Three Gifts from Bangkok

My bikini didn’t get me in trouble in Bangkok.

I wasn’t mugged, killed or offered any sexual activities. The well meant warnings were nice, but folks, I grew up in Cicero, a town near the south side of Chicago. I can hold my own in a city. I may not look like it, but I can.

Aside from coming back to Ubud with a personal power shift on account of learning my ATM pin code, there were also a few gifts of recognition that I brought back from Bangkok.

Gift 1. I’m a Disciplined Consumer

I shopped until my feet couldn’t walk anymore in my flip flops. If you thought that the US was consumeristic, you haven’t seen the frenzy in an Asian shopping mall.

Consumerism doesn’t stop at the US border and it’s worst offenders are large cities & suburbs.

The size of Asian malls is scaled 5 fold to a typical American mall. These things are HUGE! And the difference is that the most shops don’t have the luxury of warehousing the overstock out of sight, so you get to see the gravity of the consumeristic lifestyle in the heaps of cheap plastics, electronics, synthetic clothes piled high. To the ceiling high. It’s disturbing to think about the resources and energy put into making this junk that will end up in a landfill or floating in the ocean, sooner rather than later. This stuff isn’t made to last. It’s cheap and it’s disposable. And that is the intention. Thus the cycle of buying more.

“We can’t possibly consume this much?” I think to myself. “Can we?”


Then I witness and think about the typical city lifestyle – the artificial atmosphere of the city – and the games we play in society.

  • The need for self-expression with a constant change of clothing and accessory trends.  The marketing messages so cleverly crafted to appeal to our primitive brain.
  • The fast paced lifestyle of new electronics that are as disposable as the take out dinner in a plastic bag.
  • The rush. Of everything.

I’m beginning to think the city is a human toxic landscape. Polluted with a population of too many – cars, people, buildings and stuff.

There is not enough greenery to absorb and purify – the air, the mind or the soul. The city exists in a superficiality while residents work hard for meaning and purpose using the cheap thrill of consuming to assuage the absence of silence and stillness.

Hey, I’ve done my fair share of shopping on this solo trip to Bangkok. Admittedly, I almost fell prey to the cheap thrills. I considered buying yet another scarf and more electronic gadgets that probably wouldn’t be used 3 months from now. 

But luckily I have a stop-gap in my brain as a result of selling all my stuff a few years ago.

My thought process analyzes the product and it’s intended purpose. (Yes, I really do think like this. It’s not just theory.)

  • Do I have something like this that already serves me?   Yes or No? Do I really need it or is it the cheap thrill I’m seeking?
  • If I had to fit all my clothes / stuff inside a suitcase and that is all I could take with me – would I still choose this item?
  • Will I get enough use out of it to justify buying it?  This answer has to be at least once per week.

I’ve become a user of stuff – yes. But, I’m not a collector.

It’s a self-discipline that I’ve cultivated over the years. It’s pretty simple and it stops me from buying most things.

When you have too much, there is not as much appreciation of the stuff you have. When there is just enough and each thing count we tend to be more grateful for them.


Truthfully, I didn’t really need most of that stuff so I didn’t buy it. I had fun shopping for the list I had in my hand plus a few extras for my kids, namely books and activity things and really cute shoes for Miss I (which she loves to pieces and wears everyday).

I guess it’s my individual way to slow down and be more mindful of what I need and use every week.

Gift 2. Desire. An easy gift from the Sin City of Asia

My four days away from my family were blissful. Because I didn’t have to be mindful of anyone else but myself, I enjoyed many freedoms:
•    Waking up at 2 am, turning on the lights and reading my new book
•    Eating whatever and whenever without having to discuss it
•    Not having conversations (except within my own head) of where to go and what to do. I just did it.

In essence, I gave up all my responsibilities for a little while and the effects where wonderfully welcome.

As I was experiencing this joyous discharge of responsibility, I noticed my desire for my family growing. This need to be away and reconnect with the quality of aliveness, vitality and renewal of myself also had effects that extended beyond me.

