Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Past 48 Hours

So much has already happened and it's only been two days. Feels like we've already been here at least a week. But let me start from the beginning.... Monday, our first full day here, was a rest day. We started our day by having breakfast in the restaurant downstairs:

There was an eclectic mix of western (bacon, corn flakes, sausage, eggs, omelet, waffles) and eastern foods (fried rice and miso soup, which I love!). Hubby gets breakfast for free while we're here, Son gets it half price at less than $2, and I get to pay full price at around $6. Not that I'm complaining, of course. It's a great price for an all-you-can eat buffet with waffle and omelet bars.

After breakfast, we decided to explore the area outside the hotel a little bit. This is the street outside our hotel, which is the tall building on the right:

The first thing we did on our walk was buy some bottled water at the 7-Eleven, where, apparently, not only can we buy food and alcohol, but we can also pay all our bills! This is also where we noticed that there are A LOT of stray dogs everywhere here, just lying about or wandering around. Kinda reminds me of the Taiwan I remember from 30 years ago.

The 7-Eleven is located on the main road where everything appears to be. The school where Hubby will work is somewhere further down on the same road. Side streets are numbered, followed by the name of the main road, followed by the number of the building. Took me a while to figure that one out.

Traffic wasn't bad at all on Monday because of the holiday. Notice the pedestrian walkway above the street so people aren't taking matters into their own hands when trying to cross the street. I noticed there aren't any actual pedestrian crosswalks like in the U.S.

This appears to be a street market, tucked into the corner of a garage. Would you like some food with your exhaust?

 Buildings we saw as we walked:

Of course, with our six-year-old being the car fanatic that he is, we had to stop to look at cars at a Honda dealership.

He also noticed that the model names are different than those in the U.S. For example, the Honda Civic equivalent is called the Honda City here. The license plates also are different, obviously:

At this point, it started to rain - our first rainfall here! We were already prepared with our raincoats, though, so we decided to keep walking. But it started to pour pretty heavily, so we turned back to the hotel, hung out, and watched the rain, which stopped within 20 minutes or so.

For lunch, we ate again in the hotel restaurant. We haven't been feeling adventurous enough just yet to go out for street food, but the food at the restaurant is really good.

It was then that we encountered our first language barrier. We were trying to find out whether a certain dish includes tree nuts, which our son is allergic to. I swear we had to summon half of the hotel and restaurant staff just to ask that one simple question. But the Thai people are truly the most patient and helpful people I've ever encountered. It actually made me feel bad that I don't know more Thai because the wait staff just stood there looking helpless and apologetic.

At least I got this simple, yet delicious, meal for less than $3!

That afternoon, I got a chance to nap while Hubby and Son went to the pool. The pool is so pretty, but I don't have a picture of it yet. That nap was just glorious!!

I paid the price for my nap this morning, though, when I woke up around 3:30 and couldn't fall back asleep at all. Our little guy also was up by 4:30. After attempting unsuccessfully to go back to sleep, we decided to go downstairs for breakfast around 6:30. Breakfast this morning was even more interesting: there was crab with veggies, eggs with squid, some kind of congee, and of course, miso soup. Crab at six o'clock in the morning is just as good as it is at six o'clock at night!

This morning, we decided to go to the school to meet the finance person there. She is in charge of setting up bank accounts for the teachers AND she also handles their bank accounts for them. Any time we need to pay a bill or transfer money to another account, we just tell her and she does it for us. So she has the info to EVERYONE'S bank accounts. That just seems a little weird to me, so we may try to do our own banking. If we can figure out where the bank is, that is.

We went with two other teachers in taxis to the school. That was when we truly experienced the Traffic of Bangkok. It is truly scary. Lanes and turn signals seem optional. Some taxis don't have seat belts. And they all drive so freaking fast, zipping in and out of lanes. Then there are the scooters and motorcycles that squeeze in between lanes and cars. They are so close that you can reach out of the car window and touch them. My eyes were closed half of the time we were on the road. Here is a picture, but it doesn't give a true sense of the craziness at all.

After about 20 nail-biting minutes, we finally got to school, where we learned that The Bank Lady was out sick today, so we were taken to the principal's office at the high school on a golf cart...because the campus is that extensive.

This is one of the gate entrances to the school. There are eight gates altogether.

Another gate and parking.
The administrative building.

One of two high school buildings.
 I was most impressed by the canteen. There is a high school canteen area, a middle school canteen area, and an elementary school canteen area, though all the kids can eat wherever they want. On the left side, there are a variety of food choices, including sushi, noodles, soups, and sandwiches. Teachers and the older students can choose to buy lunch here. The younger elementary school students have a prescribed menu.

This is one of two outdoor gyms:

The elementary school building:

An all-weather sports field:

One of the two pools at the school. This is the 25-meter pool, which is generally used by the teachers and their families.

The 50-meter pool, used by the swim team:

The elementary school indoor gymnasium with a climbing wall on the far side:

The fitness center for staff and students:

The tennis court:

A multi-purpose building, which has a theater and professional recording studio in it:

Rice paddies behind the school campus:

The principal's wife, who teaches second grade at the elementary school, also gave us a tour of a couple of the housing developments around the school, where many of the teachers live. She took us around in a golf cart, which she uses to get around her neighborhood and to get to school! We're considering getting one ourselves. It was fun zipping around in one of those!

One of the developments is called Perfect Place. It is a gated community within walking/biking distance to the school, has great amenities (including a spa where you can get an hour-long foot massage for $6), and is very family-friendly. Here are a few pics of what's there:

The clubhouse.

The entrance to the community.

A house in Perfect Place.

The lake.

This is the main street to get into Perfect Place. It has everything you can ever need, from hardware stores to salons to grocery stores, vets, and pharmacies. One interesting fact about pharmacies here: you can get anything you want over-the-counter. The only exception is psychotropic drugs.

Yes, we're still riding in the golf cart amidst the crazy traffic.

This afternoon, we called up the realtor who works with the international school teachers and met her at a 7-Eleven to see some houses in Perfect Place. It was during this outing that I hailed my first cab (which you do here by waving your hand downwards) and was mistaken as Thai twice.

However, because there is a 7-Eleven around every corner, she went to the wrong one. After waiting around for half an hour, we luckily ran into the high school assistant principal and elementary school principal on a scooter, who rode down the street to convey the message to the realtor. She showed up a few minutes later and we were on our way to see houses.

She only had three houses in Perfect Place that rented for the same amount as the housing allowance we will receive from the school. Of course, we can always pay more, but we really don't want to. There were also two other families looking at and considering the same houses we were, so competition was pretty fierce. After seeing all three houses, we went back to the first house again, and then decided to rent that one. So tomorrow we return to the realtor's office to sign a lease and move in Thursday!! (I will post pictures of the house another time. When we went to see the house, it was pouring rain. By the time we were done with seeing houses, some of the streets were actually a little flooded and one cab driver refused to drive us back to the hotel!)

So that's what we've been up the past two days. I'm pooped just thinking about all this! I think I will go to bed now, and it's only 8:30.


  1. so exciting! Sounds like a whirlwind- you'll get your feet under you soon. Thanks for sharing your adventures!

    1. Thanks for reading, Colleen! It's been a very exciting three days, and it's only the beginning!

  2. WOW - the adventure has really begun! Loved reading about it and can't wait to hear more. What a great opportunity for your family!

    1. Thanks for reading, Kamal! We are having a lot of fun so far!

  3. Glad you are going to keep us posted with pics - makes me want to look for airline deals to Bangkok!