Bustling Bangkok

We tacked a Bangkok three night stop over onto the journey home from Japan. I am not exactly sure how we were anticipating spending it, but it was clear as we left Sahoro (and 6 days solid skiing/snowboarding) it would be rest that was mainly required and not so much sightseeing.

The trouble is, the husband and I find that hard. If we are somewhere new, we like to see and live it, but the kids are realists and are keen to remind us they are tired. The compromise has been a couple of hours touring here and there, followed by the remainder of the day by the pool and a few of these….

Thailand has a familiar kind of feel for us, having visited the country a couple of times before. I however, had not been to Bangkok. To me it just feels like the rest of the country, but on steroids!

There are the glaringly obvious incongruities, like the buildings that seem to be falling down around people, yet they house the latest model TVs. There are new model cars zipping around the streets and I even saw someone on a freeway on an electric scooter (you know stand up style like our kids have)!!! Then there are the buses that look like a wheel may fall off at any moment.

I first remember seeing crazy things like this, an almost blatant disregard for safety, when I visited Phuket in about 1998. Back then I was new to travelling and I found it all very confronting. Today I just find it a little puzzling……. I guess the disparity between rich and poor is just more evident in some places.

Yesterday we took a trip on the Skytrain (this is great, not delayed by the crazy traffic, air conditioned and with a view) down to the river. The kids were not feeling up to a boat trip, but we assured them it was worth a look anyway. The boats down there are something else, powered by V8 car engines!

Today we wandered over to the nearby Siam Centre, a huge high end shopping complex where you could buy anything from a cheap lunch, to clothes, electronics or a Maserati!! It was quite an eye opener. In some shops you had to be invited to enter. In others, escorted around as you browsed. We just gawked from the outside!

From here, we had an hour or so fun in Madame Tussaud’s, the kids loved ‘hanging out’ with some super stars and posing for photos. I didn’t mind it too much either….

Unfortunately though this holiday has come to an end. All we have left to do now is our obligatory Thai massage, then it is a 3:20am transfer to the airport tomorrow morning.

You know what they say……. ‘all good things must come to an end’. But, dam it sucks when it does! Here’s to planning the next trip.

TTB

Food extravaganza – Sahoro Hokkaido

We have now arrived in Bangkok for the rest and recovery part of our holiday. But before I write anything about Bangkok, I feel I have missed something huge from Club Med Sahoro…… and that is the food.

We had never done an all inclusive family holiday before so we really had no idea what to expect. We thought, being in Japan, there would be sushi and sashimi and perhaps some tempura…… we had also heard about the snow crab.

We did not expect to be treated to an international food extravaganza!

Yes there was sushi… (plus sashimi, tempura, miso soup, Japanese fried chicken and Japanese curries)

Prawn Sushi
Japanese fried chicken

And there was Thai, Korean, Sri Lankan and Indian food.

Thai salmon salad

Then there was European food… French, Italian and Hungarian.

There were desserts of all varieties and influences. The presentation was immaculate. My daughter’s favourite was definitely the chocolate fountain! There is no photo of that though, because…….well it was a little embarrassing how she ended up! Something similar to a Vegemite grin.

But, without a doubt the most impressive food, both in presentation and taste, was snow crab night. Although, I am not usually one to go for crab, I figured with a food station so grand and imposing I had to give it a go and boy was it worth it. The meat so delicate and tasty, the dipping sauce setting it off perfectly. Definitely something not to be missed.

We thought we might get sick of sushi, but with the selection on offer, it was difficult to get sick of anything.

TTB

I have had to make a quick edit to this blog as I completely forgot to mention the selection of amazing cheeses and breads that we finished each evening with. Brie, Camembert, Blue cheese, Gouda etc. One of my favourite comments from little miss 9 this holiday was……. ‘Dad, I like Brie but I prefer the firmness of Camembert’. We were all in stitches. Looks like we have a cheese connoisseur on our hands!!

TTB (again)

Gondola – Sahoro Hokkaido

Yesterday was a beautiful clear day. After my morning ski, I decided to forsake my Canadian bath soak and check out the view from the top of the gondola.

Unlike most, I went up with no skiis! Although there is a green run down, I had heard there was a patch of ice near the start and I knew it would freak me out. Rather than ruin a good thing, I thought it a good idea to leave my new ski confidence intact.

I climbed into the gondola carriage with a Japanese lady and her two young sons. We had a stilted conversation about where I was from (my Canada beanie causing a bit of confusion). Her boys didn’t understand much English but were able to politely say hello when their mum explained I was from Australia where the kangaroos and koalas are!

