Hot Air Balloon, Chiang Mai
The morning of our anniversary began with a wonderful card exchange and a surprise that topped any surprise I've ever had. For the duration of our journey we've wanted to experience a hot air balloon ride. During our first visit to Chiang Mai we almost pulled the trigger on it but decided to wait since we found out you're able to do a sunrise ride over the temples of Bagan in Mayanmar. Unfortunately in Bagan right before the rainy season is the hottest time of the year and it is plagued by very heavy wind gusts throughout the day. Due to this annual weather pattern hot air balloon rides only operate during certain times of the year. We were there a week too late. Though our spirit was broken and dreams shattered, we chalked it up it just not meant to be. Well that all changed due to my amazing wife. Unbeknownst to me she researched, arranged, and surprised me with a sunrise hot air ballon ride over Chiang Mai. Not only did she do all that, she also made sure it was special - not just "special" but anniversary special. She had a sax player serenading us to our favorite Kenny G elevator tune - you hear it EVERYWHERE here in SE Asia and it has become kinda an inside joke between us. She also made sure we were the only two in the balloon (apart from the pilot) and that we received an extra half hour in the air. Because it was our anniversary the company sent their PR lady up from Bangkok with a surprise for both of us - a bouquet of roses and a champagne toast after our post ride breakfast. We were even christened baron and baroness according to an old French tradition one of the kings started for his balloon pilots that essentially said where ever you land, the land becomes yours. (Our pilot told us this so there may have been information lost in translation or he may have made it all up just for entertainment purposes. Either way, I enjoyed it so much I refused to research it online and spoil the fun.) To seal the deal on the christening a bit of champagne is poured over your head. Good thing it wasn't too much as I am one to not waste champagne, good or bad. Seeing the countryside dotted with farm fields, the city in the distance, and the sun rise over the mist strewn mountains on the horizon was something we'll never forget. The peacefulness and calm at that altitude is infectious. You almost never want to come down. I can imagine if I had the means to do this on a regular basis it would be the best therapy and stress relief. Having my wife beside me enjoying the quiet of 2000ft while contemplating life and our four month journey was truly amazing and unforgettable. Thank you again Sarah for the mind-blowing surprise, you give me more and more reasons to love you everyday. You really are the best. To 13 more, cheers!