Koh Phangan (With a Baby)
So here we are in Koh Phangan. We’ve been here for almost three weeks now, and the time has flown by - despite us doing very little at all.
We went out to a Belgium Beer Bar last night on account of yesterday being my birthday. It was a surprise from my parents, via Thilde. I had a couple of very good beers, a tough old steak (I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no good beef on Koh Phangan), and Thilde had a huge bowl of mussels. Very nice. It was Thilde’s birthday at the end of May, which we celebrated with a trip to a very nice spa, where she was pampered extensively. Other than our two birthday treats we’ve not done a great deal…
Our journey here was smooth. We were a little interested to see how the ferry from Koh Samui went, seeing as Thilde would be pushing Melvin, and I would be pulling our two rather large bags. We’ve only made this trip before in the high season, so were expecting a packed ferry, and mild chaos during boarding. We were pleasantly surprised to find everything went very calmly. We waited at the ferry terminal for a good hour and a half, during which there was a rain storm, but boarding was smooth, there were plenty of free seats, the AC worked, and in 30 minutes and lunch for Melvin later, we were in Koh Phangan.
I should add something about breastfeeding while I remember. We Googled a bit before we left and the general consensus seemed to be towards going somewhere private. We thought about it, and realised we’d never seen a Thai woman breastfeeding - or a tourist, for that matter. We’ve managed to time our outings and trips quite well in regards to Melvin, but due to the heat he often demands a quick thirst-quenching drink at random times (we’ve only given him water a few times, but don’t think it was really necessary. Instead, he’s just preferred to switch boobs more often and take short drinks to get the lighter milk instead of the full-fat filling milk that comes later). When he’s surprised us, it’s been very easy to find a hotel with a private corner, or just a clean toilet with AC, in which Thilde can help him out. He even caught us out during a massage in Bangkok. I took him outside and kept him entertained (or rather, the massage women kept him entertained), until Thilde was finished, and then they very kindly let us use a private massage room for a feed. Everyone, the women in particular, have been sympathetic and very kind whenever we’ve asked if there was somewhere we could breastfeed, but we’ve never just gone ahead and done it in a public place. I think it would be frowned upon, you could say. Anyway: short of the long is that it hasn’t been a problem, despite the fact you can’t just whip your boob out. That said, we have seen a couple of tourists breastfeeding in public places. There’s not been any trouble at all - not even any funny looks as far as we could see - but we just decided to err on the side of caution (and respect), and keep it as private as possible.
So. Koh Phangan. We were hustled in to the back of a taxi (except Thilde and Melvin - all taxi drivers have offered the front seat - using with seat belt and AC - to whoever is holding him), and then hustled out and in to the back of another taxi. Not too much hassle except now we’re lugging two months of luggage and a stroller. Gallons of sweat and a 10 minute drive later, we arrived at our first port of call, Orion Healing Centre in Srithanu.
Thilde had booked a yoga thing and a Reiki course, and we would be going full vegetarian for two weeks. Turns out the first week was International Vegetarian Week, so good timing us. Anyway, we paid for a week and stayed for a week. A combination of cockroaches and nothing for Melvin to do (i.e. no pool), convinced us that we’d be better further up the road. So we moved. And it was good. We’ve come to really appreciate a pool. Not only is it great for us to cool off in, it’s also perfect for Melvin. He’s not that comfortable with the sea, but a good splash in a pool is perfect. Of course, he prefers a private plunge pool, but one can’t always have what one wants.
One great thing about travelling in low season has been the deals we’ve got. We shouldn’t have booked in advance anywhere. The two places we’ve walked in have given us vastly reduced rates, this time a suite by the pool for almost a quarter of the usual price. That said, it’s been good to know we’ve definitely got a room when we arrive somewhere, instead of having to walk up and down the beach or road looking for the perfect place.
So a week was spent at Loyfa Resort, just up the road from Orion, and from there we took a short drive up the coast to Cookies’ Resort. We’d been here two and a half years ago, and were very pleased with it, but reading reviews on TripAdvisor got us all worried. It seemed as if the place had taken a turn for the worse, and I was already planning on moving, but worry we needn’t have as it is just as we remember (bar the beach. That’s got worse, but with a couple of years of heavy tourism, what can be expected. Unfortunately I don’t think sustainability is high on the priority list here). Yes, the rooms are a little loved, with wonky taps, and quick fixes here and there, and yes, some of the staff either don’t seem to understand a word of English/look moody/smoke joints on the restaurant balcony, but for the most part, they’re friendly and helpful. Our room (an upgrade from our last trip!), is fantastic, with a huge bedroom, a small seating area, and a good bathroom with tub! One of my favourite things to do is take a bath with Melvin, so I was pretty chuffed about that.
The beach is a very short stroll away, the pool even less so, and while our baby monitors won’t reach to either, we’ve just fallen into a routine of taking it in turns to go out. Not only is this nice as I don’t think anyone wants to be outside in this heat all day, but it also gives us some time alone to do whatever we want, important when your day runs on an almost 6 month old’s schedule.
Melvin has two teeth now. They poked through shortly after we arrived on the island. The only children's toothbrush we could find was a Hello Kitty one, but it does the job. He hasn't kicked up too much of a fuss about them, but boy are they sharp. Glad I'm not breastfeeding... He's also started to show definite interest in what we do with our food and drink. He watches as we eat and use straws, and will strain his head back when he's in your lap to see just where you're putting that glass. We're holding off until he's 6 months, and then he can go nuts. He's played with watermelon a couple of times, but so far, shows no interest in putting it in his gob. On us, yes, but in him, no. It'll come (we're following baby led weaning, if you're interested. Basically skipping all mush and puree, and going straight to solids, but when he's ready and shows interest).
I'm currently weaning myself off good tea. I’ve only got three tea bags left - disaster. I’ve had to resort to Lipton Yellow Label, which calls itself tea but isn’t really. I don’t know what it is, but if you leave the bag in long enough, it tastes…well, it’ll have to do. Right now I’m treating myself to a proper brew from my extremely limited supplies.
After 5 weeks in Thailand, life has really settled down. We wake up, play a bit, have breakfast, and then work out while Melvin naps. We have a play, head out for a walk and lunch, and then Melvin naps. The afternoon is spilt, with each of us taking some time in the sun, reading our books, or just relaxing. Then it’s more playtime, a swim, them dinner, and bed. The only big difference is that we go to bed earlier, which is really kind of cosy anyway. I’ve become a little homesick for things like our bed, or our sofa, and the way our home smells. We’ve also started to talk about different kinds of food, and the clothes we’ll wear when we get back. Not to mention how nice it’ll be not to sweat so much (or have unlimited good tea).
Just over two more weeks of this. It’ll probably go incredibly quickly, just as everything before this has done. It’s strange, this maternity leave business. It’s really not a holiday, despite the fact that we’re in Thailand. It’s normal life, just with less cooking and more heat. I should think the coming time will be as uneventful as this blog post. We’re moving to a new place today (two weeks in one place is rather long), and then on the 13th we’re heading back to Koh Samui, but other than that, I should think we’ll spend the rest of the time just doing as we’ve been doing; looking at Melvin and wondering where time went.