Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Adventures in Thailand: Transportation-Safe or Not Safe?

Yes, transportation in Thailand gets a post all it's own. Now, you know us Carders and how we are known for apparently being safe as evidenced by our numerous safety plates that we own. Do I need to remind everyone about our safety plates?? Well, getting around in Thailand I would say that safety is out the window on many occasions. I don't know, you decide safe or not safe?

1. Side-saddle to the Salon
Safety Precautions: none besides my kung-fu grip on Derran's shoulder and an extra tuck in or two for my skirt so it doesn't fly up over my head
Safety status: semi safe but did not feel so safe

So, this is the second day we are in Phayao. We are a little jet-lagged and I'm needing to wash my hair. I had been putting it off because frankly folks, I've got a lot of hair and it just takes a lot of energy sometimes to wash, dry and style it. And, it has some natural curl and can be very big...Rick lovingly calls me Tina Turner. I'll come out of the bathroom after blowdrying it at night and he'll say, "Whoa, hey Tina, nice hair." Thanks Rick. Anyway, so I didn't feel like doing my hair so Ann tells me I should go to their little beauty salon and the lady there will wash my hair, give me a head massage, dry and style it for me. She had me at head massage...that sounds like a fabulous plan! Especially since Ann's adapter wasn't working and the hair-dryer and flat-iron wouldn't work anyway since the voltage is different. Rick couldn't understand why I would go and pay for someone to wash my hair for me when it's something I could do myself but I kindly ignored him. :) I was focused on the head massage. Anyway, so then Ann kindly volunteered Derran to take me on the motorcycle. This is funny because I later found out that Ann hasn't been on the motorcycle in over a year but she sure was Johnny-on-the-spot ready for me to take a ride on it the second day I was there AND in a skirt! Thank you, Ann. Thanks.

Aaannnd these are the children's faces as they are watching me leave on the motorcycle. Utter confusion. If that doesn't say it all I don't know what does.

So, Derran takes me to the salon with a little stop off at 7-11 for a coke...which he held in his hand WHILE driving the motorcycle. This adds to the safety concerns already in place. I am just thinking while we're going: don't fall off, try not to lose a flip-flop, Dear Lord please don't let my skirt fly up, ease up your grip on Derran's shoulder, don't fall off, I really hope no one hits us, why didn't I think to wear a helmet?, don't fall off. Derran is a great driver by the way! We made it to the salon in one piece and I got my hair washed with a great head massage, dried and styled for oh...around $3 including tip!! So great! However, before you think I am that vain and care this much about my hair I will tell you that the rest of the trip I did my hair myself and just went with my Tina Turner do for two weeks thanks to no hair-dryer or flat-iron. I must say that it was kind of refreshing not to fix my hair everyday, maybe not so refreshing to look at but it was great with me!

2. Best Friends Forever
Safety Precautions: helmets...good job boys!
Safety status: Who cares because this is an AWESOME story!

This is how Rick and Derran cruised around town on most days. They would take the motorcycle to the office, to run errands, to rescue Ann's misplaced and stolen iphone! Ok, this story is great. This is the third day we are in Phayao and Ann misplaces her iphone that she has only had for two months. By the time she remembers it is too late. We searched for it close to their house but did not find it so thanks to Find My iphone App we pull up the GPS on their computer. We see her phone icon and it's MOVING!! Someone has it and it has now become a stolen iphone! Rick and Derran jump on the Hog and take off to go track down the perp. Ann and I stay at home with the girls and keep our eyes glued to the computer. For you 24 fans out there it was totally like 24. :) Ann and I felt like Chloe back at CTU watching the satellite feed and giving the boys instruction while Derran and Rick aka Jack Bauer and friends were driving like bats all around town trying to find the target. Anyway, so the perp and Ann's stolen iphone show up on the GPS at 7-11, BAM! Derran and Rick are there and start questioning bystanders, searching the bathroom, searching trash cans. No one's giving any info but they know it's there! Well, so the GPS shows that it hasn't moved from 7-11 for 40 minutes or so which made us all think someone is either standing there with it in their pocket or it's stashed on a shelf somewhere. Come to find out if the phone is moving too much or too fast or something the GPS wouldn't update until the phone stopped moving enough so it made it look like it was at 7-11 the whole time but in fact it wasn't. Very confusing but we learned quickly what was going on, don't you worry!

