The Paparazzi

So it’s not as bad as when we were in China, but I am so over Buddy being the star attraction everywhere we go.
You know when you’re having a busy day, and you just want to quickly get where you’re going and do what you gotta do? Or when you have a cranky 2 year old who you desperately need to get home quickly… 
Try doing that with a curly haired toddler in Asia….

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Yes I am hiding Buddy from you…

I don’t mind when people come up and ask how old he is and what’s his name. I mean, it gets boring when you’re telling the 8th person that morning 
”He’s 2″ 
”Oh, almost 3?”
”Uh, no. He literally turned 2 last week…”.

But what is annoying are the not-so-descrete-selfies which I KNOW YOU’RE TAKING….
If you do that I will put my umbrella in front of my kid. I will turn in circles while you do the same and you make yourself look crazy and yes, Korean dude on the train, I will move at the last second and make it look like you were taking pictures of my boobs to a train full of people. Actually, that was quite fun…
I have wanted to ask several people “Why do you need a selfie with my kid? What are you going to do with it?” But I am sure I would be met with blank faces and “why not?” answers.
But you know what reallllllly bugs me. People who DO ask “May I take a picture of your baby”. And then get pissed off when I say no, and do it anyway. 
The shock on the faces of every single person who has asked permission to take a picture when I say no is ridiculous. 
You asked a question to a stranger outside of a hotel. A question which has a yes or no answer. So don’t look pissed off at me and ignore me by putting your smartphone in my kids face as he tries to hid behind my legs when I pick the answer you didn’t want. 
Yes, I will yell at you to leave him alone and no, I will not feel bad about standing up for my kid.
Yes there are exceptions. 
Every time Buddy plays with a kid in our local playground Mum/Grandma/the Nanny will take a picture, and that is fine. Because their kid is in it too. They are remembering the time their kid learned the English for digger from a foreign kid in the playground. NOT taking a picture of a kid who once looked in their direction on the train…

Rant over.

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The coast is clear Mum, let’s go!

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Paperwork is my Full-Time job…

The thing about being an expat is you spend more money & time on paperwork than anything else. You spend more time in offices & embassies than anywhere else.

And you buy bits of paper with stamps on it for things which non-expats take for granted.

Yes, it took trips to 2 different embassies in different areas of Tokyo (with a 7 day old) & literally 100’s of hours in the local city hall to even get Cory on Buddy’s birth certificate.

And yes, Buddy has 3 birth certificates, notarized by 2 different embassies & it cost us over £300.

Yes, we’ve spent upwards of £1000 on visas and paperwork since he was born…

Yes, I’m writing this from an embassy office where I’ve been waiting for an hour & my feet are freezing from the air con they have blasting & I’m paying £110 for the experience.

And yes, we have at least 3 more trips to immigration ahead of us & potentially a trip to Malaysia before we get our visas.

So, when you say things like:

“It must be nice to live in (insert exotic location)”

“Wow you live in (insert location), you must be rich”

Or you complain that we’ve spent another weekend on a beach, remember that we’ve also spent 40 hours & £400 for the privilege.

Buddy & Mummy’s day at the Embassy in pictures

Coffee… it always starts with coffee.

Double & triple checking we have all the documents ready

Seriously….what would we do without google maps?? We made it though!

As is Bangkok, we had to fight our way through crowded markets to get there.

Step one completed: now to the translators.

Success!! And Buddy was a champ!

The poor thing was lugged around Bangkok most of the day so definitely deserved a seal donut!

And finally. Relaxing with Moana (Mummy’s choice).

Malls, Soft Play and a Rock Concert

Like seriously, I am glad we traveled across Canada when Buddy was smaller as we literally found ONE soft play on our entire route. Not ideal!

Can I imagine doing the same road trip with an almost 2 year old?….umm I don’t think so!

So, we turn to the the ever knowledgable ‘Moms of Bangkok’ who have been lifesavers since we have arrived here.

They directed us to ‘Central World’. One of the biggest Malls in Thailand (Asia??).

It is HUGE!

Shinjuku station is easier to Navigate that Central World.

At one point we gave up trying to find the exit and decided just to live there instead. This was frowned upon.

