But here, there is no public library system like the one we had at home, which was amazing and which we would patronize several times a week to borrow books, music CDs, kids' videos, and movies. Even now, while here, we are able to borrow e-books from our library system back at home. The only public library with English-language books here that we know of is the one we went to on Saturday, about an hour's drive away. And then, it costs about $100 for a one-year family membership.
Saturday's program consisted of story time, with audience participation; arts and crafts; snacks, including wine and quiche for the adults; singing and dance performances; and time with Santa. It's ironic that we never took our son to see Santa back in the U.S., but we come to Thailand and see Santa within five months of being here. It was also the first time we all had been inside a library barefooted (you take off your shoes before going inside almost any place here)! And it was funny that everyone was in t-shirts and shorts, and barefooted, but Santa was in his heavy suit and boots. But it was a fun time. And, oh, how I enjoyed being inside a library again! In such a beautiful space, too, with high ceilings, hardwood floors, arches and columns, and wood shelves.
There's Santa!! One of the kids with us has been in this country since he was 18 months old, and has no recollection of ever seeing Santa in the U.S. He was craning his neck, looking on with curiosity at the man in the red suit.
Check out this cute little guy with his beautiful outfit and hat!
After the library program, the men took the kids (all our kids are boys) for a burgers-and-beers lunch, then headed out to a downtown park with a playground. Meanwhile, we the moms headed out to a fair-trade crafts fair being held in the lobby of a really nice hospital that catered to foreigners. The fair was nice, with merchants selling things such as beautiful, hand-sewn silk scarves and handbags, silverware, Christmas ornaments, lotions, jewelry, handwoven baskets and wooden bowls, and handmade cards and stationery.
My friends and I browsed and bought a few small gifts and trinkets. I got a set of handwoven, indigo place mats for my son's teacher, a couple of Thai Christmas ornaments for our little tree (see how the red figurine ornament is doing the Wai?), and a little handmade, cloth elephant with movable legs for my son. He was so happy and excited to get that little surprise, so touched that I had thought of him! Within ten minutes of getting that elephant, he wrote me the sweetest thank-you note.
After leaving the fair, we went out for a long, leisurely lunch at an Indian restaurant. The food was delicious, among the best Indian food I've ever had. It was wonderful to eat, chat, and relax without interruptions or whining.
Our last adventure of the day was how we got home: on a boat riding through the klongs (canals) of Bangkok. One of the moms is pretty adventurous, and she, her husband, and their son take these boats to get downtown all the time. When she heard that I had never used one of these boats as public transportation, she thought it'd be fun for me to try. The ride itself was fun and much faster (and cheaper -- the long ride cost less than $1) than a taxi. But it was a bit tricky getting on and off -- the boat wasn't fastened to the pier, so there was gap between the boat and the pier, with the passengers climbing onto a thin ledge outside the boat to get in and out! The ticket collector would go up and down that ledge to collect money while the boat moved onto the next station. I wish I could've taken a picture, but I was too busy holding on to keep myself from falling out of the boat....Who knew that, one day, I'd be climbing on and off long boats, watching the wats (temples), malls, fancy homes, and tin shacks go by as I ride in a boat with nothing between me and the dirty klong waters except a thigh-high wall, dodging the water sprays from the klong, while wearing flip-flops in the middle of December?
Sunday was a more low-key day. My husband went to see a doctor about some pain in his knee (turned out to be nothing major, thankfully) while my son and I hung out, played, and wrote a letter to Santa. And yes, he's still totally in love with pigs and asked for more pig stuffed animals and books. Not sure we can swing that this year as I have not seen any pig stuffed animals at all here (the books are doable, but will arrive late), but if things go our way, we may be able to give him a real, live pet bunny, which I know he will be so excited about! Will keep you all posted on that!
Sunday afternoon, I met another friend for ice cream and a catch-up session, which was followed by Thai massages for both of us -- her treat for me for my birthday last month. It was my first Thai massage (up till then, I had gotten only foot massages, which I love), and boy, was it a workout session! First, we changed into comfy, flowing pajama-looking clothes. Then we lay down on comfy mats, covered in cozy blankets, in a dimmed room with soft music playing and a slight scent of eucalyptus in the air. For an hour, every part of me -- literally from the top of my head to the tip of my toes -- was worked on: kneaded, pinched, squeezed, knuckled, kneed, punched, pushed, pulled, twisted and contorted, stepped on, and chopped. It felt like I had yoga done to me, except much more intense. But I felt sooo good afterwards, relaxing over ginger tea.
And now, I just have to hold onto this happy and relaxed state to get us through this very hectic last week of school before the holiday break....