Out performing

Last week my daughter Angel was home from college for spring break. We watched a couple of rockumentaries. We watched the Kurt Cobain documentary “Montage of Heck’. I found the documentary to be rather disturbing. It showed raw footage of his drug addiction. What a tragic story of a brilliantly troubled mind. He was so talented, yet died so tragically young. Sadly, it really isn’t unusual anymore to hear of talented performers dying from suicide or drug overdoses. I wouldn’t wish the life of a performer on my worst enemy.

Then it occurred to me that this is the kind of life two out of three of my children want to have. They want to be performers.

My firstborn, Angel, is in her second year of college for vocal performance. Recently she competed in a very elite competition and was one of the very few students from her college that was chosen to sing in front of an opera star. She never had singing lessons before college. It might even sound stupid, but maybe I never fully realized her talent. She was the only one ever in the history of her high school to get as many perfect scores at state for her vocal performances. Now she is in college competing with students that have had singing lessons for their whole entire lives.

But don’t all parents think that their children are the brightest, most talented, most intelligent children even if they are not? I also had the opportunity to listen to performances of strangers for solo and ensemble. I sat through one of the worst vocal duets I ever heard to look around to see parents recording the blessedly miserable event on their phone beaming with pride.

Parents often wear blinders. Why would I be any different?

My son is going to state for a piece that his piano teacher couldn’t even play the accompaniment for. It has a difficulty rating of 9. She said that it was a PhD piece. The ‘second chair’, who is a senior, played his level 4 difficulty solo from last year and bombed it. It was the song that my son got a perfect score on at state as a sophomore. After my son played his solo this year, the girl’s mother introduced herself to me. She told me that my son is a genius, a savant at music. She went on and on to the point that I almost was embarrassed. What could I say back to her? Her daughter as a talented senior bombed the solo my son aced at state last year as a sophomore. It was awkward.

I have two children that are the top performing musicians from their small town school. They are joining the hordes of a million other talented young wannabe famous musicians who are just as good if not better than they are.

In all honesty, who doesn’t want to be a star?? I sure would love to have 20,000 followers on WP. How about you?? If you have that many followers, how worried are you about continuing to write brilliant posts? Point made.

But do I want the life of a performer for my children?? I am not so sure anymore.

I picture them searching from city to city for a mirage they can’t seem to grasp onto. They will deal with the fear of failure. But guess what? The fear of success is just as terrifying. Rejection. Not having a stable lifestyle. Not having a steady income. The possibility of finding permanent residence in my basement. Not being able to pay off college debt. Maybe being famous? Having to keep performing at a stellar level to keep their fame. The possibility of drug addiction. Fans worshiping them but not knowing who they really are. Haters. Critics. What do you think a beautiful girl might have to do to make it to the top? A life on the road. What about a family? Broken relationships. Constant pressure. The isolation from a lack of anonymity. Broken dreams from not succeeding. Not being able to handle fame.

Why do I worry that it might not go well for them either way?? Didn’t we teach our kids to follow their dreams when we followed ours? Performing is one of the most exciting career journeys that anyone can follow.

Who knows? Maybe it will end well. As I overthink about it, maybe I am just worried because that is what I do as a parent. Worry. Sure, my kids are talented. But are they talented enough??

Maybe not pursuing a dream gives a life of more regrets.

And maybe I shouldn’t have watched that documentary.


It happened after midnight early Saturday morning on a dark country road near his friend’s house.

I didn’t find out about it right away.

I found out a couple of days before the fine was due.

Operating left of the center line. It sounds pretty petty, but it cost over $200 and 4 points.

Were you sober? Yes

Were you wearing your seat belt? Yes

Were you going the speed limit? Yes

I was a pretty happy mom.

I don’t know what I did wrong.

You need to fight it in court. They were probably scouting the back roads for drunk drivers and found you instead. Lucky you! The fine is steep and you will be losing a lot of points for a minor offense.

The court date was the same date and time as the ACT test.

The fine was due. It was too late.

I paid the fine online. The site asked if I wanted to sign up for an account. What? No! This will never happen again. Then I remembered the fine from the previous month when my son was caught doing donuts in the parking lot.

Are these minor traffic offenses building me up for something bigger that I need to get a future account for?? Do hardened criminals start out with minor traffic offenses? Is it the gateway crime? My heart fluttered in fear. Is this where it all begins?

The irrational part of my mind calmed the butterflies stirring in my heart. I’m sure everything will be fine. MY child would never do something like that.