But, eventually we found the exit which conveniently takes you a walkway leading directly to the BTS (Skytrain).

We caught the BTS to ChitLom (E1) but it is also accessible via Siam station. Both of these are on the Sukhumvit line and well signposted once off the train so easy to find.

The Play area is on the 6th floor, we followed signs for ‘toysrus’ hoping that the play area would be near it, which of course it was.

The best thing about it? It’s free!

It’s a huge area with an enclosed area for younger kids (1-4 ish) and a climbing area with a huge tunnel leading to a slide for slightly older kids (2-6 ish).

There is also a kids arcade with small games & rides you can pay for, push along cars you can borrow for free (but you do need picture ID for this) and there is usually a big ride on train but it’s closed for refurbishment at the moment.

The area is, unsurprisingly surrounded by companies aimed at kids. The usual English, Korean & Mandarin language schools, maths tutoring, music & singing lessons. As well as a model clay school which has some incredible models in the window and a cookery school starting at age 3!

This has become a regular little haunt for us and Cory & I take it in turns to stay with Buddy while the other browses the area outside of the kids section which conveniently has some lovely book stores.

Another bonus about this mall is there is a massive Big C supermarket across the street & when walking to it you might accidentally take your toddler to his first rock concert….he loved it 👩🏽‍🎤👨🏻‍🎤

Home Sweet Home

I was planning on taking some swanky photos or even a little video tour of our new place, however everyone is getting impatient so here are some photos and I might do a video showing the outside etc at a later date.

We live in central Bangkok, about a 15 minute walk from Victory Monument BTS station (sky train) which can get you to the heart to Bangkok in less than 10 minutes.
It’s not a major expat area but it is very close to Cory’s school meaning he can walk and doesn’t have to navigate Bangkok rush hour.

The apartment itself is pretty typical for Bangkok, we were thinking on our budget we would be limited to a 1 bed apartment but we were pretty lucky and nabbed a 2 bed for 16,000 baht a month, (about 375GBP or 610CAD).

Most apartments in Thailand seem to be furnished meaning we didnt have to worry about upfront costs like beds, sofas etc. although we did have to buy a microwave and an all important kettle!

So, pictures:

Living room

Teeny Tiny but usable kitchen and balcony:

 

The bedroom complete with more storage then we can ever use & the worlds biggest bed! All 3 of us can sleep without touching each other, meaning, no toddler elbows in necks or toddler feet in your face.

The bathroom & little hall area with yet more storage!

And, the last room, or most important as Buddy might tell you. The Playroom!!

A stage guys, it has a creaking stage! Only yesterday Buddy was dancing to Shakira

on it in only his pants…or was that me?!

And, bonus view from the playroom.

And that’s our new home!

The apartment complex has other amenities but I’ll blog about them another time.

But, as you can see, plenty of room for guests! Just let us know when to get the beers & Pad Thai in 🍻

Chatuchak Weekend Market

We’re lucky enough to live a few stations down from the biggest weekend market in Thailand…in the world?! You can literally buy anything you want there, from postcards, t-shirts & earrings to personalized leather wallets, toys & pets!

If you’re in Bangkok over a weekend it’s a must see even if you only go for the atmosphere & don’t actually buy anything.

We were a little disappointed by one incident though. We were in a toy stall trying to haggle for a toy tuk tuk which Buddy had spotted. The price was outrageous so we left. However Buddy had been playing with some sample tuk tuks and had apparently broken one. Now, he may have done, I don’t know but. For once, he was playing with it gently (not throwing it like he does with his toys at home) and played with it for barely a couple of minutes. I’m guessing it had been a sample for a while & the front wheel had worked itself loose over time & Dax was the unlucky kid it (apparently) fell off on. Happens.

What I was pissed about, super pissed about was the stall owners reaction to it.

She chased us down & started demanding 100baht. I politely refused. She asked again, I again politely refused & we began to walk off.

At this point she grabs Buddy’s arm…. bad move lady. I mean who grabs a toddlers arm?!?!

At this point I shouted at her not to touch Buddy (who a friend was holding) & I think she must have instantly realized she’d gone too far as she backed off & left.

