I figured our first trip as expats in Bangkok would be to someplace else in Thailand.  Maybe Krabi, Phuket or Chiang Mai, however we ended up going to Tokyo instead.  The cool weather in Japan was a welcome change from the humidity and heat we were experiencing in Bangkok.  Not to mention the fact there are plenty of sidewalks in Tokyo, which makes for easy stroller rides.  Oh yes, I’ve become one of those people who partially judges their trips based on how toddler friendly they are!

The flight from BKK to HND was about six and a half hours.  And while this may seem like a daunting flight with a toddler it was a total breeze.  I’m fairly certain we used up all of our ‘good travel karma’ on this trip … or maybe it was a gift for being good troupers on the trip from DC to Bangkok.

Either way I’m super thankful for Jellybean’s impeccable behavior both on the way there and on the way home.  She spent most of the time on the flight playing with her apps on the iPad or watching Mickey Mouse Club House.  Our family rule is there is no limit to screen-time or snacks on a flight.  Happy toddler = happy parents AND other passengers on the plane.

FlightToTokyo

After arriving in Japan we bought a sim card for our phone and headed to the train.  We’ve been told Tokyo has a very easy train system and navigating to the hotel should be fairly easy.  Ummm, THIS doesn’t look so easy to me …

Tokyo, Japan Subway/Train Map

Luckily, with a little help, we were able to navigate to our hotel.  If we go to Tokyo again I am taking a taxi from the airport to the hotel.  Trucking a toddler and multiple bags up and down stairs to transfer lines (there are limited escalators/elevators) was a bit much.

Tip:  Invest in a SIM card and data plan.  We didn’t get a voice or texting plan.  Just the data plan, which came in handy for navigating the city and looking up places to eat.  

Here’s what we did while we were in Tokyo, which for the most part was very toddler friendly!

Things To Do In Tokyo, Japan with a toddler | Life's Tidbits

Imperial Palace

This is the is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan.  The interesting part about it is you can’t actually go in the palace nor can you get close to it.  The palace looks beautiful from a far and the surrounding park make it worth a visit.

ImperialPalace

Ryogoku Kokugikan – Sumo

Sumo was a tad bit slower than I thought it would be.  There was a lot of walking around each other and squatting.  My favorite part was when Jellybean kept screaming “go baseball! go baseball!”.  My kid cracks me up … apparently in her mind all sports are baseball.  Since she’s wasn’t even two we will give her a pass, but as her mother I plan to tell this tidbit for FOREVER!  And, that includes at her wedding.

Ryogoku Kokugikan - Sumo Wrestling in Tokyo Japan

Sumo Wrestling in Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office

This was pretty cool though I didn’t have the chance to enjoy it at much as I would have liked.  Jellybean was running around like a mad woman.  Despite trying to get her to look at all the buildings and the skyline her attention only lasted a few seconds.  After catapulting herself out of my arms and onto the floor she was off to the races.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office

Akihabara – ‘Times Square’ of Tokyo

It was cool to watch the crowds cross the street in different directions.  Many other tourists were also waiting for their turn for a photo opt, so I’m pretty happy with how this picture of the hubby and I turned out!

Akihabara - 'Time Square' of Tokyo, Japan | Things to do and see in Tokyo

Ueno Zoo

The write up in the travel book described this zoo a kind of ‘sad’.  I would have to say I agree.  The cages were somewhat small and the animals didn’t seem happy, so to speak.  That said Jellybean and I did have a good time.  She was ecstatic to see the elephants and the rhino was probably her favorite.  The rhino love was probably a result of one of her favorite bedtime stories, I Know a Rhino.  If you don’t have kids, I would suggest skipping the zoo.

Ueno Zoo Rhino in Tokyo, Japan

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Absolutely beautiful place.  We had a great time walking around and taking in the scenery.  It was the perfect place to take a toddler who loves to run free and you are still able to take in the sights.

