Thursday, January 10, 2013

Welcome to the year 2556!

No, you have not miraculously time-traveled to the future by 543 years. In fact, you have just moved into the Thai calendar, which counts its years from the date of the death of the Buddha, instead of from the birth of Jesus (makes sense, right?). Time is moving right along, the newest crop of Thailand Peace Corps Volunteers is about to arrive (Welcome Group 125!) and my group's time as the newbies is over. We have been here on Thai soil for exactly a year. We have (depending on whether we close service on time or early) one year and one or two months left to go. We have gained a hefty amount of Thai cred, and can start feeling like the end is (gasp) in sight. Sort of. Ready, set, GRE studying!

So yes, I have not written in a good long while. But I have a good excuse. My family, my boyfriend and I spent the past three glorious weeks taking a well-deserved vacation for Christmas and New Year's on the beaches of Koh Lanta, the streets of Bangkok, and in the misty hills of Chiang Rai. I won't even attempt to describe how wonderful and emotional it was to see my parents and sister, and to have them here in the flesh for such a delicious vacation. It was the best gift they could have given me. Here are some highlights:

My mother and my sister, Haley, on the ferry over to Koh Lanta

James and my mama surveying the island

At the windy National Park

We stayed in lovely cabins near the beach

My family had a slow and gentle introduction to Thai food

Christmas morning

Our beautiful and essentially un-peopled getaway on Bamboo Bay Beach

Haley and Daddy on Christmas Day

There were Rhesus macaques aplenty

We went on a lovely and peaceful hike at the National Park that yielded this view

We spent an afternoon perusing the shops in Saladan, Koh Lanta

We met a man who makes handmade, beautiful batik cloths

The five of us spent the first sunkissed week of vacation lounging on the beaches of Koh Lanta, an island in the southern province of Krabi (and a part of the country that James and I had yet to see). We stayed at incredible little cabins near the beach owned by a charming Japanese girl named Yuko, who, to my great delight (if not James') was a cat lover and had several friendly felines roaming the place. It was a glorious and slightly non-traditional Christmas week of snorkeling, lounging, Indian food, hermit crabs, coconut water, sunburns, tuk-tuks, Scandinavians, bi-ah Chang, mai-riap-roi wear, sandy beds and croissants. We managed a small makeshift Christmas tree and enjoyed the holiday at Bamboo Bay, sipping Pina Coladas and eating dtom yam het and spring rolls. Mmmm.

Our second, shorter leg was in Bangkok, where we followed a pattern of sweaty-crowdy-noisy-busy morning activities accompanied by more sedate afternoons and exhausted evenings. We managed to fit a few must-sees under our belts, including tourist attractions I had heretofore had zero interest in not gotten around to seeing (Wat Pra Kaew, Grand Palace, Jim Thompson House) and some other favorite stops of ours (Chatuchak market, Beirut Lebanese food, Govinda vegetarian Italian restaurant, Terminal 21 to see Life of Pi). I made everyone walk way farther and longer than they were accustomed to and made everyone pity James for what he normally has to put up with, but all was good.

In Bangkok, we went to Chatuchak Weekend Market

Mother learns about silk production at the Jim Thompson House Museum

Jim Thompson's house

Lookin' good at the Grand Palace

Trying the cheapest form of Bangkok transportation: the highly unpredictable but often exciting bus routes

Last stop: Chiang Rai. Goodbyes imminent, heavy heart, but at least everyone can meet Éponine at last.

We happened to be in Chiang Rai during the Flower Festival.

Haley zones out on my front porch

The demonic and dream-like White Temple, Wat Rong Khun, is a key Chiang Rai attraction

We had some lovely dinners at my house

With my baby cat, Éponine (Poni)

We visited my SAO and met the Balat

Sorry Haley but you have to get your own cat. Poni is mine.

Thank you so much for everything, guys. Good luck to Bay across the pond.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for not putting up any bad photos of me! (not like that exists......) What a fun and interesting trip it was! I miss you and Poni! Especially Poni. Can't wait for you to visit London, I'm already noting things and place that I want to show you guys!