I’d say you never can guess how friendships will play out. And sometimes you look back over so, so many years and its just funny to see how it went.
Stephen & I met Mary & Laj in university, through the campus ministry that I traveled to Thailand with in 2006. Mary & Laj were both on that trip actually, and we came to Mae Sot together. They’ve continued working with that campus ministry in Arkansas, and Laj continues to bring a team most summers. Stephen and I found ourselves unexpectedly living here for nine years.
Adam & Nu live at a migrant school outside of Mae Sot, where Mary & Laj have come to visit for years. It was five years ago, when Mary & Nu were both pregnant, and that we all sat down and played a game of Ticket to Ride together.
Mary & Laj went back to Arkansas; Adam & Nu became sweet friends of ours here.
And then this year, Mary got to join Laj at the end of the short-term trip he led (flying with two under four by herself!), and we became an unlikely group of six old friends that know each other in so many different capacities. And thanks to a number of miracles, we also brought along four little kiddos that got to play together.
To take some time away and really enjoy the company of these friends, we went to Chiang Mai! It was full of highs and lows and that seems the easiest way to capture it.
High: The Flour & Flowers bouquet from the week before was absolutely stunning, so I popped it in our car to enjoy on the ride.
High: A husband who will drive through the mountains in the rain, with flowers in his cupholder, while you sit in the back seat with the kiddo.
High: Oak traveled great on the way up, and we even got to see old friends from Mae Sot that just returned to live in Chiang Mai!
Low: I was silly enough not to get a picture with them.
High: Oak’s first trip to the zoo!
Low: We threw a lot of food into the lake instead of the hippo’s mouth.
High: The giraffes and penguins, which were both favorites.
High: Living in a country with fewer safety regulations! Oak got to feed a jaguar raw beef on a stick.
High: Oak’s first elephant visit!
High: A peaceful raft ride through beautiful mountains, including a driver (sailor? captain? rower? gondolier?) who spoke Burmese.
High: Living in a country with fewer safety regulations, we also got to feed the elephants and take photos with them.
Low: Discovering that the elephants will have none of the one-banana-at-a-time game. They will have them all. Now. And I will take a bottle of hand sanitizer.
Low: Despite the guide suggesting you sit on the elephant’s leg, it’s a bad idea. Makes for a silly looking photo and makes you a prime target for the trunk of the elephant.
Low: Oak didn’t like being within reach of the elephant’s trunk.
High: Riding an elephant! Oak loved being out of reach of the trunk on a ride through the river and jungle.
High: Our boy is smart! He figured out how to open the bar across our laps while riding! And mom managed to close it back before we fell out, so we’ll count that as a high.
High: Delicious dinners out with friends.
High: Friends you have known for over a decade!
High: FRIENDS. Who meet your son and love on him and melt you.
High: We weren’t really sure how to celebrate the 4th of July on our travel day, so we did our best to wear red and then had a classic American coffee.
High: Oak learning to ride on Stephen’s shoulders! (And the cardi!)
High: These eyelashes. And a sleeping babe on a road trip.
Low: The sleeping was followed by a whole lot of vomit.
Low: We pushed it, staying as long as we could with friends before returning. This meant we got in late Thursday (with a sick child and vomit on many, many things) and then had to start cinnamon rolls at 5am on Friday. Followed by playhouse and English classes and Family Dinner until 9pm that evening.
Low: I got bit by a neighbor’s dog within twelve hours of returning home, so we also spent part of the day getting rabies vaccinations. Again.
(I was bit by a dog once before, in 2016, and annoyingly that was also on a Friday! I know this because you have to get shots every week for a month following, and it’s always so difficult to fit in on every Friday for a whole month. Ridiculous.)
High: Friends & adventures.