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Bangkok Living

On Saying Goodbye

On Saying Goodbye

Coming to Bangkok was never my dream. While many of the expats we encountered in our time overseas lived for adventure and loved to travel, I never really cared much for that. Instead I have always longed for the deep relationships that only come from staying planted in one place for years.

Which is why my sadness over leaving took me by surprise. If I’m being honest, I am pretty excited about this upcoming move. It feels like the perfect fit for our family. While there is a lot that is unknown, God has already begun clearing a path for us. On top of that, I never really loved living in Bangkok, and I often missed my friends and life back home. Yet, for the entirety of our last day in BKK, I felt myself getting all teary-eyed thinking about leaving this place. With every “last” came a deeper twinge of sadness.

Last massage, last pedicure, last trip to “our mall”. Last brunch with this friend, last dinner with that friend. Last time we would eat at this table. Last time with our beloved, although once hated by me, dog. The goodbyes got progressively harder, and my sadness grew deeper with each one.

As I thought through how strange these feelings were, I realised that this had in fact become home for us. And while this wasn’t my dream life, it had been a pretty good reality for our family. There were people here we loved, and places that were special to us. Bangkok marked one of the biggest steps of obedience we had ever taken as a family, and God had been so faithful to us throughout our time here.

And while we are going back to what really feels like home, saying good-bye was hard. Really, really hard.

Leaving our friends, home and favorite places behind brought an outpouring of tears I did not expect. And that dang dog ya’ll. Although I couldn’t stand her, or any dog for that matter just a few short months ago,  she had become part of our family. Saying good-bye to her felt like leaving a piece of our heart in Thailand. (I cannot even believe I wrote that people. Seriously. Who have I become?!?!? I need an intervention.)

I know we will see many of our Bangkok friends again. I am excited to see our old friends in South Carolina. I look forward to getting to know some new ones, in Nashville. I am also looking forward what God does in our family and ministry with this next step of obedience. But for today, and maybe for a few more days, I am just going to be okay with the sadness. While it  is a bit more than I had imagined it being, the tears remind me that God built connections here. I wouldn’t be sad if there was nothing to leave behind. So, I am thankful for the sadness and the good it represents. And while the U.S. will always feel like home to me, I will miss Bangkok and the life we built there with shaky hands and hesitant hearts. 

God was the one who called us there, and He is the one calling us back. He gave us such a sweet community, some friendships that will remain forever, and a worldview that can never be diminished. God did things both big and small in our lives and in our hearts in the Land of Smiles, and we will forever look back on our time there as an Ebenezer of His faithfulness.

Bangkok’s Best Restaurants

So, in an effort to love all things Bangkok, I’ve decided to write about my some of my favorite places in good ole’ BKK! This time I am talking about my favorite restaurants. A few things you should know…I don’t like Thai food (so there are no Thai restaurants on this list). I also don’t really eat street food. So, if you are looking for more authentic types of Thai food and great street vendors, then this is not the place for you. Instead, I offer up a short list of delicious food, and ambiance that make for an enjoyable and worthwhile dining experience! So, here ya’ go, Bangkok’s best restaurants, according to Danielle!

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Best Restaurants in Bangkok

 Beirut  (The ambiance here is okay… but the food is so, so good!)

Beirut serves Lebanese food that our family literally devours every time we eat here (or have it delivered)! We LOVE this food, and if you order the sets, it won’t break the bank!! There are a couple of different locations (Phloen Chit, Siam, and Soi 39)

Roast

This is my favorite brunch joint, but it also has some amazing lunches and dinners (their pulled pork sandwich is ahhh-mazing)! Roast also has a really cool atmosphere, and they serve Twist juices (which I absolutely love) as well! (I know of two locations, one is on Thong Lo 13, and the other at Em Quartier)

Bon Chon Chicken

Our family loves chicken wings, and Bon Chon is the only place to get some yummy wings here in BKK.  They only serve their wings in two different flavors (spicy and soy garlic), but they are both absolutely delish!! (I know there are other locations, but we have always ordered from or gone to the Thong Lo 13 location.)

Pink Tender

Esteban and I will go here for special dates, as it is a little pricier than some of the other places on the list. It is in our ‘hood, and seems super out of place, because it is cute, trendy, and soooooooo yummy (which is not exactly how I would characterize our area). Their steak is the ONLY steak I will eat in Bangkok! (Bangna Trad soi 23)

Pala Pizza Romana

This little pizza place right under the BTS at Asok (on the same side as Terminal 21) makes some of the best pizza I’ve eaten! You can buy it by the slice, order a 1/2 meter or full meter pizza! It isn’t crazy expensive either, so it is perfect for the family. It is cute inside, but it is kind of a small place, so you might end up waiting a while for a table.

