The Land of Smiles

Thailand is known as the "Land of Smiles" so Phuket was the perfect choice for Stampin' Up! to schedule their 2017 Grand Vacation.  One of my goals every year is to achieve an incentive trip with Stampin' Up! and this one will go down as one of my favorites.   

As we prepared for our trip I knew one of the benefits to being in Thailand was that I would receive a copy of our new Holiday Catalog.  This catalog will be available to my customers in August.  It is always fun being with other demonstrators when a new catalog is revealed.  The first things we do is go through the catalog page by page, creating a wish list, marking and bending pages as we go!  So when I saw these adorable pineapple emoji tabs at Walmart in Hawaii, I couldn't resist creating a pineapple topper to package them as gifts.   That way I'd have a useful gift for friends who would be marking every other page in their new catalog, just like me!!!

Pineapple Emoji Tabs - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Pineapple Emoji Tabs - www.stampedwithaloha.com

To create this pineapple I used an Oval from the Stitched Shapes framelits.  Prior to cutting it out I took a piece of Crushed Curry card stock and used my Simply Score board to texture the paper with crossing lines.  The sunglasses came from the stamp set "Pocket Full of Sunshine" which has coordinating framelits to make cutting out the glasses a breeze! The mouth was made with a 3/4 inch circle punch and the crown of the pineapple was made using one of our newest punches the Lemon Builder punch.  Aren't these pineapple emoji tabs cute?  I just love all the smiling faces and know exactly where I am going to stick them in the new catalog!

Speaking of smiling faces.  There were lots of smiles all around in Thailand and a huge smile on my face because I was SO happy to be on this trip.

Welcome to the 2017 Grand Vacation in Thailand - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Welcome to the 2017 Grand Vacation in Thailand - www.stampedwithaloha.com

When I found out that I had to have a second surgery following my lumpectomy for breast cancer, I thought for sure this trip would be impossible.  Thankfully my doctors agreed that if I took certain precautions they would allow me to travel prior to starting my radiation treatments.

We stayed for a week at the beautiful Angsana Laguna Resort in Phuket, Thailand.  

Angsana Laguna Resort - Phuket, Thailand

Angsana Laguna Resort - Phuket, Thailand

Although the resort was amazing, the resort was not the main reason why I was so happy to be in Thailand.   The main reason I was so happy to be there had everything to do with the people I would be with.  

At our general session on day one, it didn't take long for the tears to flow.  As I began to look around the room I felt so much joy as demonstrators I've known for many years greeted me with so much love.  Many ran over to hug me and whisper in my ear, "I'm praying for you".  One who was stuck in the middle of a crowded row waved and blew me a kiss.  All the love made me feel so appreciative to be there at that very moment.  It reminded me of why I love being apart of such an amazing company filled with even more amazing people who have become very dear friends.

Then I found my Advisory Board sisters, Kim and Linda.  It was such a blessing to finally reunite with these two special women who have blessed my life for so many years.  

You know what I love... As we posed for this photo take a look at the two demonstrators behind us?  

General Session - www.stampedwithaloha.com

General Session - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Now look at them again!  I am glad that this photo showed this candid moment of how much love  we have for one another, especially when we have opportunities like these where we can meet together face to face.

General Session - www.stampedwithaloha.com

General Session - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Today, I want to highlight a few of the things about Thailand that I absolutely loved.  

The first was visiting the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary.   I highly recommend visiting their website to learn about the good work they are doing to rescue and protect these magnificent creatures from abuse.  

Phuket Elephant Sanctuary - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Phuket Elephant Sanctuary - www.stampedwithaloha.com

We got to feed them and observe them up close as they walked through the sanctuary.  We watched as they played in the mud and even went into the river to cool off.    It was such a great experience and one of my favorite days spent in Thailand.

Exploring at the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary - www.stamepdwithaloha.com

Exploring at the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary - www.stamepdwithaloha.com

I love adventure and being at this sanctuary was just amazing.  Definitely one of the highlights from my time there.

Another thing I loved about Thailand was the FOOD.  Thai food is by far one of my favorites.  After we visited the sanctuary, they provided a huge vegetarian Thai lunch for us.  It was SO delicious.  

Thai Lunch at the Elephant Sanctuary

Thai Lunch at the Elephant Sanctuary

There were so many choices, it was hard to pick so we had to try a little bit of everything.

We found a restaurant near the resort that we loved too.  It was called the Corner Restaurant.  The first night we went there Derek couldn't decide what to get so he ordered two entree's and both were equally delicious.  We loved this place so much that we went there more than once because of their excellent food and service.

The Corner Restaurant

The Corner Restaurant

Speaking of food, that reminds me of another favorite thing I did in Thailand.  I spent an afternoon learning how to cook Thai food at the Brass Wok Cooking School.

Brass Wok Thai Cooking School - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Brass Wok Thai Cooking School - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Our instructor Pua was so passionate and talented and it was wonderful to learn from her.

Brass Wok Cooking School in Phuket, Thailand.

Brass Wok Cooking School in Phuket, Thailand.

It was great to learn how to prepare several Thai dishes using colorful and fresh herbs, spices and vegetables.

Fresh Vegetables at our Thai Cooking class

Fresh Vegetables at our Thai Cooking class

We made many delicious Thai dishes, my favorite was this very refreshing Green Papaya Salad.

Making Green Papaya Salad 

Making Green Papaya Salad 

After each course we would get to sit down and enjoy what we had just learned to make.

