Our First Day in Bangkok

Bangkok

I was firmly against going to Southeast Asia with young kids. Then we went there with a 3 year old and a 6 month old.

Bangkok

I have historically been totally pro-travel with young kids, but I drew the line at SE Asia. Something about more hot and humid weather, lots of young well-to-do Westerners looking to lose themselves – then find themselves or something – and the seeming general chaos of getting around, I was kind of like…ehhh, maybe later. But I’ll be damned, we decided to go.

Backing up a bit, Eid Al Adha was coming up (September 2016) and Matt found out he had time off work. I got a phone call one morning asking how crazy I wanted to get, and I love those phone calls because it always means adventures.

So it starts out like this: “Where does Etihad fly direct?” We look and decide on a city (Bangkok). Then we check for cheaper tickets. This time, Oman air offered far less expensive tickets, and only a quick stopover in Muscat. If you ever get the opportunity to fly into Muscat right at sunset, book a window seat and DO IT. So beautiful, it really reinvigorated our desire to visit Muscat, which we did a few months later.

Then the question of where to stay. Initially, we thought to use hotel perks and stay in the middle of downtown Bangkok, but then were advised to look into a resort and ended up booking a suite for the same price + significantly more perks. Done and done.

Pulling up to the Anantara Riverside Resort early in the morning was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had, like the biggest sigh of relief. Our entire stay there was (mostly) like that, and it was awesome.

The night before we flew out of Abu Dhabi, the 3-year-old came down with a horrid cough. Noooooooo! So, we put the kids to bed early and prayed it would be nothing but a distant memory by morning. Then both boys woke up sick. Since I was already nervous about going to Bangkok with young kids, I was thinking this was a *sign* that we just shouldn’t go, bad idea, cancel everything. We hauled them off to the doctor first thing that morning and asked her opinion.

completely normal

She was like, “No. Bad idea. Can you cancel everything?” I was like, I knew it. But then we did a round or two of nebulizer treatment, and after examining them again, she told us they were OK to go, just don’t tax them too much. A nebulizer was purchased plus the entire pharmacy, and all packed up by late that afternoon. We headed to the airport. In hindsight, they weren’t terribly ill, but I was already hesitant and you know how it goes.

The flight to Muscat was short, thank god, because there was no air conditioning on our plane, which was a version of 727 that I haven’t seen since the mid-90’s.

HOT

Luckily, the flight to Bangkok was on a brand new Dreamliner which was gorgeous! My only complaint for that overnight flight was that they kept on the lights that can only be described as: “Surgical Operating Theatre.” I didn’t know airplanes had those. Thankfully they dimmed them for landing and the kids got 5-10 minutes of restful sleep before having to wake up again.

Bangkok Airport

We sprung for the Anantara airport shuttle and that was a great decision. The flight actually landed early and we found our driver already there, so we promptly set off at sunrise through Bangkok to our hotel resort.

Bangkok Chao Praya

Bangkok

When we arrived (and I finally released a tense breath I didn’t know I was holding) we were treated to a warm Thai welcome, hot towels, mango juice, and overall rock star treatment. We were escorted to our little suite which had a view of the pool and a wrap around balcony.

Anantara Riverside Bangkok

After cleaning up, we gave the kids whatever doses of medicine they needed, and promptly took a multiple-hour family nap in the middle of the day. Basically heaven.

Upon waking, we moseyed over to their Trader Vic’s for a great brunch.

Anantara Riverside Bangkok

Anantara Riverside Bangkok
legit water dinosaur

We were just settling in to our food when Porter ate something spicy, asked to use the loo, and then proceeded to demonstrate that his stomach was upset. Luckily it was well out of the way of anyone eating; however, we were quickly reminded that no matter where we go, we’re firmly seated on the Hot Mess Express. Hotel staff instructed me to keep him hydrated and other basic parent knowledge, which led me to question if I didn’t come across as being a capable parent? How was I supposed to know the simple side fried rice had death pepper juice included in it this time? Then again it could have just been my youthful looks and they thought I was a babysitter. In any case, our poor child was congested, jet lagged, and now sick from spicy food like the tiny Swede he is. This did not feel like successful parenting. In all seriousness, the staff actually took great care of us, sending us upstairs with help and a nice plate of food and sweets.

After a bit of recovery from that we then walked next door to check out a little mall. There’s a Boots, Starbucks, Coffee Club, Gap, tons of restaurants, some more boutique clothing shops, and touristy shops, too. Really great! By this time Porter was fine, ate a bit of dinner, and seemed to find his 3 year old energy again. Alright! Since the Anantara has a ferry that goes directly to Asiatique – a newer, kind of touristy, outdoor market, right across the Chao Praya – we decided to give that a go. At this point, Henry was just barely six months old, so he was still easily portable, slept a lot, and could be satiated by breastfeeding on the go…just in case anyone forgot he was on the trip, too. He wasn’t really sick, just a bit congested, and doing much better by this point anyway.

this little gifted car is getting around!

