Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vertigo Grill & Moon Bar

Last night, Dr. Hickson and I had dinner at the Vertigo Grill and Moon Bar on the roof of the Banyan Tree Hotel. It has been voted one of the top restaurants in the world to eat at by a few trip advising web sites that I have seen. It was definitely an experience having dinner 59 stories up over looking Bangkok. However, I am not sure the food reflected the prices. I had pan-seared sea bass over mushroom risotto with a saffron sauce. Now don't get my wrong, it was very good, but it was not the top of the many restaurants I have been to throughout my years. I could have settled with a drink or two at the bar. But if i ever do make it back to Bangkok, I will be back to the restaurant. They did, however, bring you a cold towel before dinner, which might have been the best part. The service was wonderful as well. It was a little warm and the clouds kind of got in the way of the sunset, but all-in-all, I had a great time. It was a very nice dinner and view of Bangkok to end the trip with.
I finished all of my shopping and aside from what the demonstration has gotten in the way of, I have crossed most things off of my list. Two more days of classes and then I am back to the real world! See everyone very soon :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

French Fried...

Yesterday after class I got a taxi to the Hotel Grand President on Sukhumvit Soi across town. I decided that I wanted a little change of scenery on my day off. From what I gathered, Sukhumvit is in a very nice part of Bangkok. The Prime Minister lives on this road, and the streets were also crawling with tourists and backpackers, young and old, from all over. Just wandering around the streets I heard many different languages. I checked in yesterday afternoon and went straight for a dip in the pool to try and kick the heat. After I relaxed for a little while, I went back to the room showered and got dressed for dinner. For dinner I decided to go to an Italian restaurant named Contrazi next door to the hotel. The atmosphere and food were UNBELIEVABLE. I felt like I should have been on a movie as all the beautiful couples drank their wine and enjoyed their evenings laughing and eating. The weather was perfect with a slight breeze and the Cabernet was delicious. The traditional Thai/Asian music created a calming silence between the laughs. I was really missing a certain someone as I enjoyed the ambience! For dinner, I got hand-made Gnocchi with pan-seared sea scallops in a mushroom cream sauce. I could have eaten 2 plates of it. Of course, I had to top it off with desert. I got the creme brulee trio, which was raspberry, orange, and kahlua. By the time I was done I was stuffed, so then I headed back upstairs and slept like a baby. I woke up this morning and went straight to the pool which was on the roof of the hotel. Hence, the title "French Fried." After a long day in the sun, I packed up, had my very first Aussie chicken and mushroom pie at an Australian pub across the way, and headed back to the JL. Even though it was very relaxing and felt wonderful swimming and getting that first kiss of sun for the summer, I will now be lathering myself with the Aloe lotion that I brought, probably for the rest of the trip. All-in-all, GREAT day off! Lesson Learned: SPF 15 (even applied a few times) has nothing on a rooftop pool in the hot Bangkok sun.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Count Your Blessings!

Every time that I return for a trip I cannot tell you how many times I get questions about how the trip was, what my favorite part was, etc. etc. etc. Now don't get me wrong, I love answering the questions and talking about all that I have done. This trip has been quite different from all the rest that I have been so fortunate to go on, such as Jamaica, the Bristish Isles, Honduras, Spain and Italy to name a few. Most of those trips have consisted of sight-seeing and hanging out with friends, except for Honduras, of course, which was by far one of my favorite and most rewarding trips to this day. However, my experience in Thailand has been quite a unique one, that will probably never compare to any other trips I plan to take throughout the course of my life. When i went to Spain, our goal was immersion to help learn the language. Because, I was left on the side of the road (typical) and my family didn't pick me up that first day I was put in a hostile with people from all over the world. I was exactly immersed into the Spanish culture, but i also had a very unique experience living with people from everywhere from Brazil to Holland. When i was preparing for this trip my goal in order to do my study was, once again, immersion into the Thai culture. Little did I know what i had in store for me. Throughout this month I have been immersed into the what many I have spoken with call the 'low end' part of Bangkok. Lesson learned: Count your blessings!! Day in, and day out we pass beggars, such as this picture, on the side of the road. I, honestly, believe that the vendors aren't making much more of a living than the beggars due to the mass amounts of product they are selling. I was reading an article in the Bangkok Post yesterday that a goal of the new year is to help make "Bangkokonoians" healthy by regulating the food that is sold on the streets and in the markets. In class today, I was told that the average income of workers in the city is 200 Baht a DAY! That is roughly $6!!! Our minimum wage is more than $6 an hour. By way of where I am living, each day, I am learning more and more to respect the efforts of the red shirts. The people who probably make less than the average 200 Baht. Even though I wish they would have chosen a different time to fight for their word to be heard, I cannot blame them. If i would have been on the nice beaches and the nicer areas of the capital city, I know that I would not feel this way, because I wouldn't have had the first-hand experiences to guide my thoughts. So if i could sum up my trip so far in one word, I would have to say: Humbling.

