Insta-Thailand

This is my last post on this trip to Thailand.  I thought it would be fun to wrap it up with my Instagram photo dump.  It was hard to see this trip come to an end, and I did my crying on the tarmac, per usual. It’s always right when the plane starts to taxi for take-off. It’s always a few quiet tears.  They are tears of joy, sadness, and the fear that this truly is the last time that I will see Thailand.  I don’t want to assume or presume.  I’m glad God keeps surprising me with His good gifts though, because I’ve done the runway cry at least 5 times.  This elephant shaped country has been a huge part of my story.

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It was amazing! I’m grateful. My heart is full.

Linking with Wednesdays Around the World and Black and White Wednesday.

Thursday I will announce the winner of my Thai treats giveaway! Be sure to leave a comment on last Thursday’s post to enter!

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Thailand Day 7: King’s Park

Honestly, I don’t know what day this happened to be.  There were days where I did more Instagramming versus dSLR photographs. This post ends my dSLR shots. I already regret not getting more, but there is always that conflict between photographing and being present that I have to battle.  Sometimes just soaking it in won the day.  In reality, I don’t regret that.

Right across from our second hotel is The King’s Park.  It is a gorgeous, albeit roasting, green space in Prawet District. It’s far better to visit in the early morning hours, but as schedule would have it we visited in the afternoon.  Umbrellas provided us a little relief from the sun, but we were soaked with sweat. I was.  I should probably only speak for myself.

King's Park

Monstrous Lily Pads

You may feel tempted to play a little Frogger on these like I was.

King's Park

Groundskeepers

As hot as it is, the groundskeepers dress like this to protect themselves from the sun.

King's Park

Beautiful scenery

There is much more to see here than I captured. During our years here we would have a picnic, ride paddle boats, and stroll through the gardens.  I love the serenity and secrets of nature hidden here.

Linking with Good. Random. Fun. and Songography.

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Thailand Day Six: Ram 2

Our second half of the trip moved us to a different area.  We loaded vans on October 9th and headed to Ramkhamheang 2 where my last two years living in Bangkok where spent.  I think this is the post I most want to get right in my thoughts. This is what we left behind when we came back to the States.  I know I won’t do this justice for those that know all about this area and work, but I will attempt it in my broken way.

In 2005, our team left downtown and settled in the Ram 2 area to begin a foundation that served the community.  We had affordable English classes, one of our young single girl teammates started a children’s ministry called Joy Kids, and we began getting to know the community.  This area was so different than Bangkok.  It was easier to form relationships with those we worked and lived among.  We had budding relationships in our neighborhoods, and in the area where the foundation stood.  A lot of foundation laying began this year.  It wasn’t always easy.  Our team was in a constant state of growing and figuring out the next steps just one tiny step at a time. There were times of being too short handed to sustain it all.  These years were very transitional and there was an abundance of learning along the way.  It was these years that my family also faced two major physical crises with my daughter having a significant injury and I faced a rather difficult pregnancy.  So yeah…hard years.  Even still, seeds were being planted and watered. God was faithful. It was worth it and it was a privilege even on the hardest days.

In Ram 2, this is what you would see.

Ram 2 market

Street vendors

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Market Food

Ram 2 market

Vendors selling and consumers buying fresh items

Ram 2 market

Fruit Vendor

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Sons and fathers working side by side

ram 2 blog boards

Keeping up with the times and Friends enjoying their Boba tea

Ram 2 market

Sweet faces

Ram 2 market

A living being made by creating flower garlands

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Good Sports

As you can see, Ram 2 is mainly a community of the working class and lower income brackets.  People are working out a living the best they know how.  Many desire to rise above their current circumstances to better themselves for the future.  New Community, the foundation, seeks to help people do just that.  But, also, community has been formed by seeing a little church sprout here meeting the greater needs of the people.  As we were leaving in 2007, the church was but just a tiny seed.  The seed germinated, and began to grow.  Slowly and surely, the growth has lead to the Thais taking more ownership of this ministry which was always the plan from the very first day.  The time has now come for the reins to be fully handed over after 10 years and that is happening.  While some support will still be in place, this work belongs to the Thais staying here as the foreign contingent moves on to the North, South, and in the center city.  It’s a blessing to see this work of faith come full circle.  And it’s a little bittersweet.  I’m thankful to have been part of it somehow.  It was awesome to worship with this community once more and for the last time in “what was”.

