Monday, March 08, 2010

Thailand- Day 6-10... the last of our trip

Day 6- To be honest, I can't even remember what we did during the day on Day 6. I guess it serves me right for taking so long to finish these posts :) But the evening was a time of celebration (and one that I missed out on). The Bethel church in Chachengsao had their evening service & baptisms. Because the church was in such a rural area, and the baptisms were going to be at night, Jon and I decided that it would be best to keep Callie back at the hotel, away from any bugs and chance of malaria. So seeing as Jon had let me go to the Slum ministry alone, I stayed back with Callie while he went and enjoyed the baptisms. Turns out we made the right decision-- he said the bugs were REALLY bad and they didn't get back to the guesthouse til after 11:30pm (if my memory serves me correctly). Definitely not a "baby-friendly" evening. But Jon said the baptisms were really neat to be a part of, and at the service, 7 people asked Christ into their lives!! Pretty exciting night for the church!

Dave Sinclair-Peters doing the baptisms...

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Day 7: On Wednesday, we said goodbye to Chonburi and drove into Bangkok where Ricky gave us a guided tour of the city. I still can't believe how enormous it is, and though its quite dirty (in every way imaginable), there is SO much to see. We started by walking through the markets on Khao San Road. I believe they call it "Backpackers Alley"... its where a lot of the budget-conscious tourists stay. It was neat to peruse the merchandise and eat some DELICIOUS Pad Thai & fruit drinks as we walked.

Tuk tuk...
our transportation around much of the city...


Next, Ricky took us to the Grand Palace. We spent some time walking around, looking at all the enormous, and intricately designed temples...







Jon, Callie & Josh trying to get a little shade...
After the Palace tour, we walked to a boat dock and boarded a boat that was going to take us around the rest of the city. Apparently Bangkok is called the "Venice of Asia" because of all of its canals throughout the city. This was a highlight for sure. It was an incredible way to see the sights...

As you can see, Callie really liked it too... ;)

We stopped to watch a feeding frenzy of fish...
there were so many of them,
you probably could have stepped out of the boat and "walked on water"...

"Look who's up!!"
(she slept for 90% of the boat ride)






After the boat ride, we took the subway to a really fancy shopping mall and had supper in the food court. Then it was back in the van, and off to the airport. We boarded our plane & flew about an hour North to a little city called Chiang Rai. By the time we got our luggage and arrived at our hotel, it was pretty late. We had really hoped to spend the evening shopping at the local evening market, but Callie was tuckered out, so Jon went with some of the other team members, and I stayed back to put Callie to bed. While I was trying to get the suitcase emptied out to make up her bed for the night, I looked over at our bed and this is what I found...
... she was WAY too tired to wait for her suitcase :)
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Day 8: The next morning, we got up and walked down to a cute little cafe that served delicious lattes and had free internet. It was our first opportunity to email everyone back home so we jumped at the opportunity. Then we met the team back at the hotel, packed up the rental van, and started our long drive to Chiang Khong, where we'd be staying for the night. I have to confess that I had made some pre-conceived ideas of what "the North" would be like, and realized how terribly wrong I was when we arrived at our hotel. I figured that the further north we travelled, the more "rustic" our accommodations would be. But our hotel in Chiang Khong was by far, the nicest place we had stayed up until that point. It was GORGEOUS!! And the view of the river & the hills of Laos were incredible.
The front of the hotel...

The view from the hotel restaurant... across the river is Laos...


I couldn't get over how stunning this place was...

Our room was the one on the far left corner of the middle row....

... and this was the view from our balcony...