I experienced connection and separateness at the same time.

Upon return, there was, and continues to be, a reignited sense of desire for my husband and children. The security and predictability of everyday life was tempered with the novelty and adventure of taking a solo trip.

This is a great way to sustain desire. It’s the essence of what makes a relationship vibrant and attractive.

A lull in a relationship or a hysteric family life can quickly be assuaged by going away for a while. Taking time for reconnecting with who I am and at the same time creating this tension of wanting to be with them and not being able to at the moment. Those are the glowing embers of desire. The space of being away allowed this healthy tension to cultivate.

I’m thoroughly convinced that the key to a healthy, long, loving relationship is to go out and do your own stuff, be in your element, find your flow and then reconvene with your spouse to share the experience with them.

This is a great video explaining exactly that.

Gift 3. The Importance of Autonomy

There are times where we can feel limited- by society, family, friends and even our self-imposed restrictions. I was feeling like I was overriding my Self by identifying too closely with being a mother, wife  and business owner. Those are important and very fulfilling roles for me, but my essence is all my own and I needed some alone time to let it shine. Three short little days in Bangkok allowed me to blow off the settling dust and totally own it. And, frankly, I’m pretty darn sparkly because of it.

This is a repeat of my last post: but every one should get away by themselves to feel like what it feels to just be you.

A Suitcase & Mind full of new gifts.

I love visiting cities. Even with the unnatural concentration of concrete and steel- the buzz of the city appeals to me for 3-4 days. Then I need to return to a more natural landscape- where my ponytail breezes freely and my kids run around (mostly naked).

Fun memories & Tips from Bangkok

  • Honesty: Passing by Radio Thailand building. The sign outside said “The Government Public Relations Department”. The US should have that on every mass media channel to be honest with it’s citizens.  Ha!
  • Tip: When needing a taxi from the airport, skip the taxi line. Head on upstairs to the Departure area and grab a taxi that just dropped someone off. You’ll save yourself the wait in line and the 50 baht surcharge.
  • Visa: US Citizens get a FREE 30 day visa. The customs line helper will ask if you have a visa- you don’t need one prior to arriving in Thailand.
  • Note to self: Bring better shoes than flip flops.
  • If you are looking for polyester…this is the place!
  • Pantip Plaza: the electronics mall where you can buy spy cameras, laser beans (the multi-colored ones) and anything related to electronics (except a cover for a kindle).

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6 Responses to “Three Gifts from Bangkok”

  1. Living Outside of the Box February 28, 2013 at 12:19 am #

    Love the post. I couldn’t agree with you more that the less you have, the more you appreciate and value what you do have. For example, I’m finding it astonishing to look at our children’s clothes in a new light, for example. It used to be that they had so much excess that there were shoes, shirts and shorts they almost never wore. Now, they wear everything at least once each week, and it gets thoroughly used up! I don’t have to gift away their outgrown clothes, mourning that they barely got worn–because they are getting USED and looking USED, as well! And that’s not a bad thing :-) They have been loved, appreciated…and when their life is over, I can be completely grateful for them and move on.

    I also love what you said “user of stuff–yes–but not a collector.” PERFECT.

    Thanks for your insights!

    • S King February 28, 2013 at 3:03 am #

      We were the same way. It was ludicrous the amount of clothes we went through in the first 1 1/2 yrs of G’s life. The pile was nearly as high as the ones in Bangkok malls!
      Now, my children have about a weeks worth of clothes that get worn well until they are either
      1) embarrassingly stained (a soft spot for Mr. King)
      2) to small
      or 3) torn or worn

      It really makes things simple. They still look nice. We aren’t walking around terribly dressed, at least we don’t think so.

  2. Jennifer Pearce February 28, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    Beautiful post, Sabina. I love the way you write, and the way you think too, for that matter. :) I’m so glad you came back all sparkly from your time away.

    • S King March 1, 2013 at 6:54 am #

      Thanks Jen…and might I say you are sparkling as well ;)

  3. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family March 8, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

    A little alone time can certainly do a mother good!

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