I have a problem in that I never want to leave the place I’m at but always must for some reason like a visa, or new passport, or family visit, an unbearable hot season, or most recently because a deep meditation strongly showed the words “Summer in Siam” just after I’d decided to decide whether we should stay in India for the hot season this year. Siam is the old name for Thailand so a couple of weeks post meditation we hopped on the 3 hour flight from Chennai just as India’s summer (which begins in May) began. Now with one week left on our 1 month + 1 month extension visa I figured I’d add a quarterly update to my blog.
This place will be particularly difficult to leave because it is just so EASY here. For one thing I do enjoy wearing whatever I want again. I forgot how much I like to feel the breeze on my skin. In Auroville I don’t have to worry too too much about standard Indian dress codes like I would in Varanasi but it would still be possible to offend someone by showing too much shoulder or sporting too short of shorts. But not here! It would be perfectly acceptable here to ride around on your scooter in a bikini (not that I do, but I could!) and not get a second glance. Ah freedom…
It is more expensive here than India but still much cheaper than the US. For <$400 USD (low season monthly rate) we have called this tiny home on the beach our home for most of the past 2 months:
Our house is inside a colorful little bungalow village hotel we heard about from a friend in India called Silent Beach Treehouse. I’ve been wanting to try out a tiny home with Trekker and live in a tiny home community on the beach, so this was a good find. The inside has room for a bed, a fan, countertop, and a small bathroom. The porch is bigger than the inside of the house and that is where we mostly live. You can see why here:
The restaurant at Silent Beach Treehouse offers 3 giant laundry baskets filled with beach toys and little toy trucks so Trekker made an easy transition to calling this place home upon arrival.
Trekker also made friends with a 5-year-old Ukrainian girl whose parents spent every day way out on the sea on paddle boards while she and Trekker scale the boulders lining the bungalow hotel property. I read in the hammock, swim, or work on the app.
If you are single mom with a little one looking to be on-the-loose I do recommend the Thailand Islands and this place in particular. The beach is beautiful and the ocean is shallow with very little waves so perfect for little ones. And the Thai people in general are so gentle, loving, accepting, open, warm, and compassionate… they are really great with kids. (well, except that they tend to laugh at the little ones when they are crying.. I hypothesize this is somehow tied to Buddhist roots since in Buddhism one seeks to acknowledge the temporal nature of things, and the “this too shall pass” of emotions. And maybe this ideal, being at the root of Thai culture, has influenced the adults’ response to children’s cries? Like if you laugh at their sad feelings they will also learn to not take their feelings so seriously? Not sure… Thai people do, as I mentioned, have a wonderfully peaceful manner about them as a whole so their approach does seem to be working for them but there is something about this laugh-at-crying-children thing that doesn’t feel right to my Western self. I do get that children, esp 3 yr olds, have dramatic breakdowns for the most ridiculous (and often, annoying) reasons and so it is difficult to empathize at times but I’ve made the decision to attempt (as much as I am capable of) to validate my child’s emotions, no matter how inappropriate they seem to me. My personal feeling is that if I validate my child’s experience he will consider his emotions valid and deal with them squarely in life. Repressed emotions are a strong root cause of most of the ills of society- from substance abuse to psychopathic behavior. And considering the recent news of rape and mass shootings I have a strong intention to raise my child with a healthy mind, heart and soul. But also I think it is different for Westerners. If I was raising him in Thailand long term, and we spoke Thai and we fit into the culture more, AND I kept MY feelings to myself like a normal Thai then he would probably grow up healthy and peaceful like the rest of the Thais even with invalidated crying as a child. But I express my feelings pretty regularly so to deny this in my child would probably not be a good thing. But anyway, I digress…)
For the other SMOTLs out there- this hotel is also totally accepting of kids being kids and they have a great $9 masseuse overlooking the beach. This means mom gets 2 or 3 massages per week while son plays in the sand nearby and is looked after by many warm eyes. Here is the view from the massage table:
It’s the same in pretty much any massage place you arrive at in Thailand with a small child – no need for babysitters at all, especially the ones on the beach. Thai culture is in general is incredibly loving to little ones (more on crying- if the cry is actually merited, or if the child is actually a baby, they would no doubt step in to comfort them. And generally they give so much attention to small children that crying gets avoided altogether.) There are also some decent playgrounds I’ve written about here around Ko Samui as well. And perhaps best of all, there is an adorable little ex-pat/thai mixed school in the adorable town of Mae Nam a 1/2 hour walk down the beach from where we stay. This is the street the school was on and the community Sala at the end of the street I sometimes practice yoga in when waiting to pick up Trekker (respectively):
I will write up my take on schooling in general soon but from my limited school exposure during Trekker’s short career as a school kid this Mae Nam school is tops. And they do take visitor kids by day/week/month/ and term. And we could walk there via the beach (when I wasn’t feeling lazy.)
Here are some of the kids frolicking about in nature at one of the kid’s birthday parties:
Admittedly this has been a very vacation oriented couple of months. I have been working on a new version of my app so it’s not all play but what I haven’t done is learn more than 2 words of Thai nor learn much about Thai culture other than people seem to really take it easy and that there are definitely more than 2 genders here which makes life more colorful. I saw one live Thai band and they covered Sweet Home Alabama. Was quite bizarre to hear a Thai accent singing in “I hope Mr Young will remember a southern man don’t need him around anyhow.” I assume the singer was unaware of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s intended reference to Neil Young’s song ‘Southern Man’ which calls out white supremacy in the USA’s south, or maybe he just didn’t care. But Anyway! It has been a great trip for us as a family. There is surely a strong correlation with a relaxed mama equating to a relaxed child, and this makes parenting exponentially easier.
Plus they have Gatorade at 7-11 and there is a 7-11 every other block.. (after being based in India for so long, Gatorade is really special to me/us.) All in all its been a wonderfully relaxing 2 months and I would totally live here but I don’t know that we ever will. Who knows. Next stop is NYC where I intend to promote the app and dance a lot.