Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A very crazy February!

Man, what a month!  I guess I would title our February as "The Sauders Quest for a Business Visa".  This whole "starting-a-business-in-a-foreign-country" thing is hard enough (learning a different language, studying the culture and market, coming up with a business idea, writing a business plan, seeking out investors, etc), but when you add in the complicated legal process it's just the icing on the cake.  We are working hard do everything legally and above board, but man... Thailand does not make this easy! 

At the beginning of the month, we celebrated our 3 year anniversary in Thailand.  Woohoo!  
(This began our quest for the business visa, but we decided we better go out and celebrate this milestone first!)  We ended up enjoying a nice dinner by the river and then going to a 3D Art Museum.  It was a pretty fun experience.... Below are some of pics we took that night.

Looks real, huh?

That's just a painting on a wall...  Hopefully that's not the closest I get to Japan!

We have good balance

Steven's finger is SO strong!

A whole new world!

Steven, my angel.

So, with our 3 year celebration came the time to change our visas over from an educational visa to a business visa.  Our educational visa expired on February 2nd, but we didn't have all the documents ready to switch to a business visa.  So... our only option was to do a border run to Burma to get a 30 day tourist visa.  That would buy us a month to get everything squared away for our business visa.  (Confused yet?!?)

And with that, we made plans to do a quick day trip to Burma.  Steven thought this would be the perfect opportunity to rent a "big bike" and ride through the mountains of Northern Thailand.  Plus, it would save us some time and money on gas!  What a win-win! (And yes, I'm being sarcastic because it didn't quite appeal to me in the same way... haha)

 Here we go!  Ready for our 4 hour ride!

All I wanted to do was come back alive... success! :)

Made it to the border!

They had lovely bathroom facilities...

On our way back, I made Steven stop by the famous White Temple in Chiang Rai.  
What an intriguing and eerie place...

Our friends watched William while we were in Burma and made us this video of him... how sweet!  We love it so much because it really captures the personality of our lil guy.  Enjoy!

While we were waiting for our next trip to begin, I had fun going with Pawn to pick out uniforms for BLISS.  Kristi hired her as an assistant and so we needed to get shirts made!  Pawn had a lot of fun picking out clothes and feeling some ownership in BLISS! :)

The lil booger made the shopping trip with us too :)

We also had fun visiting with friends who work in China.  We know each other from our glory days at U of I... makes us miss that place!

My drooly baby... what a face!

Just reflecting on what God has been saying to me this past month...

William loves to drink his yogurt!

Okay, so off to Malaysia we went!  When you switch your visa over to a business visa, you have to leave the country and go to a place that has a Thai Consulate.  We chose Malaysia because it was the cheapest and quickest flight.  Unfortunately, we were forced to drag William along for the crazy ride because he needed to be present at the Consulate with us.  We booked tickets thinking we would only need to be there for 3 days.  1 day to apply, 1 day to pick up the visas, 1 day extra... just to be safe!

Well, turns out we got rejected the first day.  They wouldn't even accept our application because we didn't have a work permit.  Problem was, our lawyer said we couldn't get a work permit without having the business visa first?!?!  (Insert head banging against the wall.)  We found ourselves in a catch 22 with the Thai government... what could we do?  Go back home to Chiang Mai?  Only to waste the entire trip to Malaysia?  And if we did that, we'd have to go back to Burma to get another 30 day tourist visa.  And then eventually come back to Malaysia AGAIN anyway?!?! BAH.  It was a very frustrating couple of days, to say the least.  We ran a bunch of different scenarios in our heads and after going back and forth many times, we decided to extend our time in Malaysia in hopes that we could still somehow get our business visa.  So, we spent a couple of days talking to our lawyer in Thailand (very difficult to do when your hotel doesn't have internet and you don't have a Malaysian SIM card...) and we went out on a limb and decided to apply for the work permit in Thailand.  Our lawyer then overnighted us the receipt of the work permit to try to submit to the Consulate.  So back to the Consulate we went (Day 4) and they at least accepted our application this time!  (A miracle in and of itself!)  Once they accepted it, we still had to wait another day to see if they would approve it.  So we prayed a lot and waited....

