Ever since I was able to talk, there was one prayer that we would always say. It goes like this: “Thank you Jesus for this food, and our friends, and our family. Please help us to make wise choices. In your name we pray, Amen.”
I wish to share this with you because the three topics that I am going to talk about today are Food🍔, Friends😜, and Family😀, and how I have specifically missed (or not missed) parts of each one during this trip.
“…I learned during this trip that you don’t need as much as you think you need to live.”
Some of the food that I missed during our trip was Mexican food. I totally didn’t think I would miss it, but the air here smells like a Mexican restaurant and it drives me nuts! When we get home, I hope that the first restaurant that we go to is Santa Fe, a really good Mexican restaurant in Kirkland, or the food truck at the bottom of the hill. The food that I thought I would miss was practically all American-style foods, but since there are tons of tourists here, I am able to have plenty of burgers, which is really surprising to me.
I am missing a lot of friends that I have back home, like Piers, one of my best friends, and Awsumb (pronounced awesome), my best friend at ICS. I have actually found some other friends in Indonesia, the Johnsons who live just down the road from where we were staying. My biggest surprise was that I was able to still text my friends in the States, even though I am fourteen time zones away.
I am sad because of how much I miss my family. This year we missed the Fourth of July party at my grandparents house, and I was really looking forward to seeing family and awesome fireworks. What surprised me though it’s that we have been able to FaceTime family and friends back home, and that helps me not miss them as much.
That is how I have missed food, friends, and family throughout our trip. The biggest surprise was that I really missed good ramen even though there are a bunch of other Asian noodles!😜 But I learned during this trip that you don’t need as much as you think you need to live.
It’s Wednesday afternoon here in Bandung. Sitting here at our favorite western-style-coffee-donut chain not named Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks, neither an Iced Hazelnut Latte nor a Choco Forest J.Cronut (see Wikipedia under “chocolatey, croissanty concoction created by the Devil”) can break my funk. I’m irritable. I’m snapping at Laura and the kids for the dumbest reasons. Frankly, I need to get a grip.
What’s the deal?!
It wasn’t the 3-mile walk we just took through back-alleys, a graveyard, and countless stares from the locals. We’re quite used to sticking out like sore thumbs and we’ve really come to love and appreciate the beauty in that which we once considered messy.
It wasn’t the nasty snarl of moto and mobil (car) traffic. While crossing the street was particularly hairy this afternoon–no doubt due to the many people scrambling in preparation for Lebaran (or Idul Fitri, a major Indonesian holiday)–it was way more fun than stressful. Kamaile even mentioned how much she prefers traffic here over what we experience in Seattle.
It wasn’t the overly persistent street vendor trying to sell me something despite the fact that I had no clue what that something was. I could’ve sworn he said it l was for weed, but that would make zero sense around here. According to this guy that I met while hiking recently, not only is weed illegal, but it’s really hard to get. But I digress…
Heck, it wasn’t even the heat. If you’ve been following this blog for the past few months, you know how much I like to complain about heat, humidity, and my sweat. The high today was 82F with 81% humidity. Funnily enough, I didn’t even mind.
As I write, I’m suddenly realizing that I’m grouchy because this SE Asia leg of our Family Sabbatical is about to come to a close. 4 sleeps and we head back to the states.
I’m excited to go home and see family and friends. I’m excited to eat decent Mexican food. I’m excited to sleep in my own bed and shower in my bathroom. I’m excited to have people over for BBQs and s’mores by the fire. I’m excited for some of the creature comforts that my comfortable First-World life affords (e.g. Hi-speed WiFi, my huge 4K HDTV, playing Destiny with Trey, etc.).
On the flip side, I’m sad to leave Waldemar and Rosemarie Kowalski, Pauline, Josie, Friska, Pak Asep, Ibus Assih and Apong, the Street Kids at Stasiun Hall (more in a future blog), and the many other new friends we’ve made during our time here in Bandung… I’m also frustrated that we didn’t make more progress connecting with potential local partners for the Kowalskis.
Finally, I’m a little scared about what happens next. We remain on track to keep this train moving from a financial perspective, so that’s not the issue. We’re still planning on heading to Europe, but in the absence of firm plans or even plane tickets, we’re facing at least a solid month of uncertainty. In the meantime, I will undoubtedly wrestle even more with that voice of doubt that I’ve somehow managed to keep tucked away in far reaches of my mind these past few months: “Are you insane? Shouldn’t you be saving money? You’re throwing away your career! What about your family’s future?”
So, yeah… this is more of a vent than a blog, which at least would have the potential to be valuable to you. Regardless, I’m trusting that if you’ve read this far you can handle it. I’m also trusting that we’ve made and will continue to make the right decisions. For as long as Laura and I have been together, things just have a way of working out. God is good. All the time.
