Tag Archives: adventures

The Mixed Blessing of an Old Friend

This past weekend I visited my friend Sara. We figure we met online around age 12; we certainly met in person for the first time at age 16. Not only did she know me at my craziest, she introduces me to people by telling them about it. 

“This is Amy. I didn’t like her when we met because she was super hyper.”

“This is my friend Amy. In high school I pulled her off picnic tables because when debate got really heated she would turn bright red and stand on them to make her point.”

“This is Amy! She went on her first plane ride with me and I kept having to forcibly drag her through the airport because she kept pausing to complain about the historical inaccuracy of the murals on the airport walls.”

And the worst part? I don’t have any horrible stories to tell back! Either I don’t remember them or she was just really mature at 16. Or, as probably more likely, I was the crazy one and anything she did paled compared to me standing on picnic tables.

Or irritating the tour guide at the White House with my steady stream of commentary. 

Or staying up till 4 am watching the Disney Channel because by golly I was not going to let the cable TV in our hotel room go to waste. 

In conclusion, it is good to have old friends. It keeps you humble. 

Hello Kitty House and Songkran

The Songkran festival is the Buddhist New Year and everyone goes around spraying everyone else with water. My friend flew in to visit and it coincided with the last day of the festival. The good news? She got to experience all the joys of being splashed with water wherever she went. The bad news? Almost all the themed cafes she wanted to visit were closed for the holiday. (RIP Mermaid Cafe)

Thankfully, the Hello Kitty House did not disappoint! It was…quite an experience. I am not anti-girly girl. Far from it. But even I started feeling vaguely ill after spending more than five minutes around all that pink. (Actually, it might also have been a reaction to how sugary everything was.) 

It was an experience. 

But if Hello Kitty is your friend’s thing, you go to the Hello Kitty themed cafe!

The Trip Back From Mae Sot

Of course, even the best laid plans go awry and our trip back from Mae Sot proved no different! After another adventure plunging down the mountain in the back of a truck, we headed to the bus stop…only to find out there were no more seats available on the bus to Bangkok! We were told to grab a bus to a different providence, with the possibility that we could get tickets to Bangkok from there. 

So we got on a bus to Tak province. 

Unlike our bus ride to Mae Sot, however, this was not a smooth ride. The police kept pulling the bus over. Or maybe they pulled everyone over. I’m not sure. All I know is that every hour or so, the bus got pulled over and everyone had to bring out their passports and show their visa to the masked cop. 

It interrupted any attempts on my part to nap and put me in a very ill humor with the Thai police. 

Not that they actually showed much concern for me. In fact, compared to my friends, I barely got any notice from the police. One glance at my white skin (or even worse, syllable from my English speaking mouth!) would send them hurrying away. But the others underwent stricter scrutiny. Thailand is a very racial system. 

While sitting on the bus, one of the attendants walking around asked who wanted to go to Bangkok. (At least, I assume she asked that. Thankfully, some family/friends of Mae Sod’s were also traveling to Bangkok and able to translate a little.) We said we wished to go and the lady demanded a certain sum of money. She then scribbled on a piece of paper and told us to present it at the bus stop!

It was not the most formal way to transfer buses, but thankfully it worked. Once we arrived at our destination, they whisked us onto the next bus to Bangkok. We got back around midnight. 

By this point, neither Mae Sod or I had working phones. No buses run that late. We decided to bite the bullet and take a taxi. With great trepidation, we got into the one hailed for us. Our last driver made us fear for our lives. This one…was absolutely a gem!

He spoke very little English but cheerfully did his best to maintain a conversation. “Thailand very hot! You try food? Is spicy?” 

We originally planned to drop her off first and then have me either stay the night or hail another taxi. However, we liked our driver so much we asked if he would be willing to take a “second” trip. He did not know my address, but thankfully I could direct him from that point. He was definitely an answer to our desperate prayers! 

In the Mountains

Mae Sod’s aunt and uncle hosted us for the weekend. They live on a farm in the mountains. They were incredibly kind hosts and fed us delicious food. We slept on the bamboo floors and hung out with the farm animals!

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None of Them Speak Thai

It sounds like the start of a joke: a Vietnamese, a Chinese, a Burmese, and an American travel to Northern Thailand. 

None of them speak Thai.

And yet, that is precisely what my friends and I did last weekend! Though to be fair, only I spoke no Thai. (Despite much coaching by everyone, I have yet master ‘hello’ or ‘thank you.’) The others could ask a few basic questions. But all things considered, we traveled with a language barrier. 

