Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's A Small World After All

Another friend and fellow blogger did a map on her blog to show where all her viewers were located. It was interesting to see all the places around the world that viewed her blog. Some explainable – such as Thailand – gee who could that be looking at your blog? Others - not so explainable. It got me wondering what locations follow my blog. So we checked it out and got a map just like my friends. Surprise surprise, my most viewers are from the US and then second place goes to Thailand – that all makes sense. But, what about the other locations? In order from most viewers to least here they are: Malaysia, Brazil, Austria (we know people here), Singapore, UK (we know people here), Canada, Netherlands (we know people here too), Australia, Germany(we know people here), Russia, France, Philippines, India, Sweden, Japan (we know some here too), South Korea, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Israel, Poland, Vietnam, Romania, Greece, Pakistan, Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, Hong Kong, Serbia, Switzerland, Jordan, Denmark, Georgia (the country), Finland, Azerbaijan, Colombia (we know people here too), Chile, Slovenia, Qatar, Falkland Islands, Spain, Latvia, Hungary, Mexico, Bahrain, and Egypt. So a lot of interesting locations checking out my blog. Some maybe accidentally stumbled upon it and looked around for a few minutes and left. I wonder what they were searching for that led them to my blog? And for those that stayed for more than a few minutes or even came back later, I wonder what they thought of it? I have attached a map for your viewing pleasure of all the locations that have checked it out. All the places in green are countries that visited my blog:

Monday, June 20, 2011


The big issue in Asia is getting a comfortable mattress. Asian mattresses are hard as a rock – you may as well be sleeping on a bed of bricks – no lie. It is well beyond firm. Joe and I both hate a firm mattress. When we first arrived here I did not sleep for nearly 3 months. Keep in mind we had 2 mattress toppers on our bed too – still uncomfortable. My sleep schedule was so messed up – I could not sleep well during the night so then I’d nap on the sofa during the day. It was horrible. Then Joe went on a business trip for work and I decided to try his side of the bed – I slept like a baby. I had always slept on the right side of the bed but I quickly switched and became a left side sleeper. Joe didn’t really care, he was just happy I was finally getting some sleep and back on schedule.

Then we moved apartments just before Nick was born into a family sized apartment. My big concern was being able to move our mattress to the new apartment, which was provided by the apartment building. Well apparently the apartment we were moving to had a different owner – it is owned by the ex-husband of the owner of the building – apparently the owner of the building owns all the land and buildings in our neighborhood and the ex-husband in the divorce settlement got one building plus a couple apartments in our building – ours being one of them. Well he had no problem with us taking our mattress with us but he would not let us take our bed frame and the only bed frame they would give us – the mattress did not fit on it. So in the end, we could not take the mattress with us. So we got a new mattress. I dreaded going back to sleep on it. But surprise – surprise, it was fine. I even moved back to the right side of the bed! Then we went home to MD for a quick visit for two weeks. Ever since we came back we have both had issues sleeping on the mattress. Joe can get to sleep but his back kills him in the morning and sometimes he wakes early with back pain and ends up out on the sofa for his last hour or two. I cannot get to sleep because I cannot get comfortable. I toss and turn for hours before sleeping. Once asleep it is not a restful sleep – it is like I am half asleep and half not. I also wake with horrible back pain. We have traded sides, flipped the mattress every which way imaginable, added an egg crate and nothing has worked yet. A friend of ours told us that she and her husband had the same issues when they got here and her husband has had so many issues with his hips and knees and ended up with knee surgery. I swear when you get out of bed it’s like your entire body aches. Joe’s back, hip and knees have been bothering him. The friend said she finally got a memory foam mattress topper and that along with 3 other toppers on the bed finally did the trick. It is just ridiculous that you have to get 4 toppers to make a bed comfortable but we just spent $350 on a king size mattress memory foam topper and are praying this does the trick. Wish us luck!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Wet Market

Our new nanny, Yarzar, goes to the wet market once a week to buy us fresh fruits, veggies and seafood. Here is a list of what she bought today:

Corn on the Cob – about a dozen ears

Large Bag full of Okra

Large Bag full of Tomatoes

Large Bag full of Leeks

Large Bag full of Potatoes

Large Bag full of Onions

Large Bag full of Spring Onions

Two Large Bags full of Green Beans

1 Bunch Cilantro

1 Watermelon

1 Head of Cabbage

2 Large Carrotts

1 Pineapple

10 Mangos

1 Papaya

1 Large Bag of Jumbo Prawns (at least 20 in the bag)

1 Large Bag of Bok Choy

1 Large Bag of Baby Corn

4 Bell Peppers

1 Large Bag Broccoli

1 Large Bag Cauliflower

1 Mortar and Pestle

I am probably missing something from the list – the bags of fruit and veggies seemed to be endless!

