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[Comments] (3) Back from Bangkok: John has written an in-depth travelogue (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, return trip), if you're interested. Here are just a few of my thoughts on our awesome trip to Thailand, as well as a few cute things from the kids. You can see pictures here.

Maggie learning Indian English: I want to look out the window only! and I want to eat pizza only.
Maggie: That pool shape like a chrysalis.
Maggie: Look! The carpet goes all the way to the edge!
Maggie: A cloud! I'm not going!

Dalton, constantly: Bearbay! (Airplane)

Thai food in Thailand is better than Indian food in India. But still wasn't great.

John picks great hotels. The location was awesome - right next to all the malls, including the Siam Paragon which had a food court with 100 restaurants (seriously). We also took turns going out after the kids went to bed and checking out the night market and other shops.

The first day we went to an aquarium. It was really expensive - $100 for the three of us. But it included popcorn, a drink, a souvenir each, and the fish spa! They had a play place right next to the fish spa which was brilliant. We also go to feed sharks, but the sharks were not interested in the shrimp we were handing out. Instead the fish fought like crazy over them. They had penguins, giant spider crabs, sea otters, baby hammerhead sharks and more.

On the day of our tour to Ayutthaya, we went on a river cruise, saw huge turtles, and water monitors, animal-shaped topiaries, and rode on an elephant (because we can't do that in India). They also had an elephant show that was outstanding. The elephants hula-hooped, danced and more.

The next day we went to a safari park and marine park. It wasn't quite what I thought it was going to be, but was even better. You drive your car through the safari park to look at animals. You know, like a safari. We had booked a tour, but were the only people on it. So we had a driver, and an English-speaking guide to ourselves. The park had so many animals. There were dozens of zebras and giraffes, lions, tigers, bears, some rhinos, camels and more. After the safari we went into the marine park and saw some shows. Sea lions, dolphins, elephants painting and tight-rope walking, and orangutans. The orangutans do a "boxing" show, and I thought it was going to be like a cock fight. Luckily it was more for fun, but I wouldn't have called it fun. The trainers hit the orangutans and there were a lot of potty jokes. I did feel better when the orangutans hit (or kicked) the trainers back. We also saw walruses, polar bears, really a lot of crocodiles, huge fish, lots of birds, including a forest of free-range macaws, and smaller birds that you can feed from your hand. They also had tiger cubs that you could feed a bottle of milk to for $12.50. We went to look at them later, unattended and unlocked in their little zoo train cages. Best of all, we got to feed the giraffes! For $1.50 you can buy a bucket of sweet potatoes and bananas and feed them. That was my favorite thing in Bangkok - an unforgettable experience.

You just can't do things like leave tiger cages unlocked or let people feed giraffes with pointy sticks in the States.

We weren't even inside the Kolkatta airport when I heard Maggie scream. An Indian woman tried to pinch her. I sure didn't miss that in Bangkok. The kids (especially Dalton) got just as much or more attention, but Thais have a little more respect for space.

PS: You might notice in the pictures that we are still using our baby sling. Dalton can walk just as far or farther than Maggie, and he is getting heavy, but I like to carry him to keep him from getting too crazy, or if it's dirty or crowded. He even fell asleep in it a couple times on this trip. Seriously, I love my pouch sling. It folds up so tiny, I can wear it without him in it, or shove it in a backpack. It makes airport security easier. Actually, it makes just about everything about airports easier. I can handle more luggage when I've got him hands-free on my hip, rather than chasing him around. If you have a baby, you need one of these.

Mysore Again: As soon as Jodi arrived, we took off for Mysore. We stayed with Nagalakshmi (Leonard's mother-in-law) and saw all the sights in a couple days. Then we went to Wonder-La on the way home. The kids took turns throwing up, and Jodi and I both had colds. There was a bit of rain, but we slogged through and managed to see a lot.

We went straight to Mysore Palace. We walked hurriedly through the palace, then took Jodi on her long-awaited elephant ride. She rode with Maggie, then Maggie and I rode a camel, and Jodi and Dalton had a camel ride. Jodi also got a blessing from the elephant, which she says was the best elephant encounter ever (I'm hoping for two more during her visit). At this point they kicked us out, so we didn't get to have a look at the front of the palace, but we got what we came for.

We headed to Nagalakshmi's and had an Indian dinner she'd prepared. Yum! The next morning we went to Chamundi Hill. We walked around the temple, and did some souvenir shopping. Jodi's goal was to buy the weirdest thing possible for Franco, and I think we succeeded. We went straight to the Mysore Zoo. Maggie sat in the stroller the entire time. We especially enjoyed watching the giraffes.

After the zoo, we entrusted our lives to Sandeep (I guess we do that all the time) and let him take us to a hotel for lunch. In India, the word "hotel" is often used for "restaurant" but this was actually a hotel restaurant. We had a South Indian thali - a meal with rice, Indian bread, and little dishes with all kinds of gravies. It was really good, and only one or two things were too spicy for us.

