Krabi Thailand According to Nate (Part 2)

So, I left off when we got to Phranang Beach, right? Well, Frosty was there. I was mystified.
But then we walked a bit more, past slews of people hanging from the rocks on ropes.
Along the beach people were cooking food and making sandwiches.
In boats. I don't know if my pad thai would taste any better or worse from a boat, but I guess that's one way to sell food on a beach!

They also sold fruit and chips. Pretty nummy.

I still couldn't figure why we were here. Until I spotted them.

Monkey Alley. It was crazy! Dozens of monkeys playing along a wall. Babies too.
They were pretty silly, but Daddy wouldn't let me touch them. No fair.

For Dilp's bithday and some special occasion that made mommy and daddy kiss a lot we bought paper lanterns. If you lit them in the middle and waited a while they would float up HIGH in the air.

Mommy figured out the waiting part after she almost lit some people on the beach on fire with her low-flying lantern.


Krabi, Thailand According to Nate (Part 1)

For this post, I'm going to hand it over to Nate. The boy wonder. Little explorer. And all-around serious little dude.
My parents like to surprise me. They do it a LOT. So I wasn't surprised too much when they woke me up Thursday morning and packed me onto a plane. This has all happened before. We go up. And in about an hour we come down. Just enough time for me to talk my mom into giving me a lollipop and a bunch of Pringles.
But then we drove off in a taxi to this strange beach with a pier and a dozen of these crazy longtail boats. They didn't have normal sized lifejackets, so Dad unpacked my favorite swimmies for me. Next thing I know we have gone from plane. to taxi. to boat. What could be next?
Nevermind. I don't care what you call this place, though Mom says its West Railay Beach, but it had THE SOFTEST sand you have ever felt. And you could wade into the water waaaaaay out and it didn't get above my neck! Dilp (this is what he calls his brother) was all about that beach.

Dilp would have to wait, because we walked across the 'island' to East Railay to find some good food to eat.

It was pretty windy.
But you could find anything you wanted to eat over there. And they had all these strange shops with wierd pipes and reggae music. I bobbed my head a few times, but it really wasn't my beat.

Back at West Railay was more my scene. No walkways, lots of sand, and plenty of space to run.

My shark liked it a lot too. You don't see him here, but Spiderman came along. He liked watching all the climbers going up those cliffs. So we sang his theme song a lot. Loudly.

Now back to that sand.

We found out where Frosty goes on his weekends off in the winter. Although it puzzled us for quite some time how he might have gotten here. Maybe the monkeys helped. But I'll tell you more about that tomorrow.

Little Artists Birthday Party

A Boy, A Candy Buffet, you know what happens next...
My little man is turning six. I know that's still little, but I cant figure out where the time has gone. It seems like Little P has always been five. But then again, we have accomplished in just one year what some people manage in a whole lifetime; picking up, moving twice, adjusting to living in a new land. In the middle of all this, my two little boys got shortchanged in the typical-american-lifestyle department. We threw something together quick for holidays and such, but the birthdays were relatively quiet.

We soooooo made up for that yesterday. A while ago I started cruising for cool birthday ideas that would be more than just your pre-fab, pre-printed, cartoon-themed fest. When I saw people were doing 'little picasso' and 'little artist rainbow' fetes, I might have danced in my seat just a little. We have a great open space. Great January weather (for a change!). Great age to have good messy creative fun. And a great city to source for raw supplies.

So the first plan of attack was decorations, and LOTS of them to cover our neighborhood and make it delightfully bright. I picked up some basics like streamers at Pinata Party Place off Sukhumvit 39, and ordered canisters for party favors from Oriental Trading, then set off to Chinatown's messy crowded fabulous Sampeng Lane for the details.

There I found colored pencil sets to put in the favors, brightly colored bolts of felt to make into bunting, and sequins and jewels for our craft stations. I bought packs of cheap face- and hand-towels and sewed them together with ribbon to make smocks! Oh, I was on a roll!  (FYI: finding pretzel rods for the 'paint brush pretzels' and lemonade mix for the 'Creative Juice' nearly stressed me out. Nearly.)

So now we get to the artist projects. And I am realllly proud of myself for these-starting with the spot where I armed people's children with squirt guns filled with PAINT. Oh yes I did. And told them to go crazy on a white cloth curtain. And then added fingerpaints to smear on it like a Jackson Pollock adventure!

I have been excited for weeks about this because its something you can NEVER everevereverever do at home. Don't worry, the paint was diluted washable crayola fingerpaints. It was a bit tricky to fill the little squirtguns, but I thought arming sugar-laden five year olds with supersoakers would be a bad idea.

 Turns out, graffiti is a lot of fun. And I really like the smiles all over the place.

Station two was tricky, but it made a really good party favor to display if they had the patience to finish it. My wonderful husband acquired these blocks of wood for me, and I painted them in the party colors and hammered little nails in them. For days.

But a little bit of cheap thin yarn, and we had a string art station. Some kids really showed their mathematical chops, I was stunned! Others filled their block with colors and dimensions. All of them were really creative. I must also admit we recruited a few of the neighborhood older kids to help out the little ones, which was KEY. They
were fantastic, and I am so grateful we have such a close community.

Speaking of, there's one of them keeping the kids in order at the spin art station. I picked up two machines from Amazon for cheap, bought extra paints and cut many extra cards because I knew this would be popular.

