November 2004 (created 13-Jan-06 by Ken)
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Erica's family came out for a visit in November. As they were going for a walk out by the ocean they saw these rays gliding past. I'm told these rays are common for around Saipan but I rarely saw them myself.
Roger and Melissa brought a bunch of diverse cheese from Wisconsin so we had a cheese party at our place. Here is Hilary seeming pleased with some morsel she found. It was also a chance for Erica's folks to meet many of our friends.
After a couple days on Saipan we organized to fly to Palau and spend a few days there as well. Here we are on our way out to enjoy some of the spectacular diving that Palau offers. In my limited diving experience I have never seen anyplace as beautiful as Palau. As a side note, on our way back I had my hand resting in the water and my ring got washed off. Less than a couple weeks later Erica's ring was stolen when she took it off as we were going for a walk. It seemed an omen so we have decided to just not wear rings any longer.
Charlie and I out for a snorkel at one of the dive sites. Even snorkeling you can see some wonderful things and Charlie loved it. This was also the deepest water she had ever been swimming in but it didn't phase her in the least.
Charlie flirting with some of the dancers at the Palau Pacific hotel where we were staying.
This is the kind of reception Charlie has grown accustomed to.. groups of people she doesn't know or understand wanting to touch her and take their picture with her. Some times she accepts it as she is here.. with big smiles. Other times she can give a pretty cold shoulder. This is on Palau but most of the tourists on Saipan are also from eastern Asia so she experiences a similar effect.
Here she is mugging it up with some of the lady dancers as well. I thought the Marmar looked nice on her head as well. That kind of flower headdress is worn by both men and women in this region.
Roger and Melissa took Charlie to go see the dolphin exhibit in Palau. For a bit extra you can get into the water and greet them as Charlie is doing here. Some can actually get in the water and swim with the dolphins.
Upon return to Saipan Roger helped us design a small chicken coop and purchase three baby chicks. Unfortunately while we were in Thailand a week later the chicks were out and got killed by a neighbor's dog that came into our yard.
Only days after Roger and Melissa left, Erica, Charlie and I packed our bags and flew off to Thailand. We spent one night in Bangkok by the airport then jumped on a train and headed to Chiang Mai. Here we are in a tuktuk in Chiang Mai looking for an appropriate place to spend the night. We ended up driving quite far out from Chiang Mai into a more mountainous community.
Near to our hotel was a place to see and ride elephants. At the Elephant Camp was this woman who was teaching Charlie how to place her hands for prayer and greetings. I'm not sure how "traditional" the clothing and jewelry are, but they were beautiful.
Our second opportunity to ride on elephants (first being Bali). Just being close to these wonderful creatures is a priveledge.
Erica took Charlie to a snake show, and when they asked for volunteers I'm told Charlie nearly flew out of her seat. I suspect the snake was thinking "Oh please, oh please, just let me eat this one little one!" Regardless, Charlie thought it was great.
On a rainy night in Chiang Mai we came across these ladies waiting for the weather to clear a bit so they could perform in a parade. They seemed excited to have a distraction from waiting and eagerly took Charlie into their arms.
We rented a car and drove ourselves into the Doi Inthanon National Park to see some new sights. A family self photo at one of the many beautiful waterfalls within the park. The highest peaks in Thailand are located in this park, as well as some beautiful temples.