Monday, 26 February 2007

The Weekend

Guess who woke up on Saturday morning at 5am with pains in her back then a burning in her stomach?? Yep......that would be me!! It wasn't nearly as bad as it had been so three paracetamol later (I know I shouldn't take that many all at once but if I have bad pain I always find that two just doesn't do it - if I have three it kills the pain and I don't need any more for the rest of the day) was feeling a lot better.

Chris went out and got his hair cut then the four of us went down to Crepes and Co for breakfast. I don't know if I have mentioned this before (Don't think I have) but Crepes and Co do the best breakfasts!! The full breakfast consists of a hot drink, fruit juice, bread basket (which includes hot croissants), cereal or French toast, fruit platter or fruit salad, eggs (fried, scrambled, omelette - take your pick), sweet pancake or crepe and last but not least a final hot drink. You don't have to have all of it as there are about three variations but it is a lovely (and filling) way to start the day. Chris, Sadie and Margaret had the small breakfast and I had tea and a bread basket. We then all waddled up the road to the Ambassador Hotel on Soi 11 as they were hosting the monthly Thai Craft Fair (http://www.thaicraft.org/new/index.html). This is a brilliant place to do some shopping as it's staffed by volunteers and all the proceeds go straight back to the people who actually make the goods. We spent a good couple of hours looking at all the different crafts - There was many a comment made along the lines of 'Do you think I might be able to fit that into my suitcase?' - At one point Chris and I looked at the lamp that Sadie has just pointed at, which came up to my waist, and said 'No......but we will have fun watching you try!!. We all managed to buy a few bits and bobs and then went back to the apartment. We had to be back by 3pm.....there was a man coming to check our internet connection as we've been having real bother trying to get on-line (which is why you've not heard much and now have information overload). Fortunately, prior to the man arriving, I asked Chris to double check our wires which was when we discovered that one was not in properly......what was that I was saying about being an idiot........

That evening we got a cab over to Suan Lum Night Bazaar as i had booked for us to go to the Joe Lewis Puppet Theatre and see a show. We arrived about an hour before the performance was due to start so spent the time wondering through the market eyeing up all the beautiful things we would like to buy if we had unlimited means. The performance was absolutely fantastic - it was the first time Chris and I had been and it was unlike any puppet performance I have ever seen. Each puppet is controlled by three puppeteers who, instead of remaining behind the scenes, are actually visible on stage - it is absolutely fascinating watching how they move in unison around the stage and how they bring the puppets to life. It was really funny.....near the end of the performance two of the puppets are brought out into the audience, Hanuman who is the mischievous white monkey king and the female he is trying to woo. The monkey king was patting bald men on the head, flirting with female audience members and then pinched a woman's handbag (Which she then had to go on stage to retrieve) and the female puppet was moving through the audience charming the men.....Chris, who was at the end of our row, got a kiss!! It was really very good.

On Sunday we had a bit of a quiet day - Chris had to work so Sadie, Margaret and I went down to the Asian Herb Association (http://www.asiaherbassociation.com/en/index.html) and had a foot, head and neck massage. Well, Margaret and I had a foot, head and neck massage - Sadie ended up just having her head and neck done because she had a couple of blisters on her feet and the therapist didn't think that putting oil on them was a good idea. We all left there feeling on top of the world and interestingly, for the first time ever, the therapist I had got me to sit up and then massaged all the way down my back....in the exact place where the back pains had been!! When we were talking about it on the way home Margaret mentioned that her therapist had done most work on the leg that she had had to have an MRI scan on and Sadie said her's did a lot of work on her sinuses and that she had actually managed to clear them. Must be something to this massage malarkey!!!

Saturday, 24 February 2007

I think it's time for some Culture

I got a phone call from Khun Dao to say that she had bought three different lots of fabric and would Sadie come in and pick the colours she liked best so we started our morning back at the Tailors discussing fabric's. The decision was made and we spent the rest of the morning relaxing with a cuppa (or three) at Jenny's apartment (She lives about....oohhh....two mins walk from the tailors....so, you know.....it would have been rude not to!!). It was lovely - Sadie and Margaret got to meet Robin and Hattie (It was half term) and her husband David (who had the day off work but was actually working so it was a very quick Hi and Bye). Hattie and I spent the time fighting with her counted cross stitch - It's a sad day when a bit of fabric and some thread can confuse the bejesus out of a 31 year old woman and a 10 year old girl. The two colours she is using are so similar that it was really difficult to see where she was on the pattern.....i am happy to say that, between the two of us, the fight was won and she is now back up and running.

