Wednesday Write-Up: Writers Block

I am having a little bit of writers block today. Maybe it is the adorable two-year old wanting me to play a Thai dice game with her. Maybe it is the excitement of having awesome guests staying with us that have traveled all the way from our hometown to journey through Southeast Asia. Maybe it is the heavenly hot days that we have been blessed with since 2014 started. Maybe it is a little of all of these. We have been out showing our friends, Sean and Laura, the best Hua Hin has to offer and it has been great actually knowing what to do and where to go. Hua Hin is not really the town for us (we are big city dwellers much more), but the classic Thai tourism is pretty good here.

Today we went to the Hutsadin Elephant Foundation here in Hua Hin and rode on elephants. It was our friends’ first time on an elephant and they loved it, as did we. I will forever love and want to be around elephants. I would highly recommend if you want to go on an elephant “trek” you support this foundation that takes in used and abused elephants and nurses them back to health. I had written a post in the past (Elephants on Parade) about two other elephant shows/treks in Hua Hin and, while they were okay, this one I felt really good about going to.

Our friend, Laura, taking a picture of Song Kran, the youngest elephant at Hutsadin Elephant Foundation

Our friend, Laura, taking a picture of Song Kran, the youngest elephant at Hutsadin Elephant Foundation

One funny story for today… As we were riding on the back of a giant (probably 10-12 feet tall?) 40-year-old male elephant with tusks as long as my arms, Zoë asked, “What are we gonna do today?”  Chad and I both laughed as we realized what a charmed life she is leading right now (and us as well)… riding on elephants has become so common place to her that she was already asking what was next. It reminded me, yet again, of how incredibly blessed we are to be on this adventure.

So, I am off to see and do more, and hopefully this writers block will lift by Friday. I am sure it will. I just have to get back on the proverbial horse (or should I say elephant).

Is there anything you have always wanted to see or wondered about Thailand? Leave a comment and maybe I can help. Maybe it will help alleviate this writers block. Thanks for reading everyone!

Monday Montage: Survey Shows

My mom is here!!! My mom is here!!! This is my first experience having a family member visit us while we have been so far away from home. As you can probably tell I am a little excited ecstatic that she is here. It has been like a hypnagogic hallucination (now that’s a phrase I will be using more often…Thanks thesaurus!)  being able to visit with her in person, well when I get my five minute turn at least. Z has not let Nana out of her sight, in fact this morning I told Z, “I love you” and Z responded, “Nana”. Hilarious!

On another note, I wrote a post recently about promises to myself. One of them was to remain positive even when a situation makes me want to throw in the towel, throw up my hands in despair, or lay on the floor and throw a huge tantrum. Hmmm… I will think of other clichés to use later, I know there must be some more. This week I have encountered many opportunities (like how I phrase that? So positive right?) to put my gumption to the test. I am going to write more about that on Wednesday, but if you follow And Three To Go avidly (who wouldn’t, am I right?!) then you probably noticed that I did not do my usual post this past Friday. When we arrived back in Hua Hin from picking my mom up in Bangkok, a huge storm left floods and fallen trees in its wake. We came home to our villa with no water or electricity. We roughed it for two days and one very hot night before the power came back on. We are still without water, which has been giving us so many more excuses to hop in the pool. I am so thankful that we have a pool, it has been our bath, our reservoir and a wonderful way to cool off. See, these tests to determine my fortitude are nothing (just kidding…please no more tests!!).

Last Wednesday, I asked you what you would like to see and read about on And Three To Go, and I received some great ideas and suggestions… Thank you all for your help! Okay, enough of hearing about my week, I want you to see it too! Here are this weeks pictures…

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Some signs that I saw along the road that appealed to me for some reason… I think it was probably the added tire sign, adds some real flavor to the advertising opportunity.
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Sorry to all the men reading, but the fact that they have maxi pads out for you to feel and see before you buy them makes me laugh.
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This blew my mind when I first saw it in our travels years ago… Eggs are not refrigerated anywhere that we have been except in America. I wonder why we Americans need to be different? (That’s a rhetorical questions..haha)
1-IMG_8773The flood as we drove home from Bangkok, quite the adventure! I felt especially bad for the scooter drivers, but everyone seemed to have a good attitude about the river that used to be the road.

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Zoë really wanted her picture taken with this guy. He was the welcoming committee at the Tokiya restaurant in a mall in Bangkok.

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Nana and Zoë on their first day together! They haven’t been separated since.

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80’s Flashback! Amway is alive and well in Thailand, except you don’t get invited to dinner with friends so they can give you their pitch… Here you can just go to the Amway store.  Nice!

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There are even knock-off trucks in Thailand. Here is an “Isusu” work truck.

If you all have something that you would like to see here in Thailand, let me know and I will try to include it next time! Thanks again for following along on our trip!

Wednesday Write-Up: Bangkok

I cannot believe that our time in Bangkok, Thailand is almost over already. We leave for Hua Hin, Thailand tomorrow morning.

It has been a whirlwind couple of days of shopping, food, and new experiences.

