We left the hustle and bustle of vibrant Chiang Mai and an eye-opening trip to the Elephant Nature Park in search of an island retreat. With 3 weeks before flying to Dehli, to start 6 weeks in India, we wanted a slow pace of life chilling in a hammock on the beach. Abbi, a volunteer at the Bangkok Bed and Bike hostel, had interrupted my migraine inducing search for a destination. She had spent some time at Bee Bees bungalows on Koh Lanta, one of the islands in the South Andaman Sea, only leaving because she had to make her way to Bangkok. She knew what we were looking for and her description sounded perfect.
We took a late afternoon flight from Chiang Mai to Krabi, Dean had ordered a taxi and booked one night in a cheap hotel, making for an easy journey. The young Thai on the desk was wonderfully sweet, delicate, and quietly spoken. He showed us to our room, apologising for his English despite it being perfectly adequate. Like most young Thais he wore the obligatory brace on his teeth, further broadening his already impressive smile. Our room could have been a studied homage to the 70s; nylon quilted bedspreads in bright primary colours picked out the detail of the 6 flying ducks arranged diagonally, in flight across the wall. We suspected Hilda Ogden had been commissioned to decorate. We booked a minibus and ferry service to the island of Koh Lanta via the front desk and set in for a good read and an early night.
In the morning, wary of island mosquitos, Fred and I went in search of more spray and a few additional supplies. Although inland, we could smell the sea on our walk and started to get excited. The bus came on time and we set off on a round of collecting other backpackers. We were soon full to bursting, the driver miraculously finding ways to squeeze in another huge pack and passenger, just when we thought there couldn’t be another pickup. Our final stop involved the driver reversing up a motorway, realising he had missed a layby. None of us could quite believe it and, seated in the middle of the bus, I was dearly thankful we hadn’t got into the back row when we had the pick of the seats. We’d spent enough time in Thai vehicles and traffic to know it was unlikely that his reversing lights would be working, and we all held our breath as lorries bore down, missing us by centimetres. We survived, prayers answered, and our final pick up was made.
The journey took us through country lanes, past stall holders dressed in tunics and hijabs. The south of Thailand is predominately Muslim with a wealth of Mosques dotted along the roads. A small ferry took us across the narrow strip of sea, mangroves lining the coast, we imagined crocodiles lurking in their dark corners. As we crossed a final bridge onto Koh Lanta we spotted hoards of long tailed monkey’s playing on the mud flats of the estuary. My shriek of joy ensured everyone’s cameras were pulled out and blurry shots were captured. We soon came to the coast that Thai Islands are famous for, long white sand beaches and distant horizons dotted with craggy islands. In December and January the water will turn crystal clear, but for now the typhoon and monsoon seas are still churning. It’ still a stunning sight, the bright blue sea disappearing into the horizon.
We were the third drop off and, in the hot mid afternoon sun, we put on our backpacks to tramp down a narrow muddy lane to find Bee Bees Bungalows. The promised 3 minute walk was thankfully just that, and we were quickly in the middle of bamboo huts with roofs woven from palms, colourful hammocks slung on the balconies, surrounded by embroidered scatter cushions. Ann, the Thai owner greeted us, deeply tanned with long floppy jet black hair that fell over his beaming face. I’d called that morning to say we were coming, Bee Bee’s doesn’t take bookings, but Ann had held a room for us, turning away another family. He is always full, whatever the season, so it was a lottery as to whether we would get a room. We did. His wife Karo, Japanese by origin, showed us where to stow our luggage until our bungalow was ready. A sand floored, open sided roundhouse forms the centre of Bee Bees, tattered books slotted into the floor to ceiling library, roughly hewn fixed seating circling homemade tables covered in colourful cloths. The bar is an honesty bar, drinks stored in vast ice boxes just outside the shared space. We opened a large bottle of Chang beer and walked the 20 steps to the sea. It was bliss.
