Sunday, April 20, 2008

the wall of greatness

china has been a wonderful surprise. all of our preconceived ideas of an old, shabby infrastructure and ancient, far away place have been shattered. come august, beijing will give the world an impressive olympic show. china is almost ready, and the olympic spirit is everywhere! olympic flags, a "no spitting" policy, olympic souvenir shops, vast amounts of chinese lanterns, 90,000 more police on the street, a tienanmen square that has a 7 o'clock curfew... these are all signs that china is getting ready for the world. we passed the "bird's nest" stadium, and it looks fantastic. yesterday, we ventured outside of beijing and took a cable car to some of the best preserved portions of the great wall. at the top of beautiful grey mountain ridges, we walked along a wall that has been in existence for over 2000 years. everything about the wall was impressive... the enormous stones, the ancient architecture, the great history, the beautiful chinese landscapes. it was absolutely incredible. someone thought of a very creative way to make more money at the great wall... instead of taking the cable car down again, we took a super fun toboggan ride to the base! joe went first, and i followed! we went straight down the whole way! the chinese workers kept yelling at us to slow down, but we just nodded to them as we zoomed past at full speed!! i'll be honest, the toboggan ride was a close second to the great wall! we've been blessed (once again) to have some wonderful hosts along our journey. we are reaping kindness from a student my grandparents taught english to while they were living in china over 20 years ago. our host got us settled in to our hotel (no one speaks english there) and he helped us understand some very important information from the front desk. he translated: "you should know that it is common to find long centipedes and scorpions in your room. if there is a problem, just call the front desk and they will take care of things for you." so... these are the phrases that we know in chinese: "hello" "thank you" "how are you?" and "scorpion".

Monday, April 14, 2008

my people

welcome to songkran!
from the early stages of planning, we always knew that the second week of april would be in chiang mai, thailand. in fact, our entire first portion of our trip evolved entirely around thailand's new year celebration. and finally, this week has arrived. songkran was three days of pure water dousing. it was everything we imagined; thailand was everything we imagined, wonderful. today we're off to china!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

time out in thailand

All of our ambitions have returned void since we last wrote. Instead of capitalizing on our bonus week by embarking on a last minute excursion to a new and exciting destination, we've been digging deep into the medicine bag to find the right formula to fix me. I got sick. Felt like the flu, but I also tend to think that I had emotionally ingested all the extremes of India and, upon leaving it all behind, my body sought to physically express and purge itself. The good news is that I wasn't throwing up, but a fever, fatigue, congestion, and shortness of breath were enough to be out of commission for four days. Other good news is that we've been able to maintain a home base with friends in Bangkok whose house and hearts have made for a comfortable recovery.

Monday was my first day of near normalcy, and yesterday we ventured deep into downtown to sneak a swim at one of the posh hotels by the river. Next on the agenda is our departure for Chiang Mai via overnight train tomorrow night. We'll visit with Wanida's extended family and experience the traditional Thai new year and the Songkran water festival; think country wide water fight, everyone's in.

Having been refreshed by the healing of body, mind, and soul, it's time to check back in to this magnificent adventure.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

taking flight

india was incredibly overwhelming in every sense of the word. it was emotional, it was draining, it was manipulative, it was colorful, it was spiritual, it was sad, it was powerful, it was frustrating, it was intense, and there were always moments of beauty in everything.

still, we made a decision on tuesday morning (april 1) to change our tickets, and leave india 8 days early. tuesday evening, we were on a flight to thailand. we needed to leave; it felt right to leave. india is not for the faint of heart. it's a very sad and wounded place. i don't think that i can even share all that india did to us, but, i will say that as we were waiting for our 3:30 am flight to bangkok, joe and i had one of those talks. those talks that you pray for. the ones where god moves in your heart, and moves you to grow. joe started sharing one of the many incredible stories we collected in india, and instantly we both were moved to tears. together in a little indian coffee shop, we cried for the sadness that drowns this country. honestly, if we stayed any longer, we would have been drowning too. even as i share, there's a lump in my throat, it hurts. india was just too overwhelming to commit eight more days to. i know its impact will stay with us much longer.

so now (deep breath), we are in this cyber cafe in bangkok, trying ot figure out how we want to spend these extra days! we could stay in thailand, perhaps find a little thai island to frolic in, or head to cambodia? or southern china, singapore, malaysia? the change brings refreshment, and it feels good.

today marks day 44. so much ahead, and we're excited. i'll share the india stories as we upload more pictures, uploading pics has been a bit of a challenge lately. the stories and pictures will give you a glimpse of our wanderings through india.