You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone…

14 Oct

Captain, the Plinkas, and I have just returned from Thailand. On several occasions, I found myself contemplating how unexpected it all was and wondering – if my expectations were so far off, had I suffered a recent head injury resulting in a severe drop in IQ that would affect the way I imagined the trip to go? At multiple junctures, I would think, “Ahhh. There is a lovely couple on the trip I thought I was taking. Look how nicely her toenails are painted.” I am pretty sure she looked at me and thought, “Does she really wear a pony tail every day? Perhaps I should give her the pamphlet to the spa. She must not know there is one here.” In the end, it really was a glorious trip, and like everything in life, was a learning experience. This was our first trip with kids, not including all the trips to family and friends’ homes, who make so many special exceptions – bedding, toys, baby-proofing, readily available milk and food, etc. – prior to our arrival. I know I have said thank you to each of you in the past, but once again and with a whole new level of sincerity – THANK YOU!!!

Revelation #1: Just ARRIVING is an event in itself.

We were very fortunate to be able to book a two-bedroom villa at each destination. Notwithstanding the first night when there was a mis-communication with our reservation and we ended up with a single hotel room, all sleeping in the one bed provided, each hotel/villa arrival consisted of the following steps:

1. Remove all remote controls, pens, various office supplies, bathroom amenities, sharps/knives, and random drawer keys that are accessible from a height of 35 inches from the entirety of the 1,700+ square feet

2. Assess interior “door lock” situation and devise rescue and escape plans for any toddler who may unwittingly lock themselves in their new bedroom and/or bathroom

3. Assess exterior door access, locking mechanism, and ease of opening – block when necessary

4. I became furniture mover extraordinaire, as at each location their room had two double beds – Remove clock radios, telephones, “drawer books”, and table lamps, storing in a secure and completely inaccessible location. Move the nightstand in front of any door whose use should be prohibited. Move the bed frames to the far walls of the room, slide a single mattress onto the floor and shore up the sides with the (thankfully) excessive number of pillows, strategically blocking any exposed outlets. Whew.

5. Unpack and move in the “home” items – familiar blankets and lovies  to insure a familiar and serene night’s sleep.

As I fret, redesigning the interior of everywhere we arrive, where are Captain and the Plinkas? Sitting on the bed in the master bedroom zoned out and tuned in to whatever form of  iDevice they brought along. Thanks, guys.

Revelation #2: DEPARTING is, somehow, an even bigger ordeal.

Maybe I am overly courteous, but I wanted to make sure that the proper remotes were re-delivered to each room, and that each villa was as it was when we arrived. Not as easy as it sounds – FYI – especially when I am trying to get it done 20 minutes before checkout.

Revelation #3: When the Plinkas go to sleep, we are in for the night. 

Nights are long, and surfing the internet while on vacation – and with a painfully slow hotel Wi-Fi connection – is exponentially more boring than it is at home. However, because of Thailand’s geographic location, the TV stations were the most global of any I have seen. We received entire stations in Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Arabic, and English, of course. Hey India, I have no idea what the soap opera was really about, but thanks for the truly bizarre (yet beautiful?) imagery in the dream sequences. No, it didn’t transcend cultural barriers, and I am still wondering why the woman in labor was talking to a heavily made-up man wearing horns, a loin-cloth, and a moon on his head. And why was everything in Hindi except for the doctor saying “Push” and “Breathe”???

Revelation #4: Kids are not fond of being slathered in sunscreen.

Chasing them down, begging them to stand still, and letting their slippery little arms wriggle from my grasp is a minimum half hour lost every time we need to go somewhere. On a positive note, the couch, coffee table, floor, and two dining chairs will not get sunburned. And, a gold star for me – we all made it back to Hong Kong as pasty as we left. In your face, Melanoma.

Revelation #5: The Plinkas are rockstar foodies.