Before long our bungalow was ready and we were blown away by the multi floored adobe that we would call home for the next few weeks. Fred had a double bed, suspended above ours, which he accessed by a vertical wooden ladder. Mosquito nets gave the place a fairy tale quality. Outside our balconies were on 3 levels, each with a hammock and reclining cushions. Our bathroom was a cold water shower and sink, the loo was flushed by pouring a bucket of water into the pan. Back to basics, and an escape from modern life and comforts. As Ann said to us later, “I give you Thailand when you come here”. Apparently its not to Thai tastes, too close to regular life for Thai’s, but us Europeans love it. With bags in our bungalow, we pulled on our swimmers and took to the water. The beach is golden sand, but below the high tide is a dead coral reef. When the water receded we were treated to the sight of the exposed blackened coral, the result of the 2004 Tsunami, that is slowly reviving. A richness of weird and wonderful ocean creatures have returned, making for great rock pooling. We all took a stroll down the beach in the early evening, passing other accommodation and bars that had yet to open, its still low season. A harbour of longtailed boats greeted us at the end of our walk, a newly built boat was on dry land getting its final coat ready for its maiden voyage.
We had all sorts of plans for our Koh Lanta stop, there is plenty to do on the 22km long island. But instead our plans have ground to a halt and the days have raced by as we’ve fallen into a routine of doing very little except chilling out and making friends of strangers. As it would be monotonous for me to write about each day; early morning breakfast of omelettes and black coffee, sea swim, occasional run, Pad Thai lunch, reading and writing on the beach, more swimming, and dinner with Chang and cocktails, serenaded by Ning on his guitar, followed by bed, repeated day after day, I thought I’d delve more into the people we’ve met and the friendships forged. The fifteen bungalows have become a community of people, some here as long as we are; neighbours we speak to daily and share our time and food with, others passing through bringing fresh conversation and perspectives to those of us who have decided leave our backpacks unpacked.
Ann and Karo head up our family. Always smiling and promising the weather will be better tomorrow. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. When it’s raining, which it often has been, he joyfully tells Dean that it is just for him. He knows that Dean is here to escape the oppressive heat of the interior. On beautiful days, when the clouds have cleared he apologises profusely to Dean but celebrates his miraculous workings with other guests. Everyone’s a winner here. Two brothers Ning and Nong, yes these are their real names, are the man Fridays for Ann and Karo. Long jet black curly hair frames their delicate faces that host wispy beards. Ning is tiny, short and slender, Nong is strappingly tall for a Thai with a supermodel look. They tell you they love their work; waiters, barmen, playmate to children, and night fall turns them into musicians who strum the classics with a reggae beat, lyrics laden with thick Thai accents. An army of others look after us all and re-build the bungalows that are eaten away by insects within 2 years. We say “Sa Waddy Car / Cap” every morning to the ladies of the kitchen, hands together bowing, and they giggle back at us. In return for our customer loyalty they occasionally feed us sweet treats that are not on the menu. They are mysterious glutinous sticky black blobs wrapped in singed banana leaves. Chief engineer, plumber, electrician and builder is a toothless older man who wears his sage coloured baseball cap back to front. A cigarette permanently suspended on his bottom lip. A new shaded platform was erected in a day, including electrics. If you plug your charger in and hold the end of the cable you get a lovely feeling coursing through you; no earth to have an earth cable here. Bee Bees is truly built on sand. Of course a place like this has its own massage veranda. It’s £6 for an hour long Thai massage with oil, and the grandmother who kneads you between her fiercesome[Fh1] fingers has lost none of her strength. She spends most of her day sitting Buddha like on her platform in the shade, gazing at the sea, until one of decides we need a work out to correct our postures from too much lazing around.
