The busy-ness of a new semester at school and the reluctance of our internet provider to actually provide internet has left me with a backlog of blog posts to post. Let’s see if I can catch up a bit.
Back to Bangkok (cue Scooby Doo sound effects that imply stepping back in time) … The best part of being an obsessive-compulsive over-planner is that the myriad contingencies for which you plan can’t ALL happen, which often results in some free time. As we prepared to look for new teaching jobs at the international recruitment fairs in Bangkok last month, I had planned for three possible outcomes:
(A) attending two fairs and getting hired at the last minute,
(B) networking at the first fair and getting hired at the second fair, and
(C) getting hired at the first fair and not having to attend the second fair. Therefore, I registered for both the ISS and Search Associates fairs, paid in advance (with air miles) for the two hotels and booked flights that kept us in Bangkok for 12 days.
As you may know from my previous post, we were extremely fortunate to finish the recruitment process with scenario C and will move to New Delhi, India, at the end of July to start work at the American Embassy School. That left six days in Bangkok to NOT scour the internet for information about international schools, to NOT wander the back alleys near our hotel looking for a cheap but reliable drycleaner, to NOT stage mock interviews over dinner, and best of all to NOT panic about our future.
As this was our gajillionth visit to Bangkok, we felt no pressure to tromp through the tourist attractions (although we did spend one fun morning at Chatuchak Market, which I love!). Instead, we hopped on the Skytrain and got off here and there, walking, window shopping, people watching, snacking, and smiling.
I loved this sign in the Skytrain stations.
Our first hotel was right next to the Skytrain stop at the river. To get back to our second hotel – the location of the second job fair, which we didn’t attend – we took the Skytrain to the river, where the hotel’s boat ferried us home. Isn’t there always something magical about being on the water?
One morning we met up with our friend Tara, who teaches at the International School of Bangkok. You know she’s pretty special when she agrees to meet for breakfast despite having just flown in from the States at 2 a.m. that morning. Her beautiful daughter, Sojo, fell victim to jetlag and stayed home with her daddy. Although we were disappointed not to score time with the whole family, we treasured catching up with Tara.
Tara turned us on to Crepes & Co., a quiet little café with a shady garden and the most scrumptious mango lassi of my life. Tony and I went back there for lunch the next day; that’s how much we loved it.
Wandering in Bangkok’s massive malls, I realized how much I used to love shopping! Since moving to a developing country in the tropics, I’m a bit out of the habit. Tony and I spent a full day exploring every corner of Central Shopping Center, not purchasing but gawking at the endless extravagance.
The mall sculptures amused us.
Dizzy with anticipation, we arrived at the cinema in the mall desperate to see a movie, any movie. With no theaters in Vientiane, we often get TV shows and films on DVD, but it’s not the same. We bought VIP tickets to see “The Tourist” with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Our tickets entitled us to an appetizer buffet and blue slushie mocktails, which we carried to our plush love-seat recliner in the viewing room. The cinema butler then covered us with blankets and brought popcorn and sodas. We had to stand for the Thai national anthem, but then we snuggled down into our comfy sofa for what turned out to be a mediocre movie.
As we were leaving the mall, we spotted this kiosk – Cupcake Love. How could we resist? I scarfed down a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting, while Tony devoured an Oreo cupcake. The pink color scheme, frilly pillows and cupcake waitresses made our treats even sweeter.
From Central, we took the elevated walkway to Paragon Mall, where we ran into Whetu, a friend from Vientiane. We’re always amazed at how often we see people we know while strolling around this city of 9 million inhabitants. We later met Whetu for dinner at a Mexican restaurant.
One evening, we took a short ferry ride to the riverside Yok Yor Restaurant. As we often do when faced with overwhelmingly extensive menus, we asked the waiter to pick the best dishes for us. In Thailand, we often stick with the familiar curries, papaya salad and noodle dishes. This time, we were treated to mouth-watering stuffed crab and a variety of spicy side dishes.
In the weeks before the job fairs, I visualized scenarios A, B and C, as well as the dreaded D – not getting hired at either fair and returning to Vientiane without jobs for 2011-12. It’s true that schools continue to hire well into the spring, but it would have been demoralizing nonetheless. What a relief to come home to Laos employed and rested.