Now any guesses how much all this cost her? Please humor me and guess.

Kuwait, here we come!!!

So you should all know by now that in Summer 2014 we will be moving to Kuwait. Many have asked what my thoughts are on this and I can tell you – it’s mixed emotions for me. But I had mixed emotions coming to Bangkok too and we love it here. This is a different kind of mixed emotions though. So I will tell you what I have learned so far about our next posting and how this will impact us.

First, as a woman I cannot go out alone at night. I have to either go out with a male escort or a group of friends. I have heard it is just not safe for a woman alone at night. I have not heard what will happen to me if I do – for now my imagination is just running wild with ideas.

Second, as a woman, I have to partly cover up. I do not have to wear a burka or abaya or any other type of head covering. But I cannot show my knees, shoulders or elbows. This means either capri’s or long pants on the bottom and for the top a sleeve long enough to cover my elbows. Did I mention it gets as hot as 120 degrees there? I guess now would be a good time to mention that!!! The local women all wear full burka’s though. But as a Westerner I am not expected to do that – thank goodness! While it would definitely make deciding what to wear each day a LOT easier, I can only imagine how hot those burka’s are in that heat!

Our housing options will be on compound in a small confining townhouse or off compound in a nearly 8,000 square foot single family home. We’ve been told it is like a palace. Living on the compound you have more security, as there are some serious security checks to go through to get on the embassy compound. But we have also been told it is perfectly safe to live off compound. The Kuwaiti’s supposedly love American’s so we are safe there.

While everyone swears we are so safe there, I gotta worry still because the neighbors there are bad juju to me. Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia – need I say anymore? There is nothing to do there apparently. This is going to be a HUGE change from Bangkok where there is ALWAYS something to do right there in the city. And if you are tired of city life you just hop on a one-hour flight to one of the islands or neighboring countries. Well, there is nothing to do in Kuwait other than go to the pool, the gym, or shopping mall. So life is about to slow down for us – might be a good thing though now that we have Nick but still – we do love to get out and about, even with him! As far as travel – well I doubt we’ll go to Iran or Iraq. Saudi – maybe. But apparently Dubai is only a one-hour flight. I’m not sure how far Egypt is but I would love to visit the pyramids. I’ve also always wanted to visit Turkey and I know we’ll at least be closer to Turkey than we are now!

Speaking of flights – we will be a little closer to home than we are now – that is a bonus. There is a direct United flight daily from Kuwait to Dulles and it is only 12 hours long!!! Now many of you might be cringing but let me tell you, after doing the 24 hour flight form Bangkok a few times, a 12 hour flight is NOTHING.

So there you have it – mixed emotions. But it is only for two years and it will go by quickly, right? Part of me is excited for a new adventure and curious about that part of the world after hearing about it so much on TV the last several years. Part of me is scared that it is not safe. Part of me is irritated over my new wardrobe requirements. And Part of me is excited to learn a new language – I plan to take Arabic lessons as soon as we arrive there. But again, it’s just two years! So how would you react if your spouse told you that you would be living in Kuwait for two years?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A New Addition to the Family

This past Monday we accepted a new member into our family – well sort of – not family but she is living in our house so she may as well be! We now have a live in maid/nanny/cook. Her name is Yaza. She is 24 years old and ethnically from Nepal but her family has immigrated to Burma. After the issues we had with our last nanny, we were quite concerned about hiring a new nanny and especially about having a live in. But we know Yaza’s sister as she works in our building for friends of ours, so that helps. We have the utmost respect for her sister. She does all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, ironing, grocery shopping, runs errands for us and has shared childcare duties. Eventually I plan to go back to taking language lessons and to the personal trainer at the gym – especially now that I have the baby belly to get rid of from my pregnancy. I am hoping to have her fully trained and on a good schedule by next week so I can resume some of these activities. My plan is to do the gym 3 days a week and language 2 days a week. That way I am only gone for a few hours each day and can spend the rest with my little man.

