So here are some "bites" from our first 24 hours in Bangkok:
- The flights, oh my gosh, the flights. So long! We slept off and on for the 13-hour trek to Tokyo. I couldn't see the movie screen, so I read an entire book, snacked, exercised (walking lunges in the aisle) and rested. We did have an extra seat between us, which made the trip so much nicer. The 7-hour jaunt from Tokyo to Bangkok pretty much stunk. We were packed in the middle of the plane and had to shoehorn our way out of the seats to do our lunges and take frequent bathroom breaks. I fell asleep with my dinner in front of me and Susan got a slight case of whiplash after nodding off several times. Bonus - movie screen in the back of every seat. Bummer - I'd seen most of the movies!
- We checked into our hotel, The Landmark, late last night. The website portrays it as a five-star establishment. Um, yeah, no. Our room didn't have any windows - just one long floral curtain covering a black mirrored wall, the kind Jack Bauer questioned terrorists behind so the rest of CTU could secretly watch. The room felt like grandma's basement. It was bad. The faucet fell off in the moldy shower and there were really nasty stains all over the carpet. We're hotel snobs. We admit it. (I'll blog more about my thoughts on this later. :))
-Because we were forced to sleep in the dingy basement (it was really on the 15th floor), the hotel gave us a free breakfast. The breakfast was amazing. There was a huge spread of fruit, juices, eggs, breads and Thai food. I ate and skyped with Michael.
-Susan slept through breakfast and I didn't get a plate of food for her. Bad friend.
-I saw an older white man at breakfast with a very young girl. She was probably 12 or 13. So little. He was holding her hand and leading her around. It was the first time I'd seen that here. Everyone warned me that it's inevitable. It just shocked me. It's so in your face. So blatant. I can't get the picture out of my mind.
-We successfully navigated our way across town to the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha Temple using the sky train, taxi and a rickshaw. The palace was beautiful. We had to take our shoes off to walk around in the temple.
-On our first day here, we just couldn't stomach the street vendor food. Stray dogs laying under grills filled with pork balls, chicken feet
and whole crabs curbed our appetites. So, we ate at Outback. That's right. Outback Steakhouse in Bangkok. Lame. Susan ordered a burger and it was seriously the most disgusting piece of meat I've ever tasted. I think it might have been made from one of the many stray dogs out back. She couldn't eat it.
-Before dinner, we dipped our feet in the rooftop infinity pool and laid around on comfy chaise lounge chairs. Ahhhhh...
-We split an amazing dinner of Masaman curry. Yum. I will say that it tasted almost identical to the same dish at XO Cuisine.
-Everywhere we turn there are older men with young girls. I get so angry then so sad then so angry then so cynical and then so numb. How can this be happening? I read today that it's becoming more common for brothels to sell 5- and 6-year-old girls to men who only want virgins. The men will use them for a week and then return them. Their pimps then sew them up and sell the babies off again. It's too much. I feel overwhelmed. Susan does too.
-The red light district. We prayed about it and decided to take a train there tonight and walk through Patpong. Again, too much. Hundreds of girls in their underwear dancing on stage, each wearing a number. Their pimps and "aunties" stand outside holding menus with all the girls' pictures. Meanwhile, tourists -- couples, families, young and old -- shop in the market right out front and have drinks at the less raunchy establishments. Don't they know what's happening just a few feet from them? We're still processing this and aren't sure what else to say about it at this point.
-We are praying constantly and feeling God's presence and leading. We are trusting that while we are not big enough to eradicate this evil, He certainly is. We are trusting that He will use us as a light in this very, very dark place. We are trusting that there is a great purpose to our trip. We're just waiting to figure that out!! We know that God is passionate about this injustice and wants to reveal his love to the victims and the perpetrators. We're praying we get to be a part of that while we're here.
-Jenny Kuritar has joined us from China. We are so glad to have her here and to see a familiar face!
-I realized tonight that I forgot my camera cable and can't download pictures from today. Thankfully, Jenny brought hers, so we'll be up and running tomorrow!
-Health and safety
-Divine appointments to pray/talk with people
-Building a strong relationship with Night Light and Tamar Center over the next few days.
-That Marcia Vela would arrive here safely this weekend.
-Protection for our hearts. It's so easy to get angry and judgmental.
-These poor women trapped in the sex trade
-Anything else that comes to mind!!
It's time for bed here. More tomorrow...