17 December 2006
Scarves in Thailand?
I couldn't resist just falling in love with all the sweet caroling groups we have heard this week. It is fun to hear the traditional Christmas carols with Asian accents. They are scattered throughout the malls, and hearing them just makes me smile! I think it is hilarious that they have scarves, hats and gloves on. I am pretty sure this is the only time in many of their lives that they have ever worn such items. My friend at church today, Mendy, actually talked about this weather being cold. I assumed she was talking about the Relief Society room because the A/C was blasting, but no, she was talking about outside! She is from the Philippines, so to her, this really is cold. I told her she needed to come and stay with us when we move back to Utah and really experience the cold. How can people be wearing sweaters (really, sweaters!), and the rest of us come home with sweaty shirts?
I said last week that I would show some pictures from my experience buying my Nativity Set. I found a place called "Bangkok Dolls" that is a tiny doll museum with a store and workshop right in the same building. Getting there alone was a challenge, I think the taxi driver stopped a few times to ask for directions and on the way there I saw "homes" I didn't know people could survive in. It was interesting that a museum was in this kind of neighborhood, but I was happy for the reminder to be grateful for how good we really have it. And we really do.
I loved this shop. I wanted to buy this Nativity because of how unique it was and the clothing is very Thai, which I love. It is not something I would ever have taken a second look at had I not come to Bangkok and visited this shop myself. Everything in the shop is handmade, and not the "handmade" like a lot of the things at the touristy markets. I wouldn't have believed it, except that I asked to go back in the workshop to meet the makers. They were so sweet to me and the kids. They happily showed us what part they were working on and how they did it. One man was sewing on the clothing, another lady was making the hats.
This lady made hands. This is what she does all day long, make hands. She showed us how she puts in all the wires swabbed in cotton, sews them, turns them inside out, etc. I know I didn't get it all, but it was incredible. They were all so sweet, I wanted to hug them. But, a Wai is all that is appropriate here. I was very touched at how humble these people were. Now when I look at my handmade Nativity Set, I think of these sweet people and how hard they worked on each outfit they are wearing, the position of their feet, or the woman that makes all the hands. I think I will always love that Nativity because of that brief, yet very touching experience.
I think I mentioned last week that I got to perform in a concert last Monday evening. The concert was to promote my friend's new album. She is a vocalist and her husband is a conductor. They have been working to produce this "Thai Pop" album with another one of Thailand's Pop stars. He's so popular, I can't remember his name right now, but he really did have a great voice and was a very nice guy. Anyway, they invited me to come and play with them and it was a lot of fun. It was interesting to throw together a concert in two short rehearsals, especially when I couldn't even understand the conductor. And, they slipped us a new piece right before sound check that was more challenging than anything we had practiced. It was not the best orchestra, but we pulled it off! It was a lot bigger of a deal than I was anticipating. This set-up is outside of the Paragon, the gigantic mall I've seen written as "The Pride of Bangkok". The whole thing was pretty glamorous with the huge tree, lights, jumbo screens, and lots of press. On the big screens is my friend and her husband with the Thai pop star and the composer. You can see the orchestra down at the base of the tree. Sorry this picture is so small! Jeff couldn't get anywhere near the concert sight, so this picture was taken from the train station up above. I thought he did a pretty good job considering everything! Anyway, it was a great experience to be with other musicians, even if couldn't understand much of what anyone said. This kind of thing really opened my eyes to what it's like being a minority, especially when you don't speak the language!
I took this picture the other day to remind me why we are glad we don't drive in this city. These are not cars that are moving, they are at a standstill! This happens SO often, and getting caught in the middle of it with two restless kids is awful. Many times, I have gotten out of a taxi in the middle of the street with the kids because walking would be faster! We walk everywhere we can, or take the train. If absolutely necessary, we take a taxi. I am learning that we need to be within train riding distance by about 3pm or we'll be in trouble!
Saturday, we went to the Chatuchak market together, and it was a big mistake! We really didn't find anything because it was just too hard with the kids and a husband who doesn't like shopping. NOT a place for either of those, I don't know what we were thinking. Next time, I think I will go solo or with a friend like last time. But, Janie and Jack did like taking turns in the backpack, and they always enjoy the train. This is us waiting for one at the BTS station. Who was Jeff talking to here? Who knows?
As part of our Christmas, we decided to buy annual passes to "Ocean World". It's a huge aquarium in the basement of the Paragon (the place where my concert was by). We heard it was great, but were more than impressed when it just kept going and going and going... it exceeded our expectations. The kids were more than excited about all the fish, crabs, sharks, and of course the very clean playground near the end. I'm sure we will get our money's worth with this one!
Jack has been extra hilarious this week. Every so often when I help him in the bathroom, I notice that he has not one pair of underpants on, but two! I set out his clothes in the morning and he goes in and gets dressed. When he's in a big hurry, he forgets to take off the previous day's pair. We are often heard giggling in public restrooms when it surprises us both! He has also become very particular about what he wears. He doesn't care about much, except that whatever he is wearing, it needs to match his Daddy. You will notice in the picture at the train station that my boys are both wearing red shirts. Jack had to change out of yellow into red when he saw what Jeff had put on. I think this is so cute. Jack also is loving his Dad's stories about Jack the tuk-tuk driver, or Mommy's surprising hit of Larry the Lawnmower. He has been extra creative in the stories that he participates in. The other day, he was describing his magic powers. It went something like this, "I can freeze stuff with my eyes. I can laser stuff with my eyes. I can make chocolate milk with my... eyes. My ears can make beds without using any hands. And I can fly".
His favorite treat is the fresh squeezed orange juice from the stand that we pass several times a day. He likes to tell the vendor "one" and "Thank you" in Thai when he hands him the money. He has made friends with many of the vendors we pass on the streets several times a day. He loves to wave and smile, and has recently started to salute the guards when we leave our home. He thinks this is great!
Janie's newest talent this week is getting off the bed and going down stairs on her own. Yay! Today at church, I was outside letting her go up and down a set of stairs. A bunch of members from the Cambodian branch were watching. I was trying to let her practice, but I'm sure they thought I was just a lazy mom. Every time she tried to go down, they would take her hand and walk her down , or just carry her down to me. She didn't have any room to practice because they just wanted to help so much! I finally pointed out that she could do it herself, but they still wanted to hold her and help her. They were so sweet, but now I know she will never get a chance to practice anything hard at church. Luckily, she is getting doing really well, so I won't have to worry about it too much!
Janie loves to swim! If she can see her swimsuit, she has to hold it. One day I heard her all of a sudden start screaming in my room and I went in to see what the disaster was, but it was only that she couldn't get her swimsuit off the doorknob! She took her nap with it the other day. She loves the water and is jumping in, blowing bubbles, and going under just like her brother! It is one of our favorite family activities! She started to say "Thank You" in Thai this week. We love that our children are so young and hope they will pick up on many of the words while we are here! Here's the link to a cute video of her we took last night. The lighting is bad, but she is still super cute!