Saturday, September 20, 2014


Spoiler Alert: Do not let the title mislead you.  This may be the most boring post related to traveling to Thailand in the history of posts about travel to Thailand.  There are also a lot of random pictures.  So, don't say I didn't warn you.

My job requires a lot of travel, and a majority of it is international travel.  When I took this position back in 2012, I was excited at the possibility to travel internationally, but my then-supervisor had made it clear that I would only have to travel (both foreign and domestic) if I wanted to.  I've been lucky so far because most of my foreign customers don't require travel, and only have had a few trips this year.

It's funny (or not) that the four trips I've gone on this year have coincided with Ryan working an alternate work schedule.  He's been on day-shift 12's, swing shift, and night-shift 12's.  This trip was no different (night-shift 12's), so we had to rely heavily on my parents to help with the little man.  They have been wonderful and happy to help, but I feel terrible because I know they didn't sign up to have a baby.

I probably sounded (and still sound) like the most ungrateful asshole in the weeks before this trip, because I was not looking forward to it at all.  I was dreading traveling there, I was dreading the small amount of time we would actually be spending in country (compared to the time it took to get there and back), I was dreading the time change, and I was dreading being so far away from my family.  Wah wah, right?  I was going to Thailand.  I know, I know.

I left on Sunday morning, flying to LA to meet up with some co-workers from the east cost.  We quickly jet off to Tokyo to connect to our flight to Bangkok.  Nothing surprising there - a 12 hour flight to Tokyo and a 6.5 hour flight to Bangkok.  I got a great seat assignment (sarcasm) in the literal ass of the plane.  I didn't sleep a wink on either leg, so was very thankful for Delta's amazing movie collection.

I left home at 5:45am on Sunday and arrived in the hotel in downtown Bangkok at 1:30am local time on Tuesday.  There is a 14 hour time change so it was 11:00am on Monday.  I wanted to vomit.  And cry.  And sleep.

Funny story.  I was exhausted and starving for something that didn't come from an airplane. I had packed a small box of wheat thins and my beloved Lara Bars to keep my tummy company.  After showering, I cuddled up to eat my snacks before going to bed.  I ate some Wheat Thins and then couldn't find the Lara Bar that I swore I just set on the bed.  I was looking under the covers, in the bathroom, practically turning my bedroom upside down in the search.  So, imagine my surprise when I gave up, re-opened my box of Wheat Thins, and behold inside - my Lara Bar.  Jet lag problems.

After a wonderful four hours of sleep (sarcasm), we had two hours to look around Bangkok before heading south to Pattaya.

The view from the JW Marriott:

The blessed Starbucks that was directly across the street from the JW:

A popular mode of transportation in Thailand:

We ventured to the Buddhist Temple, Phra Maha Mondop (just on the edge of Bangkok's Chinatown) to see a giant, golden, Buddha.

After removing my shoes, I had to rent a skirt for 20 baht (the Thai currency) because I had on shorts and my "bare legs" would be offensive to Buddha.  This lady was trying to tell me that I couldn't go into the shrine with my "bare legs" by speaking broken English and pointing at me.  Clearly clueless, and my co-workers already ahead of me, it wasn't until she was slapping my leg that I looked around and realized what she was trying to tell me.

Next up, was Wat Po, another Buddhist Temple.  It was home to a crazy number of Buddha statues, but we were really there to see the giant, Reclining Buddha. 

The Reclining Buddha was 15 meters high (49 feet) and 43 meters long (141 feet). Like I said - giant. 

After our two hours was up, we checked out of our hotel and got in a van to head two hours south to Pattaya.  We spent two bumpy hours on a highway whose white lane markers were more like suggested guidelines than anything else.  Someone (me) had to lie down in the backseat because holy motion sickness.  I only saw my life flash before my eyes once.  Ok, twice.

The view from Pattaya's Amari Ocean hotel:

After arriving and changing clothes, we headed to a hosted dinner at Rimpa Lapin.  This would be my first experience with authentic Thai food, so I was nervous.  My intuition was right because from the selections ours hosts chose, every dish was some sort of seafood.  I don't eat seafood, and hadn't eaten since breakfast, so you can imagine how happy (sarcasm) I was to see this particular spread of food in front of me.  I eventually caved and ate the flattened shrimp spring roll, but even that was hard to choke down.

The view helped keep my grumbling tummy quiet.

The next two days were full of a two hour commute (thank you, awful traffic) to Sattahip for our daily meetings and dinner at sketchy Pattaya restaurants.

On Thursday, we finished our meeting a tiny bit early and headed back to Pattaya to do something touristy with the little time we had left.  We settled on a quick traditional Thai foot scrub and rub, and 30 minutes of gift shopping.  During the foot scrub I was mostly positive that she was actually scrubbing the skin off of my leg and not just exfoliating it.  I'm also quite certain that she was giggling with her co-workers about the size of my feet.  I had limited baht and limited time, so the gifts bought for family were/are sort of lame.

While out and about I saw a motorcycle with a side car/basket.  Totally normal because in Thailand there are motorcycles everywhere.  It's a cheap mode of transportation, right?  Well, this motorcycle with side car/basket was a little different because in the basket was a baby exer-saucer, and in the exer-saucer was a baby.  I couldn't make this stuff up, people.

