I Guess I’ll Go Shopping – Siam Summer

Even the stuffed animals have been given masks

Quarantine is and was hard.

It is a simple fact that many of us around the world had to face over the last couple of months. There is a certain amount of loneliness to it even though you may have the company of certain individuals. It becomes hard to have new conversations when nothing happens and you can escape to your screens, but even then, that becomes a chore. The four walls start to close in around you, and you wonder if you will ever escape your home.

It is hard, but there is one thing to keep in mind, you are not alone in this situation. Everybody has been locked inside their homes for the last couple of months, and they are feeling the same things that you are. It is a wonderful feeling when things open up again, and you want to rush out and experience everything again. You vow to yourself that you will never take anything for granted again, but even when you make it out of your house, the things you have hoped to see have changed.

Social distancing at a Thai restaurant in Central World

There is still a distance between people. Some of the services you had loved so much are still not available. Stores and restaurants are half filled, and are not open for the same amount of time as they were in the past. You might even struggle to find a day when the place you want to go is opened at all, and some of your favorite places have shut down altogether. But you can’t stay in your house anymore, and you must experience something in your life, so you probably did what I did. You put on your mask and head out to the only places that are starting up again, the malls.

A simulation of a shopping street in Terminal 21

I know a lot of people travel around the world to experience the various shopping places that can be found in the larger cities. It is one of the things that attracts them to travel in the first place. And there are some great experiences that can be had in markets, but the big malls are usually places I like to avoid. I do not believe that you can find the little things that are unique to each corner of the world, and it is just another location where the bigger corporations are able to push their wares. But in time of Covid, it is the only place that is open, and as I have already explained, I needed to get out and experience life a bit.

We will come together again some day

It ended up going to two of the larger malls in downtown Bangkok, Terminal 21 and Central World, and it might have been because it was a Wednesday, and there is still a lot of concern about gathering in places, both of them were relatively empty. It was still fun to walk around the places and watch what people were out and about on this cloudy day in Bangkok. It was also a great time to stretch my legs and see a couple of the corners of this city that I would probably never have gone to. I did get to experience some fun artwork and got a really good meal at Din Tai Fung out of it.

The Tokyo floor in Terminal 21

But most importantly, it gave me hope that there is more than four walls to my life. It is great to know that there is a world out there, and though people might be cautious about jumping into opening up with two feet, it is nice to know that things are safe enough to slowly bring us back to being the social beings that we know we are. As we move closer to a solution to this world-wide problem, I hope we can take those moments of sanity and venture out to enjoy the things that we all enjoy. I know that the parks, and pubs, and tourist attractions are scheduled to open again soon, but for now, I will take what is offered for me.

Even if that is shopping.

Shopping – The Holidays Day 3

I know that it is the third day of my trip and this is only the first picture I have shared on my blog. I am usually a little bit better than this, but I am sorry to report that I have not been any place really exciting yet. So far, it has been sitting around the house and bracing myself against the gloom of the Portland fog. I did have to escape once to go out and finish my Christmas shopping. In all truth, I had to go out and start my Christmas shopping, but luckily enough I really did not have a lot of shopping that I had to do. This has always been a problem with me ever since I have become a teacher. December is a busy time of the year for people who teach high school English. I always have a stack of final essays to go through and I do not have a lot of time for anything else. Fortunately, most schools get out with enough time for me to go out and get this other thing done before the actual holiday. Over the last couple of years, I have spent my time sitting in front of a computer and having everything sent by Amazon. It is an easy and convenient way of doing this, but I really need to go to the website knowing what it is I am getting everybody because there really is no browsing going on. Considering I am usually a few thousand miles away from the people receiving the gifts, somehow this impersonal approach works, but I do not know if they really appreciate what they are getting. That is why I think that the malls are a better shopping option. It makes me go out and find that perfect gift for everybody. I go out looking with nothing in mind of what I am going to get, and go out and search for the one that will make them happy. It takes some stumbling around as I look, and I do have to fight Christmas shoppers, and battle for parking spots, but I think that I get something better by going through it this way. It is the only thing that I have done so far on this holiday away from school that did not involve traveling from one spot to another. I know that things will get more exciting as the weeks progress, but for now it is all about the buildup. It might be the boring part of the story, but it is necessary to making a good one.

