Friday, August 31, 2012

Thank Goodness For Friday!

I am finishing up my second cup of pity me! This has not been a good week for me at all. Thank goodness it is Friday and we have a low key weekend ahead of us. Both of the kids have their basketball games on Saturday and, fortunately, they are at different times so we get to see both games in their entirety.  The Embassy is closed on Monday for the Labor Day holiday and Kevin has plans for a golf outing.  

After having great runs last week and over the weekend, the pain in my knee returned with a vengeance  Monday morning.  Advil, ice and Epsom salts did not help at all and I decided not to run Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, hoping the rest would give my knee a chance to heal.  No such luck.  It seemed to get more painful each day and the pain moved from the top outside to the lower inside of my knee. I found that if I deeply massage the area where it hurts the most, some of the pain is relieved. I was getting a bit ornery with not being able to run so I did a short and slow four mile run this morning. I had no pain during or after the run and, right now, my knee actually feels a little better. I have an idea that, after all of the running I did on paved and trail surfaces in the U.S., my knee is protesting the return to running on the horrible concrete surfaces here in Nichada. Also, the streets here are sloped so much to allow for water run off during the monsoon season that I am always running on an angle which might affect my knee as well.  

To make things even worse...I went out to lunch with some friends Wednesday afternoon and felt horrible by the time I got home. My head was so congested and I had developed a very bad cough. I took a long nap and went to bed very early but still did not feel well yesterday so I spent the day in bed. I feel a lot better this morning and I hope I kicked whatever it was out of my system. As much as I needed the rest, I just hate feeling like I "wasted" the day by sleeping it away. 

Last weekend's basketball games did not go as well as we would have liked...Christopher's team lost by 4 points in overtime and Caitlynne's team (which yours truly coaches) lost by about 26 points. I felt bad for all of the girls because only 5 girls per team showed up so they all had to play the entire game. No subs and no rest. It was tough, especially because it was their first game of the season (and fitness levels were not so great) and we were playing in the outdoor gym with no AC. However, even when we were down so much by the end of the game, the girls still played like they had a chance to win and that is what is most important. We only caught the last few minutes of Christopher's game so I don't have much to say about it other than he was disappointed they lost. Hopefully, tomorrow's games will have better outcomes for our teams.  

Okay, enough whinging for this blog post... on to more positive things!   

Kevin had visitors in town this weekend and we (on very short notice) hosted a dinner for them here Monday evening. Our original plan was to have them to the house for drinks and nibblies  before going out to a restaurant for dinner. However, just in the nick of time, I realized that all of the nicer restaurants around Nichada are closed on Mondays. Fortunately, PeePorn came to the rescue and made us a delicious dinner of chicken with cashews, pomello salad, rice, and a green salad. We had pastries from the Erawan bakery (downtown) and a fresh fruit plate for dessert. PeePorn is such a wonderful cook and didn't seem to mind at all that I threw this plan at her when she walked in the door Monday morning at 7 a.m.    

While PeePorn was busy cooking (in all fairness, she shoo'd me out of the kitchen), I went to lunch with a group of women newly arrived in Bangkok to an amazing place called "Amantee - House of Oriental and Tibertian Art and Antiques". Amantee is very close to Nichada and I heard great things about it (as both a furniture gallery and as a restaurant) from my friends but I had never been. Nothing could have prepared me for this experience. 

From the Amantee website... "Ámantee (which means 'peaceful space') is an exquisite complex of traditional Thai-style houses in an artfully landscaped tropical garden. Ámantee is a place enhancing personal serenity.  Ámantee is a repository of Oriental and Tibetan antiques & arts, where favourable prices equitably benefit sources and buyers alike."  In addition to a gallery filled with beautiful furniture and art, there is a restaurant (Le Cafe) on-site and the venue can be rented for weddings, parties and other special events. There are water gardens, tropical flowers & trees and stone paths all around the property.  It was so peaceful and tranquil, something not found too often in Bangkok.  I forgot to take along my camera so all of the photos below are from the Amantee website ( and the photographer is Cedric Arnold (

The grounds and exteriors of Amantee.

The interiors of some of the buildings located on the grounds.  

One of the buildings is a guest house.

Le Cafe (where we ate lunch).

I had chilled green pea soup, tomato & goat cheese quiche and mousse au chocolat for dessert.  Everything was delicious! 

The Owner (I believe his name was Gilles) lives on the grounds and spent a lot of time talking with us about where he & his partner source the antiques and arts that are available for purchase in the gallery. Unfortunately, Amantee was devastated by the flood waters last Fall - the grounds and the gallery were under 45 inches water for weeks!

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

One Thousand Miles!!!

