Merry Christmas and Happy 2564!


Sawadee ka and greetings from Bangkok, Thailand! 🇹🇭

CITY LIFE
This picture pretty much sums up my life in Bangkok: coffee and controlled chaos. 🤣

I have been living/quarantining in Bangkok this whole year, which has been a blessing considering this country’s relatively low number of COVID cases. I’ve recently celebrated Halloween and Thanksgiving here, and with no major changes in regards to the easing of travel restrictions globally, I’ll be spending Christmas in Thailand as well! 🎅

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Halloween at Avra and Hemingway’s
THANKSGIVING
homemade Thanksgiving meal

Bangkok’s festive decorations seem to be more magnificent than ever this year! 🤩

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decorations at ICONSIAM
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Christmas trees at Gaysorn Village and Terminal 21
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Christmas tree inside ICONSIAM and outside Central World

After seeing this, you’ll be surprised to learn that Christmas is not a major celebration here. Buddhism is the major religion in Thailand, so any Christmas decorations are obviously Western influenced, but with some added Asian flare.🎄

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Christmas tree near Ratchadamri and winter mochi (sweet Japanese chewy rice buns)
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festive décor near Sindhorn and Siam Paragon

Fun fact: The Thai calendar actually follows the start of the Buddhist Era, which is 543 years before the Christian calendar. For this reason, 2021 will actually be 2564 in Thailand!

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festive décor near MBK

To be honest though, 2020 feels just as futuristic as 2564. Who would imagine we’d be living in this crazy reality where most socialization is virtual and mask-fashion is a thing?! 😷

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FABULOUS mask fashion near Emquartier; futuristic statues near MBK

As a symbol for the crazy changes this year, I thought I’d share an image of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in NYC. Compared to the 2019 tree shown on the right, the 2020 tree looks scraggily and beat down. It truly symbolizes what this year has done to people worldwide. Just like this tree, 2020 has left us feeling pretty tossed around, low-spirited, and in need of some tender loving care. 😢

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Left: Scraggily 2020 Tree; Right: Fabulous 2019 tree Side note: I love grasping on to humor during hard times and the comments on this tree had me in tears from laughter. “Looks more like a Dollar Tree.” 🤣

Now feel free to call me Charlie Brown, but I don’t think that all hope is lost. Instead of giving up on this tree, and more importantly ourselves, it seems important now more than ever to embrace self love, treat yourself right and focus on what brings you the most joy in life. 💗

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Charlie Brown and his sparse little Christmas tree courtesy of Google images

For me, that joy comes from eating good food, splurging on occasional pampering, and savoring quality time with loved ones. ☕

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fancy coffees with New Zealand honey and Pandan leaves at The Coffee Academics

Here are just a few ways I treated myself right in Bangkok. Hope this inspires you to do the same! ☺️

Staycation

A ‘staycation’ is essentially staying overnight at a hotel in your own city. My partner found this great staycation deal at the Shangri La, which included a food voucher, breakfast, and a massage for two. If you don’t want to stay over, I also found this new concept called DailyPass, where you pay to spend the day at a luxury hotel and use their facilities. What’s great is that most of the money spent on the pass can be used on food and drinks.

SHANGRILA
Shangri La staycation with river view room upgrade

Onsen

Onsens are Japanese thermal hot springs which detoxify the body. There are plenty to choose from in Bangkok, and I spent the day at Yunomori Onsen, which has various hot mineral baths set in a relaxing Japanese-inspired garden. I purchased a spa package on GoWabi, which included a day pass at the onsen and a 90-minute Thai massage. Yunomori also has an on-site café with flavored milks, which are recommended to rehydrate the body after the baths, plus a cozy napping area, which makes it easy to spend the entire afternoon on the premises.💆

onsen

Arts and Culture

One of my bucket list museums to visit in Bangkok is the MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) and last month I went to see their temporary exhibition of cherry blossom photos by Sangiam Yarangsee. 🌸

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Their permanent collection also has a lot of unique Thai-inspired pieces, which are both avant-garde and thought-provoking.

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In addition, I attended cultural events at the Alliance Francaise, Goethe-Institut and the BACC.

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The Alliance Francaise started the event with complementary wine and tapas before showing Les Hirondelles de Kaboul, an animated French love story set in Afghanistan during Taliban rule. Highly recommended!

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the blue swallows represent the women in blue burqas courtesy of Google images

Fine Dining

My partner and I have really bonded over foodie experiences, so that is the main highlight of this post. Bangkok is incredibly multicultural and most recently we’ve been able to enjoy Russian, French, Sicilian, Peruvian, Vegan, and Vietnamese cuisine.

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Mediterra: ravioli topped with shaved Alba White Truffles in a 24-month parmesan sauce and toasted bread with sardines, tomato and burrata cheese
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Thien Duong Vietnamese Restaurant: turmeric crepes with shrimp, steamed pork ravioli, and Hanoian grilled seabass with dill
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The Moon Under Water: pork borscht and pelmeni dumplings with LOTS of homemade fruity cinnamon vodka
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Limoncello: crispy wood fired pizzas with mozzarella and Parma ham; Nature’s Charm Café: vegan pulled pork (jackfruit) with cashew cheese

My partner has a bucket list of restaurants with prefixed menus and our recent experience at Mia surely did not disappoint.