Day 3 at the Consulate.  William was not too pleased.  Poor guy.

The upside to being in Malaysia is that we were really close to a gorgeous park and an amazing mall!

And one night, when we were walking aimlessly around the mall feeling sorry for ourselves, we came across this!!!  Yes, that's right.  GARRETT'S POPCORN!!!! WHAT?!?!?!??!?!?!?!

I could hardly believe it.  It's amazing how something like this can really lift your spirits!!!  I ordered a JUMBO bag of the famous Chicago Mix.... amazing.

We also go to enjoy some good food and some fun experiences amidst the craziness.  There was only so much we could do and sitting in the hotel room worrying about it wasn't helping!

Steven and I celebrated Valentine's Day and went out to eat at this restaurant called Dining in the Dark.  You literally eat in pitch black... couldn't even see my hand in front of my face.  You have blind people as your waiters and you are supposed to "let your senses guide your way".  An amazing dining experience that I will never forget!!!!

Kinda scary!

The trip was really hard on William (he's becoming more aware of his surroundings!) and so the last few days we moved hotels and found one with a bathtub!  He loved it.  What a special treat for him!

My amazing sleeper wasn't sleeping well, so we spent many nights/early mornings like this.  
Cuddled in bed watching cartoons. 

And just like that, after a week of running around like crazy people, WE GOT OUR BUSINESS VISAS!!!!!!!!!  I left out a lot of the specific details, but it really was a miracle that we got them.  Not only did we not have a work permit (although we had the receipt that we had applied for it...), we also didn't have a couple of other documents that they were wanting.  The chances of it getting approved were slim to none, so you could imagine our excitement when they handed our passports back with the right visas!  We were in shock and ran out of the Consulate as fast as we could before they could change their mind! :)

Oh my word.

We went out to celebrate at Chili's!!!  (Yes, the mall had a real Chili's!)

Don't we look so exhausted?!?!?!

William lovin' his mac-n-cheese!

Oink oink.

Couldn't get it in fast enough!

I decided to celebrate with a cupcake.  (Well, 4 cupcakes to be exact but who's counting?!?!)

Steven celebrated by walking around looking at all the fun architecture... (he's weird like that)


Back to sleeping normal and had the bedhead to prove it!

More of God's words to me this month...

Such an active boy!

Playing with his favorite friend... Pawn's niece!

Other fun news... Pawn expanded her bakery to selling wholesale to a local international school!  
 A big step for her business!

Just enjoying the backyard view...

He's growing up so fast!

Melt my heart.  Still sucks his thumb and loves his tag on his sleep sack!

Another recent development... 
William discovered how to escape from his sleep sack and take off his diaper!

It was all fun and games until one morning I woke up to him playing with his poopy diaper... which meant that poop was everywhere (crib, curtains, wall, all over his body and IN HIS MOUTH!)  It was then that I started making sure he also wore a onesie to bed...

Enjoying a date night

The new mall has Coldstone! :)

 Out to breakfast at our favorite spot

 An amazing part of Expat Homes is meeting Thai landlords and developing relationships with them.  Steven has developed a great relationship with this couple and we really enjoy working with them.  They asked us out to lunch after we got back from Malaysia.  :)  (They were so worried about us because they couldn't get ahold of us, so they drove to our house and then drove to Brett and Liv's house to ask if something was wrong!  We got an email in Malaysia from them saying they've been worried and to please contact them... so sweet.)

And with our crazy month, our lil William Takashi grew even more.  Now in a big boy car seat and just lovin' it.  He's starting to say a lot more words now (Dada, ball, shoes, night night, love you) and really likes the song "Let it Go".  We watch it on youtube and he throws his hand in the air and tries to say "GO!"  So cute.  Love our lil pumpkin.  

So, here's hoping for a less eventful month... :)