Yaza has been an absolute blessing – Nick absolutely loves her, except when she gives him a bath. We have tried every night this week and he just isn’t having it so I think we may take over the bath time and do it ourselves. It is funny to watch him with her in the morning – he talks to her in the kitchen while she is cleaning and getting all his bottles ready for the day and it’s almost as if he is showing off/flirting with her. We have been especially happy with her meals at dinner time. Last night she made some pork dish that was cut up cubes of pork in this sauce – tomatoes, onions, cumin, cilantro and I want to say there was a little curry in there too but I am not sure. It was not spicy at all but it was just so flavorful. You put it over a bed of rice and eat it. She made some sautéed green beans with it. Tonight she made salmon baked in the oven seasoned with lemon pepper, a side of asparagus and a side of corn. It was all wonderful. Joe and I were both commenting how nice it was to have fresh vegetables that were NOT drenched in oyster sauce! We had no idea she could cook western style food for us to this was an added bonus! Yaza went shopping with her sister today and plans to do this once a week to buy all the food for one week. They get all their fruits and veggies from the wet market and can bargain and get them for much cheaper there.

Yaza has some mad cleaning skills which is good and bad. On day one she had cleaned everything but the ceiling and I was waiting for her to climb up there and start cleaning it next. Now those that know me well know that I am a pretty tidy person but I will admit that lately I have had some piles left out here and there. Nothing too bad but more than I would like. I blame this on several issues – one the nanny we were paying to unpack us while back in the US did a piss poor job. Then when I returned with Nick I was busy focusing on getting him adjusted and figuring out his meds and rice cereal issue over here. Then we had the nanny drama and then no nanny. So my piles have taken a LOT longer to put away with all that has gone on. Well, Yaza has been running around putting things away. I have decided that I think she has OCD when it comes to cleaning. So today for example I had some baby clothes out on the bed to go through as I am sending my cousin some hand me downs. I put them there so I could go through them this afternoon as I had plans this morning. So just before leaving she asks me, where can I put these? I am like oh just leave them there and I explain my plans for them this afternoon. She says oh no cannot keep out, must put away, too much, must put away now. Well we argued this for quite a while back and forth and finally I was like okay fine. So then I could see her eyeing other piles and thought you know I had better just stay home because God knows what she will do with them or where she will put them. So I stayed home and at least got through the pile of baby clothes. I have to pump several times a day to get Milk for the baby. So I keep my pump out by my recliner in our bedroom as that is where I pump. Last night I could not find my pump. To the point I almost had to wake her up because I HAD to pump. Eventually I found it tucked away in some cabinets but it was in the most obscure place. So while it is nice that she is forcing me to get my house organized and tidy, I am a bit annoyed that she refuses to listen to me if I tell her something. I mean why couldn’t she just keep the baby clothes on the bed for a few more hours? But in the grand scheme of things it is not a huge deal and just a petty little thing that annoys me but I will get over it soon. Because at the end of the day, she is phenomenal and we are very happy to have her!

What we really find interesting is that when she moved in – she came with her purse and a very small duffel bag. That is all she had to move. Can you believe that? It’s amazing how simple life is like for other cultures. She does not eat in front of us. She feeds us first and then once we have left the kitchen she takes some food into her room to eat. We are pretty sure she only eats rice and nothing else. Her sister had a Birthday yesterday and her employers invited us all to a small Birthday gathering for her where they served Birthday cake. Neither of them would eat it in front of us. She speaks very little English but seems to understand it just fine. She worked for another Asian family for 6 years before we hired her so we were told her ability to speak English was a bit rusty. But we manage just fine. Again we are very happy to have her.

