Monday, February 17, 2014

Shannon's Visit: The Wonderful Whirlwind

Aunt Shannon and Kyla playing in the river during our trip to the mountains. Favorite day.

Whirl. Wind.

There is no other word to describe it well. Last week's six days with my beloved sister went by so fast; like a whirlwind.

We ate Thai food, we shopped markets, we drove to the mountains, we dipped our feet into hot springs and also into tanks full of hungry fish, we visited friends, we feasted, we played in the water and scaled the heights of a local waterfall, we ate sticky rice every day, we took a zillion pictures, we held snakes, she tasted bugs (do you notice how I left out the "we" on that last one?), we laughed with the kids, we gifted each other with fun things from afar, we talked and talked, we caught up on family business, we visited the local temple, we drank loads of coffee, she played with baby tigers, we got bit up by mosquitoes and got treated at a nail salon...we had a blast. The time went so fast, but it was wonderful.

Most of all, my sister and I connected. She got to see Thailand through her own eyes, rather than just through my own accounts or through this blog. We connected over something now that we can share in remembering together; her trip here. That is most of why we stay close with people, right? Connections.  She is my sister and always will be, but now she has one more thing to tie us together in understanding of where we live and how we live and why we live here. 

Thank you, Shannon, for coming!

Here are just a few highlights of her visit (photo disclaimer...sorry for the graininess of the art museum pics. I am an airhead and forgot to hit the focus once or twice):

We went to Art In Paradise, a 3D Illusion art museum in our city.

Seriously, this art museum is a blast!

Somebody better rescue those kids!

Did you know there were active volcanoes in Thailand?

Thai food had a growing effect on Aunt Shannon.

My sons at their finest.
Shannon's favorite thing: the Tiger Kingdom.

Think this feline would go well with your sweet doggies, Shannon? 
My son has become a tuk tuk driver in his spare time.

Of course these beauties belong to the same family.

Fish spa with the whole family! Even baby Charis sat with us. She opted out of putting her feet in, though. Short legs. 

At one point, the boys took their own tanks and chilled out. They seriously enjoyed it. Seriously. Just look at their faces.

My sis was in her element in the outdoors. I am thankful she prefers being outside because it is the perfect time of year for this! 

Dipping our feet in a local hot spring. Cheap fun in a beautiful place.

We love Aunt Shannon!

Our last meal together with the whole family. We miss you already, Shan!

Anyone else want to come jump in our world? You are always welcome to come for a quick visit! (As long as you bring us beef jerkey like Shannon did. Always a win!)


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Aunt Shannon is Coming!

Grandma, sister Shannon, Kyla, Aunt Cathy, and myself at Kyla's 2nd birthday party almost 2 years ago. It has been so long since we have seen each other!

This girl.

My sister; two years my junior, newly married, impossibly beautiful, and one of the hardest-working, humble people I know...will be landing in my city in less than 7 hours.

It was easy to wake up with my alarm today because I am just. so. thrilled!

She will be here barely a week (Thank you, America, for giving our citizens impossibly short vacation allowances with our work. Can't we be like the French and get our 6 weeks?).  We have so many things in the works for her Thai food, a trip to one of the waterfalls in our area, elephant riding, tuk tuks (what trip to Thailand is without one of these?)...weird-Thai-fruit-tastings, Night Safari, walking market, hot springs, coffee in the mountains...there is just so much to do in so little time.

With her trip, I didn't realize that I had so many pent up feelings about visitors. Her visit here has made me realize the incredible value I feel for having a member of my family (she will be the very first!) step into our world.

Our world.

Sure, we aren't living in a stilt house on a rice plantation, with King Cobras slithering about our feet and riding elephants to school...our foreign predecessors have done that already.  We live in a seemingly ordinary home with suburban neighbors and very ordinary things happening around us every day. In many ways, our lives are just like yours. 

But, so much of our world here in Thailand has been so common-place that it is pure fun to have an "outsider" step into it and open up our own eyes to the wonder that is overseas-living:

...chanting and announcements from the local temple blaring through the loudspeakers...firecrackers every day, at almost any hour...the glory of sticky rice (how did I live without this before?)...fresh pineapple and such for pennies (or free, if you have a generous friend)...Thai smiles all around...the normalcy of cool water from the faucets and the lack of indoor climate control...trails of ants that can enter any room within a flash to swipe up that dribble of watermelon juice on the floor...then, the geckos that save us from a nightly attack of blood-sucking wares at the handicraft markets...and landscape views that some people only witness on the cover of a travel magazine...

...every day.

We will relish every second of Shannon's visit this week.  And, when she returns home (too quickly!), she will finally have a picture to remember and retell to my parents and kin when they ask about how it was "way over there across the ocean."  

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