A brilliant mind, a truant heart

The other day I got a call from the school, during an office lunch, telling me that my son didn’t show up for school. WHAT???

I was almost done eating when I got the call. Good thing because I lost my appetite after I saw that the school was calling. To think, we were actually having a nice conversation about our children. I smiled and waved at another high school mom sitting with a stranger at the next table. Things were going well. I had a lot of stories to tell.

We were listening to our sales guy tell the story of how recently he made evening plans with his adult son. His son called him multiple times but he did not answer. He was at a sales networking event and forgot his phone in the car. His son thinking his dad may have had a heart attack, tried to enter his dad’s house from the unlocked back sliding door on the deck. His son in a rush slipped on the ice, ended up falling through the deck, and broke his leg.

Then the call came from the school. What? My son is not at school? He left early for school today. Why would he get up really early to not attend? Did he run away? Did he get in a car accident and die? He has to be there. Please check again.

I called my son. He said that the school marked him as absent, so he left. I might as well not be there if they say I am not there. That mentality almost makes sense.

Let’s back up a little more.

My son was working on his solo and ensemble pieces before school. Sometimes his practice would spill into first hour. Music means everything to him. Timeliness, not so much. He was working on some very challenging pieces. Last year he was the only sophomore in the history of the school to ever get a perfect score at state in band for his solo. This year the second chair, a senior, played his solo from last year and totally bombed it. It was too hard. This year he picked a graduate level solo. We were really worried that he took on too much. He was feeling the pressure.

My son has a great passion for music and puts everything into it. Although I admire his dedication, I wish he would save some for math and science.. He barely passes although he has the capability of being a straight A student. It is sooooo frustrating.

That morning while his practice moved into his first hour class, he was marked as having an unexcused absence. This could have been easily resolved at the office with the vouching of his band teacher. But instead, my son walked out.

I remained cool, calm, and collected through the whole incident. Although my son admitted that he made a mistake, he still needed to have a consequence for his behavior. This is where things get tricky. In a few months he will be 18. If we punished him too harshly then he would rebel. If we were too lenient, we would be unhappy. Truancy cannot become acceptable.

We ended up finding the fine line through a lot of thought on our part. He did admit to his mistake and said it wouldn’t happen again. If he didn’t admit to the error of his ways, we would’ve had a big battle on our hands. That would’ve changed things.

That evening we had a very long discussion with Alex about his future. What will colleges think when they look at his transcripts and see bad grades in the core subjects plus truancy? We talked to him about our concerns. Surprisingly, we had a very mutually respectful conversation. It was the best heart to heart conversation in a long time. I’m glad I kept my cool. I think if I didn’t handle it right, we would have had completely different results. It was not easy.

Maybe, just maybe, everything will be okay??

Someday I will look back and laugh at this. Yes, probably when he has teenagers of his own.


Dark doors

The other day my son asked me why he is so dark.

Immediately I said that it was a part of his personality. Maybe it is something that you could work on. Oh my, did he get that from me??

Then he said, “Not my personality mom, my skin.”

That was a few days after he took the Ancestry DNA test. I told him that we would find out soon. I also heard that the test could match you up with long lost relatives or maybe famous people.

Famous people? Then I got to thinking some more.

Why are my oldest two kids freakishly talented at music? This past weekend my son made it to state as a junior for his graduate level solo and ensemble piece along with 2 other pieces. My daughter was involved in a big singing competition, made it to a difficult level, and earned the opportunity to sing for a big opera star. She was invited to compete at an event in Boston. So far they are the only sibling duo to receive perfect scores at state for music in their high school.

There aren’t any professional musicians in the family. No one had a garage band. Not even one music teacher. Just a haphazard bunch that played an instrument for awhile or sang in the church choir.

Was it because of the early childhood piano lessons? The family involvement in community theater?

This got me thinking some more…

Maybe Paul’s real father is Jim Morrison from The Doors. It makes sense. It was the 60’s and Morrison was alive back then. So it has some face validity. Talking about his face, my son does resemble him a little. They have the exact same scowl.

But, if Paul’s dad is a rock star…why did his mother fail to mention that? This is where my theory gets a little tricky.

I guess we’ll have to wait for the Ancestry DNA results to come back.

What if we find out who Paul’s father is? What do we do with that information? Maybe Paul has siblings? Or a hefty inheritance that no one has claimed?

Or maybe we are cracking open the door to Pandora’s box.


What’s next?

This year my husband is going to be 50.

We recently went to Thailand to celebrate our 20th anniversary.

