Creative Ideas Amidst Bangkok’s Protests

Bangkok parents:  If you’re anything like me, you’re racking your brains to figure out what to do with the kids in order to avoid the daily protests, deal with school closures, and accept the fact that the major malls and play areas are closed (can you really blame Central World after what happened in 2010)?

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Bangkok Protests 2013 – ugh!

So – I thought I’d throw some ideas out there for the creatively-challenged (which, by the way, definitely includes me).  Lucky for me, I have a love for Pinterest and I’m fortunate enough to have some wonderfully-inventive friends — so here are some ideas to get you through the dog days.

Getting Out

1. Good news?  The morning weather is now cool!  Another piece of good news?  For those of us who live next to Lumpini Park, the protesters have left the park area (after many months of being camped out on the park’s Silom-side), which means we can safely utilize the area without totally melting in the heat.  So, grab some friends, scooters, bug boxes, and fish food and enjoy these December days outside.  For those of you who live in Phrom Phong, the same goes for Benjasiri Park — enjoy this cool weather!

2. It’s December and do you know what that means?  Well, yes, besides wonderful — albeit some times very tacky — decorations on every corner, it is the month of the Plan Toys Factory Store (Sathorn Soi 10) big annual sale.  Protests haven’t extended towards Sathorn, so depending on where you are coming from, the area near the store should be clear.  The kids can play with all of the demo toys (including a huge train table) while moms and dads enjoy 50-80% discounts for wooden toys.  A great Christmas shopping activity!

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We hit the Plan Toys Factory Store sale on day one today!

3. Go to the play groups that are still open.  One of our favorites?  Tiny Tots Play Group on Soi Convent (Silom) at Christ Church on Wednesdays and Friday mornings from 09:30-11:30.  They have a large space and an AWESOME array of toys.  The set-up is always different.  Some weeks you’ll find ice and polar animal play, other weeks you’ll find a rack full of princess dresses, and you’ll always find old favorites like Legos, ride-on toys, kitchen and house toys, etc.  The church also provides a craft activity and music for the children.  The Wednesday play session has a religious component to it (bible story to begin), but the Friday session does not.  For more information, visit the Christ Church Bangkok Playgroup Facebook Page.  Due to renovation of the church hall, the next play group dates are December 11th and 13th.  The playgroup will close for the holidays from  23rd Dec – 3rd Jan.  Please note that this is a parents and babies/toddlers group only (no nannies).  Also, there will be a craft and used toy sale at the play groups on the 11th and 13th.

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Tiny Tots Playgroup on Soi Convent

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Kitchen play!

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Princess dresses by the dozen

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Ice play

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My sweet girl

4. Plan your own play dates with friends in your area and rotate houses/play areas one day per week.  I’m fortunate enough to have a wonderful group of friends and we rotate homes every Wednesday afternoon for play.  This keeps the play venue fresh for kids and both moms and kids get some wonderful social time.  We planned the group so that everyone lives on the same block, which means our activities, as of yet, have not been affected by the protests.

5. Swim!  Yes, it might be a little bit more chilly out these days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t utilize your pool and enjoy fun water play activities.  We are in Bangkok, folks — enjoy the ability to swim comfortably during the winter while you can!

6.  Find walkable or sky-trainable Christmas activities in your area.  There are a lot of fun holiday activities going on around the city this time of year.  Try to find some in your area.  For example, we just went to a gingerbread cookie and house-decorating activity at the Plaza Athenee Hotel on Saturday afternoon.  Children decorated cookies until their hearts were content, enjoyed a wonderful Christmas buffet, took in a magic show, listened to caroling, visited with Santa, and played in and decorated a huge gingerbread house.  In the meantime, parents enjoyed two glasses of wine, champagne or beer and watched their little ones delight in the holiday cheer.  All proceeds from the event supported a children’s orphanage.

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Delighting in the tree at the Plaza Athenee Gingerbread House Decorating Event

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Receiving love from a Christmas elf

Staying In

7.  Tap into Pinterest and do some craft searching.  This one is not rocket science, folks.  Are you familiar with Pinterest?  If not, get interested now.  And within Pinterest, simply search for “kids’ crafts.”  You will be amazed by the awesome activities that pop up.  For example, here is a broad selection of Christmas activities offered:  Pinterest Christmas Kids Crafts.

8. Make your own play doh and let the kids go to town.  Okay, I confess that I was a bit scared to make my own anything (play doh, bubbles, etc.), but after seeing a friend do it super-successfully, I tried my own hand at it and it worked!  I made a couple of huge batches and the kids loved cutting, forming and playing with the dough.  I gave them a whole slew of cookie cutters in all shapes and sizes to use with the dough as well, which they seemed to enjoy.  One tip for Bangkok:  when you are done playing with your homemade play doh, store it in a closed container or plastic bag in the refrigerator to avoid mold.  Here is the recipe that I used (there are tons of recipes out there): Play Doh Recipe by Family Education.

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Home-made play doh (picture by FMO Crafts)

9. Colored rice sensory play.  This was another awesome idea by a creative friend of mine.  Instead of creating a sand pit on your balcony, why not try some colored rice sensory plan?  The good news here?  We’re in Asia, folks, so rice is everywhere!  Buy a few big bags, some rubbing alcohol, food coloring, ziploc baggies, and a big plastic tub.  Here’s a how-to:  Colored Rice Activity by Living In Gear.

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Colored Rice by Living in Gear (livingingear.blogspot.com)

10. Decorate.  That’s right.  Get the kids involved in some holiday decorating.  Put up the tree, the lights, the ornaments, the stockings . . . why not?

Now, that’s all I have in me right now.  Hopefully I gave you at least an idea or two.  Let’s all pray that these protests end soon and peacefully so that we can all enjoy the holiday season.  In the meantime, stay safe, and if you are looking for some updates on the protest/security situation, the U.S. Embassy Bangkok Facebook Page is a good place to start.

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Have You Been To The Bangkok Farmers Market?

One of the newest things to hit the city is the Bangkok Farmers Market (affectionately known as the BKKFM).  Yes, there have been predecessors to the BKKFM – like the smaller organic market held at Bo.Lan the first Saturday of every month – but this my friends, is different.  It is the real deal.

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Birthday pony ride!

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Thursday Market at Asoke: Children’s Clothes, Toys, and More

Asoke Market

Checking out cool toys at the Asoke Market

I’ve been meaning to check out the Thursday Asoke market (also known as the Japanese market) for years and I finally made it today! Do you know Kuppa Deli in Asoke? If so, the market is held at the University directly across the street, and features everything from children’s clothing to toys, plants, and yummy food and snacks.  It is definitely worth a visit! It is easy to bring a stroller along – just make sure to be prepared with lots of H2O and hats, because it is hot!  My friend, Becky took some excellent pictures this morning and did a write-up of the market. Check it out here:  Thursday Asoke Market: A Review by the Awesome Becky Horace

 

 

U.S. Brands at Very Low Prices? Yes, Please.

How many times have you checked the tag of your child’s $18 Gap shirt to find out that it was made in Thailand?  Right.  So, where is all of that clothing and how do you find it here at super bargain-basement prices?  While I’m certainly not the expert on this, I have found one joint that delivers.  If you are strolling around the Central Chitlom area, check out the indoor market on the bottom floor of the Sindhorn Building (just next to the 7/11) on Wireless Road on a Tuesday morning.  The best time to go is between 9-11am; before 9 the vendor is still unloading his clothing, after 11 the market gets swamped with lunchtime browsers.

Children’s clothing vendor at Sindhorn on Tuesdays

You have to dig, but you can find some great stuff!

I’m not sure if this stuff isn’t sized exactly right, is sample clothing, or you know, just fell off the truck, but I have found some awesome Gymboree, Oshkosh, Carter’s, and Sprockets clothes at excellent prices at this little market.  You have to dig, and you have to be mindful that what you’ve picked up doesn’t have a small defect here or there, but I have been happy with everything I’ve gotten for both Logan and Kate.  Furthermore, nothing that I have bought (from onesies to pajamas to shorts/shirt combinations has cost more than 180-200 baht).  You know how quickly little ones grow.  It’s so nice to be able to find U.S. brands at very low prices so that you don’t feel so guilty when they grow out of them right away.

Darling Sprockets spacehip pajamas for boys

Sweet Logan modeling his pajamas

The market also has great seasonal/holiday finds.  I picked up the below Halloween sleeper (Carter’s) for Kate and Santa bibs (Gymboree) for Logan and Kate.  It’s not easy to find a U.S. brand Halloween sleeper in Thailand, but this guy has it.  Enjoy your shopping!

Kate modeling her Halloween onesie

Super cute onesie feet

P.S. – I’ve also heard from several friends that the third floor of Platinum Mall offers some great children’s export clothing at low prices.  I have yet to check it out, but from what it sounds like, it’s worth a try, too!