11 January 2011

Traumatic confessions

I am finally going to confess. It has been two and a half years since 'the incident.' I thought I had buried the memory deep in my subconscious until a traumatic moment of three days ago sent it soaring back to the forefront of my brain.

Let's go back to July of 2008. We had been in Bangkok for just a couple of days, suffering through the worst jet lag of my life. We were in our new, unfamiliar home that felt cavernous and echo-ey. All of our possessions were on a boat somewhere in the middle of the Pacific. We had two kids (2 and 4 at the time) waking at odd hours of the night, falling asleep at inconvenient times (Ever tried carrying a child on your back while navigating Bangkok's skytrain for the first time? I don't advise it.). I was overwhelmed with the heat and really wishing we had crammed more toys in our few suitcases. And, my eyes were blazing with the wonderful sights, sounds and scents that we spent our early days seeing, hearing and smelling. I was simultaneously exhausted and falling in love with our new home. So, just remember all of that when I finally bring myself to confess. (Yes, these are excuses and I am attempting to sway your understanding when I reveal my confession).

Here goes. Confession.

9 o'clock at night. I walked into our kitchen. A small gecko (even small in size by gecko standards) ran across the kitchen floor. I started hyperventilating. I shook. And, then, I cried. (And, while I'm embarrassing myself, let us go a true step further. I cried those ugly sobbing 'what-have-I-gotten-myself-into' tears.) Oh, the relief of finally putting it in writing. Confession over.

Fast forward to three days ago. 9 o'clock at night. Needing some clean diapers for our 6-week-old son, I walked out to our back balcony to check on the laundry. Three steps outside and I felt a sharp, clinging sensation on my bare forearm. A large gecko (large by gecko standards) fell from the ceiling onto my arm. All in one move, I looked, inhaled sharply and brushed the creature rapidly off my arm. I picked up the freshly laundered diapers and smiled (side note: Let's be brutally honest. It wasn't a content, 'wow-look-how-well-I-handled-that' smile. It was more a demented 'oh-I-just-survived-a-nightmare' smile.) No hyperventilating. No tears.

Look how far I've come.


  1. Good for you! I those first few days of sleep deprivation and trying to figure out how the hell to live and survive in this crazy city, anything can set one off for a flood of tears. But I think you have become a pro at living in the City of Life...

  2. LOL! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Are you using cloth diapers? I'm expecting my first child and I don't know anyone who uses cloth, but am interested. If you are washing diapers, how is it? I love reading about your 'everyday adventures' with a new baby in a foreign country. I don't know how you are doing it but as the previous comment says I think you are a pro too!

  4. @Sara: Thanks for the compliments and congratulations on your pregnancy! I am using cloth diapers. I have a supply of All in One (AIO) and Chinese Pre-Folds that I use with velcro covers. I like the AIO's better and would highly recommend them. They are easy to put on, easy to launder at home and you never have to go running to the store because you ran out of diapers!!! Here's a link that I found helpful when looking at options: http://allaboutclothdiapers.com/new-to-cloth-diapers/cloth-diaper-systems/

  5. @Hanlie: It is a crazy (loud, confusing at times, hysterical) city isn't it?! Glad I'm not the only one who freaks out while struggling through jet lag, waiting for shipments to arrive and dealing with kids (struggling through their own jet lag!).

  6. Shelby, wonderful writing. I was right there with you while you sobbed in the kitchen. I've had those moments while traveling with kids, and while traveling alone.

  7. @Myra: Thank you for the compliment! Those crazy (sometimes sobbing) moments make for some of my favorite travel-related memories (once they are all done and over). My mom and I often refer to an evening spent in Colmar, France where I cried over not being able to communicate that I wanted a pitcher of water to wash down our truly hideous smoked salmon crepes. Neither her nor I have been able to eat smoked salmon since! :)

  8. Here's directions to more sweets (Cake Lady!). This might be a trek for you.

    Take the Silom line to the Saphan Taksin station. Grab the local ferry across the river. Once you get off, immediately follow the brick pathway so that the water is on your left and the small park is on your right. There will be a path at the edge of the far edge of the park. Turn right and walk toward the main street. There will be some vendors as you get to toward the main street. Hang a left where the vendors and the main street intersect. You'll now be on Charoen Nakhon walking toward a large condo building that sits along the water on Soi 15A. The next set of vendors you see will actually be the Soi 15A vendors. There will be a little ice cream stand and Cake Lady. She is only out Monday through Friday and seems to be out 9 to whenever her cake slices sell out.

    If you are interested in exploring, there is a lot of good food in the neighborhood. As most tourists stay up near the Peninsula or hop across the river immediately, this area is mainly local. Walking past Cake Lady a block or two will put you in the heart of some great food. On the river side of the road, look for street noodles that you don't usually see and check out the seafood soup place...you can't miss it. There are many carts set up outside, plenty of seats inside, and a frantic energy. You get to pick the noodle type and the seafood that you want, they do the rest. If you walk across the sky bridge, you'll find amazing som tam and khao mun gai.


Looking forward to hearing your comment!