We got a cab from Jen's over to Jim Thompson's House and had an absolutely fantastic lunch at the restaurant there. We decided that we would share some starters - we had chicken spring rolls, spicy crispy pork and prawns with flowers wrapped in batter followed by Roast Chicken Salad with a balsamic vinegar dressing (for me) and Chicken with Cashew nuts with steamed rice for Sadie and Margaret. Sadie and I ended up with the giggles.....we couldn't help overhearing the conversation between the couple of American Business men sitting next to us - one of them was telling the other that their son had bought them the best present which was a clock that counts down the time till George Bush is out of office (I nearly asked him where his son got it - there are a few people i can think of that would appreciate one!!). After lunch we went on the tour of the house (See the posting 'Adventures of Tomato in Thailand - The Sights and Sounds of Bangkok' for more information) - It is so beautiful that I don't think I will ever get fed up visiting the place. (Tom - I'll see your yogic flying and raise you!! What do you think of my levitating?)

Later that evening when Chris got home from work we headed out to Cheap Charlies for a couple of drinks (only water for me.....sigh) and then over to Charlie Brown's for some (non-spicy) Mexican food. It was a lovely night and really nice for Sadie and Margaret to see some of Chris who has been working his butt off since they arrived - not helped by the fact that he had to take a day off when I went into hospital (I did tell him to go in but he told me I was more important....Ahhh, I knew there was a reason I loved him!!). Chris, the manager of Charlie Browns, suggested that we take Sadie and Margaret to a club in Nana Plaza (Which is one of the seedier parts of Bangkok) that features a bucking bronco - maybe another night........

Friday, 23 February 2007

Start Of Holiday - Take Two......

After the excitement of the hospital, and the fact that Sadie and Margaret were still suffering from Jet Lag, we decided that we would take it fairly easy. We spent a good part of Thursday morning looking at various clothing websites and making decisions on what kind of garments Sadie and Margaret were looking to get made and then we headed over to my local tailor, Khun Dao, (Actually she has her own website http://www.demodabangkok.com/index.asp) to get measured and to pick fabric.

Margaret was wanting to get something made for a wedding that she is going to in September and she decided that she would go for something a bit different. She is getting a silk Cheongsam (Chinese style dress) with matching jacket made - you should see the fabric she chose - it is beautiful!! She went for a vibrant azure blue with a simple bamboo pattern and she is going to have a small amount of bead work done at the collar of the dress. The jacket will be made to match so she will be able to wear them together or separately. I think it will look absolutely stunning!! Sadie went for a Salwar Kameez (which, for those not in the know, is a long tunic that goes over a pair of trousers and that has a wrap to complete the look). She chose a fairly heavy cotton (so she would be able to wear it in Scotland and not freeze to death) in two different greens - her tunic is going to be made in the lighter green trimmed in the darker one, the trousers in the darker one and the wrap is going to be two tone with some bead work done on it. She also went for a Xiang Yun Sha Jacket (That's the Chinese Jacket with mandarin collar) and matching trousers in black, a Chinese style skirt in denim with a beautiful stitching detail at the bottom and a stunning blue tunic top that has a really unusual criss cross neckline. It was quite funny - Sadie was saying that she felt like she was in an episode of What Not to Wear except we were nicer than Trinny and Susannah - she said she had never been so poked and prodded in her life.

In order to let them recover we headed to Emporium shopping centre for some lunch and went into a cafe/restaurant called Greyhound where we all had cheese and ham toasties and chips (God I love chips!! My excuse is that I'm not allowed to eat anything spicy - well seen I didn't have it in front of Moon....she would have been hitting me on the stomach and telling me that it was no good). I then took them to MBK on the Skytrain so that they could do a bit of shopping. Margaret bought the most beautiful silk bedspread in burgundy and cream with matching silk cushions (Her boudoir will be sumptuous), Sadie got a lovely silk bag in green and cream which will go with the outfit that she is having made and they both bought some pressys to take home (Don't get excited people......you may have to wait for birthday's to get them!!) By this time we were all a bit knackered so I introduced them to the delights of the Visage Patisserie which makes deserts that are so beautiful that you actually don't want to eat them!! We found a way.....

