movin’ on

“maybe it’s human nature to think one’s own situation is the unique and incomparable one, the transcendent exception.”  ~ sue monk kidd the mermaid chair

chan and i left chiang mai yesterday and the goodbyes at the airport were a validation that our decision to move here was a good one.  it was emotional and so very painful, but also proof of how he threw himself into life here.

knowing we’re not the first to make this journey doesn’t make it any easier.  but it is helpful to know others have survived it, their kids have flourished, and it’s all been worth it.  i can’t wait to see what the next few years bring for chan and i hope he takes on university life the same way he’s done it here.  but before we tackle the next few years we’ve got a week in tokyo to take on.  (it was on the flight from bangkok to tokyo that i came across that quote from sue monk kidd.)

we seem to like to take the not the easiest way possible route when it comes to travel when we go to and from the states and why would we choose to do it differently for a family vacation.  michael, a16, and s13 left friday night for bangkok and had an all night layover before heading to tokyo – via kuala lumpur.  maybe not the most direct route, but to hear them tell it it was up there with one of the most miserable.  chan and i left chiang mai saturday morning (16 hours after the other guys) we flew to bangkok had a two hour layover and then headed to tokyo.  directly to tokyo.

they took the yellow route. we took the purple one.

we arrived 1/2 an hour before them and our first stop was the fancy japan potties.

after our pit stop we went got our passports stamped and then on to collect our luggage.  since we were ahead of the rest of the family we went ahead and gathered their luggage, too.  they made it in, we all went through customs and then it was time to figure out how to go about finding the apartment we’d rented for the week.  luckily we had an address in japanese and our taxi driver could read japanese (amazing, i know.)  our two bedroom apartment was bigger than we expected.  it has a washing machine.  and best of all it’s vey own fancy toilet.

it was well past midnight at this point and we had 3 hungry kids on our hands.  so michael and i braved it and found a convenience store where we picked up some assorted snacks.  including the goldilocks and the three bear version of cup noodle.

we were all asleep by 3am.  that’s way past my bedtime and we ended up sleeping a tad late on Sunday morning.  which was alright, because i’d purposely left sunday as a pretty easy tourist day.

part of the count

every once in a while i think of our move to thailand and what it’s cost.  not monetarily – that’s too depressing – but more of what the trade has been (which is slightly more depressing).  the value of one rich cultural experience vs. another rich cultural experience, because i do consider the culture of family to be one of great value.

my memories of growing up include so many that are flooded with family.  i lived very close to extended family.  easter, thanksgiving, christmas, birthdays, random sundays, and many summer days were frequently spent with my great grandmother, grandparents, great aunts and great uncles, my mom’s cousins and their kids.  and those memories are wonderful.  even though it’s been several years since i’ve experienced a holiday with so many relatives i couldn’t keep track of them all, that’s how i remember them.  and that’s what i know we’ve caused our children to miss. that deeply rich experience of  knowing and being known by generations of your people.

i think i feel it most deeply every year at thanksgiving.

as we recreate american thanksgiving in a foreign country i’m conscious of wanting for my kids the kind of thanksgiving we had in america.  the one where you know who’s coming and what they will bring, because it’s the same thing they bring every year and it would be sacrilegious for them to bring anything different.  the kind where you create the sort of memories and inside jokes that become a language spoken only by you and those who experienced them.  like the year i flicked whip cream into my mom’s cousin’s husband’s face for no reason whatsoever.  and, now, anytime i see pumpkin pie with a dollop of whip cream i’m immediately taken back all those years ago.  those memories are priceless.  and i wouldn’t trade them for anything.

i can’t count the times i’ve patted myself on the back for being the kind of parent who takes their kids abroad.  and just as many times i’ve thought, “man, i wish my parents had done the same for me.”  but, when i sit down and really think about what that would have meant – living away from our family, not having the opportunity to know and be known by them, i’m not so sure i really wish my parents had done the same.

don’t get me wrong, i’m not regretting our move.  i struggle thinking of someday moving back to the states.  but…  in a perfect world, there are sacrifices this move would not have cost and spending holidays without family is one of them.

sorry to leave you hanging…

a few weeks ago – dec. 16 to be exact –  back when i posted last, i said we’d be getting internet in a few days.  boy was i wrong mistaken.  but we’ve got it now and i’ve got tales to tell.  no promises as to the quality or relevance – guess somethings just stay the same.

a few days before i said we’d be getting internet in a few days i promised to reveal the moving smack down winner truck or motorcy.  only one could win.  and i’m prepared to reveal the winner.  but first i must apologize for my complete failure as a camera owner.  i took very, very few pictures.  and here’s why

  1. the stuff was coming so fast and furious and i had no time to take pictures
  2. i couldn’t locate the camera part of the time
  3. i’m a very shy photographer.  it just felt so rude to be staring down the lens of a camera – so voyeuristic.

and all three of those excuses are true.  just one might be truer than the others.  and michael has threatened to take my camera away from me. he says i’m not worthy and that i’m a sorry excuse for a camera owner being all photo taking shy like that.  he said it’s shameful.  that seems harsh to me.

i only have pictures of the winner. and only a few.  and they don’t do justice to the whole situation.  but you’re gonna get what you get and not throw a fit.  (we say that to our kids when they didn’t like dinner…  they love it.)

so, with out further adieu – i give you the winner. 

THAIMENDOUS!!*

the first trip.  i’m thinking the truck’s gonna whup up on him.

and then p’khao arrived with this.  (notice the discretion i used in getting this picture.  he had no idea)  you can’t see the washing machine and the two big living room chairs.

among the things that he moved – which i didn’t get a picture of – was all our bedroom furniture.  including the can’t be taken apart twin beds and the king size bed and mattress.  the ping pong table, the basketball goal.  the kitchen table and chairs.  the oven…  you get the idea.  the truck tried.  it moved a few couches and some boxes.   but apparently nothing beats a motorcy!

*all credit for coining the nickname THAIMENDOUS goes to michael.  i’m sure no one has ever ever thought of it before.  and if they have it’s because they traveled to the future and heard michael say it.  it’s original to him.  he likes to yell it.  he’s also thinking of trying to get p’khao to wear his underwear over his pants.

mostly moved

we have a smackdown winner, but i think i won’t announce it until i can get my pictures loaded.  

we don’t have internet at our house, yet.  it’s coming.  for now – i’ll suffer through the wawee thing again.  

we have no christmas decorations up and we want them up so we must unpack.  which means i should be home and not here.  but i really, really like it here.

oh, and a12’s in a play tomorrow.  we packed her costume.  and have no idea in which box we packed it…  oops.

ultimate smackdown

we just found out we will be getting the keys to our house on thursday so we can start our move two days earlier than planned.  hopefully, we will finish on saturday.  i don’t think the new house has internet – but wawee is still close by and i’ve located another coffee shop with free wifi, so i’ll be around.  just not as around.

thursday morning also conveniently happens to be a holiday  – kids home from school.  they’re gonna be so excited.  but, i’m afraid i’ve inadvertently offended our mâe bâan’s husband.  he’s been fairly insistant that he can move us.  that we don’t need to get any other help.  he has a vehicle and he can do it.  but we’re doubtful.  because here’s the vehicle.

so, i’ve managed to wrangle another family into helping.  they have a truck – and, as is well known, owning a truck means helping out those in need of a truck.  i’m thinking owning a truck might be a bit of a pain, but very glad they’ve got one. 

so, i think we’re gonna have a bit of a smackdown.  the truck  bed vs. motorcy cart.  which can move the most. 

maybe we’ll be done on thursday.