Ice Skating Thai Style

While I can’t say that I ever fully appreciated my Canadian hometown’s tendency to get blanketed in snow in May (or alternately, June/July/August/September), I have been missing winter. I would love to be able to go skiing, or actually need a sweater, or to feel a chill that doesn’t come from the over-enthusiastic use of AC. Some of my friends have apparently been feeling the same way, because last Friday, they insisted that we needed to check out the indoor skating rink at Mega Bangna, our local mall.

The rink charges by the hour, and it is not cheap. I guess admission needs to be sufficient to cover the matching winter coats that all the cashiers wear. We decided that one hour would probably be adequate, and went to pick up our snazzy skates. Imagine ancient roller blades updated with tasteful colour combinations.

The epitome of taste

The rink was pretty small and pretty melt-y, and pretty full of small children and not-so-small children who didn’t know how to skate. Their parents were either desperately clinging to the boards while trying not to wipe out, or watching from the sidelines.

Or attempting to catch their children who are already faster than them

The fun really got started when we realized that half the kids at the rink were students from the school. Nothing like hanging out with students on a Friday night. Fortunately, they were still young enough to think that their teachers are cool because they can skate fast, not lame because they are spending Friday night at a skating rink with small children.

We can also skate while holding hands!

A tiny corner of the skating rink was devoted to ice hockey. It warmed the cockles of my heart to see kids practicing my country’s national sport on a minute piece of ice. It seemed like the perfect scenario for a seriously cheesy movie: “Young Thai hockey players spend hours practicing on a tiny strip of ice, surrounded by heinously bright orange skates, frightening hanging penguins, and teenage romances. They overcome the odds and win sponsorship from a Thai doughnut chain and go on to win the Olympic games even though the other teams didn’t have to share their ice time and were sponsored by bigger doughnut chains…” or something like that.

Hang in there! Someday, Mister Donut will discover you.

The chill in the air was satisfying, but not quite cold enough to prevent the hanging penguins from spitting/dripping condensation on my head every time I skated under them.

The perfect temperature.

All in all, it was fun to get a small taste of winter. But one hour was sufficient.

Toast!

This post is short and (extremely) sweet. We recently found ourselves swept up in the phenomenon known as Asian toast, and I feel that all of you deserve to witness its magic.

Feast yer eyes.

I don’t know exactly how this delight is made, but I will do my best to describe it. Start off with a large hunk of white bread. It should be the equivalent of 5 or 6 regular slices. Somehow fill its innards with sweetened condensed milk and butter, baste the whole blob with butter, then bake/toast it. When it comes out of the oven, douse it in syrup; add a few scoops of ice cream, a few puffs of whipping cream, and (in this case) a few slices of banana; and top it all off with a little more syrup.

Todd wears his special athletic shirt because his stomach is about to get a Work. Out.

T-bone and I first tasted this phenomenon in a bubble tea shop in Calgary’s Chinatown, and have been craving it ever since. The Calgary version, however, was only 3 or 4 slices tall, and it lacked all the fun dairy accoutrements. Thailand knows how to do it right. Given the popularity of toast, I am amazed that the entire nation isn’t obese.

This plate alone could feed the nation.

Todd’s parents were with us when we ordered this monstrosity, and while I would like to claim that the four of us shared it, in all honesty, Todd and I hoovered that sucker down with very little assistance.

Todd’s prototype, AKA Papa Dawg Dave, is prepared to provide backup if needed.

For any curious Bangkokians, we ordered this particular toast mountain at Cookies Crust at Mega Bangna. It was good, but if you really want the ultimate slab, check out After You Dessert in Thong Lo.

The Wives Club hits the mall

I’ve found myself visiting a lot of malls lately. No, this is not because I’m some kind of fashion plate. Even my best friends would acknowledge that my style tends to be more “discount day at the thrift store” than haute couture. In fact, I noticed today that my outfit was eerily similar to what the (male) construction workers at my apartment complex were wearing. It made me feel like I’ve missed my life’s calling.

I didn’t notice the toothpaste stain on my shorts until I saw this picture…

No, I find myself visiting malls lately because they’re an air conditioned refuge from my (still, sometimes) sewage-scented apartment. My life is going to get busier – it looks like I’ll be subbing at Todd’s school – but until the rest of my documents come in, I’m as free as one of Todd’s feathered friends (hence the apartment/mall time). The “open” schedule was cool at first – there are tons of tourist-y things to do in Bangkok – but now it’s crossing the line into lame-o territory. As I wait for work to start, I am strangely drawn to shopping malls – perhaps something about the utter vapidity of the experience dulls the stress of transition.

Today, mall-time was less vapid than usual, because I had the other members of The Wives Club with me. First, I met up with Cute Texas Beth. We are basically the same person: She’s a wife, I’m a wife. She’s waiting to sub, I’m waiting to sub. She looks like Audrey Hepburn, I look like Au… a Thai construction worker. But you get the point. We’re twins except that she says “Y’all” and I say “eh.”

