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Day 2 – Baby Food Massage (or “Bangkok, The Second 24 Hours”)

March 5, 2010

The view from a balcony at Becca and Franck's apartment.

Dateline: Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, March 5, 2010

This morning I woke up at 4 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep. I stayed up for an hour writing and reading. I crashed again at 6 a.m. and got up for good at 9. I forgot that the second day of jetlag is worse than the first. Day 1 you’re wired that you’ve actually arrived. Day 2 you have to get to the business of living.

I headed downstairs for Suk 11 Hostel’s free breakfast, a buffet of toast, jams, tropical fruits, yogurt concoctions, coffee, and tea. The common area tables were packed with travelers from around the world. A surprising number were senior citizens or had kids in tow. Guess they couldn’t resist a good deal either. About $20 per night gets me two single beds, a private bath, a/c, and (surprise!) a hot shower. There aren’t much better deals in Bangkok.

I wandered until I found a table with an open chair. I made eye contact with one of the guys at the table and pointed at the empty chair, the international sign for “Excuse me, is this seat taken? If not, may I sit down?” I got the nod and plopped down to eat.

I chatted with Stephanie and Phooey (that’s what it sounded like to me), who turned out to be Malay adventure racers. They were headed up to the River Kwai for a 4 to 8 hour race. The time variance, they explained, depends on how good you are at the race. Apparently there is kayaking, running, swimming, puzzle solving, and other random stuff. Stephanie said that at one race she and her partner had to climb up one side of a navy ship, then jump off the other into the ocean. Stephanie and Phooey are much cooler than I am.

After breakfast, the pair headed off to catch a bus to their final destination. I headed off to see my tailor, whose shop is right around the corner from Suk 11.

Victor and his father Jesse run Dress for Success, a shopping destination for secret service, diplomats, and former lawyer backpackers who enjoy the fit of a good suit or shirt. I got there and found two Canadian Indians. Not the kind of Indians who didn’t name their babies; the kind that make 4 hour romantic-horror-comedy musicals. They turned out to be brothers from Toronto, one an i-banker and the other a doctor. I think they made their parents proud.

They gave me advice about traveling Cambodia. I told them about my decision to travel between jobs. The i-banker said he’d “changed jobs” three times in the past two years. He said he wished he had the “discipline” to take some time off and travel, but that he’d dove right back into working every time. I wanted to tell him that it’s easier than it looks, but thought better of it.

Victor eventually opened up the shop. He measured the brothers, then looked up my info in his files. He remembered that I had come in with a group of lawyers. Remarkable, since it’s been 4 years. I tagged a couple of bolts of cloth that I liked and shuffled over to Victor to be measured.

Victor assured me that it wasn’t as bad as I feared. My measurements (particularly my waist) haven’t changed much. What I didn’t tell Victor is that what’s under the inches has transformed (what used to be firm now jiggles). No matter. I’ll take the victory that I can get.

Victor said I could pick up the shirts on Tuesday. With that I raced off to Becca’s for lunch.

Becca lives across the Mae Nam Chao Phraya, the main river that runs through Bangkok. I took the BTS to Saphan Taksin Station and waited at the nearby pier for her condo’s complimentary boat service.

I marched confidently past security and took the elevator to her floor. Becca and her mom welcomed me in, showed me around, and introduced me to the newest member of the family, her baby boy Ananda. Franck, her husband, is French which means the baby will hold passports from France, Thailand, and the U.S. and be fluent in three languages. Franck and Becca’s plan to raise this kid seems much more effective than any government education reform plan.

The kid has the most awesome view from his crib. Becca said that the room and the view could have been mine if I’d gotten to Bangkok before Ananda was born. Selfish brat ruined everything. He is cute, though, what with his blue-gray eyes.

Babies don't have "awesome views." They have "opportunities to be claimed by gravity."

The last time I was in Thailand, Becca’s mom cooked me the best meal of my stay. She’d decided to cook another one for me today. It was fantastic. Spicy seafood and noodle salad. Fish-flavored tofu with Chinese mushrooms. A vegetable soup. All accompanied by fried pork from a street vendor. I sipped a French favorite of ice water laced with anise liquer. Magnifico (I don’t know any French.) I ate to the point of dyspnea and then I ate some more. Then I had dessert. A whole mango with sticky rice.

I kno rite? Where's all the bacon?

By late afternoon, I was fighting off an incredible urge to sleep so I decided to get a massage before dinner. Becca pointed me to a place round the corner. If I was sleepy, why would I get a massage? For me, a massage is relaxing, but not sleep inducing. If it’s done the way I like it, the massage kneads the tension out of me. That means it has to hurt just a bit. The hurt is where the healing’s at and Thais know how to put the hurt into their massage. Pain tends to keep me awake, so a massage posed no danger to overcoming jet lag.

