I begin this blog post waiting in the Chiang Mai International Airport for our flight back to Narita, which spoken in Thai English can sound like “Florida.” No, our final destination is not Florida, but Florida was where we just about started this journey. :)
|Step 1: Make dough|
But this particular journey to Thailand started last Saturday night. We had spent the day at Nasu Mountain enjoying fellowship with local high school students. We made udon noodles and went snow-shoe hiking! To our great joy but temporary disappointment, the snow was just about melted, but we adventured through it anyway. After the event, Doug and I headed to Tokyo where we stayed with friends, Eric and Tauna, to catch an early bus to the airport Sunday morning.
|Step 3: Roll out dough|
|Step 4: Cut dough into noodles|
|Step 5: Shake out the noodles|
|Step 6: Boil noodles|
|Step 7: Find a tasty stew and eat it with your noodles|
After just about 12 hours of bus, waiting, plane, waiting, plane, taxi, we made it to our lodging, The Juniper Tree, Chiang Mai, Thailand. This is a retreat center specially designed for Christian missionaries serving in the Asia area. They have a lovely facility with ranging room/house sizes and provide three meals a day, of which everyone sits down and enjoys together.
Our first full day was devoted to resting and exploring The Juniper Tree. Which meant we spent pretty much the whole day lounging by the pool, reading and soaking up our old friend, Vitamin D. That night we walked to the “night bazaar,” a rather busy strip closer to town that hosts vendors and many tourists and their souvenir desires. We gently partook.
This was our big day, our elephant adventure day. I can't visit a country famed for elephants and not take advantage of the many elephant interactions opportunities they offer. So after breakfast, we loaded up in a 4WD SUV with two other couples and made our way into the jungle. There, Asian elephants patiently waiting for their banana treats that we were soon to give to them. The pictures are more interesting than my words, so I will let them speak for themselves. All in all, we fed the elephants, learned a few commands to direct them while riding, ate a delicious lunch, rode the elephants through jungle, and bathed them in the river. It was all pretty elephunky.
|scrub a dub dub!|
This day was pretty much identical to Monday: Pool lounging—reading and soaking up the sun.
This day was pretty much identical to Wednesday: Pool lounging—reading and soaking up the sun. We did mix things up a little bit by playing HORSE and ELEPHANT on the b-ball court.
|Doug showing off for the camera ;)|
That night we decided to build a fort (which Doug calls a “tent”) in the next bedroom. (Our “house” was two bedrooms and a joint bathroom) What do you think, is this a fort or a tent? We held down our tentfort by watching episodes of “House” we rented from the office and then looking at “our friendship” on facebook. Old pictures are a hoot n' a half!
Besides our morning walk through the city, this day was pretty much identical to Thursday: Pool lounging—reading and soaking up the sun.
|Chiang Mai lights, a bit different from Tokyo lights :)|
Friday night we went to the night bazaar. Kelly, from ARI, and her fellow Methodist missionary friends (2 serving in Hong Kong, 1 serving in the Philippines) came out with us. We went to a Babylonian restaurant where we enjoyed the most divine hummus, baba gonoush, yogurt, naan, etc. Oishi.
|Laura (Philippines), Kelly, Katie (Hong Kong), Beth (Hong Kong), Doug|
On our final morning we did not get the luxury of sleeping in because we decided to go to a local organic market. Kelly had heard about this market through some ARI people she had met up with in Thailand, so we all went to check it out. The organizer of the market is a former ARI graduate. We were really happy to see the market so busy and it was incredibly interesting to see what all the farmers had to offer. We picked up some tea for our ARI community and sampled some bananas!
|First come, first serve at the butcher stand!|
We reclaimed our loss of sleep with a nap before lunch. And of course, with only 2 hours to spare between lunch and our taxi to the airport, we did nothing short of lounging by the pool.
And now here we are, about an hour from boarding our plane. I think we have a bit more colors to our cheeks, that is not attributed to frost bite, and we are incredibly refreshed and renewed.
We are so glad we decided to take this vacation. After the long winter we feel this trip was just what we needed. We usually are not content to just sit around and do “nothing,” but the fact that we were happy just sitting around really says a lot about where we were mentally. However, we are definitely ready to get back to our ARI family and back to work.
We are quickly approaching the next chapter of our ARI life, participants will begin arriving a week from Monday! Please especially hold them in your prayers as they collect all their papers and begin saying 'goodbye' to their families and communities for 9 months. Thank you for all your continued support and prayers, sending love to you all from Thailand,
Doug and Jenny
PS. Here are more Thailand pictures for your viewing pleasure
|Our house at The Juniper Tree|