This got me thinking……… are we still going to have koalas in the future? A symbol of Australia that has been so badly effected by the bushfires. Everyone back home seems to be doing as much as they can to ensure we are. There are some heartwarming stories of donations coming in and people making pouches and jumpers etc for injured wildlife. I am sure too, the zoos of Australia will have a job ahead with breading programs.

I had wondered in my ‘Australia is burning’ blog if I would see evidence of global warming here in Japan. As it turns out, there most certainly is. It is still quite ‘warm’ here for this time of the year and snow came much later than usual. One of the staff here at Club Med told us of how one week before the season started and paid guests arrived, they had had no snow at all.

A traditional Japanese healer was called to the resort. They performed a snow ritual (sounds like a rain dance!). Apparently some of the new staff were rather sceptical, but sure enough the next morning, snow fell for the first time.

As I reached the top of the gondola and looked out, I wished I could somehow scoop up all the extra snow now and dump it on Australia. Or perhaps send the Japanese healer down under. Imagine what a dump of snow could do to those fires!

The healer’s work here, is truely stunning……

I definitely picked the best day to check out the view. It was a lonely ride back down in the gondola, but a safe one! Incidentally, the two little Japanese boys didn’t seem to be too concerned about the patch of ice or long, steep run ahead, they flew off down the maintain, barely pausing to take in the view!

TTB

Club 2/Canadian bath – Sahoro Hokkaido

For days 3 and 4, I have developed a new routine. I love it so much I might stick to it for our last two days.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I have progressed to the Club 2 level. We are now doing wedge/parallel turns and working on our body movement. Today we even went up chair lift two!! I am super proud of how I have been going. I can control my speed (mostly) and turn ok, my movement up and down is getting better and honestly it is all feeling pretty good.

After skiing down my longest ever run today, we paused before a steep bit. Our instructor said ‘Ok guys, it is time to pick up a bit of speed, I know you can all do it and we need the speed to get across that flat at the bottom’.

I was terrified! At first my head said ‘no way, I will just go slow’, but then as I started downwards I realised the instructor was right. I relaxed into it, started to gain speed, turned a couple of times and then skimmed across the flat. It was so much fun!! I had a big grin on my face (not that anyone could see it under my neck warmer!!).

It really was a great morning, but dam does this skiing business hurt! My legs are aching and at times screaming at me to stop. My thighs burn as I turn and turn, wedging and wedging. My Achilles ache from the constant stretch in the boots. Several times I have thought to myself….. dam I should have trained for this. But, yesterday I found my solution.

Instead of skiing all day and getting jelly legs, I ski until lunch, enjoy a lovely meal and then head to the pool complex. Today, little miss 9 also accompanied me (she is exhausted). We jumped in the pool, swam a few laps, then played a little waterpolo. Then we went outside into the snow and into the Canadian bath (yes in our bathers).

There had been a little bit of snow this morning, but as we arrived in the tub, it started to really fall. I don’t know what temperature the tub actually is, but it is really very hot.

Imagine if you will, sitting in a hot, round, wooden tub, with your head out and snow falling. It was so weird, your body is so hot and your head and ears cold. In fact we had snow settling in our hair and on our noses. Miss 9 loved it and my aching legs loved it! It really is an awesome experience!

Canadian bath

Meanwhile, the boys were out on the slopes in the middle of a snow storm carving out their ‘c’ and ‘s’ turns. Both even making it up to the top of the gondola. Sounds like they had a great afternoon, but I know where I would rather be!!

This afternoon was at times a bit of a white out, so here’s hoping for another great morning tomorrow. Only two more skiing days (sad face).

TTB

Club 1 – Sahoro Hokkaido

Day 2 of skiing was awesome. It started with a little review of the magic carpet. This was a great place to warm up and have a chat to your fellow ski students. An astonishing 80% of the guests here at the moment are Australian (this is unusual apparently) the remainder are mainly Japanese, Singaporean, Korean or Taiwanese.

The magic carpet

The instructors are from all over the world, today ours was Korean. He started to explain (with a lot of hand signals and demonstrations) what he wanted to teach us for the day and then we were off to chair lift one.

What followed was a day full of giggles, wide eyes and the beginnings of burning legs! We had everything happen; from falls, to people heading into the scrub for a tree hug, a lost ski on the chair lift and an amusing introduction to a button lift (This is where my limited experience in NZ came in handy, I knew you are not meant to try and sit on the button!).

All the while, our instructor stayed cool and calm. At times his eyes widened in surprise or even alarm at some of the things that happened. He paused thoughtfully and then went off to help fix the situation. When it was sorted he would return to the group and brightly say ‘Ok, let’s go!’

