Friday, June 26, 2009

Last Unmarried Post

So, today was a whirlwind. Jon and I got to San Diego last night and our agenda for today included getting the marriage license and then spending time with the guys and girls separate for the evening. The agenda turned into a lot more than that. We were able to get the marriage license. I was able to steam my dress myself. I spent a great afternoon with my mom, Dar, Sarah, and Jack picking up some last minute items. Then the dinners tonight were just fun.

I have to admit, I can't believe the day is finally here. In just short of 9 hours I will no longer be Rachael Suzanne Raymond. I will be Mrs. Jonathan Hamilton. I am so stoked. Everyone kept asking me if I was stressed today. I'm not really stressed, at least not about getting married. I think I am most worried about having all of the gifts and stuff that goes to Michigan with my family and with Jon's family all organized. I know that Jon and I are driving or flying back down here for his brother's wedding reception in July, but I feel like I am going to forget something important.

It's late and I am getting super tired, but I wanted to make sure to write a little something before going to bed my last night as a single woman. My cute new bag from Maggie is all packed and I'll just add my toiletries in the morning. I'm ready for another stamp in my passport and more importantly I'm ready to be sealed to Jon for time and all eternity.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sawadee Everyone!

Wow! We are really bad at blogging! So, for the two people who read it, we are sorry. We promise to try to do better, but that's not a guarantee that it will actually BE better!
The past few weeks have been awesome! As you know, we had a great time in Michigan. We got back to Utah, had a few days to adjust to the dry, desert air, and then picked up again and went to....Asia!

We left on the 21st of May in the evening. First we flew to Los Angeles, where we met the rest of the group: Mom and Dad, Erin, Jon, Sam and Ben Mason, Nate and Alyssa Quigley, my brother David and his fiance Aimee, and of course Rachael and me. It was the first time I had seen my brother since he returned home from his mission, so that was a pretty exciting part of the trip.
We waited in the LA airport until it was time to fly to Hong Kong. The flight was LONG! We had to stop in Taipei for fuel and then continue on to HK. When we finally got there, we had to catch another flight to Singapore.

This is us (with Ben) in front of the MerLion monument in Singapore.

Singapore is a gorgeous, amazingly clean place. It was very hot and humid, but worth it. We stayed at the Swissotel Merchant Court, a few blocks from China Town in Singapore. The hotel was really nice, was the perfect place to fall into bed at the end of a Hamilton Family Vacation Day.
Our days in Singapore were awesome! Breakfast was delicious, "American" buffets, with MOSTLY American food, that was really good.
After breakfast, we generally scrambled to get everyone ready to go on a tour. In Singapore, we did several tours, and visited a lot of tourist spots, including the Orchid Gardens, Downtown Singapore, the bird park, the Singapore Zoo, the Singapore Night Safari and the island Sentosa.

This is us at the Singapore Zoo having breakfast with the Orangutans.
On the gondola to the resort island Sentosa.

Nights in Singapore generally consisted of the family taking a dip in the hotel pool, watching the radio controlled kites that were flown by the hotel, and then dropping into bed to sleep for a few hours before getting up to go go go again. As busy as it sounds, Hamilton vacations, in my opinion, are the BEST in the world!

We decided to take a side trip on one of our Singapore days to go to Malaysia. That was another incredible experience. We visited a pewter factory, where we bought some great little cups that will look great in our home, if we ever get one, and visited some of the temples and did some shopping. We even got to take a rickshaw ride!

Okay, so this isn't the REAL rickshaw. This was in a museum on Sentosa.

After Singapore, we got back on a plane and flew over to another gorgeous country, Thailand!
We got to Thailand in the early afternoon, and were met by our tour guides who accompanied us to the hotel. We stayed in the Shangri-La, Bangkok. We were absolutely amazed when we arrived by the splendor of the hotel. It is absolutely amazing! It sits on the river, in the middle of Bangkok, in an area that is crowded by shops, small buildings with corrugated steel roofs, and apartment buildings. The hotel definitely stands out among the crowd!
As we were checking in, we noticed a basket of fresh fruit, with a beautiful bouquet of pink roses. The tag said, "Mr. Jon Hamilton." Martha, one of my coworkers who grew up in Thailand, and still has family there, had the basket delivered to welcome my family and me! How awesome is that? We are thankful for great friends!

The fruit basket from Martha at the Shangri-La Bangkok.

Our time in Thailand was just as enjoyable as Singapore. We visited the red light district, which also happens to be a huge market where you can buy all sorts of trinkets and souvenirs. We did some shopping in the market, being careful to avoid the shops that lined the streets. That was an experience! Everything we did was just exciting!
We did more tours in Thailand. We visited a jewelry store, and had Rachael's wedding band custom made to match her engagement ring. I think that is the best souvenir ever!

This is the guard in front of the jewelry store.

Speaking of souvenirs, we also got some other wedding preparations done. Each of the guys in the group had a couple of suits custom tailored. They are really high quality, and will be some great, USEFUL souvenirs from Asia.
While in Thailand we visited a lot of temples, most of which were ruined in a war with Burma. It was sad to realize how much effort had gone into building the structures, and then to see how badly they had been damaged, but it was awesome to see! We also learned a lot about the religious customs of that part of the world.

Some of the temple ruins.

The Buddha head in a tree.

We also visited the Grand Palace. The movie, "The King and I" is based on the Grand Palace, but the movie is not allowed to be shown in Thailand, because the king doesn't dance like he does in the movie.

The Grand Palace in Thailand.

One of the highlights of the trip was on the day before we had to come home. We traveled about three hours from the hotel to a temple that is a kind of refuge for animals. One of the animals that can be found there is the tiger. We got to get up close and personal with these amazing animals. We even got to pet several of them! It would have been a little bit more nerve racking if they had not been chained in place, but it was thrilling, regardless!

Finally, our time in Thailand came to an end, and we began the long journey back the the United States. But does that mean that the vacation was over?
If you answered yes to the above question, you don't know Drew Hamilton very well. A Hamilton vacation is a vacation that actually requires recuperation upon returning home from said vacation. But that is not the most extreme type of vacation there is. No, no, no. The most extreme vacation is named after the man himself. It is known as a "Drewish Vacation." A Drewish Vacation is a vacation that is not over until it's over. If there is any spare time, or as a rule, if there is a dirt road, it will be used.
In this case, we had a layover in Hong Kong for about half a day. Instead of doing the boring thing and waiting in the airport for our flight to leave, we saw the city. We took the express train from the airport to Hong Kong and took taxi's to the HK Temple. It is beautiful!

From there, we took more taxi's to The Peak Tram, where we rode the tram up to The Peak Tower. The view of the city from above is breathtaking! It is amazing how it rises from the bay, and is built right up to the bottom of the mountains.

My dad and me in Hong Kong.

Overlooking the city of Hong Kong.

We ate dinner at Bubba Gump's before watching a light show from the boardwalk. HK puts on an awesome light show from the tops of the buildings that really shows off the expanse of the city.

Following the light show, we made our way back to the airport, and continued our trip back home. The flight was long, but we made it.
It was such a great experience to spend the time in that beautiful part of the world with the family. We had a great time, laughed a lot, and made memories that I doubt any of us will ever forget. We are so blessed to have such a wonderful family, and to have parents who are willing and able to give us such amazing experiences!
Now, there is not much time before Rachael and I begin our life together as a family to create countless more memories, and to have experiences that we will talk about for years to come! We are really looking forward to the coming weeks! There is so much to come! And we'll keep you posted along the way!