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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Thailand: Did we achieve the unthinkable?

Until we moved to NW Arkansas, I didn't know I was an adventurer. I traveled the US quite a bit as a teen on organized camping trips. In college I went to Israel on a true whim and continued on to Europe for a few weeks with my bestie (all booked ~3 weeks prior to departure, rush passport and all!).

When we bought our house in Washington, DC, in June 2011 I joked that I wanted to be buried in the backyard. This was our forever house. Our dream house. And I hoped never to move again.

Love this house! I hope our renters do, too.

Joke was on me.

Something about moving to Arkansas struck a chord with me and brought out my adventurous side. Going off our expected path showed me how possible, good, and educational it was for us.

So with a long school holiday, some banked vacation time, "close" proximity to Asia from Sydney, and many English speakers, it seemed like Thailand would be a good place to vacation. Somehow I convinced Aaron. The kids were happy to oblige as they could tick another continent off their list and get new passport stamps. (For some it is about the destination in that moment, and that's okay. My hope is they look back and remember the journey.)

This kid loves the journey!


We chose Koh Samui, a large island in the Gulf of Thailand, for its promise of "luxury resorts and posh spas." And it being the rainy season in mainland Thailand from May to November, Koh Samui would be in the hot season during our July trip.

Thank you for the map, TeachingEnglishInThailand.net


Koh Samui did not disappoint! We stayed at a wonderful resort in our own villa at the southwest end of the island. We had our own infinity pool. Whaaaaat?!?



View from the master bedroom

Our days pretty much went like this: breakfast, relax, swim, lunch, swim, bath (in swimsuits), relax, dinner, sleep. We did go into town and explore a bit. And we did go jet skiing. Otherwise, see above. Eight days of that and we are refreshed!

Swimming!


Jet skiing!
Don't worry, E wore a life jacket!

View of our resort from the jet ski.


The Thai people are brimming with hospitality. The smiles, the greetings, the insistence of assistance.  The food. The coffee (yes!). The fruit.

Durian. We tried it several times. It did not suit us.

Surely durian cheesecake would be delicious. This also did not suit us.


Freshly cut pineapple snack at the market.

Golden watermelon!


I believe we may have achieved the unthinkable on this trip: we vacationed. When the kids are traveling with us, I usually say we are on a trip -- not a vacation. That is an important distinction. As Aaron explained it to the boys, a vacation is abdication of all responsibilities. Even with two kids in tow, we may have achieved the unthinkable. And the boys never once stepped foot in the kids club.


Virgin pina colada.

Delicious daily breakfast

Fire show!

Fish eating dead skin off feet. We did not try this.


Carousel in Central Festival. The boys really wanted to ride but were ultimately not amused.

Indian lunch.

Dairy Queen!!

Green tea flavor Dairy Queen.

E waiting for his blizzard.
This is not why the coffee was good on Koh Samui. I just found it fascinating how westernized the island was.

LOL


Sunset + beverages. Yes, please. 

Off to dinner at Hemingway's On The Beach.

Delicious fresh honey at breakfast!


Though 2/3 of our luggage didn't arrive with us, we had no major disasters and no one got locked in a bathroom stall. We had a wonderful time in Thailand and I'm so glad we had this adventure.

Mid-way through the trip I began researching where we might venture to in December. The negotiation is on, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Vivid!

For the past several months, Aussies had been mentioning a light festival and saying we had to check it out. "Oh! And don't miss the light festival. The boys will love it." So when we started realizing this was A Thing, we looked into it a bit more.

Vivid Sydney started in 2009 as a way to bring attention to energy efficiency. The first year projected light paintings onto both sides of the Opera House.

Vivid has grown steadily and has been a huge success for Sydney. This year there were 12 major installations around the city, including the Opera House, Darling Harbour, the Harbour Bridge and the Taronga Zoo. In addition to spectacular light displays (some of which are interactive), the 23-day festival sought to bring together music and ideas.

A boat lit up for Vivid

We were so fortunate to have an awesome friend visiting from NY who was excited to check it all out. We made a booking (translation: got tickets) for Fleet Foxes at the Opera House, hopped aboard a ferry and made our way to Circular Quay. Holy moly -- there were a ton of people! Sydney is a big city by Aussie standards (about 5 million people in the Sydney area) and Vivid expected to draw about 2.5 million people to the festival.

At 6PM each evening of the festival, as the sun had set (remember it's winter here now!),  the lights came on! A 15 minute continuously moving light show illuminated the sails of the Opera House. It was like a really cool screen saver morphing from image to image. Wow!

The artist, Ash Bolland, titled the work Audio Creatures and said it featured a cast of fantastical land and sea creatures.


Most of the city gets into Vivid. Below is a picture of the Harbour Bridge and some boats lit up. The energy is awesome!


Harbour Bridge

Later during the Vivid festival, after our trip to Uluru, we went with another family to the Taronga Zoo. The zoo creates enormous light displays from recycled materials highlighting animals it is working to conserve -- Port Jackson shark, marine turtle, bees and more. It was great fun and we really enjoyed the zoo.

The Taronga Zoo ferry decorated for Vivid

Light display at the entrance to the zoo.

Riding the zoo's sky tram for an aerial view with our friend!

Sumatran Tiger

Honey Bees

Port Jackson Shark and marine turtles.

E said, "Vivid was awesome. I liked seeing vivid." M said, "Nothing. I don't want to work on the blog, mommy." Sigh.

I've been slacking a bit on the blog. This might seem bad, but I think it's really good! I've passed the homesick stage and sometimes forget I live in Australia so far away from everything I knew before. We're just into life, and it feels really awesome! I was volun-told / coerced into co-chairing a huge event at the boys school and that has been taking up a lot of my (blog writing?) time. I'm co-chairs with one of my dear friends and I'm so thankful for that. It has also been a great way to meet new people and use my skills for something really great.

The boys are on school holiday for the next three weeks. They'll be doing some camps for the first two weeks, then we're jetting off to THAILAND! More then...