I saw an insane amount of prostitutes (both female and males dressed in drag), escorts, and brothels.  Bars had names like "Sexy Girl Bar," and others too offensive to mention. It was mildly dirty and incredibly humid.  American electricians would have had a panic attack while walking through the streets because the power lines were nothing but giant nests of chaos.  On a positive note, the Thai people were very nice and friendly.  I was clueless on the proper way to wai, so I stuck to a smile and a head bow whenever someone greeted me or I was trying to say thank you.

One final dinner at a seriously sketchy restaurant (filled with stray dogs, cats, and kittens) and our trip was over.  Another funny story.  I was sitting across from my co-worker and there was an open seat next to her.  We were chit chatting along, when a kitten jumped up onto the chair, causing my co-worker to jump and scream.  I think she thought it was a mouse.  I was laughing so hard that I was crying.  Clearly, one of those had-to-be-there moments, but one I had to share. It really wasn't that funny, but I think I was borderline delusional, so whatever. 

We left for the airport at 1:30am local time on Friday (don't worry - the open air go-go bars with the naked dancers were still hopping so we were able to wave goodbye as we passed).  Exactly four days from the time we got there.

The ride to the airport was bumpy, but relatively smooth since there wasn't a ton of traffic on the road at that hour.  We flew to Tokyo, and then I connected to Seattle.  Again, thankful for Delta's in-flight entertainment because I didn't sleep.  The plane was loud (teenage Japanese girls were excited to be coming to the US?) and freezing.  I walked into my house exactly 24 hours after walking out of the Pattaya hotel.

Needless to say, my trip was extremely exhausting.  Extremely isn't even a good enough word to describe it.  Between the time change and the go-go-go nature of the trip, I didn't know what time it was, what day it was, or which way was up.  I missed my family and hated not being able to communicate with my mom (check up on Hammy) as much as I wanted.  Whenever we did get to talk she would give him the phone and it only a second of hearing his voice for my throat to clench and the tears to form.  This trip and being away from him just felt different than others.

So, there you have it.  My first (and hopefully last) trip to Thailand.

I am thankful the experience and opportunity to go to some place so different than the United States, but I have never been so happy to hear, "Welcome to Seattle, where the local time is 9:15am..."

Take Luck,

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Michigan (Part Two)

Friday night after Huck was in bed, Tiff, Hammy, and I drove out for something right as it was getting dark, and coincidentally, right as a storm was rolling in.  Tiff thought the car ride might help lull Cam to sleep (she's a genius) so he got to tag along and listen to us chat.  The clouds were dark and ominous, and my blood pressure was rising.  I may have spent four and half years in the Midwest, but I'm a big sissy when it comes to storms and bad weather.

The good news is, we survived.  

Saturday morning, we took our time guzzling coffee, eating breakfast, and being entertained (in between episodes of Bubble Guppies and Yo Gabba Gabba, of course).

We finally got our shiz together and made our way Ryan's Aunt and Uncle's pumpkin farm.  I've heard Tiff talk a lot about it over the years so I was really excited to see it in person.  Even though they hadn't opened for the season yet, it did not disappoint.

Camden was, of course, in awe of the farm equipment, generally happy to frolic through the property, and terrified by their giant Red Cow.  He was much more interested in the sow, piglets, sheep, and chickens.  And rocks.  And puddles.  Cam even got to take a baby pumpkin home as a souvenir.

(Tiff bought the boys matching outfits that say, "I'm batty for mommy."  So precious!)

After nap time, we ventured outside to see the English Setter puppies that their bird/hunting dog recently gave birth to.  Thirteen of them to be exact.

Camden was allllllll about these puppies.  He toddled around the pen wagging his finger at them, saying, "no no" (for whatever reason), and was happy to hug them and kiss their noses.  If I remember correctly, Sir Huck was more interested in a broom - but I think to him, the pups were just old news.

Ryan's parent's farm is only a quick Gator ride across the highway, so we all hopped on to go say hi.  More farm equipment for Hammy to fawn over and more cows to terrify him.  He's becoming quite predictable at this point.

The boys loved to climb all over and play on this one particular chair in Tiff's living room.   Clearly, as evidenced by the number of pictures I have of them sitting in it - it was the only place they would sit still long enough (together) to get a picture.

Several times during each day and every night after Huck was in bed, Cam would scramble on over to his Aunt Tiff and insist that she hold and/or snuggle with him.  My heart became this big pile of goop every single time.

Our last morning on the farm was pretty quiet and included coffee (are you seeing a trend?), a walk, and the park.

When I take Camden to the park, it's usually by myself.  Let me tell you how much more enjoyable it is to be with a friend for the both of us.  It's crazy enjoyable.

We made one last stop at Panera, whipped out our phones to keep the boys quiet for the last five minutes of the meal (don't judge us), and went back home to get packed up.  The boys took a very short nap, and we said our goodbyes.

I had been worried about how Camden would do on the flight to Detroit, and I knew that it fell in line with his nap time.  The return flight didn't fall anywhere near his nap time, so to say I was worried is a giant understatement.

