June 8, 2012–Friday, Safari World

Originally posted on Friday, June 8th, 2012:
Dear Diary,  today started out rough and ended rough, but there was lots of good stuff in the middle.
Trent and I were hoping for a lazy morning, since we didn’t have to be anywhere until 3pm.  But after a few minutes of happy playtime (see pics of balloon), Asher was feeling very sad again.  He was even more sad when we took turns taking showers and weren’t all together in the same room.  As much as he doesn’t let us hold or comfort him, he likes it even less when we leave.  No one’s relaxing or having a lazy morning when there’s so much crying going on.
We tried to skype and facetime with the kids, but the connection just wasn’t happening.  I was very disappointed, but was able to shake it off.  We took another load of laundry to the place in the alley, then decided to take a taxi to try out Safari World.  Let me just say–it was great!  Totally a good way for us to spend the day with a toddler who doesn’t like the room.
We took a taxi, but I thought someone said it was a quick drive.  It was not.  It took about 30 minutes, 3 toll roads and coast 240 baht (about $8) on the way there and 300 ($10) on the way back.  But, I was just glad our taxi driver had understood what we said and wasn’t driving us out into the middle of nowhere.  As we were headed down the freeway, it started to rain–no, it started to downpour.  We were all wearing shorts and t-shirts.  When we arrived, it was still pouring.  As I stood in line for tickets, I got completely soaked.  It’s a strange feeling to be soaked from sweat and rain at the same time.

We bought 2 little umbrellas, getting pink and blue, and figured we’d give them to the big kids when we got back.  Due to our misunderstanding (to be honest, I’m still a little confused) we paid for 2 adult tickets to 2 different parks, when there is no way we could have done both with a toddler.  The whole thing is called safari world, but there is a part where you ride on a bus and drive around to see animals, and another part where you walk through an amusement park/zoo/sea world kind of thing.  We did the walking part, and I think that’s marine world?  Not sure, but ask some questions to save yourself some $$.
ANYway, it only rained for about 10 minutes, and then the humidity and sweat only made it feel like it was raining.  The first thing I noticed was that the animal handling and enclosures in Thailand are completely different than those in the US.  For instance: Siberian tiger, cougar, leopard?  Separated from our son by a mere CHAIN LINK FENCE.  Seriously.  Those pictures in the slideshow are not zoomed.  IN fact, I had to zoom OUT on some of them to get it focused. We were inches away from these animals–could feel their breath if we wanted to.  I did not want.  I wondered if there are just fewer stupid people in Thailand.  In the states, it would take about 20 minutes for some numbskull to stick his finger in, have it bitten off, then sue the zoo.  Also, many times there is a waist-high wall keeping you from, say, the seals, but on the other side of the wall is a 15 foot drop into their pool.  You drop your sippy cup? Camera?  Child?  Not a pretty picture.  There are no second chances here, people!  All this just floored me, but was great for viewing…we said over and over how much Carson and Sydney would have loved this place!  Maybe LInda, you can show Carson the picture of the white and yellow snake?  It was a python and we figured he would get a kick out of that.

The big thing at Safari world is the shows.  The taxi driver, door man, everyone told us about the shows.  To be honest, they were really good–often they translated into English, but even when they didn’t, it diden’t matter.  But I think we liked them even more b/c ASher loved them!  Our first one was the sea lion show, and he, who has been bothered by big crowds in the past, didn’t mind a stadium full of people and loud music.  In fact, it was the first time we’ve seen him dance!  It was a great moment.  He was completely captivated by the show, watching intently, clapping with the audience.  When I would turn the camera toward him to take a picture, he would frown and point at the show, as if to say “Not me!  Take a picture of THAT!”  Watching him at these shows was worth the price of admission.
The park itself actually seems pretty run-down, but I’m spoiled by Disney standards of amusement parks.  There’s also not a lot to be had lunch-wise, so I’d bring lots of snacks next time.  Note to future travellers.  Also, no debit cards accepted. Bring cash.  It’s not cheap–900 baht per adult.

