Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy New Year from Chiang Mai

In April of 2011, we celebrated Thai New Year in Chiang Mai, called Songkran. You can read about that by clicking here. In December, we celebrated the International New Year in Chiang Mai as well!

We began our evening with a buffet dinner at the hotel we were staying in. This gave us a chance to wear some of the things we bought on our vacation. Jennifer and I love the textiles in Southeast Asia, and we expecially love the styles and prices in Thailand! Jennifer bought her dress from the night market in Phuket and got her jacket from a small boutique in Chaing Mai. I sourced my shirt from a street vendor, and Craig's pants were embellished with a hand-painted tiger in from the Bosan villiage we visited earlier.

After dinner we headed to the place where all the action always happens in Chaing Mai - the Tha Phae gates at the eastern end of the old town.

The area was crowded with people from all around the world waiting to countdown to 2012. Here is a long line of food vendors cooking up delicious Thai treats!

When we got there we realized that the Thai's were sending off the famous "northern lights", which are beautiful rice paper lanterns floating in the air like hot air balloons!

Thousands of these lanters were being sent off by the crowd that had gathered along the banks of the Chaing Mai moat.

The lanterns would float high up into the sky, swirling around on various currents of wind and forming a sort of milky way in the night sky.

We found a entrepreneuring individual who was selling northern lights to those who were unprepared (like us). So, we bought a few. Actually, we bought them two at a time, and ended up sending off 10 or so...

The proper way to send off a lantern is to hold it near the ground after it's lit. This helps build up a lot of hot air inside the rice paper balloon.

After a minute or so, it will naturall float to about hip-level. This is where the unexperienced prematurely let the lantern go. These lanterns would only rise a few feet, then come back down to earth (and sometimes lighting the hair of unsuspecting spectators on fire). Good thing for us I had experience with these from my Uncle Jeff, who lights one lantern off every year in December, so we didn't let any lanterns go too early.

After enough hot air has built up, the lantern will start to tug upwards. Then, you simply let it fly!

As you let your lantern go, you're supposed to make a wish - just like when you blow out the candles on your birthday cake.

Craig wouldn't tell me what he wished for, but Jennifer and I were both wishing we get to stay and experience more cool things like this in Asia!

At midnight, the sky was a blaze with rising lanterns and fireworks!

We had a wonderful new year in Chiang Mai! We love the little town, and they love us back! Happy New Year to everyone!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Selamat Hari Kristmas!

Selamat Hari Kirstmas! I know, Christmas was a few weeks ago, but we all know we should carry the Spirit of the Season with us all year. I'm just helping everyone do that. Christmas was especially magical for Craig this year. He's at that really fun age where he understands and believes in the magic of the season. To help him count down the days, he got a special Lego Star Wars advent calendar. Each day he got a new little Lego figure or a small space ship! He was so excited to open the last day, which was  Yoda dressed in a Santa suit!

On Christmas Eve we enjoyed a buffet dinner at a local Italian restaurant with some of our good friends. Here we are next to the 40 foot tree near the restaurant.

This is our Christmas tree decorated in Asian motifs. It's covered in silk lanterns and mystic knots. Very auspicious!

Craig was so excited for Santa to come! He heard some loud bangs from fireworks that the locals were lighting off and came running from his room shouting "Santa!?" It took a few hours for him to fall asleep, but once he did, Santa came! Craig heard the jingle bells from his sleigh at about 6:30 a.m., and Mom and Dad heard him pattering across the tile floor to check for presents under the tree.

Santa brought Craig just what he wanted! Between Santa, Mom and Dad, and all his Grandmas and Grandpas, Craig was able to check everything off his Christmas list!

After opening presents we did some video calls with Dadpa and Damma (Craig's names for my dad and step mom - and they've stuck). Then we did our annual Jessop Family Christmas Pageant! This year we used the video conferencing again. Isn't technology wonderful? Even though it was Christmas Day in Malaysia, it was still Christmas Eve in the United States. Here are Craig's cousins dressed up as the three kings and an angel. Uncle Aaron is a shepherd and Aunt Leticia looks like she's warming up from the chilly weather.

Here is Grandma and Grandpa Jessop with Aunt Boo, Uncle Don, Uncle Russ, and Aunt Ali (fish). Grandpa Jessop lead us all through reading various scriptures from Luke and Matthew in the New Testament. We also sang Christmas carols, and heard Grandma and Grandpa's famous duet, "I'm Just A Poor Little Shepherd Boy".

And here is the star of the show, Aunt Ali, guiding the three kings to the manger where baby Jesus was born.

After an exciting morning we all got dressed and went to church, then spent the afternoon with some of the members of our congregation. Here is Craig with his good friend Liam enjoying "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". Liam, who is just over 2 years old, missed his nap and fell asleep with Craig.

We had a wonderful Christmas this year! We're so thankful for all of our friends and family who shared the holiday festivities with us!