Homestay with Sticky Rice
Before we started traveling from place to place, I thought I had experiences in life and for my environment I did. I got comfortable with my way of life and at one time I thought this way of life was the only way other families carried on with day-to-day matters. Then you become more curious, start thinking and the questions arise from new experiences. I now feel like I was a sheltered intra-national traveler and lifer.
I worked on trains, as a brakeman/switchman, before I started higher education. I have to say freight trains are completely different from passenger trains. I feel like an internal fraud to myself when I think I have ridden on hundreds of trains. European train travel is a brand new experience to me(us) and it appears to others around me it has just been their way of life and I’m pretty sure it has been. I look forward to the day it seems old hat to me.
Things unknown are starting to be easier to find comfort in as we travel. I guess this is the true beginning of our trip in some aspects. Take me back seven months ago, I felt uncomfortable sleeping over at a friend’s home. I even got anxiety going over to someone’s house for an event – dinner, drinks or pool parties. Call me an introvert, but I felt real stress from the situations. Now, I’m starting to see that things are going to be ok.
Rachel and I had an opportunity to meet back up with some people we crossed paths with during our journey – our “Sticky Rice” family (two out of three) and their families. We miss you Jess and hope India is going well for you. I was full of excitement through and through – my heart and soul were over flowing with joy. It’s not always easy for me to express this emotion, but inside I was stoked.
Well the sticky family was back together and road tripping it from the train station to their homes. As we drove around the countryside, twisting and turning along the old roads of England, we broke free from the hedge covered highways and came to the quaint little town of Goudhurst. We stopped at this pub, called The Vine, where I had a draw of ale and Rachel had a “Pimms” cocktail. How do I describe Pimms, it’s like a favored iced tea with fresh fruit and herbs – delicious! While enjoying having a refreshment, Immi’s dad – Chris, drove by and came to join us for a pint outside on the picnic tables. Chris is a true gentleman, sharp dresser and best of all a loving father.
We finished our beers and went home to get settled in. For the folks that may not know, English homes to my understanding from been around for oh something like a few hundred years, there is history in the homes. Immi’s home is absolutely wonderful. You can feel the warmth, love and compassion seeping from the walls – we were welcome here. We met with Cheski, Immi’s sister, a delightful young lady. And then Immi’s mum, Ali, she got home – what a pleasure to meet her. Now that the whole fam was home – you could understand why the home felt like a home because a loving family lived here and shared their love and peace with visitors like ourselves. Everyone, including Alicia, got ready like a well-oiled machine and we all set out for dinner.
Dinner was fabulous. One of the highlights were these little appetizer eggs – Scottish eggs, new item on the list of great foods. So what is a Scottish egg, well it’s this semi-hard boiled egg inside of fried ground/minced sausage. At first, you may not see part of the wonder of this food, but think about actually making sure the semi-hard boiled egg stays just on the edge of not being totally cooked after being processed twice. Then imagine biting into something that looks like a breaded egg and finding out it sausage instead of breading – yummy. It’s my new breakfast on the gogo.
Then evening started coming to a close and we headed back to the ranch as we say in Texas, off to bed for the next day of sticky rice hometown touring. There was no gogo breakfast this morning, Ali – supermom, was ready with the works – thank you 😀 Out the door and off to see some of the sites. The first was Dunorlan Park – huge park, lots of grass, trees and a lake. Of course, we were drawn to the water to see what was going on with the activities. Paddle boats – I have always wanted to do those little boats, they look like fun, people laughing and having a good time – sign me up!
That was easy, the rental window, dropped off the camera, and the girls were getting into the boats and off we go. This deluxe paddleboat was equipped with four seats, two up front and two in the rear with the gear (paddles and rotter). Alicia and myself got our workout in as we powered across the water. I have always wanted to steer one of these boats and for moment I was Captain Steve. We made our way into duck country and paddled along the shoreline where the birds looked like tourist watching the paddleboaters. All was going well, we approached two small islands and we (ok maybe I) had to race this little girl in a kayak. We had her until my legs started to burn then she overtook us on the port side – all is still good. Then Captain Steve, went for the sharp turn to arch our way around the second island and that’s when it happened. I grounded our vessel, we ran into some rocks – I felt like we were on the titanic and hit the big one. Forwards and backwards we paddled, steering this way and that and the look of desperation must have rippled across the wake of our faces. Luckily, we were rescued from our dilemma from a kayaker, no not the eight year old from before – but sir lake kayaker, and we were back to making our way back to the docks. I wiped the sweat from my brow from the pressure and heat and we made it safely ashore. With our appetites wetted, we sent off on our next adventure.
While eating different dishes in Asian countries, the girls would talk about “Wagamama’s”. We had to try this place out and see what all the fuss was about. Modern restaurant with good eats. I had to compare the pad thai to what we had a continent away. Freshest pad thai I think I have ever had – the greens where nothing like we had only a few weeks ago – yummy. Now, I understand all the fuss – another fun experience.
To the car park and off we went again, this time to a winery. The Hush Heath Winery was the destination. We worked our way through the winding roads and came upon the sign and a few structures – we have arrived. We followed the signs to the back, were we could sample the wines, and in we went. The lady gave us a little map and direction to the vineyard – “hmmm can I have my wine now?” I thought. Anyway, off we went to the see the vines. We walked along the path until we reached a very small pond, then we made the decision to go back and refresh our thirsty bodies – big smiles. The wines were surprisingly good, I have never thought of England as a wine country but this vineyard actually produced some good wines, sparkling wines and ciders. We sampled, purchased and saddled up.
Throughout the day both Ali and Chris worked on making everything perfect for a super evening. We had cocktails and played with the English weather in the garden prior to dinner. We got to meet Alicia mum, Mandy, another very nice lady. Then we settled inside for one of the highest orchestrated dinners I can remember. Alicia had a seating chart, properly prepared by Ali, the table was set in all its glory and the courses started. I have to give it Immi’s family for making everything so wonderful. I have to add this part, you know that Pink Floyd song Another Brick in the Wall and the line “If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?” Well I was thinking it was peas and not meat, I loved the peas by the way, but the song was playing in the back of my mind – shared inside humor.
During dinner, I had the chance to talk with Matt, Cheski’s friend. Very nice young man that was so much part of the family, it was delightful to engage in another conversation. After dinner we all played some games and discussed different topics, great company and pleasure to interact with everyone that evening.
Our final day with our sticky rice girls was kinda sad, knowing we would see them again wasn’t the sad part – it’s the when. Alicia and Immi became part of our lives, during a journey we set out for ourselves and as a couple. They became our friends and shared in the same vision for a moment, but a vision, I believe has changed us all and will be a lesson we carry for a lifetime. What is the lesson for me – it’s that friendship comes sometimes from nothing, develops into great times and leaves you with happiness, memories and thoughts of greatness for others.
Homestay with the “Sticky Rice” girls, Immi and Alicia, was such a wonderful and pleasant experience. To meet their parents, Chris and Ali and Mandy, was not surprising to have expected genuinely good people and our expectations were meet in addition to caring and loving parents. Thank you all for letting us come into your homes, break bread with us and share your kindness – it’s a memory we will always treasure.
With Love, thankfulness, and smiles – Your Sticky Rice Family