Shinjuku

Asakusa / Senso-ji Temple

The day we went to see Asakusa and the Senso-ji temple it was gloomy and started to down pour as we were heading back to the train.  Despite the dreary weather the place was packed with tourists and luckily didn’t take too long to tour.

Asakusa

Asakusa-2

Have you been to Japan?  Where else in Japan would you recommend visiting?

Signiture_Nicole

Mummascribbles

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Bangkok is a large city and it takes a little while to figure out how to navigate around.  Jellybean and I have gotten really good at riding the BTS within the first few weeks of arriving in Bangkok.  It’s probably our most frequently used method of transportation, second is either a taxi or good old fashion walking!

Whether you are moving to Bangkok or just visiting I hope this transportation guide will help you get around Bangkok a little bit easier.

Bangkok Transportation Guide, Tips for traveling in Southeast Asia | Life's Tidbits

TAXI

Taxing is fairly affordable with the meter starting at 35 baht and then a couple of baht every hundred meters.  That said there are a few challenges to taking a taxi.  The first and foremost is the traffic.  The second is many drivers don’t know where things are.  If you give them the name of a street and a soi, you will arrive at the cross roads and the driver will look to you for directions to a specific place.  When we first moved here I had to use GoogleMaps to navigate through the city.  At the time this was very frustrating, but now I know how to get to my destinations and the taxi drivers are more than happy to go whatever route I ask.

TIP 1: ALWAYS, ALWAYS drive with the meter on. If the taxi driver tries to negotiate a price you will most likely overpay.  For example, I have taken a taxi to my daughter’s preschool enough times to know it is usually 50 baht, give or take.  Taxi drivers will often tell me it’s 100 baht {I’ve even been quoted 200 when there’s traffic} … I know that’s not a good or fair price and I wave them on their way.

TIP 2: Carry small bills and/or change with you.  Taxi drivers won’t have change for big bills like 500 or 1000 baht.  On more than one occasion I’ve had them tell me they don’t have change for 100 baht, which can be pretty frustrating.  I’ve made a habit of always having a some 20s with me when I plan to take a taxi.

MOTORBIKE TAXI

Motorbike taxis are cheap and quick.  The fare should be negotiated prior to your ride.  During rush hour motorbike taxis are a great alternative to taxis.  They easily get through between the cars and tend not to sit in traffic.  Be careful to keep your extremities and belongings close to you … and hold on tight as the drivers go quickly between the cars.

TUK TUK

Tuk Tuks are mostly used by tourists or locals to transport their goods from/to a market.  The fare will need to be negotiated with the driver.  Despite not having AC, like the taxis, and aren’t as easily maneuvered through traffic, like the motorbike taxis, tuk tuks tend to be more expensive.  They will likely overcharge you and as a result we rarely use tuks tuks.  Beware of the scams … if they offer you a cheap day tour you will likely be taken to many of their friends’ shops, for which they likely receive a commission for each person they bring!

BTS (Bangkok Transit System)

Also known as the Skytrain.  This is the mode of transportation we use most often.  The fares are extremely reasonable and fairly easy to navigate as well.  The trains are very clean and after a long walk the AC feels amazing!  They have single journey tickets, daily tickets and monthly subscriptions.  If you plan to be in Bangkok for a while or ride the BTS a lot I would recommend purchasing a Rabbit card, which can be topped up with money as needed.  This way you don’t need to queue up for buying tickets for each ride.

MRT (Mass Rail Transportation System)

Similar to the BTS, one can purchase a single journey tickets, 1 day, 3 day and monthly passes.  The MRT also has stored value cards that can be purchased for those living in or spending more time in Bangkok.  It’s also worth noting that the MRT will take you to places like the Chatuchak Market.

BUS

I have yet to take a bus in Bangkok.  As far as I can tell it’s not very straight forward and the bus schedule is often unreliable. As a visitor, and even as a Bangkok resident, it might be safer to stick to the other transportation methods available in Bangkok.