On the way home we stopped off at a Tailors called Kunika (Which I had been told is THE place to go if you want a coat made) and Sadie ordered the most stunning charcoal grey cashmere coat - I can't wait to see what the finished article looks like.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

What a first day!!!

I woke up at 5am with strange back pains - the muscles down my spine were really achy. As the morning progressed (about 10 minutes later) I felt like I was starting to get really bad indigestion which is not like me at all. I got up, took some Remegel and lay down again - Nope - that was not working, I got up again and had a couple of large glasses of milk. Ok.....BIG mistake - I now felt like my insides were on fire and just didn't quite know where to put myself - I couldn't stand, couldn't sit, couldn't lie down and, if I'm completely honest, thought that I was about to die (I think Chris was of the same opinion - you think his knees are pale!!). By this point I was moaning and groaning, the pain really was bad, so sent Chris in to wake Sadie to let her know what was going on (and to stop her lying awake wondering if we were just really noisy (You know what I mean)). Anyway, to cut a long story short I ended up being taken to Bumrungrad Hospital in an ambulance and was then admitted with severe abdominal pain caused by food poisoning - SEE THAT BLOODY AIRPORT!!

As you can probably tell, I am now fine so you can stop worrying. Actually, I think I deserve an award for best daughter-in-law........the lengths I will go to - Sadie is part of a Patients Council, which covers the whole of Ayrshire and Arran, so she got to see how it was done in Bangkok and has now got a load of ideas to take back - I think the phrase might be 'If they can do it in Bangkok.......'

I got a deluxe room to myself, mainly because all the standard ones were taken, which was like a studio apartment - it had a kitchen, dining table and chairs, sofa and coffee table as well as a balcony.....it was completely unlike any hospital room I have ever been in!! I was pumped full of pain killers, attached to a drip (Which I named Fido - see photo on the left) and told I had to drink lots of water. I was then informed that, not only had they to measure what water went in, I had to measure what water went out!! They then showed me this plastic thing which was placed in the bowl of the toilet which was called..........wait for it.........a Euro Hat!!! (Why the hell would you call something like that a Euro Hat?? - please feel free to leave a comment if you can think of a good reason). It was a stupid design - I kept missing the bloody thing.......erm, I think I'll stop there.......

Happily I was not kept in overnight (although I have to admit that I was slightly sad to say good buy to Fido who had been my faithful companion to and from the toilet) and went home with a little concoction of pills having been told that I was not allowed any alcohol or spicy food.

So poor Sadie and Margaret spent their first day in Bangkok in a hospital room watching really bad movies one of which featured a treasure hunting Nicolas Cage (Actually I quite enjoyed that one - I blame the drugs!!). Not quite what I had planned but the nurses uniforms gave them some ideas for skirts that they would like made so it wasn't all a waste of time :-)

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Groundhog Day and the arrival of the Inlaws

I had a strange feeling of Deja Vu when the alarm when off this morning and I was getting myself ready to go to the airport. The fact that Chris said 'I haven't heard anything from them. They were supposed to phone me from Dubai to let me know that they had got there OK.' as he was leaving didn't help - he had said exactly the same thing yesterday morning!! So it was with fear and trepidation that I got into another taxi and headed over to the airport (Seriously, being in stuck in a Groundhog Day that features Suvarnabhumi Airport is not my idea of a good day).


Anyway, got to the airport, had something to nibble (I didn't have time for breakfast), located the gate, and, with elbows at the ready, managed to get myself into a position from where not only could I see the gate but people coming out of the gate could see me (It was a minor miracle). I have to admit it - I was ridiculously excited and was thrilled when I saw them emerge from the gate safe and sound!! Margaret spotted me immediately (I was waving like a loony) and waved and I could tell that she had said something along the lines of 'Oh, there she is' to which Sadie must have replied 'Where?' because all I could see was her looking around frantically trying to spot me. It was great to see them and there were big hugs all round once they had made it past the hoards of taxi touts and I had elbowed my way past everyone that was still waiting to meet and greet passengers.

