The Tooth Fairy

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I’m currently in Bangkok, Thailand as the first part of my 2 1/2 week SE Asia trip for this year.  When I was in Chiang Mai last year, I noticed a plethora of dental clinics.  My Italian expat friend had stated that many, many expats come to Thailand to have dental work done because it’s much cheaper than in their home countries, plus most dentists here are trained in either the U.S. or Europe.

I’ve been due to have a cleaning for awhile now.  If truth be told, my dental cleaning is a few years past due.  The last time I went to my dentist for a cleaning, I unfortunately had a gum infection.  She prescribed medicine for my gum infection, but regretted to inform me that she wouldn’t be able to clean my teeth until the infection was gone.  Not being overly fond of the dentist, anyway, I never rescheduled the appointment.

Fast forward to the recent past – the dentist had called me to remind me that my teeth cleaning was long overdue and to ask if I’d like to schedule an appointment.  I declined, of course.  Once I knew I was coming to Thailand, I asked my ex if he knew of somewhere that I could have my teeth cleaned while here.  He said that he’d check into it.  Unfortunately, he’s been sick with the flu for about a week and a half now, so we haven’t even been able to see each other; he has two doctor’s appointments this week.

As I was wandering in the neighborhood near my condo yesterday, I noticed that there was a dental clinic on a little soi across the way.  I stopped by in the afternoon to see if they had availability to do a cleaning.  Although they do evening appointments during the week, they were completely booked all of yesterday and today.  (I’m leaving for Bali on Wednesday.)  I told them that I’ll be back in Bangkok on the 29th, but their office will be closed for an extended vacation until June 3rd.  They did, however, take my E-mail, in case there was a cancellation.

I wasn’t expecting to hear from them at all, but around 5:30 p.m. yesterday, they sent me an E-mail saying that they had time to do the cleaning.  I was just about to hop in a cab and go see some Muay Thai kickboxing, but derailed that plan and immediately ran over to the dental clinic.  I filled out some forms and was in the dentist’s chair within 15 minutes.  The actual cleaning took maybe 20-25 minutes, maybe even less.

As far as my experience at the dental clinic, it was excellent.  The facilities were very clean and modern.  The dentist (who was a beautiful Thai woman, by the way) was quite kind and explained everything as she went along.  I confessed that I have a fear of dentists and she reassured me that there would be minimal pain, if any.  As she reclined the seat, I asked if she was going to shoot me up with anesthetic (usually I need two shots, as I have a high tolerance for drugs of that sort).  She said that her instrument was so small and that she’d be using the “water” technology, so it wasn’t necessary.  She jokingly offered to shoot me up, if I preferred.  The cleaning was fast, efficient and pain-free.  The only strange part was that they cover my face with some material which only has a hole for the mouth.  Although that takes away from my having to see any needles or dental instruments coming my way, it kind of felt like some weird bondage procedure!  When the cleaning was done, they rinsed my mouth with some solution containing salt.  The dentist, did, however, suggest that I have my left wisdom tooth extracted.  My regular dentist in San Francisco has been bothering me about that for years.  However, if I return to Thailand next year, I will most likely have THIS dentist extract it.  All in all, that was the most stress-free dentist appointment that I’ve ever had.  The best part, the cost was a mere 980 Thai baht (approximately US$29 at today’s currency exchange)!

The name of the dental clinic is Aesthetics Dental Clinic and they’re located at 459/21-22 Suanplu 8, South Sathorn Road.  Their telephone number is (+66) 02-287-4922.  You can E-mail them at info@aestheticsdent.com.  The card I was given says that the dentist’s name is Dr. Pokpong Amornvit, though I’m not necessarily sure that that’s the dentist I had.  The card also says that the dentist is certified in Implant Dentistry from UCLA.

So there you have it, people!  There’s no reason to fear the dentist any more if even I was relaxed and had a wonderful experience!

