It’s Easter Time

We hope everyone is enjoying their Easter breaks and relishing the abundance of chocolate eggs and bunnies!

Christoph and I are making the most of the short time off with him visiting his mum in Germany in between work while I meet up with my sister in Bangkok and Australian friends in Hoi An. (I get to try out my Visa Exemption Certificate for Vietnam for the first time!)

We’ve so far, had a very satisfying although busy first quarter which made me realise how the year is going to zip past me if I don’t pay attention. How did the Year of the Dog become the Year of the racing Greyhound? There isn’t much else to report for now except that Shanghai is still treating us well.

Cultural events pop up frequently. Museums and galleries are continually opening. We have good friends around us and I am gradually establishing myself with my volunteer work. All round life isn’t treating us too shabbily. However, I want to make a point in saying that we do have our challenges and obstacles in life as well. We regularly share our mishaps and moments of uncertainty with friends but who wants to read that stuff online? We’re known to endeavour to stay positive and make the most of every situation presented to us. A positive attitude isn’t a guarantee for eternal happiness but it helps substantially to lessen the burden. I’ll end with something I saw at the markets yesterday: ‘Life is like a bicycle, to balance, you need to keep moving forward.’ Anon.

Taking A Breather

It's been an ultra busy month for Christoph and I and my apologies for neglecting my blog in that time. We have settled nicely into our home and have been diligent in trying to create a good routine for ourselves in looking after our health and balancing our work and social life.

However, as with the hectic pace of China, we were very relieved that the Mid-Autumn Festival public holiday gave us a chance to get away from Shanghai for a few days. Christoph definitely needed a breather; so what better way to recuperate than to sleep, eat, swim and get plenty of massages? We loved being back in Bangkok and kept wondering why we ever left?

After the weekend, we now both feel rested, refreshed and ready for the what lies ahead. Christoph is already back at work getting ready for the company's official opening this week, an event that I'm disappointed that I won't be there for. Instead, I have a trip through Thailand and Myanmar with my sisters that was planned half a year ago. I arrived in Chiang Mai this morning and will be making my rendez-vous with them in a few hours. All in all, there's a lot of exciting things happening all round. I will keep you posted.

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

Today marks the Mid-Autumn Festival for ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese all over the world! It is also known as Mooncake Festival or Moon Festival and traditionally falls on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar; on the eve of a full moon. The festival celebrates the end of the harvest season, which when you think about it, is pretty much in line with Oktoberfest and Thanksgiving.

Mooncakes are central to the Mid-Autumn festivities. (Image source: www.allgreatimages.com)

Mooncakes are central to the Mid-Autumn festivities. (Image source: www.allgreatimages.com)

In terms of feasts, instead of drinking beer or eating turkey, we delight in sharing small round mooncakes. The round shape symbolizes completeness and unity and by sharing it with family during the week, shows completeness and unity within the family. There are many flavours and varieties of mooncakes on offer and you will find that most have an egg yolk at the centre, which is a symbol of the moon. Be sure to share the cakes as they are generally very rich, densely-filled and sweet; kind of what you want life to be like :-)

Happy Mother's Day

I take this oppportunity to wish all my wonderful family and friends who are mothers a grand, super relaxing and fun Mother's Day!

Image source: http://www.happymothersdayquotes2015

Image source: http://www.happymothersdayquotes2015

I have been very quiet on the blogging front this past week and I apologise for the lack of action. My reasons are rather ordinary as Christoph and I have both been keeping rather busy in our last month in Thailand. Christoph has been consulting which entailed April and May being filled with business trips, while I've continued to tackle my German classes and the heat.

In between our various activities, we recently managed to squeeze in a quick trip to Chiang Mai to catch up with DL and RL who live in a wonderful oasis there. The weather was heavenly for me as it was about 10 degrees cooler than in Bangkok and it was great to have a chance to see our friends again before we head back to Berlin for the summer.

We now have only 16 more days in which to pack up our living arrangements here and hop on a plane to the Land of Wurst!

Heatwave Survivor

"Hi, my name is Anh and I'm a heatwave survivor." : Monday marked the beginning of my German course and the peak of a heatwave that hit the city. I really don't know how I survived but I did... and without going to the swimming pool once! (It was too hot outside!) Now, don't start calling me a wimp until you see the numbers below - take note of where it says 'Feels Like'.

Top: view over Lumpini Park Left: Monday 14:30h Right: Tuesday 06:00h

Top: view over Lumpini Park Left: Monday 14:30h Right: Tuesday 06:00h

The heat started to creep up on us on Saturday and by Sunday, you could feel how draining it was. I am still taking public transport to get to and from my classes, and so I had to check the temperature to see why I was feeling so tired on Monday. As you can see from the above, the maximum temperature on Monday was only 37 degrees celcius but it actually felt like 46! And it felt like 37 degrees at 6 in the morning the next day. It all screams- don't go outside!