Then we had the kids hang up their designs to dry. Haha, art project meets party favor meets party decor! I am brilliant! maniacal laugh!

Then we get to my FAVORITE project, decorating your own party hat. Alright, I know they are usually cones with pompoms and such, but I'm just not crazy about putting a cone on my kid's head with an elastic. And I must have some traumatic memory I have pushed way down involving the pain of that elastic when it snaps, because I HATE them.  So we had soft, comfy, colorful crowns made from felt, of which I made about thirty. It took a while, but the kids had so much fun decorating them to match their outfits, personalities, age.

They dried fast, and looked so cute, like we had
a neighborhood full of little royalty. Which, lets face it, we all feel that way about our little bugs. And I have to say, Little P's friends are all EXTREMELY precious. I just we had another excuse to throw them a party.

I'm not exactly sure how Little P feels about that, but I know he loved getting crazy with the paint!

Consider Me Humbled

CUTE MOMENT. Right there.
I really must apologize for my last "look at the awesomeness that is my life" post. Sometimes when you find yourself in an extraordinary place you forget that its not about you at all; you are, in fact, just a tourist passing through something that is already extraordinary. Did I feel amazing when the Sox won the World Series in 2004? Yes, yes I did. But I didn't win the game that took the title, only watched it on television.
I mean, our life is something pretty crazy but its not the most remarkable. However, we did meet a very remarkable couple thursday night, and I'm still so moved by their deed that it must be shared. I won't tell you their names because I didn't get their permission, but I wish I had.
We were sitting down to dinner and drinks at this place called Iron Fairies over on Thong Lor and recognized the familiar accent of American peeps seated next to us. We assumed they were a young couple on their honeymoon or something, but in fact they had an amazing story. The young man had read a book in which the writer was to be the subject of a movie. His life leading up to the point of the movie was so commonplace that the filmmakers decided to embellish his history just a bit. The young man we met was struck by the fact that most of the life-changing events that we focus on, such as changing jobs, buying a car, or taking a vacation, are so common and make little impact on the world we live in. He was afraid of looking back on his life one day and seeing nothing that enriched himself or others. So at the age of 25 or 26, he sagely set out to change that. He looked at a map of the world and randomly selected the country of Thailand, and then chose an orphanage to sponsor.
Over the next sixteen months, he and his friend raised over one million Baht to donate to this orphanage. Just because. And the purpose of their trip was to finally set foot in the orphanage, and present that gift to the children. And then continue with his life, probably to punctuate it again from time to time with more selfless acts.
As we sat and listened, I noticed he didn't ask for more contributions. His task was complete. And he didn't boast about his deed. He was already fulfilled. And I felt a little embarrassed that I had been so engaged with my own 'extraordinary life' that I forgot exactly what role I played within it.
And I will always have faith in humankind, because we happened, on just another ordinary date night, to sit next to two of the most selfless people I have ever met.

A Day Trip to Ayutthaya

 Have you ever been caught in a moment? Or stood on the foreground of a picture postcard?

Have you ever stood in a place knowing that someday you would be looking at it from the pages of some coffee table book, thinking with amazement that you have been there?

I've been lucky. There have been quite a few of those moments. One of the first was looking over the rooftops and ruins of Rome. I knew it was a "moment" when I touched my face, and was shocked to find tears. But now I guess you could say I'm a travel junkie. Always looking to catch that moment again. I could list for you all the amazing places I've been, the wonders I've seen (so far) but I won't. Those remain in my own mental catalogue, that I think over often and smile. Its my drug. What can I say?

Well, I got my fix last weekend. And it felt won-der-fulllll. My hun even remarked that of all four of us, I visibly enjoyed our trip the most. I couldn't help it. Because Sunday we walked, climbed, and crawled all over the ruins of Ayutthaya. We started out on Sunday after lunch, and arrived in about an hour on a gorgeous day. Driving into the centre, we realized we hadn't brought a single guidebook.

Thank god for smartphones.

Or you could just follow the elephants.

Oh, man, with the elephants again. Seriously.

We leisurely visited three sites. Starting with Wat Mahathat, where you can view the famous head of Buddha embedded in the base of a growing tree. We tried to keep the kids entertained as we strolled through the grounds, and then on to Wat Ratchaburana, where you can almost imagine how the temples used to look before they were destroyed by the Burmese army.

And as the sun was going down, we drove in to Wat Sri San Phet. (Beware of the guys claiming you must pay them 20baht for parking. It doesn't take more than a look to realize they are not legit.) The standing temple outside the ancient grounds was bustling with people coming to pay respect on the New Year and music was being played on the loudspeaker.

Here, if you wish you can purchase a small cage of birds, or a fish or turtle depending on what you need. The people selling them are glad to explain which to choose, for example, if you are hoping a sick relative gets better, or send off bad feelings, etc. Then you release them, so you may hopefully acquire good merit from the deed. Each purchase comes with some kind of prayer card to read as you do so, but stinks to be me, it was in Thai.

We spied on these people releasing their fish. Just for you.
You're welcome.

And then came that "moment." When I realized we were walking around and climbing to the tops of these historical spires. The moment when I could keep this image forever in my memory, not from a book, but here. In this moment. In person.

And as the sun finally set, we drove away, stopped off at a fish restaurant for dinner, and were driven INSANE by our two sweaty, exhausted children as punishment. It happens. And it was totally worth it for that "moment."