This week has been so fun-filled, it's hard to know where to begin. Well, for starters, let me just say how much we have loved having Mom, Dad, and Sam here. It is so fun to be able to share this fun adventure with family! They have been so willing to try new things, and they are amazingly independent in a very short amount of time. I am particularly impressed with (1) Sam's yearning for adventure and shopping stamina (and impressive patience when we have our down time), (2)Dad's excitement for the people he works with and the city life (it was a little overwhelming to him at first, but he is now appreciating the charm of crowded sidewalks and people cutting his pineapple with no gloves on!), and (3)Mom's talent with a map and amazing bargaining power (she walked away from a stand last night with a wallet originally priced at 650 Baht, for only 200 Baht. That's what I'm talkin' about.) I have loved every minute with my in-laws. It really has been some of our funnest times together. It's amazing what fun memories you make when you are together on the other side of the globe.
Each day was pretty packed with new things, some touristy, some not. Unfortunately, Dad and Jeff had to work. Bummer. But, I think we'll just be grateful for "work" because that is why they are able to come here. Yay! I think the most effective way to share is with pictures, and I've got plenty. Enjoy!
Mom, Sam, and I wanted to try taking a water Taxi to get to Wat Pho, a famous Temple (Wat is the word for Temple, FYI). We went to the dock and stood at the information desk like a bunch of dummies and waited for someone to help us. And help us they did. We had a guy hire us a private water taxi for what I was thinking was way too much, but it sure got us there fast. I was feeling a little huffy about the price (silly, because Mom paid!), especially because when we got there, we had to pay a "docking fee" that I was sure was a hoax. I am a little too suspicious of getting taken advantage of. Too many stories of dumb tourists and deceiving natives, I guess. (Which, I might add, is not the norm for the natives. It is this very reason that makes me prefer the "living" aspect over the "touring" aspect of Thailand. I can't say enough about how wonderful Thais are.) It was a beautiful ride, so we decided to focus on that. (Mom later found out that this price was very normal, as well as the docking fees. I need to relax, I know.)
The scenery was beautiful along the river. We are trying it again tomorrow, but decided to try the shuttle instead of the private taxi this time. We're trying to do it like non-tourists this time, or at least like "less"-tourists.
It was nice to finally see one of the Wats that I've read and heard so much about. This Wat is famous for the giant "reclining Buddha" inside. And it is GIANT. It is 46 meters long and 15 meters tall (this is lying down, remember it's reclining). The feet have very intricate mother of pearl inlay on them, very pretty. It was interesting to walk the grounds, but we really were pretty clueless on all the details of rituals, architecture, etc. We are going to study up better next time. We did, however, fill out surveys for two different school groups, and I think Sam could have filled up the rest of his trip with dates with these cute girls. They thought he was the coolest... and he is.
This day was very hot, and getting home in such a touristy place was a challenge. None of the taxis would use their meter because they are used to dumb tourists who will pay whatever they ask for. I like to think I am at least a little more experienced then the average tourist, so after not agreeing with the first two drivers I talked with, we went a different route. We found a reasonable tuk-tuk driver to take us to the train station. The kids love taking tuk-tuks, and this was Mom and Sam's first, so it was fun. Notice the stroller the driver just tied up to the back. Pretty impressive.
This is a very old tree that Dad walks past everyday on his way to and from work. I don't know much about it, but people put flowers, clothing, food, and a lot of red Fanta bottles as offerings. No one ever removes it, so it just keeps adding up. It's pretty interesting to walk by and see what people have left.
We took everyone to one of our favorite restaurants, the Sylvanian, at a big shopping mall. It's a toy store and a restaurant, but it has these great toys the kids can also play with while we eat. It's a nice, quiet, place where we don't have to worry about the kids and can still have good food. The service is some of the best, and we love Gop, the woman that works there and always plays with the kids. Sam was excited to jump in the balls, only to discover that they weren't quite as deep as he was expecting. Jack thought this was hilarious (I wish you could see his face)!
Mom and Sam were shopping fanatics this week, which unfortunately I didn't take many pictures of. But, we spent two evenings at the Night Bazaar, and I think they saw as many discount clothing markets in one week then I've seen in almost 3 months! As much as we loved the shopping, I have to say, the highlight of the week was Saturday at the Crocodile Farm.
It was so fun to have Jeff and Dad with us during the day! We couldn't all fit in one taxi, so we split up and I got to go with Dad and Jack. We got a very nice driver, besides him wanting to charge us 800 Baht for a ride that should cost around 200. After he realized we weren't going to continue unless he turned the meter on, he took a new approach. He tried the whole way to get us to hire him for the day, so he would wait for us and take us back in the city. It was all very light-hearted, but I have never met a driver that was so persistent! After explaining to him 7-8 times (really, no exaggeration) that we only wanted a one-way trip, he told us all about his little boy named Cartoon, and taxi driving. Once we got to the Farm, he went straight for Mom, trying to talk her into hiring him again. We thought this was hilarious, but we stuck to our guns.
The Crocodile Farm was SO fun, even with it being our second time! We were happy that it was as cool as we remembered it. The animals were awesome, and the kids were amazingly happy the whole day!
We bought a couple buckets of the Crocodile food, it was duck. Sam was hungry so we promised him we would get lunch afterward if he could just hold off another minute.
This was where you actually feed the crocodiles. If you can't read the sign, it says "Please don't put any part of your body or things into Crocodile pool. It is very dangerous." Luckily, banjo players only need 3 fingers. The crocodiles were even more aggressive this time than last. You could really hear their jaws snap and they would always finish their snack with a growl. It was pretty cool.
The Elephant show was again, one of the highlights. I'm fascinated by them. We fed them lots of bananas during the show and went for a ride afterward. We also fed the goats, monkeys, and hippos.
After the farm, Dad bought us all ice cream. Jane saw that she got one all to herself and took it and ran. Do you think she was a little excited? I could barely keep up with her.
I chose not to post more pictures of the animals because I posted so many on my post specifically about the Crocodile Farm. If you want to see more pictures of this fun (but stinky) place, go to my post from December.
Well, there you have it. A few highlights of our week together. Today was very low-key, and that was very welcome! We had a great church meeting this morning, and a fun visit around dinner tonight. Tomorrow, we start all over again. I love that I have one more whole week with Mom and Sam. We've got a lot planned!