It’s so hard to believe it’s been almost 8 months since we left the U.S. and moved to China.
It’s also hard to believe that as I write this, I’m sitting in Bangkok, Thailand!
When we moved to China, we knew we would have quite a few opportunities to travel throughout Asia, but I don’t think we quite realized just how many! In the eight months we’ve been here, we’ve seen more of Asia than we ever thought we would, and frankly, than we ever wanted to! I don’t mean that to sound critical of Asia at all, but we just never really had much of a desire to see Asia, with the exception of visiting the temples of Angkor in Cambodia.
Now that we’re here, now that we’ve seen it, we’re so glad we did!
But we’re not the only ones experiencing more of Asia than we ever expected. Both of my parents are flying out this Spring to visit us while we’re living in Asia. My dad and I met up in Bangkok and spent two weeks traveling through Thailand, and my mom will travel to China later this month. This will be her first time ever to leave the United States! Isn’t that exciting?!
For those of you who have followed our adventures for quite awhile, you know that we post our real-time updates regularly on our Facebook page, while our blog content is always several months behind so that we can have time to edit our photos, do a bit of research, and devote sufficient time to telling the story of each place we travel.
But since I’ve promised to provide monthly updates to you about our life in China, I couldn’t resist giving you a sneak peak into some of my experiences while visiting with my dad in Thailand. Don’t worry, there will be much more to come down the road on Thailand, and there will be more to discuss on China in future months, but in the meantime, here’s a glimpse of Thailand!
Thailand’s New Year’s festival, celebrated April 13 – 15, is basically one big, country-wide water fight. Businesses close for the day as locals and tourists alike don water-resistant clothing and prepare to take up arms — squirt guns! Prepare to get wet!
The roofs of Bangkok
Although my dad has traveled more in his lifetime than most Americans ever do, he has not really been to a “developing” country. This was his first in-person exposure to buildings constructed using corrugated tin for their roofs or their walls. Although this is an aspect of the developing world that I fail to even notice anymore, it was very striking to him.
Wats, Wats, everywhere!
Wats, or Buddhist temples, are ubiquitous in Thailand, and their pointed golden chedis dominate the Bangkok skyline. While in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, we visited endless temples, admiring the architecture and observing the religious practices of Buddhism. My dad lives in a small mid-western community in the U.S., where there’s a Starbucks Coffee and a Christian church on every street corner, so to spend two weeks surrounded by the temple stupas and monks in flowing saffron robes was quite a change of scenery for him.
A boat ride on the Chao Praya River
While in Bangkok, we took an hour long ride on a Thai-style Long Tail boat along the Chao Praya River. As the boat meandered its way through the city’s canals, we marveled at the wooden stilt houses along the river. I was originally upset because I knew we had been ridiculously overcharged for the trip, but my dad, who had never witnessed such a lifestyle or seen poverty of that magnitude, felt the experience was priceless for the insight it provided him into life in another culture. It was at this time that I realized two things: 1.) I have become a complete cheap skate, and 2.) I have been traveling for so long and have seen so much that I am no longer as impressed, no longer as moved, by the sights and sounds of the places I visit. Both realizations make me quite sad, actually.
One of the highlights of the trip for sure was our day trip to the former Thai capital of Ayutthya. Although I’ve seen endless temples and ruins across the world, these were actually quite different. They kept my interest and left me impressed. If I could do it again, I would spend several days exploring Ayutthya independently.
Bridge on the River Kwai
Other aspects of Thailand that we enjoyed were the friendly people, the fun-loving children, and the delicious (but potent!) food.
Pad Thai anyone?
I can’t wait to share with you more photos, stories, and reflections from my two weeks in Thailand over the coming months. In the meantime, here’s how you can keep up-to-date with our latest adventures, including our upcoming visit to Jordan, where we’ll be volunteering with organizations aiding refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria.
Stay tuned over the coming weeks for:
— Continuing coverage of our recent trip to Cambodia and Vietnam, as well as Justin’s weekend hiking and camping along the Great Wall
— Updates on our upcoming trip to Jordan, where we’ll be volunteering in Syrian refugee camps (find out how you can help!)
— Details on Ellen’s upcoming return to Cambodia — this time to conduct community outreach and education for children who have been (or are at risk of) being trafficked into the sex industry
If you’re new to this website, catch up on some of our other updates from our time in China:
6 months in China and I’m not afraid to cross the street anymore (and other updates)
In Photos: The Nine Dragon Wall at the Forbidden City in Beijing
Why we’re struggling to settle in to expat life in China
10 places you absolutely must visit in China
In Photos: The Temple of Heaven in Beijing
Thoughts on celebrating Christmas in China
Celebrating 30 years of life on the Great Wall of China
18 lessons we’ve learned from living in China (so far!)
The time I got a medical exam in China and there was a hole in my pee cup
The day we moved to China
10 reasons we’re looking forward to living in China
We’re moving to China! (and other life changes)