Baan Silapin (Klong Bang Luang, The Artist House Bangkok)

R and I spent three days in a row at Klong Bang Luang or Artist House. On the first day we were the only ones at the house. The ladies who work there were very friendly and helpful. R chose to paint an elephant which kept her occupied for a good 20 minutes. Be on the lookout for mosquitoes because when R was painting an army of mosquitoes flew and bit her. The ladies turned the fan on and back to painting she was. We had a chance to go upstairs, the gallery, and watch long tail boats go past. We noticed that there were no passenger or local boats that ferry residents through the canal only tourists on the boats. It was a quiet place to go to, people watch and have a cup of something and read or paint.

There is coffee, cocoa and other cold drinks to buy at the house. The other shops that were open on a Friday are the fish food shop, snacks shop, souvenir shop and massage place.

On Saturday, more things going on at the house. There is a table full of pots to choose curries from for lunch of snack. Next to the coffee table is now a counter to buy jelly on top of ice. We had sorbet this time to console ourselves for there was not a puppet show.  On our way out of the place we bought a big bag of fish food which the resident pla duk or catfish feasted on. It was definitely busier at the weekend in this place but just happy people around.

Sunday, at last there will be a puppet show at 2pm. We waited for half an hour for the show. The place was packed, people sat on the floor and there were viewers upstairs as well. It was a fun experience. R loved it. Our friend L loved it too. We will definitely go back for another show next time we are in town.

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How to get to the Artist’s house from the Wongwianyai BTS station? Take exit 3 and at (by the lift) Krungthonburi Soi 1 take a taxi to Charan Sanitwong Soi 3.  Tell the driver to go to the end of the road. At the end of that Soi follow the alley straight on and you will see a steep bridge, cross that bridge, turn left at the foot of the bridge and the Artist’s house is at the end of the row of houses along the canal.

 

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A trip to Bangkok Klong Lat Mayom Floating Market

IMG_20180819_094843I have been thinking about going to a floating market in Bangkok since I visited the country nearly a decade ago.

Finally went to one at the weekend with my 5 year old. Klong Lat Mayom was an easy choice because we already are on the Thonburi side of the city and a 2 minute walk away from the BTS skytrain station.

We set off just before 9am as we get up very early every day. I am sure every mum with a young child could relate to that. We got off at BTS Bang Wa looked for exit 1/2. Fortunately, there is a lift there which I find helpful now that I take a pushchair/stroller nearly everywhere. Although the pavements here are not pushchair friendly, it is a relief to not have to carry a child when she is tired or we are both tired and in the heat.

There was a queue of taxis waiting for passengers outside the station. First try and we were on the road to the floating market! Baht 107 later and the kind taxi driver saw us off.

We arrived at the market relatively early. It was still quiet so it was easy to navigate the market. We bought a 1.30 hour canal boat trip ticket for a Baht 100. For locals it is 60 baht. It was a fun boat trip for me and my daughter. I have not seen her excited about boats in a long time.

Part of the trip was to stop at a temple for 20 minutes. R watched people offer incense, candles and lotus flower to Buddha and prayed. She was especially interested at the children praying. There’s a market on the temple grounds where they have vegetables, fruits and snacks. Another stop was at an oIMG_20180819_115400.jpgrchid farm. It was not a big place but to a small child it looked big enough. We did not buy any plants but we fed the catfish in the canal with a loaf that R bought from the market around the temple. Those fish in the canal are enormous. It’s the kind a child would remember for the rest of her life.

There were a few boats selling at the market. I have no other markets to compare it with but the place is good enough for a weekend morning day out with a little one. The best thing about this trip was to see life along the canal, spirit houses, neighbours chatting, locals on their boats getting on with their lives, a floating vegetable shop (a vegetable seller on a boat), papaya, banana, dragon fruit, coconut palm, pea aubergines, basil plants to name a few things to look at while on the trip.

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To have a plate or bowl of something to eat before heading back is easy. By the time we got off the boat and it was only 20 to 11, the place was already packed. People were already eating and we waited a good 10 minutes before we had a free table to have a snack.

 

When it is time to go back for a rest a child certainly knows how to tell an adult. No fussing but there is only one question left in the bag and it will be asked by someone who is like a broken record. Out we went to the main drop off area and there was a taxi waiting. Back to the BTS station in no time. It was 109 baht this time.

 

It’s been ages since….

