Koh Phangan, Thailand – August, 2018
In the States it is unheard of to ride with your child on a motorbike but in Southeast Asia it is the predominate mode of transportation and a common occurrence. Hell, you see entire families squished together on one, a couple adults with a few kids scooting on down the road; nothing like witnessing a family of five riding around town on this rather unsafe mode of transport. But when in Rome, join in on the fun. After our chaffing extravagance Daniel nor I really want to walk anywhere until the raw skin a healed a bit but we also didn’t want to sit around nursing our wounds so we rented a motorbike, at 150฿ a day plus your passport for collateral, to venture to some other beaches on the island. Both, Daniel and I have our motorcycle license and have taken a safety course so we are confident in our riding ability. Should it be your first time on a motorbike I would highly recommend not putting your child on it until you’ve gotten the hang of it and even then I would question riding with a child.
When Daniel pulled up with the bike Francesca was ecstatic, excited for a new adventure she ran over to hop on. Positioned in the front, ahead of the driver, she grabbed on the bars that hold the mirrors ready to go. We put a pair of sunglasses on her and I hoped on the back, we were off to explore. Our little lady was the definition of a true biker, she had been tatted up that morning with her temporary pirate tattoos, her hair blowing in the wind, looking tough with her shades on and ready to see where the road would take her; she makes a momma proud! That day we discovered an amazing beach and played around, we kept the motorbike for a few days so we could check out more of the island.
One night we decided to ride to dinner at an Indian restaurant, Om Ganesha, in Haad Rin. As we headed to the south of the island we noticed a stowaway, a little gecko had been resting on the bike and now he was in for the adventure of his life. Perched on the sideview mirror, trying to shield himself from the wind, riding at about 50km the little guy didn’t know what to do. Luckily, Daniel noticed him before the gecko attempted to leap, surely we would have been sent into the unknown had he decided to jump on to Daniel’s hand, startling him. Francesca was unsure of the creature hitching a ride on her handlebars and refused to hold on until the little fella was gone. It’s a damn good thing I’m not frightened of lizards, I held my handout for the gecko to climb on; hoping to save him from what could be a gravely unfortunate event. The little guy crawled up my arm, across my shoulders and into my hair; YES, in my hair! Even knowing that it was just a baby gecko seeking shelter the tiny feet scampering across my scalp and the burrowing in my hair was a bit disturbing. The gecko came out for a peek down the other side of my body, most likely searching for a way off this contraption that had whisked him so far from home. I tried to direct the gecko’s movement to ensure he would not surprise Daniel by jumping from me to him, the startle of something crawling on you even when you know what it could be can freak anyone out. The little guy ended up heading toward my back, at this point I have no idea what happened to our adventures reptile; when we arrived to the restaurant he was gone. Hopefully he jumped to safety when we were stopped, to find a new home.
Riding with Francesca on a motorbike is rather easy, she enjoys the scenery and the wind through her hair. She makes sounds of joy and excitement when we race down slopes on the winding roads. On our way home we were met with a challenge when she decided to fall asleep at the wheel. Her limp body began sinking down as she had let go of her grip on the mirrors. Daniel’s legs squeezed around her and I reached around Daniels waist, good thing we each have lost 30pounds, grabbing under her arms to support her and prevent her from sliding down to rest on the floorboard between Daniel’s feet. It was a bit uncomfortable and scary, at the same times, but we made it back to the bungalows safe and sound. We realized that perhaps it would be best, if she was tried, to sandwich her between us to avoid the precarious situation again.
Traveling with an only child you have to do some activities that are extra fun for them. We decided to venture to a park in the jungle of Phangan that had just that, Jungle kids. A facility that was built just for the little traveler. A french family moved to the island and built a park designed for the enjoyment of children. The park opens at 10am and cost 250฿ per child, adults play for free. We arrived just at opening and had the park to ourselves for a bit before an Israeli family, surprise surprise, joined in on the fun. Jungle Kids consist of a huge inflatable obstacle course, swimming pool, trampoline, playground, sand pit, and several homemade games. The homemade games were just like those at a carnival, similar to what we made for the Morrison Alley Fest, ball throw, Blinko game, bowling, bow and arrow shooting game, reverse dunk tank where you hit the bullseye and a bucket of water fall on the unsuspecting victim. They also had a array of toys, water guns, and rope swings to play on.
We spent about five hours catering to the enjoyment of our precious little one. When were joined by the Israeli family, much to our surprise, they were friends of friends back home in Israel. The dad, Omer is a famous Israeli actor; the mother, Michal, a children story writer and illustrator. Their two little ones and Francesca played for hours together, we all chased after to kids joining the games and spent several hours splashing around with each other in the pool. We talked about our travels and how we were house sitting around the globe, sparking an interested in the possibilities for traveling for longer. We exchange contact information and told them we would visit them the next time we were in Israel.
We were also joined by a South African family who’s grandmother lived on the island, the young girl Sahara was about nine and testing her grandmother’s patience. The willful child was seeking attention at any chase and blatantly ignore her grandmother’s wishes; you could see her frustration. Sahara was relatively an only child, her brother was 27 and ran a dive shop on Phangan; mother and daughter were visiting for the summer. Once the Israeli family left Francesca and Sahara played with one another for a few more hours before we departed, again we exchanged information in case there was a chance the girls could get together again during our journey.
Journey from Phangan to Samui
The day before we left Phangan we purchased our tickets on the Raja Ferry, the only ferry that drops off at the Lipa Noi Pier on the southern part of Samui. The ferry cost 150฿ per adult and took a couple hours, you can get a faster ferry to one of the other piers on the island but our house sitting job was located about six miles to the south of Lipa Noi and our host offered to pick us up. Daniel and I had packed up all our belongings the night before and were ready to go before the sunrise; we had to be at the pier at 6:30 to start boarding the ship and songthaews didn’t start running until then so we decided it would be best to walk. We loaded up and placed our sleepy baby in her stroller and headed to the pier at 6:00. Stopping off at the playground so Francesca could get a few minutes of playtime on the slide in before disembarking.
Raja ferry is a transportation ferry that holds vehicles traveling across the island. The large ship slowly filled with cars, trucks and mopeds while we board through the cargo bay with the stroller. We found our seat in the aft, outside to enjoy the scenery of the open sea as we made our way south to Samui. We met a lovely Aussie couple who were empty nesters traveling about on vacation and enjoyed a bit of conversation with them as we sailed to our next destination. Francesca occupied her time by watching Trolls on the device during our early morning ride. The boat arrived at Lipa Noi Pier at 8:30am and we started our next chapter of our Thailand journey.