As soon as we got on the ferry, which would take no more than 5-10 minutes to get across the river, Porter passed out. So, we just stayed on the ferry and turned around with it to head home. It was nice to be out at night, on the water, with the city lights twinkling all around… Basically a date for us.

Then we went to sleep. That was our first day in Bangkok. Have I convinced you to have and travel with kids yet?

What’s Going On?!

Did I already title a moronically overdue post the same recently? Probably.

What’s been going on lately, y’all?! I’m constantly all over the place, as usual, and I’ve missed this platform. I have ten thousand unpublished drafts from the past few months and most of them will probably stay that way. Feels good to write, but I don’t need to put everything out there.

I don’t know exactly how it is for everybody, but for me, living in Abu Dhabi, it seems like time moves insanely fast. For example: we moved again (I know, I know, I know). It literally feels like it was SO LONG ago that we lived in the first house here, but it was only a bit over a year ago. It feels like maybe we just saw or spoke to friends, and then all of a sudden you realize its been MONTHS. Every time Henry hits a milestone I can’t even remember the day before when he didn’t: have a tooth, crawl, eat, walk, etc. I can’t even remember when Obama was president because…woof.

This particular year we had friends out, went to Oman, I’ve run a few races (“races” ha), picked a school for Porter which involved a LOT of applying, researching, visiting, playdating, etc. And we moved, and dealt with everything that that involves, which believe me…is a lot.

And all of a sudden it’s Ramadan again, we’ve got vacations planned, it’s a trabillion degrees, and I still haven’t lost the baby weight! Sigh.Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

We’ve done a bunch of fun things, too. Dubai always seems to lure us in on the weekends, so we’ve finally ventured up there a bunch more to see and do. There is so much to do in Dubai, and it feels just different enough from Abu Dhabi, so it’s nice to explore more but we always run out of time. Need a staycation, I think.

Also, brunches. It’s only taken us forever, but dipping a toe into the brunch world is long overdue. Dangerous, in the best way.

Over two years in now, and it seems like we are finally carving out more of a routine and lifestyle. It was the same in Sweden; we estimate it takes about 2-3 years to “figure things out” and get comfortable. I can’t imagine that new jobs, pregnancies, and new babies makes any expat move and settling in easier, but we’re doing it  😉

And just when you think a particular stress storm is about to pass, you get ill. Bed-ridden, can’t function, how-do-people-even-survive-this-shit sick. The house has been going through all of  that this month. Summer vacation can’t come too soon.

Vacation? YES. We’re headed back to Europe because we can’t quit it, despite always saying we’ll try to go somewhere else. It’s close! Tickets were cheap! And we’re doing so many things on (my) bucket list! Matt suggested *one* location and I was like, but if we go there then we can do this, and this, and see this, and all of a sudden a quick get away became three weeks, three countries, and entirely too much money –  I’m half regretting the entire thing right now. Matt’s like, “YOLO.” And since he funds things right now, yolo it is.

I might try this crazy thing where I make an effort to blog like a real blogger on this trip. Such as sharing tips and quips and pics in real-time. Don’t hold me to that. For the sake of being creative, I have hearty goals for this space. It just seems to be a constant wrestle between real-life and creative and scholarly pursuits. I’m getting there, though!

2017 is turning into the year where I am really realizing the need to keep things simple in all areas of life. We are paring down, cleaning up, filtering out, and it’s providing us with some more room to just enjoy life. This is kind of hard time of year – end of the school term, Ramadan, and the true beginning of the long, hot summer – but we’re in the best place we’ve been in a few years. I’m looking forward to what there is to come, both planned and some hopeful new opportunities. That’s what’s going on!

Vienna, AUSTRIA : PART TWO

Vienna, Austria

In July 2016 we traveled to Vienna, Austria! You can read the first post in this series HERE.

Day 2 – Zoom Kindermuseum

Our second full day in Vienna, Austria was definitely on the slower side. We took our time in the morning, then made our way over to the Museumsquartier again, where we found ZOOM Kindermuseum. First we ate a quick lunch at the nearby cafe, and then spent time playing on this large grassy water bed in the courtyard before the entrance to the museum. A tentative Porter “tested the waters”, unsure of what would happen if he stepped on it, but then found himself bouncing around among the other children.

ZOOM Kindermuseum at the Museumquartier

Inside ZOOM, toddlers and babies can play for one hour inside a sea-inspired wonderland. Walking in, you’re “under the sea” with urchins and creatures made of different textured materials, and little coves to explore. Up a winding ramp, we found ourselves at the helm of a ship, which Porter LOVED. Again, there are a few places to explore around the “ship”, and a gangplank to walk over to discover a jungle, or dress up corner, and much more. We loved watching him play and it was great for him to have something special to do, too.

I loved these posters!