Beth likes to show her love for her country by wearing patriotic clothing

On our way out, we picked up the Lovely Lip. She is also a wife, but she can’t be our twin because she actually has a job.

Lucky for me she’s willing to be seen with a construction-worker-wannabe

And we headed to a mall. Saying that Bangkok has shopping options is like saying that Todd digs numbers and birds: it’s a total understatement. Bangkok is essentially one big mall with some palaces and temples sprinkled in for variety. There are indoor options, outdoor options, and indoor’n’outdoor options. If I was a better planner, I would have included photos of a variety of malls, but who am I kidding? Planning is my kryptonite. Therefore, you get to see one mall, and one mall only.

But what a mall. Mega Bangna rises like a beacon of hope from a mire of crazy highways and intense humidity. Plus, its name is really fun to say.

Mega-Bangna-173925

It has a skating rink, a bowling alley, a cineplex, an Ikea, playgrounds, and a million donut shops.

So whether you’re simply a conspicuous consumer…

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And who doesn’t want to consume an Angry Bird?

A general binge eater…

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For some reason, I decided to eat porridge here

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Or an Ikea connoisseur…

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45 Baht = $1.50 cdn

Mega’s got you covered. Lip’s taste in restaurants runs more towards “cute bistro” than “Ikea feeding trough,” and so we ended up at Cafe Marmalade for lunch.

I can’t make fun of this picture. They’re too cute.

Ahhh. Yellow curry with deep-fried bread. Just what the doctor ordered

I ended up having a way better, way less vacuous time than I usually do at Mega Bangna (try saying it with a hearty emphasis on the BANG). I’m really grateful for the other members of The Wives Club – they are a bright spot in this time of transition.

And just because I can’t bring myself to end on a serious note, here is one more photo. This alien-lady-thing lives outside of the mall.

Her body is covered in inane quotes about fashion, but the quote on her leg is one that I personally live by: “You don’t learn style watching people on a runway. Fashion happens every morning when you wake up.”

Yeah baby. Construction chic is happening now.

The Bag Was Lost, But Now It’s Found 2

Part 2: Stuff you can’t buy in Thailand, or, We are secretly obese

As we were waiting for Todd’s bag/plotting our revenge on the airlines,* it became apparent that we (and by “we” I mean “Todd”) couldn’t wait much longer for several Very Important Items. We were in dire need of a shopping trip. Considering that Bangkok is a shopper’s paradise (during orientation we were taken to no fewer than 4 shopping malls. Forget the temples and palaces – this orientation focused on the important stuff), we figured it wouldn’t be a problem. Until we started shopping, that is…

Something that’s not difficult to find in Thailand: Green Tea Red Bean Frappuccinos!

1.  When you get married, in your blissful naivety, you might assume that you know your spouse well. You can gaze into their eyes and believe that you are glimpsing all the secrets of their soul. As your life together continues, however, you may discover hidden “gems” you never knew existed. I mention this, because in our shopping adventures, T and I each learned something new about one another: we are obese.

We know each other so well we don’t even need to make eye contact any more

This discovery took place when we tried to buy new undergarments. We were shopping at our local Walmart-esque store-on-an-American-diet, and hid some undies under the milk’n’cereal in our cart. I went with the XL size, while Todd decided to really go for broke, and bought the XXL. I’ll spare you the gory details, but let’s just say that I barely survived with my circulation intact, while Todd’s choice would have been more appropriate as armbands (maybe we’ll re-purpose them). We sobbed into our milk’n’cereal, and had a Fat Day together.

2.Another item that has been difficult to find is basic, run-of-the-mill facial moisturizer. I checked out several drug stores in hopes of finding one, maybe with a little SPF. Other than the hard core, SPF 60 sunscreens, all I could find were moisturizers with names like “Fair’n’Lovely,” “Pasty’n’Perfect,” “Translucent’n’Terrific” – in other words, whitening moisturizers. For the uninitiated, skin whitening products essentially bleach your skin, and are incredibly popular in Asia. They can be found in the form of moisturizers, makeup, deodorant, soap, etc. I can always tell when someone is using the products, because they look like the undead in a B-movie – i.e.: it’s not flattering. Sometimes I like to reflect on this as I smear self-tanner on my face.

An example of the whitening products at our local Big Box.

3. A final “lost item incident,” that probably only Canadian females will appreciate. My lululemon pants were in Todd’s lost bag. I like to pretend that I am So Far Above wearing trendy brands, especially ones like lululemon that attract armies of deranged followers, but I secretly covet lululemon schwag. When I received the pants as a gift, I may have fallen in love, and when our bag arrived, I may have been a little bit more euphoric than I’d like to admit. I wore the pants the next day to orientation. One of the American teachers leaned over and said “Ruth, you have something stuck to your pants,” as she attempted to rip off the silver insignia. Sigh… even when I give in to the trends, I’m not trendy.

            Anyone want to start a new trend with me?

I could go on, but I’ll leave it there. Now, if only Todd’s ratty collection of t-shirts would have STAYED lost…

 *China EASTern and WESTJet – their motto: “We scanned the world from EAST to WEST and this alliance is the best we could do.”