I don’t want to do that anymore…have a reason to travel.

Our first trip out of the country together was an extended weekend in Jamaica for our 10th wedding anniversary. It wasn’t worth all the time traveling to get there late on Thursday night and head home Monday morning. We didn’t know much back then. My husband was 40 the first time he was on an airplane.

For our 15th anniversary, we took our second trip out of the country together to St. Lucia.

Our third trip out of the country was to Thailand for our 20th anniversary.

I don’t want to have a reason to travel anymore if that is something we both want to do.  It shouldn’t just be for big anniversaries. Things change. We couldn’t go before. We didn’t have the money. The kids were little. We just started a business.

Now we have financial security. We will have an empty nest in 3 years. We will be thinking about retirement within the next 10 years.

My husband will be 50. We love to travel. We have the next 10 years to do all the traveling we can before we start thinking about slowing down. Paul’s only parent died in her 60’s.

We want to get away every winter. Next year we are planning on renting a catamaran to sail around the Caribbean British Virgin Islands with friends.

I want to visit all of the continents. I’m not sure about Antarctica yet. Wisconsin winters are bad enough. I’m serious about doing this. It was scary at first. I worried about flying, being uncomfortable, not liking the food, etc… Everything new is scary at first. But if you take the first step, you’ll want to start running.

I don’t want to just visit the continents. I want to immerse myself in it. I really have a passion to learn foreign languages. I would like to be fluent in Spanish and German. I love photography and writing. I might look into what it would take to be a travel writer. I could easily write something like I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks.

The time to do this is now. I can’t continue to watch the years slip away. I don’t want to look back in regret. It’s time for a second wind. I want to finish this race strong.

Thailand, parting thoughts

This is going to be my last post about Thailand…parting thoughts…general observations and comparisons..

Really, though, comparing the culture in Thailand to that of the US is like comparing apples to oranges. We are all fruity in different ways. Seriously though…there are so many ways that I wish we were more like Thailand, and other ways I am glad we are not..

I had a hard time with the young Thai girls with braces in the clubs. Technically, there is no pimp in prostitution there. If a customer would like to borrow a girl for awhile, he needs to pay the club owner a ‘fee’ to take an employee from their work shift. It bothered me to see young girls in this position.

In America I think most prostitutes would fall into the category of drug addict or runaway. In their culture, they view it as a girl (or lady boy) providing a service. A lot of these young folks take the money they make and send it home to support their families. I could never accept money from my children that was made in that way, but I also was never in a position that I had to.

Our tour guide gives some of his paycheck to his elderly father. The father spends a lot of the money on the lottery. Again, that would not fly in America.

The Thai people also think that putting a parent in a nursing home is a big no-no. The Thai people are very family oriented. Divorce is not common. There seems to be a cohesion of the family unit that is quite lacking in America.

The people dressed and acted very similarly to one another. The school children wore uniforms. The men and women dressed very plainly and modestly by our standards. Most wore monochromatic light colored clothes, not bright clothing with wording. They didn’t have dyed or crazy hairstyles. The women didn’t have tattoos nor shaved hair. They didn’t have gauges or seem big on piercings. Even the prostitutes looked very similar to each other. In America, we take individuality to the extreme.

The culture is very peaceful and relaxed. The people are not at all rude, hurried, or unfriendly. I suppose it is a little easier to deal with life if you strongly believe in karma or that someone you don’t like will come back in the next life as an insect. I personally think that Christians could learn a lot from the Buddhists in how to get along with each other. Here we squabble and fight over ever little issue. How are we going to handle an eternity in heaven together?

The people of Thailand did not generally beg for money. They took pride in bargaining and selling their wares at the market.

In Thailand, if people talk negatively about the king, they could face incarceration. I love the freedom of speech. But, geez, don’t Americans take it too far sometimes?? All we hear is fighting about religion, politics, and practically everything really. There is no respect anymore for someone that has a different opinion and yet we tout ourselves as being tolerant. We try to teach our children to respect authority, yet we dis people left and right. Enough already.

I think all schoolchildren should see what life it like in another country. Heck, maybe everyone should travel. Not only did I get the opportunity to see another culture, but I got the chance to see my own beliefs and culture differently. It enriched my thinking. I learned something about someone else and myself in the process.

Some of the things I thought were important really don’t seem all that important anymore. I don’t even care if the toilet paper faces up or down anymore. I am now happy to have toilet paper. I have a new appreciation of western bathrooms, even the crappiest ones.


