Snapshots from my first month back in BKK

Uh… whoops. Another delayed post – sorry. And even though half my posts recently have begun with an excuse, I still feel compelled to offer yet another. So let’s just say that there’s a creature in my gut who’s been sucking all my brain power/memory/sense of time lately. Some days I’m amazed that I even manage to dress myself. Good thing no-one’s life is depending on me right now. Oh wait…

Coming back to Bangkok after a month in Canada has been just a real slice o’ life. On one hand, Bannock and I were both pretty pleased to be reunited with her father (she signalled her joy by slamming all her limbs into my ribs). It has also been great to move into our new apartment, see my Bangkok friends again, and trigger severe acid reflux by eating massive quantities of pineapple. On the other hand, I’ve had to undergo some not-so-fun medical tests, watched my ankles fluctuate between “bony” and “tree trunk-esque” on a regular basis, and felt a little bereft after leaving my families, friends, and Percy the Miniature Horse behind.

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On the other hand, I got to meet this doll when I subbed for the two-year-olds. It appears to be a creepy cloth version of Todd as a baby. Bannock, please don’t look like this.

On that merry note, here are a few snapshots from my first month back in Bangkok: apologies if they are a little heavy (ha!) on the pregnancy end of the spectrum. Somehow, the knowledge that I will have to basically shove a watermelon through a straw in 2 months has completely hijacked my brain.

1. Thai Culture Class

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, and either have a good memory or are my mother, you may recall that I had to spend a significant chunk of time in Thai Culture Class around this time last year. It is a mandatory course for all teachers at international schools in Thailand, and I took it along with all the new teachers at the school. I have vague memories of making a lot of random crafts out of a lot of random materials, dancing around in Thai loincloths, and sitting through loooong discussions of Thailand’s kingly succession. It had some good moments, but I think we were all pleased when we “graduated.” Imagine my delight when I discovered that I had to take the course again this year. Apparently, because I entered Thailand last year without a teaching visa, the course didn’t count, and I would have to retake it if I wanted to continue subbing. After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, I succumbed to my fate, and found myself spending three days with a bunch of Swiss and British teachers at one of Bangkok’s swankier international schools. Surprisingly, Thai history hadn’t changed much in the course of a year. The food at the Culture Class, however, had. No offence to T-bone’s school, but whatever they served us last year paled in comparison to the spread at Patana school. Whenever the classes got dull, I would distract myself by dreaming of the lunch buffet. That, and watching my ankles swell before my eyes.

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Last year. When I still had ankles and a waist.

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And this year. I think I need to invest in some new facial expressions.

2.  Last *sniff* bike ride

After it took us a solid year to actually buy bikes in Bangkok, I was a little depressed when I realized that it was probably time to sell mine – I’m getting bulky’n’awkward, and we need to make space for more baby schtuff in our apartment. And as much as I like to picture the three of us going on family bike rides after Bannock is born, I have come to terms with the fact that that just ain’t gonna happen. So Todd and I took our bikes out for one last adventure in the “Green Lung” of Bangkok, a community/park that is almost an island in the Chao Phraya river.

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Bannock was well protected

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You should always wear head protection on a ferry.

“Leisurely” would be one way to describe our speed. When we finally got home, Todd started putting together an advertisement to sell the bike.

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Which one of you idiots wants to buy my bike? Huh!?!

Before he even posted the ad, one of our teacher friends offered to buy the bike. All I can say is, Wes, you had better actually take it off our hands, because Todd made me spend an entire evening posing on that durned thing.

3. Fun tests/parental guilt

There’s nothing the medical community seems to enjoy more than springing random tests on pregnant women. I have peed in so many cups over the last few months that I’ve lost count. And my technique still hasn’t improved (if anyone has any hot tips, please share). A particularly enjoyable test that I got to indulge in was the blood glucose test. Basically, you swig a cup full of pure sugar, and then have your blood taken an hour later – this helps determine if you’re at risk for gestational diabetes. I did it one better – I drank a litre of orange juice for lunch, and then I swigged the sugar mixture. Looking back, this may not have been the wisest choice, as, lo and behold, my test results came back showing elevated sugar levels, and my doctor told me I had to do the extended version of the test. Most humans would merely be annoyed at the inconvenience, but I am feeling a little “special” these days: I spent the evening weeping, convinced that my over-consumption of Magnum bars during my first trimester was going to lead to my poor child being a 13lb colossus. Welcome to the world of parental guilt. After fasting overnight, I hauled myself back to the hospital to chug the Kool-aid again. I don’t know how this is possible, but it contained twice the sugar that the previous test did. I then experienced the rare privilege of having my blood drawn FOUR times over the next three hours, as I continued to fast/tried not to pass out. I hate needles, but once I remembered that I was going to have to actually give birth to a human in a few months, I stopped feeling sorry for my current self, and started feeling sorry for my future self.