After lunch we went to Devaraja Market and did some more souvenir shopping, as well as sight-seeing. We bought a couple more things. Maggie screamed for apple juice. We went to a grocery store and finally found some. Since it was still early and the kids had already missed a nap, we went to the Rail Museum on Sumana's recommendation. The kids loved it! There is a train ride, and lots of train cars and engines that the kids can climb in, pretend to drive, lean out the windows etc. They had a really good time.

We had Pizza Hut for dinner, and an Indian breakfast the next morning. Then we headed out, and stopped at Wonder La on our way home. We forced Dalton onto a couple kiddie rides, went on the Sky Wheel, and then to the water park. We got to go in the Ladies & Kids only pools, which was fun. Dalton went down a water slide by himself, but Maggie was too busy whining. This time they let us take Dalton on the lazy river, so we went twice (dragging Maggie on the first time, and off the second). Then it was time for the wave pool, so we did that until we were too cold and tired. It was a long drive home, but John heated dinner up for us, and had bought flowers and an adorable Kyli-sized dress.

Maggie threw up all night, so we stayed home this morning and John took Jodi and Dalton to church. I'm very happy that Jodi took Dalton (who is also still sick) to Relief Society and that he snuggled her. I don't have to worry about him warming back up to his aunties and uncles!

[Comments] (2) Fish Spa: Jodi and I went to a spa today and did a fish spa. They washed our feet and we put them in a tank of warm water with little fish, who eat the dead skin off your feet. It is tickly and kind of scratchy. We spent 10 minutes giggling like idiots, 10 minutes enjoying it, and 10 minutes enjoying the free shoulder massage that comes with the 30 minutes fish spa. It was about $25 for both of us, and totally worth it. One of the best things I've done in India.

We did do a little fish spa at the aquarium in Thailand, but the spa had a lot more fish, plus it was just the two of us. Also, the place smelled really good.

Ruins, Monkeys, and Fireflies: Jodi and I returned this morning from a trip to the Hampi Ruins. We took the night train there (first class) and it was pretty nice. We headed straight out to the ruins and saw just about everything that first day. We ate twice at the Mango Tree, did some walking, and really enjoyed being girls on our own (with our English-speaking driver, of course).

Susie: I wonder if we'll get our picture taken as much without the kids.
Random person: One snap?
Susie: I guess that answers that question.

We had our picture taken a dozen or so times. Some people asked. Some didn't. I was also asked for my autograph, which is a first.

We stayed at the Royal Orchid hotel, which had a really nice shower and insanely comfortable beds. We watched Prince of Persia at night, then a horrible, hilarious, dubbed Chinese film in the morning. The second day, we visited the temple, where Jodi got to spend some quality time with Lakshmi (the elephant), feeding her bananas we'd bought.

Since we'd seen everything we were interested in, we ended up taking a boat across the river, and hiking 680 steps up Anjanadri hill to see a view of Hampi valley. The hike wasn't as hard as we'd anticipated, but we had to pass too many monkeys too close for comfort. We'd paid an auto driver to take us there, wait for us, and return us to the boat dock. We asked him to stop so we could walk the last km. He said, "Why?"

We had to wait over half an hour for the boat to come get us. (TII) By the time we made it across, the ruins were closed. We climbed up on top of riverside ruin that still had a roof and lay there for half an hour. Then we went to the Mango Tree for dinner, where we hung out for two hours. One of the waiters walked us back to the road, through the banana plantation with a flashlight. He showed us fireflies, which are apparently huge, fat beetles. At this point we realized our driver had been sitting outside the gate for 7 hours, since bringing us to the Mango Tree for lunch. We made it to the train station, and our train was only half an hour late.

We couldn't get first class on the way back, and unfortunately, it was a lot harder to sleep in second class. A few stops after us, a couple guys came and slept in the bunks above us, slinging their stuff on our beds and snoring, and there was a kid talking loudly for hours across the way. The train got in to Bangalore at 6:10 am. Bleh.

Pretend Gods: John and the kids are still not feeling great. John went to work late, we left Dalton home with Kannagi, and Jodi and I took Maggie to the ISKCON temple. I had a difficult time explaining some of it to Maggie, and ended up calling the idols "pretend gods". Then Maggie, being 4 and grumpy, yelled, "I don't want them to give flowers to the pretend gods!" Luckily, no one understood her, or heard her over the chanting.

In the car, Jodi and I read through some of the free literature we got and questioned Sandeep about it. I asked Sandeep who his family god was, then Maggie announced, "I don't have a god." I told her that our God is Heavenly Father, which she seemed to accept for a few minutes. Then, she decided, "Sandeep is my god!"