Peppina

Also a pizza place, really cool atmosphere, delicious pizza and a porcetta brushetta that is so good you might just order three (it’s an appetizer) and call it a day! I ate there yesterday. It was amazing, but it is not traditional types of pizzas. There are all kinds of funky toppings mixed together, with a crust that is to die for! Peppina is right where Sukhumvit Soi 31, and Sukhumvit 39 meet.

Burger Factory

Best burgers in Bangkok. Hands down. I am done trying other burgers, these win every time! Also, they have curly fries. Which are amazing. Burger factory is on Ekkamai soi 10 (right next to Healthland).

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Also…I have recently tried Polpa for lunch this week. They deliver your meals fresh each day, and so far the meals that I have had have been really good. I highly recommend this new service! If you want to try it, you can use my referral code and get 200 baht off of your first order! I have been filled up on, and have enjoyed everything I’ve ordered thus far!

If you live in Bangkok, what are some places that you love?

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What I’ve Learned From Living Overseas

It’s been almost two years since we packed up our pretty perfect suburban life for a much more exotic one in Bangkok. Missions, ministry, and “the gospel to the ends of the earth” were the anchors to which my soul clung. But the transition was harder than expected. Yes, there was culture shock, but mostly there was a longing for the safety and comfort that I had once called my own. There were people who knew me so well that they could predict what I would say next. We lived our lives in real, legit community. We were settled, happy and just as much involved in ministry there as we are here.

But God asked us to go. So we did.

I wish I could say mine was an attitude of gung-ho, “let’s do this thing” kind of exuberance. It definitely was not. It still is not. I was not one of those missionaries whose heart was all about living among nationals and learning new languages and trying new foods. This move was one of obedience, not desire. But God has used it immeasurably in my life. He continues to use it as he gives me a heart, not just for the people where I am, but for the lost in the world.

Over the last year and a half, He has taught me some things. Many of them are deep and hard truths, but there were also some simple little life lessons that will forever shape how we live.

Living overseas

Home is not where we think it is.

Wherever we are is our temporary home. The people we are with are what make home feel like home.

Starting over is hard.

We had a well lived, established, rooted life. Starting over from scratch was so much harder than I thought it would be. As adventurous as it sounded, the “find a house-make new friends- start a new job-help your kids adjust-struggle” was real for me.

Relationships are worth the effort, both where you are and at “home”.

Invest where you are in the people God puts in your life, even if they don’t fit into the mold of what you had before. Invest time in the relationships you had before also. Skype, Viber, Google Hangouts and Email have made that easier than ever before. Be where you are, invest in where you were.

God is good.

Even when I don’t feel it, or fight hard not to believe it, this truth has become an anchor for my soul.

Obedience is costly, but it’s reward is great.

We left a good life. It cost us a lot of comfort, sanity and money. However, the blessings that come from being obedient to God no matter what the cost is are great. His grace is sufficient for what he calls you to, even if it isn’t necessarily what you want to be called to.

The gospel is needed everyday in the life of a believer.

The sin in my heart is real, and moving overseas certainly revealed a lot of that. I needed Jesus’s perfection. I felt like no one really understood me or knew me. I needed Jesus as mediator between me and the God who fashioned every fiber of my being.  I felt compelled to prove myself to everyone around me. I needed Jesus to be where I found my worth. The gospel is for me, a believer, and has been since the day that God first opened my eyes to its beauty and truth.

Finding a house is hard.

Like legit hard. Nuff’ said. Furnishing a house with half Thai money and half USD the first month you are in country is also really hard. You might end up with all white everything, because you couldn’t make the decisions necessary to come up with pin-worthy decor. You might also want to have a nervous breakdown in IKEA. So, yeah…finding a house is hard. Furnishing a house is hard. Crying in the store actually might happen. It’s okay. Just roll with it and enjoy your all white home!

Send missionaries care packages.

We have been so blessed by the thoughtfulness of others. When you send those living overseas a care package,  they will feel loved, cared for and thought about. They will enjoy every little piece of home that can fit into a cardboard box. When I am living back in the States I will remember those feelings and send some love overseas. (And thanks to those who have sent us some “home based goodies”)

Grocery shopping in Bangkok might make you cry.

Like furnishing a home…your first trip to the grocery store might invoke tears. There might be a trillion options for laundry detergent. You won’t understand any of the labels and will be overly stressed about which ones might bleach your clothes. Just saying. It gets better….like 8 months later.

Feeling like you are missing out on things doesn’t go away in middle school.