BOATS

There are several types of boats running up and down the Chao Phraya River.  There are express boats, river taxis, long tail and more.  The long tail boats are definitely the ‘fun’ way to travel the river, but some of the other boats might be a better fit depending on where you are going.

So there you have it.  A wide variety of transportation methods to get you where you want to go in Bangkok.  Despite the variety, I must admit there are days I truly miss my car!

Signiture_Nicole

Run Jump Scrap!

Phuket for Thanksgiving was just what the doctor ordered.  Beautiful beach, sea breeze, swimming, family time and a little break from the hustle and bustle of city life in Bangkok.

We stayed at the Le Meridien.  Everything we needed was right there.  A private beach, baby elephant and some different restaurants to choose from.  Although we could have taken a taxi into town to try a restaurant or explore Phuket, we chose to keep it super low key and never left the resort.  There’s always next time to do some exploring!

Le Meridien coordinated a ride from the airport to the hotel.  When we arrived we were greeted with a seriously delicious fruit juice and the flowers (pictured below).

Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

Le Meridien Beach Resort pool in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

Le Meridien Beach Resort pool in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

Le Meridien Beach Resort private beach in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

Our first dinner was at Portofino.  The food was delicious and dessert did NOT disappoint.  Yum, chocolate!

Portofino Food at the Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

Portofino Food at the Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

Le Meridien has a private beach, which is a great perk to this resort.  GAHHH just looking at this picture makes me want to go walk in the sand and dip my toes in the warm ocean.

Beach at the Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

Raise your hand if you aren having a good time!

‘Meeting’ the baby elephant was fun … or really just viewing it from afar since Jellybean was petrified to get close too the elephant despite her initial enthusiasm and saying {or really screaming, because that’s the only volume a toddler knows — wink wink} ‘ellie’ over and over again.

Baby elephant at Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

We went to La Fiamma every day for lunch … if it ain’t broke don’t fit it, right?!!!  The pizza from the wood oven was so yummy and the view wasn’t too shabby either.  Oh, and they have mango-mojitos.  Go ahead and order one.  You can thank me later.  ;)

Wood Oven Pizza on the Beach at the Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

The food was all amazing, but our favorite was the seafood restaurant next to Portofinos.  Our Thanksgiving dinner, while not traditional, was absolutely the best meal of our whole vacation.

Food at the Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

On our last day in Phuket the hubs took Jellybean to the beach and gifted me some alone time.  I sat by the pool, had a drink, read The Boston Girl on my kindle and generally just soaked up the beauty {and quiet} around me.

Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

The sunset on the last night was particularly beautiful.

Beach sunset | Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

beach sunset | Le Meridien Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

I want to go back!  We had a fabulous time at the Le Meridien in Phuket and would highly recommend it!!

Signiture_Nicole

Run Jump Scrap!

We are about halfway through our first year in Bangkok!  I no longer have to sit in taxis with my GoogleMaps open.  I can successfully navigate the driver to all of the places we frequent.  We have favorite restaurants, street food vendors, manicure places and so much more.  Bangkok feels more like home with each passing week and it helps that we’ve had family in town visiting.  We’ve done a lot in the past couple of months and yet we still have so much of Bangkok and Thailand to experience.

JJ Market in Chatuchak | Tidbits about living in or traveling to Bangkok, Thailand. Expat in Southeast Asia | Life's TidbitsThis picture was taken at JJ Market in Chatuchak. A must see when in Bangkok!