All of a sudden, finally Ann and I see that the satellite updated and the phone is on the move again and it is now in another part of town! So Derran and Rick jump on the motorcycle again and chase it down to a business school and of course no one there seems to know anything about a missing phone which is weird because as they are talking to people at the business school three guys take off on motorcycles and all go in different directions. Very suspicious! The phone then shows up in a neighborhood somewhere but the boys can't track it. So, they come home and we're all feeling a little deflated but still watching the computer screen for any satellite updates and hoping that maybe, just maybe this isn't over. We're sitting around talking for awhile when wouldn't you know the satellite refreshes and the perp with the phone is on the move AGAIN! This time it was headed into the market area in Phayao which could only mean that they were headed for the cell phone store in the market to sell it. Aaaah! Here we go again, we're shouting for the boys to Go!Go!Go! and they hop back on the motorcycle and drive like crazy down to the market and cell phone store. Will they get there in time to stop the perp from selling it??

No! They don't but don't despair my friends, this isn't over. Not with Derran's mad interrogating-Thai-speaking skills. First, Rick tries to scope out the scene so he walks into the cell phone store first trying to act like a clueless American and asks, "Iphone 4?" to which the lady replies that they have a second-hand iphone 4. So now Derran walks in and asks the same question and the lady tells him no, they don't have one. Oh, tell me lies tell me sweet little lies! Meanwhile the owner of the store is basically hiding in the back trying to buy his time so he doesn't have to talk to Derran but finally decides to come out after sweet-little-lying girl can't keep up their lies about the fact that they've said they did not just buy an iphone 4 when it fact the GPS shows it's in their store. Anyway, long story short, after police and jail time are thrown into the conversation, xeroxed pictures of the perp's drivers license are suspiciously passed across the counter to Derran from the store owner and he's told multiple times to just "Go find her" to get his phone back Derran doesn't cave. He stands his ground and doesn't buy into the lies meanwhile doing all of this in Thai. The owner finally admits to having bought the phone for several hundred dollars from a girl claiming her aunt gave it to her and that he has the phone. After much more conversation Derran gets the phone back which has already been wiped, puts it in his pocket and walks out the door without having to pay a thing to get it back.

This whole drama story began around 1:30 pm and Rick and Derran didn't get home until 7:30pm but they had the phone in hand! Unbelievable. All day this went on, motorcycle chase around town, interrogating multiple people, the lies, the deceit, police and jail threats. I'm telling you it was one crazy day. We thought they would be exhausted when they got home and they were to an extent but Rick's face and response when they walked in the door was hilarious. With wide eyes and a huge smile he says, "This is what I'm talking about! This kind of stuff never happens in the States!" Hilarious. Then we all re-hashed the story and got all the juicy details from what really went down at the cell phone store. It was awesome and will not be forgotten! Thanks for losing your phone Ann, it made for some great memories! :)

3. Get in where you fit in
Safety Precautions: seatbelts...sort of
Safety Status: safe...sort of considering the circumstances

So this is pretty much the set up for getting places when we were in Thailand except with the four girls in the back just squeeze Ann and I back there too and we're golden. Ann and Derran have a four door truck so most of the time it was 6 people in the back sharing seatbelts and kids on laps and the other two people in the front seat. I mean, just look at this picture and how seatbelts are all funky behind the seats so as not to strangle the little ones and are pulled as far as they can go to strap across two people in the middle. Who needs a carseat? This works great!

