Friday, December 8, 2017

A Jane and Phil Apartment Tour: Bangkok

What does our new house look like?

Before our stuff came, it looked like this:

After our stuff came, it looked like this:

When it's relatively organized, it looks like this:

But, let me start from the front door, and take you on an abbreviated e-tour.

This is our entryway. The cupboards to the left have shelves for shoes. They're slanted at an angle for that purpose. It's super inconvenient for storing anything other than shoes. I do it anyway, but I swear more than I would otherwise.

This is our living room and dining room. All of the furniture was landlord provided, with a few exceptions. The embassy provided the bookcases, which I haven't finished organizing, so cool it with your internal criticisms. They also provided the lamps, and the carpets. We're on the waiting list for a recliner, but I don't think it will happen. Most overseas housing is furnished, usually by the embassy. A few places are unfurnished, and it's a huge bummer for the people at those posts. Our friends had to make a costly investment in furniture for their latest European post. 

This is our kitchen. It's much smaller than the one we had in Athens. It's better not to compare your housing assignment to others, including your past homes, unless your current house is way better. If it is better, rub it in everyone's face.

The storage/counter space in our kitchen is limited. We don't have a dishwashing machine, but I am a dishwashing machine, and I'm incredible. Tap water in Bangkok meets all international health standards when it leaves the plant. By the time it gets to the house, it's been through a lot. The embassy provides filtered water for us. We use the filtered water for drinking and cooking. We use the tap water for everything else. We haven't died yet, so that's encouraging. The range is fueled by a propane tank (!) on the back balcony. 

Here's the back balcony. It's connected to the kitchen, and to the maid's entrance, which is a separate door from the main entrance. A lot of people (with money) in Bangkok have a live-in maid. The apartments in this building have separate maid's quarters, which consist of a very small bedroom and bathroom, off of this balcony.

This is the bathroom. The toilet is just out of frame to the right. There's a drain in the floor for the shower. There is no hot water. I don't know where you'd hang a towel. 
This is the bedroom. We've packed it full of our storage. It looks accommodating, but you could probably fit a full-sized bed in there, and nothing else. We've decided that this is where we'll put the bad guests.

We have no plans to hire a live-in maid. Our neighbor recommended a wonderful woman who comes to our house once a week to clean. The idea of a stranger coming into my house to clean up my messes while I watch was so triggering for my social anxiety, that I stayed up late the night before her first day, and made sure everything was as organized as possible for her. It was sort of like pre-gaming, but with housework. Within minutes of her first day, she had completely diffused my nervousness. She's great, and I like her a lot. I still have to do some pre-clean before her visits, but I'm hoping to wean myself of that entirely in another month or two. Baby steps.

Here's one of the spacious, indoor bedrooms. This is where we'll put the good guests. I moved one of the twins from the other room into this room, and made one giant bed. It's fun.

This is The Kid's room. It's a work in progress, and he couldn't care less about my efforts. Toddler room decor is a thankless task.

This is the grand bedroom, with the other twin from Kid's room. It's the lightest room in the house.

Here is one of the bathrooms. We have five, if you count that grim one with the shower on the wall. I never in my life imagined I'd be living in a place with five bathrooms. I can't go back to the real world after this. Three of the bathrooms have tubs and showers. The fourth is a nice water closet off the entryway. The fifth one is the grim one.

Housing can be one of the most contentious things about the foreign service lifestyle, both in the broader community, and within families. Most posts allow you to list your preferences, but the final decision is left to the housing board. Sometimes, you don't find out where you're living, until you're a month away from living there. Sometimes, you have to move after you've already arrived at post. It can be hard to plan ahead when you're not sure what your housing situation is going to be. People become really nasty over what they do and don't get.  I guess it's understandable, but I think sometimes we all need to knock it off with the sense of entitlement. There are people with genuine cause for concern, and then there are just whiners. If you choose this lifestyle, steer clear of the latter, and try to avoid becoming one yourself. 

Overall, we're happy with our housing. We're in a great location. We have killer amenities. We have plenty of space. We're safe. We have shelter. And we have four great bathrooms (plus one grim one)!  

You can't argue with that view.

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