Archive for August, 2011

August 16, 2011

Biking through Bangkok

Rubbing the Buddha's belly for good luck

What did we learn in Bangkok?

1) It is fabulous to stay in a hotel along the river. That way you can hop a water taxi to go places, rather than sit in dense road traffic for hours.

2)The floating market isn’t visible every day, but that doesn’t stop the river from being a fascinating slice of local life. The homes along the canals, the bustle of commuters on ferries, express the mix of ancient tradition with modern times. The long tail boats are cool to see – but you can get pretty wet on a fast ride in one!

3) Did you say temples? What a glorious display of magnificent temples, from Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) to Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) to Wat Pho, home to the reclining Buddha. These sacred places along with the passion and knowledge shared by our incredible guide, allowed Buddhism to add a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere to the entire adventure.

4) Biking through the city and markets gave a view of the inner workings of city life. In a city of skyscrapers, there are still families who cook in the streets and live simple lives in simple homes lining narrow allies. And you know what? Everyone pauses to watch the Thai soap operas every evening!

5) Now if you want to try the subway – easy to figure out – let me tell you it is spotless. No food or drink allowed, and not a sign of litter or dirt. In fact, on the platform everyone lines up, single file, to board the car as it pulls into the station. I just don’t think I will ever see that in Boston. And I loved that their priority seating is reserved for … monks!

6) Dinner in a local restaurant.. I would not have dared try this without our guide to – well – guide us, but what a fabulous dinner! We had pad thai, excellent coconut soup, and even roasted crickets and silkworms. Leo said the silkworm gushed too much for his taste, but the crickets were crunchy and tasted a bit like fried chicken…

7) That Flight of the Gibbon zip line outside of the city? Awesome, and longer and more exciting than the same-named one in Chiang Mai. Just like a team building exercise, this brought our group together – and, ok, maybe I was silly about being nervous about the heights and all.

8) If you plan right you can visit a local tailor and have an awesome suit custom made for you, to be ready for pick up in 10 days when you return to the city before flying home. For a fraction of what it would cost in the USA.

9) But would we have found any of this without the careful ministrations of our beloved guide? Not at all. We always say, the guide makes the experience and this was no exception in Bangkok!



August 4, 2011

Do you know where your kids are Planking?

I’ve been back from Thailand for almost two weeks now, and am finally beginning to feel like my old self. This jet lag laid a heavy cloak of exhaustion over me! Yet don’t think for a minute it wasn’t all worth it. Thailand is an absolute gem.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be writing more about this adventure, but for starters I want to relish in how great it was to travel with a terrific group of teenagers who all did their part in reminding me of the joys and challenges of parenting. You know how they love you but get embarassed by you most of the time?

Traveling with your own kids lets you see them in a different world; you often learn new things about them in a new environment where they can let their guard down a bit. But if you really want to know about what’s happening, travel with other families too. The interactions and conversations you can accidently overhear will teach you gobs about what is trending today.

Take PLANKING. Now, I like to think I am up to date on current trends but this one had escaped me. Is it going to the gym and building muscle as you hold yourself stiff as a board? No, not at all. Planking means lying yourself face down, arms at your side in any bizarre place you choose. Like at a temple, or on an elephant.

This is not a rock, it is an elephant

No kidding, there is even a whole Wiki page about it. Also, did you know about family traditions, like taking the same posed photo everywhere they go? Really, like in front of the bathroom signs. Imagine having a lifetime of photos of the kids in front of bathroom signs in every language. This is so cool! (and I’m sorry I do not have a sample to show you right now).

So get hip, stay young, and go on an adventure with a bunch of fun loving kids – and their parents – who can teach you everything you need to know about current fads.

And don’t forget to ask your kids where they’ve been planking lately.