In The End

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Over the past year, I’ve been seriously thinking about how quickly time flies and about how things happen that you never expect.  That being said, I think it’s about time I do some type of a will.  Granted, I don’t have a husband or children, nor do I have much other than my 401K, mutual funds, small amount of stock, very small savings account and a ton of jewelry (mostly silver with semi-precious gemstones), unless my vast shoe collection accounts for something!  Not being close to family, I don’t want any of my “assets” to go to anyone in my family.  Someone informed me that, if I don’t have a will at the time of my death, everything will go to my family or the State of California.  Heaven forbid either of those scenarios happen!  Beneficiaries have been designated already for my work-related accounts, as well as my mutual funds.  Of course, HR gave me a little bit of a problem about that as neither of my beneficiaries have Social Security numbers.  They’re FOREIGN, I explained to HR, which means that not EVERYONE is going to have a Social Security number.  They were then fine with that and my beneficiaries were put in place.  As for my other personal things, after doing a bit of research, I see that I’m able to do a Statutory Will in the State of California.  There’s a free form on-line.  I fill it out (it’s quite simple), have it witnessed by two people and it’s OFFICIAL!!!  Guess what I’m doing tomorrow?!  The Beneficiaries on the Statutory Will are going to be the few people that truly love me and have taken care of me, in their own way.  In the end, I doubt that they will have had a clue.

Eggs-actly!

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Did you hear about the easy way to color Easter eggs using silk?  All you need is old silk scarves (or old silk dresses, old silk shirts or silk left over from sewing something), some white fabric and white vinegar.  Cut squares from both the silk and the white fabric.  Take each egg and wrap it tightly in a silk square, then wrap that with the white fabric and tie it with a twisty (like those used for bread loaves).  Put the eggs in a non-reactive metal pot, cover with water, add three tablespoons of white vinegar and boil for 15 minutes.  Once finished, remove the eggs, allow them to cool, unwrap them and – voila! – beautifully decorated Easter eggs.

I was also reading about Easter traditions in France.  While we here in the United States have the Easter bunny, apparently in France there are Cloches de Paques or Easter Bells.  According to the article, church bells in France are silenced the Thursday before Easter.  During this time, they fly to Rome to visit the Pope.  Say what?!  Once their Vatican visit is finished, they stop off at the market to load up with chocolate, which they drop in the baskets of deserving children on Easter Eve.  By Easter morning, the Cloches de Paques are back home and ready to summon you to Mass!  I prefer the Easter bunny, or at least some chicks or a lamb, to bring my chocolate to me, but I won’t complain, as long as I’m getting chocolate.

The best part of Easter is the end of Lent.  For me, that means I’m going to be in potato chip heaven in a few days!!!

Eat Dat!

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Any trip to New Orleans includes some fantabulous meals.  I tend to go to the same places much of the time, but try to include a new place or two on every trip.

My first meal in New Orleans this time was at Eat Restaurant, half a block from where my French Quarter studio was located.  I’d eaten at Eat back in 2009.  My dinner had been fried green tomatoes and spaghetti back then.  My recollection was that the food was fine, but nothing too memorable.  This time I stopped in and ordered the spicy deviled eggs with bacon.  There were 5 deviled eggs, which were good, but not particularly spicy.  You can also order them with salmon instead of bacon, but y’all know how I feel about salmon!  I then ordered a side order of butter beans with shrimp.  OMG, Becky!  It was smokey, rich and had some nice zing to it.  I wasn’t expecting to like it quite that much.  I intended to go back a day or two later to get the entrée size, but they were closed 2 (or 3) days, so I didn’t get any more of those incredible butter beans with shrimp.  Boo hoo!

Shrimp Remoulade from Galatoire's

Shrimp Remoulade from Galatoire’s

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Donut from District

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Donut from District

One evening I stopped in at Muriel’s for an appetizer of gulf shrimp risotto and a fleur-de-lis, some raspberry cocktail concoction.  They were both so tasty!