Some tidbits about Bangkok …

  1. Plastic bags are EVERYWHERE.  If you purchase fruit from a street vendor they will cut up the fruit, put in a plastic bag without handles, and then throw it into another bag that has handles.  We get food delivered sometimes and certain dishes will come in a plastic bag and tupperware.  I find it so strange, why is so much plastic necessary?
  2. One of my favorite things about seeing a movie in Bangkok is that you can reserve a seat when you purchase your ticket.  The need to show up to movies half hour early to ensure you aren’t sitting in the front row of a newly released movie is gone! Woot woo!
  3. As far as I know, in the States if you purchase something like dish soap and it runs out you just chuck the bottle and purchase a new one.  In Thailand, you can purchase a refill bag.  It’s pretty much a ‘plastic bag’ filled with dish soap, Head-to-Toe Johnson & Johnson, etc. and so you can pour into the plastic bottle to refill it.  It’s kind of genius and I don’t know why we don’t do this in the US … and if we do, I am totally behind the times.
  4. When eating at restaurants food comes our whenever it is ready.  It rarely comes out all at the same time and often feels like you are eating in shifts.  Whenever your food comes out you eat it, else it will be cold!
  5. Another interesting thing about restaurants is the waitress/waiter will rarely, if ever, bring you the bill before you as for it.  This is such a huge contrast from dining out in the States where the check is more often than not delivered to the table before being requested.
  6. Walking down the street you can often hear the buzz of ‘live’ wires.  The wires are all tangled together, some hanging down low enough you could grab it and how one would identify a certain wire is beyond my comprehension.
  7. Living in such a heavily populated city one would probably expect to hear sirens, however the noise pollution is more often than not something other than sirens.  In DC I became strangely accustomed to the sound of sirens and eventually hit a point where they didn’t wake me up at night.  I’ve heard possibly only three sirens since arriving in Bangkok, and each time I feel my heart start racing with worry.  Such a stark change from my reaction to the sirens in DC!
  8. You can order pizza by the meter … just go ahead and wrap you head around that!
  9. Despite many services being a lot more affordable in Thailand, manicures are actually more expensive than in DC.  The manicures here are more spa-ish and include an arm scrub/exfoliator so I guess you are getting more, but I still found the price a bit surprising.
  10. Motorbikes will often jump up onto the curb {with no warning} and speed down the sidewalk during rush hour in an effort to avoid sitting in traffic.  Motorbikes would never get away with driving on the sidewalks in the States!

And if you missed it, please check out the first and second installment of Bits of Bangkok.  More of our Bangkok adventures, to date, can be found here or please follow along on Instagram.

Signiture_Nicole

 

 

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
Run Jump Scrap!

Happy 2016, friends!! Hope you all had an amazing start to the year.  We kicked off the new year by celebrating Jellybean’s 2nd birthday.  Our child has the ‘dreaded’ birthday that coincides with the holiday season, but seriously, I have a two year old what the what?!

HappyNewYear2016

Being in Bangkok meant a morning filled with FaceTime calls so Jellybean could be serenaded by family and friends with Happy Birthday and open her birthday presents.  She made out like a little bandit this year, no real surprise there.  A few of her favorites were the markers, scooter and kitchen.

The kitchen was a holiday and birthday gift. Yes, I know, she should get two separate gifts.  The hubs and I decided that while she’s young enough not to understand one big gift from us is more than enough for the month of December.

After FaceTime we headed to the park.  On the way Jellybean stopped to break it down in front of the Emporium mall {they have huge speakers playing music}.  Nap time was followed by making brownies, playing and the birthday celebration concluded with watching Frozen.

MakingBrownies

Note: I had to hold onto her arm because she kept jamming her
hand in the brownie mix and smearing it across her face.  LOL. 

The hubs and I couldn’t bare to leave Jellybean on her birthday so we welcomed the new year with a homemade steak dinner and some Walking Dead.  Have you seen Walking Dead?  I didn’t think it was for me, I’m not really into the whole zombie or vampire thing, but I’m totally loving it and in full blown binge watching mode.

I’m not really good at setting or following through with goals/resolutions, but nevertheless I’m giving it a whirl this year …

  • Practice Patience (It is said patience is a virtue.  I never quite understood it until having a toddler!)
  • Take a cooking class or two
  • Continue working out regularly
  • Read more books
  • Improve my photography skills
  • Explore more of Bangkok, and Thailand in general

I would love to hear your resolutions/goals/aspirations are for this year, if you have any! :)

Cheers & here’s to a fabulous 2016!!

Signiture_Nicole

 

 

Run Jump Scrap!
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