But it did kind of ruin the day for me.

I’ve never had anything but kindness from strangers when out & about with Buddy especially in Asia & even more so in Thailand so to see someone get that angry over a 100baht toy, so angry they would grab a toddlers arm was more than a little disconcerting!

The rest of the morning went back to being lovely with Buddy making friends everywhere he went & loving being the centre of attention.

I already have a shopping list for when I go back after pay day!

Waiting got ice lollies!

Delicious paella for lunch!

A temporary home!

I wasn’t going to blog about our temporary apartment but loads of people have been asking me about it!

Plus, we have found a place to live so are moving out this week.

We’ve been staying in a weekly rental apartment opposite Cory’s new school. It’s small, sweet & does the job….except for the fact it’s in the fourth floor with no lift…not enjoying that at all!

Apartment hunting hasn’t been that difficult! It’s very different to what we’re used to in Japan, we’ve literally been walking into apartment blocks we like & asking to see rooms. It worked a few times & we fell in love with the first apartment we saw but it was at the top end of our budget so reluctantly left.

Cory managed to see some apartments with some other new teachers after school without much joy & I met him once Buddy had woken up from his nap to see a final one…our new apartment!

I will save the details for a future post but we are very excited!

But, until Friday we are still in our little ‘studio apartment’ which I tidied especially for you guys 😬

The outside of our little apartment block

The birds in the aviary outside.

It is imperative that we say hello to them when we go out & goodbye when we come home…

Little living/dining/kitchen area.

Mini kitchen

Bedroom with HUGE bed, plenty big enough for the 3 of us.

‘Cupboard wall’ dividing the room. Plus toddler escaping onto the balcony….

Gorgeous view from the balcony

This little guy lives on our air con unit. I’m assuming to scare off rats, mice, lizards, other snakes?!

So that’s been our little home while we apartment searched & we really can’t complain!

Although I am looking forward to our new place complete with elevator and pool!!

Rain, Taxi’s & Karma

It’s rainy season here which means a huge thunderstorm most evenings for a few hours. It breaks the heat & refreshes everyone so is actually really appreciated.

Anyway, yesterday I was walking with Buddy on my back and it began to rain slightly. Not a big deal and I didn’t have far to go.

Many taxis and tuk tuk’s stopped to see if I was looking for one but I shook my head and off they went. Except for one.

He leaned out of his window and said “miss, miss, do you need a taxi? It’s raining too much for the baby”

I politely said “it’s ok, I can see the place I’m going from here I’ll be be there in a moment”

The taxi driver seemed distressed “miss, miss, the baby, the rain, no payment, it’s free, no scam. Just help keep baby dry”.

I was flabbergasted! The rain had begun & he was pretty much guaranteed a fare if he drove to the Main Street but instead, he would rather drive me & Buddy for free to keep a baby dry. I was so touched by his generosity!

I did however decline as by now I was pretty much turning into my destination! But, I can really see it’s true already that Thai people really love children! I have a feeling Buddy will be very happy here!

By the way, we live in Bangkok now…

I won’t go into details about how it all happened except it took a LOT of hard work on Cory’s part, but I’ll give you a brief overview of the last year..

Last August we left Japan 😢

August – January involved buying an old man car, driving it through 5 Canadian provinces, 8 American states (including driving through the middle of Manhattan & getting lost in the Bronx…).

We then left Canada for the UK and set up camp there for a while visiting London, Manchester, Devon, Bath & lots of other truest ‘British’ places.

We then decided we missed Asia too much so popped to China for a mini adventure.

Where we definitely fell in love with China. The food, the people, the lifestyle. China we miss you!

Then, back to the UK just in time for ice-cream season.

Then….cory was offered a job in Bangkok….

How could we say no?!

We’ve been here almost a week now & are loving it, mostly.

I’m definitely homesick for Japan, it feels very weird being in Asia but not being ‘home’.

The thing most people have been asking us is “is it hot?” And yes, it’s quite hot but not unbearable! We’re in rainy season right now so actually having epic thunderstorms most days to break the heat.

And the second questions we’ve been asked is “what’s your apartment like?”.

