Sunday, January 23, 2011

So to (finally)wrap up blogging about our family vaca to Thailand and Malaysia...
After the boat trip back from Phi Phi Island, we had to spend 1 more night in Phuket before traveling back to KL, and then home. This time we stayed at a cute little hotel called the Layalina Hotel. We were the only ones there! It was a little sketchy from the street, but from the back and the room we stayed in, it was great. We had upgraded to a very nice room, but unfortunately, Brett was still not feeling his best, so we didn't get to totally enjoy it. That, and we were tired from all our travels at this point.
The back side of the hotel.
The back of the hotel, facing the ocean.
The cute little hotel pool (we didn't use it).
Our room. It had a really big tub (which M LOVED taking a bath in) and a cool cut out from the tub to the bedroom.
The bed
It also had a swirly staircase that led up to a rooftop balcony.
M thought the stairs were pretty neat.
View from the balcony
The roof balcony, complete with chaise lounges. It was like 200 degrees up here though, so it didn't get used by us.
Our beach and pool view.
M enjoyed checking out the bed.
We ate lunch and took a nap. Then we strolled down the street the hotel was on, and ate dinner at a Scandinavian food restaurant. They had yummy margaritas.

Brett and Mal enjoy the restaurant for dinner. The owner of the place was an ex-pat and he was fun to talk to. His young daughter loved Mal too.
The next morning we had to get up really early and go to the airport for our flight from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur. Then, unfortunately, we had a LONG layover in KL. Originally we were thinking we'd go find something else to do in KL again, but Brett still wasn't 100% and we were still exhausted, so we stayed in the airport. The KL airport is one of the nicest ones I've ever been in though- they had a movie lounge and an internet station and lots of shops and restaurants. They also had a airside transit hotel, which, since we had soooo long (like 11 hours) to kill) we checked into for a few hours and took a nap. The room was blah but it worked.
M spent time in the stroller, perusing the airport.

Waiting to check in to the airport hotel (we had certain hours the room was ours- kinda like a "love hotel"- ick!)

After that, we finally got on our plane and made it home to Tokyo. It was a FABULOUS family vacation, and we certainly made lifelong memories. I loved getting to spend so much time relaxing with Brett and Mal, and I know Brett enjoyed being out of the office and just hanging out with the family. We can't wait for our next trip!!!


* Be warned- I'm on a sappy kick tonight and felt like writing it down.*

Sometimes it is the littlest things that stop and make you realize how lucky you are. Tonight, I had to rock Mallory to sleep. That is very unlike her, she normally falls right to sleep on her own. But as I sat in the dark with her in my arms, I was reminded once again just how blessed I truly am- that little girl is every dream I've ever had come true. She is healthy, lively, and adorable. She learns new things every day and her little personality just grows and grows, and I get to be a part of that!
I have always known I wanted to be a Mommy. Growing up, I played dolls all the time and each one had a name and a bed and clothes, etc. But I didn't know how great being a mom really is, until I became one - and the coolest part? It just gets better and better. I will forever remember the day Mallory came into this world. It truly was the best day of my whole life. But seriously, every day I love her more and more as she grows and changes and becomes the wonderful little girl I know she is, and is going to become. It is the neatest thing to watch.
For some reason, it just really hit me tonight is that I am so very blessed to be her Mommy. God picked ME to be in charge of her and that is just awesome. There are so many people out there who, for whatever reason, can't get pregnant, or have lost a child, or who have a child with severe issues of one kind or another. There are children out there who are homeless or living in orphanges. I could just as easily be one of those people and M could just as easily be one of those kids. But instead we are blessed to be mother and daughter, and that is just a gift I will never be able to say "thank you" enough for.
I honestly didn't want to put her down once she finally fell asleep tonight, as I know all too soon, she won't want me to rock her anymore. I can't believe it has already been 17 months since she came into my life. Easily, without a doubt, the best 17 months of my life. Perhaps the 17 months with the least sleep too, but that's ok. I love that precious little girl, that gift from God, more than words could ever say, and I know it is my duty to guide and protect and love her the very best I can. Every single day my love for her grows, even when I didn't think it was possible to love her anymore. Thank you God for giving me the best gift in the entire world, my daughter.
(This is her asleep in her stroller a few days ago- she doesn't have to sleep in her big, puffy coat inside!)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Welcome to 2011..where I'm still blogging about 2010!