A multitude of nationalities make up our fixed community. A Swiss family with 2 children are at the start of their 12 month trip, figuring out what they enjoy doing and relaxing into the start of home schooling and travels. They’ve been trying to leave for 4 days now, after 10 days they wanted to see a smaller island that is only accessible by a longtail boat. The first day they were too late in booking, the second day the boat was full, on the third day the weather was too bad. Last night we had a stunning storm and all boats were cancelled again this morning. We’ve started to call this place ‘Hotel California’, you can check out but you can never leave….. We’re convinced Ann is conjuring the sea Gods every night to keep this wonderful family here.
Mark is English, here for 30 days to write a book on mindfulness and self inquiry. He left his Executive role at EMI as head of music for music more than 1 year old, to find something more grounded. For the last few years that’s been yoga, coaching, working festivals and stuff he enjoys. We spend hours with Mark chatting about life. Our politics align and he has a refreshing optimism about the future. He sees young people all around him who have compassion, emotional intelligence, openness, and a healthy disregard for ‘Little Britishness’. Mark makes me think about my drive to always be doing stuff, I decide to give myself permission to do nothing productive, unless I want to. I decide that doing nothing has become my exercise for this leg. I’m living in the moment, enjoying conversations and inactivity. I’m exploring the boundaries of boredom and refusing to weigh up the success of the day with asking myself “what have I achieved”. Dean and Mark spend late nights, long after I’ve gone to bed, talking about TED talks, papers on psychotherapy, achieving fulfilment and whatever. I pump Mark for music industry stories and am left slack jawed by some of the things that he tells me, I understand why he left. We’ve all got to know one another well, Fred is disappointed on the nights when we venture away from camp to have dinner just the three of us. A new tribe has formed quickly in this place.
Michael is Austrian. A leathery tan is the canvass for heavy tribal tattoos. In summer he is a surf instructor, in winter a ski instructor. Bright blue eyes bulge out, contrasting with his gingery sun bleached eyebrows and hair, when he talks. His energy is enormous, like a child he is constantly in search of adventure, finding it daily and having us in fits of laughter at his exploits as he retells them in great detail. His English is excellent, no more so than when he is swearing. Every story has several “This bloody fucking shit…..” in it. Spat out in a heavy accent, he experiences joy and frustration in extreme measure. We live the moments he has lived, enthralled and amused by him. He has a single minded certainty and absolutism to his thinking that is admirable. His bluntness engages me rather than offending. He walks by having an ADHD moment, just now as I sit here typing, to say he doesn’t know what to do. I tell him that when you don’t know what to do you should do nothing. He says normally when he doesn’t know what to do he smokes a joint and then he knows what to do. He went on a cave walk a few days ago and the guide gave him a joint. He’s only just smoked it “But the bloody fucking shit joint, it was like nothing, like maybe it was bloody, fucking shit green tea, I don’t know”. He’s wandered off down the beach, maybe in search of a mushroom shake. He’s been threatening to leave for days, but it’s that Hotel California vibe again…..
Drugs are abundant here, a joint for sale behind bars (not at Bee Bees) on the beach. It’s illegal but a blind eye gets turned and a few Baht are handed over, which is what inflates the price of the below the counter joint apparently. Mushrooms are not illegal, and bars serve up Mushroom Shakes “bloody fucking shit weak” according to Michael before he has one, “bloody fucking amazing shit after he has tried one”. One of our camp is experienced in drugs, they have accidental encounters with locals and expat residents; Italian girls, Spanish girls, other girls. They always seem to be a pair of girls. We become educated, vicariously in their merits, properties, effects, and the detail of the trips they get. Acid is dropped one night. In the morning we are told that the bleary eyes are a consequence of too many Changs. Camp gossip reveals it was the acid taken with a couple of Italian girls the night before. A lovely couple, transient members of our tribe, impress us with their non- drinking. We find out, in the course of the evening as I order another Mojito, topping up the rum with the bottle in my bag (one downside of Thailand is they don’t ‘free pour’), that they are actually stoned on Tramadol. You can buy it for £1 at the pharmacy if you say you’ve had a motorbike accident. I’ve a strip of legitimately obtained Tramadol in my pharmacy bag, but reserved for strict medical emergencies that require extreme pain relief. I don’t tell anyone in this conversation, I want to avoid being coerced into being a dealer or exposed as a party pooper. The Tramadol will be going home intact if this trip is successful.
