Our trip home from Thailand felt long and adventurous as usual. The first day we drove five hours from Chiang Mai to the border of Thailand and Laos and spent the night. During the drive, we were flagged down by some policeman in the middle of nowhere who asked that we stop to let the Thai princess and her motorcade drive by. Claire was initially really excited at the thought of a princess coming, but was a little underwhelmed when the princess drove by in a fast-moving car with blacked out windows. I guess princesses don’t travel in a horse and carriage in Thailand! We spent the night on the Thai side of the border and then woke up early to cross into Laos. The Laos border crossing is always really crowded with both Chinese people on holiday and backpackers from all over the world. It is often a frustrating experience because the process for obtaining a visa is extremely inefficient and results in long waits. This time we waited for two hours and then continued on our way. We got back to Banna at about 9:00 in the evening. It was good to be home!
When we got back, I was surprised that the temperatures in Banna were already getting warm even though it was only late February. I am still learning about the climate in this city so I didn’t expect that winter would only last a couple months. I keep putting away and taking out new seasons of clothes for the girls as I try to keep up with the temperature changes. I am not complaining though, it is not so bad wearing shorts in early March!
Since spring has arrived, the tree outside our kitchen window sprouted these big, beautiful red buds. I was enjoying looking out the window everyday at this tree with all its red colors, until I discovered that those red buds are a delicacy in this area. Before I knew it, the whole neighborhood was climbing this tree and picking the buds to eat! I was irritated that people would destroy my beautiful tree, but Cameron reminded me that if it were an apple tree then we would probably be picking the apples. I begrudgingly agreed.
Claire is back in school now and is growing up everyday. At school, she seems to be following classroom procedures better and engaging with her teachers more. As well as learning Chinese, I think she is also learning how to function in a classroom setting and respond to adults who are not her parents – all good skills to have! Unfortunately, she still likes to play with the student who she refers to as “bad boy.” I actually don’t think he is trying to be bad, but I believe he could be autistic or have something else internal going on. Claire calls him the “bad boy” because he is usually doing something he is not supposed to do like rolling around on the floor and barking like a dog while the other kids are sitting in their chairs. I thought Claire just referred to this boy as the “bad boy” around us, but when I went to pick her up the other day, Claire ran over to the boy and loudly said to him, “Look bad boy, it is my mom!” I felt myself turn red even though I knew that no one understood English, including the boy. Thank goodness, because I bet his mom would not be too happy with Claire always calling her son “bad boy” to his face!
Although we hit the ground running again as soon as we got back, life threw us a few curveballs. Chloe was super sick for about five days. During that time, she was having trouble retaining fluid and got close to needing an IV. I was really stressed at the time, because the hospitals here are not that good and I knew it would be a frustrating experience if we had to go. My friends finally directed us to a small clinic close to our house with a doctor who was very friendly and knowledgeable. I was so relieved to find a doctor that we can go to without having to face the craziness at the hospital. After Chloe got better, I spent five days with the same stomach bug while Cameron came down with pneumonia. Thank goodness we found that doctor, because we have seen her a lot in the last couple weeks!
Despite our illnesses, we have been working on some of our new goals for 2016. We have lined up a baby-sitter for every Friday night, and we will now have a date night every week! Woohoo! We also have begun getting out as a family every Saturday and exploring fun things to do in Banna. We tried taking a walk along the Mekong River last weekend, but discovered quickly that the girls don’t really consider a walk to be much fun. We’ll see what we can find this weekend that might entertain them a little better.