Monday, August 15, 2011
This turned out to be a very busy weekend!
Since Friday was the national Thai holiday, Kevin went golfing with two co-workers from the Embassy. He had his best game of golf in a long time (maybe ever?) and shot par on four holes in a row. All that time playing in Miami must have helped! It was an interesting experience for him in that each golfer is assigned a caddy and all of the caddies are these very petite Thai women. Throughout their round, his caddy carried & cleaned Kevin's clubs, kept his score and offered him advice on each green (maybe that was why he did so well). Kevin said there are hundreds of workers maintaining the course and they help your caddy to find your ball, regardless of where it is hit. Kevin's caddy was able to find every ball that he hit (except for the two that went into the lake). Knowing how Kevin can hit, she probably got more than enough exercise for the day and deserved a HUGE tip. After the round of golf, they were shown into the VIP changing room and were able to shower and change before having a nice lunch. While they were at lunch, their shoes and clubs were so thoroughly cleaned, they looked almost new. The most surprising thing about this round of golf (other than Kevin having four pars!) was that the total cost was under $55.00.
ISB had orientation for the new middle schoolers beginning at 11.00 am on Saturday. The kids went into small groups within their grade levels while Kevin and I spent about 2 hours listening to the Principal and the Vice Principal explain all of the processes and procedures of the school. We had to absorb a lot of information and I am just glad that we won't be tested! The kids were able to meet other new children in their classes so at least they will recognize more faces on Monday. The orientation was very organized and they seemed to cover everything imaginable so I hope our first day/week goes well. I thought the orientation would last about an hour but it turned into a three hour event!
Christopher had assessment for the 13 & Under basketball team immediately after orientation ended. The athletic complex at the school is huge and so impressive! They have separate gyms for the elementary, middle and high schoolers with age appropriate equipment/activities (jungle gyms, weight rooms, etc.). There are 7 tennis courts, a soccer field, baseball stadium, a brand new 1/4 mile track and a 25 metre swimming pool. By the beginning of the next school year, they will have a new 50 metre swimming pool. Parents are welcome to use any of the facilities during non-school hours. I think just about every sport is offered and most of the children participate at some level. Although Christopher was a bit rusty, he played well and was asked to come next weekend to play with the 15 & Under team. He was thrilled! The basketball coach also turned out to be the baseball coach and invited Christopher to come to their practice the next day to play with the 13 & Under travel team. The team is now training for a tournament in Singapore over the Thanksgiving weekend but they play all year round with games in Australia, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore. If he makes the team, it will be a fun way for us to get to see more of this region!
Sunday morning, Christopher and Kevin went off to baseball while Caitlynne and I took a taxi to the Chatuchak Markets. Chatuchak is thought to be one of the largest street markets in the world and is about 15 minutes from our home. Nothing will ever prepare you for visiting Chatuchak. The market is only open on Saturdays and Sundays and it is estimated 250,000 people visit each weekend. There are over 10,000 stalls and, while there is a map that does a pretty good job of putting some method to the madness, between the layout and the number of stalls and the number of people shopping, it is quite chaotic. Having learned the hard way, if you see something you want, buy it right then because you will never be able to find your way back to that same stall. The stalls are arranged on a very crazy maze of narrow alleys and some are so run down that a good gust of wind would knock them right over. Items for sale are piled high on tables and stacked on shelves. Anything you could possibly want and/or need (and a lot of stuff that you don't) is for sale at Chatuchak. In the 2 hours that Caitlynne and I wandered around, we saw silks, orchids, furniture, bed linens, bath towels, ceramics, fine china, designer clothing, used clothing, jewelry, beads and a variety of animals. There is a lot of junk but also some good finds. In fact, we went to dinner at a friends' home last night and they had just purchased 6 high end dining room chairs from Chatuchak. I hope, after talking to others and visiting the market a few times, I will begin to figure who and where the "good" vendors are to buy lamps, furniture, dishware, etc. The prices are very good and it is expected for you to bargain. Caitlynne wanted a bracelet offered at 79 baht. I offered 60 baht and it was ours. Not a very intense bargaining session but I was so proud not to have paid full price. The trip certainly was an adventure for us!
Christopher's baseball went very well and I think he was glad that he had such great coaches in Miami and was appreciative of all of the time he spent with his pitching coach and in the batting cages. Most of the boys on the team are Americans who have been in Bangkok (and on the team) for several years. I think there was only one boy from the Embassy and the others were here with the oil companies or other private industry. They will only practice once a week until the tournament gets closer so Christopher should be able to play both baseball and basketball without too much conflict.
We had a minor hiccup with the golf cart and called a repairman who, much to our surprise on a Sunday afternoon at 3.00 pm, came right out and fixed it! I was so happy it could be easily fixed because school starts tomorrow and I did not want to have to hoof it up there on the first day with the kids and their heavy backpacks!