When we arrived at the apartment Moon had prepared a lunch for us all so I showed them their rooms so they could dump their stuff, gave them a tour of the apartment and then we sat down and munched. Chris managed to finish work at a reasonable time and when he got home we opened a bottle of bubbly and we gave them their Christmas Presents. It was lovely - they had pressys from Margaret and Jim with them so it actually felt a bit like Christmas as we sat here, with the air con blasting, unwrapping gifts (Margaret and Jim - the earrings are absolutely beautiful - I wore them that evening when we went out for dinner and Chris has been wearing his watch ever since he got it). Sadie and Margaret liked everything we had bought them (and made for them) and once the bubbly was finished (ok, and the other bottle of wine we had opened) we then headed out to Cabbages and Condoms where we spent a lovely evening catching up on all the gossip.

A good start to the holiday!!

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Oh God….I am an Idiot!!

I got up on Monday morning and ran around the house like a loony getting everything ready for the imminent arrival of (Can’t help it….feel a drum roll coming on) da, da, daaaa the INLAWS!! Then I grabbed a taxi about 11am, they were due to land at 12.05pm and I didn’t want to be late, and headed over to the delightful Suvarnabhumi Airport whilst explaining to the taxi driver that I wasn’t a tourist and that I expected him to put on his meter (Honestly….the taxi drivers over here drive me mad…..they have this horrible habit of trying to rip you off – I wouldn’t mind this so much if it was by a little amount but when it’s four times what the journey should actually cost I have a bit of an issue!!).

So I arrived at the airport, found out which gate the flight got in at and made my way over to gate C. It was then that I discovered that the gate has two exits (Isn’t that sensible!!) and there was only one tiny little sign stating that tour passengers were to go to one side and the other passengers were to go to the other – it also didn’t help that, because there were places you could buy food, lots of people had congregated in front of the sign so not only could passengers not see the sign as they were coming out the gate – you couldn’t see the gate from where you were allowed to wait so had no clue if the people you were waiting for had gone to the other side. There were other inconveniences I discovered - for example (Yes, I’m going to rant) the exit is rather narrow and on both sides you have people trying to get tourists to take one of their taxies (at 4 times the usual price of course!!), drivers who have come to collect passengers and take them to their hotels and people waiting to meet their loved ones (Actually that was quite funny…..I saw a number of young women holding photographs which they desperately peered at every time a man emerged through the gate. Ahhh….the joys of e-mail romances - I wonder how many of the men sent a photo that wasn’t about 10 years old and that actually looked like them?.....I think I may be getting a bit cynical in my old age) Anyway, you have to peer round all these people in order to get a view of the gate. Finally, after someone had gone off with a driver to their hotel, I got a space next to the barrier and discovered that there is a bloody big plant across from the designated waiting area that blocked the view to the gate (Brilliant piece of plant placement!!) so I had to stand on tiptoe to actually see the gate…sigh!! Then, and this really annoyed me, a taxi tout shoved me out the way and said ‘I work here’. I had as much right to be there as he did – growl!! So after a couple of hours on tiptoe bobbing around trying to see round the plant, people, name cards etc I started to get a bit worried…..surely it doesn’t take that long to get through immigration…..god I hope there is not a problem (and before you ask ‘Why didn’t you just contact them?’…..I had tried sending a text to let them know that I was there and to head for the exit with the plant but my phone decided it would only send to Thai numbers – don’t you just love technology!) I ended up texting Chris and asking him to contact Sadie – he then phoned me and said

‘They are still in Glasgow. They leave at 3pm today and arrive in Bangkok at 12pm tomorrow.’

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!

Monday, 19 February 2007

Before the guests descend…..

Aaarrrggggg……Sadie and Margaret arrive on Monday and we’ve not got their Christmas Presents yet!!!

