Squatting Toilets and Elephant Kisses

Parks are few and far between in Chiang Mai so when I finally found one with a playground, I was super pumped to take the kids there. Nong Buak Haad Public Park is located in Old City so we had to take an Uber to get there. Unknown to me at the time, Chiang Mai had a national holiday on Monday so the playground was absolutely packed with locals and expats alike. About 15 minutes in, Eleanor came up to me and said she needed to use the toilet. We found a public restroom which you had to pay to use (3 baht which is the equivalent of 8 cents). As with most indoor places here, we had to take off our shoes before entering, yet there was standing water on the floor due to poor drainage and the use of sprayers (toilet paper isn’t allowed in toilets here so most places only have sprayers). I don’t even want to think about the actual stuff we were walking in… And to top it all off, this was a squatting toilet perched on a 2 foot ledge… So I am standing in who knows what, with Theo on my hip, and trying to explain to a 4 year old how to use a squatting toilet. What. An. Experience.

I found an Irish pub that shows NFL on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday nights so I headed there Monday night to watch the Broncos games (what a poor performance). This pub also shows NHL, NBA, English Premier League (soccer), Champions League (soccer), and rugby. I chatted with the manager and said if he showed the Broncos game every week, I’d be in there. Due to the five other sports he broadcasts, he only shows 4 Sunday NFL games. I just looked at the lineup for this coming week and the Broncos made the cut!

The condo that the family is living at has a pool which offers both a 5 foot area as well as two sections of 2 foot areas. Everyday that I’ve been with the kids, I’ve tried to get Eleanor to go into the deep end so she can actually swim around in her lifejacket. This was met with fierce resistance. On Thursday, she was swimming with two sisters from Canada who are also living in the complex through January. The 7 year old asked Eleanor if she wanted to go swimming in the deep end and she replied, “Ok! Will you help me?” Are you kidding me? I’ve only been asking you twice a day for 10 days to do this and the first time Emma asks you, you say yes?! Apparently you’re never too young to succumb to peer pressure.   🙂  As I anticipated all along, Eleanor had an absolute blast in the deep end. I had a surge of pride and joy go through my body while watching her accomplish this. My smile might have been bigger than hers. Is this what having kids feels like?

We celebrated by getting a turkey with cranberry sauce sandwich and French fries for lunch from Smoothie Blues. They gave us 3 ketchup packets. I tore open the first one and squeezed it out onto my plate. Eleanor lightened up and says that she wants some on her plate too. Now, I absolutely love ketchup. I put ketchup on everything (eggs, tacos, etc.). So I’m at this dilemma as there are only two packets remaining for about 30 more fries. My love for ketchup overtook my brain so I told her there weren’t any packets left and we would have to share what was on my plate. When she looked down to eat, I snuck the other two ketchup packets into the to-go box with the remaining fries. I enjoyed every bit of that hidden ketchup each time she wasn’t looking up. Sorry kid, but I’m not about to share that delicious Heinz ketchup.

On Saturday, all five of us spent a day in the jungle with elephants. We rode an hour and a half from Chiang Mai to the jungle in a songthaew with 5 other people. Songthaews are the form of taxis over here. Imagine a red pick up truck, with a topper on the back, and two benches and hand rails within the topper. That’s a songthaew (check out the pictures below). We somehow smashed 7 adults, one preschooler, and one car seat with a baby into a tuk tuk for 90 minutes each way. It was raining that day so we had walk the last 600 yards to the elephants because the dirt/mud roads were getting too wet. They were concerned their trucks wouldn’t be able to get out if they kept on driving. Well, this last 600 yards was about a 55 degree slope with a hefty drop off on one side. We start walking really slow and about 100 yards in, my sandals lost traction and I wound up on my back with our backpack covered in mud. I giggled, got back up, and continued the descent. About 100 yards in, and it happened again. This time, I laughed hysterically, toke off my sandals, and made the rest of the way down barefoot with a guide holding onto one arm. Just when I thought we’ve made it to the elephants, I saw that we had to walk across a 15 foot log that was placed over a river with a makeshift hand rail from a nearby tree. Yep, I’m definitely not in America! We spent the next four and a half hours feeding, bathing, and interacting with the elephants. One elephant was trained to give kisses (he places the end of his trunk on you and blows air out) and I got a big ‘ol smooch on my mouth. It was sloppier than I anticipated. I successfully completed the hike up with no falls! Fun Fact: I was the only person out of the big group of 30 that fell. Neither the 70 year old lady nor Melissa with Theo strapped to her front fell. I’ll blame my sandals for this one.

Today (Sunday) was spent sleeping in, taking a nap, and exploring the Sunday Night Market in Old City. They shut down a 1.4km stretch of road and locals sell their hand-made/home-grown products. I saw clothing, ceramics, fresh fruit, magnets, shoes, purses, keychains, luggage, and everything in between. This market occurs every Sunday night and is a major event for them. They even played their national anthem at 6pm over a public loud speaker.

This coming week, the weather is supposed to be in the 80’s and 90’s each day with sunny skies. I’ll be sure to soak it all in by daily trips to the pool while the rest of you are shoveling snow and trying not to freeze to death.   🙂

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