The next few days I will post a bit about our trip, but first let me introduce the characters:

Mae Sod. She studies with me at Thammasat University, though in a different department. We met on the Lampang trip and became friends when she asked if I wanted to join her at church. She is Karen and was raised in a refugee camp here in Thailand, but her family later moved to the United States where she became a U.S. citizen. We visited her relatives at Mae Sot. She is smart and super kind! She loves Jesus and encourages me with her calm reminders to pray in stressful situations. 

Phuc. He is Vietnamese and attends a different university here in Thailand. He speaks several different languages – including Mandarin, English, and Italian – and loves his WiFi. This posed a problem as the village we visited had only limited access to WiFi! We all met at church and his zeal for the Lord is evident in everything he does. 

Sunny. She is Chinese and a classmate of Phuc’s. She also attends church with us! Her sweet smile and kind heart makes every moment around her a joy. Even when her English fails, her love for the Lord shines through! 

Amy. Me! Slightly clueless but (hopefully) good natured American who loved almost every moment of the trip and really appreciated the passion and joy of her travel buddies! 

A is good…but B is good too

I interrupt my travel adventures with a post I wrote 8 years ago because it occurred to me today…graduation season is coming up! So to all the graduates out there getting tired of being asked what you plan to do next, I hope these words resound for you the way they continue to resound for me.

Out of the Air

What if I were to be all deep and spiritual and say to you …God gives us choices. Your response might be something like, DUH. Of course God gives us choices! That is part of what it means to be human, why we are not robots, free will and all that stuff.

But if you are anything like me, your idea of those “choices” involves a good choice…and a bad choice. Take Path A and all this great stuff will happen. Take Path B and you will completely screw yourself and your future. Worst of all, you have strayed from God’s perfect plan for your life, so now you are damaged goods! Really, no pressure.

Recently I have been struggling with a decision that, while not completely life changing, was pretty obviously a crossroads. Panic ensue! I was fairly certain one of those paths must be God’s will, and the…

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Just Another Manic…Wednesday?

My day began with a child screaming expletives at me and concluded with a bus driver who embraced “rolling stops.” 

It was a very, very long day. 

I was running a little behind this morning (which, truthfully, means I expected to arrive at school 15 minutes early instead of 30 minutes) when I saw three kids playing on the street. I gave them my usual sunny smile as I walked past. The oldest kid (possibly 5 or 6) immediately stopped what he was doing, pointed at me, and screamed: 

“OH MY GOD! WHAT THE *expletive*! *expletive!* *expletive!*”

I am not sure what about me caused such shock as I decided such a violent reaction probably meant I should not stick around to find out. 

I then ran to catch my ferry and triumphantly made it right before it took off. Unfortunately, my thoughts caught up in the child, I did not notice which ferry I got on; of course it was the wrong one. 

I eventually got myself sorted out and arrived at class. The professor arrived 30 minutes late. I missed class last week (I had another class scheduled for the same time) so I had not met this new professor yet. He spent the first 90 minutes shooting bemused glances in my direction. My classmate introduced me during the break but my explanation about another class last week did not seem to satisfy him overly much. 

My friends all left class early for other commitments so I ended up heading to the convenience store and throwing myself a little pity party while eating cold rice by myself. 

Then I went to my afternoon class. It was actually scheduled as an all-day class but I missed the morning session (because of my other class!) I apologized and explained this to my professor. She just pursed her lips and told me to find my discussion group. 

Unfortunately, my entire discussion group played hooky today. 

I explained this to her and she told me to go join another group. Except no one wanted me in their group! I got cold shoulders or polite “we have everyone we need…” Eventually I plonked myself down near one group where I knew some of the members and hoped they would include me. 

Instead they switched their conversation from English to Thai.

Eventually, the professor noticed my awkward hovering and ordered them to include me. They did this by assigning one group member to talk to me while the rest continued their own conversation. The member talking with me did not seem thrilled with his role. He said he did not know the right English to explain why they did not want me to join them.

Needless to say, that did nothing to boost my ego. 

However, a friend and I had made plans to eat dinner together and she took me to get street food. We ate sooooooooooooo much food! And it was all delicious. I even bought a pound of grasshoppers and grubs. (Pictures to come.) The funniest part was the amused expression on the face of the little old lady who sold them to me. She went from smirking to surprise when I cheerfully chomped down and declared them not bad!

Besides street food, we got giant bowls of noodles (good, but I think not as good as the ones by my apartment) and then I came home and drank chocolate milk before it dawned on me that crickets and chocolate milk make a strange combination. I’m grateful for my iron stomach. 

Food and friends cheered me up considerably and I ran to catch my bus back. It did not stop…just sort of slowed down long enough for me to hop on. The same thing repeated itself at my stop. It was just one final adventure for my very long, emotionally tiring day!