Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Weekend in Udon Thani

For our anniversary, Matt really wanted to go to the movies. Matt and I really enjoy going to the movies, but it is a lot more difficult in Laos, aka impossible. There is one movie theater, but they only show movies in Lao or Thai and we've heard it's not what we would call "clean." So, to go to the movies, we brought two teenage sisters from the branch (who are here with their family from Colorado) to watch the kids and got two hotel rooms so we could stay overnight. The borders close every night, so after a certain time we couldn't get home anyway. We also found out when we got to the theater that they only had one movie--and only one showing--in English. So, we saw the new Wolverine movie at 8:30pm. It was pretty good, and it was fun to see Matt so excited. That was the main goal of the trip, but here's what else we did:

We went to a Buddhist statue park and saw a bunch of cool statues. I wish we had a tour guide with us to tell us who was represented, but it was still worth a quick walkthrough.

 Some random Thai girls whose parents wanted pictures with our boys.
 Can you see Matt and Bobby behind the flower?

 That's a big bug.

 Scott really liked this tree stump, so I took a picture. He said it looked like a fish.
  There was a place you could feed fish, but we didn't have any food. Scott really like watching them, though. They all came over to look at us expectantly. It was a little weird, but kind of cool.

And we got some sunglasses for the boys...

Then we passed a sign for a crocodile show, so we decided to give that a go.

We ate a restaurant in the mall where you cook your food on a hot plate in front of you. I think it would have been a lot more fun without the kids...
 The food travelled around the tables and you just picked up what you wanted.

The next day, we went to a monkey park... also known as a regular park where probably a hundred monkeys happen to live.

 And we were more interesting to some people than the monkeys eating peanuts out of our hands...

 It was pretty cool, but it started to get a little bit scary as the monkeys started fighting with each other and showing us their teeth. Then, it was time to go.
Do you see the little baby?
 We had lunch at a Japanese buffet, which was actually quite good, but Matt lost his mind and decided to eat this:
 a baby octopus. Ewww.

That's about it! We had good time. If I get to it, I'll post a video of the crocodile show.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sunday Drive to the Waterfall

On Sunday, sometimes it's hard to keep the kids from watching The Lorax or Wreck-it Ralph for the tenth time in ten days, so we decided to take a drive up to see "the waterfall" that we heard about from Matt's coworkers.  There are actually two waterfalls, but one you have to hike a little ways to, so we decided to just go to the closer one, Thad Leuk or Tad Leuk, and just enjoy the journey. The kids slept the whole way there, almost, so Matt and I had a chance to chat and that was really fun and sorely needed because Matt is working a LOT.

It was really cool to see rice paddies on both sides of the street. We also passed several little villages with little markets, some cattle grazing within inches of the road, lots of interesting vehicles, and a few crazy drivers. It is really beautiful here, and it's an unfamiliar beauty, which brings something more to the experience somehow. It's hard to describe. I can't even count how many times we said something like, "I can't believe we live here." or "We live in Laos." It's pretty weird. We drove for two hours to get to the national park, and then it took another half hour or more to go through the rough terrain to the waterfall.

 The jungle.

 You'll notice there's nothing preventing you from falling in... to your death. That's partly because when it isn't rainy season, people like to swim here. The flow is not nearly as fast so it's not dangerous.

 We walked down a very rudimentary staircase to get down to this tree, and then Matt went down further to take some more pictures, and I honestly felt like there was a chance we would never see him again--the rocks were slippery and I didn't know how far down he was going to go. But he came back a few minutes later and all was well.

 Scott had fun jumping from rock to rock--Matt tried really hard to get him in the air, but he was too quick!

 Red dirt road.
 Scott spotted a rainbow in the sky on the way home. So pretty!
 Matt likes taking pictures of lone trees.
 The distant mountains.

 The other side of the rainbow.

When we got back in to town, Matt wanted to take a few pictures of "the golden temple." It's called That Luang on all of the signs. We thought it was a Buddhist temple, but when we got up to it, it said it was a museum. So, that's interesting. It looks cool at night, so Matt wanted to get some pictures while we were out with the camera.

 Not a lot of light, so it's a funny exposure, but I think they're cute anyway :)

 There was also a monument in front of the museum, and some cool gates in front. I wish I could tell you more, but we just stopped on a whim without doing any research and they weren't open, so... I got nothin'.
In short, it was a fun Sunday.