My favorite part was where the lady repeatedly jabbed my calf and I got to practice not crying. My other favorite part was at the end of the hour, where she charged me $3. Good times.

I got back just in time for dinner. Tom yum noodles from a local shop.

Franck got off work a little early, so he was able to join Becca, Becca’s mom, and me for dinner. I think I’m the first of Becca’s friends from law school that he’s met. He spent much of the time teasing Becca until she threatened him with bodily injury. It’s like he was there with us at law school

Franck travels a lot for work, so he gave me some good advice on China. My favorite: When I mentioned that I planned on going to Beijing first so I could ease myself into Chinese culture by starting off in a place that had regular contact with the West, he said, “No cab driver in China speaks English, even those in Beijing. There are so many dialects in China that even if you spoke Mandarin, you wouldn’t always understand or be understood. Just travel where you want to travel and get used to being overwhelmed.”

Night skyline. Same view as lead photo.

We finished dinner with some French pastries that Franck had picked up on the way home from work. Afterwards, Franck dropped me off at the nearest BTS station since the complimentary boat service had shut down for the night.

I hopped on a train and headed home. I walked past the foreigners partying at the clubs and bars around my hostel and headed upstairs to my room to crash. The jet lag part of the second day got worse, but the food and the company managed to get much better. (Becca will now threaten me with bodily injury.)


Stupid Travel Tip of the Day: A tripod is like hand sanitizer; it is more useful in your day bag than it is in your hotel room, especially if you want to take pictures at night.

Not So Stupid Travel Tip: When you sit down to get your Thai massage and the masseuse kneels, puts her hands together and bows, do not return the gesture. Just lie down on your back. Otherwise, the masseuse may look at you funny and you may imagine that everything she says to the masseuse next to her is about how strange it is that you look Thai but act all weird and stuff.

Turns out she’s not greeting you or thanking you (the typical reason Thais fold their hands and bow, which usually requires you to fold your hands and bow in response). The masseuse is just paying silent homage to her teachers, like many martial artists do before they pound their opponents into submission.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Fran permalink
    March 6, 2010 9:39 pm

    Last I heard, baby’s are small (even if both their parents are over six feeet). I say you cozy up next to Ananda. Who would know?
    Im tempted to jump on a plane and head across the pacific. When do you plan on being in Taipei? Just a warning, the weather is going to kick your ass in June and July. Something called “swass and swalls”

    • Fran permalink
      March 7, 2010 6:18 pm

      sorry. babies not baby’s

      • March 13, 2010 12:23 am

        I’m scheduled to fly out of Taipei on July 3. The length of my stay in Taiwan will depend on whether you’re able to meet me. Unless it’s not clear, I will stay longer if you meet me and shorter if you don’t.

  2. Fran permalink
    March 6, 2010 9:39 pm

    BTW- if you’re going to see becca again can ya get a picture of the KID!

    • March 6, 2010 10:57 pm

      Becca’s mom is actually staying with Becca and Franck to help out. The bed’s not big enough to fit both of us without things getting. . .awkward.

      I have pictures of Ananda, but none that I liked enough to post as part of the main article. This is where Flickr comes in and why we’re still in beta. I’ll have pictures included in the main article and a link to a Flickr page that has gallery of pics the don’t have commentary or context. I’ve never used Flickr and I have limited internet access, so that’s why this it’s taking so long.

      As it stands, Taipei is going to be the cherry on top of this trip sundae. I’m scheduled to fly out of there first week of July, regardless of swass and swalls (which to me sounds like someone’s trying to say two other words but with cotton in their mouths). You should come. I heard the food is the best (and not just from you and Shining).

  3. Shining permalink
    March 9, 2010 7:32 pm

    I second the “I want to see a picture of the baby” comment from Fran. How about a picture of the new family unit? BTW, do not underestimate the power of July in Taipei – swass and swalls, indeed. It is a highly effective weight-loss plan.

    I have Fran looking into plane tickets to Taipei. We may not be able to let you tour Taipei without proper foodie tour guide…plus it would be a kickass time.

    • March 13, 2010 12:21 am

      Hope you’ve gotten your baby fix with the subsequent posts. I’ll have a picture of the “family unit” soon. I had lunch with Becca, Franck, Ananda, and Franck’s mom today. I remember to grab a pic of them especially for you.

      You and Fran should definitely come out. The sooner you let me know your travel dates, the easier it will be for me to make sure I propery overlap your stay. If I’m on my own, I plan on staying in Taiwan for 2 days or so. If you’re there, I’ll extend.

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