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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Parents came to visit, and I am longing for my departure as well...

It is now mid April and my time in Bangkok is about half over... My parents and Grandpa have all arrived back in California after their 15 day visit, which has been the most exciting thing to happen in the past... well, 8 months that we've been here! Here's the update :) I have been here with nobody to talk to regularly aside from Sarah for the past 8 months. I am very grateful that she is here, and I couldn't imagine anybody else that I would rather be stuck here with, but even so, it was fantastic to know that my parents would be here for 15 days of fun touring the city, and exploring a couple islands. We had planned out their entire trip before they even arrived, so when they did finally show up we got straight to it and kept them busy so they would avoid the jet lag. They arrived at noon-ish and we headed straight to our apartment so they could unload before going to take a relaxing walk around Lumphini Park. They were amazed at the wildlife there and we all got to watch (and half participate in) the group aerobic session of about 200 people. We rented paddle boats to tour one of the lakes in the park and feed the millions of fish, then chased around some 6'+ monitor lizards through the water and up to the shores.
After that we ate at our favorite place here, the Mali Restaurant, home of the "crazy old American guy" named Peter that we've grown so fond of... they enjoyed their first taste of Thai food and we went on home so they could catch an early, well needed night of sleep. The next couple days I still had to work, as the Sonkran holiday hadn't yet started, so Sarah ushered them around to some of the most famous shopping centers in Bangkok including MBK, Siam Paragon and Terminal 21. After I finished up the term of swim lessons, we were all free to head on down to start our two part island adventure, starting with Koh Si Chang! Everyone was happy to leave the busy, dirty, hot smelly city of Bangkok, so the two+ hour bus ride didn't seem all that bad. A short ferry ride later, we got ourselves four motorbikes (Mom rode on the back of Dad's bike) and departed about 1/4 mile away to our nice, clean, cheap and wonderful bungalows! The next 4 days were spent driving around every road the island had to offer, and hiking along every secluded rocky point we could find. A few gorgeous sunsets, many sweaty non-air conditioned meals and loads of great pictures made these 4 days pass by in no time! Next stop was to be Koh Samet, but first, we had to figure out how to get there....... The ferry ride back to Si Racha wasn't too difficult; Sarah and I had done it multiple times before so it went smoothly. We had never tried to take public transportation from the mainland near this island, down to the small town of Ban Phe where we would catch our next ferry. It turns out that you must get on a cramped mini-bus (a minivan with rows 4 seats across and 8" of leg room) for 2 hours down to Rayong, where you have to transfer to a Songthaew (pickup truck with benches in the bed) for another 20 miles in the blistering heat crammed up against 18 other people. Then, we had to walk about 1/4 mile because they had us get off near tourist traps, rather than the real pier, to get on the ferry, to rent our off-road dirt-bike scooters, to drive down the crazy un-paved treacherous 2 mile path to our hotel. Somehow, we all made it... including my 73 year old grandfather who has the heart of a 16 year old, but the bones of a 40 year old (so the drive kinda sucked for him...). Needless to say, we just spent the next 5 days relaxing on one of the nicest beaches Thailand has to offer in one of the most secluded parts of the island. Anyway, loads of pictures and only a small bit of touring on the island later, we headed home on a direct bus back to Bangkok where we spent the final few days shopping for cheap stuff, and packing to leave. The only cool stuff we got was some super cheap northface coats from MBK (google it) that are factory overstocks for about $100 a piece. Amazing 3-in-one jackets that would be at least 3x the price in America! Woo hoo... Now, Sarah and I are here, preparing for her departure back home on the 30th of this month :( I'm pretty much stuck here till December because of the contract I am on, but it's for the better for the long term (and I might be able to leave early... hopefully). Look for more depressing lonely updates to come in the near future as I sit here alone in misery, wishing I could be back in the country that so many are so quick to talk $h!t about at home, because they haven't seen the rest of the world.