At least they all have a Coke Slurpee from 7-11 to make them happy. That always helps when you're squished, hot and sticky in a car full of people right? Rrrriiiight.

4. Night Time Vespa Ride
Safety Precautions: helmets
Safety Status: double not safe

Just when you thought it couldn't get any weirder right? Don't be fooled, this is Thailand, you never know what you might see or ride in. One of Ann and Derran's team mates, Chris and Tonya Fikes have a Vespa with a side-car, which is hilarious and fantastic. Well, I was dying to take a ride in it so Chris drove us home one night so we could take a spin in it.

As if Rick and I squished in there together isn't bad enough, let's add Eva to the mix shall we? Just when you thought things weren't so safe to begin with why don't we up the anty by carrying a small child on our lap. I mean hello, what were we thinking? My ridiculous leg is hanging out because it can't even fit in the side car but let's take Eva with us, this will be fun! Good night in the morning! The first two minutes of the ride I thought, yeah, this is fun and then soon after that I was just thinking, this is just plain irresponsible! Ella was riding with Ann and Derran in the truck and the three of us were riding in the side car at night on the main road/highway that runs through town to get back to Ann and Derran's house. Eva was having a blast laughing and flapping her arms like a bird and I was just praying that we wouldn't fall out and that no one would hit us. People were passing us and laughing which is interesting to me considering the things Thai people do and put on their motorcycles. It is very common to see a family of 4 or 5 people on one small motorcycle. The dad may be driving with a toddler in his lap while the mom is holding a small infant and another toddler...none of them will be wearing helmets. Not kidding. You will see dogs on the motorcycle or maybe a woman leaving the market with bags of vegetables hanging from the handle bars and crates piled high behind her with food. It is beyond belief! So the fact that they were laughing at us is funny to me, I mean, I know we look ridiculous but still. It was another fun memory!

5. Two's company Three's a crowd
Safety Precautions: helmets
Safety Status: safe?

Three is definitely not a crowd if the third person is sweet little Meg Reese with her cute ladybug motorcycle helmet! Is she not the most precious thing? And probably the bravest one out of all of us. She loves to ride the motorcyle with her Daddy!

6. Who needs a carseat anyway?
Safety precautions: must stay seated at all times
Safety status: I'm thinking not so safe

At the end of our trip we spent 2 days in Chiang Mai which is about 2 1/2 hours away from Phayao. One of our dear friends that lives there, Robert Reagan graciously let us stay at their house and borrow his car to cruise around town. It is a pick up that has a covered back with bench seating. Fabulous! The girls loved riding around town in it. We did make Ella and Meg sit in the front in the carseats for some of the time but they got to ride around with the big girls in the back too. Umm, so probably not very safe considering it's basically letting your small children ride around in the bed of a pick up truck all day while you cruise around town, go out on the highway and drive up a mountain for 45 minutes but hey it's a different country so there are different rules. :)

We all loved it and it was a nice break from being squished on top of each other in Ann and Derran's truck.

7. If you like Pina Colada's and getting caught in the rain
Safety precautions: none
Safety Status: not safe

Well, there were definitely no pina coladas but there was rain on these two poor boys stuck in the back of the truck. On our way to Chiang Mai from Phayao we only had one car for all of us plus all of our luggage. We were flying out of Chiang Mai to go back home so it was tricky figuring out how to fit all of us in Derran and Ann's truck and all the luggage. Well, Derran and Rick drew the short straws so they sat back in the back with all the luggage for the 2 1/2-3 hour drive on a small, very curvy highway through the mountains from Phayao to Chiang Mai. Lots of bonding time! And lots of prayers on my part for their safety. It rained for a lot of the time but they were good sports. They look happy right? I mean, what were our options? Eva was already on my lap in the front seat, Brynn was in the back between Meg and Ella in carseats for once so there really wasn't anything else we could do. All I can say is it's just making memories!

