Saturday, July 30, 2011

Summer Vacation

Kids middle, three and I all took a week off from India and traveled to Thailand to break up our summer overseas and away from extended family.  We miss everyone in the US but the trip to Thailand, even with our stay at some rather nice hotels, was one third the price to the US for all three of us.  Traveling within Asia would naturally be less when starting from Asia. Plus the fact that this time of year is hot and steamy and monsoons keep visitors at bay, we were able to get some pretty sweet deals on airfare and hotels.
A friend from Thailand taught us some quick survival Thai for our stay (sa wad dee ka/krub, kob koon ka/krub) which was nice to know and use while we were there.  Those at the resort seemed very impressed that we said hello/good bye and thank you in the language of Thailand.  Although the demeanor of those from Thailand is so pleasant, even if they weren’t impressed they would make it seem they were to make us happy and not to offend us.
We flew into and out of Bangkok but only spent one full day in the city.  From what very little we saw we can say it is HUGE and has lots of cars.  Bangkok in a quick day is not the way to see Bangkok but it gave us an idea that we would like to go there again sometime.  The rail system is impressive and easy to use, there is a lot of traffic and very little horn honking, and there is a really neat aquarium in the lower level of one of the malls that was well worth the visit. 
The remainder of our time in Thailand was spent in Hau Hin, a lovely city on the Thai gulf about 125 miles (200 km) south of Bangkok.  We found a wonderful resort with great prices if we booked our stay online.  Asara villa and suites ( )  was every bit as beautiful as it looked online but even more fun than it can seem to a ten and eleven year old who are told to behave at every turn.  There were activities every day at three o’clock like kayaking, garland making, and origami that were all enjoyed.  The kayaks were made available to resort guests even when it was not the assigned activity time.  The gulf seems to house many jellyfish and we were told of them before going into the water.  Although we did not see any jellyfish (other than at the aquarium) we didn’t take our chances other than enjoying the kayak on two occasions.  Family members recently visited Florida and were stung by jellyfish so we learned from their mistakes.  We spent our water time in the two beautiful pools at the resort and visited the malls and night market at Hua Hin.  We drifted through a floating market and road on an elephant and in general just enjoyed ourselves.  It was truly a vacation to remember.                                                                                                                  The cherry on top came for our return flight home, to India.  Our seats on the way to Bangkok were first assigned to the exit row, where we cannot sit because of the ages of the kids.  Another row of very willing passengers exchanged seats with us to accommodate.  When checking in for our return flight I mentioned the mishap.  Partly to make sure we were not given the exit row again but mostly to point out that the kids were very good about changing seats and behaved themselves very well due to the circumstances of now you have it now you don’t.  I asked that if seats needed to be moved on this flight could we please be moved to business class?  The ticket agent politely smiled and assured me to plane was very full and she would not place us in an exit row.  Fast forward two hours later, while waiting for the plane to begin boarding the name of kid three was called over the loud speaker to report to the gate counter.  The thoughts, “Did we get ANOTHER exit row?” or “Could we really fly business class?” both went through the minds of all three of us.  The agent needed our boarding passes to write in our new seating assignment to which we all quietly and in a restrained manner, celebrated our journey.  We ended this beautiful trip on a wonderful note and flew home to India in business class, all three together.  Thank you Air India!  
We will post some pictures of the trip at a later time.  That is what we are doing this summer.  What have you all been up to?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Independence Day Celebration

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?  The age old philosophical question that came to mind as people asked us in email, on the phone and on face book if we, as Americans, celebrated July fourth, Independence Day, with the rest of America?  Well our answer is yes AND no.  We celebrated with a grand display of red, white and blue at the American Embassy in Delhi India.  All American passport holders and their immediate family members were invited to the American Embassy in New Delhi on Saturday, July 2 to celebrate American Independence Day. There was a formal ceremony with the Marin Corps Color Guard and even video recorded messages from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.  For the kids there was a bouncy castle and face painters, (thanks to the nice volunteers who painted faces!), as well as a tug of war and pie eating contest for the older party goers. (Note: the winners of the pie eating contest were not very old.  Teamed with a friend, kid three enjoyed a gluten apple pie in a very short amount of time.)  There was music and a great band that performed.  At the end of the night we enjoyed the fireworks display put on right next to our gathering place.  It really was an awesome display of our red, white and blue, apple pie eating, American pride.  Thank you US Embassy New Delhi/ACSA for the help in celebrating our Independence Day.  Although a few days before the rest of America really celebrated, is it truly the DAY or the concept of independence that we are celebrating anyway?