It was so odd to be in this area, in a way.  I kept thinking that I could jump in any taxi and be home in a matter of a few minutes.  I kept thinking my family was waiting for me at the end of that imagined journey. It felt real, but then I would snap to and remember that they weren’t there with me.  They were half a world away.  As much as everything had changed in seven years, there was something that felt very much the same as all those years ago. Like time stood still.  There was a comfort to it that I had missed and there were faces I still half expected to walk through the doors. I kept looking for them.

What I felt most was encouragement.  It made me smile to witness a healthy team all seemingly working within their strengths, personalities, desires, and future vision.  I’m so happy for where they are today.  Time didn’t stand still, and there is growth to show for it.

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Thailand: Day Four (part 2)

After our time in Benjasiri Park, we hopped on the Skytrain to travel a few stops up the line to Erawon Shrine.  Erawon is a famous shrine that was once constructed to ward off bad spirits as one of the local hotels was being constructed. Many construction accidents were happening in the area so the powers that be thought that the spirits of the area must be angered.  The shrine was built to appease the spirits so that the project could continue without more bad luck.  Over time the shrine became more auspicious to the locals.  To this day many Thais and others come to present offerings to the shrine and to ask for favor for the situations in their lives.  Incense is lit and marigold garlands are presented as offerings of appeasement.

Erawon Shrine

Lighting incense.

Erawon Shrine

Prayers and recitations

Erawon Shrine

Garland sellers line the street in front of the shrine. Patrons use the garlands as offerings.

Erawon Shrine

Thai dancers are hired to dance before the shrine as people present their requests.

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Tim cools off with a refreshing coconut drink after visiting the shrine.  It’s a perfect day for a coconut.

*As we speak of cultural differences and beliefs, let’s remember to let our comments be gracious.*

Linking up with Songography and Black and White Wednesday.

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Thailand: Day Four (part 1)

The day began with a 15 minute walk down Sukhumvit Road to Benjasiri Park.  Sukhumvit is a very busy road with lots of traffic, businesses, restaurants and it is a feast of things to take in.  In the midst of all the chaos of Sukhumvit Road, is a little oasis called Benjasiri Park.  The park was built to celebrate H.R.H Queen Sirikit’s 60th birthday.  It’s a beautiful little green space, and green spaces are a gem in Bangkok.  We spent a little time singing and reflecting in the park, as well as doing a prayer walk around the perimeter.

Benjasiri Park

Rebekah, Kay, and Ty

Benjasiri Park

Grounds keepers take a rest

Benjasiri Park

Art and rest

Benjasiri Park

Tim and Birds resting on a Thai style roof

Tim is the resident artist of the MTW Bangkok team.  He is gifted in many arts such as music, drawing, photography, and most importantly his pottery.  It’s no surprise to those that know Tim that he would bring us to Benjasiri Park because of its artistic leanings.  There are many works of art on the grounds that reflect a modern touch to traditional Thai art.  Tim has a vision of using his talents in Bangkok among other local artists.  It’s an exciting vision.  What I loved about this time was how Tim used Thai architecture to explain the idea of rest.  A sala is a place of rest and refreshment to Thai people.  Tim explained how the gospel is a sala of rest to all of us.  It provides shade, comfort, and protection.  It was an amazing visual picture for us.

Benjasiri Park

Tradition meets modernity

This was such a peaceful morning before we headed into downtown’s hustle and bustle once more.  Stay tuned for part 2 of day four.

Linking up with Good.Random.Fun.

