Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Shopping and suds

Just got back from the company outing last Sunday. It was a fun, tiring 4-day, 3-night shopping spree. Now this is my kind of clothing allowance: pack up all the employees to Bangkok and give them money to burn. On our first evening, right after our dinner-cruise, people were already itching to hit the Suan Lum night market. Others went to Patphong for the "educational show." I, however, and a few others opted to go back to the hotel. My roommate was out shopping so I had the room to myself for a few hours.

Nice bubble bath waited for me there. Tie up the hair, run the faucet with almost scalding water, pour in the bubble juice, then lie down and soak. Could've used some candles and mood music, but I make do with what I have - selective lighting and the television tuned to the movie channel. That's what I call the art of doing nothing.

When I laid back in the tub and stretched my hands over my head, I heard the strange but familiar sound of bubbles popping around my ears. That's when it hit me: it's been years since I've heard that sound. Then I recalled that the last time I had a proper bubble bath was seven years ago, in Bangkok too.

My memories of that first trip aren't so good. I was travelling with a group of artists called the "Saturday Group" and on our last evening my colleagues had a falling out. What started out as cordial drinking in one of the hotel rooms turned into a public display of dirty laundry. Sigh.

Also, the last time I was in Bangkok I had just discovered I was pregnant, and nobody but my (then) boyfriend knew at the time. It was difficult walking the unfamiliar streets looking for a good place to eat (I was so hungry!) when all the signs and menus were written in Sanskrit.

Well, glad to say that this time out I had a fabulous time. For starters, our hotel (Arnoma on Rajdamri Road) was located right in the heart of the city. Right beside it were a money changer, a mall with a big grocery (Big C) that closed at 11pm, and a really cheap but delicious food court. And all around were middle- and high-end malls.

It was also my first visit to Chatuchak weekend market. As my friend said, "hindi susuko ang Chatuchak - ikaw ang susuko!" (In English, you're going to surrender - due to the sheer size of it.) I was told that it was over one hectare in size, and honey I believe it!

Prices are absurdly cheap when you compare them to Manila's, but then you have to be good at haggling while overcoming the language barrier. By 2pm I decided that I was done with shopping. But since I agreed to meet up with my friend at 3, I ended up spending all my cash by 2:30. I just had enough for the taxi ride back to the hotel in case she didn't show up (to split the cost).

Good thing I left the rest of my moolah in the hotel ;)

So now my attitude towards Manila's tiangges (bazaars) have changed. Just yesterday I was in Greenhills with Miguel trying to pick out a red backpack. When the salesgirl told me the price of the bag that he wanted, I had to qualms about insisting on a really low price. In the end we settled at less than 2/3 the cost.

So you see, travelling really is a learning experience.



mama_aly said...

looks like your company motto is: work hard, play hard?

sandygirl said...

That's so true! You should've seen the kids (young twentysomethings) and even the "older" ones hit the night spots on Khao San Road. Lots of stories the morning after. But my only agenda was to sleep, shop and soak :)