Saturday November 24, 2018

Psalms 62:1 For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.

We have learned to just roll with things as they come, and today proved to be no different. We had arranged with Wat to have dinner at the night market in Nan one last time tonight and we planned on leaving Wiang Sa around 4:30 or 5:00 pm, so we could stop at Big C for a few items that we needed before meeting with Rinya, Emma, and Jonas at the market for dinner. So after lunch Jeff and I went upstairs to our room to get some packing done. Because it I am a total type A personality and like things done a certain way, Jeff ended up taking a nap. I figured that I would have about 3-4 hours of packing before we were going to leave and would be able to get most of it done. However, at 2:30 Wat came knocking on our door saying that it was time to leave for Nan! This was so typical for Wat and both Jeff and I just had to laugh out loud. Wat had a plan that we didn’t know about and we were just along for the ride! But every time this happened, we had a wonderful day and memorable experiences; again I say, today was no different!

We thought we were headed straight for Big C, but instead Wat took us to Wat Phrathai Khanoi where we hiked up 307 stairs (303 according to the picture, but there were 4 more steps after the sign) to the temple, where we found ourselves looking out over Nan. The view was beautiful. Then to Big C and off to the market. As always, we got way too much food, but it was amazing. We also met up with Rinya, Emma, and Jonas which was a lot of fun. Here are some pictures from the day. I am so grateful to God for the many blessings and amazing people with whom He continues surround us. My heart is just filled with joy and sadness that we have to leave more wonderful people in just a few short days.

I was thinking about all our experiences in Thailand and decided that it would be a good idea to come up with a list of “good to know” things, should you decide to travel to Thailand.

Be prepared for a totally different driving experience. Whether you are driving or are just the passenger, being on the road in Thailand is quite different than the States. For one, motorbikes and mopeds are all over the place and they don’t really adhere to the lane lines, not that cars do either; the lane lines are more of a suggestion than a requirement. Motorbikes are known to weave in and out of traffic via the shoulders of the road of highway, in between lanes, and over the center line. It is also not unusual to see a car doing the same thing. The horn on the car is also used in a very different way. In the States it is used to let someone know they made you angry or did something wrong, but here, the horn is used as a way to let people know that you are there and are about to pass them. So horns are used all the time.

Always carry toilet paper and hand sanitizer with you. Not all bathrooms have toilet paper and soap to wash your hands, so if you are prepared for this it won’t be a problem. Unfortunately, we had to learn the hard way!

Internet access is very simple and cheap. Purchasing a SIM card at the airport is a piece of cake and very cheap. It was wonderful to have unlimited data on our phones for the entire time we were there, especially for the kids.

Pack light. Clothes are very cheap and very nice. We stocked up on Thai clothes and ended up having to send several boxes home because we had too much to carry with us to our next stop!

Be flexible and patient. A schedule or plan is more of a suggestion than a set structure. More often than not, we would adhere to the time table we arranged, only to find that the people around us just flowed with life. It was a bit of an adjustment at first, but to be honest, it was a much better way to life for us without the stress of being somewhere at an exact time. It taught us how to just roll with the day.

–The medical clinics and medication are great and cheap. We had to take our son into a local clinic for a really bad case of hives. The cost was very minimal, as were the medications, and he received excellent care.

–Definitely bring anti-diarrhea medication with you, but if you don’t you can get it there for really cheap. We used Azithromycin and it worked like a charm. We all had to take it at one point, and I would definitely recommend taking it the first day you develop the symptoms because within 24 hours we all were feeling better. We were also able to use this medication for other infections, so it is very versatile and accessible here (we stocked up before we left in case we needed it in other places).

Don’t drink the water. Stick to bottled water (its cheap).

–If you have children, be prepared for people to just come up and give them hugs and tell them how beautiful they are. This attention did go to our 5 year old daughter’s head a bit, but the people are just so loving and kind, how could you ask them to stop. They just loved our children and treated them with nothing but kindness and gentleness.

–Smile. A smile goes a long way and the people of Thailand are perfect examples of how to be kind and friendly. Everyone smiles. Thailand is known as the “Land of a Thousand Smiles” and we were not disappointed. You actually have to try really hard to be in a bad mood here because everyone around you is so happy.

Easy on, Easy off shoes are a must. You will be asked to take your shoes off anytime you enter a building or a house, so have shoes that can be easily taken off and put back on is a must and will make you life much easier (especially if you have kids)

Brush up on appropriate clothing (especially for the temple). The Thai people are very conservative. Dress modestly and you will be just fine. In regards to the temple, be dressed very conservatively–no shoulders showing, long dresses/skirts/pants for women, long pants and a nice shirt for men. Kids have the same requirements. It can be very hot and humid in Thailand, so I do recommend a shall for women. That way you can easily wrap it around your shoulders if you end up in a temple. I tried to carry one with us when we went out because we never knew if we would end up in a temple! This is a good website for reference (https://www.kohsamuisunset.com/what-to-wear-in-thailand/).

If I think of others I will update the list, but this is a good start. If you are ever afforded the opportunity to travel to Thailand, especially outside of Bangkok, you will not be disappointed. Also if you are looking for something to do in Thailand rather than just travel, you should definitely look at volunteering with Volunthai. This experience was one that we will never forget. We were able to meet and live amongst the wonderful people of the area, and to see places that we would have otherwise looked right past. You really get a full view of the area when you are living there rather than just visiting. There is so much more to see and experience beyond the tourist destinations.

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