I have to start with the shopping because there are numerous H & M and Forever 21’s (named XXI Forever here) and we only had a chance to visit one of each. I have found it difficult to understand the clothes that the stores are selling presently though. There are racks upon racks of winter clothing. no I do not mean just pants and long sleeve shirts, I am talking wool sweaters, lined pants, down filled coats with fur lining… Is there something I have missed here?! Is this Thailand or Minnesota? Maybe we entered some sort of worm hole as we thought we were entering Central World Mall in Bangkok, but actually traveled through a hole in our reality to the Mall of America? Or have we deceived ourselves into thinking that Thailand is a tropical climate and everyone here is laughing at our belief that we have read on the internet is real…. I am hoping that everyone shopping here is just preparing to travel to snowy climates and what I hold true in my heart is real, that Thailand is warm year round and never snows, we shall see, and you, my wonderful readers will be the first to know if I see a snowflake fall.

I have quickly forgot about the apparent blizzard that is on its way every time I have sat down to eat. Yes, I am in love with food. I am sure that Chad and possibly every one else I know gets sick of the amount of time I talk about food. I cannot help it, it’s my obsession. I wish that I had more of an obsession with cooking food instead of eating it though. It would be much easier keeping svelte. I plan on writing more about the delicious fare on Friday.

We consciously decided when we were booking this part of our trip, that we did not want to spend too much time in what is, admittedly, our least favorite city in Thailand. I do have to say though, I do not feel like we have done enough here so far. I think that a few  short trips will be necessary while we stay in Hua Hin the next couple months.

Hopefully the winter weather will not keep us from returning soon. I hope to see you soon Bangkok!

Monday Montage: Goodbye Taipei

We have arrived in Bangkok, Thailand!  I am currently hanging out in our short term rental that we got on airbnb.com and relaxing after a very long day of traveling. Here are the last pictures I took of Taiwan. I cannot believe our time there is up already, it was very sad leaving our friends, but I was ready to see some new places. So here we are … IN THAILAND!!!

The corner of the roof of the National Concert Hall

The corner of the roof of the National Concert Hall

Public Bicycles for rent and the Barbie Restaurant on the right

Public Bicycles for rent and the Barbie Restaurant on the right

Wall of a pharmacy

Wall of a local pharmacy

Dessert at Dazzling Cafe at the Breeze Center

Dessert at Dazzling Cafe at the Breeze Center- Seriously delicious!!

Another dessert at Dazzling Cafe Photo taken by Angela Liu

Another dessert at Dazzling Cafe                                    Photo taken by Angela Liu- Thanks Angela!

A decorated street corner near our house

A decorated street corner near our house

Wednesday Write-Up: Changes Are Always Welcome

I have never been one to stay in the same place for very long. I not only like change in my life, but I crave it. Many people do not understand my need for new or different places and circumstances. I have had people question my happiness and have often gotten the statement “You take yourself with you” from people that are more desirous of a sedentary life than me. I have had people tell me that I should stop running away from my problems… which yes sometimes I did have problems, and sometimes I did run from them… but I do not think I could have enough problems (at least I pray that I never have enough problems) to make me want change as much as I do. I just love change. And just as I struggle to understand someone wanting to live in the same town, working the same job, or even eating the same meals day in and out, I know that there are those that have a hard time understanding me. It is really just a part of my personality.

On that note, another big change is coming for us in the next few weeks and I am so excited!!! Although I have loved our time here in Taipei, and will miss our friends here very much, I am looking forward to our next destination. THAILAND!!!! We just bought our plane tickets (boy, have they gotten more expensive in the last 5 years, who would have imagined?!?!) and booked our apartment for Bangkok and our hostel in Hua Hin.

I can practically taste the delicious street food already! Oh, did you think I wanted to see the beautiful beaches, maybe do some shopping, and enjoy the amazing climate? Well that is part of it, but honestly since we booked our flight, my mouth has been watering for the best food in the world. I really need to take up jogging, because I can see that this may become a problem.

Until we are off on that jet plane, we will continue to experience all we can in Taiwan. Next week we are going to Hualien and checking out Taroko Gorge. We also are planning on a visit to Wulai and the gondola trip there (Lord help me, why do I do this to myself), and some night markets here in Taipei.

Is there anywhere else you can think of that we should visit here in Taiwan, or maybe foods I should try? Leave a comment and let me know, I always love hearing from you!

Wednesday Write-Up: Perspective Plays a Part

Last night my good friend and I were walking around Da-an Park here in Taipei. We were chatting about our experiences living here, she has lived here for 8 years and has really made it her home. I brought up how different it was this time around for me. I told her that I hated living here for a good portion of the time we were here. I mentioned how I used to think that the locals were always rude and I would glare at them for staring at the “fat foreigner”. Yes, that “fat foreigner” was me…well that was the way that I saw myself. And this time around, I feel warmth and curiosity coming from the same stares. I have had people go out of their way to help me and make me feel at home here. How different this time in Taipei has been.

