sallyflint

Returning from Overseas

I woke up this morning to a typically wet and drizzly English day. The sky is a blanket of grey cloud and there’s a chill in the air. When I don’t need to go anywhere I quite enjoy a rainy day. Settling indoors with a book and, ideally, a bar of chocolate is pretty close to heaven for me.

Today the weather made me feel gloomy so my thoughts went immediately to Bangkok. It doesn’t drizzle there. The rain comes down in torrents that flood the drains. It make everyone late for work, ruins shoes and then disappears as quickly as it arrives. I laughed at myself to think that I was actually missing Thai rain as I’ve cursed it often enough!¬†

When it rains in Thailand, it really rains.

Nostalgic for Bangkok

I am missing Bangkok, and at some point, no doubt I’ll go on to create a sensible article on managing change, addressing closure and so on. There is lots to miss – some of it heartfelt, most of it people based, but some of it just plain bonkers and as shallow as an English puddle of rain. These are some of the things, in no particular order, that I’ll miss.

Things I Miss in Bangkok

My friends. I’ve posted loads of times about it being¬†people not places that are important.¬†Thank goodness for social media as my¬†friends are all in Bangkok.¬†They are, by and large stranded over there, until the corona virus is sorted out, so are all spending their summers renting villas on beaches, doing huge road trips across Thailand and¬† generally living the travellers’ dream. Not jealous at all!¬†

Aww, miss all these faces!

The pool.¬†I’m not a particularly good swimmer, but going to the pool was my number one stress busting activity in Bangkok. I can’t imagine ever ever having such a lovely place to swim again. During those times that I was living, but not working in Bangkok, I’d get up for a swim and once finished be spoiled by the restaurant staff bringing me a pot of tea as I reclined next to the pool watching the golfers. That was the life! I like to walk now, as it serves a similar purpose, but .it isn’t quite the same.

My favourite pool :')

Having a full time housekeeper. When Khun Nong came to work for us we struck gold. She is a lovely person who helped us run our house like clockwork. She became a friend who I miss each day. Prior to Nong working with us I have so many funny stories of housekeepers who weren’t quite so good. I think the story that tops the bill was coming home from holiday to find that one lady had painted several rooms and random bricks in our house bright pink. To this day I don’t know why!¬†

Here's Nong waving the girls off to Betsy's school graduation!

The weather.¬†It isn’t just the Brits who discuss the weather. I love the drama of Bangkok storms. I never quite got used to leaving a shopping mall and being hit by a wall of heat. I miss the conversations amongst my library team as they buttoned up in scarves and cardigans (if the weather dipped below thirty degrees!) about how chilly it was. I guess as an English person weather has to feature in what I miss.

The quirks.¬†All cultures and societies have ‘norms’ that seem quirky to outsiders. I often noticed different ways of living as Mick drove us all to school. I miss seeing people in the street making their offerings to monks in a morning; I miss seeing old ladies walking to the early morning markets in their PJs; I miss the wais that Thais offer as a sign of respect; I miss having to stand stock still as the anthem was played at 6.00 pm and the flag was raised on a morning. I miss seeing adults going to university in what is essentially a ‘school uniform’; I miss watching people meticulously sweep their patch of land outside their house; I miss the old man we drove past every day sat outside his house in a sarong and a deck chair and ample midriff showing. I miss it all.¬†

This was the house that our (then) housekeeper painted a row of bricks bright pink around the outside. She also went mad painting grouting and walls pink inside! I was not very happy that day, but it is funny now!

The traffic.¬†I don’t really miss the traffic and I’m glad that roundabouts don’t pose the problem in the UK that they seem to in Bangkok. Getting my¬†last driving license¬†was a bit of a drama that, now I’m not there, I can think back fondly to! It didn’t seem to matter so much if I occasionally forgot to indicate. Seeing cars and motorbikes laden with people and belongings, coming up a dual-carriageway the wrong way was simply normal. I kind of miss it not mattering if I didn’t follow the rules!

Shopping. I miss the madness of shopping in Bangkok. From early morning flower markets to top end designer shopping, it was all like entering a parallel universe. I miss the ladies marketing expensive products, shouting through loud microphones in glamorous outfits.

It's never boring shopping in Bangkok!

Restaurants.¬†Living on the edge of Bangkok I didn’t often venture to the restaurants in town. I do miss our old favourites though, especially having the salmon at Wine Connection, or pizza on a Friday night. The Green and White was an institution! We spent a lot of time with the kids playing ‘word games’ and chatting in restaurants, or when they were a bit bigger, sitting drinking coffee and beer (back in the days before I was teetotal) whilst the girls met their friends and we were hanging around to collect them.

