

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The Other Fellow First

If you don’t know me, it’s simple. I have a life saying, The Other Fellow First, which has been preached to both of my children since day 1. The motto comes from Camp Dudley. Sebastian & Louisa will be going for their 4th season this summer and are the 3G of Gammills.

So why mention a camp motto now? Let me explain. When you put yourself out there in the world, in places that you have never been, have no idea about the language, and are basically in a vulnerable position, you find that many people from many cultures have the same life motto simply by experience.

For example:

  • A friend of my cousin’s welcomes us (strangers) into their home in Wanaka, New Zealand, serves us a delicious steak with plenty of wine, and then says we are welcome to stay as long as we want.
  • Air BnB host takes her day off to drive us around Sydney and then to share a secret beach to swim.
  • Another Air BnB host uses her day off to drive us to the Barossa wine country and takes us to exclusive wineries that she has access. Cool!
  • Australian volunteer in Nusa Penida, Indonesia, notices that Sebastian really likes fireworks on New Year’s Eve (shocker!) and gives him an armful to take on our journey to Bali.
  • The sister of a friend not only hosts us in her apartment but takes us out to dinners and arranges our sightseeing in Malaysia.
  • An elderly Thai woman with her adult daughter are sitting next to us at a food stall in Bangkok. Daughter hands my wife a local drink and says, “Here, this is for you and what Thai like to drink.” Then her mother turns around and hands us a grilled banana. Yum!
  • I’d like to close with yet one more example of why I feel strongly about education through experience for my children. Onn is a longtime high school buddy and I am glad that we’ve stayed in touch over the years. To put it simply (and I will be sharing a separate blog on our Penang experience), Onn took us into his home with his family and provided a place to stay. More than that, he showed my children the meaning of The Other Fellow First. He embraced them, taught them some martial arts, fed them amazing foods, and played with them on ziplines and ropes. I could go on and on but the moral of this story is that both Sebastian and Louisa saw how happy Onn was to share his life and talents. How he truly practiced and lived The Other Fellow First.

My perspective is quite one-dimensional when it comes to teaching my children (just as many parents, we want the best for them). It’s a wonderful feeling to experience and share similar values with both friends and strangers from all walks of life. And even better when those people impact your children in a positive way, much like that teacher you always loved!

The Other Fellow First – a darn good reason to get outside, meet others, and share your values! Thank you to Onn, Wai Fung, Sue, Mel, the Turner Family and everyone of you that practices The Other Fellow First!

P.S. Just off the press are these two articles for you to enjoy and they apply to this blog: Timeless Appeal and NYT Solo Traveler