Well, we don’t have one yet. We’re apartment hunting at the moment so

currently staying in a weekly rental.

I’ll take some pictures later and pop that in another blog.

How (not) to road trip with a baby

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What you can’t see in this picture is that Buddy is actually sobbing into Cory’s shoulder…

 

We have just got back from a lovely trip to Price Edward Island (PEI) just a ‘short’ 2 1/2 hour ride away from where we are staying in Nova Scotia.
We will share some of trip with you in a future blog but, for now, we would like to guide you through how (not) to road trip with a baby.

  1. Do NOT go to the beach the day before.
    You WILL be exhausted when you get home and you will not pack your bags as planned.
  2. Do NOT plan to leave the house ‘around 9am’.
    Baby will choose the morning of your road trip to wake up at 5:15am and blow raspberries for 45 minutes, followed by a 15 minute impromptu dance party at the foot of your bed. Just as baby is falling asleep, he will kick sand in your eye as you were too tired to bathe him the night before, and there is still a sahara desert worth of sand in-between his toes.
  3. Do NOT forget to set an alarm.
    The baby who generally wakes you up around 7 most mornings will have exhausted you from aforementioned dance party and you will wake up around 9:30am.
  4. Do NOT give baby porridge for breakfast.
    Just, don’t. OK?
  5. Do NOT pack whilst baby is eating their breakfast.
    You will understand why when on your road trip all of your clothes have a slightly sticky feeling…
  6. Do NOT run out of disposable diapers that morning.
    A trip to Walmart is not at the top of anyones list of things to do after a 5:15am dance party.
  7. Do NOT plan on stopping for coffee on the way.
    Actually, yes, do plan this but plan for coffee at 3-5 various stopping points.
  8. Do NOT arrange to meet an old friend for dinner the night you arrive.
    Baby will be exhausted, scream until he is given food, throw food on the floor and refuse to eat it. Baby will then be starving and reach for Daddy’s food and spill an entire pint of water over Daddy. Daddy will spend the evening looking like he had an accident.
  9. Do NOT forget to pack a few beers for the evening.

Blow Me Down

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Taking Canadian Grandad’s truck for a spin

Canadian Grandpa drove down to meet us in Corner Brook. Like a true Canadian he thought nothing of driving from Alberta to Newfoundland (NFLD) for this. This is a FOUR DAY drive (or a 5 day drive if you are not rushing to meet your Grandson for the first time).

Cory and I have had this conversation many times. For a Canadian like him a 8 hour drive to another city for a concert is normal. For a Brit like myself I can’t help but think that I could fly to Turkey from England for the same amount of time…

Corner Brook is just a short (even for me) drive from Gross Morne National Park. Truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I’ll throw some wikipedia links in here for anyone who wants the historical breakdown of the area but I can tell you it has some of the most breathtaking scenery I have ever seen. Driving through the area you flit between vast lakes, endless rolling hills of evergreen trees, tiny port villages with little more than a village store and a bar, landscape which would not look out of place on Mars and white sand beaches nestled in-between.
I could quite happily explore the area for the entire summer and not tire of it.

Our first dip into Gross Morne was just a drive through and our first proper adventure in NFLD was to a provincial park with an epic name ‘Blow Me Down’, yes, really.
We drove through ‘Blow Me Down’ and headed to Lark Harbor to skim some rocks and for Buddy to put his feet in some real Canadian salt water.

Once Buddy had finished playing on the beach and had succeeded in drenching Canadian Grandpa in seawater we began the hike up to the top of a cliff for the view. We were supposed to count the steps for blog purposes but Cory and I forgot and Buddy cannot count yet, plus he fell asleep half way up the cliff.

We were rewarded for our climb by some stunning panoramic views of the area and some tiny port towns in the distance. Buddy, slept through it all (I am starting to sense a theme already with Buddy sleeping through epic views).

We have recently been asked about Buddy’s traveling arrangements as many people have noticed that Buddy rarely travels via strollerベビーカー/pushchair/pram or whatever you want to call it. Cory & I are proud ‘baby wearers’ we have a selection of slings and carriers which I will (at your request) write about and review in the coming weeks.