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  • Featured Contributor: Griots Republic Issue #6

    Featured Contributor: Griots Republic Issue #6

    So excited to be a contributor to this month's issue of Griots Republic! Check out my article (p. 48) on Bangkok's Baan Silapin. Photos by yours truly. http://www.griotsrepublic.com/portfolio-item/006-2/

  • Spring Break 2016: Celebrating Songkran (Thai New Year) in Phuket

    When my friend Sabrina said she wanted to come and visit me in Thailand, we immediately started looking at the best time of year for her to come. I suggested that my Spring Break would be perfect and we chose to go down to Phuket for a few days.  We opted for Phuket because I felt it was a "must-do" for her first time in Southeast Asia. We stayed on the quieter northern area of Khao Lak our first 2 nights and then celebrated Songkran (Thai New Year) down in Patong.

    Khao Lak

    Khao Lak is a series of villages in the Pha Nga Province - approximately 1 hour from Phuket Airport. We chose the Khao Lak Bhandari Resort as it offered the most amenities within our budget (max of $50 per night, per person). Cost per night was $56 (!!!) for a chalet room, including buffet breakfast. The property and rooms are decorated in traditional Thai style with sculpted gardens, spa, and a great pool.

    Curves

    From the hotel, we were only 2 minutes walking from Nang Thong Beach.  We had dinner/drinks along the beach each night. It is quiet and peaceful, very different from our next destination: Patong.  On our last day we started, the morning celebrating Songkran with the hotel's staff.

    Songkran marks the start of Spring. It starts with a solemn ceremony of pouring scented water on Buddha and the hands of elders to wash away sins and bad luck.  The celebration then turns quite festive as revelers engage in water fights and smearing of powder/chalk on one another.  On our way down to Patong from Khao Lak, we opted to get out of the car as roads were only running one-way. We bought water guns at the nearest 7-11 and water gunned our way to our hotel.  It was definitely an experience I won't ever forget for a long time.

    Patong

    Patong Beach is one of the most popular beach destinations in the world.  Even during the height of the summer season, we managed to find a great boutique hotel experience at a reasonable price. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express and it only cost about $67 per night, including breakfast. Staying here put us just 200 meters from the famous Patong Beachfront.

    We capped our stay on our last night with dinner at Baan Rim Pa to celebrate Sabrina's birthday overlooking sunset across the Patong beachline.

    Sunset at Patong

    Per-person Travel and Accommodations Budget breakdown:

    • Roundtrip airfare between Bangkok (DMK) and Phuket (HKT) on NokAir: 5,067 THB ($145 USD)
    • Khao Lak Bhandari 3 days/2 nights: 1,980 THB ($56 USD)
    • Holiday Inn Express: 2350 THB ($67 USD)
    • Transport from airport to Khao Lak and Khao Lak to Patong booked via Boss Taxi: 1400 THB ($40 USD)
    • Transport from Patong to airport on shared minivan booked via Abbie Tours: 200 THB ($7)
    • Extra expenses for food and drinks - dependent on how much you want to spend, but highly doubt it would go over $150 per person.
  • Integrity ความชื่อสัตย์

    "Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching" -- C.S. Lewis

    The school I work for has 8 core values: Appreciation, Respect, Integrity, Giving, Responsibility, Friendship, Compassion/Empathy, and the Golden Rule.  October is the month of Integrity. As a school counselor, part of my job is to help students explore these concepts in our guidance lessons and how they apply to real life.  Integrity can be a tough one because it is not black and white.  Integrity deals with the core of who a person is on the inside - the moral compass that helps you determine what is right and wrong.  Normally, in my guidance lessons and conversations with the students they can talk about how to model all of these values, they know how to respond on paper and when given the time to "chew" on an idea.  However, one can never really know how well people know how to apply these values, until you experience these ethical dilemmas in real life.

    Tonight, for about an hour of sheer panic, I thought my wallet was missing/stolen.