They were really unbelievable numbers; even for me who grew up in Perth and learnt how to deal with 40 plus tempertaures in our summers. What made the heat so stifling here was entirely due to the humidity factor. The heat sticks to you and your body really struggles to cool down :-( I hate to say it but "I love air- conditioning." Sorry World.

April 2558

April 13- 15 saw Thailand, Cambodia and Laos celebrate their New Year. Songkran celebrations include paying alms to temples, receiving blessings from monks and cleansing away the past year with water. Hence, for three days, Bangkok was one big water fight! It was lots of fun to watch and hear so much laughter and good cheer. This year is 2558, it is the Thai Buddhist year.

April also marks the beginning of durian season in Asia. Awesome! I love this fruit while Christoph is not a fan at all. For those who have tried durian, it's a love or hate experience. For those who haven't and have a chance to, just follow your nose and give it a go. It is described as having the smell of a corpse yet taste of heaven. I don't think it smells like a corpse at all, but then again, I haven't smelt a corpse. The smell is so strong and distinctive that you are not allowed to take it on public transport nor into hotels. Boo!

My bag was inspected for durians at the subway station where the famous Or Tor Kor Markets are.  

My bag was inspected for durians at the subway station where the famous Or Tor Kor Markets are.  

Happy April everyone! Durian, here I come!

Living In Colour

Woohoo! I finally had my last day of class - for this course - and I can't tell you how relieved I am that my brain can have a little breather now :-) The next course starts after Songkran, the Thai new year, which will be a nice break to have from all that learning.

After so many weeks of daily commuting, I somehow started to notice a colour pattern among my fellow commuters. I eventually asked one of my classmates and she confirmed that there was indeed a colour system that most Thais believe in/follow.

Monday- yellow, Tuesday- pink, Wedensday- green, Thursday- orange, Friday- light blue, Saturday- purple, Sunday- red

Monday- yellow, Tuesday- pink, Wedensday- green, Thursday- orange, Friday- light blue, Saturday- purple, Sunday- red

Each day of the week has it's own colour and Thais believe that when they wear the day's colour, luck will somehow be on their side for the day. I generally see more of the older generation following the colours than the younger generation, except on special days like the king's birthday or another royal family member's. Yesterday was the eldest princess's birthday and the city was a sea of purple, which is her colour.

I found out that the colours follow Hindu mythology where each day is watched over by a particular god. In the Thai tradition, each of these gods have their own colour. My peers also tell me that they normally only take note of the colour of the day that they were born on and that becomes their lucky colour throughout their lives.

Personally I'm not too keen on green or purple but I have to say that it would make choosing what you wear each day so much simpler! That really bright orange shirt you have tucked in the back of your closet... it can now be worn every Thursday! How cool is that? ;-)

Flushed Out!

This was the first day since we've been in Bangkok where we had the heaviest rainfall I've ever seen! It started at 12:00 and did not let up until 14:00. So 12:00 is when my German classes finished and a classmate offered me a lift. She dropped me off on a street corner at 12:30, from where I would normally take less than 5 minutes to walk to our apartment. Instead, I stood on the side of the road for a little over an hour and a half.

Sukhumvit turned into a river

Sukhumvit turned into a river

I didn't mind too much waiting for the rain to ease up as it was really pouring down and the rains usually pass after 30 minutes or so. What I did mind were the massive cockroaches and rats that emerged from the drains!! The rats ran all over the place trying to find dry ground which left poor shopkeepers busy chasing them away with brooms. Other than screeching and jumping around the vermin, people were also stomping on cockroaches! And those cockroaches that weren't stomped on crept up the trouser legs of most of the men! A guy had one go down his shirt collar! I had shorts on and nervously kept an eye that cockroaches weren't running up my legs! Luckily, it seems that cockroaches have an easier time catching on to trouser hems. Ugh!

Clockwise from top left: one of the many wet rats, busy tuktuks, hardcore bikers, water level, street vendor, making waves, another rat friend, my fellow shelter-seekers. Centre: the scooter just managed

Clockwise from top left: one of the many wet rats, busy tuktuks, hardcore bikers, water level, street vendor, making waves, another rat friend, my fellow shelter-seekers. Centre: the scooter just managed

I eventually decided to make a move when the rain subsided a little as I had had enough of avoiding cockroaches and rats. Unfortunately the roads were still heavily flooded so I took off my sneakers, left on my socks and waded through the water to cross the road. The water almost reached my knees! I'm so glad I didn't step on anything gross or dangerous and made it home safe and sound. What fun!