So, I’m gonna do something different on this post, instead of going and writing a whole long post about the entire tour, I’m going to show you the highlights of the trip with pictures I took with my camera! 📷 😊
I just have to sit down and take a breath. I mean, I’ve now been to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia! I’ve snuggled with tigers for Pete’s sake!🐯 (Not drugged or tranquilized!😁) I’ve looked across a stream to find China on the other side! I’ve climbed over the ancient ruins of Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat, AND Beng Mealea temple! I’ve swum in one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World! (Ha Long Bay was Awesome!) I’ve tasted a fruit that smells like rotten meat! (by the way, don’t try Durian!)😖
And now, I get to rest in this awesome country, Indonesia.☺️
In this post I am going to tell you about my favorite day, day five of the tour in Chiang Mai. By the time in this post, we had already seen 10 different temples and climbed what felt like THOUSANDS of steps to see temples, so we really needed something not temple-like.
The day before, our guide had mentioned the possibility that we could go see tigers! Mom and Dad decided to try and I was really excited! The next day I woke up at like 5 o’clock in anticipation. The car ride took forever, but it was totally worth it! When we got there, the place was still half closed. When they fully opened, they made us sign a billion waivers, saying basically if we got bit or eaten, we wouldn’t sue anybody. Dad found this scary, but we finally got our tickets and waited AGAIN! When we first started waiting we just chilled out in the front, but then we heard some roars! I saw there was a path to the bathrooms that went near some cages, and I got my first glimpse of a FULLY GROWN TIGER! We took some pictures from there, and then I noticed a sign that said, “Please do not use flash, light may harm THE EYE OF THE TIGER! For the rest of the day that sign became a joke because of the song The Eye of the Tiger!
Our number was finally called after that, and we descended into the land of the cages. We thought that they would have us follow a bunch of instructions, but we only followed the directions on the signs, and then we finally entered the cage! The photographer told us that we had to be firm with it, otherwise it might swipe at us. This, for some reason made me even more excited because the tiger was about the size of my torso! Since I was the least afraid in the family, I went first to chill with the tiger. The man had me put a hand on him and pet him, and the lay my head on him! Its heartbeat and breath speed was very fast, and it was super awesome! Next, we went to the slightly smaller and younger tigers, who were more awake than their brethren. They were scampering around there cage and generally just having fun. While we were taking a family photo with one another came up from behind and tackled the GoPro, since it was taking a video and there was a flashing light! It was hilarious! When we said goodbye to the Tigers, I was a bit sad that I couldn’t stay with them longer, but I had the elephants to look forward to!
After the Tigers I think I may have had the same or even more anticipation because we were going to an elephant camp! Thankfully, this time the camp was already open, so we bought our tickets at the front, and walked inside! First we just walked around a bit to see things like how big elephant dung is, and how big their foot is! They are both really huge! I think my foot was like a fifth of the size of the elephants! Then, since the tickets showed that a show was nearby and close time-wise, so we hurried to this awesome amphitheater type thing, and got some AWESOME seats! We were in the first row! When the elephants first came out they were carrying a cool sign that said “The Elephant Show!” in English and a few other languages that I’m pretty sure that said the same thing. Following the first two elephants that were carrying the sign were about 12 other elephants, all of them being directed by another trainer! They started doing stuff that you see on TV, like trumpeting and the like, but there was one really funny elephant that didn’t really listen to his master, because he kept stealing his hat and waving it around like a trophy while running around the arena with his trainer chasing him! Then they started PAINTING!!! They made pictures like elephants, trees, and lots of other stuff that was really well done! And they were all made by elephants! They started playing darts after that, and they pulled two random people from the crowd to be this elephant’s opponents! The people from the crowd won, but barely! But while everybody’s attention was on the people that were playing darts, other trainers had wheeled out a SOCCER NET!!! They were going to have elephants play soccer! Two elephants were strikers, while one was the goalie. The two strikers were taking turns shooting at the goal, but the elephant playing goalie was SUPER at his job! He may have blocked 80% of all the shots that were taken!
Then when the show ended, we hurriedly walked through the camp with much excitement, because we were now going TO RIDE ON THE ELEPHANTS!!!!! There was this really cool wooden platform, and even though there wasn’t really a line, there was certainly the ability to make a HUGE line! Dad and I went first onto our elephant, and we rode in this really cool box thing that was on the elephants back, while the trainer, driver, or steerer sits on the elephants neck. Our elephant was the hungry one, since it was always eating! Since it was hungry, it kept going wherever there were plants, and it was scary because it sometimes brought us to the edge of HUGE cliffs, for a snack!
The girls had an elephant that must have just had a large meal, because it was going to the bathroom for the entire hour long ride💩! We travelled along this really cool mountain path that had amazing views of everything in the mountain valley! From one spot, you could see the entire camp! Even though the ride gave me thirty bruises (the ride is REALLY bumpy), it was one of the best experiences of my life so far! My favorite part was when we crossed a river. WE CROSSED A FREAKING RIVER!!!!!!
This was my favorite day out of the entire tour, because since it was such a unique experience, and I’m glad I was able to make this post for all of you. See Ya!!!