Everyone else’s experience became your experience. We learnt from each other. We watched people doing well and tried to emulate it, we watched people doing things wrong and tried hard not make the same mistake. The advantage when something went wrong, was we had the chance to look around while our Instructor sorted it out.

The view while we waited for the missing ski to be retrieved

I saw my daughter several times wizz past me in her Mini Club group. She would wave and the others in my group were astonished this was only her second day on the slopes. My son also passed me on the snowboard, making some cool hand signals and carving up the snow. I did see my husband once or twice but mainly he was further up the mountain.

What was clear in every group we came across, was how attentive and patient the instructors were. Nothing was too much trouble to fix and they were constantly giving you tips to improve. In fact, everyone on the mountain was so polite and helpful.

Only once did I see anyone look slightly annoyed and that was the button lift operator. After three of my group fell off in a row he did look a touch weary! This was probably because it was the first time I had seen a line form at any of the lifts (it is amazing there is no wait here at all).

I received the news I would be moving up a group again tomorrow!!! Then, as has become our usual routine, the family met up in the bar at 4:30pm for a drink and a snack. We exchanged animated stories and chatted with another family whom we had met in our lessons.

Dinner was again extraordinary (I will have to do a separate blog dedicated to the food here), then we joined in for an entertaining quiz before we all fell into bed at 9:30pm.

TTB

Raven

Today I witnessed something beautiful, cute, funny and just so simple. It made me smile and laugh, I just had to share! The uncomplicated things in life really are the best and so precious when you have the chance to take notice of them.

At the time, I was talking on the phone to a friend. Our discussions were quite intense as there has been some sad news around us lately. It was about people coming to each other’s aid in times of crisis.

As we were chatting, I was sitting outside under the veranda watching the cat laze about in the afternoon sun when something caught my eye. We have a family of Magpies that hang out in our yard. We see them out the front scratching around under the roses and in the grass. Today they were out the back and they seemed to have new focus.

My Dad handmade a bird house for my daughter at Christmas which hangs from our outdoor patio roof with chains. It is designed to be cat and possum proof.

It looks super inviting, I mean I think if I was a bird I would love it. There is seed at the front and near the rear door, it is decorated with beautiful artwork. Yet, we haven’t seen too much action around it. That is until today, when our magpie family discovered it.

The house is really designed for the small bird, not a magpie sized bird. I watched as the four magpies attempted to figure out how to get the seed without tipping the whole house. It was so funny.

The leader of the group first sat on the roof and proceeded to try from several angles to get its beak down near the piles of seed, while the others looked on critically. After some time of trying this and failing, it had a go at gripping onto one of the chains and shuffling its way down towards the house, twisting to crane its neck around to the seed. In a sort of half hanging, galah like fashion it finally had success and ate as much seed as it could before becoming too uncomfortable to continue. Off he flew and the next one flew up to try his luck.

What a pleasure it was to see the simple actions of these birds fulfilling a basic need, the modelling of behaviour and the communication amongst them to make sure everyone had a go.

It reminded me of two things:

1. The uncomplicated nature of basic needs and how sometimes it requires team work and a community to make it happen (pretty much exactly what my friend and I had been discussing).

2. The Magpies also reminded me of a Raven (another bird in the same family) and the Raven is symbolic of an important person who is coming our way this weekend. Now a family member, this person came into our life 4 years ago as an exchange student, who opened our hearts and minds to a whole new world. For her people, Raven means change or transformation and is often associated with healing.

Let us hope a change is coming, for some healing of the sole and healing of the hurt around us.

LLS xxx

Stickability

I don’t even know if ‘stickability’ is actually a real word or my invention but it refers to ones ability to stick at something!

I consider myself a sticker. I am pretty sure I model this trait to my kids on a reasonably frequent basis. I commit to things and I stick at them. I talk to them about when you commit to something you must follow through on it.

Yet……..one of my children changes their mind like the wind and demonstrates no remorse what so ever if they don’t ‘feel like’ doing something, even if it lets other people down. I feel horrified.

Part of me does wonder, who has this wrong?

Many around me, might argue that I stick at things for longer than is healthy! Things that I know are probably not serving me well or take too much of my time, I just keep on going and going and going, because I said I would.

Kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. Maybe, when it doesn’t feel right we should stop doing things.

But, my question is……how will you ever know what your special skills or loves are if you don’t keep trying things? Sometimes it takes a while of doing something before it suddenly clicks or becomes something you truely enjoy doing. What if they miss out on that opportunity?

Of course, as a parent there is also the glaringly obvious difference between them and us. I AM PAYING!!! If you want to join everything and give up half way through, then do it when you earn your own money thank you!