So, on Saturday morning Chris and I got up bright and early (ok, fairly early) and headed over to Chatuchak Market to get the presents sorted out. We arrived there about 9.30am (everyone says that you need to get there early so we made the effort and were surprised to discover that a lot of the stalls were still shut or just setting up – everything was open by the time we left) and spent a very pleasant morning meandering along the narrow lanes of the market trying not to spend all our money (It really is so inexpensive that the temptation to spend is rather overwhelming). We ended up getting Sadie an absolutely stunning table runner with matching coasters which we thought would match her d├ęcor in the lounge (Natural fibre with beautiful stylised green flowers embroidered onto it) and we got Margaret a small wooden mirror that has painted doors that close over it and three small round vases with paper Orchids to go in them (They are really nice – my description doesn’t do them justice!). We also treated ourselves to a wooden carving of a Chinese dragon to go on the wall of our bedroom (which will probably sit propped up against our bedroom wall for the next few months till Moon gets fed up and gets the handyman downstairs to put it up).

We headed back to the apartment after a lovely lunch in Toh Plue, across the road from the Market (I can highly recommend the Chicken in pineapple), and I got cracking on finishing the wine charms that I was making for Margaret as part of her Christmas pressy (The photo on the right is of the necklace I made for Sadie and the one on the left is of the finished wine charms). I wrapped everything (Chris watched Terminator 3) then we got ourselves organised and headed out to a wine bar called Bacchus on Ruam Rudi (Walking distance from Phloen Chit) which we had been told was really good. We were not disappointed!! It was lovely - We sat in really comfy bucket seats on a raised platform at the bar, ordered a reasonably priced bottle of red wine (reasonable for Thailand anyway) and, to treat ourselves, a selection of French cheeses. Divine!!

On Sunday it was Chinese New Year so everywhere we went there was a sea of red t-shirts (Makes a change from yellow or blue). It is good luck to wear red on Chinese New Year so Chris wore his red Hong Kong Fooey t-shirt (well….it’s red!!) and I wore red shoes and a red necklace. We grabbed some breakfast…..Ok, had a fry up in the Dubliner……we are starting to do that waaay to often – actually we discovered that you can get a discount card so we can now get 10% off all food and drink that we order (Happy Days!!). Then went along to Emporium shopping centre and had a look round the Chinese New Year exhibition that they were hosting. Then we headed home, met up with Moon and made our way over to Siam Paragon to see the second part of King Narusiuan. Aaaaarrrrrggggg……there are not two parts to the film…..there are three…..and the next one doesn’t come out till the 5th of bloody December!!! Why oh why oh why didn’t they release the films later in the year?? Part 1 in January, Part 2 in February, Part 3 in, oh…lets make the buggers wait till the Kings Birthday, December. (I want you to know that I am throwing my hands up in exasperation). On the plus side – the film was actually really good but I’m not going to say anything else as I know that Tom is waiting with bated breath to find out what happens and I don’t want to spoil it for him. (Tom you are going to have to wait a little longer than I had anticipated for your DVD box set – sorry mate!)

Friday, 16 February 2007

She liked the dogs!!

Having finished three options on the dog and flower theme I decided that I would indeed go along to the BWG lunch (I was going to pass on it (Or Pike on it as Liss would say)) because I wanted to have something to take to Dao that afternoon - but since I had already achieved my goal for the day I felt that I had earned the right to stuff myself silly at the new Chinese restaurant that the lunch was being held at. My lovely friend Susan kindly offered to give me a lift over there which was great cause my sense of direction has not improved since moving here and I had absolutely no idea where I was supposed to be going. The restaurant is called Monkeys and it's in 136/3 Thong Lor 11 (If you don't live here that will mean nothing to you but there is nothing more annoying than reading about somewhere and then discovering that there is no address). The restaurant was really nice - there were about 30 of us so we were seated upstairs in two groups and the food was served on to a glass turntable. We had three different types of dim sum, followed by morning glory and deep fried pork, spicy chicken soup, duck pancakes, fish and then noodles. I gave up half way through the meal - and only managed a mouthful of the fish and the noodles just to try them.....I was so full (Definitely waddled out the place)

I then got a cab over to see Khun Dao who spread out the drawings and then told me she loved them and that she would take two of the dog drawings as well as the one for her uncle (that's who the one with the teeth is for). I was so pleased I headed straight home and started work on the final pieces (The dog ones) - which I finished today (How smug am I??). I'm not sure how great they look in the photo but here are the finished articles (First time I have done any in colour which was a bit daunting but I think they look OK)

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Dogs, Tony Leaving, Dogs, Trip to Pahurat and more Dogs

Ahhh too much to do and not enough time to do it in.

