John and Jane in Thailand

J and J have escaped the hurly-burly of life in the USA.

From Bangkok to Home

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John and I have just come home after spending over three weeks in Bangkok.  It wasn’t really by choice.  We had to apply for a second visa (a non-immigrant O visa, good for 3 months) before we can apply for our “retirement” visa, good for one year.  Getting the visas has been an epic journey fraught with misunderstandings and frustration but it’s not over yet.  Now I know why there are law firms that specialize in procuring visas for expats; but they charge a pretty penny for the service.  If we hadn’t had Jeanette to stay with whenever in Bangkok and Suk to drive us around, it might have been well worth the charge.  Fortunately the next and final step should be easy since we went to one of the immigration officers for advice and conformation that we had all the right documents and just needed to wait the required two months before submitting.  Note the use of “should” instead of “will”.  In Thailand you can never be sure – they might change the rules while we are in the waiting mode.

While in Bangkok we went to the dentist, a dermatologist, and we both had our hair cut.  We did some sightseeing, shopping, and went to a movie.  I should tell you about the movie theatre.  It was a special “luxury” theatre within a Cineplex within a mall.  This particular theatre had a full size screen and fabulous sound system but only 28 seats.  The seats were arranged in groups of two with lots of room between the groupings.  Each chair was a wide recliner (think large La-z-Boy) and came with a quilt and pillow.  There was a “coffee table” in front of each grouping in which to put your popcorn and drinks which were ordered from and brought to us by a . . . I’m tempted to say “flight attendant” but the theatre never left the ground.  This theatre does cost a little more than the regular theatres but only a few dollars more than seeing a film in Seattle.  We are definitely going up to Bangkok to see the new Harry Potter when it opens in this theatre.  So what that it is a seven hour bus ride each way.  We are talking the final episode in the Harry Potter series and ultimate viewing comfort, together.

Bangkok is an amazing city.  It is sooooooooooooooooooo big.  I get the impression that people either hate it or love it.  When we got back to the beach after three weeks and told people where we had been, a typical comment was, “I can’t stand Bangkok for more than two days”; this from both expats and Thais.  I find the city endlessly fascinating although I wouldn’t want to live there.  Bangkok or Gruung Teip as the Thais call it, is a hodge-podge of . . .  styles all mixed in together.  There is no core where all the tall buildings are, the skyline is always a mix of tall and low buildings.  Traditional is mixed with ultra-modern; old mixed with new; temples (wats) mixed with secular buildings; poor mixed with wealthy; food carts mixed in with restaurants; Western mixed with Thai; large shopping malls and markets crammed with booths, and on it goes.  “Contrast” is how I would describe Bangkok in one word.  You can buy anything in Bangkok.  There are grocery stores that cater to Western tastes and restaurants with foods from every corner of the world.  Thailand is the ultimate foodie country.  All Thais seem obsessed with food and because of that, the food is fantastic from the lowliest of street food carts to the loftiest of restaurants.  Chinese come from China to eat Chinese food in Bangkok’s China Town! 

When some friends of ours come to visit later this month, we will take them to the Grand Palace (a must-see when in Bangkok) and on a boat trip down the river and canals of the city.  So, when visiting this time we went to see lesser known landmarks.  We went to the Golden Mount, an artificial hill with a Buddha relic stupa on top.  Other than bridges, raised highways, and buildings it is the only thing in Bangkok with any height.  Did you know that Bangkok is below sea level and very, very flat? 

 We went to a crocodile farm/zoo – I get the farming part but the zoo containing other animals is stuck in the 1950s and I had a hard time with that. 

the feet are a dead give-away

We also went to a Thai culture wax museum but it was not tacky or commercial at all.  It is done so artfully and with such skill that both John and I were blown away. 

One of my favorite places to visit was The Artist’s House.  It is a 200-year-old house on one of Bangkok’s many canals bought and remodeled by an artist who turned it into studio and gallery space for an artists’ co-op.  Not only did we get to spend time at the galleries but we got an upclose and personal look at life on the canals.  

The next time we have to stay in Bangkok we plan on taking a bicycling tour through a part of the city that has been protected from urban growth.

Bangkok is fascinating but it is also polluted, noisy, and the traffic is the worst I have ever seen.  What a pleasure to be back at our “beach house”.  This morning when we went for our bike ride it was so quiet, so peaceful, and so beautiful – it is good to be home again.


Written by Jane Estes

June 6, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Enjoyed reading the blog while eating lunch at my desk. Remember those days? My early retirement date is Nov. 2014, but who is counting? Cheers, Kathy


    June 7, 2011 at 12:58 am

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