As our time in Asia is quickly coming to a close, we decided to take one last trip to Thailand because we love it so. We arrived in Bangkok late, and after some good sleep, thoroughly enjoyed breakfast with a view.
Our final destination was Hua Hin, a beach town about three hours from Bangkok. We took a ferry across the river,
and then a tuktuk, (our favorite mode of Thai transportation) to the train station.
Some of the corners the driver took, were a little cringe worthy, but we arrived at the train station in one piece.
Matt had the 'great idea' that we should take the train to Hua Hin, rather than hire a driver.
He was very proud of the $4 price tag for a family of four. (But, at least it was not the overnight train , we took last year.)
Now to kill time waiting for the train. Unfortunately, there was no Japanese efficiency here, and we waited a LONG time for our train.
There was a reserved waiting area for monks.
This was our waiting area. Mind you, it's hot. These buildings are open air and are not air conditioned.
Finally aboard our train. The train was not air conditioned either, and the windows were rolled down for ventilation. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I must've been too miserable! Imagine riding in the back of a truck for 4.5 hours. In Alabama. In August. The dirt and grit would blow in and by the time we reached Hua Hin, our sweat looked like dirt streaks running down our bodies.
But, wow, this sight made everything worth it! (Just don't tell that to Matt!)
Our room had a huge balcony,
with 180* view of the ocean and pool. Beautiful!
We stayed in the beautiful Hua Hin for five days, and since most every day was a carbon copy of the next, I'll share some highlights. (We fell in love with Hua Hin last year, and could not wait to return, it is the perfect size and not as touristy as some of the southern Thai beach towns.)
The night market is always a treat.
Matt was on the lookout for his favorite food group, which we call the "brown food group", and he found it with this vendor.
We had no idea what this was, but decided to give it a try.
They were some sort of coconut balls with a chewy texture. Yum!
And we finished the night with one of our old Thai favorites, banana pancakes.
We were even serenaded by a Thai John Denver singing "You Fill up my Senses", which is truly a lovely song. I got lost in the moment.
At a different market, this darling boy was balancing glass bottles for tips.
He was amazing!
While we were in Hua Hin, my artist brother was in Italy seeing world famous art. Who needs Italy?!
Even though the sun does not set over the ocean here, we loved walking the beach at dusk.
Whether dark, orange and dramatic,
or pink and serene, don't we have an amazing Creator? The sunset was so beautiful and different each night, and was such a gift from above.
We also enjoyed an evening swim on most evenings. Who wouldn't?!
I also relished my morning walks barefoot, along the beach. Doesn't get much more beautiful!
I passed several monks every morning.
And, this was our favorite daily breakfast spot.
We had ample beach time every day. Almost too much by the looks of their sunburns!
There is so much joy in this picture.
Lots of new sea creatures were discovered every day. I can't believe she picked these things up!
Friends are always important parts of our excursions. These international friendships usually begin with the question, "Do you speak English?" This was Marina, from Canada.
And Zoe, from India.
And Ella even talked a nice Chinese couple into teaching her the finer points of ping pong.
As for me? I'm much more easily entertained. This couple inflated the unicorn, had a 10 minute photo shoot with said unicorn, then promptly let all the air out and left the pool. And yes, I thoroughly enjoyed all of it, I just wish I could've understood all of the directions being given!
I also enjoyed all of the matching couple's outfits I saw. I wondered, "where do you even get this stuff", but saw plenty for sale at the markets to answer that question.
Maybe Matt and I should give it a try!
We split our days evenly between beach time and pool time. There was both a regular water slide and also this blow up water toy/slide.
The girls scaled this slide, what seemed like hundreds of times every day,
while I staked out this spot and read a book.
But, unfortunately, this fair child was not made for too much fun in the sun.
Eva had a very uncomfortable heat rash for most of this trip.
But she was always thrilled to see the way that 'bear and blanky' were lovingly handled by the hotel staff. (Bear and blanky have been her favorites since birth and have since traveled the world!)
I tried to get mango sticky rice from this cart, across from the hotel, two days in a row and both days they sold out right as it was my turn! TWICE!
But luckily, the third time's a charm! (This lady was a master at slicing a mango, and did so with such ease and quick skill.)
It was perfectly packaged 'to go'.
Then we added the coconut milk and seeds, I don't really know what the seeds are, but they add a nice crunch.
Mmmm, it was worth the wait!
One of the main reasons I was excited to return to Hua Hin, was to attend the little church (Power of Love International Church) that I fell in love with one year ago. At the time, they were in the process of building a children's home to feed, clothe and educate children in need in the area. This trip, the home was finished and we took a special trip there to visit the kids and meet the staff.
Meeting the kids and visiting with a sweet lady, Orasa, was definitely the highlight of this trip. They currently have eleven boys, but have room for 40 boys, as funds permit. These kids are not orphaned, and their families are able to visit, but with much poverty in the area, many parents feel that it is in their child's best interest to live in the home for a chance at a better life.
Orasa lives in the house with the boys and is a wonderful, loving and godly woman. She was raised in a similar home, accepted Christ at 14, and now feels the Lord calling her to this ministry at this time. (If you would like more information, or are able to donate to this wonderful ministry, please contact http://thaipolic.com/. In any case, please pray for them, they are doing great work in Hua Hin!)
I was also thrilled to attend Sunday services again. This little church meets in the Hilton ballroom and has so much love, it's contagious! I was literally greeted with bear hugs and told "Jesus loves you", with joy filled faces. I felt welcomed and right at home.
Pastor Andrew is from the UK, and shared how he came to know Christ. He had made his first million by 18 years old, and had traveled the world. He said that he did not feel the need for a god of any kind, or for the 'mythology' that came with it, because he literally wanted for nothing. Then, he was invited to church by a friend in Thailand. He resisted the pull at first, but eventually found himself 'all in' and wanted more of God's grace and goodness. He planted and pastors the Power of Love International Church (POLIC).
I consider it an honor to call these wonderful people friends, and I can't wait to return to my church-family-away-from-home very soon!
After the service there is always good food and fellowship, too. May God bless the Power of Love International Church and all that they are doing for the people of Thailand.
And with that, our amazing five days in Hua Hin came to an end. Until we meet again.
Now back to Bangkok for a night before heading home. At least that was the plan....