Monday, January 21, 2013

Dali Desert

So much i want to post about since my parent's whirlwind visit to Dubai but that will have to wait a bit till the dust settles and i have more time to sit at the computer.

Right now all i want to do is soak up the beautiful weather.  We have officially marked our ONE year Dubai anniversary and with it we have come to especially appreciate cooler weather and the unique beauty of the desert.  We recently made like Bedouins with some friends of ours and piled high our camels cars with our belongings and headed out for a desert campout... for the day that is.  (Yep, we are brave like that.)

It felt like we stepped into some sort of Salvador Dali painting.  (Props to Eliana for putting words to it!)

The kids splashed in the water and wandered freely all over the open desert.

And when the sun set it was so chilly we got to break out the sweatshirts, the campfire and s'mores! 

Ok, so that may not be exactly how Bedouins roll but it works for us!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Land of Smiles

Three years ago, the hubs and i entertained thoughts of venturing off to far away Thailand for a vacation.  That is until we calculated the time it would take to fly there and figured the the time zone differences of grandma's house, which is where the children would be staying, and before we knew it notion was axed.

From Dubai though... Thailand is just a six hour plane ride and 3 hours difference which meant part of our Christmas vacation this year would be spend in the Land of Smiles!


There were amazing beaches lined with trees filled with wildlife.

Kayaking and a Thai lunch

i could get carried away and gush about all the uniqueness of Thailand but i will try to keep it brief

Orchids that randomly sprout from trees

Weird crawly things

Approachable elephants

Jungle "porch swings"

Feeding fish with bottles

Which by the way isn't nearly as much fun as feeding them with your FEET!

How does it feel you ask?  

A picture is worth a thousand words

These are some of my favorite pictures EVER and they pretty much describe the fishy sensation depending on who you ask

There are always new savories to discover

Hands on Thai cooking lessons

Ways to keep cool in December while shopping

~Learning the rules of the road~  
fueling up, opposite side of the road driving and mopeds out number cars

As in with any new place we explore, i am most fascinated with the people and their culture.  Thailand is filled with warm friendly beautiful people.  It's not called the Land of Smiles for nothin'.

First off you are always greeted with 

"Sa-wat-dee kraup" (male speaker) 

or "Sa-wat-dee Kaaaaah" (female speaker)

Really... by EVERYONE!

(Notice the difference in pie options)

Only it is more than just a Hello.  It's more like saying, "i am SO happy to meet you and i will do everything i can to make you feel at home here."

The first part of our trip we experienced the beauty of an island, the last few days we experienced first hand the culture and kindness of the people.  While in Bangkok we had the privilege of being cared for by 4 Thai locals.  Although their English was VERY limited and our Thai was non existent we made due with wild gestures and random pointing as they welcomed us into their arms as if we were long lost family members.  

They took us to historical sites

Grand Palace

Floating Market

They taught us that foreigners pay MUCH more than locals.  

Needless to say our best "bargaining" happened while Chris and i stood silent and watched our Thai friends haggle back and forth with smiling faces as if it were a tennis match.  

i am not kidding when i say each one of us had our own personal helper.  There was always someone right beside us assisting us every step of the way.  

(That includes being prepared for their inexperienced American friends by having rolls of toilet paper stashed in their purse for us at all times.) 

There were times i would look around the crowd and realize my kids were no where to be found because they had been whisked away to sample a Thai treat.

candy on the bottom, shaved ice and syrup on top

They would show us street side markets and introduce us to things we had never seen before.  Some we sampled some we just perused.  (All 4 adventurous tummies happily survived the trip in case you were wondering!)   Some things we never did figure out the correct translation for.  There was one piece though that didn't need much translation.  "Mouse" she tells me which i clearly recognized at RAT.  EEEKK!!

In Thailand there is lots of taking shoes on and off as you go in and out of temples.  And in case you are wondering i am this mom:  i step out find my shoe amidst the masses, slip them on and stand at the bottom of the steps waiting for my kiddos to quickly strap their own and join me.  This is Ry making the most of Thai hospitality. 

We learned a bit about Buddhism as we toured the area

They took us to see "The Big Buddha" which we knew was going to be big but honestly, big really isn't the most accurate adjective.


The string baffled me because it looked as if Buddha was flying a kite but without the kite.  After much gesturing, quizzical looks, head scratching and finally a phone call to a Thai/English speaking friend we were told it is a string tied to Buddha's thumb that sends power to the monks meeting down below.  

Speaking of monks... they are a common site and quite eye catching as they stroll the streets in their stark saffron colored robes.

It is considered very reputable to become a monk and many young men do it if even for a few days.
(For the record, i confirmed it is completely appropriate to take pictures)

(Crazy kid came up with this beach towel get~up prior to any monk sightings)

Every morning monks must go out and about to gather their daily food from others in town that are willing to provide for them.  A woman is not to directly hand anything to a monk.  

Monks are to rid themselves of worldly possessions and desires which is why i am so curious to know what is in the mysterious bag they all carry.   

Our last night in Bangkok i grabbed my camera and wandered the streets in an attempt to capture some of the city's vibrant sights. 

One particular street was lined with people selling flowers, 
candles and birds (it is considered good karma to buy a bird for the purpose of releasing it) and tucked in a corner was a Buddha statue surrounded by a crowd and a myriad of colors.  i couldn't resist so i stepped in the area to get a closer look

disappearing into the crowd i found a bench to sit down to take it all in

it seemed a bit odd to me to watch the man with the trash can weave against the traffic to take out what everyone else just paid to bring in 


There are so many facets to Thailand it's impossible to encapsulate it 

Think colorful, warm, tranquil and relaxing around the edges

and bustling, quirky 3rd world on the inside 

overflowing with all sorts of beautiful people