Learning about a different culture.¬†I got myself into ‘hot water’ so many times when I didn’t understand how Thai culture works. From ‘saving face’ to ‘land of smiles’ to ‘everyone being involved in every task‚Äô the nuances of learning about a new culture is never dull and kept me on my toes. It is this learning about culture, learning about your own unconscious (or conscious) bias, in your interactions that is one of the fascinating things about living overseas.¬†

Experiencing life as a monk is central to Thai culture.

Our Dogs.¬†Who would have thought that I’d have ended up having two dogs! Fizz sadly died in 2018. Everyone is super sad that we can’t bring Wizz back, but she is too old to travel. Wizz is happy though as she is happy is going to move to live with our lovely housekeeper’s mum. She already knows her well As she sometimes stays in the summer with Nong when we have visited the UK.¬†

Thick as thieves!

Adventures.¬†Mick has been coming across old photos whilst he has been packing up our lives in Bangkok. We’ve had some fantastic adventures and trips. My friends with small children have been reminding me how, when travelling with little ones, you basically need to pack everything except the kitchen sink. It’s hard work, but what memories are made of.

We used to love going down to the river and enjoying the view or taking a boat trip.

My library colleagues and friends. It’s a good job I said in no particular order as this should be near the top of my list. I still miss my library colleagues and I’ve made friends for life there. I’ve also collaborated with the wonderful Khun Duang on¬†our books.¬†(I really must do something about getting the drafts we still have completed into a finished format!) I learned a¬†lot about leadership¬†when I took on the library role and it is testament to my colleagues that they gave me a chance and forgave all the mistakes I made!

Khun Lyn and Pang. When I go into my kitchen in Bangkok I have a view out to the temple that Khun Lyn was cremated in. Lyn and Pang from the library both sadly died from cancer whilst I was there.. Seeing the sun set over Lyn’s temple each evening always reminds me of Lyn. I miss her.

The brunches. Oh my goodness, we have had some¬†great brunches,¬†especially at the Sheraton Grande. I’ve wonderful memories of Christmas days there too. Back in the day they were boozy affairs with a ton of eating and free flow bubbles. I haven’t found a similar place in the UK yet.¬†

Unwanted visitors.¬†As I write my friend just sent me a text of a snake and the caption “the only thing I had to share the beach with today.” I miss the unexpected of never quite knowing what you might come across just outside your door. In our case it was often monitor lizards that came calling.

ou never know who you'll meet on a walk along the beach. I used to enjoy meeting the monitor lizards on the way to the pool but I never thought to take a photo!

Day trips. For most of our time in Bangkok we were just getting on with life. Going to work, helping the kids with their homework and activities, such as music lessons dominated our time. Every now and then though we’d make the effort – be tourists for the day and go off exploring the city. This sometimes extended into a staycation with a ‘sleep over’ in one of the fancy hotels in town. Whether with Mick, Mick and the girls, or my friends we had some great times.¬†

I enjoyed joining Mick for some residential visits.

Turning 50! I had a ball. My dear friend Rachel coordinated a wonderful afternoon tea, followed by a trip on the river, and cocktails. Mick had then arranged a very swanky night in the Shangri-La where we had the most fantastic suite you could imagine. I turned 50 in style! 

I had the best time turning 50. This was at my lovely friend, Irene's house. A birthday bookclub if I remember correctly.

The Kids’ Achievements.¬†The kids had a ball at school. There’s too much to write about. Plays, musicals, sports teams, charity groups … another post beckons!

One of these days I'll try to find all the pictures of school plays and sporting events the girls were involved in. There will be loads.

The beach.¬†I should say the beaches. My memory is shocking and I couldn’t begin to say which beaches we’ve visited when. We’ve taken a lot of walks, made a lot of sandcastles (less so recently) and used a lot of suncream. I miss going to the beach.¬†

This was back in Feb 2019. I think it was in Hua Hin.

The view from my soon to be ex-apartment.¬†This matters more to me than I expected. I love our view. However nice your neighbours are waking up to their front lawn isn’t so exciting.¬†

We never tired of this view. Not typically Bangkok, but we loved it.

Moving Forward when Relocating

The rain has stopped so I think that it is time that I stop reminiscing. I think it is ok to miss things though. It doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to our next adventures as I really am. I’ve not mentioned missing Mick as he is going to be back with me next week. ūüôā I’m looking forward to our shipment arriving which Saint Mick has just packed up. Having my Thai belongings around me will be lovely reminders of a fantastic time living overseas. I’m sure there were bad bits too abut living in Bangkok, but today I can’t remember any of them!¬†

There are some wonderful parks in Bangkok. Rama 9 was just on the doorstep. There will be some beautiful places to explore on our next adventure too.
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