The restrooms in Thailand were quite different from ours. The hotel rooms had a regular toilet with what looked like a kitchen hose sprayer next to it. How were we even supposed to use it? We were a day into the tour when I experienced the first bathroom without toilet paper. I started carrying some around with me after that.

This was a public bathroom that we stopped at. I really didn’t even know what I was supposed to do. Plus there wasn’t any soap to wash your hands with. The public school bathroom was very similar. The western bathrooms there were tiny in comparison to ours. We had to pay at times to use the restroom. One of the perks of paying for the bathroom at the floating market was free internet. Seriously? The bathroom wasn’t wonderful enough that I wanted to hang around for the internet.

What a fascinating place and culture. I’m sad that our journey has come to an end. But I have a lot of pictures, all 750 of them, to remind me of our travels.

Thailand, our fellow travelers 2

As you can imagine, I found most of our fellow travelers on the Thailand trip eccentric and adventurous.

Quite a few of our fellow travelers were Asian Americans, but not Thai. Many of the travelers were couples, but not all. There were cousins, parent, child, siblings, co-workers, and friends that traveled together. There was one couple from Peru, the rest were Americans.

No one got sick. No one fought. That’s not to say that everyone got along perfectly.

I didn’t feel like we hit it off really well with the doctor. I think he looked down at us for tanning before the trip. But it was good to know that there was a doctor and several nurses on this trip. What if someone (really me in particular) had an allergic reaction or accident in the middle of nowhere? Although the doctor said he wouldn’t be much help without medicine.

I did learn from the doctor though. His wife and one of their four (adult) children accompanied them on the trip. I thought it was a cool idea to take one child at a time for some special sibling free time alone with the parents. Maybe it would be a good college graduation gift idea.

We met a couple of retired college professors that are spending their time behind the scenes in Chicago theater. One of the guys is an extra in TV shows for fun. They told us to look them up if we were in Chicago and they could tell us what shows are hot. We also met a beautiful dancer/actress who was also traveling with a co-worker who was in wardrobe in NYC for a big TV show.

We met a brother/sister and significant others from Detroit. They were in their 20’s and spent their first whole day in Thailand getting tattoos. They were super adventurous. We hit it off really well with them.

We are now Facebook friends with the couple from Peru and told them that we would love to visit.

We talked to the brothers on the last day. They told us they were planning on missing their flight and staying.

We met a couple in their 60’s that invited us out to supper one night. The man was blunt, crass, and spoke in a way that caused the sailors in us to blush. His wife was pretty laid back. They were hippies back in the 70’s. The guy made and sold pot pipes back in the day. After that, they started another business and work together. We spoke about things that we don’t talk about with others at home. I told the lady about my childhood when she asked how wild I was when I was young. She said when she was in high school, she would drop acid before school. She said she is pretty boring now. She said I needed to let go and live a little.

That is what I was doing. Living a little. Letting go. Getting high on life without using drugs. Starting to follow my dreams of being a world traveler. Talking to others who are doing the same thing. Asking them what their favorite places they have been to in the world. Making connections in different cities, states, countries, and continents. Promising to visit if we ever travel there. Breathing it all in.

Our fellow world travelers were an interesting group. We shared some amazing experiences. We ate rat. We rode elephants. We bargained at the markets. For 10 days we experienced another life together.

Traveling is intoxicating. I want to visit the whole world. I want to see things as they really are. I want to enjoy the world around me wherever I am.

I would even love to visit your world…But, be forewarned! You just might end up in a blog post. Ha ha ha…

Thailand, Day 10

Valentine’s Day was the longest day of my life. Literally. I’m having hard time doing the math with all of the time changes, but I think it lasted almost 2 days.

We left the hotel in Pattaya at 7 AM to arrive in Bangkok with enough time for our noon flight. The airport was chaotic. There were people in the bathroom brushing their teeth and washing up. We waited in several long lines.

My eye was killing me. Both my eyes burned. My right eye felt like someone was sticking a pin in it. They felt dry yet watered spontaneously. The pollution that was hanging in a smoggy haze over the city was finally getting to me. I wore my sunglasses. The light sliced in my eyes like banging rock music during a migraine. The pain lasted several hours and it worried me.

Other than that, I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying. I don’t know why. I think it was because we were so busy on the tour that I didn’t have a lot of time to overthink. Keeping busy fends off worry. I didn’t even have time to write. I know it sounds lame, but I only wrote on the coach bus on the way to the airport. That is why it was so important to write this story before I forgot all of the winding intricate details of our journey.