We went to lunch at UB City, where Maggie perked up. She ate some food, watched a cat eagerly, and begged to play in the fountain. Then, I broke my rule about never going to Kids Kemp again. We didn't have time to go to Commercial Street, so even though it is expensive and full of pushy salespeople, we ended up there. I pushed back and somehow we got out of there in 20 minutes with one shirt, which Jodi loves. Maggie was happy there. There was a dwarf in a SCARY clown outfit and mask handing out popcorn and cotton candy. She lounged on the couches and played with the salespeople. Amazing what a little popcorn will do.

When we got home, we walked down to the Fancy Shop to buy some bangles for Jodi and Kyli. Maggie whined the whole time. Only one more day left with Aunt Jodi!

[Comments] (1) A Monkey in the Kitchen: We went to the zoo today, so when Maggie walked by the kitchen and said, "Mom, there's a monkey in our kitchen. It's eating our food!" I thought she was kidding. Then I heard something rustling. I peeked around the corner and it HISSED at me!

I threw Maggie and my purse (didn't want to get locked out) out the door and looked to see if I could get it out, but it was sitting by my broom. I finally knocked next door and a couple neighbors came with a broom and chased it out onto the balcony and locked the door. We live on the fourth floor, by the way (5th floor in US terms).

He helped himself to some Goldfish and pumpkin muffins (both in containers), and climbed on the fridge, counter, and microwave. He sat on the balcony for a few minutes finishing off one of the muffins. Maggie was really upset that he ate some of our food and broke the muffins. She picked up all the goldfish and put them back in the container. She says it was really scary, but I think she was mostly upset about the food, and I think she was a little freaked out because I was scared.

John, Jodi, and Dalton had walked down to the internet cafe to print something. Luckily - I would have had a much more difficult time with Dalton home, and Jodi is really afraid of the monkeys.

I've never seen a monkey anywhere near our neighborhood, but now I will be very cautious. TII. I did take pictures of it. Once it was behind glass, Maggie wasn't afraid one bit.

Hot & Cold: This morning I went to the post office, bread store, vegetable store, and meat store, four stops I wouldn't have had to make if my grocery shopping trip yesterday had been to Wal-mart. I miss one-stop shopping.

Also, why is the cold storage store so HOT?

After shopping, I took the kids to a new play place we discovered that is quite near our flat. It was also nicer, more fun, cleaner, and cheaper than the other ones we've been to. Yay! The play place was above a bank. The security guard was very interested in saying hi to Dalton and came over, toting his huge rifle.

So, there's one good thing about living here. 10 more weeks.

I Am Dinosaur, Hear Me Roar: Is "I'm a carnivore" a valid excuse for not eating her lettuce?

What about if she says it with a mouthful of carrot?

Today's Excursion: Dalton insisted on walking outside the gates, rather than our usual "walk around the building." The kids waved to their coconut-seller friend, and we encountered a turkey who lives at a fancy spa/salon down the road. He puffed up his feathers trying to scared us off, and it worked on Dalton. We went back and walked around the building. We discovered seeds dripping from some type of palm, and Dalton picked his usual two yellow flowers (one for each hand, of course). Then we found huge red flowers and tons of seeds falling off a giant tree. The kids also picked up all the plumeria flowers they could find, so I got out the nature box for them to play with.

We ended with two extra elevator rides so we could collect a postcard from Aunt Rachel. Bonus!

: I wore my new sari to church today. The ladies complimented me, not only on putting it on myself, but that I bothered.

It's kind of opalescent cream color, with a light blue border. It poufs when I sit down and feels like a princess dress. At least it did until Dalton wiped his chocolate cake mouth on it. He also tried to bite it. I found two new teeth coming out. Perhaps sari gnawing feels good on the gums.

Dalton: There are lots of new little Dalton quirks to write about. First of all, his vocabulary is astounding. He's starting using phrases like "more crackers please" and "swimming pool" (is that a phrase?) and identifying things by color, such as "black shirt". Speaking of which, since I last updated about him, he's learned all the colors and a few shapes. He also does that adorable toddler pretend counting. "Mun. Bive. Eight." He recently became very interested in Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, and so learned lots of body parts. He also knows clothing items and tries to help get himself dressed/undressed.

He repeats any word I say to him, so he is always learning new words. Some of my favorite things he does/says are:

"Right there!"
Leaning out the car window to wave at people.
"Lighting McQueen" (A boo-ing)
"Yay!" and cheer whenever I sing ABCs to him.
"bep bep" (the sound cars make. He says this not only in pretend play, but when we're driving.)
"Yeah"
"uh in" (Muffin)
"Heh Hep. Bawoo!" (Elephant)

Appreciating What We Have: I can't forget when we visited a park in Hong Kong and Maggie said, "Wow! This park has grass!"

Nor when we checked into our hotel in Bangkok and she announced, "Look! The carpet goes all the way to the wall!"

It's the little things.

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