Jacob and I were blessed with the incredible opportunity to take a trip to the Phi Phi Islands, off the coast of Thailand. This trip was so amazing that my following words can’t even describe how great it was. But I will try… (:
So this trip was Jacob and I’s first vacation together (other than our honeymoon). We flew from India to Thailand, and then took a two hour ferry to the tropical island that we would call home for the next week. As we came up on the islands, the breath was taken right out of our lungs by their beauty. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. Giant Asian mountains shooting out of the ocean to form islands.
We stayed at Phi Phi The Beach Resort. Our resort was located at the end of “Long Beach” and was made up of about 50 different bungalows. We had a “partial” sea view but our view was incredible, and so was our room, especially coming from India.
Jacob and I had agreed on a challenge for our vacation (we are both pretty competitive so it seemed right). I would try to out-adventure him and he would try to out-relax me. This made for such a great time! We spent the mornings and afternoons on the beach, soaking up the sun, reading under the umbrella and snorkeling. There were rocks and corals right off our beach. We could walk right into the ocean, put on our gear, and see everything from Angel Fish, to giant clams, to Nemo’s (clown fish)! Other paid tours were stopping at our resort to snorkel. It was such a great location!
Every evening we would go into town. To get there we would take a longboat from our resort’s beach to the pier. This took only about 5 minutes but was necessary because there were no motorized vehicles on the island. In town there were many restaurants, shops, and activities. The food was SO good, again, especially come from India. Many of the restaurants were owned by westerners. At one of the spa’s I got one (or three) of those hair braids/wrap thingys. We also went to the fish doctor where these little fish nibble all the dead skin of your feet (much needed after 4 months in India). Sounds gross but was fun. Definitely a unique experience. And of course, we did some shopping!
One day we had gone into town around lunch time and decided (my idea) to hike back to our resort. This was my chance to be adventurous. The hike back to our resort went through the jungle over a couple of mountains and down a few beaches. It took about an hour and was so much fun to explore with my adventurous husband!
Another day we did a tour. This included an afternoon out on a boat. We made stops to feed monkeys that lived on the beach, kayak, snorkel, jump off the boat into the ocean, explore another island, and go to the beach where they filmed the movie “The Beach” that Leonardo Dicaprio starred in. We also watched the sunset from the boat while we ate Thai fried rice. Yumm! It was one of our favorite days (another adventure day, I might add) and was so cheap!
Every night they did a fire show on our beach. It was awesome! They played reggae music (which I love!) and there was usually a thunderstorm off in the distance.
Our last full day on Phi Phi we got up (super) early to watch the sunrise. We hiked to the east facing side of the island and climbed down some rocks to sit on bluffs. The sunrise was so beautiful. I couldn’t help but think about all of the scriptures that talk about it. Psalm 19:1 and Pslam 113:3 are two of my favorites.
Our Thailand vacation came at the perfect time and was exactly what we needed as a couple. We had worked hard for four months in India which allowed us to rest (and adventure) well in Thailand. Our entire time we were praising the Lord for His incredible creation and thanking Him for the amazing life He chose to give us in Jesus.
Although, it was kind of weird going from one culture that is not our own, but we are living in, to another culture that is not our own. On our other trips to Asian countries, especially India, we had researched the culture a little bit. But for some reason, we didn’t think to look up anything about Thai culture before we went. So we found ourselves in the airport in Bangkok, water bottle in hand, wondering if we should put the water to our lips or just pour it in our mouths like we do in India. It was silly things like that but many situations where we weren’t sure what was “culturally appropriate.” We have many more stories to share with you about Thailand when we get back.
But to end this post, I wanted to share a story that happened a few days after we got back to our life in India:
This just happened the other day so I wanted to add it on here. Jacob and I were in this area of town called New Market. It is an area where there are a lot of shops. You can basically find everything you need there from mattresses for your bedroom, to clothes, to hardware shops, to juice bars. There is also a Hindu temple and a mosque in this area. We had finished shopping and crossed the street to wait for our auto wala to come pick us up. We were sitting on the steps of Indian Coffee House when I noticed a woman holding a baby. I could tell by the way they were dressed, lack of shoes, dirty clothes, messy hair, and lack of hygiene, that they were beggars. The woman went up to a few men who were also outside standing around and put her hand out asking for money. While she wasn’t looking I reached into my purse and pulled out 3 rupees in change. That was all the coins I had, which was only 5 American cents, basically a nickel. I was surprised that she didn’t come up to me right away. Usually when I see beggars, I walk the other way because they come up to us foreigners and won’t leave us alone. It makes me sad. But this lady kind of wandered her way around until she was at the man who was standing a few feet from me. I watched her and finally we made eye contact. She set her baby down, and took a few steps toward me. I stood up as she stuck out her hand and then put it towards her mouth, asking for money. I leaned in close and asked her, in Hindi, what her name is. She smiled and replied with something that I didn’t understand. So I asked again to clarify and she pulled up the sleeve of her shirt to show me something. There, on her forearm, pretty small, was her name tattooed in Hindi. I couldn’t read it, but just smiled at her. I looked over at her baby who had walked a few feet away, picked up an empty bottle off the ground and put it in his mouth. I asked her if the baby was her baby. She said yes, and I asked her what his name was. She said something in Hindi that I couldn’t understand so I asked “what?” and she repeated herself. That time Jacob understood her and told me that she said that her baby didn’t have a name yet. I just smiled as I handed her the change. I sat back down on the step, touched the sweet baby’s face and hand, and then they wandered away to some other people nearby. As I sat there, I couldn’t help but to continue to think about her. Thoughts kept running through my mind: “Was that really her baby? Why was her own name tattooed on her arm? If that baby was old enough to stand and walk around, why didn’t it have a name?” So many sad possibilities of answers also came to my mind. I felt sad for her. I wanted to help her in any way I could. I had no food on me to give her. And I didn’t know what else to do, so I asked Jacob if he had any small bills. He gave me a ten rupees bill and as we walked to the auto I stopped to give this sweet young beggar the money. I placed the money in her hand, told her it was for food for her baby, and said the only other thing I knew to say, “Yeshu Masi” (Jesus in Hindi). She gave me the biggest smile as I walked away. I couldn’t help but to continue to think about her the auto ride back and so many other times since then. So many unanswered thoughts. So much more I wish I could say. So much more I wish I could do. This story is the sad reality of many people’s lives in India. I felt so helpless, all I could do was pray that God would put someone in her life that could share the G*spel with her and her child. Maybe she would remember His name. Maybe it was the first time she had ever heard it.
We only have a month and a half left in India. PLEASE continue to pray for us and the people here. And as always, your words of encouragement seriously mean more to us then you will ever know! Thank you (: