As promised, I am finally getting around to posting all about what we did this last week since Vanessa arrived. It was a fun-filled week for sure, and I really just do the same stuff over again because it all went really well. Not because I'm an expert planner, because I don't always think that guarantees a fabulous time, but because we just were together and whatever we did, we enjoyed. But, don't get me wrong, we did fun stuff.
I put together a video where you can see an overview of most everything. The things I regret not getting pictures of? For one, the girls night out, which was the first night Vanessa got here. We let the guys put the kids down, and we went and got 90 min. massages at a new place on our soi. Very nice! The girls there were so sweet, and when Vanessa joked about wanting to take her girl home with her, she said, “I want to go to U.S.A. in your bag!”. They were all fantastic. In fact, they were so great, that Vanessa and Mom went back on their last night as well! Can't beat a 90 min. massage for less than $20 (and this was one of the more expensive places!). After our massages that first night, we wanted to hit some of the street markets, which was really Vanessa's first chance to see the city on foot. We didn't buy much, but, in the video, you can see the flowers made out of soap that we loved watching the guy make. He was quite the salesman! Plus, just getting out on the streets is a big reason I love living in the city. There is something charming about buying things off the street! Maybe it's just that there's so much to see in so little space!
So, what will you see in the video? We spent Monday (without Vanessa) at the Ancient City with Anutra. This place is a small replica of Thailand. You can go to temples, palaces, ancient ruins, floating market, and see royal barges all in one day! With Anutra's background as a tour guide, she is the best person to go with. Plus, she is fun to visit with and has become a huge part of our Bangkok family this past year. Unfortunately, Khun Bird had to work, so he couldn't come too, but she brought Koong, one of her students, and we had a GREAT time together. Fantastic Thai food, lots of sights, and Mom and Dad got to visit with Anutra, whom they've heard so much about! Notice the toga that Jane is wearing? She threw up on the way there (too much time in the car, maybe?) all over her and me. Mimi sacrificed one of her shirts for Jane, and I did my best to avoid stinking all day. Rough start, but it still turned out to be a good day!
I picked Vanessa up Monday night (and was SO impressed with how she was using her “Sawatdii kha” and “khap khun kha” as she stepped off the plane!) and could hardly resist staying up to all hours visiting with my sweet sister! We spent Tuesday night at the Crocodile Farm. Always fun, and lots of new things in a short amount of time. And fortunately, there was less stink this time! The only down side was that for some reason they were not selling food for the crocodiles this time. It's amazing how disappointing it can be to NOT get to throw duck carcasses to crocodiles. I don't really know how disappointed everyone else was though.
We spent 4 days in Chiang Mai, which was GREAT! It was only a 1 hour flight and Jack could hardly believe it when we said we were there! As we got off the plane, Vanessa said, “we're in Chiang Mai, Jack!”. His response was, “only ONE plane?” with a HUGE grin on his face. He could hardly believe that we didn't have to take several planes and travel all day to get where we were going. I'm glad he had a short experience on the plane for once!
Thanks to a good friend in the ward, we got an amazing deal for this trip! The hotel was great, and we had plenty of space with connecting rooms, a fantastic staff, and amazing breakfast! Did you know that it's weird that Americans eat different foods for different times of day? In Thailand, all the meals are pretty much the same, no food specifically for breakfast, dinner, etc. Vanessa ate noodles every day for breakfast, what an open-minded girl she is! Everyone was SO good to try just about everything, I was very impressed!
In Chiang Mai, we did a TON of shopping at night because our hotel was about 10 steps away from the night bazaar, it was awesome! It was funny to get back to the hotel at midnight each night (kids were sleeping, watched by whatever adult who didn't want to go out) and I would feel like I had spent a TON of money. I was shocked all three nights that I really had spent less than about $10 each night. I just felt like I had spent loads because I was doing all the talking for everyone else. I got the best of both worlds. I got to haggle (which was more fun than ever because people were even MORE friendly than in Bangkok markets), find cheap deals, and buy fun things, but I didn't spend any money doing it! My "shopping Thai" got LOTS of practice! We also went on amazing Elephant rides, watched the best show ever (notice the elephants painting pictures! I think they auctioned them off at the end), and got to see a lot of the handicrafts “factories”. The umbrella factory was the best. Doesn't look like much of a factory though, at least not how American's think! It was pretty much a bunch of ladies sitting together doing their own job, and it was fascinating. All by hand, and very skilled! We all loved Chiang Mai. It was nice to get away from it all, even from our life in Bangkok where our phones were still ringing and we still had things to do!
Loy Kratong festival was going on during our last night there, as well as the big celebration the night we returned home. This is such a fantastic holiday where they create kratongs made of banana leaves, decorated with flowers, candles, and incense. You put them in the water to represent sending away bad luck or watching your sins float away. I've read several different meanings for this holiday, and I think it's fascinating. It is so beautiful to see the kratongs on the water, the fireworks, and in Chiang Mai, we got to see a big parade, and these balloon things they send into the sky. They are SUCH a hazard, but beautiful once they are up and in a safer zone (away from all the wires and buildings!). We saw more proof than I care to talk about why these are not allowed in Bangkok or probably anywhere else in the world. But, I loved the idea of it, and it was fascinating to watch!
Sunday, we invited Rikker and Kaaw over for dinner so Mom, Dad, and Vanessa could visit with them too! It is always so fun to have them over, even when Jeff and Rikker get a bit boring talking about all the technicalities of Thai that go WAY over our heads, but I love that he loves the language so much, so I'm not complaining! Plus, Rikker is an awesome resource for his questions and recommending books and whatnot. Isn't family awesome? Kaaw is due any day now and we are anxious to hear how everything goes! Good luck guys!
We spent our last day in Bangkok shopping a bit and we met Jeff for lunch at his work cafeteria. Very glamorous, I know, but it really was fun and everyone wanted to see where his work is. At the table we are all eating Jeff's favorite: coconut milk ice cream. He eats it almost every day. Plus, you can see the picture of all the toppings for the ice cream. Looks a bit like a salad bar, doesn't it? We were completely exhausted from a busy week, so this was a nice, low key day before they needed to head off. It hit me that night when the kids had to say goodbye before bedtime that having them leave isn't fun. Honestly, I know there's always a certain relief when company leaves and rooms free up and you can just worry about yourselves, even when you REALLY love your company. Am I right? But, I really would have just had them stay for another week in a heartbeat! Rather than feeling grateful for the extra space, the apartment has just felt empty! Especially because we were never busting at the seams even with everyone here! Jack LOVED sharing a room with Vanessa and has never slept on that top bunk better. Jane moved herself into a big bed and is doing amazingly well, and Jeff and I loved having them to visit with, play with the kids, and just share our lives with. It was a VERY positive trip. But, life goes on, and knowing that Vanessa was going to return home to her sweet husband and four children made me feel better about her leaving. I'm sure Andrew had it all under control, but I know those kids love their Mommy! Thanks to Mom, Dad, and Vanessa for a wondeful trip! Such great memories together. I only wish I could do that with all my family. Maybe when I win the lottery. I'll put that in my 5 year plan.
Enjoy the video. I'm feeling like my videos are getting a bit boring and repetitive lately. I think I'm doing too many, but it does seem to be the best way to share a good compilation of pictures. Plus, for selfish reasons, it's one of my favorite ways of looking back on things with the kids. I'm getting somewhat sick of my own taste in music actually. Although I love the music I put to the videos, they don't always “go” with it, if you know what I mean. I've loved listening to Christmas music this week. I have my favorite albums, but I also love trying out new ones. Any favorites you love enough to suggest?