I reached a HUGE milestone in my transcontinental run this morning... I have run 1,000 miles since last December!  (Well, actually 1,002 but, once you run that much, what is an extra mile or two?!?).  

I am STILL in Kentucky but getting closer to Illinois...
It looks like I run just a short distance in Illinois (relatively speaking) and then head south into Missouri.  Only 3,061 miles left to run until I reach the Pacific Ocean somewhere along the coast of Oregon.

I finished my run this morning at this beautiful spot...
1002.0 mi - "14.91 mi to Beech Grove, KY", Daviess County
I was very fortunate to be able to run so much when we were back in the U.S.  The weather was such a nice change from Bangkok and I certainly took advantage of it. I ran about 35 miles each week and, one week, I came thisclose to running 40 miles. It was nice to vary my routes throughout our trip. There are very limited options in Nichada as far as running routes and trails or paths are considered.  If I run anything over 6 miles, I begin to feel like a hamster going round and round in a wheel.  So boring!  While we were at my parents' home, we ran on the Walkill Valley Rail Trail. While we were staying with Clare in Virginia, I ran around the golf course in her community - it was very hilly but the path was paved (the best surface for running, IMHO) and so peaceful in the early morning.  I had a few nice runs around our former neighborhood in Miami - even though it was warm and humid, it was still better than Bangkok!  Jim and Jan live in a great area for running - lots of very nice neighborhoods to run through, a paved path along the Fairfax Co. Parkway and enough hills here and there to make it challenging.  Jim, Jan, Kevin, the kids and I also did a couple of runs at Burke Lake Park on the weekends. 
There is a 4.5 mile path around the perimeter of the Lake and the path, although not paved, is in pretty good shape. We would stop at Starbuck's on the way to Burke Lake and, as our incentive to run fast, we would pick up bagels and cream cheese on the way home for breakfast.  

After my run on Sunday morning, my knee was incredibly painful. I couldn't bend or put any pressure on it and it hurt even when I had it elevated. Thanks to Dr. Google, I diagnosed myself with either a stress fracture or a torn meniscus. I stayed off my feet most of Sunday, iced it throughout the day and took a few Advil (which did nothing). I didn't run Monday or Tuesday and limited my activity to only walking Sonder. I was so frustrated at not being able to run - I wanted to reach 1,000 miles so badly!  I had a few twinges of pain here and there but nothing like it was on Sunday (when I thought I should have my leg amputated).  By Tuesday night, even those twinges were gone. The rest days must have done the trick because I ran a great 6 miles yesterday and 5 mile this morning - all without knee pain (so I consider myself cured).  

Kevin was in Taipei last week and in Tokyo this week.  He returns tonight but has official visitors in town for several days so I am not sure how much we will get to see of him this weekend. As luck would have it, Caitlynne and Christopher each have a basketball game tomorrow night at 7.30 pm so I hope he can at least get home to watch some of Christopher's game.

Have a great Thursday.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

After Our Return

As sad as we were to leave our friends and family in the U.S., it sure was nice to be home.  After 7 weeks, we all were tired of living out of a suitcase and ready to sleep in our own beds. I think the forced overnight in Tokyo helped reduce the effect of jet lag on all of us.  I had a few nights of being awake from 1 am - 3 am but it wasn't as bad as when we arrived in Bangkok last year.

As expected, Sonder was very happy to see us.  He had a rough time while we were gone and I am trying to think of a better option for his care when we go on future trips. PeePorn loves him and is very good with him but she can't replace the kids and I. He was very lonely and depressed to the point that he didn't eat well for a couple of weeks. Fortunately, my next door neighbor had him over for frequent playdates - she has three young children and she also happened to be watching a friend's dog for the summer so Sonder had an outlet for some of his energy as well as some social time. 

The kids fell right back into their routines - biking around Nichada, meeting up with friends, sleepovers... School began last Tuesday and, so far, so good.  Caitlynne was very happy with her teachers and the composition of her classes.  Fortunately, she does not have many of her friends in her classes so she can concentrate on her academics and save the socializing for after school. At first, Christopher was a bit overwhelmed with his Algebra class and wasn't confident he could do the work but, after being in the class for a week and getting to know the teacher, he is more positive about his capabilities.  The kids actually have one class together - Theater Sports - and it is fun to listen them talk about the different drama exercises that they do.

The community league basketball season begins this week and both Caitlynne and Christopher will be playing.  Kevin coached Christopher's team last year but because of how much he will be traveling this year, he couldn't commit.  I volunteered to be an assistant coach for Caitlynne's team but, given no one volunteered to be coach, I was quickly promoted! How great is that?!? Not.  Our first game is Friday night and it will be interesting to see how our team does. Of the seven girls on my team, I only knew two of them (one being Caitlynne) and they haven't practiced or played together as a team yet.  I hope they all at least know how to play the game - I know enough about basketball to make me dangerous but I certainly can't teach anyone the fundamentals of the game or any strategies.   

