There was a distinct lack of laughter from my usually very happy family from precisely 3pm on the 12th October until the 14th October at around the same time. We were actually all very quiet and all very miserable during this long 48 hour period.
On the 12th October, we shut up our home and headed to the airport for nine days of sunshine on a beach in Thailand. Getting into the car for any trip these days seems like more of an ordeal then it should be. Juggling work, life, family is busy enough without making sure everyone has enough underwear to see them through for nine days. As we set off, Michael and I gave each other a little high five. We were off. We did it. Hurrah – here we come Thailand. More high fives all round as we boarded the bus to take us to the terminal for check in. Hurrah! We are here. We are going on holiday people. The long cue didn’t worry us. We were all so happy to be getting away and for once allowed plenty of time for delays (we’ve missed a flight before by not doing so but that’s a whole other story which would also make you laugh as it resulted in me doing a lot more than poking my tongue out to the lady of unnamed airline who was on a mission to make life miserable). We hit the check in counter and handed over our tickets and passports. The first bags are on the scale. Mr. Kerrison is checked in. Yay (more high fives). Mrs. Kerrison is checked in (more high fives). Our youngest daughter Ettie steps up to the plate. “Mr. and Mrs.’s Kerrison……Ettie’s passport has expired”. Speechless. Ettie’s jaw drops and she asks, “Mummy does this mean I have to stay home by myself”. Heartbreak right there. Grace and Ava’s passports are checked…..both expired. All three daughters passports expired 2 weeks before this date. Ettie’s is no longer alone with her dropped jaw but none of us are able to talk. We were ushered over to the Managers desk to see what could be done. We had hope. There was still a little excitement. These good people would fix our mistake. “Mr. & Mrs. Kerrison…..we are afraid there is nothing we can do for you. You will need to head home and make an appointment with the department of foreign affairs tomorrow when they re open.” This is where the lack of laughter really started. Let’s just say it was a very reflective car trip home. In our busy-ness, we had totally overlooked that kids’ passports are only valid for five years. There are likely no repeatable words for what Michael and I were both calling ourselves in our heads. How could two reasonably intelligent people be so stupid?
The days of no laughter continued as the five of us headed in to the city to the department of foreign affairs so that we could be there right as they opened and what a happy little place this is! For some warped reason, I had a glimmer of hope that the kind person who would see us would feel compassion, see the desperation in our eyes, see that we had three beautiful children looking incredibly deflated and have a laugh with us about how ‘these things can happen’ as they issued us our emergency passports right then and there. Instead, we were pushed forward in the cue to a lady who may not have laughed for many years. She told us that we could apply for emergency passports that take a minimum of 48 hours but in her opinion, we wouldn’t be flying out for days as “DIDN’T WE REALISE OUR CASE WASN’T REALLY AN EMERGENCY AND WE WERE ACTUALLY VERY LUCKY TO BE GOING ON A HOLIDAY AT ALL”. I write in capitals not to be rude but to remind myself how these words were spat at me. If I was in a better frame of mind and thinking more clearly, I might likely have laughed, as her attitude and outburst were quite unbelievable. Instead, I was unaware until Michael was suddenly cuddling me that I was standing there with tears rolling down my cheeks. I felt so awful for our girls. I felt like I had failed them. I just wanted to fix this. We spent the best part of the day at the happy place as we completed forms, obtained new photos, and sought witnesses as well as the trip home and back to get a birth certificate that they needed the original of. We finally headed home altogether and were told to just wait and that if we wanted to, we could check the progress online.
Amongst all of this, I should add that our airline was incredibly good to us. They had told us that so long as they had availability, they would get us on a flight to Thailand as soon as our passports came through. We knew there was one the following afternoon but we now also knew (thanks to the happy lady) that we were no hope of getting on that one. It was a waiting game. None of us had unpacked and there was lots of little cuddles and rubbing of necks but definitely no laughter. Looking back on this now, I feel bad about this. I wish we as parents had reacted a little differently. I wasn’t proud of how miserable we were at the time and how we didn’t really try to lift the kid’s spirits. It’s all easy to say on the other side though I guess.