I have had a real mental block regarding these commission pieces and have been procrastinating desperately for a couple of weeks (I'm going to blame Khun Dao for not giving me a deadline) so on Monday I sat down and tried to draw something that vaguely resembled a dog. (I think the last time I attempted to draw a dog was when I was in nursery school and it was probably along the lines of 'D is for Dog now draw a dog'). Well, now I know why I have never experienced a burning desire to draw dogs - god almighty......the first attempt looked like a fluffy thing on matchsticks, the second - a ball with ears on matchsticks (actually they looked a little like the tribbles that were in that Star Trek episode.....I can't believe I just typed that.....aaarrrrrgggg............it's catching!!! Chris is now going to be chanting 'one of us, one of us' at me), erm....where was I.....ah yes - my truly awful first few attempts at drawing dogs (I just want to add here that they did improve) anyway, it was Mr Mad Tony's last night here so I jumped at the chance to put the dog disaster behind me and head for the pub. We had a good night and ended up going to (Actually, I don't know the name of the place) a Thai restaurant, which is in the basement of Time Square, that is open 24 hours. It was really nice - the blue light in the restaurant made everything look a bit odd (including us) but the food was good and I tried Moore hen and Bitter Gourd for the first time - both were surprisingly tasty.

Tuesday arrived and so did more dog drawing. I had a more successful day and actually ended up with something that I was happy with - the drawing actually looked like a dog!!Yippeeee - There was much rejoicing. Ok, so there wasn't really much rejoicing but I was a hell of a lot happier than I had been on Monday and was able to meet Jenny on Wednesday for a guilt free day of shopping and exploring.

We met up in the morning and headed over to the river - neither of us had eaten any breakfast so of course we were starving by the time we got there and just had to go to The Oriental and have some breakfast!! (Smoked salmon and cream cheese on a toasted onion bagel - died and gone to heaven). (The photo is of me trying to work out where the shop is). I took Jen to a shop called Lin Jewellers - it is a fantastic shop that sells really good quality silver stuff (It's not just jewellery - they have cutlery, napkin holders, cuff links, candle holders, ice buckets....all sorts of things) and she had not been before. I bought Chris a beautiful pair of silver elephant cuff links for valentines day and Jen got some really lovely things for David. After that we headed back to the river to get a boat over to China Town - I wanted to explore Pahurat, which is the Indian cloth market, as I wanted to know whether it was worth taking Sadie and Margaret there (Sadie wants to get some clothes made whilst she is here). The answer to that is not really - The cottons feel lovely but the patterns are very old fashioned and I think that a good few hours would have to be spent hunting around before finding anything decent. Whilst we were waiting for the boat Jen decided that perhaps all that coffee at breakfast hadn't been such a great idea and that she really needed to find a toilet so i suggested that she head back to the Oriental which was just along the road (Trust me.....you do not want to be caught short in China Town). When she got back she was furious.....the doorman wouldn't let her into the hotel - he had looked her up and down (She was wearing a really nice green dress over a pair of black trousers), told her there was a dress code and that she couldn't come in because she was wearing flip flops!! (I could have seen his point if she had been wearing short shorts and had her cleavage out for the world to see....but come on.....flip flops!!). She ended up having to go somewhere else - Bad move on the hotel's part!!

When I got home I actually managed to produce two decent drawings (Phew!!). We had a nice, but quiet, valentines evening. Chris had already bought me a ring (I have to admit that he hasn't actually seen it yet as it is getting re-sized but when it's ready I will produce it and say 'Here's what you bought me for Valentines Day') but came home with some chocolate hearts and a card (awww) and we both bought a little something for Moon - Chris got her a little chocolate heart and I got her a rose in a box (Her husband lives so far away we knew she wasn't going to get anything - he did call and when she told him that we had bought her a Valentines Day present he insisted on speaking to us to say thank you for looking after her (Didn't understand a word he said but I'm sure it was all very nice). When we went to bed that night we discovered that she had put a vase on either side of our bed and had put two roses in each - wasn't that sweet of her!!