Thursday, 10 May 2007

Ollie the fish!

Ollie is now starting to swim unaided and wanted to show off his new skills on the Blog to all of you. So I duly took my camera to the Club on Sunday and took a little clip of him at his fish-like best. Aimee makes a short cameo at the end.

Its hard to believe that a year ago we had just returned from our first visit to Singapore and neither of them would get into the pool without either Leigh or I to attach themselves too - quite literally by grabbing us round the neck and nearly drowning us!

Hope you are all well in Blighty. Mike and Maureen arrived this week and its been lovely to see them after four and half months. We are now busy with the preparations for Ollie's Birthday party on Saturday, his actual Birthday [so another cake!] on Sunday and then off to Bali on Monday.

Life is good. Definitely not a drop of homesickness in the air at the moment which is great after the recent months when it has at times, plagued me and made me wonder what we are doing here. All too soon I 'll be back to the UK and kicking myself for wasting those days. My closest friend here, Michelle, has recently found out she is returning to the UK with her family in July. She will have been here for only 9 months by then - that is less time than us Leathers have been here already! Its been a kick up the bum to remind to enjoy this time whilst it lasts.

V xx

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Weekend in Bangkok

Leigh and I went up to Bangkok last weekend to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary. We have some "Cheltenham" friends, Kieran and Susan who moved there at the same time we moved to Singapore last year. We were even able to go without the kids as they stayed at home with Mary [aka Filipino Mary Poppins] for the weekend, but not without a little bit of bribery from me....

Kieran and Susan are renting a beautiful new house in the central district of Bangkok, so we were conveniently located to check out their favourite eating, drinking and shopping spots.

Driving around the city, I have to say that I found the Bangkok we saw as mainly very ugly - lots of dirt, grey and concrete. Things improved dramatically when we went into restaurants etc but just driving through town was not pretty. Mine and Leigh's expected ladyboy spotting contest came to nothing as we didn't see the seedy side of things at all. There were no flying pingpong balls in our line of vision this weekend and I think I've seen more "working girls" along Rochester's New Road on a Wednesday night than we saw over the weekend!

We ate out at three fantastic restaurants over the weekend. On Friday it was a very modern place with a good selection of Thai food that we ordered Tapas style and munched whilst plying ourselves with lots of drink. The thunderstorms we've had in Singapore over the last month followed us to dinner and there was a terrific storm, the likes of which Kieran and Susan hadn't seen in their time in Bangkok. I keep forgetting Bangkok and Singapore are a 2 hour flight apart as we think of them as being so close now we live here for some strange reason??

Anyway, Saturday was probably the greatest shopping experience of my life - and that is saying something! I thought I'd died and gone to BARGAIN HEAVEN!!! otherwise known as, Jatujak Market. It was flipping brilliant. Its the biggest market in the world, covering 35 acres. We were there for 4 hours and I think we saw about 10% of it. Imagaine hundreds [and hundreds] of alleyways like this full of every type of thing you could ever want to buy from an antique chinese statute to a puppy!

And I wasn't joking about the animals either...

I shopped like a woman possessed. I bought Buddha heads, Buddha pictures, Buddha dolls [yes, the asian Buddha thing has taken hold of me], clothes, jewellery, toys, football kit for Ollie and plenty of other bits and bobs. Once I've got them distributed round the house I'll take some photos and post them. I felt like the Beckhams as I was dishing out my 500Baht notes left, right and centre. When we were finally done, mine and Susan's shopping required a trolley man and looked like this...

The grand sum spent on my bargain bonanza.....under 100 pounds!!! I was plenty pleased with that, as was Mr L's wallet.

The market was the highlight of the weekend for me and definitely requires a return trip. Susan and I have been making plans for what I can get shipped down to Singapore as the furniture costs about a tenth of the price we get charged here - and I've been thinking that was cheap! Susan took us to a very popular chicken and rice lunch place within the market. It was the real deal street food and in sharp contrast to the 3 places we ate in over the rest of the weekend. The food was lovely and I only remembered to photograph it when we'd eaten it all...

Kieran and Susan wanted to go out very early on Saturday evening, so after a quick dip in their pool [sooo jealous of that in the heat - our ELC Thomas the Tank Engine paddling pool just isn't the same!] we were ready to go out by 5.30pm. On our way to the State Tower it became clear we were going to the top of the building with the gold Dome you can see in this picture....

Despite being as tall as he his, those of you who know him well, will understand this was not a good option for Leatherman who is a little unhappy about heights. As it was our anniversary and he was being an all round wonder-husband for the weekend, he put on his brave face as we rode the elevator to the 64th floor and smiled as we walked out to the bar with this view...

Its obvious how mind-blowing the view was and easily becomes one of our favourite moments in Asis so far. Watching the sunset over Bangkok and the lights of the City come on was great, and thinking of it now, its a hard call between Bargain City Jatujak Market and the Dome Bar for the winning part of the weekend.

We left the Bar a couple of hours and a few vodkas later to go to their favourite restaurant in Bangkok - an Italian! Great place, fantastic food and definitely not something we would ever have found without the benefit of Kieran and Susan's local knowledge.

Sunday saw us nursing sore heads again [I was doing my "It was the Olives" thing to explain my poorlyness] so that was cured by more food and drink at the Oriental Hotel. Its Bangkok's Raffles I guess, as it was the first "posh" hotel in the city many, many moons ago. Lunch lined my stomach for the return journey to Singapore which was the worst turbulance either of us have ever experienced. The crew had to get me some anti-sickness tablets but I was too ashamed to tell them my hangover probably wasn't helping.

Arrived home late in the evening to 2 very happy and very tired kids. They'd had the time of their lives over the weekend with movies, popcorn, playdates etc. They dived straight into our bags to find out what we had bought them and if they'd had their way, would have slept in their new football kit and sarongs.

Was a great weekend break for the two of us and worth the guilt I felt about leaving the kids. They were absolutely fine with Mary, just as we knew they would be, so I'm now planning our next weekend break to take before the school summer holidays.

These are some of the photographs from the weekend....