Today, is another very special day. Happy Birthday to one blessing I thank the Lord for everyday I wake up! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY MAMA!! The older I get the more I hear, as well as can tell in myself, that I am turning more into my Mama. There could not be a bigger compliment in my eyes. You are the rock to so many both family and friends. I hope and pray that one day, I will have as much wisdom and experience as you do. I know it is not easy dealing with your highly emotional daughter, but I thank you for it! I don't know what I would do if I did not have you to pick up the phone and call as I go through each day in my emotional whirlwinds. Even though you may be enjoying the break of my constant phone calls throughout the day, not being able to pick up the phone and call you is DRVING ME NUTS!!!!! Just a few more days, Mama, and you will once again be able to rest a little better knowing that I am home. I know you and I know you have not quit worrying since the second I said good-bye on the plane in Atlanta. I hope you have a WONDERFUL day and I thank you for all that you do! I love you to the heavens and back!!! See you soon :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Reds Did Rally

Yesterday consisted of a bunch of horns, loudspeakers, screaming, singing, and red shirts. Around noon the caravan made it to Ramkhamhaeng and I know that I still heard rallying outside of the JL around 7 last night. Very persistent I must say! I honestly am not sure where they get the energy, especially, considering they have been out in the hot sun for a week now! When we began to hear the yelling we were still in the middle of a lesson but right as we were released for a break, I ran up to the top floor to see if I could see anything. Well the smoking deck on the roof had walls about seven feet tall but there was a covering about half way up that i managed to get up on top of. So, 9 stories high, on top of the roof I managed to get some pictures thinking I would miss the rest of the rally while sitting in class. To my surprise, when we got out of class around 4 they were still going strong, which made our walk home quite eventful. I was more scared standing on top of the roof than I was amidst the rally. I did not feel one threat from the protestors in the rally. Honestly, I felt like I was at a parade. There were motorcycles and trucks full of people of all ages smiling, clapping, chanting and singing. I wish I could have taken more pictures but there was hardly enough room to breath in the "o-so-pleasant" vendor foods and bus fumes, much less room for me to set up to get some pictures. The worst part of the rally was the very persistent people handing out flyers on the side of the road. Most of them were not in red so I think they were just soliciting for local "businesses" on Ramkhamhaeng. One of them followed me for a block, waving the flyer in my face, saying something in Thai. I'm not sure if he didn't catch on to the fact that I am not a native to SE Asia because the flyer was written in Thai and a lot of good that would have done me. The majority of the reds, both standing on the roads and riding in the rally/parade, seemed like very peaceful people just wanting to be heard. We were talking about it in class today, and one of the students said the majority of the protestors are coming from Northern Thailand which, according to the student, is where you will meet some of the most genuine people of the country. I did read that there were hand grenades launched and people were injured, but the number of injuries and actions of violence is still very small. I am learning more about the politics each day and it seems that if the protestors and leaders would leave Thaksin Shinawatra and his corrupt morals out of it they would get more accomplished. They feel that the new Prime Minister was not elected democratically and all they want to do is be heard, by way of a democratic election. Who can blame them for that? Lesson learned: Be thankful you live in a "democratic" society.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Quick Update...