I went to the Babies' Home on Monday but Say Jon was sick and I could not take him so I will try to go tomorrow or Friday.  I can't wait to see how big he has gotten and if he is crawling yet. The Home was closed for quite a long time over the summer because there was an outbreak of Hand, Foot and Mouth disease in this region.  I couldn't figure out if the Home was directly affected or if they were just being cautious and closing the Home to visitors in order to reduce the potential for contamination.  

Today, I went with a friend to an area of Bangkok called "Wood Street".  She was interested in having some pieces of furniture made and a shop in this area had been recommended to her.  It was pretty obvious how the street got its name. Wood and wood products were EVERYWHERE!
The shops were piled high to the ceiling with row after row of furniture for sale. Thank goodness I went along as only an observer because the choices were overwhelming. Shop after shop of wood products...


Some random photos of "Wood Street".
A food vendor.
I still haven't ridden in a tuk-tuk.  It is on my "to do" list though so sometime in the next 10 months it is going to have to happen!

Have a great Wednesday!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back To The BKK

Sooner or later, all good things must come to an end and it was time to begin to say, "goodbye". Again. I had a "final" fun evening out with a few of my friends - we have so much fun together and I am always so sad to say good-bye to them. I kept telling myself that, this time next year, we will all be sitting around the pool having happy hour(s)!  My parents drove down from New York on Thursday and my sister flew in from St. Augustine, FL on Friday so we could all spend the weekend together before we left for Bangkok on Monday.

Kevin and my dad were able to golf three of the four mornings we were together. Fortunately, they go out very early in the morning and are back no later than 11 am so there is still plenty of time left in the day for other activities. Kevin has been practicing and playing quite a bit in Bangkok and his game has improved tremendously. Although he shot his best game ever one of the mornings he played with my dad, I still won't let him quit his day job.  In fact, since he has started his new job in Virginia and will be working in the U.S. quite a bit, he made sure to outfit himself with a set of clubs to keep in Virginia so he won't need to haul his "Bangkok" set back and forth. Oh, the hardship! However, he is now concerned that the some of the clubs he uses in the U.S. are superior to those he uses here and might "throw" his swing off. Does it ever end?!?

My sister's birthday was Sunday so all of the "girls" went and got mani/pedis. I know I will certainly miss the very inexpensive "services" industry in Bangkok when we move back to Virginia.  In Bangkok, a pedicure costs 150 Baht (about $5.00) compared to the $27.00 I paid in Virginia. Once or twice a week, Caitlynne will go to the salon in Nichada to get her hair washed and blown out (her hair is crazy thick & curly and it is very hard for her to manage) for about $9.00.  While we were in Virginia, we went to a Hair Cuttery (not even a high end salon) and the stylist told me she could wash/blow out Caitlynne's fair for $36.00!!! I had to ask her to repeat the price because I thought, for sure, I heard her incorrectly. No, thank you!          

Monday morning came way too quickly!  We packed and loaded our suitcases into my brother's truck...
Took a last round of family photos and headed to the airport.  
Just as a fun comparison, the photos below were taken 7 years ago on the day we moved to Australia. The more things change, the more they stay the same!
 We started the trip back to Bangkok with smiles...  
I will spare you all of the messy details but our trip back to Bangkok was horrific. Clearly, there is still a lot of work to be done before the United-Continental merger can be considered a success.  We were so delayed flying out of D.C. that we missed our connection in Japan and had a forced over night in Tokyo.  

After spending the night in a not-so-nice hotel (and, having none of our luggage, we sure looked lovely), we went to the airport very early the next morning - only to be told that Kevin had a seat on the direct flight from Tokyo to Bangkok. Yup, just Kevin. United had no record in their system of the kids and I traveling with him. This was Just.A.Little.Problem. Fortunately we were able to work out a few logistical details and Kevin went on to Bangkok while the kids and I flew to Seoul and spent a very exciting 6 hours in the airport before FINALLY getting on a flight to Bangkok.    

After the chaos and confusion with our flights, I was most amazed when ALL of our luggage (that we had last seen when we checked it in D.C.) showed up in Bangkok at the same time we did! During our layover in Seoul, I did a little inventory as to what was in each bag because I thought for sure we were going to have to file a "lost luggage" claim. Thankfully that was not the case. We scooped up our bags and hired a car to take us to Nichada and HOME!

Have a great Sunday!