8. Take me on a Tuk-Tuk Ride
Safety precautions: none except holding on tight
Safety status: I don't know, depends on how you feel about riding around in a car that only has 3 wheels, no doors and has motorcycle handle bars for a steering wheel

If you are ever in Thailand or another Asian country you must take a ride in a Tuk-Tuk! No doors, no seatbelts, open air which is great when you're sitting in hot traffic at a standstill. I mean Tuk-Tuks would make Chinese fire drills SO much easier wouldn't they? You wouldn't have to mess with the whole door thing. Anyway, we took a ride around town in Chiang Mai just so the girls could experience it. It was so fun.

Such fun memories! Glad we are all safe and no one fell off a motorcycle or out of a car. Can't wait for more fun times with you Reese family!!


Kendra said...

Oh this is all so FUN!!! Great memories - priceless memories, and you, my friend, are a GREAT storyteller! Giggles here while reading all by myself...hysterical.

Christiana said...

There are few things that I read, dear Amy, that actually make me laugh out loud. But I find myself often laughing out loud when I read your blog. You're hilarious! I loved the story of Rick and Derran's iphone reconnaissance mission so much that I read it outloud to Matthew. Amazing! Love your transportation list. You should send this stuff to magazines!

leslie said...

seriously, amy. write a book. this is fantastic material here! :) LOVED reading about all the traveling adventures!

JG said...

Oh, my word, you're a funny girl, Amy Carder. Here are my favorite lines:
1) "No! They don't but don't despair my friends, this isn't over. Not with Derran's mad interrogating-Thai-speaking skills." And the Thai "perp" kills me. Of course, you just stole an iphone, where do you go next? 7-11! Got to get a slurpee to celebrate!
2) "If you like Pina Colada's and getting caught in the rain..." 3)"I mean Tuk-Tuks would make Chinese fire drills SO much easier wouldn't they?"

And Brynn has the same Old Navy dress Lella does--makes me happy! I love these updates!


Nancy Giurlanda said...

Oh how I LOVE reading your trip recaps !! you are hilarious, I cannot wait for the next episode !! Great job Rick and Derran for chasing down the "perp" and recovering the stolen I Phone...priceless!! I also had a good laugh that your loving sister couldn't wait for you to get on that "HOG" hahaha !! Can't wait to read about the next adventures of the Carders in Thailand!! Love you all so much. xoxo

Jodi said...

This is my favorite blog post in the history of blog posts. :)

Jodi said...

And btw, it makes me happy beyond belief that someone else whom I know and love uses the phrase "good night in the morning." The end. :)

amber dayton said...

Love, love, love reading about your trip. I am so proud of you for giving this adventure to your kids - sometimes us mommies are not the risk takers that we need to be - they will remember this trip & retell stories about it forever! Your post also brought back lots of fun memories for me. I got to spend part of a summer mission trip in Thailand & the transporation craziness was a huge part of the experience. Sometimes I wish I could grab a tuk tuk & head on over to wal-mart - it would make it much more of an adventure than my boring old minivan! Can't wait to hear more. :)

Ross & Jamie said...

Chloe, I mean Amy!!! This was a fun read!! We love you and am so glad you got to spend two weeks with your sister!!
You really could be one of those secret agents who fly all over the world trying out restaurants and hotels giving your two hilarious cents! Love you!!
Thanks for the smiles!

Specks said...

These stories and pics are just SO FABULOUS. You are an amazing story teller and the incredible thing is that it is all true. Wildness. My fav pic was the the four beautiful little girls staring at you are Derran as you were leaving to get your $3 haircut and head massage!

Kara Sheets said...

wow, i just laughed out loud through most of this post! i kept picking out little excerpts to read to zach, but then i finally just told him he needs to read the whole thing. i felt like i was there for the iPhone reconnaissance. those store owners had no idea what was coming. hilarious!
so glad yall had a great visit!