Every time more than a month passes between posts, I regret it because there is so much to write about. We have been back in China for a month now, but I feel the need share some stories from February about the last part of our Thailand trip and the first week back home in China.
After we wrapped up the business side of our trip in northern Thailand, we traveled south to the beach and stayed there for a week and a half. The beach was relaxing as always, and our toughest decision each day was whether to start swimming at the beach or the pool. Claire is in the process of learning to swim so each day she wanted to practice in the pool without her floaties. I seriously thought I was going to have a heart attack watching her. I honestly could not tell if she was drowning or swimming. Every time I would jump in the water to save her, she would pop up out of the water and scold me for not letting her do it on her own. I tried my best to wait a few moments before I intervened, but it just about killed me.
Since we aren’t traveling with infants anymore, Cameron and I have an increasing desire to do more adventurous activities in Thailand. And by adventurous, I mean something other than watching the kids swim. This time we decided to take the kids on a boat to Monkey Island which is a small island about a half mile off the coast from where we were staying. For some reason it has a large population of monkeys that crowd the beach waiting for tourists to come visit and hopefully feed them. To my relief and Claire’s disappointment, the monkeys kept a comfortable distance since they saw that we did not have any food to offer them. All in all, it was the perfect first adventure for our toddlers.
I also had an adventure of my own, but not one that I anticipated. Now that we have traveled to Thailand a lot, we have a good idea of how much things should cost. This is good because we don’t get ripped off as easily, but it can also be a negative thing when we start to fret over something costing 200 baht ($6) vs 100 baht ($3). Anyways, I needed to get from our beach resort to the grocery store which was about a 20 minute drive away by car. The taxi service next door quoted me 600 baht ($18) round trip to the grocery store and back. I was disturbed that they would charge so much just to go to the grocery store and back, so I came up with the grand idea of taking a motorcycle with a side car attached for 450 baht ($13.50) instead, saving me a grand total of $4.50. Unfortunately, there were several factors I didn’t account for – the motorcycle had a manual transmission, the road there was all two lane highways, and I had no experience with driving something with gears or driving on the left side of the road. It took me an hour to get to the store which was unpleasant considering the heat, the wind, and the level of tension I felt driving under those circumstances. Thankfully, a friend was with me and we were able to laugh at our stupidity, but I think I will just pay the extra $4.50 next time.
Even though we had a great time at the beach, we all felt a strong desire to return to our life in China. At that point, we had been in the States and Thailand for almost 8 months. It was time to go home. After Thailand, it felt so good to finally return to our own space and routine. Even though there are many challenges to living here, my soul feels at peace being in a house that we can call our own no matter where that is. It also feels comforting knowing the kids actually enjoy being here. This was made evident by the many, many times in America and Thailand that Claire said she missed China and wanted to go back. It made me realize that Cameron and I are creating kids that are going to be vastly different from us. They already have a connection to China that Cameron and I will probably never have.
However, our return home wasn’t completely smooth. Having been gone so long, there was a lengthy list of things to repair around the house. The washing machine, in particular, was the most challenging. Our old washing machine bit the dust before we left for Thailand, so when we returned we immediately bought a new one. Unfortunately, when we were installing the new one we chose not to spend an hour or more translating the instruction manual which was all in Chinese characters, therefore, we missed the important detail about adjusting the bolts in the back of the machine to balance the drum inside. When we turned it on for for the first time, all was going well until the spin cycle started and the entire machine began jumping around the patio slamming into windows, the drying machine, and my own body as I tried to stop it from moving. We tried to level the machine ourselves knowing that our patio was somewhat slanted, but it continued to jump around on every spin cycle. I was so anxious to get our mountain of laundry down that I ran several loads by sitting or laying on top of it during the spin cycle. Finally, the entire drum tore off of its axis after being jostled around so much. At that point Cameron and I realized that we had broken a brand new washing machine. So, we used our “dumb foreigner” card and called Whirlpool who graciously had pity on us and fixed it for free.
Believe it or not, I have more stories to share from the last few weeks, but I will save those since this post is already getting long. It is a good problem to have when there are too many things to share!