I'll start out this post like all the, oh man am I behind! Here it is 11 days into 2011, and I'm still writing about our trip in August of 2010! Oops! I have decided that my resolution for this year will be to get caught up on this darn blog, so I can write about current events, while they are still current! Plus, we just got back from a great trip to Hong Kong with our neighbors. I need to blog about that and it's easier to write with our travel buddies, but I'm sure she won't wait 6 more months for me to catch up (her blog is current- what a novel idea!!) So...I'll work on catching up. Here's the rest of our Malaysia/Thailand vacation:
Off the coast of Thailand is an island called Phi Phi. It is supposed to be gorgeous and a great get away, so we decided to head out there and spend some time. Some people take a speed boat out there for the day only, but we decided to book a hotel out there and stay for 2 nights. Plus, they told us the speed boat wouldn't be as safe with Mallory. The only other way over is by ferry boat, which is a slower ride. We booked the ferry and couldn't wait.
The morning that we left, we packed up all our stuff from Indigo Pearl and took a taxi over to the ferry port. That went well enough, but from the moment we got on the boat, I was a bit nervous. We were packed on like sardines, and by the time we got on they only had seats on the underneath level. (There was a top deck that you could only get to by ladder, a middle deck and a below level deck). On the bottom deck, you couldn't see out (and the boat was swaying back and forth quite a bit at this point- my stomach wasn't happy with that motion). It was also about 250 degrees in there, and the a/c wasn't working. I knew it wasn't going to be a good combo for me, and then M started fussing and I knew she wasn't liking it either. We went outside part of the middle deck, where all the luggage was piled. I just plopped myself down on someone's suitcase and held onto Mallory. Brett stood out there with us too. Apparently, several other people had the same problem we did (and same idea to get outside) as that area became quite crowded (and a few of the people were leaning over the side of the boat barfing- it was lovely). Thankfully, I kept my lunch down and we made it. Not a minute too soon I might add- it was a horrible ride and I was already dreading having to leave the island in 2 days. I seriously was wondering if we could just somehow get a job at the hotel and raise our child on Phi Phi Island- the thought of the ferry ride back made me that crazy to think about!
Just as I was really thinking we'd made a mistake, the islands began to come in view. They were beautiful, and I knew we would enjoy our time.

About that time, we were told we had to transfer to another boat to get to our resort. Mallory said goodbye to the crew,
and we got off the ferry (that's horrible boat you can see in this picture),
and onto this crazy contraption with wheels. They loaded all of us and our bags and "drove" us to Phi Phi Island Resort.
They had welcome drinks waiting in the beautiful outdoor lobby- my kind of place!

We checked in and were shown to our room. The rooms here are all individual huts and were so nice. Here is our bedroom,
our welcome tray of fruit,
the bathroom,
even the TOILET had a fresh flower in it. (I won't lie- I wasn't sure if I was supposed to fish it out or flush it down!)
The toilet paper was folded all cute too. (Between the toilet flower and the paper, it made me want to just hold it the whole time we were there- ha!)
Our little hut had a front porch with chairs, which Mallory loved to climb on and explore.
Our hut.
This fun coconut "tree" was on the way over to the restaurants. The resort is very secluded and isolated. We loved it and thought it so relaxing and nice to be secluded from the hustle and bustle of life for a bit. But it also meant that you had to eat at the restaurants there at the resort. Luckily, they had a few to choose from and the food was all very good (and of various types- not all Thai food, which was nice).
The restaurant where we ate our dinners.
Brett and Mal standing on the edge of the resort. Behind them is the beach, but it is low tide, so the water is WAYY out, and it isn't nearly as pretty.
Mal crashed for a bit on our bed after out long ferry ride over.
When she woke up, we went to dinner and I had this delicious drink :)
I made Mallory pose for a few pics on our porch.

The next day we got up and were going to go snorkeling and explore the beaches. This area is known for it's "long tail boats", which you see here.
The beach at high tide and some long tails.
Silly sign that made me laugh.
We decided to go on this trip, and I'm so glad we did. We had a GREAT time!
A map of Phi Phi Islands
Mal all ready for our boat trip.
Looking so cute in her hat, crabby coverup and swimsuit.
The resort as we were pulling away from shore. It's high tide and very pretty!

