And then there were 4...

And then there were 4...

Friday, April 22, 2016

Late Nights & Long Layovers

Our trip to Thailand was quickly coming to an end and we were all both happy and sad about it.  We were excited to get home, sleep in our own bed, and get back to Oki weather (never thought I would say that), but sad to leave this restful and relaxing paradise!  We had a 24 hour layover in Seoul to get through, but we all LOVE Seoul, so that was exciting!  Originally our flight left at 1 am and the airport was about an hour away from the hotel.  The concierge suggested that we leave an hour early and they arranged for a shuttle.  Unfortunately this is where things take a turn for the worst.  We had the boys go to bed around 7 and then woke them up just before 10 in order to catch the shuttle.  Both boys transferred great and got into the airport with no tantrums or outbursts.  When we arrived after a mere 20 minutes we realized that we were 2 hours and 40 minutes early for the flight in a packed airport with two very tired little boys.  Oh well...roll with the punches!  However, our fight was delayed until 2:45!  So now we were 4 hours and 30 minutes early for our flight!!  Ahhh!!  We checked in, went through immigration, and found a few seats we could lay the boys down.  Parker was wide awake at this point and Dominik was passed out on the very "clean" Phuket airport seats.   The airport was packed full with Chinese people awaiting their flight, so needless to say if we even got up from our seat for a second we would loose it...even if we put something down to "save" would just get pushed aside and the seat would be taken.  I was so ready to be back in Japan at this point!  The flight finally took off around 2:45 and we were on our way.  The boys were still being little champs and were totally passed out on the plane.
We landed in Seoul and the boys were perked up and ready to play.  We couldn't check into our hotel until 3 so we decided to head out and explore.  Our first stop was to Costco for some good ol' American lunch.  We indulged in a hotdog, pizza, and a smoothie (green grape and apple smoothie).  Then we headed over to the Temple which was closed for maintenance (we have the worst luck).  The temple grounds were beautiful, as was the temple.  I love being able to find little sanctuaries within the hustling and bustling busy cities we have been exploring.  Despite being thousands of miles from home, every time I enter the temple grounds I always feel like I'm home!

With the boys being completely exhausted (and still in their jammmies) we decided that a quick meal at our hotel and then an early bedtime was just in order.  The boys were better than we could have ever asked for but we didn't want to push our luck.  Despite the most delicious Korean BBQ being right at our doorstep we opted to be good parents and eat at the sub-par restaurant on the bottom floor of the hotel.  I love my little family and I can think of no better way to end a great vacation than to just spend time with them!  Off to Okinawa we went and back home to real life!!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Day Off

Originally when we were planning our trip to Phuket we wanted to go island exploring as much as possible.  The Phi Phi islands were definitely on the top of that list, but on the John Grey Sea Canoe tour we realized that Dominik wasn't feeling good enough to go hopping all over the islands and we didn't want to push him so hard and find ourselves in a Thai hospital with a really sick kid.  So in an attempt to still have a great time and help our little boy get in some much needed R&R we decided to each take a day off from parenting and do something that we alone wanted to do.  TJ decided on an all day shipwreck dive the first day and I decided to do an all day Thai cooking course the following day.  We were both so excited and Dominik was so grateful to be able to swim at the hotel, vegg out on TV, and take as many naps as he wanted; win-win-win!!!

TJ's dive consisted of 3 dives throughout the day.  There were about 20 people on his tour and he was paired with a nice gentleman from Austria.  There were lots of people from China...and if there is one thing we have learned from our travels in Asia, it is that people from China are not always the most considerate.  The first dive was very unimpressive and TJ was a bit skeptical as to how the rest of the day would be.  One of the men from China hadn't dove in a while either and ended up bouncing up to the top and back down and used his oxygen up at a rapid rate. This caused the entire group to have to cut the first dive pretty short; no one was too happy with the "China Man" (what the Austrian called him the rest of the day). 

The second dive was to a shipwreck and TJ said it was pretty awesome.  The ship wrecked about 20 years ago and they are thinking it was a bad case of insurance fraud.  It wrecked on a clear day where there was literally only one object in the entire bay that you could possibly wreck on, and the experienced captain hit it and sunk the ship;  As luck would have it...the very large insurance policy was about to expire on the ship and the company was going bankrupt.  The dive was still awesome none-the-less and no one sucked up all their air too quickly so TJ had ample time to explore and check out the scene.

Under water toilet

The third and final dive was to the reef.  The colors were magnificent and the sea creatures were in abundance.  TJ has been on some pretty great dives in Okinawa, but he said this dive was one of the best ones he has done.  There were thin coral fans that were almost as tall as he was.  This dive was definitely the icing on the cake that more than made up for the bust of a first dive he went on.  Overall the day was great and he was glad that he went.

The cooking course started off with a trip to the local markets to check out the scene.  At first glance the markets were fresh, inviting, and had all sorts of fun ingredients that I had never before seen.  On second glance things were dirty, there were flies buzzing everywhere, and raw meat sitting in the heat and humidity for hours...queue stomach churning.  While I can't say that I loved being there with all the fun smells, I did enjoy seeing families work together to provide an income.  There were kids as little as Parker that were restocking items, helping customers find what they were looking for, and trying to clean and organize as much as possible.  Families of 4 and 5 were all working together in order to sell their product.  I love seeing the family unit and how everyone plays a vital role in the families survival.  These people are living with so little and yet are able to find so much joy in just being together.

After the market we went to the cooking school to begin learning how to use all the fresh produce and meat in order to recreate the magic that is Thai food.  The menu that day consisted to Tom Ka soup, papaya salad, pad thai, green curry, and mango sticky rice.  I was most excited to learn how to make pad thai, but the rest of the food were a huge bonus!!  All through the course I found myself leaning to the side to try and discuss with was so weird not having him there.  We love to cook together so I would have loved to be able to bounce ideas off of him and then be able to practice at home together.  However, it was so nice not having the boys pulling on my shirt tail all day long, and I really enjoyed being able to listen attentively with no distractions and enjoy a meal that I didn't have to share; does that make me a bad mom?!

The course was done in a manner that was watching a cooking demonstration, sampling the item, cooking the item as an individual, and then eating the plate of food that you made.  The classroom was outdoors and it was extra hot and humid that day.  Add that to cooking over an open flame and you can only imagine how comfortable the cooking conditions were.  The beachfront location did cater to a nice cool breeze that would blow through every so often...but definitely not often enough. 

Overall the course was a huge success.  I'm so excited to make the dishes for TJ and see how well I can recreate the food on my own.  We absolutely love Thai food so to be able to make it at home would be amazing!!

The reservation was in TJ's name so naturally his name would be on the certificate of course completion ;)