We made some friends at the park, a group of guys vacationing from Iran.  They sat near us during the first show and came up to talk to us afterwards.  One of them teaches English in Iran and was keen to practice with us.  We had a great chat, then they found us about 30 minutes before the next show and sat with us again.  This show was the biggie–the dolphin show.  The stadium was packed!  And it was so interesting/good for us to truly be the minority.  We saw one other caucasian couple today, and they were European.  Trent with his neon shirt and me with my neon legs and us with our Asian son drew plenty of strange looks.
Since the dolphin show is so popular, it started filling up at least 30 minutes prior.  We talked more with our Iranian friend. He told me a)we HAVE to try Iranian food ASAP, b) we need to come to vacation in Iran and c)we should adopt our next baby from Iran.  :)We had a miscommunication b/c I told him I’m an English teacher.  He said he teaches English too, then started asking me about certain texts.  Then we realized after a while he thought I taught English language learners, like he does.  I had to explain to him that in the US we use the term “English” as a subject for US kids, to cover reading, writing and literature.  I could tell he was disappointed.  He and his friends were very intrigued by our small orange crackers shaped like fish, and found it strange that they were very popular in America.
As we were all waiting, there was a Thai MC who came out in front with a microphone–we had seen him at the other shows.  I don’t know how else to describe him except to say if you have seen the NBC show “Up All Night” he is so AVA.  Dolphins?  What dolphins?  As far as he was concerned he was the star of the show.  He had swagger, skinny jeans and was just totally in his element–hardly spoke a word of English, but it wasn’t hard to get the gist of what he was saying.  He was doing karaoke to some popular Thai songs, and then he said he was going to sing some songs from around the world, and when your country’s name is called, you have to stand up and sing & dance.  Well, there were at least 20 buses of tourists from India, so he started with that, and they went crazy!  They were all cheering and singing along, and many stood up and started dancing.  There was this older Indian man several rows in front of us and he was totally getting down with his bollywood self.  Several young Indian girls ran up to the MC and started singing into the mic with him.  We were loving it!

Then he started a new song and my friend told me it was from Iran!  He and his friends cheered, and you know what?  We did too.  We felt like honorary Iranians for an hour.  There were definitely less Iranians, but all around the stadium, groups of people stood up and danced whole-heartedly.  Several rows behind us, some guys were dancing and one had a little baby he was dancing with, and the baby was just squealing with delight.  It was seriously a highlight of my day—I think I included a picture in the slideshow.  They didn’t even bother singing an American song (we wondered…what song would tehy choose? Surely something by Lady Gaga, then we’d be embarassed), since I think there were only 2 Americans in attendance of the entire park.  But it was seriously such a fun and festive atmosphere, I almost forgot about the drips of sweat running down my entire body.  ASher was totally into it, dancing and even mimicking Trent singing into the umbrella as a microphone.  *Sidenote…throughout the park there is tinned instrumental music–sometimes all flutes, sometimes synthesizer–of AMerican music.  We absolutely heard No Doubt and Britney Spears.  But they were very slow and melodic…it totally was cracking us up!
The dolphin show was great, but we left early, b/c we needed to get back to the hotel to meet some friends.  Even then, between diaper change and getting a taxi, it took a long time to get home.  Asher did well most of the day, with only a few behavioral issues–again, very normal stinky toddler stuff like running away, dropping into a ball when trying to be picked up, or hitting when he doesn’t get his way.  But most of the time he was highly amused and happy.  He did not want to hold my hand, though, only Trent today.  So I was surprised when he didn’t protest when I took him into change his diaper, and then he let me carry him out of the park and hold him while we waited for the Taxi.  In the taxi, he fell asleep with me, which was picture worthy, b/c it was a first.  I was sweating like a banchee and had stood in the pouring down rain, but I still wanted a picture.
At the hotel, we met up with Carlene and Steven, a couple from Holt who are here early…they are going to meet their son in a week or so!  They are also going to meet 3 other Holt friends! It was fun to make a connection in real life.  We stayed outside in the beautiful Pantip courtyard until the beautiful Thai insects started eating us alive.
Although Asher was not wanting to be in the room this evening, Trent and I didn’t have the energy to go out so we…wait for it…ordered pizza delivered from Pizza Hut.  Oh, ya’ll, it tasted so good!  I really have not been feeling tired of Thai food…it’s often made so fresh and with lots of veggies that it just doesn’t sit heavy in your stomach.  But some pepperoni pizza was a great prescription for a little homesickness.  We did the dreaded bath a little early tonight and then toughed it out through a lot of crying before bedtime.
I know in my head that staying until Monday night really is the best thing for Asher.  My heart wants to be with Carson and Sydney and have our family together, but Trent pointed out that Asher needs us more than they do right now, and that he will never have this opportunity to have us alone and undistracted again.  So we’re not pushing the early return, just biding our time, continuing to try to help Asher grieve.  We will switch hotels on Sunday afternoon, to stay at a nicer place close to the airport.  I know we’re in the homestretch, and hoping I feel that soon.  We did get the US visa and an adorable little Thai passport today. So other than flight status, nothing’s standing in our way of bringing our guy home.  See you all soon.  :)

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