[Editor’s note: This is the second post today in the last of our “Two for Tuesdays” series, as we have learned we won’t be able to access the blog in China and thus need to keep a ten-day lag.]
12/25/09: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Bright-eyed and bushy tailed, Zhou and I awoke at 6:30am and ran downstairs in traditional Christmas morning fashion. It’s what happened after this that sets this year’s Christmas apart from any other. We were greeted by a man awaiting to take us to the Thai jungle for a morning of ziplining from treetop to treetop.
Upon arriving at the “Flight of the Gibbons” office in the jungle, this morning became my present to Zhou as I was the one who pulled out the wallet and paid for it. (Zhou, where’s my present?) Also, as we’re still in our honeymoon period (unlike Obama), I requested the temperature of the jungle be turned down to remind us of Christmases back home. If only I had remembered to remind Zhou to wear her fleece, she might have appreciated my efforts.
The ziplining itself was billed as the top attraction in Chiang Mai, but unfortunately I think they used the word “top” in it’s most literal meaning of “highest.” Don’t get me wrong, we had a good time and would recommend it for families traveling with kids, but it wasn’t quite as exciting as we expected. There were ten different ziplines, three spots where we abseiled down trees and about thirteen places where I yawned. I guess in my head I’ve always pictured ziplines as wires that could transport you from the top of the Empire State Building to Atlantic City.
The morning’s activity was followed by a hike up a waterfall which turned out to be more of a babbling brook at an angle. After a ten minute climb we reached the unscenic apex: a small sign that said “do not pass.” All we could do was shrug our shoulders and head down to lunch.
Before leaving on our trip, Christmas Day was the one day that I was dreading most. For 24 years, Christmas has been the one constant in my life. There’s hotpot with my mom’s side of the family, games with my dad’s and a morning of Steve, me, Mom and Dad alternating opening Christmas presents youngest to oldest, one at a time. Steve always dons a Santa hat and passes the mountain of presents out from under the tree that our family decorated together, and after the festivities we grab the cats out from under the wrapping paper they’re playing in and force them into our family picture. This year was obviously a bit different. As cool as Thailand is (not literally), it wasn’t easy to be away from home during the one day I could always count on being at home.
However, Christmas is a time for spending with family, and I was able to do that again this year. Not the family that I have known my entire life, but my new family. I spent today with the one person who understands me better than any other and the only one with whom I could survive an 11-month trip with. It’s been 3.5 months now of spending all day every day together and we haven’t had one argument. Not one. Sure, we’ve had our differences of opinion on things, but we have yet to let them get in the way of the great experience we’re having. Not everyone can be so lucky.
So although today may have been difficult emotionally, it was also really special: it’s the first of many Christmases with my wife (I’ve promised her at least three). No need to worry though Mom and Dad – next year we’ve vowed to return home and celebrate with both our families, because after all, that’s what Christmas is about.
Thought of the Day: I haven’t heard the new holiday CD, but I feel like David Archuletta’s sole purpose in life is to make Christmas albums.
Picture of the Day: A tasty western Christmas dinner of ribs and burgers at The Duke’s.