Quick Reflections – Dubai Day 3

Given the fact that I was not able to get out of the hotel very much and explore all the amazing things that Dubai had to offer, I only got a limited view of this city. It is one of the most talked about destinations in the world, and people claim that they would love to see this city for all of the things that they can bring to this little corner of the desert. The following ramblings are just casual observations that I was able to make at the short time I was there, so I could have a different perspective on the place if I ever get the chance to go back and visit someday.

To start off, it is a beautiful city. The architecture is truly something to marvel at, and the people who are designing the rest of the city are really thinking about how to make this place a unique one with its own character that would make want many people put it on their bucket lists of places they have to go and see someday. I don’t know how much history is related to these new creations, but if you look closely, you can see the tour groups being led to the next exciting place. The strange thing about this is that the next exciting place happens to be another mall where the tourists are expected to spend their money.

This has attracted many business people to try their hands at trying to grab some of that currency by setting up shops in the various places where they know the tourists will travel. Some of them are very creative, such as a place where you can get served a bowl of cereal while sitting on a bed and watching old Saturday morning cartoons, but for the most part these are far and few between. Most of the shops and restaurants that I encountered were the same kinds of place that you can find littering the malls of America. It was just one big chain after another that never offered anything new or exciting to the experience of being in Dubai. It gave me the impression that money ruled this city, and everything in it was there to make the ex-pats who came over more comfortable as they worked hard to make and spend more money.

But it is this circulation of cash that has turned this country into one of the most wealthiest in the world. It allows the people that live here to dream about doing things that are bigger and better than anywhere else. It is the reason that you can find skiing in a place where the coldest temperature it might ever see is in the high 60s. It is the reason that there is constant construction all over the place because people want to capitalize on this influx while it is still going on. It is the reason that you can come out here and see the tallest building in the world right now, and even though there are others being built that will eventually surpass it, one of them happens to be in Dubai, so this city can keep the record for just a little bit longer.

I really don’t know how I feel about this city, but being able to grabs small snatches of what it has to offer, it has made me want to come back so I can learn more. Hopefully someday that will be able to happen.

At Target – Around the World Day 44

As I start to collect all of the little things I have collected on my travels around the world, and prepare to take that final leg back to where I started, I have a little addiction problem that I would like to address. I do not get to spend much of my time in the United States any more, but when I am out here, I like to spend a some of my time at Target. I might even say that it is my favorite place to go shopping. There are many times when I am sitting in my place in Seoul and talk about how much I miss Target. I do not know why I have such a love for this store. It is only a department store after all, but I get all excited when my plane lands back in the states because that means that very soon I will get to visit one of its many locations. In fact, considering I have spent just over three weeks in the States, I have visited five different locations. It is like I see that big red dot on the horizon and I think that I need to stop there and get all of the little things that I cannot get anywhere else.

To my defense, I do go to Target a few times because there are certain things that I like to bring back with me to South Korea that for the life of me I cannot find there. The brands of toothpaste that they have are not as good as the ones I enjoy out in the United States, and it is really hard to get cold medicine. Movie candy absolutely does not exist and I will have to admit that another addiction of mine is to Mike and Ikes. Clothes fit weird for me if I buy them in Asia because of different body types out there, so I do always look for new clothes while I am out in the United States. I get to browse through a whole new set of media that is not in display in the city where I live, and there are thousands of other odds and ends that I can only find there. It is for this reason that I go to Target.

But do I really need to go five times in the short amount of time that I am out in the States? No, I do not, but I do feel a little at home in one of these stores. I know I go in for one little thing and leave with a basket full of crap, but I can’t help myself. Out of the corner of my eye I spot something that I forgot I needed I have to grab it before I forget. And even though I hadn’t been in the one in the town I used to live in before I moved across the sea, I still know where everything is in that store. How could I not feel at home?

I know that I sound pathetic, and as I pack my bags, I start to look at the collection of Target bags I have collected and wonder how I will get all of that stuff back to Korea with me. There is only one answer to that question, and only one solution. I need a new bag so I can check all of this stuff, and there is only one place that I trust to get a great bag that I can use over and over again. Thank God for Target.