Walking home, we stopped to explore the Naschmarkt, not fully realizing what it entailed. It’s amazing! From our first passing, at the very end of it, it looked like a couple of small buildings serving food, but it is actually a narrow market, with shops on either side, selling all kinds of great stuff. Souvenirs, spices, cheese, lunch, meat, vegetables, you name it. If you go to Vienna, definitely spend some time walking, shopping, eating and drinking there.

Naschmarkt
Naschmarkt

Naschmarkt

Then we got a bit lost walking home and had to deal with all these beautiful buildings to walk by.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria
Heldendenkmal der Roten Armee

Day 3 – Danube Cruise to Bratislava

You may read about our day in Bratislava, Slovakia in a separate post HERE.

We returned in the late afternoon, and decided to walk around during golden hour. We first walked by this beautiful Russian Orthodox Cathedral that was actually our view from our hotel room. Gorgeous!

Russisch-Orthodoxe Kathedrale
Russisch-Orthodoxe Kathedrale

Russisch-Orthodoxe Kathedrale

Russisch-Orthodoxe Kathedrale

And since the hotel was very close to Belvedere Palace and gardens, we just headed over there.

Schloss Belvedere
Schloss Belvedere / Belvedere Palace

Everything was spectacular! From the grounds of the palace, to the setting sun, to the peacefully quiet neighborhoods during dinner time.

Unteres Belvedere
Unteres Belvedere

Belvedere Garden

Belvedere Garden
Belvedere Garden

Belvedere Garden

Belvedere Palace
Belvedere Palace
Belvedere Palace
Belvedere Palace

Belvedere Palace

Belvedere Palace

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

Day 4 – Schönbrunn Palace

On our final day, the plan was to have an early start and arrive at Schönbronn Palace as soon as it opened. This was in order to avoid crowds/lines as much as possible, but also because it is a bit out of the city. With tours of the Palace, gardens to explore, and a zoo, I knew there would plenty to fill our time, too. Unfortunately, our reality now is that everything takes much longer than planned for – including getting out the door. Kids, man!

Schloß Schönbrunn
Schönbrunn Palace / Schloß Schönbrunn

Getting to the palace was quite easy on the metro. Once there, we decided on a shorter tour of the Palace, first. Thank God we chose the short tour because Porter was not having any of it, that is until the very end when he found the fire extinguisher inside the stairwell.

It was a really informative, interesting tour of the beautiful main rooms. No pictures were allowed inside, though. Schönbronn is a classic European palace, full of history, art, and beauty. Not to be missed.

Schloß Schönbrunn
Schloß Schönbrunn

After our tour inside, we moved with the crowds around the gardens, and up to Gloriette for the incredible views.

Schloß Schönbrunn

Schloß Schönbrunn
Gloriette

Schloß Schönbrunn

At this point, I was tired. Retiring on a bench to feed Henry, I asked Matt if he wanted to cut the palace visit short and go back to Rathaus for lunch in the park again. He agreed, and an easy metro ride later, we found ourselves back in the gazebo, enjoying the afternoon.

Yet another late afternoon walk home through Vienna:

Innerstadt, Vienna, Austria
Innerstadt, Vienna, Austria

Innerstadt, Vienna, Austria

Innerstadt, Vienna, Austria

Innerstadt, Vienna, Austria

Enjoy your vacation!

It’s taken me a few years of traveling to realize that we don’t have to see and do everything. There is no obligation to travel like other tourists or how the travel books recommend. After all, these are our vacations. The time we take to get away is necessary for us, as expats, to recharge. Which might sound strange because living as an expat can seem like a vacation. But it has its difficulties, too, like the fact that this is not our home and we don’t have a normal support system around a lot of the time. Also, one of the perks to being an expat is taking advantage of the ability to travel, if you are fortunate enough to do so.

When we found ourselves eating lunch at Gastronomie, in the park, we weren’t doing anything special or uniquely Vienna, perhaps, but each one of us in the family were relaxed. Which is something I forget we need to focus on while on vacation in a new place. We ate and drank slow. We tried new foods and let the toddler play in the water fountain for a long time. And we were able to strike up conversations with locals!

Schönbronn Palace is an incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site, full of fascinating history, and is an amazing sight to behold all around, but I’m glad we ditched out a little early to return to something that made us happier 🙂 Maybe when we’re older and without the burden of children’s needs/timelines/schedules we’ll get to leisurely tour a palace again. Ha, if we should be so lucky!

What I love about Vienna

Vienna is truly a remarkable, beautiful European city. Do not hesitate to ever go!

  • It is so easy to get around on foot, by train, and metro.
  • There is FREE WIFI around the city! I absolutely loved this for planning and mapping things, as well as sharing way more than usual on social media.
  • History, arts, and culture abounds.
  • The food and drinks!
  • Everything is beautiful: the architecture, the parks, the waterways and surrounding countryside, the people.
  • There is so much to do and enjoy, no matter what you like.
  • It is a fabulous family destination – many places with child friendly areas, also breastfeeding friendly.

I’m really happy we were able to go to Vienna. It was a great place for our first trip as a family of four and really nice to return to Europe again.