Authorized Departure

This is a blog about life in the Foreign Service and to gloss over the bad parts would be unfair.  Yes, there are parties, nannies, and amazing friends, but there’s also terrorism, sheltering in place, and unexpected separation.

M and I are back in the U.S.  The State Department authorized the departure of EFMs from Dhaka shortly after the terrorist attack at Holey Bakery. We left in July, and who knows if we’ll get to go back to Dhaka. I really hope so, but frankly I’ll be surprised if we set foot in the apartment we worked so hard to make our home ever again.

It’s been nice to spend this time with family and to watch M learn to love our families so intensely.  Plus he’s getting to eat corn on the cob, rip up brightly colored fall leaves, play in the Great Lakes, go camping, and do other fun stuff.

We FaceTime with Nate and Athena every day, but this separation is taking a toll on everyone.  It fucking sucks. There’s not really much else to say about it.

So I’ll finish with a word to the wise: no matter how hot the climate of your next post, make sure you take your winter clothes because you never know what could happen.


This past month has been pretty awesome.  We went on our first R&R, which was a much-needed and thoroughly enjoyed four-week break from Dhaka.  And we found out where we are headed for our next post: MUSCAT, OMAN!

The first time I heard of Muscat, I was like, “Isn’t that a kind of wine?”  I had no idea it was a capital city, much less the capital city of a country I didn’t even really know existed. Oman isn’t in the news very much and I’ve never really bragged about my Middle Eastern geographical knowledge.  Thank goodness for Google.

After spending a lot of time on the internet and talking to as many people as we could about our decision to rank Muscat highly on our bid list, we are really happy we got one of our top choices. Yes, Oman is a conservative country (but not as conservative as, for instance, Saudi Arabia) and it’s really hot for a lot of the year, but Muscat is right on the water, outdoor activities abound, there’s hardly any crime, and the climate is apparently perfect four months out of the year. And there are not tons of people and cars everywhere, we’ll be able to travel through the country, we could drive to Dubai, and there is hardly any air pollution!  We’ll be able to go camping on the beach, snorkeling, explore the dessert, and take Athena for walks outside again.  Even she’ll be able to go swimming in the Gulf. People other than our parents want to come and visit us!

I’m sure there will be challenges and difficulties that I can’t foresee.  God only knows there were/are plenty here in Dhaka.  But for now we are pretty fricking excited!

Almost a year in

I can’t believe we’ve been here almost a year.  What a time it has been.

The other day a good friend pointed out to me that I haven’t been blogging lately.  It’s hard to blog when things are “meh.” I wrote a post on our recent trip to Kuala Lumpur (which was so much fun) and then the pictures wouldn’t load onto WordPress, so I gave up on publishing it.  But things have been happening around here, and life goes on.

A few weeks ago there was a craft bazaar at the Canadian High Commission.  One of the vendors had this massive etched brass plate with elephants and stuff on it, and when I asked the price he quoted me something outrageous. So I asked where his shop was, figuring I could go see the plate there and maybe get a better price.  I went a few days ago, and there, again, was the plate.  I asked how much it cost, and the price did indeed come down significantly.  He told me it was 450 years old and from the Mughal era.  If that’s not a dubious claim, I don’t know what is.  It looks old, but not that old.  Who knows, maybe it’s new and they buried it in some dirt to make it look old. I told Nate it’s supposedly a Mughal plate, and he said that would make us archeological artifact smugglers if we bought it, assuming it is indeed that old.  I got the shopkeeper to come down to what I consider a reasonable price for a big metal plate with an interesting design of unknown age/origin, so we’ll see what happens.

The ayah has started giving me unsolicited directions on child-rearing.  We started feeding M solid foods when he turned six months old, and we’d been giving him purees for breakfast and dinner.  The other day, around noon, I was holding M with one hand and peeling a banana with the other.  M was lurching towards the banana, clearly very interesting.  The ayah saw this, and said, “You give him breakfast and dinner.  Why no lunch?”  So now M gets lunch too, which I suppose was bound to happen eventually anyway since most people do, in fact, eat lunch.  One night Nate and I came home around 7:30 and M was already in his pjs.  She said “He needs milk and then he goes to sleep.”  Yes m’am.