I already knew they were good eaters, but I am beyond proud of them after this trip. Pad Thai, Thai omelet with crab, Soft-shelled crabs in red pepper and garlic, Spicy Thai fish sauce, Xiao Mai,  Fried mussels, Black pepper squid, Shrimp with garlic and cashews, any kind of rice – they were all over it. TwinXY developed an adorable post-first-bite ritual of closing his eyes, rubbing his tummy, and humming, “Yummmmm.” I promise he did not learn that from me. Admittedly, we spoiled them a bit by ordering dessert every night after a hearty dinner. We realized this might be a mistake, when on the fifth night as the plates were being cleared, TwinXX said to the bus boy, “Cake!” He, of course, had no clue she was talking to him (nor was it likely he spoke Plinglish – Plinka English), so no cake magically appeared. Then, with a look of mild panic across her face she proceeded to yell to any restaurant employee that passed by, “Cake! … Cake! … Cake, PEEEESE!” I have explained that we will not be serving cake at home each night. At least she is learning to order for herself???

Revelation #6: You really don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. 

More than realizing the  long lost joys of travel sans children, revelation #6 blows my mind. Apparently, I really like doughnuts. (You will notice if you check quickly enough because it will be changing – doughnuts are not even on my USA Eat It list…) Sure, I have always enjoyed a doughnut here or there, or when someone suggests we go get them, but it is often rife with frustrations as I try to ask the drive-thru attendant if they use REAL SPRINKLES. Sprinkles are supposed to be teeny-tiny multi-colored nonpareils. I used to ask if they were “long or round” because when shops totally cop-out (pun intended) and use those cheap, cornstarch flavored, cylinder tubes that pretend to be sprinkles – honestly, not much upsets me more. Disgusting. Tasteless. As far as I am concerned the whole thing can go straight in the trash. However, after a bad experience in Louisiana, I have edited the question. After the attendant answered “round”, I placed my usual order for a chocolate iced with sprinkles. To my absolute horror, when I opened the box, the “sprinkles” were in fact round – round, flat discs that looked like miniature Necco wafers. I wanted to storm into the shop and verbally berate whoever made such a ghastly ingredient procurement decision. So the question is now, “Are your sprinkles spherical, or are they tubes or discs?” This normally taxes the processing power of the attendant’s brain for a moment, and I have completely digressed as no sprinkles of any kind were available in Thailand. I was forced to try a collection of doughnut alternatives, and the experiment proved successful. Perhaps it is that baked goods, in general in Hong Kong, are really beautiful, but generally very poor tasting. A typical cake has jello as a filler, a strange whipped-cream icing that I am quite sure is full of trans-fats because it stays the same over days and a wide variance of temperatures, and is almost exclusively sponge cake. The only two times I attempted to purchase a doughnut (no sprinkles), I realized in the first bite that the chocolate icing was fondant atop an unsweetened baked-cake ring. In short – circle bread with fondant. Blech/shiver. Thailand, however, has Dunkin’ Donuts. We had doughnuts on four separate occasions and I even brought an entire box home on the plane. We devoured them promptly the next morning, and now I must wait until I return to Thailand or the States, whichever comes first, to indulge my new fancy. Geez, I hope they have sprinkles. Spherical ones.


I promise – more fun details and photos (yay!) of the trip coming soon. As soon as I take a doughnut break and download them off the camera.

3 Responses to “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone…”

  1. Jan October 14, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    Hilariously entertaining- – -as was your trip. Never a dull moment touring out of the country with kiddos. You will love these journals you are producing many years later as you re read them and laugh once again. Too true- – -the most inconsequential of things and objects become the most revered obtainments when living overseas. – even those oddly, those which were not much appreciated while living in The States. We once gave a donation of $120 to the American School for 6 boxes of Oreos- – -we never even bought them while living in Texas. Delighted that you had a great getaway and glad you are back ‘home’ safe and sound.

  2. Sharon James October 28, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    LOL this was a great post for me. I am moving to Thailand in 7 weeks. I have never been there before and we will be travelling for the first time with an 18 month old very energetic son. We will also have to spend some time living in hotels and a serviced apartment while we find out feet so I am going to relate even more so to your post around xmas time!

    • window2chaos November 17, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

      Oh Sharon, congreats! Thailand is awesome, beautiful, and the food is delish! I don’t know if you sifted through my archives, but the ES Plinkas were 18 months when we moved here and we did the whole serviced apartment thing, too. Wow. Waiting for furniture, boxes of toys, making do with the few toys that fit in the suitcase. You will get through it! 🙂 Feel free to PM me if you want any advice on what to pack/how to pack/survival essentials, etc.

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