We have had lots of guests in our house over the past month including this furry little hamster that we offered to take care of while her owners are out of the country. Before the hamster arrived, I had my doubts as to whether a hamster could survive in a house with a two and four-year-old, and it turns out I was right. This poor hamster has been dropped, kicked, crushed, and most likely has multiple internal injuries. Despite my best attempts to make sure the kids are gentle with her, there were several times that I thought she was a goner. A couple nights ago, I walked into the girls’ room late in the evening just to check on them. I heard a scratching sound underneath Claire’s bed and froze not knowing what animal or large bug had found its way into their room. Just as I worked up the courage to look underneath the bed, the hamster came running out and ran right to me as if she was elated that an adult finally found her. I think the girls had secretly opened her cage to pet her and had forgot to shut the door. We still have about five months left of taking care of the hamster, and I will be shocked if she makes it to the end.
Another visitor in our house has been this sweet Burmese baby. Our helper has been bringing her to our house for a couple weeks because she offered to watch the baby while her parents go to Thailand to take care of some business. The baby was adopted by a Chinese family that lives in Burma. Even though she is wary with strangers, she has warmed up to our family and follows me around each morning with a big, goofy grin on her face. I am so grateful such a sweet child ended up with an adoptive family who will love her and provide for her.
Cameron’s brother, Colby, and his wife, Jessica, also traveled to China to see us. The details of their trip came together very last minute, but they managed to come and stay with us for almost three weeks! We all loved them being here, especially the girls who absolutely adored having their aunt and uncle visit. While Colby and Jessica were here, they got the full experience – riding in our tuk-tuk, shopping for food at the market, exploring a tea village, eating all sorts of crazy food, hanging out with our local and foreign friends, exploring the city, etc.
They also were here during a very famous holiday that is unique to our region called Water Splashing Festival. There are many activities all over town during the three days of this holiday, but the most notable are the lantern lighting and the actual water splashing day. This was our first year to see the lanterns since our kids are finally old enough to stay out later at night without melting down. That evening we dressed the girls up in traditional Dai clothing and drove in our tuk-tuk to the Mekong River to watch the lanterns. The tuk-tuk is actually perfect in high-traffic situations. We were able to weave our way along of edge of the crowds without getting too far into the center of the activity. We were amazed at the beauty of thousands lights floating above the city. We even tried lighting a few lanterns ourselves. They are a bit tricky, but the secret is to hold the lantern until the hot air from the flame pulls the lantern out of your hands much like a hot air balloon.
The following day was the actual water splashing festival when everyone in the city heads outdoors with water guns, water balloons, hoses, and water buckets. The kids are happy just water splashing in our own neighborhood so I stayed with them while Cameron, Colby, Jessica, and another friend took the tuk-tuk into town where the serious action was. As soon as they crossed the bridge that leads to town, it was a giant water fight with tens of thousands of people. I unfortunately went cheap on the water gun purchases though so Cam says it was a bit of an unfair fight in the beginning. After wisening up and purchasing some upgraded water canons that would make the Bellagio fountains jealous, they created a new strategy… play the dumb foreigner and launch surprise attacks.
In the tuk-tuk, they pulled along side random groups of people, particularly “bros” (as Cameron refers to them), slowed to a stop, and asked, “Excuse me, umm, why is everyone splashing each other?” It’s like going to Time Square in NYC at midnight on New Years and asking why everyone is hanging around. The people immediately came to a stop, and with confused looks on their faces, responded, “It’s Water Splashing Festival, one of the biggest holidays of the year.” To which Cameron responded, “‘What’s Water Splashing Festival???” At which point the innocent victims, responded, “Water Spla…….” At this point, Colby and Jessica would throw open the rear sliding door of the tuk-tuk and instantly soak the poor victims with gallons of water from the upgraded bazookas. Then they’d floor it, screaming “Happy Water Splashing Festival!” and speed away. Luckily most of the victims thought it was pretty hilarious. Of course, Cameron, Colby, and Jessica received plenty of payback for their mischievous fun. There were times during their ride that they struggled to get a breathe between all the water coming in the tuk-tuk windows.
We also took Colby and Jessica on a trip to Laos for a couple of days. Unfortunately, this blog post is already a little long, so I think I will just save that story for the next post!