Our apartment is long and narrow, and all the windows on the long side border a single family home, the yard of which we can see into easily. One night we heard tons of barking and it turned out they’d gotten a dog.  A large, full-grown dalmatian, to be exact. During the day they chained it up to this covered area in the front yard, and the chain was maybe 4 feet long.  The dog barked like mad pretty much all day long, and Athena was in a perpetual tizzy.  They gave the dog food and water, and their gardener touched it with a long stick every time he went near it, but thankfully we never saw anyone be mean to the dog.  And he treated the stick like a toy/scratching pole.  Then after about four days of non-stop barking, everything was quiet and the dog was gone.  In fact, it now looks like the dog was never even there.  No chain, no water dish, nothing.  Who knows where the dog went, but Nate and I have decided that they had a weekend visitor that insisted on bringing their dog with them.  It’s the most reasonable and humane explanation we could think of.

Oh, one of my toenails fell off.  I’m almost 100% certain it’s because of a bad pedicure from La Femme. I’ve never lost a toenail before, even with marathon training, so this is uncharted territory.  I’m just glad it never got infected.  That’s Dhaka for you… even my toenails are like “What the fuck.”

Now I’m going to figure out how to finally get the pictures into the Kuala Lumpur post!

Keeping on keeping on

I wrote this post about a week ago.  There is an ebb and flow of “things are fine” and “things suck, when are we leaving.”  While I try to stay on the “things are fine” side of life, it’s not always possible. Things are fine now, but I’m still going to press “publish.”  The security situation here has made things difficult, and this is one of the challenging realities of life in Dhaka.  Anyway, here you go.

We have been here for 10 months now.  Time is flying, and I’m thankful for that.

Life in Dhaka hasn’t been easy lately for me.  I am an outdoorsy person, and I feel like here the most outdoor exposure is getting into the car and back out again.  And it really sucks.

When we were initially looking at the bid list before coming here, there were all these places that we ranked low because we wouldn’t be able to go out and do much.  Now, all those places, like Saudi Arabia, seem like they’d be wonderful because, while we’d be living on a large compound, at least we’d be able to walk around the compound.  Here I can’t even walk out the front gate of my apartment building.  There’s a beautiful park a few blocks away with a playground, and M will never get to play there.  Heck, he might never even get to actually set foot on an unguarded road here.

The other day I was daydreaming about what it would be like to be able to walk on the streets here, and I was thinking about taking M and Athena for a walk together.  I started wondering whether it would be best to put him in his Ergo carrier, or to put him in the stroller.  If I put him in the Ergo and someone shoots at me, then he could get shot too.  So maybe the stroller would be best.  But people here drive like maniacs and what if his stroller got hit by a car?  I mentioned all this to Nate, and he said that tactically the Ergo would be best so that we could more easily escape from a dangerous situation.  And you know the really sad part?  I am not worrying about crazy scenarios that could never happen.  These are actual possibilities.

If anyone had ever told me I’d be seriously mulling over things like this I’d have told them they were bat-shit insane.

Things aren’t really that bad, but sometimes the bad overpowers the good.

Athena’s new bestie

The other day Nate pointed out to me that this blog is called “According to Athena,” and I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you all about Athena’s new friend.


About a month ago Athena met a new dog in the field that we frequent and now they are best friends.  I mean, cuddling together, lazy wrestling, just wanting to be near each other best friends.  I actually haven’t seen her get along this well with another dog in years.  Not since her soul mate, Lincoln, moved away when we lived in Alexandria.

One day Athena’s friend followed us out of the field and to the car, and our driver asked what her name was.  I said, “I don’t know.  Brown Dog?”  So now we call her Brown Dog.


The really surprising part is that Brown Dog is also a female.  Athena is an alpha female, and most of the females here pretty much hate her.  Little do they know she’s not exactly giving them any competition, if you know what I mean.

Lately Brown Dog has been in the field almost every day, and when Athena arrives, she prances around looking for her.  I feel like Athena’s life isn’t as fun as it used to be since we can’t take her for walks anymore, so it makes me happy to see Athena having a good time!