As I went to bed, I could see the slightest movement finally as I tracked our passports online. They had moved to 20% (it’s something right?) at the end of that day. By morning, I checked again as I had started to get excited to think that by some miracle, we might possibly get on the flight later that day. It was still at 20% and Michael begged for me not to get excited. We were living in limbo. It was really quite weird. Our gear was packed, we caught up on a little reading and some emails but still, just a waiting game. I checked a few hours later and somehow, we were at 60%. Excitement right there. Michael suggested again for me not to get excited but he suggests a lot of things that gorgeous man and well, I can’t listen to them all! I had worked out that if we jumped in the car right then and headed to the happy place in the city, in the hope the passports might be ready when we got there, there was a very small chance that we might make the flight. We of course had not yet phoned the airline to see if there were still seats and yes, we would be cutting it fine and the little detail that we were on a prayer than the passports would go from 60%-100% within the hour for this to happen. A little far fetched, I know but what did we have to loose? The girls caught on to my excitement and our eldest, Grace made my heart pop. Her words were ‘Let’s give it a go. The worst that happens is we have to come back home’. Within five minutes we had thrown our cases in the back of the car and were heading back in to the city. I was tracking our passports all the way in there via my phone. The progress was not moving. Michael parked out the front as I burst in their doors and waited again to be served. I was called up and I felt our luck had changed……. this lady smiled at me. Amazing. She was warm and I explained to her that we could make the flight that was leaving in a little over 2 hours if the passports could be ready. She checked for me but only saw what I saw – 60%. She then said she wanted to check out the back in case they were closer than it looked online. I wanted to kiss her except there was a thick piece of security glass between her and me, which I can only assume, wasn’t for the people like her that needed a kiss. She was back. My heart was in my throat. She said to wait over to the side and that they would be out in a few minutes. WHAAAATTTTT! I was frantically texting Michael the news. He then was frantically arranging for someone to come and collect our car from the airport, as we didn’t even have enough time to park it. I know you probably can’t feel it through my words but even as tell this story now, I can re live the hope, the adrenalin and the smiles (finally….the smiles) that were coming back in to our lives. We made it……..by the skin of our teeth but we made it.
A little rejoicing, a little sip of wine and another high five to the husband and eight hours after take off, we arrived in Thailand. Our holiday would be cut a little short but we were there, we had made it.
In short, our seven days in Thailand were more than we could have hoped for. On one of the magical days when we were driving alongside some pretty beautiful countryside, Ettie asked me what my favourite time on the holiday so far had been. I think she had sensed what I was feeling. I answered to her with ‘right now as I was just thinking how wonderfully lucky I am to have the four of you as my travel companions……. my family…….the people I love most and can see these magical places with……..share these amazing moments with’. We swam, we read, we toured, we ate, we drank and we laughed (a lot) again.
I should also tell you that we lost luggage during this trip. Michael entire case just never showed up. I also had a stolen credit card. We laugh about these things now too!
Here are some wonderful photos from our trip as well as one of my favourite Thai dishes that I cook so often at home. This particular recipe will feature in the upcoming Relish Mama cookbook but I thought it very fitting to share it with you all here too.
One word of advice – go and check your passports people!
PS – Gorgeous image of the Thai larb recipe below is thanks to my talented friend, Tamara Erbacher from The Relish Mama cookbook.
Photos further below of our Thai holiday are thanks to yours truly (oh……..if only I could take Tam on all of our holidays!)
Eating Thai food is a fantastic experience. Each flavour should be able to be tasted separately, leaving the mouth feeling clean and ready for more. Thai cooking is about balance and harmony, and no particular flavour should dominate.
This dish is a very firm family favourite.
500g coarsely minced beef (can substitute with chicken or pork)
1 lemongrass stem, white part only, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons ground roasted sticky rice
1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
50ml fish sauce
50ml lime juice
2 tablespoons coriander, leaves only and washed
2 tablespoons chopped spring onion
Iceberg lettuce leaf cups, washed and chilled, or substitute with cos lettuce cups
2 tablespoons mint leaves
Heat a wok on high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of water and when boiling, add the minced beef, stirring well to break up. When the beef is cooked, add the
lemongrass, ground roasted sticky rice, dried chilli flakes, fish sauce and lime juice. Stir in the coriander leaves and spring onion.
Spoon into individual iceberg lettuce leaves and garnish with the mint leaves.
This is lovely served with a little Thai dipping sauce. To make this, dissolve 3 tablespoons of sugar with ¼ cup water. Stir in 2 tablespoons of lime juice, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, 1/2 tablespoon dried chilli flakes and 2 tablespoons of dry roasted sticky rice. Finally, stir in 1 tablespoon finely sliced shallots and 1 tablespoon coriander stems and leaves, chopped.
Tip: Sticky rice is also known as glutinous rice and is eaten as a staple in northern Thailand. It is widely used throughout Asia for dessert cooking. You can buy it at stores pre-roasted and ground, or to make it yourself, simply place white glutinous rice in a dry frying pan and toss until it is golden brown. Grind the grains in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder until it becomes a fine powder.
Happy snaps from Thailand October 2014