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Thailand: Day One

This is the beginning of my attempt to share my trip to Thailand.  Why did I even go? You may be wondering.  Well, the nutshell is that my family and I were once missionaries in Thailand working with MTW Thailand.  We spent many years living and working there and we came to love it.  It’s been seven years since we left, and the opportunity arose to go visit and bring along a few people from my church.  We call this a vision trip.  A vision trip is where you go experience the country, culture, and the work, first hand, that you may “cast a vision” within your church when you return.  My church joined with several churches around the US forming a team of 12.

But before we get into all that, I brought my team a day early to do a little adjusting.  Thailand is on the opposite side of the planet with about an 11 hour time difference from EST. Combine that with 19 hours of flying and you have a recipe for serious fatigue.  We decided to give ourselves a buffer.  The first full day was spent with me playing tour guide to my friends in an effort to keep them moving.

Thailand: Day One

Thai style architecture

Our first stop was Jim Thompson House.  However, I was surprised by how many Thai taxi drivers had no idea where we wanted to go.  We finally popped into an English teaching center to borrow wifi to look up the location.  The actual address is an address called something else by locals, thus the confusion.

Thailand: Day One

Lotus blossoms

Jim Thompson was an American living in Thailand after WWII who started the Thai silk industry.  He was also a collector of art. He connected several Thai style homes to create one larger home for his living space.  His home is filled with gorgeous Thai and Asian collectibles.  One day as Jim was visiting friends in Malaysia, he decided to go for a walk in the jungle and never was heard from again.  It’s a great mystery.  Theories suggest that he was murdered or perhaps killed by some type of jungle cat. His home still stands as a museum and luxury silks are still made under Jim Thompson’s brand.

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Thai girl at Jim Thompson House

Thailand: Day One

Demonstrating extracting silk threads

Thailand: Day One

Boiling the cocoons to unravel the threads

Thailand: Day One

Jenny at Jim Thompson’s on site restaurant

After our tour we decided to have lunch at the on site restaurant which has AMAZING food.  Their fruit shakes are incredible, and the Cashew Nut Chicken was the best.  THE BEST. We all ordered it and it was the perfect way to begin our culinary tour of Bangkok.

When lunch ended, we walked around a local mall to keep moving more than anything else.  You absolutely cannot take much downtime when dealing with jetlag.  However, we found a way to take a rest without taking a nap.  We found a hole in the wall Thai foot massage place and popped in for a one hour massage for roughly $4.  Yep, you read that right. How can you say no to that? However, my masseuse was a bit rough and bruising.  Still, my legs felt the circulation return after that bum-busting flight.  We also found a little place to get a Thai hair wash, because this is pretty amazing too.  Safe resting, folks.  This was the recharge we needed to keep going until bedtime.

Next up, we took the SkyTrain to the Chao Praya River, where we hopped on a ferry to the Oriental Hotel.  This is a must see area.  All the gorgeous hotels are right on the river. Completely unaffordable, but nice to tour, nonetheless.

Thailand: Day One

Thai ferry

We stopped at The Verandah at The Oriental for another fruit shake refreshment.  We watched the ferries, the water taxis, and the life bustling along the river.

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River Taxi

Thailand: Day One

Sunset on the Chao Praya River

Thailand: Day One

I need to brag on these two friends and travel partners. They were incredible! The right people came on this trip with me. They took everything in stride. Thailand is a place that will make or break you. As much as I love it, there are challenges. These two were total champs.  I love how they embraced it all.

Lastly and very wearily, we headed down the river a bit to Asiateque. Basically a night bazaar. We did a little shopping and grabbed a quick dinner.

Thailand: Day One

The Thai “eye”.

We didn’t ride, but it was cool to see their big ferris wheel.  Maybe next time. By this point were on our last legs.  We grabbed a taxi and headed back to our hotel, showered, and crashed into our beds.  We were so grateful for the rest that followed, be it fitful.  We survived our first day.

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