Also, I felt less worried because our family at home was sleeping while we were awake. It almost gave a peaceful feeling that I was somehow watching over them. Then they lived their lives during the day while I slept at night. If I didn’t hear anything when I woke up, then everything was fine.

What control would I have if something happened while we were home or while we were away anyway? Although it would be a lot easier to deal with at home. Something did happen less than 24 hours after we got back though. My son and his girlfriend got into a car accident. Although they exited the accident unscathed, her car was totaled. I don’t have control and that is what bothers me. I want to play God. But is that what I really want??

Paul and I had the row of seats to ourselves on all of our flights home. I slept. I watched a movie and fell asleep during it. I was barely roused from sleep to eat and then slept again. I tried to stay awake and fell asleep. I awoke when the dog came to sit by Paul. Who would take a dog on a 16 hour flight? What if she has to go to the bathroom? These were my foggy thoughts as my mind slipped back into sleep.

We were going to be early, but ended up being late. There was a lot of air traffic in Chicago. We sat on the plane at least a half an hour before we were able to pull up to the terminal. We were in jeopardy of missing our last flight home. We raced as fast as we could through immigration only to wait another half an hour for our luggage to arrive. We had to find a bus from the international to the domestic flights. Since it was later in the day, we were able to breeze through security pretty fast.

We ran as fast as we could in full sprint across the airport. We got to our last flight as it was boarding. We made it! But our luggage didn’t.

We finally made it home at 11:30 PM. I was wide awake and ready to go on a tour. But I had to be up in another 6 1/2 hours for work. Going to work the next day was awful. I felt like I was hungover and drunk. I was tired. I couldn’t concentrate. My words didn’t make sense coming out of my mouth. I felt like I had a mouthful of cotton balls. Paul fell asleep at his desk. I came home for lunch and ended up falling asleep for 2 1/2 hours.

The jet lag was a lot worse on the way home than it was on the way there. It took a week to get back to our normal routine. I found myself falling asleep by 8 PM, having a restless night, then waking up at 4:30 AM. I seemed to fall into a schedule, but it was the wrong one.

We had a wonderful time in Thailand. I seemed to calm my fear of flying after spending 20 hours one way on a plane. Anything less than 10 hours seems like a short flight now. I was able to check off traveling to my first continent outside of my own off of my bucket list. I have a lot of wonderful memories, photos, and stories to tell. If anything, my time in Thailand is making me more anxious to see the rest of the world.

Thailand, Day 9


We left the hotel early in the morning to take a speed boat to the Coral Island beach. Today we were going to spend most of the day on the beach. I couldn’t wait. The water was a brilliant color of sea green with a white sand beach. The water was a perfect temperature. Every few minutes we felt a slight stinging sensation on our skin. We thought that it might be from tiny jellyfish. A couple of times we saw hundreds of small fish jumping up out of the water being chased by a bigger fish.

We set up our towels on comfy lounge chairs before the other hordes of tourists started pouring in. It was close to the Chinese New Year and there were many tourists in the area on vacation from China.

While at the beach especially, and in other places, I noticed something different. I noticed that the Asian people at times walked around with parasols. They wore long sleeves and pants even on the hottest days. Where they not hot? I thought maybe they were more modest than the rest of us in bikinis and shorts.

Our tour guide said that the Thai people do not want tan skin. In their culture, having tan skin means that you are out in the sun a lot working like the poor people. In fact, they have a big market for selling skin bleaching products. The only thing I bleach is my hair.

Where I’m from, if you are tan it means that you have time for leisure. I went to the tanning bed before my trip. I was quite the contrast to the Asian women who have dark hair and light skin. There was a single girl in our tour group that was getting hit on because she had pasty white skin.

It really made me question my own standards of beauty. I personally believe that having bleach blonde hair and dark tanned skin is beautiful. I want a -10 inch waist and the body of a Barbie doll. Thank you Mattel for creating an unattainable masterpiece of beauty perfection. Now being in my mid-40’s and having 3 C-sections, I am not going to be too hard on myself. But I honestly feel like crap about how I look when my summer tan starts to fade. I would go to a tanning bed year round if I didn’t feel like it was unsafe.

Most teenage girls in the 1980’s spent a lot of time slathering themselves in baby oil or dark tanning oil and laying out. At that time, no one ever told us it was unhealthy. Paul and I went to the tanning bed before this trip. We didn’t go because we thought it would make us look nice. We did it because we are very adventurous outdoors and didn’t want to burn. We did get a little pink on the day we spent at the beach.

