Monkeys, Muay Thai and Monie

Yes, I know, that's an elephant, bear with me...

Wow, so much for attempting to write this blog every couple weeks or even once a month, but then again, there hasn't been a whole lot to report until now. In summary, before I get to the really exciting stuff...

We did Halloween a little like the US, but not as many people participate, so we walked a long way just to go to maybe 20 houses. Not a Hershey bar or a Butterfinger in sight though. We didn't celebrate Thanksgiving this year, which was a little sad because we have so much to be thankful for. But we were also moving into our NEW HOUSE! We've settled in the Lower North Shore in a suburb called Greenwich. It's so quiet and peaceful, formidable roof, a yard and a pool. We swim everyday- it turns out we have two little fishes on our hands. Which, given my background, I was beginning to wonder if they were really my kids.

The big excitement was our first trip to Southeast Asia - Thailand! We skipped Bangkok and went South to Phuket and then took a speed boat over to Krabi. My mother-in-law, Monie, came into town and we dragged her along with us. (I don't think she was exactly kicking and screaming.) We packed so many things into 9 days, it was amazing.

In Phuket, TW went deep sea fishing. He caught several impressive fish. The best was the big red grouper he brought back to the hotel. I arranged with the hotel to have it cooked for us. (The hospitality in Thailand is second to none.) The chef prepared three different Thai dishes. I can't believe we ate the whole thing, I mean the whole thing - we had fish head soup. It was probably the best fish I've ever eaten.

We hit the beach, we hit the pool, we hit some shops, we found a real locals Thai place and we even rode elephants! Now, everyone has a different opinion about whether or not is humane to ride an elephant. I am torn and was dead set against it, until I saw them. They were really well cared for and they seemed to have a really lovely home with plenty of room to roam. Their caretakers were very educated and taught us a lot about the elephants and conservation efforts. They only ride them once a day and they weren't chained up. I saw quite a bit of that around Phuket. So... Tessa and I rode together and TW and Jack rode together and Monie had her elephant all to herself. It was such a great experience to lumber along in a rainforest. We were not allowed to wear shoes so our feet rested on the elephant's back - they are so soft.

That was a big day because we also went to the Big Buddha in the afternoon. By no means is that a misnomer. That is one big Buddha. A Big Buddha with a lot of monkeys. I suppose you haven't really lived until you've been used as a spring board by a monkey. The kids don't seem to be afraid of monkeys despite them jumping on their heads and rebounding off my shoulder, but I think I have monkey PTSD.

Later that night, TW and I had date night! We walked around a night market, ate street food and went to a Muay Thai fight. I found I really like Muay Thai. There's a rhythm to it, kind of like they are dancing, well, except for the whole punching and kicking part. They played traditional up-beat Thai music while they were fighting and then American rap and pop music between rounds, it was pretty interesting. The picture on the right is a female fight. The winner was an American woman. She was so kick ass!

The next day we took a speed boat over to Krabi stopping at several islands along the way. James Bond Island (featured in the Man with the Golden Gun) and the floating city are probably the most notable. The floating city was a little depressing to me. Its just building after building all built together off of another island. It was dark. It does have the world's only floating soccer field, I'm not sure who gets to retrieve the ball when it goes out of bounds. It is hot, so I can't imagine that's any kind of punishment.

One of the days TW and I took off on a tour for the day leaving the kids in my very capable, swimming mother-in-law. We went to the Emerald Pool, the Hot Springs and the Tiger Cave Temple. In summary: Emerald Pool, gorgeous. Hot Springs, why? It was 90 degrees. Tiger CaveTemple, 1,237 steps to the top. The Tiger Temple was amazing and worth every step even in the pouring rain which felt so good at step number 837.

Monie and I had a girls day out one day. We took a Thai cooking class with a very talented and hilarious chef. Hopefully we can find all of the ingredients to make the recipes again. I came home and bought a Thai Basil plant, so I'm covered there. Later we hit up the spa for a massage. Best massage ever and so cheap it was almost criminal. Monie said she fell in love with her masseuse.

But by far, the winner of the trip were the wild Tuk Tuk rides. The kids asked every day to ride in them. They wouldn't even walk two blocks without asking for one. It is basically a dirt bike with a platform built around it with seats and roof. So fun!

So, that was Christmas this year. Crazy, right? Whoever would have thought! It was hard to not be with all of our friends and family for a white Christmas, but its hard to be homesick in such a paradise. We are fortunate that Monie could come to visit us, that made this feel a little more like home.

Oh, I can't forget New Years. What's to say though, fireworks over the harbour, can't beat it.

Happy New Year my friends! And Happy Birthday to Monie!

Aussie Speak of the Week:

Fairy Floss = Cotton Candy

Bin Chicken = Ibis (type of bird that stalks your food - Tessa knows this all to well)

Torch = Flashlight

Pegs = Clothes pins

Cos = Romaine Lettuce