R turned 5 in April but before that she started Reception class. The first few weeks until a couple of months later she still held on to my legs like a limpet because she did not want to stay at school on her own the whole day. In the end she playfully pushes me out of the gates, says goodbye and off she goes to play with her friends.

She started out at not being confident at reading and writing even though she could. Towards the second half of the school year she was reading her favourite stories. Reading in the car, signs. In October last year, she made her first shopping list and we went to the shops. Slowly but surely ticking all the things on her list.

R still loves drawing, scribbling notes, colouring and making up stories in the car or at home. We still play I spy with beginning letter sounds, she still loves noughts and crosses with Daddy while out for a drive (mostly on our way back from our trip to Granny and Granddad).

At home, she picked up a baking book once and that was the beginning of many weekend baking afternoons. She still chops the veg with me and she cooks stir fries now. R happily puts the rice cooker on or put together ingredients for a loaf then puts the bread machine on.

Everything has gone leaps and bounds in many aspects. That includes swimming, tumble turns, dives and more dives on her own. We went to the beach for a week. It took her two days to get used to the open water. We spent whole days on the beach just playing with sand and swimming. We rarely went up for a rest in the bungalow.

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We are in Bangkok for the summer and she is very proud to be able to finish a page or more of the workbooks that Daddy picked up from the tip for pennies. I did not realise that she would be into workbooks on her own. It is part of getting more and more independent.

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This week she voluntarily practised pedalling her bicycle and today she came up and said that she could cycle on her own. I asked her how she felt and she said very happy.

In the mornings she gets up at around 6am and goes out the balcony then back in for books or games. R just walks around the room quietly and finding what she wishes to do before breakfast. I hope that when we go back to Devon it will be the same.

We only have 11 days left in our trip and back to our chaotic life back in the UK. Cinema, boat trips, Japanese food, shopping and a little temple hopping to do before that dreadful flight and we will definitely look forward to our next trip here.

Swimming in Bangkok

We arrived in Bangkok last week and we have been swimming twice every day. The weather is lovely, it rained most nights and yesterday afternoon too. I am waiting for the downpour tonight though it might not happen as it does not have that humidity that comes before the rain.

The pool temperature is nice not too cold or hot. It is refreshing and the sun is out of the pool by three for afternoon swim.

This time of year is not busy with tourists yet. State schools in the west are not due to break up until next week and the local schools here have only just started the school year last month. It means we have a ‘private pool’ nearly all the time. It is fun to have a few groups sometimes but they are regulars so it is normal. A 25 metre pool 5 minutes near the BTS Wongwianyai is a good find in the city.

The restaurant of the hotel has been shut though which is a shame because we occasionally eat there or used to dine there after our swim or when I could not think of anything to cook. Days before we leave we normally pack our things and eat out 2 out of 3 meals a day which puts our minds to leaving mode. Our favourite noodle restaurant just outside the hotel had also shut because the man who runs it is ill. We found a new place to have lunch which is a 3 minute bicycle ride away but I cannot imagine going there in the middle of summer.

Well, there are pluses and minuses. Funny phrase. As we are only here for three weeks a few new finds and old things to do would be enough.

One of the hidden Sois near our hotel. IMG_20180105_130631.jpg

Places to go in Bangkok with kids

In two weeks’ time we are flying back to the UK. Here are a few places that we went to in Bangkok this time.