We had a glorious time at the beach. We got back to the hotel in mid-afternoon. Paul really had his heart set on getting another massage. Our tour guide told us that if we wanted a massage that we needed to look for a Thai massage and not a body massage. If you went to the body massage place, you would be entering a brothel.

We went to an upscale massage parlor, but they were booked for the day. We walked around town until we found a place that offered Thai massage. They had one opening for a massage bed and one for a chair. I took the chair massage. Paul was led to a massage bed that was separated from 2 other massage beds by a curtain. I was seated out in the main area. My masseuse only knew limited English.

While I was there, I watching the bugs climb up the wall and saw a girl at the bar next door curling her eyelashes for the night. It didn’t seem like they spraying down any of the tables or chairs between clients. I did feel some comfort when a courier dropped off a see through bag of clean towels. A new masseuse came in and changed her shirt in front of Paul because there was nowhere else to change into her work clothes. She jokingly told him if he looked, she would charge him.

After the massage, we walked down to the end of the street. There were rows and rows of bars with at least 50 girls lined up waiting for a man that night. They were scantily clad, some dressed in sexy school girl outfits. It was early in the evening and they were just sitting there waiting watching as we passed by. We walked by a body massage place and saw signs of 3 for the price of 1. I really don’t know the difference between the prostitutes in the body massage parlor and the girls waiting at the bar.

The 2 nights in Pattaya, we saw some very young attractive Thai girls eating fancy meals with corpulent repulsive old white men around 40 years their senior. Although totally acceptable in their culture, I had a really hard time with this. What two (hopefully) adults consent to do should really be no concern of mine… I kept thinking of how I would feel if my teenage daughters went out with a man older than my husband. I couldn’t get past it.


This was our last picture of our view of the city in daylight. Tomorrow we are heading home.

Thailand, Day 8


We left Ayutthaya this morning and were heading to Pattaya. After breakfast, Paul decided to stay downstairs. It seemed a little out of character for him. The elevator was old, small, and rickety. It would not go anywhere at all if the weight limit was exceeded. A big guy could almost feel a little trapped.

I don’t know how many times I tripped going into the bathrooms of our hotel rooms. The bathroom floors in most hotel rooms were lower than the regular room floors. If it was dark and you were trying to make your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, chances are good that you might have to catch yourself from falling. In this hotel’s bathroom, the shower was built for someone 5 ft tall. Paul wondered how he was going to fit under it.

Paul found black marks on the wall near the outlets from sparks. “This whole place could burn down at any moment and we are on the top floor!” exclaimed Paul. Surprisingly, I didn’t worry all that much about anything, which is a big role reversal for Paul and I. I thought the hotel, although old, was charming. It was hot in the hallway when I was waiting for an elevator down. I noticed that the window nearby was wide open without a screen and took the picture above without falling.

The first stop of the morning was to a public grade school. In general, the kids in the public schools are poor. They don’t need to get a high school diploma and sometimes leave before reaching high school to work. The tour group we used has a foundation that helps support the public schools by covering extra expenses such as computers. We were encouraged to bring school supplies, but not to give the children money directly. After the anthem, flag raising, exercise time, and morning meditation a child would take our hand and bring us to their classroom. We read a story in English to them and they read to us in their language. It was a very moving experience.

Our tour guide said if someone is born poor that it is very hard to leave their station. If they get married, the man has to pay a dowry to his future bride’s family. Our guide had to pay $30,000 US dollars to marry his wife. A poor man cannot afford to marry a rich girl. A very attractive poor girl has a higher dowry than a poor girl that is plain. People rarely divorce, they marry the family.

After the school, we visited a gem factory. We went on a small tour ride then were taken past the workers making jewelry. Soon we entered the biggest jewelry store I’ve ever been in. I bought Paul a new wedding ring with a Topaz gem. He broke his first ring and lost his second. The third time’s the charm. Right?


We got into our hotel rooms in the late afternoon. Pattaya was not at all like I was expecting. It was a bigger city than I imagined it to be. We decided to sit by the pool for awhile. I ordered a drink that I thought would be like a bloody Mary. But it was more like unsalted tomato juice with vodka, very different.

That evening we were invited to go to a restaurant with another couple from the tour. They said that it was supposed to be the best in the city and it certainly was. If you are ever in Pattaya, you have to go to Bruno’s. Paul and I thought it was one of the top restaurants we’ve ever been to. The food was out of this world. The service was unbelievable. They even transported us to and from our hotel which was quite a drive through traffic.


Tomorrow we will be exploring Coral Island and Pattaya.