Letters from Moldova

Last week marked the 55th anniversary of Peace Corps. Nate and I met as Peace Corps Volunteers in Moldova, where I served from 2005 to 2007. Earlier today I was combing through my inbox trying to find information on what exactly I did during my PC tenure and I stumbled across emails I’d written, giving periodic updates to family and friends back in the U.S.

These emails were a serious blast from the past, and I’ve copied and pasted some of my favorite snippets below.  I edited them for privacy; otherwise they are 100% as-written by my 22 or 23 year-old self.

June 21, 2005

On Saturday I told Valeria (training village host mom) that I wanted to do my laundry and asked her if she could show me how.  She said she would after we both took naps, but then she called her friend Galina that has an automatic washing machine, so we hiked about 1.5 miles to her house, dirty laundry in hand.  We were there for about 3.5 hours and I spoke so much Romanian that I got home and my brain honestly hurt.  They asked me so many questions, and the father tried to open the way for some political discussions, but I didn’t feel that my language or cultural knowledge was quite up to par for that door to be opened.  They’ve invited me over any time i want to do my laundry, which is tempting
since i’ve heard that it takes like 5 hours to wash by hand.

August 26, 2005

We met the president of the region a couple of days ago, and he gladly showed us the picture of himself with Stalin… it’s always fun to see those relics from the Soviet era.  In Budapest they’ve taken all the statues, etc from the Soviet era and they put them in a park
outside the city so that they can move forward without being reminded daily of the USSR, but here in Moldova things are a little different. They still have all the Soviet statues all over Chisinau, and sometimes you feel like you’ve died and gone to Russia.  But I guess that’s one of the things that just makes life here that much more interesting.

September 13, 2005

On Saturday I went to Balti (the “capitol of the north”), and I must have eaten something funky because on Sunday I felt awful all day and I had a fever… Valentina (host mom) got back from Chisinau, where she’s been for a Peace Corps host family conference, and she was 100% convinced that I was sick because I’d been exposed to wind on the bus ride to or from Balti.  I told her I thought it might have been something I ate, and she told me very adamantly that eating bad food can’t cause a fever– it was definitely the wind.  Right.  Later, after I told her that there was no wind on the rutiera and she gave me the 3rd degree about what else I’d done, she reneged and decided that I must have eaten too many grapes.  That is why I’m NEVER EVER going to a hospital here.

October 4, 2005

A couple of weeks ago I decided I needed to start an after-school activity, so at my school we now have Frisbee Club!  There were probably over 40 kids at the first meeting, and I found out that they boys were there because they thought they’d be learning how to play “futbol american.”  They were a little upset when they found out that neither that week nor the next week nor ever would I be teaching American football, so there were only girls at our 2nd meeting, but I still had about 20 kids and they had fun.  I’m still a little perplexed about where the idea of American football came from, but I explained that I don’t have a football, I don’t understand how the game works, and I don’t really even like football all that much (sorry, Dad).

December 11, 2005

Back in November I went to a weekend seminar in Soroca (northwest Moldova, very pretty) that was organized by Moldovans and for Moldovans about organizational development and institutional consolidation.  Since the whole thing was in Romanian, and I was the only American, I didn’t really grasp the institutional consolidation part, but it was still useful.  Before I left, my vice director told me to make sure that I bring lots of warm clothes because she’d been at the hotel where they were having the seminar the day before, and she said it was very cold.  So, I packed my long underwear and my polarfleece, figuring that they’d turn on the heat, but I should pack on the safe side just in case.  Turns out, the hotel doesn’t have heat, hot water, or anything at all that gives off warmth.  More interestingly, this is because Soroca doesn’t even have gas, which means that ALL heating is done by sobas (wood/coal fires that heat up walls and usually provide enough heat for maybe 3 rooms).  Soroca is supposed to be one of the nicest cities in Moldova, partially because it gets a lot of tourists and it’s were all the really rich gypsies live.  And you’d think that they wouldn’t want to hold a seminar someplace that is uncomfortably cold.  It’s a little vexing how things in Moldova works at times, but I’ve almost gotten used to it.  Anyhow, it’s really a pretty city, since it’s right on the Nistru river and you can practically reach out and pet the Ukraine.  I woke up early and went for a walk, and there was still frost on the ground, the sun was rising over Ukraine, the were old men out fishing… it was really nice, and I got warm🙂

