‘Amy… Amy!’ I heard Emma scream. Or it may have been a call. Perhaps somewhere in between, either way it had a degree of urgency that meant all was not as it should be.
We were at TCDF Eco-logic, a lodge run to support the Thai Children’s Development Foundation up in the jungle wilds of southern Thailand. Amy, Oliver and I were riding the rapids on a truck tyre on the little river in front of our bungalow. Emma was supposed to be having a shower.
Emma, was calling Amy who could be seen from the bedroom window. Amy called me and together we raced out of the river with Oliver close behind, to see what was going on.
‘I’ve been stung by a scorpion!’ Emma said. Well that can’t be good! Scorpions are poisonous. Aye, aye, aye. I raced off for help while Emma clutched her side. The Eco-logic staff were soon on site with sting kit in hand and were busy trying to suck whatever was in there out.
Now this all sounds rather dramatic. And it was! Being stung by a scorpion was not on my list of things to avoid but it should have been. It’s right up there with things that will cause stress levels to instantly rise while travelling overseas with your family. Fortunately for Emma, and the rest of us by virtue of associated stress, the scorpions in this part of the world are not poisonous. They do however, Emma assures us, hurt!
Turns out that the scorpion had decided Emma’s towel was a great place to hide. When Emma got out of the shower and wrapped it around her middle the scorpion struck, and then ran back into the shower so I could take its photo! I guess this is what you get when you stay in Eco-lodges in the jungle with outdoor toilet and showers. At night we often found ourselves going to the loo beneath a bat about the size of a fist who also thought our loo was a great place to sleep. Not to mention the snake that wriggled its way across our path one afternoon and the squirrels who jumped from trees as we walked to dinner.
Creepy crawlies aside our Eco-lodge was really very nice. We met some fascinating people. One character by the name of Josh befriended us and particularly Amy and Oliver on our day out bamboo rafting down one of the local rivers. He won me over when he sidled up to me during a swim break to tell me what great kids we had! He kept splashing Oliver, whacking him with his life vest and tipping our raft sideways. Oliver was lapping it up.
The bamboo rafting turned out to be less bamboo and more PVC. It was also a little bit sinky. We had to stop on numerous river corners while our Thai guides emptied water and refloated the rafts. Still it was great fun floating down the river for a couple of hours in the Thai jungle.
All this took place on Amy’s birthday which we celebrated with birthday banners, emails from all of you at home (thanks!) and cards and presents brought along with us. It was topped off with cake and a restaurant of now almost close friends singing their hearts out for our gorgeous girl.
While at the Eco-lodge Amy and Oliver also managed to get in some soccer and badminton with the local school kids and we were all won over by the effervescent Pee-mai. Pee-mai was the four year old son of the manager and must be the cutest kid in Thailand. He kept running round the restaurant being ‘Kung Foo Panda’ and sticking his head into our card games.
Of course all of this came after the effort of getting from our island down near Phuket up to Ranong and then further on up into the hills. Moving, we are discovering, is a mildly anxiety inducing experience (but not as bad as scorpion bites – our new anxiety yardstick). At home it was familiarity with everything that made travel appealing. Now that we are travelling, a little familiarity would go along way! Especially when trying to get from somewhere to somewhere else.
To get to our Eco-lodge we caught a private car, (the taxi didn’t show up) a speedboat ferry and a taxi to get from Kao Yao Noi to the Phuket bus station. We also procured bus tickets and boarded our bus. All with a little knot of anxiety down in the stomach. ‘Did the taxi driver really understand where we want him to take us? Cause it feels like we’re going in the wrong direction… But then again, what would I know? Oh thank God, there’s the Bus station…’. These thoughts, they run through my head.
The little knot in my stomach disappeared once we were on the bus. Although it briefly reappeared when the bus was stopped by gun toting Thai soldiers checking passports (not ours fortunately) at various points along the journey. Between these stops I concentrated on my Thai pop star skills. A screen at the front of the bus played the equivalent of Thai MTV with Karaoke style subtitles, also in Thai, loudly for the five and half hour journey. I entertained myself, but not so much anybody else, by trying to sing along in Thai. Fail.
The bus from Phuket dropped us in Ranong, where we caught another taxi (of unknown fair value) into the unknown. Relief settled in as we found the hotel, but left again as we steeled ourselves to brave the streets in search of food. Yep, a little of that anxiety again, just to go in search of dinner. We perused the street in front of the hotel which was buzzing with traffic and street vendors selling unfamiliar forms of food.
We settled on a place where we could actually sit down and ordered two fried rice for the kids, a plate of stir fried veggies and then spent ten minutes trying to communicate that Emma and I would like steamed rice to go with the veggies!
The food was great and we returned to the hotel feeling elated at our success. Yep elated, because we were able to buy dinner! Breakfast was a whole other adventure. Cold noodles with peanut sauce for $4 for all of us as it turned out.
Oh yes, in case you were wondering (and why wouldn’t you be?) we did manage to get tickets for the train to Bangkok. But only with the help of our local Thai friends who went all the way to the station to buy them for us the day before we left. We are now in Bangkok. But that’s another story!