Home > God > Pop and Fam Go to Thailand – Part 1

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.

She's a hungry girl

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.

  1. August 17, 2011 at 10:55 am

    WOW Pop! That’s quite a journey. I can imagine how tired you guys were. I had my share of flying long distances alone but with 1 kiddo. Can’t imagine 2! You and your wife are brave, brave souls. Good to hear good reviews about Korean Airline because I flew them twice both from Atlanta – Seoul – Jakarta, I got bad experiences, twice lol.
    Can’t wait to read Part 2 😀

    • Pop
      August 17, 2011 at 1:53 pm

      2 was definitely a challenge but one that we’d gladly do again. Which other airlines have you flown? Maybe we’ll fly them next time we head to Southeast Asia.

  2. August 17, 2011 at 11:10 am

    So excited to hear about the rest of the trip. And this is exactly why we haven’t taken our kids on a plane yet. The train over the 4th of July was difficult enough (and won’t be repeated for a couple of years until Baby R is 4). You guys are amazing!

    • Pop
      August 17, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      Actually, we’ve yet to take our kids on a domestic flight – American passengers are much more intimidating for me.

  3. August 17, 2011 at 11:33 am

    That’s about the bravest thing a person can do – take two small children on several long international flights. My hat is off to you.

    • Pop
      August 17, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      Thank you. It’s a very nice hat, btw!

  4. August 17, 2011 at 11:46 am

    two words:
    & I thought our international trips were a challenge. Mexico to the PNW is a breeze compared to overseas travel with kids. I swear to myself I will never do it. You are a hero. or crazy. or both!

    • Pop
      August 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm

      Trust me. When we were walking around Suvarnabhumi Airport my wife and I both said, “We’re crazy…”

  5. August 17, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Oh, Pop – thanks for the recap. When I first read of the mission trip, I tried to put myself in your shoes . . . and then I realized that I’d want to use your shoelaces to fashion some primitive sort of noose to hang myself with when I realized that you’d probably be spending at least 24 hours between airports and airplanes. I hate traveling when it’s just me (I don’t really fit on planes), so I can’t imagine what it’s like with a whole family.

    We’re talking about a trip to Florida, and that would require a very long drive. I’m not looking forward to that, but then, when I think about trying to do it on a plane, I go right back to driving.

    Looking forward to hearing about the rest of the trip!

    • Pop
      August 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      LOL – that’s a wonderful description John. Why walk a mile in someone else’s shoes when you can just strangle yourself with them?

      The nice thing about an airplane vs. driving though is that a bathroom is ALWAYS nearby and you know where it is – though it may be occupied when you really need it. When we hear the words, “PEE PEE” while we are on a long roadtrip and have no idea when or where the next rest area will show up is the worst.

  6. August 17, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    I’m working backwards and haven’t read your “I’m ALIVE!” post yet…

    But so far, this mission sounds like quite the adventure.

    Glad you survived the travel with all the challenges that attend being accompanied by children…

    Good for you, brave man.

    Will head back to your previous post now for more details ~

    • Pop
      August 22, 2011 at 9:49 am

      It was certainly a challenge but it was well worth it!

  7. August 17, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Hi Pop! long time no talk! Wow, sounds like you have had the eventful summer 🙂 can’t wait to read more of this adventure!

    • Pop
      August 22, 2011 at 9:49 am

      I know Gigi! How’ve you been?

  8. August 17, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Can’t wait to hear more…and this is bringing me back to memories of our jaunt through hell last summer when we took the kids 3 hours away to the river!

    • Pop
      August 22, 2011 at 9:50 am

      And don’t forget the jaunt back through hell to get back home

  9. August 18, 2011 at 10:07 am

    When I first started reading your post, I thought, “how neat to take your kids on a mission trip! Maybe we could do that with our kids.” Of course that thought didn’t last long. Haha Having a cranky toddler in a mall or a grocery store is bad enough. I can only imagine how frustrating it would be on an international flight! I think if we go on a family mission trip someday, I’ll wait until the kids are old enough to carry my bags. ;0)

    • Pop
      August 22, 2011 at 9:51 am

      “I’ll wait until the kids are old enough to carry my bags. ;0)”


  10. August 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    holy build up batman! I wish the next day was better, you’re leavin’ me hangin’ p.s. that spit drool stuff is cute. on the picture 🙂

    • Pop
      August 22, 2011 at 9:52 am

      Don’t worry. I’m not doing a post for each day of the trip. Considering my irregular posting schedule, that could take me 4 months!

  11. TK
    August 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    I’m glad you survived. And can I be the 16th person to congratulate you and your wife on your courage under fire?! No way would I brave an overseas flight with my kids in tow. When they are much, much older perhaps I will consider taking them cross country. =)

    • Pop
      August 22, 2011 at 9:53 am

      Older? I dunno. I prefer it when they’re younger since they don’t have attitudes. Toddler tantrums are bad, but I hear teenage tantrums are worse 😛

  12. August 20, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    You’re so brave, Pop!! I haven’t even flown with the kids from Minneapolis to Chicago!!! Seriously, glad you’re back in one piece.

    • Pop
      August 22, 2011 at 9:54 am

      Thanks, Nina! I’m actually contemplating a trip to Chicago next year. So I’ll tell ya how that goes.

  13. Liz
    August 21, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    I don’t know that I want to know what comes next! Nothing gets my blood pressure higher than travel with kids. Even the mere thought does it.

    You are a stronger person than me, Pop! You couldn’t pay me to fly that far with my little ones!

    • Pop
      August 22, 2011 at 9:55 am

      It’s true. My blood pressure was pretty high during the travel. That’s why we were there for a month: so that my blood pressure could return to normal before traveling again

  14. August 23, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    You guys are troopers. I was feeling very impatient after a two-hour flight with the kids (yep, I’m a wimp). I’m off to read Part II!

    • Pop
      August 27, 2011 at 10:00 am

      Length of time is insignificant – kids can test your patience in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. 😛

  15. August 26, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Shame on anyone giving you a death stare for a crying baby. It is so stressful to be in that situation in the first place, Off for part 2.

    • Pop
      August 27, 2011 at 10:01 am

      Seriously. It’s even stranger when it’s from other parents.

  16. August 30, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    1. You totally should have left that partridge home – I mean, international travel is not good for birds!
    2. I seriously need that sticker for my normal life.

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