January 21, 2006

For the Orthodox Christmas (jan. 7) I went to visit my Pre-Service Training host family.  It’s always nice to go back there, since I feel like I’m part of the family and they’re always SOOO happy to see me.  We all woke up bright and early on the 7th and headed over to their friend Galina’s house.  (As a side note, Galina’s 19 yr old daughter got married in November and she’s going to have a baby in the spring, and she’s in her first year of medical school.  Here they start medical school straight out of high school, and skip the traditional university… a little crazy, I think)  We were at Galina’s until maybe 1 pm, and then we went to my host dad’s mom’s, and then to my host mom’s mom’s house.  At every house you go to, they lay out a table with TONS of food, and you’re being rude if you don’t eat.  After stopping at home for maybe an hour, which is just enough time to feed the animals, we went to someone else’s house and ate more.  Then I (naively) assumed we were walking home, since it was 11:30 pm, but we went to yet another house, where they expected us to eat even more.  I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much in one day in my whole life… but it was a fun day, and it was nice to see people that I haven’t seen since PST.

January 26, 2006

I thought you might want an update, even though I just sent out an email, since the situation here is really kind of laughable.  Well, not really since it’s been so cold, but it’s definitely crazy.  It’s been around -26 degrees Celsius, which is -15 degrees Fahrenheit… school has been cancelled this whole week by the Ministry of Education because it’s been so cold.  Most schools are well-heated, but the kids freeze on the walk to school at 8 a.m.  Moldovans seem to be worried mostly about their kidneys getting cold… I don’t know about that, so I usually just nod.  The pipes have frozen at my house, so we have no running water.  The water in the pipes that run to the radiators has also frozen, which means no heat.  I’m glad I have my Peace Corps heater, because otherwise I would freeze.  So basically I just spend all day wearing LOTS of polar fleece, a hat, and lying in my down sleeping bag, with it pulled up to my chin.  When I leave my room, I bundle up like I’m going outside… The count-down to summer has definitely begun.

March 2, 2006

Last week, I was lying in bed reading and my host mom burst into my room, telling me that Olgutsa is in a concert at school, and if I leave now I’ll get there in time.  I can only handle so much time spent reading in bed before I really start to wish I had something
else to do, so I wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity.  I threw on my boots and tromped through the muddy short-cut to school, and found the concert in the third grade class room.  I was wondering what the occasion of the concert was, and it turned out that they’d selected a completely random day of the year and named it “Bread Day.” They said poems about bread, sang some songs about bread, and then there was a little song-and-dance routine completely unrelated to bread.  There were also 2 old ladies dressed up in the traditional garb with LOTS of bread products.  They explained all the different shapes of the bread, the different kinds of bread, and their religious/cultural meaning.  It was actually kind of interesting, and we concluded the event by dancing the hora (not so sure on the spelling of that) around the classroom.  Then once the kids left the teachers broke out the house wine and dug into the bread products.  By the time I went home, I’d eaten enough bread to last for a month, and i still had a plastic bag full of bread baked into the form of little birds.  It’s the little surprises like “Bread Day” that make me smile, shake my head, and appreciate Moldova for how hard they really do try.

May 4, 2006

Easter here was on April 23rd, and it is quite the celebration because it is the end of Lent.  Here everyone does Lent, except it’s called “post” and if you do post, you can’t eat any meat or other animal products.  My host parents were both doing post, which meant the rest of us were too, and by the end all of us were pretty hungry for meat.  The week before Easter is spent cleaning the house, and just about everything else, and starting to prepare the food.  Then on Easter Eve everyone goes to the church starting around 10 pm, lays out their bread and eggs, and stays outside (and awake) all night.  The priest comes out at sunrise, does a little church service, blesses all the food, and everyone packs up and goes home.  I’d heard that it was an interesting site to see, so I woke up at 5 a.m. and walked over to the church….. it was incredible.  There were hundreds and hundreds of people and they were all holding candles and there were candles in the food and everything was lit up.  I got there right as the priest came out, and one of my students gave me a candle and invited me stand with her family (mine was asleep and didn’t wake up) and it was one of the coolest things i’d ever seen.  the priest came along with the holy water, and he splashed everyone.  it was fun since you could tell he was having a good time with it, since he’s splash people and then he’d act like he was going to splash the next group of people, but instead he’d turn around and nail people he’d already splashed.  After the festivities i went home and slept some more, and then I went for a walk later in the morning.  At my last language IST, my teacher talked about how on Easter (and up to a month after it) people great each other with “Christ has risen” and then you say “Indeed, Christ has risen” back instead of the traditional “good day.”  To me, this seemed a little overly-religious, and I don’t consider myself to be a very religious person in the first place, plus, i’m not Moldovan, so I thought maybe I’d be exempt from this one.  Nope.  I’d say “good day” to someone and they’d say “christ has risen” back, and i started to feel like a moron.  so about 10 minutes into my walk I started greeting everyone with “Christ has risen” and then they’d reply like they were supposed to.