    I was all set to meet up with a good friend in town w/ her friends/cousins visiting from Brooklyn and Miami, respectively. I have not seen her in 4 years - basically since I left New York. So I was quite excited to meet up.  I left my house around 7:40, took the songthaew (mini-bus) up to the BTS and quickly discovered when I looked in purse that my wallet was not there.  I backtracked to the songthaew, but I mistakenly assumed that the driver did not understand my query if he'd seen my wallet. The songthaew was full so I could not see if it was on - or under - one of the benches. I then thought I'd left it on the dining room table so decided to grab a motorbike taxi home. I msg'ed my friend's cousin and explained the whole ordeal. I got all the way home and realized it was not there either.

    In a panic, I cancelled dinner and proceeded to log onto my accounts to try and cancel them when suddenly I get this SMS on my phone from one of my principals:

    Hi Yvette,
    Your wallet was found by someone next to 7-eleven, they found the emergency card in it. 
    Please call back, they are waiting: <Good Samaritan's number>

    When I met up with her at the 7-11 near my house she explained that the driver DID find the wallet after I'd asked him about it and asked her to try to figure out who it belonged to since it was very clearly a farang's (foreigner's).  She asked me to check the wallet and everything was in there.  I offered her 100 baht for her troubles and she vehemently shook her head and said "No. This was no trouble at all." I profusely wai to her (prayer hands w/ bowed head) and said "Khob khun na kha"  = "Thank you VERY much" several times.  Then I was able to enjoy a great catch up w/ my friend Sandrinne.

    The driver and this woman could have easily taken this wallet for their own use.  Instead, they chose to do the right thing because it's simply what you should do.  Good karma and integrity, definitely. I was able to enjoy dinner as pictured below!

    From #BK to #BKK. Loved catching up with Sandrinne aka @bluebearfanatic ! Thank you for putting up with my nearly missing wallet shenanigans and for the wonderful catch up time!

  • Summer in Bangkok...

    Soi Phetchaburi 5

    Work buddy: "So what are you doing for the summer?"

    Me: "Staying in Thailand - getting to know Bangkok a bit more."

    Work buddy: "Won't you ever get bored?"

    Me: "This is THAILAND, is boredom even possible?"

    Work buddy: "True."

    This was a common conversation my work buddies engaged me in as the beloved summer holidays were upon us. I'd decided to stay in Bangkok with a possible trip to Chiang Mai. The decision to stay in Thailand versus going elsewhere - Philippines, the US, etc. was quite easy for me.  I have lived in Bangkok for nearly year, but have not had the energy on weekends - or time - to explore it.  This summer was my chance. On my list were: a cooking class, photo walks, and getting to know the arts/music scene. Four weeks in and I think I am making good head way.

    1. Photowalk - Bangkok Photographers Photo Walk to Nang Loeng Market (my photos on pages 202-204)

     

    Click the photo below to see all my favorite shots of that day: Sunday paper

    2. Cooking w/ Poo Khlong Toey Market tour and Cooking class 
    Click the photo for more photos Ribbit


    Khun Poo and I and the @cookingwithpoo team. Lovely morning navigating the #khlongtoey market and learning to cook Thai faves. Proceeds go towards the market community - employment, training, health care, feeding program, etc. Sustainable model. #aroimak #payitforward #expatlife #BKK #nomadnesstribe #Nomadness by @vettievette

     

    3. Discover more music and art around Bangkok


    Tucked away in a shophouse in Chinatown. #BKK gets funky at #soulbarbkk . by @vettievette

    Through these excursions I am figuring out what I love about Bangkok: its multiple layers of old over new that snake along the banks of the Chao Phraya. It is a dynamic city with crazy juxtapositions. You can be inside its many mega malls like Siam Paragon and within a few minutes on the banks of its fabled khlongs (canals) in some areas where time has stood still. Bangkok can be as in your face and relaxed as you want it to be. I am so glad that I am able to call this place home.

    I have 3.5 more weeks to go...who knows what I will get into next!

    Interested in exploring the above on your own?

    Links:

    Cooking w/ Poo

    Bangkok Photographers

    SoulBar Bangkok