Off to the Races!

This weekend, a group of teachers and students from Todd’s school participated in a road race at one of Bangkok’s many unique, extremely fertile parks. Sadly, I am still gimped, so I didn’t get to run, but I decided to go along as a cheerleader: I have hauled Todd out of bed on many early mornings to cheer at my races (“Come on, Toddy! You get to wake up extra early and stand in the cold and the rain for multiple hours! Doesn’t that sound like fun?!”), so I owed him one.

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Gurrrl, this doesn’t even begin to cover what you owe me.

The race was put on by the Bangkok British international school, and I didn’t know what to expect – probably a few awkward clusters of high schoolers running around. Instead, it turned out to be a full-fledged, well organized road race, complete with sponsors and prizes. The distances were a little interesting – gotta love that classic 9.4 km distance – but other than that, it was a standard race.

Except for the bag drop in a railway (??) car

In total, there were almost 800 runners. I think every farang in Bangkok made an appearance.

Because apparently digging pain is the farang way

This being Asia, however, there were a few additional treats, such as the spunky lady leading warm-up exercises. In other races that I have attended, most runners are super serious, lost in their own worlds doing things like “stretches” and “strides,” but in Bangkok, people do group warm-ups, and they do it Gangnam Style.

Ahh. Nothing like some group exercises to get the blood moving!

After a quick trip to the ol’ hong nam (bathroom), and a quick scan of the swag tables that several sponsors were setting up, T-bone and his buddies were ready to race.

These broads are FIERCE

I wandered around the sewage scented parking lot for a bit (I’ve never been to a race that smelled so…aromatic), then decided to wait out on the course to cheer and snap photos. I can say from experience that no photos are more flattering than those that are taken as you hurtle your aching, gasping body towards the finish line. I was hoping that Bangkok’s heat and humidity would make the photos that much more attractive – I’m not one to disappoint a good teacher.

First up in the 5km was Li’l Buddy David, who was trying to maul the small children beating him to the finish line

Next up in the 5km was Lisa, who confirmed that running in a humid, sewage-scented park was a different ballgame than the treadmill at the gym

And in the 9.4 km, it’s our very own T-bone, who is looking waaay too perky. If you’re smiling, it means you’re not working!

And it’s Michelle and her muscles in the 9.4km. Lookin’ like the killer gym teacher that she is.

And right behind Michelle, we have Kim. She is looking confused, because David went in to high-5 her, but I shoved him out of the way because he was blocking my shot. Nothing gets in the way of my photographic dedication.

There didn’t seem to be any other spectators out on the course, so I was a one-woman freakshow cheering for everyone who passed by me. Some people seemed to appreciate this, but a few small child racers burrowed their faces into their parents shorts with fright. Those Brits organized a good race, but clearly they needed a dose of North American-style loud, obnoxious cheerleading to soften those stiff upper lips. Always happy to help.

After the race, all the runners mowed down on the interesting sandwich combos provided by the race organizers, and helped themselves to “face refresher spray” provided by one of the sponsors.

I love this photo. You can just hear the lady saying “What do you think this is?!?! A build-your-own sandwich joint?! Get out of my face, chicken legs!!”

All in all, it was a great day at the races, and a good chance for me to tick off 1 of the ten billion early morning support crew moments that I owe Todd.

Running rockstars

A diamond in the rough…

Our apartment is a gem. And by “gem,” I mean a diamond in the coal stage. T’s school decided to construct a block of apartments to house both new teachers and a few older students. In theory, this is a good plan. It’s located a block from the school, and the administration can control costs to some extent. In practice, however, it has been slightly less brilliant.

We had hoped to come to Bangkok a few days early, to have a chance to settle in before orientation activities officially began. When we were told that our apartment wouldn’t be ready until the very day of our arrival, we became suspicious about the degree of the apartment’s “finished-ness.” Sure enough, when we arrived in Bangkok at 2am last Friday morning, we were taken to a hotel. The apartments were “almost ready.” Shocker. After three nights in a hotel, we were finally taken to our new building. At first glance, all the teachers were excited by our new home. The apartments look good – Ikea meets sleek’n’modern meets fake wood. “New design trend!” proclaimed the building manager.

Todd doing his favourite activity – flossing – on our New Design Trend couch.

Upon closer inspection, however, all has not been so rosy. In their rush to complete the apartments, the workers missed a few key details. Some were relatively minor, though disheartening, like the thick layer of construction dust coating all surfaces, and the splotches of paint and glue on the new tile floor. After having a minor, jet-lag induced meltdown, I sucked it up and cleaned it up. This was semi-pointless, as construction is still raging around us: filth wafts in every time we open the door. The workers are hurrying to finish the remaining units before the students move in.

Scraping paint off the floor with a kitchen knife.

Other problems haven’t been so easy to “suck” up. Here I am referring to the toilet in our master bathroom. It “sucked” for the first few days, but now it seems to be more interested in “heaving” and “belching.” I’m not totally sure what is wrong with it, but it appears that all the raw sewage in the building has found its way into our master bathroom’s toilet bowl. First, it simply refused to drain. As we were drifting off to sleep one night, however, it began to belch up new surprises: “get the bathmats off the floor!” I yelled to Todd. It threatened to overflow, but soon settled. It seems, however, that every time we start to relax, we hear a familiar belch. Fortunately, we have a second bathroom, although who knows how long it will be before that toilet joins the revolt(ing).

Where hope goes to die. I would have included a more graphic shot, but I want to keep this blog PG.

We went to the manager’s office today, and spoke to one of her minions. We explained through a translator that our toilet was malfunctioning, in addition to the lights in both bathrooms. He was very kind, and quickly sent workers to repair the problem. They brought in ladders and equipment, and shut themselves in the two bathrooms. After 10 minutes, they left. Our lights have been fixed, our white bathmat is perma-stained from the filth they tracked in (yes mom, I know that buying white anything is a boneheaded thing to do), and our toilet is still brimming with society’s detritus.

Our brand-new bathmat after Electrician Dude finished with it. Continue reading