Welcome to SouthEast Asia! Even though I spent the first leg of my Asian adventure in Singapore I don’t think I experienced true Asian culture until I landed in the Phuket airport. Imigration was fast and easy, but once we stepped outside, I realized that I was truley in Asia. In Singapore order ruled and English was the primary language of everyone. In Thailand things were different. It was quite refreshing to be in a country where English skills were limited. It strenthened my methods of comunication and also helped me develop patience and understanding. Even though there were comunication barriers, it did not take long to see the hospitable spirit of the Thai people. We reached our resourt and were greeted with real flower Leis that smelled wonderful. The resort was gorgeous and as we checked in we were given cold towles and fresh juice. The complex was absoluetly lovely and the pool was amazing. It was monsoon season so the resort was not very full and we were able to get a room for very cheap.
Because of the weather, the beach on this West Side of Thailand was very rough and unpredictable and the waves were rough. Therefore we decided to take our umbrella and go explore the city. We were very glad we did not stay in the party center of Patong Beach. Instead we stayed in the quiter and less touristy Karon Beach. As we walked around we wondered upon a night market. We later found out that this happens only once a week. We were so blessed to have chosen this night to explore. This place was very interesting. It gave us a new insight into the culture of Phuket island. We saw booths where you could get a fish pedicure. That is where little tiny fish eat away all of the dead skin on your feet. We also ran across a Bug Buffett. We declined both of these experiences and moved on to find a massage place where we both got 90 minute massages for about 12 US dollars. They were wonderful, however the Thai standard of modesty when it comes to massages is quite different than I’m use to. It was quite the experience.
After our massages we went to a local restaurant to get some authentic Thai Food. I got Pad Thai and my friend Teresa got Masaman Curie. This started a tradition and we would compare these dishes throughout the rest of SE Asia. The waiters asked us where we were from and we said USA. They were very surprised. They said that they had never had an American eat there before. At first we found this hard to believe seeing how Phuket was such a tourist destination. Yet, the more we thought about it the more we realized that Teresa and I had not ran into another American in Southeast Asia. Not even in Singapore. However, determined to show off their true Thai hospitality the crew did a great job of cooking us up some traditional food and it was great. Just before we were about to leave, it started to rain again. The cook from the restaurant came out and tried to give us her personal umbrella. I was truly touched. We refused, but that she would give one of her few possessions to an entitled stranger tourist is beyond normal understanding of generosity. And my heart was touched.
The next day we rose early to start an adventure. We woke up early to go cave canoeing. According to others, it had been raining fairly heavily the past week. I didn’t mind. It had been nice to sit in the open air hotel lobby and read while listening to the rain and feeling the cool breeze, but I prayed that it would be nice for our canoeing trip. When we woke up that morning, the weather didn’t look good. A van picked us up to take us to the other side of the island to start our adventure. The rain poured and I started to get more and more worried that we had wasted our money. Yet I prayed that God would change my heart and my thinking. I thought instead how lucky is it that it is raining right now while we are in a van traveling to the canoes, and perhaps it is God’s will for the rain to happen now instead of later. I knew right then that God was going to take care of us and if we had faith in Him he would work it out rain or shine. I knew it was going to be a great day and I started to praise him in my heart! It was an interesting ride to the location. We passed under a fallen telephone poll, oh- don’t worry the tangled mass of unorganized electrical wire that is quite common in the towns of Thailand held the poll up high enough for our van to drive under. Then we drove past a mud slide. It was a great way to start our little adventure.
Instead of worrying, I thanked God for His protection and timing. Perhaps if we had come a few minutes later we wouldn’t have been able to get through. Through prayer my heart had changed from one of worry to one of praise and God honored that. When we got to our Canoes it was the best weather the island had seen all week. I had faith that it would work out and God provided, just like He always does. The canoeing adventure was incredible. It was absolutely perfect. It rained a couple of times at the end, but by that time we were hot and the rain was welcome. It even added another element of adventure to the experience. It was quite fun and the whole day was perfect. And the next morning it was even sunny enough to lay out by the pool. God really provided! It is amazing how powerful a heart of praise can be!