I never wrote about it at the time, but the four of us made our first trip back to Bangkok as a family back in mid-February. The occasion was something that I'd vowed that I wouldn't be doing ever again: family photos. In truth, they were something of a do-over for the ones that we had taken here in Saigon in December and were kind of meh about (I hope that the photographers took our money and bought themselves some editing software).
I discovered a lot during our weekend in BKK.
Despite a rocky start, I discovered that I truly miss the place; over our three years there I started to understand what life in Thailand is about and become comfortable about my place in it. The frustrations seem minor. The roads seemed so much more orderly than I had remembered, the air quality better, the streets cleaner, and the shops so much more well-stocked, particularly in the toy department. All this in comparison to Ho Chi Minh City. The familiarity was comforting and I felt capable for one of the few times since we came back from our summer holiday in Canada. Feeling capable in BKK was a new experience and it was great know what to do and where to find what we were looking for! It was really a treat to be back at some of our favourite places in the city, and I am looking forward to visiting as a tourist once again.
I discovered that it's possible for a photo session to go well - ours did this time! It was supposed to happen at the historical Jim Thompson House, which probably was a fabulous (if a bit child-unfriendly; we'd taken Madeline there when she was three) setting. A couple hours before we were due there, the photog called up and said that the Jim Thomspon House was really crowded for her morning sessions there, and would be mind a change of venue?
We met her at her hotel instead, and she led us across the street and down the road to a wat. We'd visited a handful of wats in the previous few years, but they were all very busy with local visitors and tourists, all there to see their special Buddha statues. This one was small and modest, and it was very obvious that gentlemen were living and working and learning there. No tourists. We took pictures between painted wooden buildings, with the kids waving to the monks who would peek at us through the windows. We took pictures in the courtyard, borrowing brooms and carts for props and posing in front of the monks' clothesline, where they'd hung rows of orange, red, and yellow towels out to dry in the sun. I thought that it was a very interesting place and very Thai, and Chris and I were thrilled to have this new experience in Bangkok.
I can't post and not mention that our photographer was the same one who we booked with before, the one who's camera broke mid-way throught the session, after the photos of little Sadie sleeping and nursing and posing for close-ups of her tiny little feet were taken and subsequently lost forever. I'm in a better place about that these days. We received the photos from this session a few days ago, and there is something healing in them for me.