Even though Nick seems to really like her, Nick has had some separation anxiety. I have tried to go out for a few hours each day to get him used to me leaving and being there with her. But when I come back she tells me he has cried the entire time and as soon as he see’s me he is reaching for me – I take him and he immediately calms down, wraps his little arms around my neck and squeezes tight, smiles and starts talking to me. On one hand it is quite nice to know he still prefers me over her but on the other hand I hate that she is dealing with a screaming baby while I am gone. I know with time this will get better but I still feel bad

Friday, April 15, 2011


Those of you who understand that have probably seen or heard of the book and/or movie Eat, Pray, Love. It blows our minds away that the character in this book/movie fell in love with Bali. At least now that we have experienced it ourselves, that is. Many friends from Bangkok have been there before and absolutely raved about it. So we had high hopes.

First of all it just was not as pretty as one would expect Bali to be. It was dirty. In some ways it seemed dirtier than Bangkok. The beachfront was not as picturesque as you would think – lots of litter washing up on shore. Second of all, it was expensive beyond belief. You can go to the Thai Islands for probably 75% less the cost of the Bali and they are cleaner and much more picturesque with crystal clear water. But I think what bothered us most is the fact that they were all out to scam us. When we arrived at the airport they had pulled the bags of any American names and put them to the side with a gaggle of porters around them. They immediately loaded our bags onto a cart and took off with them knowing fully well we had yet to exchange any money. We tried to get rid of them but they just ran off with our bags. We were forced to pay them to get our bags. That was day one and it just left a sour taste in our mouth. We had a hotel driver pick us up and the whole way to the hotel he wanted to know what we were going to do and if we had tours lined up, what we wanted to see etc. When we explained we hadn’t lined anything up and didn’t have a plan yet and no interest in scheduling one right then and there, he then wanted to know where we were eating dinner that night. Basically he wanted to drive us to where ever we were going. He told us what the hotel would charge if we book through the hotel and what he would charge if we book through him – of course his prices are cheaper. Yet another scam. The hotel was nice, just very expensive. Nick got sick with a really high fever and we were stuck in the hotel for several days and weren’t able to go out much. So we were stuck eating at the hotel and at times ordering room service – quite pricey. I think we figured it out that food at the hotel cost us $200 per day. Absolutely insane. The food wasn’t great either. I found it to be quite bland and just didn’t care for it. When we finally decided to book a tour it was nothing but more scams – everyone had a better deal. It was almost painful to book because once we thought we had it settled the tour desk would call back saying well what if you did this instead it’s a better deal but if you do that then you have to take this driver yadda yadda yadda. In the end Joe was just very direct – I want a driver to pick me up at this time and take me to these places and then take me to the airport by 230pm for my departure, nothing else. Our driver was great – we never really felt haggled by him other than if we wanted to go shopping for something we are pretty certain he stopped at shops that would give him a cut for bringing us in.

UBUD is where Eat, Pray, Love was filmed and is a major tourist attraction in Bali. Mainly for shopping though. It is kind of a neat little town, made up of several villages. Each village has a different specialty – glass blowing, wood carving, egg painting, gold and silver, kite painting, paintings/murals, etc. We stopped at the egg painting and wood carving villages and made purchases there. If we had more time we probably would have stopped at the glass blowing. Each village has about 300 people in it and about 6 or 7 (roughly 2 families) live in each house. On Sundays all the people in the village come out onto the main streets and work together to clean the street area for the tourists. The kids are in school halfdays every day of the week but Sunday. That is their day off and they are expected to help with the cleaning. They go to school for 6 months and then have a month off for Holiday. Their school goes up to 12th grade and then off to the University. Our driver was very good about telling us about the Balinese/Hindu culture on our drive and we really enjoyed that part. But once shopping, again it was a haggle to buy things – worse than in Bangkok. However, Bangkok trained me well so I managed to get our woodcarving for half the cost they quoted us. We did not do as good on the eggs because I did not speak up and let Joe do the haggling – which he said was a mistake because he just cannot haggle!

Our arrival at the airport to depart for Bangkok led to more excitement. First we arrive there and were told at check in that we had to have the bags locked. Interesting because we did not see anyone else with locked bags and they were going through. They said if we didn’t lock our bags then people would go through them and take stuff. Of course there is a store right there that sells locks that they directed us to for the locks. Joe goes in and the locks were $10 a piece – we had 5 checked bags. Now I give Joe all kinds of crap for traveling with his bag of gear as I call it – he has everything you could imagine in this back pack of his and it is heavy as lead. But kudos to him as that day it came in handy! He had zip ties in his backpack. I asked why he had them and he says just in case I needed them – you never know when you will need a zip tie! Haha. Anyhow he locked our bags with zip ties and there wasn’t much they could say to us then.

