Julie has spent the last 5 weeks studying Thai massage in Chiang Mai Thailand. She is a 5th level Thai massage therapist and that bodes well for her 3 weeks with us:)
We decided that having Julie in Thailand, a mere 3 hour flight away, was just too tempting to pass up. So, we packed up the kids and headed off to Chiang Mai via Bangkok.
As you've read before traveling with the LoudAmericans is always an adventure. The ONLY flight to Bangkok from Bangalore is at 12:30am, that's right half past midnight. The flight is only a 3 hour affair, followed by a 2 hour layover and another 1 hour flight to Chiang Mai. Let's see, 3 kids under 6 and the opportunity for less than 2 hours of sleep at a shot over a 24 hour period. Can you see where this is headed?
We arrived in Chiang Mai weary but with all our limps and some of our sanity left. As a side note, the Bangkok airport is AMAZING! ALL the best shops, food and its about 5 km long. You just walk and walk and walk. I considered my 30 min walk with 3 kids between gates as my work out for the day. I think that counts, dont you?
The hotel was nice and let us check in early (9:30am) and we ALL crashed for a very cozy 3 hour nap. The beds were labeled "doubles" but were slightly bigger than twin, so Tom and Jimmy cuddled in one and Kay and I cuddled in the other. Thankfully Julie woke us at 1:30 and off we went. We saw her room, met her friends, got a quick survey of Chiang Mai and then were the ONLY guests at the graduation ceremony. She acheived her 5th level of Thai massage and we took photos of all the graduates for prosperity sake.
That night we celebrated with an early dinner of Thai food, fish and cold beer. Yumm... Then it was off to the night safari. This is amazing. Its a totally decked out park/attraction/theater/zoo. You ride on a trolley and see the animals up close. The very cool thing is that its at 8:30pm so the animals are all really active, wandering around and some even come right up to the trolley. Pretty cool.
The next day was a 1/2 city tour of temples. It was suppose to be 4 hours and somehow we magically were done in 2 1/2 hours ... Hmmm... was it the 110 degree heat, or the whiny kids, or the complete lack of interest in the kids part or the fact that we were all crammed into a tourist van... Hmm... Must just be that our guide was really good:)
We lunched on Korean food and as usual when we go out for Korean, the kids ate and ate and ate like we never feed them. This is a BIG treat for us since the only Korean restaraunt in Bangalore only serves Chinese food. The kids were ordering all their favorites and couldnt understand why they didnt have kim bop or chap chae. I was laughing as the Korean waiter looked at them in amazement.
Next stop, the pool. Can you guess whose vacation is now "made" ?
We decided to be truly adventurous and attend one of the girly/man shows. Thailand is famous for men that dress and look like women. There is a HUGE sex "change" industry and they put on these really really elaborate drag shows. We thought, "why not?!" 1st issue however, what to do with the kids. We managed to find a babysitter that was a friend of Julie's friend. Thinking it was a relatively save bet, we bought our tickets. It was only later as I was contemplating the poster "Stop child trafficing" that I began to doubt our choice. I could just imagine ... we go to dinner, this "friend' babysits, packs the kids off and out they go into the big scary world of child trafficing. How in the world would you ever find them? Its not like they carry id's or have been finger printed (at least I dont think they have....) I took a deep breath, ordered a drink and let go. If any child trafficer spent 5 min's with my kids, they'd return them just as fast.
The "show" was interesting. The ladies were thoroughly bored and could hardly bother to make it through their routines. The only people who seemed to have fun were the 2 "fat" dancers. They were really having a great time. We made up for this with a great Thai dinner overlooking the river. Really nice and relaxing.
The kids on the other hand, had a blast. Jimmy informed us that "May" was nice, but didnt speak English or Hindi either. Kay talked her into a bubble bath and the 3 of them proceeded to use ever drop of soap, flood the bathroom and lock the babysitter out of the bathroom. I am pretty sure she's never doing this again. The kids however, raved about the whole night the next morning. They sure had fun! (see previous comment about the child trafficers)
A few tidbits on Thailand, there is a 7Eleven on every corner, I saw very little litter, their tuk tuks are bigger than ours (for those of you non-Indians, their auto ricksaws are bigger than the ones in India), pollution is better but the humidity will kill you. I also saw a full size Tesco grocery store and "real" bars. Now, dont get me wrong, we do love India, but it is amazing how a 3 hour plane trip can land you in a TOTALLY different world.
Sunday came and we were off to Bangkok and our journey home. The kids were pretty good until BIlly decided to throw a collosel tantrum during the last 1 1/2 hours of the flight. Of course, the minute we landed and he was in his car seat, he feel asleep.
Since our adventure to Thailand, some other quick highlights ...
Julies courses paid off ! Both TOm and I have volunteered to let her practice on us. I think shes pretty good, but she probably needs even more practice. Good thing we are here to help!
We have showed her the ins and outs of Palm Meadows and she's gotten to experience our supper club group and Bangalore traffic.
We are taking her to Mysore tomorrow (palace and elephant rides) and Ooty next week (hill station, tea plantations). She is studying with my Auverydic DR and has been a big help with the kids. Angela has found her to be a great yoga partner too:)
We still have 2 weeks with her here and a lot to do and see.
We'll keep you updated!!