She made the point that the way we feel about ourselves affects our perspective while living in a foreign country. That living somewhere where we are alone and have no safe familiar places leaves us open to our insecurities (these are not her exact words as my memory leaves much to be desired, but the overall meaning of what she said).

This really hit home for me and I think can be useful no matter where we live, but especially while traveling, our perspective about ourselves can make or break a place. My insecurities almost ruined Taipei for me last time, I thought everyone was talking about me, making fun of me, or just plain wanted me to go back to where I came from. As this time around proves, that was all in my own head. I have been shown nothing but kindness and generosity for the Taiwanese this time around. And even if someone says something to me that would be considered rude by western standards (like the lady that told me my tattoos were poison and that’s why the Bible says they are a sin) I am able to handle it with confidence and with grace. These remarks are culturally driven, not a sign of disliking me (or so I hope.)

I admit that there have been some times along this trip, where my anxiety gets the better of me and I worry that I have offended someone with my brash american ways. I have had mini panic attacks about how much to tip a server, or if not giving the european air kiss to each cheek made the other person feel awkward. Chad often shakes his head at the way I over-think sometimes. I am still susceptible to the cultural difference insecurities, but have not found myself falling into the “I Hate Myself and Everyone Else Has To Hate Me Too” mode. This is one of the reasons that I have met some wonderful people along our trip and have been able to truly experience the places we have visited.

So the moral to this post I guess, is try not to let your unhappiness with the way you look or feel about yourself ruin your travels (or daily life for that matter). Your perspective changes everything! I know that my saying “change your attitude about yourself” is so easy to write and extremely difficult to actually do. I honestly do not have a cure-all for how to gain more confidence. The only thing I can attribute my ability to see myself in a better light, is knowing that God loves me and has washed me clean. If I am worthy of His love, than does it really matter how the people of the world see me? I realize that not all of you have a relationship with God, and if you choose not to believe, then I still have faith that you can find a way to accept and love who you are. I simply wanted to share what has changed me.

So while you are traveling, whether it is for a day, week, month or indefinitely, try to remember that what you put out there, you will get back. Your mind is powerful and has the ability to change a place. Have confidence in yourself and the places you go will open up for you.

 

P.S. Starting Monday 9/30/2013, I will be adding another weekly post on And Three To Go! I am so excited! Make sure to follow so you get the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday posts.  

Wednesday Write-Up: Who’s Afraid of Heights?

We are back in the travel mode and are taking every opportunity to explore our surroundings while we are still staying in Taipei. Yesterday we decided to take the afternoon and check out Maokong. Maokong is a suburb of Taipei, set … Continue reading

Wednesday Write-Up: Playing Catch Up

Today I am writing two posts. I know it is insane (seriously, don’t try this at home), but I have been given a day to catch up with you all and I am taking it!

It has truly been some stressful and trying few weeks and I am happy to announce that Zoë and I are both on the mend and doing well. (You can read the full details about what happened to me here, and to Zoë here, if you haven’t already)

Zoë has been fever free since Saturday and my tailbone is just a bit sore still. Huzzah!!!

Honestly though, I don’t even care about my tailbone, I could be walking around on an un-casted broken leg and not notice. I am just incredibly thankful that Z is healed and seems unaffected by her seizure.

Life has pretty much resumed to normal, except that we are on an island called Taiwan and are on a long-term trip through the world! Chad and I are able to now start planning what to do next and where to go. There is such excitement in finding a place to visit that looks perfect. I think we may have found that in Thailand! We are planning on checking it out this month (more details to come on that).

We also have decided to really start using our time here in Taiwan wisely and seeing and doing all that we can before we leave here in October or November. This past few weeks has prompted us to move again if anything else. And that just goes to show you, that there are silver linings and all that cliché crap wisdom.

I will fill you all in as our plans seem more set, but until then, I am off to write my second post today. Make sure to read it!

P.S. Thank you again for all your prayers and good thoughts for Z and I! 

Flexibility

There are many situations in life that teach us that we must be emotionally and mentally flexible.

For example, I had planned on writing a wonderful post about Eslite, a fantastic chain of bookstores here in Taiwan that are known as the some of the best in the world. Zoë and I visited one earlier this week in preparation for this post. We both enjoyed it immensely.

Unfortunately, that post will have to wait until next week. If you had a chance to read my last post about Zoë’s febrile seizure (if you haven’t, you can check it out here) on Wednesday afternoon, you may understand why the Eslite post must wait. Zoë’s fever has continued and we have had to be hyper-vigilant to keep her temperature down in the normal range. So Chad and I are running on little sleep, much stress, and even more prayer. This momma is tired and I don’t want to write a “thing to do” post while my brain is running on low fuel. I am praying that Zoë is fever free as of today and that our lives will return to normal. If you would send your prayers or good thoughts that would be much appreciated!

One thing about travel of any kind, whether it is long-term or short, with or without children, you learn quickly to be flexible. This week has been an emotionally draining and scary lesson in flexibility. But in all the things that we experience on this trip, whether bad or good, I am still incredibly thankful to be on this journey.

Thank you again for following us along our adventures!