Oh the things we find to do in the jungles. 🙂
I’m not even sure where to begin on this trip. From the very beginning this trip seemed as if it were destined for failure. There was bus confusion, hotel conflict, taxi/tuk tuk chaos, visa challenges, sick children, and a whole host of other things that went crazy. It was the perfect example of Murphy’s law, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. And yet amazingly we accomplished what we went to Laos for, reconnected with some people from our previous trip to Laos, and met some great new people as well.
I don’t think I could accurately recap everything that happened on our trip. It really was one of those you had to be there moments. But I know inquiring minds want to know details so here is a short summary.
Bus confusion: So we thought we would have to stay a night in Bangkok because we were informed that we needed originals of our marriage certificate and Aubrey and Alayna’s birth certificates. This turned out not to be true but by the time we realized it, not only were we about 20 mins from the bus station eating some disgustingly nasty Indian food, which btw was extremely disappointing because the last time we ate there it was really good, but we also only had about 30 mins until the bus left. Good times. For fear of lecture from my mother, I will refrain from telling you how I got back to the bus station with time to spare. I was hoping that I could change our tickets to the next bus which didn’t leave for another hour and a half. Sounds easy enough, except the lady at the counter really was not in the helpful mood. Somehow, God was able to work on her heart and she relented after about 10 minutes of me staring at her with my most pathetic foreigner look. Mind you, we’d only been gone from the house about 5 hours. lol
Visa challenges: You are supposed to drop off your passport one day at the embassy and then pick it up the next. Well, unfortunately because we took the later bus, we didn’t get there early enough and there were about 200 people in line ahead of us. What a difference an hour and a half makes. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that the visa I had to pay for was 2000 baht/person and not 1000 like I had thought. Because I was applying for a different type of visa the fee is more expensive. Oh by the way, they stop accepting visas at 11:30 am. We didn’t get there until 9:30. What this all means is that I didn’t have time to correct my monetary error that day and get all the papers turned back in. So instead of staying one night in Laos, we would have to stay two!
Hotel conflict: We had our friend Laura with us this trip to renew her visa as well. I had made all of the hotel arrangements and everything went smoothly the first night. The second night, I somehow book our rooms at 2 different hotels. I can’t even explain to you how that is possible or how I pulled that off. Fortunately, Vientiane is not that big so I didn’t feel all that worried about leaving Laura by herself. If it were Bangkok, we might have had a problem. The second hotel that we stayed in had the potential to be a good hotel, but let’s just say it wasn’t living up to it’s potentional. 🙂 I don’t know if I have stayed in worse or not but it wasn’t so bad that I felt I needed to get the girls out of there immediately. I figured at the least, it would be a character builder for us. I’m still not sure if that assumption was accurate or not.
Taxi/tuk tuk chaos: It seems as if every trip has to include some type of crazy story about tuk tuks or taxi’s. There were a couple of differen’t stories this time but I will just tell you one. We were heading home for the night. Us, Laura, and our friends that we met from our last time in Laos. We go Laura back ok, but then the chaos started. I showed the man my hotel card and he couldn’t seem to find it. We had him call and he still couldn’t find it. He asked strangers on the street and the still couldn’t find it. After about 30 mins he pulls up to a hotel he thinks is ours. No, no, and no. We all decided to just get out there. About 2 mins later, we realize that he dropped us off a few blocks away from where he picked us up!!! Really?! I found it rather funny, nobody else in the group seemed to find the humor in it though.
You might be think right now that this was the worst trip ever. But you’d be mistaken. This trip was really really fun. Last time I went to Laos I didn’t really care for it. This time I think it grew on me. I had done a little research and found out a few of the places that were supposed to be good to eat. One of those places was Common Ground Cafe and Bakery. I think we ate there like 4 times. Truthfully, we would have gone back even if the food wasn’t any good. Why you ask? Because they had a covered play area. Unless you have kids, you won’t understand. 🙂 We probably spent about 12 hours total at this place. The kids had a great time, the food was good, they had free wifi, and we met a really cool couple there from the states. On a side note, the two couples we hung out with, both of the men are Black. Real black people from America. You have no idea how rare that is over here. No idea.
Between hanging out with new friends, exploring the night market, eating some really good food, and finally getting my visa taken care of, this trip turned out to be truly a great adventure.
I’ll try post some pics of the fun as soon as possible.
So as all of us who have read or followed the shootings last week went through a range of emotions and thoughts, I came across the following article.
As a teacher for more than 10 years, there was always the thought in the back of my mind that something like this could happen. Every teacher knows that it can happen, but we never fully believe that it will happen at our school. I say that to say that I’m not really sure what my feelings about the subject are. Feel free to enlighten me on what you think about the above said plan.
So much to has happened since I last had a chance to blog. So let’s see, where to begin…
Well we went for what I thought was going to be a small hike up into the jungles behind the house. By no means was it a “small” mountain, at least not by my standards. I’ve never been good at going up inclines. But trust me, this was no hill. I blame it on my long legs. I had to stop and take a few breaks along the way. Probably not the smartest idea considering their are all kinds of creepy crawly slithering things that can go up your legs or down your back. Having to stop a few times was a little embarrassing considering we had two teenage girls and a 57 year old man that didn’t seem to be the least bit phased by this jaunt into the outback. I definitely need to get into better mountain climbing shape. I guess I can also blame living in the DFW metroplex for several years as well. Not a mountain or hill for miles and miles.
You can check out our adventures at the following link: https://picasaweb.google.com/adrielj2/HikingInTheJungles
My wife has been on me for a while now to help her start her garden. Of course as men do, I kept procrastinating and delaying for as long as possible. 🙂 But I finally got up the energy to help her start. I was able to ask the Paa-dee (that’s what we call him, i think it means uncle) to show me what I was doing, since he has years of experience farming. I think it turned out ok. I’ll have to post pics of it later on. I must say that I don’t really care for gardening. I don’t know what it is. My wife says that it relaxes her. All it does for me is irritate me and make me hot. I guess I can blame that on spending the better part of the last 10 years behind a desk in an air conditioned environment.
Speaking of the garden, while I was taking a break, Aubrey spotted a snake in the garden. Although the story would sound much cooler if I told you it was a 10 ft long snake, the truth is that it was just a baby. I hacked it to death with my trusty hoe (yes phil, the garden tool). It was the first snake I have had to personally kill since we got here. And that’s saying something since it seems like we kill a couple each week. No really, we just killed 2 yesterday. It’s actually rather amazing that I haven’t had to kill more of them. I’ll have to rack that one up to another one of God’s great blessings. 🙂
We are officially open for business as of this Sunday. Actual people will actually becoming to our school for English lessons. That’s actually an interesting situation considering none of us have actually ever taught English before we came to Thailand…hmmmmmm.
And finally, as you have noticed, there is a countdown to our next border run on the main page. It says 5 more days, but we are actually leaving a little sooner than that. We are going back to Laos again. We wanted to go somewhere else but as circumstances would have it, it turned out to be for our own good that we didn’t. Long story that I won’t get into right now, let’s just blame that one on paperwork and slower than I prefer government offices. If you don’t know anything about Laos you can check out the link to a previous blog I wrote when we went before. https://ajsadventure.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/going-to-laos/
I guess that’s all for now. Keep the prayers coming. The donations are nice as well, but your prayers are wanted, needed, and valued much much more.