Our minds have begun to switch to Burma now, since we leave tomorrow! But, here is a recap of our last week here, spent in Bangkok and at a small “resort” for families near Hua Hin. (I put resort in quotes because I don’t want you to get ahead of yourself in thinking we actually stayed at what you might consider a real resort.)
We stayed five nights at “Dolphin Bay Resort” a modest, family friendly place 3 hours south of Bangkok situated on the shores of the Gulf of Thailand. This is another one of those things we did for the kids. They loved it, since to them, the place had it all: playground, playroom, movies, accessible ice cream, water slide, big pool, bikes, tricycles, toys, books, pool table, and beach.
I am glad, because for us, well, it was not too exciting, so at least half of the family was truly enjoying themselves! Nevertheless, I must say the grounds were quite pretty and the surrounding karst mountains gorgeous (though most of the time shrouded in the clouds).
Unfortunately, over the course of our stay, maybe because of the storms that rolled through in the night, the beach and its water became progressively more disgusting, with mass amounts of trash piling up and the water taking on a foamy, slightly burnt orange appearance. To my dismay, it took 2 days of this stuff languishing on the beach before the resort staff finally went out there to clean it up. Yet, on either side of their property along the shore, the filth and its stench remained, making us and even the kids very disappointed with the state of the environment down there. That has sort of been a theme ever since our arrival in Vietnam. Thailand is better–at least you can find more places to throw away trash, and society seems more aware. But in general, this region and its people seem to have a certain disregard, apathy, or ignorance (I am not sure) for the environment. I have heard that the trash pile-ups in Burma are pretty bad… The problem is that so much is still given to the consumer in plastic bags and styrofoam, as if it remains a novel and special alternative to the natural wrappers of the past, such a banana leaf and hollowed bamboo branches. Everything, even the smallest item is eagerly given to you in a plastic bag. Like other nonbiodegradables, people throw it away on the ground or in the rivers or out at sea as if it is a banana leaf, as if it will disappear. Habits, I guess, but disconcerting, especially as populations grow and wealth increases (which means more purchases, therefore more plastic bags). Oh and let’s not forget all those plastic water bottles- since no one drinks from the tap, you can imagine what a waste issue this creates. ANYWAY…
It was a nice time, we had some good nourishing food, decent workouts (me, in the pool and Chris, at a spartan outdoor gym), the kids got to play a lot, even unattended, and they got their fix of Disney and Despicable Me movies. But swimming in a cold pool in the rain started to get old, and soon we were ready to get back to our homey apartment in Bangkok.
Our final days in the city were mostly about taking care of business, like getting our Indonesian visas and some extra vaccinations. All has gone smoothly (despite apocalyptic, tear-filled tantrums regarding the latter). We also managed to throw in a some kid/fun stuff too, partially as bribes to get the damn shots. Bowling at Siam Center was entertaining, with its loud dance club music and flashy lights (SE Asia style at noon).
A return to the huge indoor playground, Funarium, was in order, as well. Though relatively expensive, why not when the kids loved it so much, and it gave me the chance to chill out and watch their whining, yelling, hitting, and annoying diatribes diffuse. Mom and Dad, wondering how you managed all those hours cramped in the suburban with 5 probably very annoying kids.
A special note about where we are staying in Bangkok: it has been great. It is situated on a quiet street, though in the center, in a complex of high rises with many expat families from literally all over the world. So we have all the amenities here that we need, like good restaurants, food stalls, copy centers, salons, laundry, banks, pharmacy, etc among locals who are accustomed in dealing with foreigners. There are lots of families around which has enabled us to feel safe and welcome. Our host, Xenia (from Jakarta), has been amazing. She has assisted us in so many ways, and most memorably, by watching the kids while we run around to embassies and complete other errands. The kids have loved spending time at her nearby apartment. She also has 2 kids and a sweet nanny from Burma, who assists her in making Mathilda a princess each time. Invariably, she returns with a fancy hairdo and trinkets they have given her. Merle even got the chance to play with her son’s Legos, something he does not get to do very much these days. Xenia, along with several other people we have met over the last two months have shown us a certain depth of kindness and generosity that reminds me why I love this part of the world so much. Thank you for everything, Xenia!