Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Another Trip around the Sun

Last week, I celebrated my birthday in Thailand for the second, and last, time. (Just typing that makes me a little sad and nostalgic.) It didn't disappoint. The weekend before, my husband arranged for an overnight stay in downtown Bangkok for just the two of us while our son had a sleepover at his friends' house -- a win-win situation for all of us.

Our weekend downtown was just what we needed to recharge and relax. We toured the Jim Thompson House, a place with beautiful Thai architectural features and an amazing history, and formerly owned by a fascinating man who brought the art and craft of Thai silk-making to the world's attention. This was during a time when foreigners were still able to own land here, so Jim Thompson bought land in downtown Bangkok (which was non-existent back then), and had old houses from other parts of Thailand shipped to that location and rebuilt. He also had an extensive collection of antiques and art from various parts of Thailand and Asia, including some he found at flea markets and some he commissioned to have custom-made for him. The place also was very serene and peaceful; you'd never know you're downtown in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city. Being there was a great way to feed and rejuvenate my soul. 

We also spent a few hours at the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre, a six-story building where performances, art exhibits, and classes are held. The building was filled with free exhibits, coffee shops, art galleries, and bookstores. We spent quite some time walking around looking at interesting exhibits and art, stopping occasionally to browse in shops and snack in coffee houses.

That evening, we had dinner and drinks at a rooftop restaurant/bar. The view and dinner both lived up to our expectations (as did the cost of the experience), and we stayed after dinner to admire the view a bit longer and for the live music. It was such a wonderful day and night. Exactly what we both needed.

Then, on the day of my birthday, we had a little celebration with cake with just the three of us and a friend, who joined us for a little while. My son presented me with a little "doll" that he made for me. It was low-key and sweet -- perfect for a weekday birthday after a long day at work.

As I looked back on the past year, I thought about how fortunate in life I've been. I may not be rich, or come close to being the smartest, most accomplished, most beautiful, or most interesting person, but my life up to now has always gone smoothly. Things have always worked out for me. I've had my share of ups and downs, of course, but that's just life. For one, I still have my health (I'm always surprised when I hear about people my age or younger already on various medications for a variety of health problems). I've always been able to accomplish my professional and personal goals without too much effort or too many sacrifices (granted, the goals are fairly modest compared to others'; I'm not a particularly ambitious or driver person). I've always been able to live comfortably and do what I enjoy doing (at the time big grin). I've had some interesting and life-changing experiences, and become friends and worked with some amazing and interesting people from all walks of life. Best of all, I have a wonderful and supportive husband to share my life with, and a child who has brought much joy to our lives (most of the time, haha!). I am looking forward to this next year and whatever it brings my way.
The lobby of our hotel.
The pool at our hotel.
Looks like you could fall right over.
Our room was right over National Stadium.
You know you're in Thailand when your hotel room has both a copy of the Bible and a book on the teachings of the Buddha (though it was in English and Japanese!).
The main Jim Thompson house. No photos allowed while inside, unfortunately.
Cocoons and silk.
It looked like this man was cooking the cocoons and spinning them.
Weaving silk.
One of the gardens on the grounds.
A courtyard at the house.
Some of the art that Jim Thompson had collected.
A centuries-old headless Buddha statue Jim Thompson found in Ayutthaya.
I loved the doors and screens all over the house. Some of them were found in tiny, out-of-the-way shops in Bangkok's Chinatown.
Lotus flowers.
A quiet alleyway in the back.
My and my husband's Chinese horoscope. During his time in Thailand, Jim Thompson had consulted a fortune teller, who told him to be careful when he approached his 61st year. Sure enough, in that year, he disappeared without a trace while on a walk while visiting Malaysia. To this day, no one knows what happened to him.
On the streets of Bangkok.
The streets of Bangkok.
Traditional Isan art at the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre.
We got a kick out of the reading lights attached to our menus at dinner.
Our view at dinner.
The dining area.
Live music played as we dined below.
Enjoying live music and the view after dinner.
My friend gave me a batik silk scarf from Malaysia.
The "doll" I got from my son.

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