Nope. Your friends back home will get together without you. Things will happen in the lives of the people you love. Conferences and fun events will take place and you will have no option of attending them. You will feel left out. You will have that gut wrenching feeling of missing out on “everything important in the world”. You will act like a middle-schooler. Then you will realize that you aren’t missing out on anything you are supposed to be a part of. Because God is writing your story and the setting he has you in has its own important events. So, be there, and stop worrying about missing out.

The junk you thought you had dealt with might not be as “dealt with” as you thought.

You might have gotten some counseling or something. You might have thought you could handle what was about to happen. And mostly you did. But you might still have some real misplaced identity issues. You might still be insecure and struggle with contentment. You might still be your own idol and live at the alter of worshipping comfort instead of the glory of God. Just saying, you might not have everything all dealt with. That’s okay, maybe your move is God’s next step in dealing with some of your junk.

God’s grace extends further than you can imagine.

Yes. It does. You might not know how much you need, but when you need it, it will be there. Always.

People are a mess. I am a mess.

Uhhhh, this was made super clear during my first year overseas. I am a really big mess. Somehow, people still wanted to be my friend. I am not really sure why, but I am sure glad they did. I haven’t arrived as much as I thought I had when we left the States. But, God pulled me up out of a metaphorical fetal position. He picked up my head, right in the middle of my adult-sized temper tantrum. He gave me just a tiny glimpse of perspective. He gave me hope that was in a person, not a location or calling or day job. I thought I knew and understood all of those things before. But, I guess I needed some reminding (or remediation).

Moving overseas taught me to let go of some of the things I had been clinging to. I still miss “home” all of the time. I miss the people that shaped me into who I am today. I want to sit down and eat chicken salad with them. I want to dig into Bible studies with them, and share the most mundane and extraordinary moments of our lives. But God has me here. There are people here who I can eat yummy Lebanese food with. We can share the mundane and the extraordinary. There is purpose for me here. There is grace for me here. There is peace and the presence of God for me here. There is need for me here. And I have a need for the shaping that the people, places and experiences here have to offer.

Moving overseas was hard. Going home is still in the back of mind. But mostly I have learned that God is about doing his work, in the kingdom and in my heart. And that is a good thing.

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…Said No One Ever Taxi Edition

The sweet smells, the smooth rides, and the pleasant atmosphere are the hallmarks of a Bangkok taxi ride…said no one ever! If you have never had the joy of experiencing one of these fantastic rides, let me paint for you a picture of the experience. So here goes…a list of things that were said….by No One Ever…while riding in a Bangkok taxi!

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Why yes taxi driver, I do love getting to my destination with the strong smell of smoke in my hair. And no, I absolutely do not mind the headache that the smoke causes.

Please go faster before we get to that speed bump, I love it when I hit my head on the roof of your taxi.

Could you slam on your breaks a little harder. I am really worried that you might not come to a complete stop.

Yes, I absolutly love your singing that does not actually go with the music.

When you are on your phone, it really makes my day when you scream into the headphone earpiece (that is hidden from me). It never makes me feel like you are screaming at me.

I so appreciate when you take the longest possible route to my destination. It gives me so much more time to inhale the smoke and listen to your singing.

Taxi drivers of Bangkok, how about instead of taking me where I want to go, you just tell me where you want to go. This way we can avoid me asking, and you illegally telling me that you don’t want to go there.

Why no, I don’t mind at all when you decide to round my fare up and take the change as your tip. I was probably going to do the same thing anyway..so you know…just take what you want, because that is totally how a tip works.

Hey, do you think you could possibly get closer to the car in front of your before coming to a complete stop? I was hoping to get a close-up of their back window!

I adore the fact that speed is not an issue for you. When you want to you go as fast as humanly possible with no regard for anything around you, I think, “what a free-spirit this guy is”. But, usually when I need to get somewhere quickly, you just love to take your sweet time. I so enjoy those extra few minutes we get to spend together.

What, you need to stop and get gas while my meter is running? No problem! Gotta use the bathroom. Don’t worry, I love sitting at a rest stop waiting for you to finish.

Don’t worry, I like the one lane that isn’t moving also. Isn’t it so nice to just sit here and wait?

You don’t have change for 100 Baht…when my fair was 80, and 100’s are one of the smallest most commonly used bills around. No worries, I will just run into 7-11 and get that change for you.

Please swerve around some more…I love the nauseous feeling I get when you do that. And, you know, those lines on the road are really just suggestions.