Sampling our food at the Brass Wok Cooking School

Sampling our food at the Brass Wok Cooking School

If I had more time I would have signed up for more classes as this wonderful cooking school.

Whenever we go on any type of incentive trip with Stampin' Up! you can expect to be spoiled.  They give us gifts daily in the hospitality room and pillow gifts each night when we go to bed.  One of our pillow gifts this year included an free ticket to an excursion the next day in Phang Nga Bay.

This trip included a scenic boat ride.

Boat ride to Pha Nang Bay

Boat ride to Pha Nang Bay

Our boats let us off at a floating dock where we put on life jackets and prepared to go kayaking.  

Pha Nang Bay Excursion

Pha Nang Bay Excursion

It was very relaxing because each kayak had a guide.  As our guide led us through the water he even sang to us.  He told us to put our feet over the edge of the boat and relax.  

Pah Nang Bay Excursion

Pah Nang Bay Excursion

That same day we also visited a floating village called Koh Panyee.  

Koh Panyee Floating Village

Koh Panyee Floating Village

This village had a school and even a floating soccer field.

Floating Soccer Field -  Koh Panyee

Floating Soccer Field -  Koh Panyee

Our guide told us whoever kicks the ball off the field and into the water has to go in after it.  So in order to play soccer, you must know how to swim.  I guess learning to swim is really important if you live on a floating village.

James Bond Island

James Bond Island

While on our way to another island to enjoy lunch on the beach we passed by James Bond Island where the movie Man with a Golden Gun was filmed.

Derek and Bruce 

Derek and Bruce 

I over heard the guys joking, "I'm surprised the island is still here". one of them said,  "Didn't it blow up at the end of the movie"?

Stampin' Up! really made us feel special at our farewell dinner.  This is always a surprise!  I am not one who LOVES surprises but everything about this night was really special and fun.

Blue Elephant Greeting

Blue Elephant Greeting

When we got off of the busses for our final night event we were greeted in a very extravagant way.  There was music and many Thai people lined up in beautiful traditional colorful clothes.

We were given fancy juice drinks to enjoy.

Drinks at the Blue Elephant

Drinks at the Blue Elephant

We were also presented with beautiful fragrant flowers.

Thai Flowers at the Blue Elephant

Thai Flowers at the Blue Elephant

Receiving these flowers reminded me of our Hawaiian Lei greeting but these were worn around the wrist and they smelled like Jasmine.

Thai Dinner at the Blue Elephant

Thai Dinner at the Blue Elephant

There were food stations everywhere serving the most delicious Thai food.  

Soap Carvings at the Blue Elephant

Soap Carvings at the Blue Elephant

There were also craft vendors demonstrating and selling their handicrafts.

Live Music at the Blue Elephant

Live Music at the Blue Elephant

There was a live band that entertained us the entire night.

Baby Elephant at the Blue Elephant

Baby Elephant at the Blue Elephant

There was even two baby elephants at the party.

Celebrating at the Blue Elephant

Celebrating at the Blue Elephant

It was a wonderful night where we got to enjoy all of this beauty under a huge tent.

A Magical Night at the Blue Elephant

A Magical Night at the Blue Elephant

It gave us the opportunity to visit with one another and enjoy a last night of celebrating together before we all went our separate ways which is always a sad day!

I was glad I got to spend some one on one time with my friend Genevieve who is from Canada.    She has been an inspiration to me in many ways! 

Genevivie and Cindy at the Blue Elephant

Genevivie and Cindy at the Blue Elephant

The word "inspire" means to FILL someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.  When I attend these events I truly leave feeling inspired.

Special friends, Rich and Dawn

Special friends, Rich and Dawn

I am inspired to give thanks for friends who show you how much they care.

Demonstrator Friends

Demonstrator Friends

I am inspired to celebrate the joy of friendship.

Advisory Board Sisters

Advisory Board Sisters

As well as the blessing of Sisterhood.

Georgia and Cindy at the Resort

Georgia and Cindy at the Resort

Because of my current health challenge, I was also inspired with Faith and Hope to be an encourager to others in the same way that so many others have been for me.

Again I want to say "Mahalo" to all of my demonstrator friends who showered me with such love and encouragement during our special time together in Thailand.  I also feel grateful for all of you at home who were apart of praying with me and for me so that I would be able to go.

Two days after I got home I dropped a glass bottle of fish sauce on my foot.  I went to the ER because I couldn't walk and they took an X-ray and told me it was fractured!    Thankfully a visit to the Orthopedic Surgeon confirmed that it was not as bad as I had thought it was.  What I thought would be 8 weeks on crutches turned out to be 2 days on crutches, 4 days of walking with a boot and a couple days of limping around and now the pain is almost completely gone!  I was even able to go hiking this past weekend.

HIking in Maili, Hawaii

HIking in Maili, Hawaii

When I got to the top of the mountain, look what I found?  Someone had painted this pink ribbon on the wall.  It was an encouraging reminder that I was not alone.  

This whole week I've been anxious about starting radiation because there has been a delay.  But as I sat at the top of the mountain I was reminded to not be anxious about anything.  I know that God is in control and His timing is perfect. 

So as I wait on Him, I am enjoying the blessings that each new day brings as I continue to seek God and his direction for my life in the days to come.  I know that I can trust in His perfect timing which he so faithfully demonstrated when he allowed me to visit the Land of Smiles, a time I will forever cherish in my heart.