Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I love Thailand like a love song, baby

Ever since we came back from Thailand, I've been missing it.  Like, in a super strong, unexplained way.

I'm not a global world trotter, so at first I thought it was normal.  Go on an amazing vacation, dream about it for weeks/months after.  Seems normal.

Except, it turns out, it isn't.  The more people I talked to that went on trips to amazing places had a great time, wished they could go back, but not in the same miss-it-so-much-i-might-cry way I do.

I started to wonder why it was different for me.  What is it about me or about Thailand that has grasped me in such a way that the country is never far from my thoughts?

A few months ago, I had this tiny feeling that maybe a missions trip might be in order.  Maybe that's what my heart is feeling.  A tug to serve?  Shortly after I put a prayer request in ink in my mother's bible study at our old church (I still go for bible study.  I love those ladies and couldn't leave all together.)  Two weeks after that, our church had two back-to-back messages on missions.  On how our pastor felt like it was a vision to send one family for short term missions (3 months to a year) from each missional community (small group) completely funded BY our missional community in the next 2-4 years.  The entire service, I was thinking- that may be us.  It could be us.  I want it to be us.

I wrote down my gut feelings in my prayer journal, and continued to pray about it.  Then, a few days later, a lovely friend in our small group tugged me aside and said, "when I was listening to the message on Sunday, I felt like our group would send you.  I've never seen someone so moved by a vacation to a country like you."

But... how?  When?  HOW?

My husband is feeling zero calling to do this right now.  ME?  I could go tomorrow (isn't that the way it always works?? )  I have no idea on logistics of any of this.  Now is really not the best time to go to Thailand, but that doesn't mean we won't.  It also doesn't mean that it isn't 5 years from now.  Or, maybe, this preparation of my heart is strictly to lead me to something else.  Maybe it isn't even to go to Thailand or another country, but to soften my heart to missions in general?

It reminds me of a friend who was quickly building an addition to their house so they can foster larger sibling groups.  They thought they were preparing for a specific sibling set that needed to be placed quickly.  So, they got it done!  They didn't end up getting the siblings they thought they would, but instead got a sweet little girl that desperately needs their home as a safe place.  Their preparation was not for what they thought, but the preparation was not in vain.

Maybe this is my addition.  Maybe its just a tugging on my heart to get me to lean my ear in, to listen more carefully to God's heart for his children.  But, honestly, part of me hopes it involves Thailand.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Oonlee Bungalows

I'm fairly certain we could not have picked a better place to stay for the island portion of our trip to Thailand.  We found Oonlee Bungalows (on Koh Jum) on Trip Advisor and fell in love.  Once we got there, however, we REALLY fell in love.  It was amazing.  Beautiful, quiet, private, intimate.  The owners were so friendly, and had our first names down the day we arrived.  

You may think this post is picture overload, but I'm of the thought that there is no such thing when it comes to beautiful images. :)

The water front during low tide.

When you come to the resort, you take a ferry from the mainland, and then take a long tail boat from the fairy to the bungalow.  It was a crazy system. 

This is what you see when you come in. 
 The stonework was beautiful. 

 The stairs were a little hard on my knees, but it certainly got our excersise in daily. 

 This is the restaurant.  The food here was ah-maz-ing.  I didn't have anything I didn't like.  Most things were the best I've ever had.  
 Even the coffee was divine. 

Every morning we'd go to breakfast, linger over coffee, and read a book.  I can't tell you the last time I did that before this trip.  Maybe our honey moon? 

  Who doesn't want to see this amazing sunset view over phi phi every evening?  

 The bungalows were small, but perfect for our needs.  A bed, a bathroom, a balcony.  Who needs more when you're living on an island?
 View from our bed.
Jungle view from our room
Ocean view from our room

 Dear Hammock, 
I love you.
Please have me back soon.
 To be honest, I was slightly nervous about the whole "no hot water thing".  But, it wasn't a big deal.  The water wasn't "cold".  It was hanging out in a basin outside in the heat.  We also took showers after a hot day at the beach, so the cooler water felt wonderful. 

 On valentine's day, they gave me a rose.  Sweet, huh? 

 Eric and I had a wonderful time getting to know the owners.  Valerie was an amazing hostess.  We can't wait to go back.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Canal tour in Bangkok

On the second day of our trip in Bangkok, E and I took a canal tour in Bangkok.  It was through Pandan Tour Co. It was amazing.  It was a full day tour, but definitely not too long or too short.  We had, essentially, a private tour.  E and I had a guide, and the other woman who joined our tour had her own guide.  The guides spoke excellent English, so we actually were laughing/joking around with them, which made the experience even more fun.

So, this was the first real "bathroom" experience for me.  The temples we had visited the day prior had beautiful bathrooms.  Unfortunately, as the trip went on, this bathroom actually started to look "nice". :)  This was in a school that was near our loading station for the boat.  

The first part of our tour was visiting more temples.  This particular temple was filled with teak wood.  It was beautiful.  
This is our guide, Marissa, explaining the murals on the wall.

I wish I could remember the names of these temples.  But, this was another temple we visited, very near the teak temple.  It took 11 years to build.  Each of the doors leading into the building cost over $16,000,000.  Yes.  Million.

Crazy expensive door.

This temple was amazing in a completely different way than the teak temple.  The floors are made from marble, each of the pillars was hand carved wood and were all different.  

 The stairs were marble, too.  Four flights of them. 

 You have to take your shoes off everywhere.  It took some getting used to.
 This Buddha was life size and solid gold.
 E and I with our fellow tourist, Lynette.  She was fun to get to know.  She definitely added to our trip experience.

Marissa, our guide, and our boat driver.

It was heart breaking to see how some of the people were living.  Their houses literally collapsing into the river.  But, at the same time, they were so happy and content.  It made me reevaluate what's important.

 The colors were so vibrant everywhere.  

 We got off the boat again and walked to a temple in the forest, aptly named, "the forest temple."  On our way there, we saw this house boat.
 Walking along the canal to the forest temple. 
 This is part of the forest temple.  I think this was my favorite temple we visited, simply because of its innate beauty from nature, versus the man made beauty. 
The canals were so dirty.  Its hard to really describe how dirty they were.  Our driver had to stop several times to pull trash off the propeller.  

One of our favorite parts of the tour was the floating market.  We were the only tourists in the entire market (which was massive!)  It was neat to see how locals shop/eat/sell on the canal. 

 Our guides helped us order several things and we all shared.  Everything we had was delicious!

This was at the orchid farm.  Marissa was teasing me after I told her I struggle with keeping my one orchid alive, much less thousands. 

The last stop was at a place called the "artist house".  It featured different artists, plays, puppet shows, etc.  Likely my least favorite part of our tour, simply because we couldn't understand the puppet show enough to get the "jokes". :)  But, the snacks we had were tasty (I had my first Thai iced coffee here and fell in love.)