Snorkel gear on and ready to go!
Mal hung out on the boat with the crew while Mommy and Daddy snorkeled.
The other islands, as viewed from our boat.
After our first snorkel stop, a storm started to roll in.

Mallory also decided it was naptime. So sweet, safe in Dada's arms!

Our trip took us past the famous area where they harvest swallow birds' nests for birds nest soup. This is a delicacy in this area and it is very expensive too (obviously because of the precarious way you have to harvest the nests-see all that rickity scaffolding the men have to climb around on, and they can only be found a few places in the world).

Next, we pulled into this little cove to swim a bit more.
This boat was in the cove too- great name ;)
Daddy and Mal go for a swim
After the cove, we went around to where you can see the beach where the movie "The Beach" with Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed. However, due to the slightly choppy waters and tides, our boat wasn't able to get in on the actual side where the movie was filmed. So, we had to park, and all get off the boat and swim over to this ladder to get to that beach. Sounds easy enough, right?
Here's the rope we all hung onto as we swam. Now, I can swim and am not at all afraid of the water. BUT, this was some CHOPPY, ROUGH water! I was glad the rope was there to hang onto. Once you got to the ladder you were tossed and thrown aroudn like nothing I've ever experienced (I grabbed a life vest on a whim as I hopped off the boat, and I'm really glad I did!)
Finally got up the ladder, and was waiting my turn to climb down the other side (see me in my dorky life vest?) Looks easy enough except that the rocks down there are like razors on your feet. And the water sucks out thru a hole under the ladder really fast, and then rushes back in again at crazy speed so you have to time it just right. It's wild, and I was glad a few other people were there to help me!
Finally made it over the ladder and out of that little cove.
Then you had to walk thru a bit of jungle...
...and FINALLY we were there.
It was pretty and cool to say we'd been there, I guess. I was hoping Leo was waiting for me, but no such luck ;) That's ok, Brett will do!

These signs were on the beach, telling you where to go, just in case. This area was hit by the Christmas Tsunami back in 2004.
After hanging out on the famous beach a bit, we had to do the whole ladder thing all over again to get back to the boat (it wasn't as bad going back- I guess I knew what was coming already). The whole time we were gone Mallory was hanging out on the boat with the staff. We knew she was fine, but it was good to get back and see her (we were only gone about 30 minutes, but still...)
Next we were taken to another beach to eat lunch. Mal and I enjoyed ours while Daddy went snorkeling again after eating his. He took our picture.
Then he took some underwater snorkel pics.

Mallory was given some connect 4 chips to play with, and quite enjoyed it. This makes it look like she knows how to play the game (and maybe she is a genius baby!)
Brett posing on our boat at the end of the day.
Coming back to our resort, with the tide out again.
That night we went to dinner at the resort and this live calypso group was walking from table to table playing music and taking requests. Brett asked if they knew anything by The Rolling Stones and they ended up playing "Can't get no satisfaction". Well, if that isn't a lovely love song while at dinner with your honey I don't know what is- ha! It was fun regardless.
The next morning, I got up and walked around the resort and came across the Tsunami Victims Memorial, erected after the Tsunami in 2004.This particular island was hit hard, and 2 people staying at this exact resort were killed in that natural disaster.
The I went and took a few pictures of the beach with the tide in- so pretty, isn't it?
We happened to be there for Mother's Day, Thai Mother's Day that is. It is actually the queen's birthday, and they call her the queen mother. Hence, Mother's Day. They had a big set up. I personally thought I should get some special treatment, and get 2 mom's days this year...but no such luck. Oh well.
After that we were back on our way to the mainland. Luckily, our resort had it's own catamaran and we were able to pay just a bit more and take that back instead of the dreaded ferry. Thank God. It was worth every extra penny (and truthfully, I would have spent my life savings to not have had to go back to that ferry again!)
The catamaran- isn't it sooo much nicer than the ferry?!

Random picture, but these little temple things are all over Thailand, and I snapped this picture of one at the marina.
We got off the boat and chilled for a bit in the sun while our transportation from the boat came to take us to our hotel. Doesn't M look so cute? She sat so patient and just waited for our taxi. Guess she was used to the 539275620 forms of transportation we'd already taken on this trip!