Once we were settled into the hotel, our team met for an authentic (and ridiculously delicious!) Thai lunch in the hotel's restaurant & then got back in the van to go visit the Khmu villages & "The Changed Life Centre." It was a LONG, BUMPY ride out into the "boonies" but it was worth it in the end :) Ricky has been working with a group of Khmu pastors in the north & they've got dreams of starting a type of Bible-training centre for young people. They've already built the dormitories and are working on plans to build a training centre next. I forgot to bring out my camera while we were there, but the property is really beautiful and overlooks the river. We had a wonderful afternoon of interacting with some of the local Khmu people & hearing about the pastors' vision for CLC. We finished off our time with them in prayer & then loaded back into the van and started back to our hotel. We had another team supper at the hotel restaurant and then called it a night.
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Day 9: Originally, the plan was to get up bright & early to go visit the "Golden Triangle" (where Burma, Laos & Thailand meet) but the fact that we were nearing the end of the trip, we were all getting a little worn out and had 2 very tired babies with us, we made a decision to sleep in a bit & take a quick boat ride across the river to Laos, long enough to do a little shopping and then come back. Well.... what a gong show it turned out to be :)
After waiting in line at the 'border crossing,' we finally got the go ahead to leave the country, so we all piled into a small boat and started the quick jaunt across to Laos. It was literally only about a 2-3 minute boat ride. We got out of the boat, walked up to the Laos border patrol and soon realized that they were going to charge us close to $75 CAN, just to have a temporary visitors permit. For the 1 hour of walking/shopping we planned to do, no one was willing to pay that kind of money for a quick visit. So we got BACK in the boat, sailed across the 2 min. river ride, and walked back into Thailand. But then we had to go through customs again, to get back into the country. So after waiting in a long line-up again, we finally got access back into the country. All that paper work, for a 1 minute visit to Laos!! Oh well... at least we can say we've been to Laos :)
Carolyn, Tracy, Solas & Cecil on the boat to Laos...

Josh & Carolyn...

And us...
(and Linda & Galen are behind us)...

Arriving in Laos... only to turn around and go back again ;)

Then it was back in the van for a long, bumpy ride back to the Chiang Rai airport. The picture below shows you just how bumpy the ride really was. Callie grabbed the seat bar to hold on for dear life :) She's pretty cute...
We flew from Chiang Rai, back to Bangkok, where we met up with our teammate Paul (who had gone back to Bangkok early for a job interview). Paul managed to hook us up with the incredible hotel he was staying at, so rather than staying at a guesthouse as was originally planned, we got to stay at a really beautiful hotel in downtown Bangkok instead. It was a very nice way to end the trip, and both Jon and I appreciated the comfortable King-sized bed! :) Callie even got a complimentary crib that they rolled into the room for her. I think she preferred it to her previous suitcase-sleeping. ;)

Callie & Jon checking out our sweet hotel room...

The view...

Getting in some last minute cuddles with "Uncle" Ricky...

One last team picture...
(L-R: Josh & Carolyn, Cecil, Solas & Tracy, Ricky, Paul, Linda & Galen, and us)

We enjoyed one last team dinner at our hotel's Mexican restaurant (ironic, I know) and I must say, it was probably some of the best Mexican food I've ever had. Then Jon, Callie, Josh, Carolyn & I decided to try to get in some last minute market shopping. We knew we had to be up at 4:00am to get to the airport the next morning, but we really hadn't had a lot of opportunity to buy any authentic Thai souvenirs, so we ventured out. We walked, and walked, and WALKED & then finally took the crowded subway to get further into the downtown. We did finally find some "markets" but weren't all that interested in the stuff they were selling. By that point, I was exhausted from all the walking (considering I was carrying Callie in the sling, who was fast asleep & felt like dead-weight) so Jon and I left Josh & Carolyn to continue their shopping, and we flagged down a Tuk-tuk to take us back to the hotel. We made a quick stop at a 7 Eleven for some ice-cream and drinks, and then made our way back to the room.
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Day 10: It was a VERY short sleep that night (only about 4 or 5 hours) & then it was an early start to get to the Bangkok airport in time.

Sleeping in the Bangkok airport, as we waited for our flight out...
And the rest... well... lots of waiting in airports & me feeling crappy due to a cold & VERY plugged ears. Miserable in fact. But we made it home in one piece and it was hilarious to see Callie's excitement when we walked in the door at home. After all that travelling, she was SO happy to be home. And so were we :)

3 comments:

Heidi Epp said...

what I can't believe is how LITTLE Callie looks! wow...

thinking of viv today!

Jen Glen said...

Your adventure to Laos reminds me of our adventure to Botswana. Only we got to stay, but not without Craig having to go back across again just to get a silly stamp IN his passport instead of on a piece of paper! Ah, the joys of international travel.

Nathan and Melissa said...

Thanks for sharing your story! I really enjoyed reading it and looking at all the pics! It sounds like you guys had an amazing time!