Returning to DIT-2

Usually the parking lot is packed with cars.  I had no idea there was a fountain.

Usually the parking lot is packed with cars. I had no idea there was a fountain.

Before I left in August on OB medevac, I went to DIT-2 fairly often.  Then the unpleasantness happened, and DIT-2 was outside of the red line and, therefore, out-of-bounds.

Recently, the red line shifted, and now we can go to DIT-2 again.  And that is kind of a big deal because now I can resume buying jewelry with reckless abandon.  Nate is thrilled.

A small sample of the pearls available here

A small sample of the pearls available here

I can’t mention DIT-2 without talking about the last time I went there before flying back to the U.S. It was a Sunday in the beginning of August, around 10 a.m., and it had rained a ton overnight.  Most stores are closed on Sundays, and a large part of the DIT-2 parking lot was roped off, so my driver dropped me off near the curb in an area loaded with enormous puddles.  At this point I was 33 weeks pregnant and my sense of balance was… off.  Anyways, I thought it would be a good idea to leap over one of the puddles, so I aimed carefully and jumped over a puddle probably five feet wide.

Except my foot didn’t hit the spot it was supposed to.  In fact, it landed in an underwater pothole full of six inches of water and I hit the ground in a spectacular fashion.  All I can say is thank god I decided to wear pants that day instead of a skirt.

I fell on my knee and banged it up so badly, it was sore for several months and, now, over six months later, it is still red and scarred.  My handbag and shoes got filled with water and I twisted my other ankle, scrapped my hands, tore my pants and got blood everywhere.

Fun times.

As much as I’m glad we can go back to DIT-2, I think the vendors are even happier.  I have a jewelry vendor that is my favorite, and he was very excited to see me.  Undoubtedly because he knows I’m an easy mark.  Anyhow, here are some photos from my most recent trip to DIT-2.

The DIT-2 Anthropologie of knobs

The DIT-2 Anthropologie of knobs

Compasses and other ship paraphernalia

Compasses and other ship paraphernalia

Sari stamps

Sari stamps

Lots of brass stuff

Lots of brass stuff.  I wonder if that gramophone works.


Our awesomely wonderful supplemental HHE shipment

There are some countries for which, if you are posted with the State Department, you get a consumables shipment.  A consumables shipment is an extra allotment of weight that you can use to buy things you will use up during your tour.  So it’s really great if you are already close to your weight limit and you’re going someplace where you can’t buy stuff like laundry detergent, wine, beer, liquor, peanut butter, and so forth.

You don’t get a consumables shipment for Bangladesh.  It’s not really the end of the world because you can get most things on the local market or at the commissary.

Even so, there are some things we wish we could get here more easily.  Like real maple syrup, chocolate chips, cheap sparkling water, good inexpensive jam, and scent and dye-free laundry detergent.

Luckily, State lets you do a supplemental HHE shipment if you are still within your first 12 months at post and you haven’t reached your HHE weight limit.  So when we were back in the U.S., we figured that since a moving company was already coming to do a layette shipment, why not have them do a supplemental HHE as well?  Plus, we’d already spent some time in Dhaka, so we had a good idea of what we needed.

We went to Trader Joe’s and it was, by far, the most fun I’ve ever had there in my life.  Anything and everything that I thought I might want to eat before May 2017 (and didn’t need to be refrigerated) went into the cart.  It was glorious. The limiting factor was the size of the cart; we stopped once we couldn’t fit anything else.

