It’s been two weeks into our travels, and here are some things I didn’t expect about traveling with our 2 small kids in Thailand.

1. Traffic is great.
Before arrival I read horror stories about the traffic in Thailand, even outside of Bangkok. I doubted that I would ever want to get in an own vehicle here, as I easily get stressed as a driver. Yet all I have seen so far has been great driving. We were picked up at the airport by a calm and responsible driver that our Host arrange for us, and during the 2 ½ hour drive Traffic was absolutely reasonable. Here on our beach Street to Ban Phe, the traffic is great. We feel safe enough to walk on the sidestrip of the street.
The salengs are slow and stay on the side so the faster cars can pass. No one wears a helmet, and while I absolutely don’t promote that, it creates the Atmosphere of people watching out for each other.
Contrary to “drivers are reckless” and “the bigger car wins”, it feels more like, respecting the driving category you are in and behaving accordingly. Letting others pass, getting out of your way, watching out for others. That’s a driving style I easily adapted to driving our saleng, and I was surprised that by not having a clear set of driving rules, I was a lot less stressed out about people’s driving style, but rather embraced that everyone just watches what’s going on and reacts appropriately.
Kids in our pink saleng rental

2. Rainy season is not rainy.
When you look at the Yahoo! Weather App for Ban Phe, you might think it’s raining every single hour of the day. So we mentally prepared for the worst. In reality there have been a few showers during some days, and some really heavy rainfalls at night during the first week. Our second week has been completely dry, and sometimes too sunny and hot for our taste. So we switched to AccuWeather as it gives us more accurate forecasts. We know rainy season looks different in every part of the country, so we are happy to be here at the moment.

Beach time!

3. Stray animals are an integral part of the Community.
There are many stray dogs, some stray cats, and they are all in good shape. Well fed and well behaved, they are really fun to have around.
The King of Thailand is an animal lover and many years ago he asked the people to be nice to strays and feed them.
On the first night, one of the dogs from the block decided to guard our home, and “Mama Dog” now lives in front of our house.
When a stray kitty, totally underfed and whining approached us on our evening walk around the block, we initially told the kids to stay away. We didn’t want to feed her out of concern that no one would take care of him when we leave. But the kitty followed us and cried for a day, before Joanna was so worried she might starve from hunger and heat, that she put out some water and food for her. A day later and the kids broke the ban of not touching the kitty. Milosz was bursting with pride, holding and caring for “his kitty”. Eliasz joined and named him Skippy. Turns out, our concern that no one would care for him was unnecessary. When a neighbor saw the kids playing with Skippy in front of the house, she brought over cat food, asked if there were any more kitties, and told us to get some milk for him. I am sure she will continue to care for him after we leave.
Now we have a kitty in the back and a dog in the front. We really miss our dog we left behind in Berlin, but the really appreciate that animals are an integral part of the community here.


4. I spend most of my online time on facebook.
I did not expect this, but facebook has really become the main place of community for me. Without any real life interactions with friends and family besides us four, facebook allows me to still feel in touch without much effort. It’s where I stay in touch with my coaching collegues (who are mostly based in the US), my international friends, my arab family accross the world, and now also my Berlin community. In light of the sadness and complex emotions around the shootings in Orlando, it has particularly been a place of resource and healing.
If you are on facebook and want to be in touch, send me a friend request to Joy Zalzala-Soyka or like our travel page on Facebook.


5. Pools are irreplacable.
It was our main wish for our first location of our journey to be right at the beach. And we love it. Yet what I didn’t expect that we equally love having a pool. For Eliasz it’s the favorite part of the trip so far, as it turns out he quickly gets irritated by the beach, sticky wet sand, stepping on a crab in the water, leaves or trash touching him in the waves – he is not a fan. The kids are a lot more independent in its waters than in the waves at the beach. And I realized they are old enough to be in without me, and I actually get to do some reading, while watching them play. So while calling pools irreplaceable is an exaggeration, having a pool is now definitely part of our wishlist when looking at future accommodations.

Kids in pool

6. Evenings are my favorite time of day.
Evenings used to be the most stressful time of the day. Me exhausted, Kids upset iPad time is over, stepping into a messy kitchen, trying to come up with something for dinner. Often falling asleep in bed with the kids…
Here our evenings are magical. We often spend them outside: on the beach, at a beach cafe playing cards, cruising on the motorcycle & stopping for some snacks, exploring bugs on a neighboorhood walk with flashlights, or having a playdough session at home.
It’s when I realize I am way less exhausted, when we really get to be present with each other, and it has been too long since I have seen my kid give me bigs smiles like this. I really appreciate our evening here.

Eliasz Jamil

That’s it for now.
For our first month we are staying in a house by the Son Suan Beach by Ban Phe, Rayong. We are not sure yet, where we are headed next, so if you have recommendations or yor own unexpected experiences, please share them in the comments.