Trip to Thailand, January 2013

After Funarium, we drove to MBK, a big downtown mall which specializes in phone cards and accessories, so Robert could get a sim card for our old, unlocked iPhone 4. We got distracted at the mall by people-watching, though--Bangkok is so diverse, and we had great fun just walking around even though it was jammed. With Marcus on Robert's back hanging out, sleepy but aware, and George occasionally looking over his shoulder to make sure we hadn't been left far behind, we strolled around happily and finally stopped for lunch at a Japanese all-you-can-eat place, a sit-down restaurant for 30 baht per adult (the same price as the breakfast buffet at our hotel, if paid for separately from the room--that is, $10). It was a very good, different kind of sushi and small plates, heavy on the fish cakes, which Marcus devoured.

After lunch we walked around the mall a bit more, using the bathrooms there--crowded, but there were Western-style toilets with toilet paper in the individual stalls (this was rarely the case elsewhere in my experience in Thailand) and distinctly cleaner than the typical Chinatown bathroom in Boston, though not by any means spotless. We were startled by how a floor of "normal" shops in the mall suddenly gave way to one that was a warren of tiny stalls, an indoor market in truth.

We kept making George and Pat stop and wait--to watch the dried squid lady at work, to sample different kinds of beef jerky, and to order an amazing marshmallow taco (that is not its official name, but I think it’s a reasonable description of it: ) for 10baht. Yes, just thirty-three cents for this much deliciousness—glossy, freshly made marshmallow heaped onto a small open-faced crisp feather-weight crepe. Sign me up.

In general, in Thailand, other than these kanom beung (with them as a very glaring exception), we discovered that a good rule of thumb was that everything here was less sweet than we’d expect, from pad thai to waffles to bubble tea to fried rice. Really, these marshmallow things were amazing, though, and there were six stands in a row making these, just where the cellphone alley meets the jewelry alley in the larger mall. I wish I could go back for more.

We went to the main mall food court, too, and got a small Belgian-looking waffle which was hot and chewy and coconutty and not at all sweet, a bubble tea, a mango and sticky rice, and a rainbow ice cream cone with sprinkles for Marcus.

Fortified, we finally got the sim card that Robert wanted, for something absurdly cheap, and stopped at the bathrooms. As in the airport, these were Western-style and reasonably clean, especially given the huge crowds. Marcus went back up on Robert’s back, where he’d been for most of our time in the mall, and we all took the Sky train to another mall, the Paragon, because George thought the aquarium there would be a fun stop.

At MBK Mall in Bangkok.

On the Skytrain.

The Sky train was very nice, very fast, and very sleek inside, with beautiful molded hand-holds. They were serious about their no-food-and-drink policy, though, with a uniformed guard popping up out of nowhere to confiscate the glass containing a last inch or two of my bubble tea just after I cleared the turnstile. We later noticed that Samantha had smuggled in the last of our coconut waffle, clutching it in my bosom in the sling, and once we got on the train she turned around, whisked it out, and held it up triumphantly.

Still, our brief run-in with the “no food, no food!” security guard was just the final part in our close-brush-with-authority day. First George had gotten pulled over by a cop on the way to Funarium for driving into a bus-only lane. The cop apparently kept asking for his license and George just kept saying no, and the cop kept irritatedly insisting that George had done something wrong, and George just kept saying in a happy voice, “Oh gee, I didn’t see the sign.” This was all quite loud and fast, but George didn’t seem to be showing any remorse, and the cop progressed quickly from annoyance to boredom, telling George just to make a U-turn to get out of there. We did. Then, heading into the parking garage at MBK, we had another problem where a cop waved us on and out instead of up, and Pat had to have a very loud and complicated (but not unfriendly) conversation with the cop and a parking lot attendant before someone grudgingly waved us into a U-turn lane and back into the parking area. It seems that everything I’d read about responding to conflict by keeping a smile on your face was right after all. Robert was of course amazed that the first cop accepted George’s good-natured refusal to produce his license.

From the Sky train then we went into Paragon and down to the aquarium levels, but two things conspired to have us skip it after all—Marcus was dead asleep on Robert’s back, no waking him whatsoever, arms floppy and leaden, and the aquarium was absolutely jammed, with a huge line that only got longer in the ten minutes we stood there and discussed our options.

We finally decided to leave, get the car, and head to a temple before dinner, so George went back to MBK, planning to bring the car over to this one to meet us, while Robert and Pat and I browsed around a little. We liked the themes that each floor of the mall has—don’t try to open an electronics store anywhere other than on the electronics floor, for instance. On the car floor, we were surprised to see not a car or two for a show or a sweepstakes, but multiple dealerships, complete with many cars. On the snack floor at the bottom of the mall, we peered into a McDonald’s, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, and Dunkin Donuts to see all the menu differences, and we bought a mochi donut from Dunkin.

Finally George called to say he was stuck in traffic so we should take the Sky train somewhere else a few stops down and he’d meet us on the street. Back on the Sky train, Marcus would stir and flop around and get unhappy whenever we went into the heat and humidity, but would calm down again, still in his sleep, once we were back in the air conditioning. Throughout, he kept sleeping, and when we got to the car Robert slipped him into the seat still sleeping. We then drove around the city on a scenic tour, finally stopping on a little soi near the ferry to Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn, so that we could go across and see the temple before sunset and before it closed.

One kid awake, one kid sleeping (at Paragon Mall).

Driving tour of Bangkok.

Driving around Bangkok had been great—I loved looking at the hot pink taxis, the open-windowed buses, the street vendors, the storefront signs, and everything else. We drove past one of the king’s palaces, past Parliament, etc., and George and Pat were wonderful tour guides.



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Created: 1/15/13. Last Modified: 1/15/13.