A German couple are here with their 10 month old baby. She never stops smiling and practicing her wave. She’s passed around the camp, held, clucked over, and played with. Her parents are a delight. Mum’s a peace worker, with experience in Lebanon and Syria, we have conversations that shock and educate us. Lebanon is a tiny country with 4M population. In the last 5 years they have had 1.5M Syrians and 0.5M Palestinians settle due to conflicts. The country has absorbed a 50% increase in its population without violence. The charity she works for supports interaction between Lebanese youth and those of migrant countries. The objective is to sustain the assimilation and prevent prejudice in the younger generation through exposure and education. Friendships are formed and compassion is established. We reflect on the trauma and media hysteria that less than 1% of immigration causes in our wealthy, vast, European landmass. Not seen the Daily Mail or Express report on that success story. We learn about the rise of the far right and nationalism in East Germany, once the cause of so much angst to West Germans, as they had to fund the integration of Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The rescued become the persecutors. By contrast we learn that in Dachau, infamous for the horrors that took place during WWII, the community has volunteered to host immigrants from Syria and Libya. A town hall meeting attracted 70 residents who quickly decided that their new residents needed small groups formed to help with the practicalities of settling in their new country; how to set up a bank account, clothing for the families, learning German, finding long term housing, sourcing employment etc. The volunteers spanned generations, making amends for the horrors of the past by opening their arms to the vilified of the present. It would be erroneous to label their individual motivations, but the past is determinedly not being repeated in Dachau, there is no ‘bogeyman’ that they fear, only people in need who the town chooses to help.
Hannah and Kieran were our new Georgia and Ed (who I’ll come to in reverse order). They’ve just left us, a 2 night stay turned into a 3 night stop, Hotel California again…. Hannah was a sassy, fun, joyful companion. Without a doubt her start in life had privilege and excitement, thanks to her father’s profession. She surprised us with her thoughtful and original thinking. She did not understand the concept of ‘nationhood’. She considered herself a global citizen, as did Kieran, an Aussie who had lived in London since he was 19. They both wanted to live wherever they wanted to in the world. Money, education, professional qualifications allowed them to do this. If she could, due to circumstances, live anywhere in the world, then why shouldn’t others? Global citizens not identifying with ‘nationhood’, I liked the concept and the thinking. It rang true. There are people I know who have family that have emigrated that hate immigrants and vote UKIP. They have no issue with their family that emigrate, but have an issue with immigrants. What is the distinction? Creed and colour I suspect. Hannah told us that her parents split their time between the South of France and Oxfordshire. Dinner parties at her parents were international affairs. Within the wealthy ex-pat community a few voted ‘Leave’, not her parents. Hannah highlighted the irony that those expanding their footprint, living outside their ‘nation’, were voting for a narrower vision of Britain. A Britain that isolates itself politically and economically from its nearest neighbours and allies, driven by a fear of losing its identity.
Before Hannah and Kieran we had Georgina and Ed. Another well educated and well travelled couple in their 20s. They are emigrating to New Zealand for 2 years, maybe more if they like it and get accepted. Ed plays rugby with Fred on the beach; coaching him in dummy runs, tackling, and other manoeuvres. Ed didn’t chose banking or a high paid commercial job, instead he worked with underprivileged children in inner city London coaching them in rugby. More great stories about kids who unite across tribal boundaries of race, to form a coherent school team. The Somalians, Traveller, Eastern European, Asian, and UK white kids stop fighting for a bit and play rugby as a team. One of the them is interviewed for an England Rugby video about the project. Asked what he thinks of Rugby his answer is “Well its better than fighting isn’t it?”. Ed gets good news when he’s at Bee Bees, it looks like he has secured a job in New Zealand rugby coaching as part of a community project. How lucky that group of kids will be.