I let him run wild (not even exaggerating) around the open gate next to ours until the final boarding call was made.  I've learned that we don't board when they offer early boarding for parents with small children - we board last.  We board last to minimize the time on the plane.

I wish I could have video-recorded the death looks I got as we walked down the narrow aisle.  Everyone loves a baby on-board and love was in the recycled air.

He didn't do as great as he did on the flight there, but he did pretty darn good considering he was awake the entire effing four and a half hours.  I worked my booty off (although unfortunately, not literally) entertaining him and keeping him from flying off the handle into tantrum town.  I knew it was close.  The guy in front of us told me that he didn't even realize Camden was behind him, so I considered that a success.

I say the little bugger didn't sleep a wink during the flight, but as soon as we touched down and started taxiing to our gate - I felt his little body get a little heavy and looked down to see that he was zonked out.  I moved him into the Ergo and he proceeded to sleep until 6:30 the next morning.  Blessed be a tired baby.

So, that was our trip.  Our totally awesome trip.

And don't worry - I haven't forgotten the sap.

Aside from Ryan, of course, Tiff is my best friend.  It's incredible to me to say that we've now known each other for 10 years.  We talk nearly every day and I know that all people say this about their best friends - but I really can talk to her about whatever.  Nothing is off limits, nothing is TMI (especially after pregnancy and having these wild boys).  I could call on her anytime for anything and I know she'd be there.  She is my person.  We're at the same stages of our lives and being able to talk to her, knowing she can relate and assure me I'm not (totally) crazy has saved me from drinking an excessive amount of wine.  

Even better than all that?  Is seeing her, someone I love, love my son because he's my son.

The greatest of all?  Seeing the son of someone I love (who I love because he's her son), chase after and invade the space of my son.

Did that make sense? My heart is full.

I made memories that will last a lifetime on this trip.  Unfortunately, Camden won't remember any of this, but I have plenty of pictures to show him just how much fun he had.

Take Luck,

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Michigan (Part One)

Camden and I set off for Michigan this past weekend to visit my best friend, Tiff.  

The little man has three previous flights under his belt, but since the last one was when he was newly one-year old and he's now nearing two, I was a little worried about how he would handle the four hour flight from Seattle to Detroit.  We don't call him Camnado for nothing.

I packed our carry-on's with new toys (including new choo-choo's, a magna doodle, and a Mr. Potato Head), his favorite books, and more snacks than he would usually eat in three whole days.

We got to our gate and were greeted by balloons and a band.  Apparently we would be on Alaska's inaugural flight from Seattle to Detroit.  My dancing queen (er, king?) was totally digging the music and shook his booty until we boarded.

Much to my surprise, he rocked the flight and was pretty easy to entertain.  He even slept for an hour and half and would have slept longer had it not been for a particularly cranky baby sitting two rows behind us.

We landed and practically raced to baggage claim to meet Tiff and Huck.  I was so excited to see them, I could hardly stand it.  We got our bag and headed for Tiff's house.  But not without a pit-stop at Panera.  What else do you expect?

We got back to Tiff's house safe and sound and the boys were more than happy to be out of their carseats and ready to play.  I got us settled in and I'm pretty sure we were all exhausted from the day.  Cam and I got comfy-cozy in the bed together since he was not interested in falling asleep in the pack-n-play in a new environment.  Lots of giggles, feet in the face, and "shhh, time for night night's" later and we fell asleep pretty darn close to his normal bedtime.

Friday morning came quick.  As Tiff puts it, Huck has only one volume - loud.  Apparently, Camden just couldn't sleep after hearing his buddy's voice at 7:30.  In case you were wondering, that's only 4:30 in Seattle.  The morning was nice and quiet, full of coffee refills, and the boys got to play and invade each other's personal space.  Well, that might have been more Huck Boy, but I think Camden secretly liked it.  Seeing these two play and interact was extremely entertaining and heart melting.

Because it was going to be hizity-hot, Tiff suggested going to play at their local splash pad.  This mama did not argue.

Camden was really hesitant to join in on the splash pad fun.  I think the water was a little too cold for his liking and he might have been a little overwhelmed in general.

Huck Boy was game though, and after a few renditions of "I'm Going Fishing," my Hammy Boy was ready and splish-splashing his heart out.

We stopped to get the mamas Steak & Shake milkshakes on the way home and the boys crashed.

We used this glorious quiet time to relax, chat, and recharge the batteries.

Remember when I said that Huck likes to invade personal space?

We'll just consider it a post-nap snuggle.  Cammy later returned the snuggle with a big side-hug.

After the boys woke up, we went outside so Tiff could show us their property - which was truly, truly amazing.  Cam's favorite part was the farm equipment.

His least favorite part?  The cows.  He was terrified and clinging to me.  He finally insisted that he sit with Aunt Tiff, who was driving us in The Gator.

Humidity and Hammy's hair don't mix.

I'll be back later with Part Two.  Prepare yourself for puppies, a pumpkin farm, the park, shenanigans courtesy of Henry and Camden, and a sappy reflection on how good this trip was for my heart.

Take Luck,

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