Our flight was interesting. We occupied four seats in the middle section and I was on the aisle seat and to my left diagonally one row up from me was this creepy dude who I would lay money on a table that he had AIDS. He just looked like a classic AIDS patient. He looked Caucasian but had an accent so he was of foreign decent. The minute I sat down with Nick he started touching his feet and wanting to play with Nick. I had no idea what was wrong with him but it was evident he was sick because he was hacking up a lung the entire flight and constantly blowing his nose. I was very uneasy about him touching Nick once that started and tried my best to avoid contact with him. But what really made the hair on my arms stand up is that the minute the plane started taxiing to the run way the man unbuckles his seat belt, stands up and just starts looking around the plane. This left me with an uneasy feeling and thinking please let there be an air marshall on this plane. I knew likely there wasn’t since it wasn’t an American carrier and it wasn’t departing or arriving to a US port, but a girl can dream right? I looked around to see if anyone else was alarmed by his behavior, and the only ones that appeared to be alarmed were Americans. Anyone who was foreign on that plane did not bat an eye at it. After several minutes of him standing there, a flight attendant approached him and told him to sit down and buckle up. The man responds, “But I have to pee-pee.” Right dude then why didn’t you just get up and go – the bathroom was two rows behind him. So they argued back and forth and the guy claimed he really had to go so they let him go. He took his bag with him to the bathroom too which I also thought was weird. Yes I am paranoid! Anyhow the entire flight I was on edge. The guy sat there turned around in his seat the entire flight staring at Nick and I. He was argumentative every chance he got with the flight attendants. He’d ask for black tea and they’d bring it to him and then he’d swear he asked for white tea. This argument over tea went on forever. I was so glad to land in Bangkok and get away from him. They had a wheel chair waiting for him in Bangkok and we suspect he was coming to Bangkok for medical care. I never felt so good and happy to be back in Bangkok!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Strollers In BKK: Challenging But Doable

We were told the Maclaren Lightweight Stroller was a must have item in BKK as it holds up well to the rough uneven terrain in the city. I must say it does do well and we are quite pleased with it. However the challenge begins in the decision to take the BTS (above ground metro). So some of the stops have up escalators BUT they have about 10 stairs you must climb before you can access the escalator. This is so Thai – I mean why have an escalator if it doesn’t go/start all the way down? So this means you have to carry Nick in the stroller up the ten or so stairs. And note I said SOME - not all do which means if they don't then I might have to carry him in the stroller up 90 or so stairs. You take your train ride and get off at your stop – there are NO escalators going down. So once again you carry Nick in the stroller down the stairs - 90 or so stairs to go down total. Right now this is barely doable – he weighs about 19 lbs 5 ounces and the lightweight is probably about 10 lbs - so that's almost 30 lbs total. But once the boy gains more weight – we may have to restrict his outings because I am not sure we can manage to carry him up and down all those stairs in the stroller. We have tried to get him used to either our baby carriers (Ergo and Belle Baby) or baby wrap (Maya). He liked both early on, however nowadays he wants nothing to do with them. They are definitely the way to go. But he refuses! We were told that Thai babies do not leave their house until they can walk. The reason being is it is hard to get around with them. For this reason you do not see many Thai babies out on the streets. When you do see them they are being carried by the mother who is usually on the back of a motorcycle with the rest of her family – husband and any other kids she may have! We have seen a family of five on a motorcycle once.

Here are some snapshots of Nick at the BTS waiting for the train in his Maclaren Lightweight Stroller and pics of all the steps that I must carry him up (if no escalator) and down (there are NO escalators that go down). Enjoy!

Pic 1: This is the first set of stairs you must go up that take you to the level where you pay, go through the turnstile and then you go up an even larger set of stairs to the platform to await your train.

Pic 2: This would be the larger set of stairs - only you cannot see them all because they meet in the center and then wrap around and go down further. They take you to the platform to await your train.

Pic 3: A side shot of the BTS station.

Pic 4: Nick just had lunch with Daddy at work and is now napping in his stroller while waiting for the train to arrive to go home.