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Mia décor and menu courtesy of their website

Highlights of the prefixed menu included the pea tartelette, cauliflower served 3 ways and the lobster tomato consommé.

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As well, I really enjoyed their cozy, retro décor and their funky bathroom hidden behind a bookshelf. On the other hand, my partner appreciated their creative cocktail menu. His “Caso del Fumo” cocktail was made with tequila reposado and chocolate bitters topped with a bubble of spiced smoke.

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Similar to Mia, we also dined at Caper, which embodies the elegance and glamour of the Prohibition Era. The chef, Dan Bark, grew up in Chicago, which can be noted in some of his dishes, like the creamy green bean casserole. What a taste of home! 😋

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Caper: parmesan truffle toast, salmon crudo with coconut, cheesy green beans and a pork chop in mole sauce with pineapple salsa

Now my personal bucket list has always been for brunch spots. Some new finds have included GLÜCK, Odtomato, Bartels, Landhaus, Café Tartine, and Vistro. I also dined at Starbucks recently, which was not intended, but I got trapped there during a downpour of rain and decided to treat myself to some festive delights while I waited for the storm to pass. ☔

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GLÜCK: open faced pesto, tomato and mozzarella sammy; Vistro: vegan avocado grilled cheese; Odtomato: truffled eggs with fried chicken and a bucket muffin
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Bartels simple sourdough sandwiches are made with high quality meats and cheeses. I loved it so much, I went back twice already!
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Landhaus German Bakery: ham and gouda grilled cheese; Starbucks: festive turkey and emmental on cranberry focaccia; Café Tartine: chicken Caesar baguette with emmental and roasted peppers

Now for a real hidden gem, I would highly recommend checking out Café de Norasingha in the Phayathai Palace. It has a grand 1920’s colonial style and made me feel like I had been transported to Eastern Europe.

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And of course I couldn’t forget to add some new Thai treasures in there too.

FOOD
Kuppadeli: olive fried rice with an onsen egg; Don Don: mapo tofu; Northeastern Thai: fried egg papaya salad
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Somtum Der: fried catfish papaya salad; Mazzaro: chicken minced salad with sticky rice, onion, chilis, and cilantro

Now, no matter who’s bucket list restaurant we’re visiting, we can definitely agree that it’s equally important to find a spot with some high-quality brews. ☕ 🍺

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morning coffee brewed at % Arabica in ICONSIAM; evening hefeweizen brewed at Hair of the Dog

Social Hour

For a splurge on drinks we visited the Bamboo Bar, which was just named one of the top 50 bars in the world. Their signature cocktail menu takes you on a cultural trip through Thailand. For example, their “Birds, Bees and the Tree” cocktail was inspired by tastes from Chiang Dao in Northern Thailand. It includes phraya rum, bee pollen, safflower and sunflower seeds. 🍸

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For something a little unusual, we went to The Friese Greene Club, which hosts regular movies in their small speakeasy-style cinema house. They have a nice selection of cocktails and you can order Muslim Thai food from Usman next door and have it delivered there to enjoy.

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We also got involved in some dance lessons, trying swing dancing at DUMBO and salsa/bachata at Mambo Mambo.

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swing dancing at DUMBO

What’s great about Mambo Mambo is that it’s right next to Baan Dusit Thani, which is a lovely landscaped garden bar with live jazz music and two-for-one drinks.

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And of course we tried to use a bit of our salsa skills at Above Eleven during their Mariachi Night, which featured a Cholos taco pop-up. Fantastic food and free tequila is the best way to get me on the dance floor! 💃

ABOVE ELEVEN
Above Eleven’s Peruvian platter with seafood ceviche and a potato salad topped with avocado, crab, and a cream sauce; fried fish tacos from Cholos

Now in the classroom, my students are finishing up a spectacular first term. We were able to go on two field trips to the Bangkok Science Museum and the Get Growing Community Farm. At the museum, they learned how dry ice works and performed various chemistry experiments, while at the farm they planted crops and collected eggs. The best part was that the farm had a natural jungle gym with waterslides, swinging ropes, and a zip line. Muddy and messy, but so much fun!

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On campus, the students have been learning about living organisms. My Year 6 students created curious creatures and learned how to classify plants, while my Year 7 students learned about genetics by making their own DNA models and Punnett Square monster babies.

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I also love artsy projects, so I had them create their own pop art after learning about Roy Lichtenstein and onomatopoeia words. They also read the “Jabberwocky” from Alice in Wonderland and created their own portmanteau poems.

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Anyway, now that the term is winding down, we’re preparing to go on holiday. In terms of Christmas plans, we’ll be spending two weeks in Krabi and Koh Lanta. We plan to hike, scuba dive, and relax at our gorgeous resorts. I look forward to sharing our experience with all of you. Until then, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! 🌴 🐠

AONANG
photos of our resorts in Krabi and Koh Lanta courtesy of Google images

8 thoughts on “Merry Christmas and Happy 2564!

  1. I’m envious. This is the first winter in, I can’t remember how many years, that I haven’t planned to spend a month in Thailand. Thanks for the memories.

    Liked by 1 person

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