Some of you have been curious for word of Erin, and I realized that while I've been forwarding tidbits to extended family, I haven't shared much here.
All seems to be well. Every few days one or another member of their party seems to manage to snag a few minutes at an internet café and something trickles back to North America. Here are some quotes:
From Erin, upon arrival in Bangkok:
"OK last night we had New Years Eve in Bangkok. Khaosan Road was so insane. We were going to go there for midnight but we had to leave because it was just so ridiculously packed and rowdy. At the end of the street you couldn't even move (I am not even close to exaggerating) and you basically had to stab people or something to make any headway.
"Holy cow everything is so cheap here. There's 30 baht to 1 US dollar, and you can get a super nice meal for like 25 baht. I'm going to throw out all the clothes I brought at the end when we come back to Bangkok (except my preshy SVI shirt) and just buy a zillion new awesome clothes. When I go shopping at the end of the trip I'm going to keep track of how much everything cost me and then you can all be jealous of my super awesome bargaining skillz.
"I'm so over jet lag now because of all the coffee I have in the mornings and the beer I have at night. But tomorrow we have to get up at 4:00 or something so I'll be tired again."
"We are eating good food off the street, pushing peoples comfort zones. We are quite proud of the girls for trying anything that comes along. The beer is good, the ice coffee is great and the swimming pool is perfect. Erin is really enjoying the pool as well as everything else. "
"Today's your daughter's 15th birthday! We haven't been able to find her a violin to play on for a while, had to settle for some unique Laos crispy spicy snack and some very cool looking candy so far! She's been a wonderful companion and roommate and I dearly hope C. and I are not driving her too crazy! You have a lovely daughter and I'm enjoying how easily she laughs and krinkles her nose when she's pleased."
Again from F.:
"We were able to book a 2 day 1 night [kayaking] trip with the night being spent in a village. What a great trip we had. To begin with the river was wonderful, full of grade 1-2 rapids and lots of them. The scenery was spectacular. Beautiful forests the whole way. Of course we stopped off in a couple of villages along route before stopping for the night in another village. The village prepared dinner and breakfast and we had a thatched house for the group to sleep in. Lots of laughs along the way....
"Erin's only request for her birthday was that she wanted to sleep in and that is what she got to do just by sheer chance since we have been on the road early just about every day. She read, wrote stories and just basically relaxed. Tonight we have a donut cake with with candles for her. She seems to be settling in fairly, still can't get her to take any photos, but we are working on it."