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Note how my forearm is arranged so artistically next to the word “Laboratory”

4. Stuff students say

This post is already way too long, but I have to share a few of my favourite lines from students that I have subbed for regarding my burgeoning figure:

“Is that fat or a baby?”  13-year-old boy

“Is Mr. Todd the father?” 16-year-old boy

“You and Ms. Therese are both pregnant, but you are waaay bigger” 17-year-old girl (said with a look of utter confusion. Apparently, Ms. Therese is the prototype for pregnancy, and anyone else is a deviation from the standard. I had to explain the concept of “different due dates” to her).

And finally, the look of utter glee and shock on the faces of two twelve-year-old boys when I informed them that, yes, I am indeed pregnant. They looked as though I had just told them the best, dirtiest joke. I still can’t figure it out.

I’m starting to wonder if these students have ever taken a health class, or interacted with a pregnant woman before. Just doin’ my bit for humanity.

And let’s finish off with one last picture, because it is too good not to use. Our friend Jessica turned 18.* I think the world would be a better place if we all just publicly embraced our birthdays.

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Leaving no doubt as to who the birthday girl is.

*Give or take a decade

More Misadventures + a Taste of Home

I have to admit, I am having a small pity party here in Thailand. While living in the tropics has its undeniable charms, the truth is that I would love to be freezing my buns off in my native land right now. I miss snow, I miss my family and friends, and I am missing Christmas. I just really want to bury my entire head in a pile of Christmas baking. Instead, I am sitting in Ikea, drinking coffee-whitener enhanced hot chocolate and listening to bad Christmas music. While I appreciate the sentiment behind “Happy Christmas (War is Over),” every time I hear Celine Dion singing it, I want to gouge my eyes ears out. Today is no exception. Woe is me. My life is so hard.

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So is T-bone’s.

Enough whining. On to happier things. This past weekend, T-bone and I went on another strange adventure, this time accompanied by The Gurus. The Gurus have many fun qualities, including their faces: all the school secretaries seem to think that Therese and I are the same person, and Eli is one of those lucky souls who could fake basically any ethnicity. Good times.

The Doppelganger and the Serbo-Egyptian-Thai-Israeli-Spaniard.

Therese wanted to check out a park called “The Green Lung” in Bang Krachao, one of the most unique/bizarre neighbourhoods in this unique/bizarre city. The Chao Phraya river runs through Bangkok, and at one point, it loops back on itself, creating a neighbourhood that is almost an island. Bang Krachao was settled by the Mon people in the 19th century, and the area is still a unique enclave. Apparently, it also had good parks, and we were looking forward to lounging in the grass.

We took a taxi to a small pier, and jumped on the first boat that drifted by.

It dropped us off in what looked like someone’s backyard. Cement pathways snaked through the jungle, and we had no idea where the alleged “park” was. “The Lung” was extremely “Green,” but there didn’t seem to be any capillaries that would lead us inside.  A helpful dog from the Thai department of tourism acted as our guide for awhile, but ditched us when she realized we weren’t handing out food. All we managed to find was a sleepy village that reminded me of small town Alberta. A crew of roadside motorcycle taxis tried to be helpful, but they laughed so hard every time we wandered past them that they couldn’t properly form words. I just love bringing joy to peoples’ hearts.

Ahh. Idyllic village life replete with soi dogs and yellow shorts.

After awhile, we gave up and walked back towards the pier. On our way, however, we first saw these two treasures:

Buddha in his “Svelte Youth” phase…

And later, after discovering the joys of Thai food.

And then stumbled upon this gem. The Bangkok Tree House is a boutique hotel hidden in “The Lung,” and offered a partial redemption of our adventure.

The hotel’s welcome committee

“Dude,” says The Doppelganger

Each unit has a hammock bed on top of the roof, perfect for watching the sunset.

We watched the tourists watching the sunset. Not awkward at all.

We ordered a drink, and lounged under the massive trees. Other than the apple sized fruit falling on Todd’s head, it was a lovely and relaxing place.

After a concerted effort (ie: using our peepers), we found the real pier, and boarded a ferry. And that’s when I saw it. A site calculated to banish my homesickness. An oil refinery, gleaming in the twilight.

In all its glory.

Bangkok may be a little short on snow and Christmas baking, but this beauty almost made up for it. Oh Alberta. I am home for the holidays.