  1. Children’s Discovery Museum in Chatuchak. This is a handy place to go to. It is free of charge, easy to find and get to. Take the BTS to Mo Chit and it is a few minutes walk from there. They have an outdoor playground and fountain area to cool down. Indoors is fully air conditioned which is helpful when it is hot outside. The place is open from 10 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. We always go to JJ Mall for lunch which is a stone’s throw away and after lunch there is a choice of going back to the museum or shopping in the mall.
  2. Sea Life Ocean World. We have been twice with the help of a discount travel agent. R had fun watching the penguins, sharks, sting ray, sea horses and different colours of fish which she has seen on tv. It was like dream come true. The ticket agent could be contacted on facebook. https://www.facebook.com/traveliciouzbymelody?fref=ts&ref=br_tf  It is at the basement of Siam Paragon which is an interchange station of the Sky train so it makes the visits easy.
  3. Snake Farm. It is a compelling place for adults and children alike. The people who work there are passionate and respectful of the resident reptiles. It is interesting to know that not all snakes are dangerous.
  4. Wat Pho and Wat Arun. Temple of the Reclining Buddha and Temple of Dawn are a must go to place whenever we visit the city. We normally start the trip by getting on an orange flag boat, not the tourist boat, to see the city on a different angle then we get off at Tha Tien and go around Wat Pho first then take a ferry over to Wat Arun. After we climb Wat Arun and taken in the view of the place around it, exit at the back and look for a coffee shop or a local place to eat. Since we stay on the Thonburi side of town a bus or taxi ride back is always fun.
  5. Wat Traimit. It is amazing to see a Golden Buddha of 3 metres high and 5.5 tonnes.  A walk from there to the main railway station, Hua Lamphong which is 5 minutes away to watch trains come and go as well as people watching is one thing to do. There are places to eat around the station and the subway station is there too to carry on the fun.
  6. The Mall Thapra’s play area. An hour of fun with slides, climbing equipment, sand table, fishing table, a few musical instruments and ball pit for the children which means an hour of quiet time for parents while watching them play.
  7. Maha Chai Railway market. Take a commuter train early morning from Wongwianyai which takes around 50 minutes. It is a fun train journey. The fun does not stop there because the train stops at the market or the market is at the train station. Walk around the market, cross over the Tha Chin river and walk around the local area to the Baan Laem train station that will take you to Maeklong Market. We only go to the temple that looks out the other side of the river to watch boats unload their catch. Go back to Maha Chai, have lunch and catch a train back to Wongwianyai.
  8. Local market. Plenty of things to see and buy. From vegetables to fish, cooking materials, clothing, and freshly cooked food. Lots of vocabulary to learn and a feast to the palate.

There are a lot of places in store to visit but for a three year old staying in a place with a 25 metre pool to go to every day bring loads of fun.

New year

We have been in Bangkok for two months now and still have no desire to go back. It is getting hottter now though. The hot season is coming and it will become unbearable to go out of the compound after 10 in the morning. With two weeks in December without much work for M it was quite nice to get up, cook, have breakfast, go for a swim and relax a bit. Every single day from the day we arrived until the day before Christmas were hectic and annoying for me. I could not think of a reason to smile. It was because each day from morning until night time M was in front of his laptop. Admittedly he works from home and it makes a difference in R’s life to see daddy everyday but all the stress at work is always around. R gets to play with daddy in the mornings but most of the time it would be me and her.

Fortunately, my sister and my niece who is six were here for a month which was a  relief at times. To be told that to have my family is stressful is wrong. To spend for my family and insinuate that we are asked to buy them things is a lot of stress for me. I do not want to see any of my relatives anymore if things like this come up again and again I am not comfortable to  even think about invting my family oveer.

R and her cousin had arguments in the first two weeks of playing together. It was their first meeting so two different personalities clashed. There were tears at time but in the second half of their time they played well together. I heard them do role plays a lot. They played in the small pool sometimes but since G was not coomfortable in the water yet she was squeaky at times. R did her own thing, she swam and then played with her toys which she.shared with cousin reluctantly sometimes.

We had to go for a visa run in Vientiane the mroning that my sister was going home. It was sad to come back to the place without being able to see them again which I am sure will be for ages. I did not see my sister for five years. Last time I saw her was back in Beijing. I was not able to go back and see them again either in China or the Philippines because of financial reasons. I had two jobs after I left China but it was enough to pay for my rent at the training area for my course, food and projects to finish what I enrolled in.

It was lovely to see her and my niece even though there were tough times when differences in socialisation between the children were apparent. I hope that there will be a next time to see them and in a better place too.

We did touristy things like temple visits, went on boat rides, tuktuk and bus rides, a bit of shopping in Chinatown and a couple of malls, a short train journey and early lunch overlooking an estuary. We went to the snake farm, the aquariom, children’s museum and few trips to tthe park. We spent a lot of time indoors and let the children play. When we got fed up cooking because meal times was a chore we ate out. Bangkok is an easy place to find food at and we can afford to relax a little.

Back to the three of us for two days and M will work with someeone from New Zealand for two weeks and the countdown to go back will be on.

Siam Ocean World trip

We all went to Ocean World on Monday. It was fun to see all the animals with R. She skipped, hopped and ran to see the sea horses, penguins, sharks or every sea creature that were there. Throughout the day and before bed we talked about the animals that we saw there and sharks and the little blue fish were the ones she remembered the most. I was able to buy the ticket for nearly half the price if we bought the ticket at the aquarium. That was another plus to the trip.

We are flying back to the UK tomorrow morning. It is the end of our holiday but we might come back soon who knows. If not it will be looked forward to.