A cart full of amazingness!

A cart full of amazingness!

When Nate checked out, the cashier asked him if he was stocking a bomb shelter.  Because who doesn’t stock a bomb shelter with baking mixes, fancy crackers, whole wheat pasta, massive bars of chocolate, whole coffee beans, and cases of sparkling water?

Then we went another grocery store and stocked up on even more stuff.  Our cart was so heavy, I could barely push it.

The mini pack-out went well, other than a small incident in which Nate thought my dad’s cat Mango might have accidentally begun a global adventure in the shipping crate.  The movers left the crate open and Mango likes to explore new places, and Nate couldn’t find her after they left.  He called the moving company to ask if they had a stowaway cat, and they said they did not, but everyone still breathed a sigh of relief when Mango reappeared that evening.

Well, our supplemental HHE arrived a few weeks ago, and I’ll be damned if I did not actually squeal in delight as I opened some of the boxes.

It’s the things that I randomly tossed in the cart, like Trader Joe’s mini peanut butter cups, jars of fancy olives, scone baking mix, shelf-stable pepperoni, organic pumpkin pop tarts (why did I only grab one box?!) and dulce de leche that are the most exciting.

We also now have more maple syrup than we could possibly use over the next 15 months.  If you’re in Dhaka, and you want some real maple syrup, let me know!

The best part is that we no longer need to ration things.  We can pour as much syrup as we want on our pancakes, put salsa on everything, and not feel bad about pouring out the coffee at the bottom of the pot that we don’t drink.

And now it’s time to find some new pancake and maple syrup baking recipes to try, because I honestly don’t know what I was thinking when I bought that much maple syrup.

Thailand vacation: Dolphin Bay

A sight for sore eyes!

A sight for sore eyes!

After a few days in Bangkok, we headed to Dolphin Bay Resort, around 3 hours south of Bangkok, and about 30 minutes south of Hua Hin.  We wanted to go to a beach within driving distance of Bangkok where we could just relax and do nothing, and this fit the bill perfectly.

The hotel (it’s definitely not a resort, despite the name) is across the street from the beach, and has a few salt water pools and a good restaurant.  The beach isn’t the pristine aqua blue water beach that you see in the Thailand guidebooks, but it was shallow, there weren’t many waves, and the water was nice and warm.

There were massive jellyfish that washed up on shore  each afternoon as the tide was going out, but luckily we didn’t encounter any in the water.

The view down the beach across the street from Dolphin Bay Resort

The view down the beach across the street from Dolphin Bay Resort

It’s definitely a family-friendly hotel, and everyone there either had kids or was retired.  There are a bunch of excursions you can go on, and we would have taken advantage of that if we thought M could have handled it.  But we were pushing the baby envelope enough by introducing him to water, sand, heat, having to wear a hat, and swimming pools all at one time.  So we just hung out on the beach, by the pool, and in our air-conditioned hotel room.

The hotel also has a spa  where you can get Thai massages and other stuff.  One afternoon we took turns watching M and each of us got an hour-long massage.  It was heavenly.

If I’m being honest, my favorite thing about the hotel was going downstairs every morning for breakfast and being greeted with the smell of bacon.  Every morning, I ate bacon.  It was wonderful.

The hotel restaurant was good, not spectacular, and slightly expensive for Thailand, but inexpensive for a hotel restaurant.  The panang curry, however, was extraordinary, and I can be picky about restaurant food.  The burgers were also better than expected.

After a few days of eating at the hotel restaurant, we decided to venture out a little, and we discovered a wonderful place called Meaw Restaurant that had tables and chairs set up in the sand by the beach.  The food was better and less expensive than our hotel, so we went back for lunch and dinner every day after that.  Plus the waitress would bring our food and then take M, fan him, and coo at him while we ate.

We almost didn’t give Meaw Restaurant a try simply because of the name.  It looked too much like “meow,” which is a little ridiculous, but we wouldn’t go to a Woof Restaurant or a Neigh Restaurant, so there you go.