I think in our house we are all over scheduled. Each person’s schedule impacts the others. Each person’s stress impacts the others. This means even if they themselves are not doing too many activities, the kids feel like they are. They want a break.

In all honesty, this is a pretty common problem in the modern world. Our kids are scheduled from the minute they wake up until they go to sleep a good few days of the week. They crave time to veg out and do nothing or hang out with friends. Let’s face it, our adult lives are like that soon enough, surely they should be able to enjoy the freedom of childhood.

I don’t know the answer, cut it all loose or plow on? But, here are some things I do know: I am sick of fighting. I am sick of being yelled at. I am sick of tantrums and I am sick of paying!

Evidently, I think I have one child like me that moans about how busy she is and wanting to do less but when faced with the option of giving up something is horrified. Tonight she told me she was ‘born to do it all’. Oh dear……. ‘stickability’ might in fact be a curse!

LLS

Potential

Wow, it has been a whole week since I last blogged. A week of trudging through mud! Like so many mothers out there, I am counting down the days. I love my kids, but 8 weeks off is such a longgggggg time. They are in desperate need of some structure and routine, as am I.

With the start of the year and the impending new school year, I have been thinking a lot about the word potential. By definition it means showing qualities and the capacity to develop into ‘something’ in the future. I have recently realised the inherent dangers with using this word!!

Let me explain.

Surely it is a good thing to show potential in something, whether it is a sport, school, cooking, writing, whatever. When someone tells us we have potential to excel in something, it is exciting and feel proud to display these qualities. However, what happens when it doesn’t come into fruition? Some personalities turn this into a constant background pressure.

I speak from experience.

I have shown potential in several things. But I haven’t always reached my potential (sometimes I have, sometimes I haven’t). It is likely that most other people have not noticed, but I have. Because someone, somewhere, sometime once told me I was capable……….. and yet I didn’t get there.

I am only just beginning to understand that this is not a failure, it is a choice. I could have got there, but I chose not to because I didn’t want to focus all my time on it, I wanted other experiences. I had other things in my life I didn’t want to sacrifice.

It is easy to look back and wonder but really we should look back and marvel at all the things we have achieved.

Our brains get confused sometimes and make us think that we ‘failed’ by not reaching our potential. Instead of blaming outside reasons for our failures, or finding excuses for it, we (I!) need to realise we had the choice, we had the potential and we chose not to focus on it. Even with all the obstacles in the world, someone who really wants something finds a way to overcome them. We read about these stories all the time!!

As a parent and coach, this is a very difficult concept. How do we encourage children to reach their ‘potential’ without setting them up for failure? I guess setting realistic goals is a good starting point, but I also think we have a duty to tell kids, it is their choice and their choice alone. We can not do it for them. They can choose to follow their potential, but they have to want it and they need to understand there will be sacrifices along the way and there will be failures.

We need to show them the different paths and let them know, there is no right and wrong, just different directions.

Something I never understood until now, is that we should not be afraid of failure. The greatest of successes are often born from a failure.

LLS

 

December Challenge Day 13

Yes that is correct, I missed a day!!! Noooooooooooooo

Yesterday things just got a little out of hand and I forgot my golden rule. The point of this challenge, is to allow myself 10 minutes to check in, write and explore how I am feeling. It was 11pm before I had the opportunity to even consider it and I thought sleep was more important. However, as it turns out……… I couldn’t sleep and in hindsight a ‘check in’ may well have been the right thing to do to put my mind at rest.

Anyway, you live and learn. I am here in front of the computer now, so today…..

  1. Something I learnt: Time out, emotional check ins and self assessment is vital for mental wellbeing.
  2. Something I am grateful for: My kids. Some days they drive me around the bend, but I am very lucky to have two beautiful, healthy and mostly happy kids. Both, excelled themselves with their school reports this semester and I am very proud of their achievements, but more so by the fact they set themselves goals and strived towards them…………. especially the one who usually coasts along. I think he might have even surprised himself.
  3. Something I want to improve: The old habit of putting myself last. On those crazy, crazy days it is ok to say enough is enough, I need a break. Even if for only 10 minutes.

SAA

December Challenge Day 9

  1. Something I learnt: Sundays really should be reserved for rest and recuperation. Overdoing it is just plain dumb!
  2. Something I am grateful for: Summer. After such a long winter, it is awesome to actually be enjoying some sunshine and swimming. Long may it last.
  3. Something I want to improve: My ability to let things wash over me. I want to be able to listen to different opinions, consider them, not take them personally and not pass judgement. I have a habit of taking things too personally.

SAA