07 November 2010

Paint a grenade?

Sunday morning. Two active, interested in exploring the city kids. My husband was out of town on business, I had family scheduled to arrive three days later and I was 38 weeks pregnant. I needed a quick, EASY outing where my six and four-year-olds could create their own adventure (and I could sit and watch, while drinking a massive mug of mocha!).

So, off to the skytrain we went and landed at Siam Paragon. We made our way to the flagship store's play area, which can only be described accurately as crack for kids. In other words, massive stimulation all at a kid level. The kids had a fantastic time while playing in the winding maze of slides and swings and balls and tunnels. They climbed to great heights inside the netted environment. They (perhaps not so happily) dodged the area's attendants' attempts to startle them from jumping out from behind giant clown punching bags. All the while, three different kids' songs set to techno beats are blasting over the loudspeakers simultaneously, lights and bells are flashing from the surrounding arcade games and the store is making announcements for special promotions being offered in their other departments. Perhaps even more startling than the environment itself is that I still remember arriving in Bangkok and thinking how oddly overstimulating it all was. Today, I still find it overstimulating, but it is now a completely normal part of Bangkok's landscape.

While drinking my coffee as the kids played, I took the opportunity to observe the entire play area which consists of the enclosed aforementioned slide/ball/maze zone, a concession area, an arts and crafts area and then a game arcade and ride on carnival toys (all sized for the under 8 crowd, but enjoyed by kids of all ages). And, even though we've visited this particular play zone many times during our stay in Bangkok, I ended up laughing as I noticed things I never had before.

How about the 'rules' of the play area? The sign says "1. During Mondays-Fridays the entrance is 50 baht for 30 minutes per child. 2. During Saturdays and Public Holidays the entrance is 50 baht for 30 minutes per child." (In case you're wondering, I paid 50 baht for 30 minutes per child on a Sunday.)

Right next to the 'active' play area, there is an arts arena. Little tables, full of paints and art supplies that allow you to work on a number of unfinished projects. For example, you purchase a stained glass piece and then finish it with the paints provided there. Or, you purchase a piece of bisque sculpture and paint it. I almost spit my coffee out when I looked over the bisque items available for painting and my eyes landed on an actual-sized grenade!

And, the Thai love affair with corn continues. I've written about how corn is placed in and on every food item imaginable here-- ice cream with corn, pizza topped with corn, etc. If your little one gets hungry during their play time, saunter on over to the concession stand and enjoy some caramel corn, regular popcorn or maybe just some steamed corn kernels!

But, really, what child could resist a kid-sized air hockey table? Not mine. They squeal with glee as they shoot the puck across the table and are oblivious to everyone's stares as they scream, "WOOOOOO HOOOO! I got you!" as they score against one another. My daughter (the older of the two) smiles as her little brother pushes the puck into her scoring slot. He enjoys making a point regardless of what team he's playing for!

Cooking in Thailand, entry no. 91:
Gooey Corn
I've mentioned the Thai love affair with corn. Here's a sticky sweet fun option. Great to make with kids (or for a late night fast sweet snack!).

1/2 cup unpopped popcorn
6 Tablespoons butter
5 cups of marshmallows
Seeds scraped from two vanilla beans
Food coloring (2 drops), optional
Optional: Toasted nuts, small candies (red hots, m&ms or sprinkles all work well)

Pop the popcorn, remove unpopped kernals and set aside. On top of the stove, place butter in a heavy bottom pot and melt. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Add vanilla. Remove from heat. Add food coloring as desired. Pour over the popcorn. Add nuts or candies as desired. Mix well until covered and spread onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Allow to cool for 30 minutes and break apart into smaller pieces. Place into an airtight container or sealable bags for up to 30 days.