One night while we were eating dinner at Meaw, a very nice young lady asked if she could hold M.  We said yes. Then she gestured, asking if she could take him to the open-air bar next door.  She seemed harmless enough so we said yes (questionable parenting choice? maybe.), and she was back less than a minute later because M was starting to get fussy.  Apparently she walked up to a dude there, claimed M was his, and that he needed to give her money.  Ha!

Overall, we had a nice, relaxing vacation in Thailand, to the extent that that is possible with a baby. Neither of us wanted to leave!

Thailand vacation: Bangkok

We had a chance to get out of Dhaka for about a week, so we headed to Thailand.  Since this was our first “vacation” with M, we wanted someplace where we wouldn’t have to do too much in order to have a nice, relaxing time.

Grand palace (1 of 1)

Temples in the Grand Palace complex

We spent a few nights in Bangkok when we arrived, and then another night the day before we flew back to Dhaka.  We had one full day before heading to our hotel on the beach, and I thought it would be feasible for us to see the Grand Palace and one of the other temples.  Well, we decided to shlep to a bagel shop for breakfast that was further away than we thought (everything looks so close on the map… but it’s not) so we didn’t get in a taxi to go to the palace until about noon, and then traffic was horrid.  We arrived at the palace around 1:00, made our way through the literal hordes of tourists, and by 3:00, M had reached the end of his baby rope and was screaming bloody murder.  So we hopped in the first taxi we found and went back to the hotel.  We knowingly fell victim to a common taxi scam where the driver quotes you a flat rate probably twice the price it would cost with the meter running, but we needed air conditioning as fast a possible, so whatever.

Grand palace2 (1 of 1)

The entrance to the Emerald Buddha temple. Except it’s actually made of jade.

We didn’t make it to the other temple I wanted to visit, so I guess I’ll have to wait until the next time we’re in Bangkok to see the world’s second largest reclining Buddha.  That’s traveling with a baby: you are no longer in charge.

The main highlight of our visit to Bangkok was finally getting to see Star Wars.  Nate cared about this more than pretty much anything else, so we utilized the hotel babysitting service and went to a nearby theater. The total cost for 4.5 hours of babysitting, movie tickets for 7:30 on a Friday night at a nice theater, popcorn and soda was about $55!  In the U.S. it would have been at least double that.

Oh, we also found this nice grocery store called Food Hall or something like that, and I was in grocery store heaven.  It was aaaaaamazing.  It was basically a Thai Whole Foods, and I bought mangosteens, avocados, dried fruit, and Ghiradelli chocolate chips to bring back to Dhaka.

I could have spent another hour there, at least, but once again M insisted that things be done on his schedule (are you sensing a theme here?). I’m making the kid sound like a terror, but really he wasn’t that bad.  He did a good job considering how much time he spent in his Ergo and how stinking hot it was.  And honestly, there were times when he cried that I would have cried too, I was so hot and tired of the crowds, but it’s not socially unacceptable for adults to do that.

The first two nights we stayed at Ibis Siam, which is super convenient if you want to get out and walk around and do stuff, with a sky train station practically in front of the hotel.  There’s also a 7-Eleven in the lobby, which was awesome.

The night before we flew home, we stayed at the Swissotel Nai Lert Park, and it was fabulous.  I booked it specifically because the hotel had a babysitting service, and the more I thought about using a hotel babysitter, the more nervous I got, but the babysitter was a very kindly older Thai lady that M took to immediately.  When we got back from the movie, he was in his pajamas, sleeping soundly.  This hotel also has an amazing pool and a super tasty breakfast.  I ate so much for breakfast (crepes! pastries! donuts! bacon! waffles! roasted pork! dude, they even had dim sum!) , if I’d eaten another bite my stomach would have exploded.

Not the best photo, but you get the idea

Not the best photo of the Swissotel’s pool, but you get the idea

We booked the hotels through, which has the best rates I’ve ever been able to find anywhere.

Also, if anyone else is like “OOOOOO there’s a bagel shop in Bangkok?!” here you go: BKK Bagel Bakery near the Chit Lom BTS station.  It’s near the Haagen-Dazs, kind of on a side-street, next to the Kipling Store.  We bought a baker’s dozen to bring back to Dhaka with us, and they are actually pretty darn good bagels.  The sandwiches in the store are also tasty.

We really liked Bangkok, and since it’s so easy to get to, I know we’ll be back!