I am sitting in class so this can't be real long, seeing that I should be listening, but I wanted to update everyone. I got home yesterday and was so exhausted if I even picked up the computer to write an entry it would have made absolutely no sense. So the march is due to come down Ramkhamhaeng today betweem 10 and 6. The painting the prime ministers house and the government buildings obviously got them no where so they have decided to spread out. I pretty sure the blood stuff is over though. A student picked us up because he was afraid for us to walk. So sweet and caring :) Traffic was crazy this morning but I can deal with that. No sign of Red Shirts just yet and considering I am in a classroom with no windows, I may not see them. This is Thaksin Shinawatra, the man behind the madness. Ironically, he has a degree in Criminal Psychology, but maybe it's not ironic because he had to learn out to act from somewhere. He has been expelled from Dubai and Cambodia has not taken him in and given him citizenship to allow him to continue to hide from his jail sentence. He is, quite frankly, really messing up my trip. Thanks! I guess I am living in Thai history :/ Anways more to come later just wanted to keep you posted! ~P

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Earlier today I was talking to my Mama on Google video chat and she asked me what I have learned. Of course, on the spot, I didn't have much to say. But then I started thinking about the many things I have already learned from the Thai people and how much more I can absorb in the few short days that I have left in "The Land of Smiles." Thailand is a country full of many values and ideals that can be learned and, quite frankly, need to be absorbed by most people around the world. For a country with so little comparatively to the rest of the world, I am amazed and humbled by the way most people in the country live from day to day. Over the next week and three days, I will try to incorporate some of the values that the Thai people typically operate around into the Blog. I hope to bring back these lessons to the States and remember them each day as I get caught up in the world as we know it. Todays lesson is the value of having fun and finding pleasure in life. In the Thai language the word is SANUK, which means to have fun and enjoy oneself. The picture today is of a guy who I pass on my walk home from school each day. No shoes on his feet and just a few coins in a plastic sack on the ground, he sings and dances around having fun every day! I don't believe there is a single one of us who would enjoy this daily if it was our way of making a very, very small living. But I know that he is having fun and enjoying himself. You can tell by the way he is singing and the way he dances around. Each day, I wish I had more to give. Now I know what most of you are thinking... That child has never had a problem having fun :) Now sitting down and writing these monstrous papers (which is in my near future) has never really been what I consider "fun." But why can't it be? I will now attempt to look at it as "Fun in Learning." Learning new things, that, in the least, can help me to sound super intelligent when I am sitting down to dinner, or talking with people in classes or even out on the town. It's always fun to sound smart! I also know that at home it is sometimes hard to find any fun in our daily responsibilities, so today, I challenge everyone to find a little sanuk in what are typically considered our daily mind-numbing, hum-drum, unexciting tasks. So Mama, Lesson learned: Have fun and find pleasure in ALL that you do! Love you!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Hint of Green...

HAPPY ST. PADDY'S DAY!!! Due to the demonstration and I feel like the blog is kind of suffering. But on this St. Paddy's Day, I knew I had the perfect picture. This is the garden at the JL. Everything is bright green and getting ready to hit full bloom around here. I didn't realize what today was until I got to school, so luckily I changed from my black sandals into my green Chaco's before I left for school this morning. Not that it would have really mattered, I believe I am a few miles away from the leprechauns that would have been offended. Probably, needless to say, but, St. Patrick's Day is not celebrated around here. I hope everyone at home steers clear of the "little pinchers" that might be after you!

This week has been mainly occupied with school. Unfortunately, if these Red Shirts don't slack off, school is going to continue to occupy the rest of the trip. However, better safe, than sorry!! I had my first run in with a few of them yesterday. It was 4 elderly women decked in red with Thaksin pins on their shirts. I didn't feel much of a threat, because I felt like I could take them :) Crowds are thinning, slightly (definitely not significantly), but there has not been any changes in the government yet. As each day passes in the raging heat, I feel like the protests can only go one way. Things could turn for the good, and the crowds leave due to change or exhaustion, or, well, I won't mention the other side in lieu of keeping a positive attitude. All we can continue to do is Pray for Peace! I'm not quite sure what the ritual of splattering the blood all over the government areas and then the Prime Minister's house signified but it was completed. I will spare you of the morbid pictures. I feel like they are running out of options. There has been mention of talks between the opposing sides in order to re-establish "kreng jai" (aware of other people's feelings showing politeness, respect, and consideration) atmosphere to the nation of Thailand. Hopefully these talks will happen sooner than later.