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Back in school for the NZ families, and we remember the family missions that we managed to do over summer. For me, traveling with kids often has that combination of great moments and wondering why the heck we even bothered. Helena’s article this week is on traveling as a family in Thailand. She brings so many elements into her story: culture, expectations, preparation, family emotions, dealing with the unexpected, and the gifts. I love the very real image of slowing down. Do you feel too busy? Even if you don’t take the kids to Thailand, can you create a Thailand beach day by unhooking from all devices and apps, eating simply and watching the sky?
In Joy, Becky
Slowing Down in Thailand
When I grew up in Vaxholm, Sweden, I never, in my wildest dreams thought that I would end up living on the complete other side of the world. But here I am, in New Zealand with a Kiwi husband and two young boys.
I don’t think that I will ever feel completely comfortable with being this far away from my family and home country. But when I get upset about it, my parents remind me that when we see each other, it’s usually for one to three months at a time, and it usually involves living under the same roof. Pretty intense some would say, living with your parents, daughter or parents-in-law for that long, but we usually end up pleasantly surprised how well it goes. And those intimate weeks do (probably) make up for the missed ones.
Twice now we have ended up meeting my family half way, in Thailand. I think it’s important that when you go to a different country or place, to try and meet the local people and see how life works there. It’s a great way to get new perspectives on life and refresh thinking patterns. These two trips to Thailand left us with a few little interesting experiences to ponder.
For our second trip there, the Red Shirts occupied some strategic areas of Bangkok but also some other areas of Thailand. It looked like a civil war may break out at one stage with more than 90 Red Shirt members killed by government forces. We definitely considered not going, especially since we were traveling with our kids. We kept in touch with the NZ consulate, which at one point evacuated from Bangkok, and we regularly checked their website during our stay. It turned out to be really concentrated to the central Bangkok area and the day to day life where we were carried on as usual.
We went to a small fishing village five hours south of Bangkok on the east coast called Ban Huay Yang, an area that is slowly being built up by Scandinavian and English developers. High season is October to March. So in May, when we went, we only saw a couple of other tourists for a whole month. We thought that was great. Our house was very nice, owned by my Mum’s work college, with air conditioning and a swimming pool.
After a short walk around the village on the first day, we realised why everybody had a motorbike. There were lots of unpredictable dogs everywhere and it was too hot. So we rented one with kind of a wagon on one side to fit all of us. The kids loved it. Luckily we had brought their bike helmets. Usually there were two to six people crammed onto one motorbike, with babies, grandma, the 10 year old driving and no helmets. Funny how soon enough we found ourselves sitting two of us with one kid between us driving around as well, which would never happen at home but somehow there it seemed ok. We had brought our car seats with us, and the taxi drivers and locals looked at them as they had never seen one before.
Thailand felt great and safe, but when you step out of the main cities you can find yourself surrounded by pretty simple and basic conditions. Traveling with young kids does add a few extra reasons to worry if you are like me. I like to know that I have a cream, pills or drops for anything that might occur. I always like to be prepared. We haven’t fully immunised our kids, so we did some prevention keeping our guts and immune systems healthy with probiotics and olive leaf. I also got remedies from my homeopath for stomach problems, dehydration, nausea, and insect bites along with our normal remedies. I also took a homeopathic and normal first aid kit, Goodbye Sandfly (of course), and balms for stings and bites. Waooow! Since I’m trying to use as many natural products as possible, they sometimes add up. I ended up with 2 toilet bags jammed packed, and more in my hand luggage.
The first time we went to Thailand, our nearly two year old son stood on a bee the first day. We found ourselves in a short moment of distress since he had never been stung before so we didn’t know how he was going to react. We realised we had no idea where the nearest doctor or hospital was and nobody we knew in the area spoke English. Thankfully, he was fine and we found a nurse 10 minutes up the road, who was there “sometimes”, and spoke no English. Our oldest son got an ear infection from being under the water all the time. I persevered with homeopathics for a bit, but in the 38 degree heat it was hard to keep the little guy out of the water for the last few days. So I gave in to antibiotics. With no English and no doctor or instruments to really confirm it was an ear infection, we got some antibiotics to take and eardrops and soon it went away. It became clearer that bringing those TWO toilet bags full of stuff just in case, wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
We had no other health issues. The food was great. We ate from a few little restaurants that were mainly open for us since we were one of the few people staying at this hot time. They always cooked amazing food, often from just one element or hob and one wok. We also bought fruit and some food from great local markets.
For me it was really refreshing to see how simply people lived, in basic houses with minimal furniture and things. It reminded me that life goes on just fine without all the stuff media and advertising lead us to believe we need.
One of the first things I notice when I come to Thailand, apart from that almost suffocating heat that hits you when you step out of the airport, is that there is NO stress. Even in busy places the stress seems to be non existant. The first few days it seems frustrating to deal with and foreign to us, how slow everybody seems. We soon settle down, accept it and learn from it. Being on holiday in such a hot, “can’t do much,” slow, low stress place, certainly mellowed us down from our busy, sometimes slightly overstimulating life in Queenstown. The time was much appreciated and I can highly recommended this kind of trip.
The kids just seemed to go with the flow and were very accepting in terms of being amongst a totally different culture. They were very curious, interested and excited about anything from food to plants, insects, animals, people and language. We felt very proud of them for that.
Before our last Thailand trip, Reo couldn’t swim and wasn’t very confident in deep water. But after only a week of being in the water for hours every day just playing having fun, he gained a huge amount of confidence in the water and in himself. With a little bit of guidance and no pressure he learned to swim quickly. He also went snorkelling by himself and we couldn’t get him out for over an hour.
The beauty of being in a place where there isn’t much to do is that you really get to hang out with each other. Everybody had their own morning routine, after that we would all go to the beach together for a dip and lunch. Then we’d take turns in having a nap, looking after the kids, walking along the beach, going to the markets etc. and before we know it it was time for dinner. We had quality time basically just checking out, exploring and explaining about the little things that goes on and exists in a small fishing village in Thailand.
Helena Larrson- Allen
Helena was born on an island in Stockholm archipelago in Sweden. She first came to NZ in 1992. Queenstown has been her base since then but she still has very Swedish identity so this has meant lots of travelling back to Sweden and around the world to catch up with family. Having spent most of her childhood in the outdoors cross-country skiing, ice skating, picking mushrooms, wild berries and swimming has taught her to really enjoy the four seasons and all their beauties. She is fascinated with human nature and behaviour. She is very passionate about bringing up her kids in the best possible way with healthy food and good values and life skills. She is always looking for the natural way of going about things and does really enjoy the challenge of trying to grow her own veggies in pots on top of the cliff they live on. Life is always busy and never boring in her family.
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“(Neem) also popped up recently as an ingredient in a natural shampoo for headlice which I had the pleasure of using recently on myself and my daughter. Very effective. In doing my reseach on these biting , blood sucking insects that make their home on human hair and heads I couldn’t help thinking that there was a common theme here. So out comes the big bottle of Goodbye Sandfly! What a relief to the itchy head and neck not to mention the nourishing benifits to our hair.
Tip- after applying any oil treatment to your hair and scalp apply ample shampoo and massage in BEFORE you wash it out with water.” Katrina
Ed. note: We have heard of our customers using Goodbye Sandfly to effectively get rid of nits, and we have used it that way successfully ourselves. Along with Tea Tree & Neem there are many natural options available.
“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”
We Won’t tell you What to do, but we will make it easy for you if you want to!