My Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were so special this year, all thanks to the Chaitongkams.
Chaiya is absolutely beautiful – it’s like a jungly, quiet town that serves as a wonderful escape from Suratthani. I was so lucky to be invited over for dinner by my manager (Holly) along with her friends and their families. Definitely reminded me of my amazing Christmas in New Zealand with the Edwards family (I miss you all so much)!
Even leading up to Christmas, I was surprised by how much Thailand decorates for Christmas. Our local markets, shops, malls, and even schools were decked out in garland, lights, Christmas trees, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!” signs in English, and much more. Suratthani is an extremely small city, so it was pretty neat to still hear Christmas tunes and see decor everywhere.
Holly’s home is quite possibly one of the most beautifully-constructed homes I’ve ever seen, even down to the intricate wood carvings along the trim. She literally lives in the jungle, similar to my dad’s childhood home in Maui (which I’ve always been envious of).
Her two adorable dogs (Lila and Bruiser), guppies, three chickens, and occasional tree frogs made this animal-lover go wild. Her neighbors care for 100+ ducks (not even exaggerating) and puppies, which we got the chance to cuddle. Topping it off with a dip in the mountain hot spring truly relaxed all my senses. Christmas couldn’t have been any better!
Our Christmas Eve dinner outdoors was delicious thanks to Chet’s phenomenal cooking. I honestly don’t think there is anyone in this country who can’t cook (except the foreigners – we’re all awful). Fried pork, fried chicken, Penang curry, Nutella cookies… and a lot of other Thai dishes I didn’t know the names for, but still ate and was very happy that I did. Holly’s blueberry cheesecake-filled mason jars and Santa hats were a big hit with everyone for dessert, as well – but I was the only one (because I’m a typical American) who actually finished everything. And then I wonder why Thailand is the only country in which I’ve gained a ton of weight in…
We also played some hilarious games, one in which we had to unwrap a large tissue paper-covered sprout ball. Each layer revealed small prizes (everything from the fortune teller fish to trinkets like crab rings), but the biggest joke was waiting to see what was in the middle – a big, fat nothing. Sprout Roulette was even worse, since we all went around hoping and praying that we wouldn’t get the Bertie Botts-disgusting-edition of the chocolate in the case. Who even makes sprout-shaped and sprout-colored chocolates?! Holly’s mother had shipped her this game specially from the UK, so I assumed this was some type of British-humored game. It so happened that Holly and I were the only two lucky ones who got the sprout-flavored chocolates in a row. HA.
Holly and Chet treated us to end-of-the-evening entertainment with their LED poi balls, which I was enthralled with. They’re also quite skilled in using fire poi balls, but I guess they didn’t want to whip those out in front of the kids…
It was a chill, beautiful Christmas with the best company – and I couldn’t have been more thankful. Thank you endlessly for your hospitality, Holly and Chet!