On Tripadvisor everyone kept going on and on about the muffaletta at Albert’s Cheese and Wine Bistro in the French Market.  I went there late morning to get one, but their reputation preceded them.  There was already a line and the guy informed me that it would take about 15-20 minutes to get my order.  I waited and my order was ready in the allotted amount of time.  Unfortunately, I was due for lunch at Mr. B’s Bistro within 20 minutes, so took my muffaletta to go.  It ended up in my refrigerator, so it wasn’t fresh when I finally got to chow down.  After all the hype, I thought it was average.  The one at Napoleon House is better, but my favorite remains the one at Central Grocery.  I did, as usual, grab one from Central Grocery for my flight back to San Francisco.  Whenever I open that on the flight, you can see the jealousy in everyone’s eyes!!!

Speaking of Mr. B’s Bistro, I finally got their famed BBQ Shrimp.  I have a bit of an aversion to ripping heads and legs off of shrimp.  I kindly asked the waiter if he could please ask the chef to remove the heads, in which case I’d go ahead and deal with the legs.  Request granted!  I began my lunch with their classic Gumbo YaYa and a $5.00 Champagne Royale, proceeded with the BBQ Shrimp and a $1.50 Bloody Mary, then ended with the Lemon Icebox Pie with Raspberry Sauce.  Everything was divine!  The sauce for the BBQ Shrimp was super buttery goodness and the Lemon Icebox Pie was decadent in a way that I never thought pie could be!  They put a bib on me for the shrimp, brought a bowl for the shells and legs, and brought a couple of lemon slices and a damp napkin to cleanse my hands/fingers with.  Even so, I made a straight-up mess with their white linen napkin!  Once again, I have to mention that the service is first-rate.  Plus, you’ve gotta’ love those cocktail specials during lunch Monday through Friday.

I also had lunch at Galatoire’s again.  They had a 3-course prix fixe for a very reasonable $18, but…  I also was craving their Shrimp Remoulade.  So I ordered both the prix fixe AND the Shrimp Remoulade.  A few bites into the Shrimp Remoulade reminded me why I particularly love theirs – it has a healthy dose of horseradish!  For the prix fixe, the first course was duck and Andouille gumbo.  It was rich, smokey and slightly gamey.  The main course was a Creole shrimp omelette; good.  I could only make it halfway through the omelette, though, before giving up.  Yet, somehow, when the mocha panna cotta with whipped cream arrived at my table, I managed to finish the entire thing!  Luscious!  That was my final day in New Orleans, so I didn’t bother having any alcohol for lunch because, after 4 days in New Orleans, who really needs more alcohol?!  As with Mr. B’s, the service at Galatoire’s is first-rate; very old school and professional.

One morning I had breakfast at Red Gravy, which is across Canal Street in the CBD.  Red Gravy refers to marinara sauce.  This restaurant is owned by an East Coast Italian.  There have been many complaints about the service, but I decided to try it, anyway.  First off, the restaurant is really cute, homey and rather intimate inside.  I had no problems with the service because I chose to sit at the bar, where the bartender was quite attentive.  I ordered the polpetta omelette, an omelette filled with Italian meatballs and covered with parmesan and marinara, which also came with potatoes and toast.  I would say that it was better than average; most certainly, filling.  I wouldn’t complain if I had to eat it again.

What else did I eat?  Well…  another meatloaf po’ boy from Killer Po’ Boys in the back of the Erin Rose Bar, a chicken salad sandwich from The Grill, a grilled shrimp po’ boy from Verti Marte, a (mediocre) portabella sandwich from Petite Amelie, a Vietnamese iced coffee donut from District Donuts & Sliders, some tasteless chicken from Kingfish and a blackberry snowball with some crazy good jamabalaya being sold on the street where the Mardi Gras Indians parade took place.  That about covers the culinary part of it.  I was eating “light” on this trip, so only gained 5 lbs. this time around.  Besides, you must realize that my now oversized okole is currently doing extensive sit-ups and other exercises at home.  Once my bedraggled knee heals a bit more, I’m taking my fat self back to the gym!

BBQ Shrimp from Mr. B's Bistro

BBQ Shrimp from Mr. B’s Bistro

Bloody Mary from Mr. B's

Bloody Mary from Mr. B’s Bistro

 

 

 

 

 

Pow Wow Down South

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My main reason for traveling to New Orleans on this trip was to attempt to get some photos of the Mardi Gras Indians.  The Mardi Gras Indians are “tribes” of African-Americans who “mask Indian” to pay homage to Native Americans who took them in and/or hid them during the time of slavery.  There may be 40 or 50 tribes in New Orleans.  The main times that they come out are on Mardi Gras, Super Sunday and St. Joseph’s Day.  I don’t see myself dealing with the madness of Mardi Gras any time soon, so opted to book a ticket encompassing Super Sunday.

I arrived on March 13th to some rain, so was waiting for Super Sunday with trepidation.  If it happened to rain on Sunday, the Mardi Gras Indians wouldn’t come out, as the rain would ruin their costumes which are composed of beaucoup ostrich feathers in brilliant colors.  Luckily, it did NOT rain on Super Sunday, so I got my photos.  It was difficult to get photos with hundreds of people around, spy boys and wild men shooing everyone out of the way, and the Mardi Gras Indians themselves turning this way and that.  Many of them stopped specifically to pose, but just when one thought they had a clear shot, someone would stick their cell phone right in front of you!  Even so, Super Sunday, in my opinion, is a glorious tradition that I’m happy to have finally seen.  Who knows?  I may attempt to return next year and include St. Joseph’s Day, too!

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Bourbon Street Kicked My A**

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You  haven’t heard from me in a minute ’cause I took my happy butt to New Orleans for a long weekend over St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Out of my 15 (?) or so trips there, this was my best by far. I saw FOUR parades, saw someone from there who I’d met pre-Katrina AND had drinks with a friend from L.A. who was in NoLa that Saturday night.

in reality, I rarely spend much time on Bourbon Street these days. That’s what you do the first 2 or 3 times you go there. After that, you venture to other streets and areas to party. I admit to stopping in at Krazy Korner on every trip hoping to catch some live zydeco or R&B band. This time, however, my Air BnB studio was a street above Bourbon and down near the quieter end. Thus, I was crossing Bourbon Street constantly day and night.  The St. Joseph’s parade was in the French Quarter that Saturday night. Once it was over, later in the evening, I was dashing across Bourbon and took quite a fall. I’m sure a thud was involved. I could have slipped on paper, plastic, beads, alcohol, whatever… Two Southern gentlemen immediately helped me up. I’d fallen forward in my jeans and slippers causing grievous injury to my right knee. One of the Southern gentlemen proclaimed “There’s so much shi* on this street. I hope you’re ok.” Even though I seriously felt like crying, I assured him that I would be fine and soldiered on. It was probably an hour later, as I was sitting in a bar waiting for someone, that I glanced at my knee to discover that a fair amount of blood had seeped through! That prompted me to rush back to the studio and check on it. My Bourbon Street battle wound was decidedly not pretty! Still, I waited till the next day to pick up some Neosporin and apply it liberally several times daily. I’m still applying that, along with coconut oil. Hope it doesn’t scar!

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Sea Life

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We had a Company event in Monterey, California on Thursday and Friday.  Four of us drove down together on Thursday morning – a few hour’s drive.  The 3 others in the car had never been to Monterey before.  I, myself, haven’t been in more than 20 years.  The Company had us lodged at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa.  The hotel and rooms were very nice and the staff was great.  After presentations on Thursday, we had tickets to check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  At 5:30 p.m. our group was given a private, after hours tour of the Aquarium for an hour.  That was great for me, as I’d never seen the Aquarium before; the line was always too long to get in.  The ticket is expensive at $37.95, so we were happy that our Company was covering our admission!  My favorite part of the Aquarium was the jellyfish exhibit, which yielded some amazing photos.  The private tour was quite interesting, too; they have several volunteer divers working after hours cleaning out the tanks, getting “eggs” and feeding the fish.

Here’s what I saw:

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