Pop and Fam Go to Thailand – Part 1
I awoke the morning of Saturday, July 9 filled with anxiety. On my way to our bathroom in the basement, I noticed all of our bags sitting in the living room: 1 suitcase full of our stuff, 1 suitcase full of our kids’ stuff, 1 suitcase full of gifts, D1’s book bag full of books, my bookbag, my wife’s bookbag, a Baby Taylor, our moneybelts, the ergo, a pack ‘n play, and a partridge in a pear tree. Were we moving out or were we going on a 1-month missions trip to Thailand? The packed bags confirmed that after nearly a year of planning, the day had finally arrived.
The kids were still asleep, so I didn’t even consider waking them up and I let my wife sleep in since she packed all of our bags the night before (two of the myriad of things my wife is better than me at are folding clothes and packing bags). So I took out our itinerary and read it over for the 50 millionth time.
Depart: Washington Dulles Int’l Airport 9 July 2011, 1:25 PM (EST)
Arrive: Seoul Incheon International 10 July 2011, 4:35 PM (Local time)
Depart: Seoul Incheon International 10 July 2011, 5:40 PM
Arrive: Bangkok Int’l Airport 9:10 PM (local time)
Depart: Bangkok Int’l Airport 11 July 2011, 8:15 AM
Arrive: Chiang Rai Airport 9:35 AM
That’s 21 hours of air travel and 12 hours and 10 minutes of layovers. From the time we planned on leaving our home until we arrived in Chiang Rai was about 36 hours.
My wife and I had already taken D1 on a whirlwind tour of Thailand and Korea in 2009, so the length of the travel didn’t necessarily worry me. What gave me pause this time was 1) we now have 2 kids and D2 just reached her I’m-mobile-now-and-I’m-going-to-go-everywhere-and-put-everything-in-my-mouth stage, 2) our family was under quite a bit of stress the past few months with moving out, running into difficulty selling our home, and acclimating to life with my parents, among other things, 3) D1 was now potty trained, which is usually a good thing but for travel? Diapers are a godsend, and 4) the entire family had a summer cold.
Additionally, in 2009, we went to Thailand on a family vacation to visit the people we fell in love with and became friends with after leading two missions teams in 2006 and 2007. This year, we were leading a missions team from our church – they would be joining us in Thailand a week after we got there. As team leaders, my wife and I certainly had our fair share of concerns on how this would work out.
Wife and kids finally awoke, we got ready, and headed off to the airport, all of our bags–and anxiety–in tow.
We were greeted at the airport by quite a few members from our church, who prayed for us as we embarked on our first family missions trip. We definitely felt the love, especially D1 from a certain boy her age from our church who kissed her repeatedly. Ridiculously cute at this age; a punishable offense in a few years.
The great thing about flying Korean Air is that parents with small children get to board first, along with the elderly, those needing assistance and pregnant women. Maybe it’s like that for all international flights? In any case, it’s super convenient to have all of your stuff put away and to get situated before all the other passengers board. Not to mention the food on Korean Air is ridiculously good and the flight attendants are super nice (I even saw a group of them assist a mother who was traveling alone with 2 sons, probably the same age as D1 and D2 by holding and walking around with the younger child).
Normally, we don’t let D1 watch much television but on this trip, we relaxed the rules. A lot. Which would continue to be a recurring theme on the trip. She pretty much watched Pororo for the entire trip. We also had fun with D2 and stickers.
The flight was decent, save for us getting the death stare from all the other passengers whenever D2 would cry and D1 having to pee at the most inopportune times, i.e., when the bathrooms were always all occupied. Needless to say, we had a few very close calls.
Once we got into Incheon is when the trip started getting interesting. All of us were tired and cranky – or maybe it was just me? D2’s no lightweight, so my wife couldn’t move that fast and I was the family pack mule, carrying most of the bags, so I held D1’s hand. Usually in airports, I like to rush rush rush rush rush but D1’s short little legs couldn’t carry her that fast. So on more than one occasion, I ended up dragging her along. Oops. All of us were really tired and could’ve definitely used some rest, but by the time we got comfortable at our gate, it was time to board our flight to Bangkok.
This flight was much more difficult, with D1 and D2 both taking turns throwing mini tantrums. As we neared our destination, both of them passed out. So of course, they were ridiculously cranky when we woke them up to get off the plane. The only thing less fun than carrying a 30+lb child through an airport is carrying a wailing 30+lb child through an airport.
Being the clever dad I think I am, I asked D1 if she needs to pee when we walk past a restroom, to which she replies no. Of course, when we have long since passed the bathroom, she screams, “PEE PEE!” I drop all of our bags and hustle to find the nearest bathroom. I find one, plop her down on the seat and immediately, ‘shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh’. *whew* Crisis averted.
We finally made it to our hotel for the night, Louis’ Tavern Transit Hotel, absolutely spent and ready for bed. But of course, the kids are in no mood to sleep.
At this point, I wish I had good thoughts toward my kids, but the only words I could think of to describe them at this point of the trip was ‘nuisance’ and ‘burden’. I longed for the days when it was just my wife and I traveling. When we didn’t have to worry about bladders the size of a pea and it was us complaining about the babies crying on the plane.
We finally got the girls to go down. Just before I passed out, I hoped tomorrow would be a better day. It wasn’t.