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So…who is up for joining me on my next taxi ride? Doesn’t this sound like a blast? Well, let me assure you, there is nothing more awesome. Except for maybe the make-up that melts off of my face while I wait in the 10000000 degree heat of Bangkok trying to get one of these guys to take me somewhere! Yeah…that is the only thing that is more awesome!

My First Trip To The Grocery Store In Bangkok

After 24 hours of tear filled flights, we arrived in Bangkok to begin our new normal. It was midnight-ish. I was tired. Jet-lagged. We had walked into a less than stellar apartment, which threw my inner miss-priss into quite the tizzy. We went to bed only to wake up 3 hours later because after a transcontinental flight, our bodies were just a tad bit confused. The next day, a sweet coworker offered to take us grocery shopping. I was super thankful to have someone to drive us around, give us pointers, and do some thinking for us.

After figuring out cell phones (everyone’s obvious first stop when in a new country with NO ONE to call), we headed towards the grocery store. To be honest, my head was ready to explode. I couldn’t deal with the smells of Thailand, didn’t understand anyone anywhere, and was so worried about how we were going to find a better place to live.  Grocery shopping was something we had to do at the time, but I wasn’t quite ready for what I was about to walk into.

Big C is Thailand’s version of Walmart. If you know me, you know that I do not shop at Walmart at home. I avoided Walmart like the plague.

I am a Publix kind of girl. All the way.

Walking into Big C, my nerves were more than shot, they were non-existent. They were crying for all that was left behind and they were too overwhelmed to begin thinking about anything. Yet here I was, shopping for my family, in the Thai version of Walmart.

As I walked in I immediately stumbled upon the meat/fish section. The meat/fish section looks like this:

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The pictures above really don’t do this justice. These are basically big tubs of meat and fish. In the middle of grocery aisles. They are laying out, uncovered, on ice. People are walking buy breathing on them, coughing on them, touching them and scooping out their own meat. No gloves. I was overwhelmed, and quickly decided our family would obviously be starting a  vegetarian diet. Immediately!

So, no meat for us!

The fruit section was pretty intimidating as well. All of the stuff I was used to buying was really expensive. I didn’t quite have the conversion rate down yet, but I knew that somethings were just way too much. There were all kinds of “weird” fruits that I knew nothing about. Today, many of those have become our favorites. However, fresh off the plane, I was not up for being adventurous! We got one thing of cut-up pineapple, and headed out of the fruit section as quickly as we could.

I managed to grab some milk, but stared down the cereal aisle for a good 5-7 minutes. The cereals we ate at home were almost $10 each. There were all of these other types of cereals, but I was kind of paralyzed. The cereals overwhelmed me to the point of near-tears. Finally I grabbed what looked like some sort of coco-puff, sugary mess of a cereal, and moved on. I was trying to hold it together.

We grabbed one bag of pasta, and then had to settle for some random brand of pasta sauce that I had never seen. The Italian-sauce-snob in me, just knew that I could not survive a nasty jar of sauce. So there was a lot of pressure on this jar to not disappoint. I grabbed some cookie type things, some sodas and then it happened.

We turned the corner to the cleaning supply aisle. This is like my home people. There are few things in life that feed my desperate need for control like a nice clean home. Our “home” in Thailand was in my mind, an abomination.  (I am clearly way too dramatic, but this was how I felt at the time!) I needed to clean. This was something I could do. Except this aisle of cleaning supplies looked nothing like Publix’s perfectly ordered section of cleaning heaven. Nope it was a row of products all labeled in Thai. They all looked the same, and I couldn’t tell what was what. There were no Clorox wipes. None. I thought I might faint upon that realization. There were two rows of detergents…all labeled with Thai words. I had no idea what bleach looked like here, and was terrified of buying something that would bleach our clothes out. I started to tear up in that detergent aisle. This was way too much. I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t hold it together. Grocery shopping in Bangkok was clearly not an option for me.

Esteban picked some supplies out, and we some water. We left the grocery store with some pineapple, pasta, cereal, cookies, a jar of sauce, some cleaning products, soda and water….and a barely sane-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown version of Danielle.

I was not feeling like life in Bangkok was going to work. It actually took me months, like 6 to be exact, to get grocery shopping down. However, I soon learned about the Publix version of grocery stores here in Bangkok. I have learned where things are, what packages look like, and who to ask when I don’t have a clue. My family has eaten every week since moving here, and I haven’t cried during a grocery store run since. Shopping in Bangkok is now something I enjoy…but on that day, the grocery store was enough to make me want to pack it all up, and peace out of this joint!

So there you have it…my first Thai grocery experience! Today, I am joining Kristi and Kitty in their Storytellers Link Up! Hop on over to read some other lovely ladies’ stories!

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