1 month ago we left New Zealand full of excitment, adventure, hope and dreams. 1 month on and we have had it all. Its nothing like we expected but everything we had hoped. We knew it was never going to be the fairy tale, romantic drama that you see in the movies where we all travel the world holding hands and singing Kum-by-ya. We had done our research and lets face it, we have 4 awesome kids in tow but they can be loud, crazy, whingy, they fight, push, shove, call each other names and complain to us almost every second of the day. They have done that for the past 12 years at home so we knew that this trip wasn’t going to be any different. They just whinge to us about different things now!!!
Flying into Bangkok was probably the best thing we could do. I know your probably shaking your head in disbelief but the craziness, heat and the utter controlled chaos of the place forced us into becoming savvy travelers very quickly. The second guessing of, are we doing it right, is this the right way, are we going in the correct direction, should we eat that, are we getting scammed, gave us the confidence to trust our gut and go with the flow. We screwed it up a million times, made the kids walk 5 blocks in the wrong direction, forgot about getting enough water until we were all nearly withered bodies on the footpath, got in taxis that had no idea where they we going and totally ate some pretty gross stuff, but we would always get home again, re group, have a beer and a swim and start the whole process over…. including the pushing, shoving and whinging!!! Now we can comfortably rock up to a place, do what we need to do, get to where we need to go without any dramas. Its just kinda easier now!!!
Our kids are still our kids so yes they still drive us crazy everyday but they really have changed in such a short time. People always say “kids are so adaptable” and WOW that is an understatement in our case. Not once has anyone asked to go home, never a tear from the travelling point of view. They get a new “house” every few days and they are completely fine with that. They move in and own it and its never a hassle. We see the grubby stuff, the smelly bathroom, the hard pillows but they just chose a bed and make it home. We try to “unpack” at each place. Just get the packing cubes out of the packs and find a shelve, drawer or corner of floor for each person. That’s the beauty of travelling light. We are very happy at the moment in Vang Vieng, Laos, as we have got a beautiful family room in a cute little guesthouse. Often we have 2 separate rooms, sometimes close together and sometimes not. Our last place gave us 1 room on the ground floor and 1 on the 4th floor which was a pain when your sharing 1 tube of toothpaste and 1 bar of soap with no elevator!!! Buns of steel now!!! So its a real treat for us to all be in the same room together. 5 beds for the 6 of us so we all fit perfectly. 2 beds for the 6 of us has been the norm but luckily Asian beds are huge so 3 in a king bed is fine. Our space is their space and to be honest we are loving sharing beds and rooms. There is something very primal about waking up with your cubs every morning, then enjoying snuggles and reading books or chatting about the day. That lasts until someone does a big fart then the laughing, yelling, and name calling starts up!!!
The idea of having a travelling routine was probably a bit ambitious of me. The plan of reading, maths and spelling each morning has flown out the window. Either we are just too busy or we need to get to a bus terminal or airport so are rushing around. The mornings are cool, calm and often we just walk around and decide on activities for the day. The other day we left our accommodation at 9am and got back at 8pm that night!!! So I can say that the formal schooling I had in mind is slipping away but that doesn’t in anyway mean that the kids aren’t learning things. Everyday they are seeing, doing and eating something different. They can confidently speak a few Thai words, our 6 year old can go to the street and get a taxi no problems, they have a massive insight into the devastation the Vietnam war caused in Laos. Our 3 year old is on the lookout for unexploded bombs in the fields and is telling us to stick to the paths. The kids know about the money we use, about our tight budget, about the poverty in some places. They know a lot about Buddhism and how to be respectful. They love seeing monks and always wave. These guys are little sponges and although its not from a classroom they are learning everyday. We always try to make an effort with the boys to read for at least 20 mins sometime throughout the day but if it doesn’t happen then its not a biggie.
The daily duties hardly exist anymore…. we will wash some clothes in a sink sometimes, sometimes we will just drop it off at a place that say Laundry and pay a few bucks. Carl usually sorts breakfast, weather it be cornflakes from the 7/11 or banana smoothies from down the road. He tries his hardest to score me a good coffee but that can be very challenging!!! Lunch is wherever we are… at the moment its huge baguettes filled with cheese or bacon. Dinner is always out at a local street food place. Sometimes a 20 cent icecream on the way home, depending on the level of poo head calling we have had that day. The kids have to keep their little packing cubes tidy with their clothes folded and sweep the floor if needed. Carl and I share anything else that needs to be done. Sometimes he screws thing up and I want to rip his head off and other times I made wrong decisions and he wants to rip my head off. The only time things really come unstuck is when we are underwatered, underfeed and overheated!!! So now we eat before we are hungry and we try to support each other no matter what!!!! Good decisions, bad decisions, big screw ups….. its all part of the journey.
A few casualties so far include, 3 pairs of jandels, (1 pair got left in a park in Bangkok, went back 2 days later and they were still there…. score)!!!!, 2 pairs of shorts with holes in the bum, 2 NZ greenstones, a couple of sun burnt shoulders, plenty of stubbed toes, have blocked every toilet we have used due to our western ways of using toilet paper. We have been the cause of many hold ups and long lines, don’t stand behind us in a line as we order 6 of everything and that takes ages. We always feel sorry for the person behind us in the smoothie line and secretly laugh to ourselves as we know they are going to have to wait for 30 mins. The ladies at the laundry places have their work cut out for them when I show up with our bags of washing. I have no idea if they have machines or do it by hand but for their sake I hope they just throw it all into a machine. Unfortunately my foldable “sickie” bowl has had way too much use, I knew it was a sensible purchase!!! I haven’t used cleanser or toner on my face for a month and contrary to what the advertisers may say, my skin hasn’t peeled off my face… in fact I think my skin is looking great!!!
So we are big, we are noisy, we disturb the peace everywhere we go, we laugh, we sometimes cry, we try to fit in, we are doing it the best we can, we are doing it with love and respect. We are meeting amazing, kind, helpful people, we are 1 month in and we are HAPPY and TOGETHER x