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Thursday, January 31, 2013

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"Birthday Boy on the Drums"
(taken at International School of Beijing)

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Happy Birthday Parks!!

A breath of fresh air this morning as we woke to blue skies...and a 12 year old son! Happy Birthday Parker, we love you so much. Parker had a birthday breakfast of Mama's chocolate chip pancakes, took a huge plate of Mama's chocolate chip cookies for his friends at school, and opened presents from his brothers at breakfast.

Other moments of note this morning - "Hey Parks, happy birthday, can the tooth fairy borrow 20kuai for your little brother?" 12 year old rite of passage, maybe?

"I can't believe I forgot my sunglasses," said Joanne as she dropped us at school. When you haven't needed them for a month, you lose track of where they are.

I am back in elementary school PE for today and the atmosphere is festive, looks like I am on for Chinese pancakes and top spinning! Pictures to follow as Parker is playing the big drums in the parade!

Chun Jie Kuai Le he sheng jie kuai le, Parker!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

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"Some Serious Dome"
(taken at International School of Beijing)

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Thailand

I break from bitching about our "most polluted year ever" and "coldest winter ever" here in Beijing to briefly reflect on our vacation comedy of errors in Thailand.  Looking back, it seems like the trip kinda all went wrong, but when you are in Thailand, nothing is really that wrong.
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Episode 1- Our flight from Beijing to Bangkok left at 4am - redeye - after the New Year's Eve Party - redder eye.

Episode 2 - When we arrived at the Bangkok airport we found out that we had no flights to Phuket.  We had a receipt for six seat's and an email confirmation, but the airline was closed.  No, it wasn't simply that our flight was cancelled, that would have been unfortunate enough; in our case, the entire airline was cancelled.  Thai Regional Air we are coming for our refund!  Fortunately, Joanne and Granny left me with the boys when this was discovered, because I would have blown a fuse; instead, they peacefully bought tickets from another carrier.  "What do we do about our money?"  they pleaded to an agent nearby the vacant Thai Regional counter. Brilliant and comforting advice - "call the police."

Episode 3 - In the Phuket airport, Bennett got locked in the bathroom stall.  As the bottom of the stall was too small for Benne to crawl under, I tossed Devon - fully instructed by the female bathroom attendant on how to turn the latch - over the top. "Dad, this thing doesn't open."  Two stuck.   Bennett cried helplessly.  I guess a 6 year old brain thinks, I am stuck in this toilet forever. I was set to shoulder the door down, but on consideration, I thought surely it would hit one of them in the face; the bathroom lady didn't seem too keen about it either.  A crowd gathered.  I went with the two arm extraction over the top of the neighboring stall, and brought them to safety in front of my now rather large audience - some nodding in approval, some just watching, and some just peeing.

Episode 4 - We got taken...by tuk-tuk - a small motor vehicle common in Thailand - to the elephant farm.  It was a 30 minute ride, in the rain, then on the highway, then on the back road, then the gravel road, then the dirt road, then on no road, until we stopped at the elephants.  The elephants were cool to look at,  huge, different, but our problem?  We hired the driver to take us to race go-karts.  "Where are the Go-karts?" we asked.  Stare followed by, "huh?".

"Go carts," I shouted.  Before I learned a little Chinese, I often attempted the yelling-louder-in-English method for communication around Beijing; it doesn't seem to work in Thailand either, but I did it anyway.

He shook his head at us, encouraging us to consider the elephants - I think he had some particular interest in us visiting this farm.  We stood our ground, and another 30 minutes of wet, death defying tuk-tuk ride later, we arrived at Krabi Karts.

"Maybe we should catch a cab home."

Episode 5 - Devon and I noticed the commotion at the far end of beach from afar and decided we should check it out.  Monkeys!  After a few minutes of head swiveling to scan for the tricky little animals and standing fascinated by the vast number - hundreds - surrounding us, we were approached.  A tug on the bathing suit, then a hop to the shoulder, and we were in.  Monkeys playing, climbing, befriending us. I stood fascinated, so proud that I was sharing this magical visit in nature with my sons.  Then...

"Daddy, I think this one is trying to eat me," Bennett called.

"Dad, that one's biting your arm."

"Oh, Sh- Get the-" I flapped my arm and the hanging critter unhooked and flopped headlong in the sand. An eerie collective squawk arose from the group.  "A'ight, let's get the heck outta here."

Episode 6 - Parker got the flu - the 24 hour, projectile vomit, unable to leave the bed flu.  Fortunately, the pool was right outside of our window, so although we missed a day on the beach, we could hang by the pool and still take care of him.

Episode 7 - Devon got the flu - same one.  I don't think it was from the monkeys.

Episode 8 - I got the flu - not the same one.  I think mine was more closely related to drinking large bottles of Chang beer in the sun.

Episode 9...

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It rained a little bit everyday in Thailand, but lets face it, when it rains in paradise, it's still paradise.



Thai food and Granny's introduction to ladyboys


Street Food


Tuk-Tuk


The Ride


Gangnam