Georgina has left her job working for MIND in London. I mistake her for a Grammar or private school girl. But no, she went to a tough comprehensive that has now closed down. Well read, well travelled, open, and inquiring, she makes me think about my anxiety over the poor secondary schooling in Newark if we don’t get any of our choices for Fred. We play cards at night with Ed and Georgina, talk mental health policy and funding, ruminate over the state of political choice available to the electorate, share a sadness about the disconnect between the elderly, who want to save ‘Great Britain’, and the young vote for an inclusive society. They tell us great stories about India, which they’ve just left but will be returning to after Vietnam, before they finally arrive in New Zealand. Fred’s appetite begins to be whetted for adventure in this strange land.
Mark has started to teach a yoga class on the platforms at the front of the camp, at the water’s edge. Lithe young women from all over Europe join in. He shows them the bars at night, and I tease him about his coterie of ever changing devotees. You can find him sitting crossed legged most days or nights, when not writing or teaching, with at least a couple of young women wanting to learn about yoga and mindfulness. So we have our own guru, not self made but appointed by the tribe.
Throughout all of this peace and harmony we’re counting down to the US Presidential Election. We were in the US for the Democratic and Rebublican Conventions, we watched the speeches and late night analysis in motel rooms. Fred is as enthralled as us. As election and results day approaches we make sure that we have a live feed we can play through the day. Fred asks me the night before what will happen if Trump wins. I start to answer, but stop because I can’t even think about that being a possibility, something churns in my stomach at the thought. I say there is no point discussing it because it won’t happen. I’ve convinced myself that the pollsters have got it wrong and that Trump and his divisive politics will herald a Democratic sweeping victory; Senate, Congress, and Presidential.
We rise to our 7am alarm, the first results will be declared at 7:30am. We sit at our regular table on the beach, bamboo roof providing shade, and our jolt inducing electrics available to keep us fully charged. There are 5 Americans that have arrived at Bee Bees. The three middle aged athletic adventurous ones are leaving today at 1pm, so they will get the results whilst still at Bee Bees. The others, two wonderful ladies in their 50s, have only just arrived. We get ourselves coffee and breakfast and ignore the first round of results, we all know the electoral college system well, there are only a few key states that will decide this race. Optimism is high, but I’m surprised that my game changing Democratic sweep is not materialising from the start. As the Americans emerge from their huts they huddle around too. Everyone of them is rooting for Hilary, some because they cannot countenance Trump as their President. We were expecting to be done by 11am, but as 11am arrives concern is setting in. Trump is ahead, but it’s to be expected. The Mid West, Central and East Coast states are in, with the exception of Pennsylvania, a swing state with a large number of electoral college votes. When Florida is declared for Trump the first shock starts. Florida is a swing state that has voted for every elected President, except 1964. It has voted red. The Americans that are leaving get another beer, they’ve been drinking beer since 9am. They leave to pack and lie in a hammock to read a book, a distraction technique. When they’ve stopped thinking about it and concentrating on it, it will all come right.
We watch the percentages by state as the votes are being counted, across the board the swing states and the ‘firewall’ states are too close to call, it looks bleak. Isa, the German who works with refugees, comes out with Paulina here daughter in her arms. She looks like she’s going to cry. Paulina reaches out to us and sits on my lap, Isa stood at the side of our table watching the live stream. Paulina all giggles and smiles, clambering onto Fred and nestling into him, distracting us from our anxiety and horror. We agree that even for the atheists at the table we should try a prayer, it’s a joke except it isn’t.
We aren’t watching Fox, the Daily Mail / Express / Sun of US television news only worse. We’re watching the more moderate Murdoch fare of Sky News. The mood amongst the diverse group of pundits has changed; voices have dropped, they look pained, and rather stunned. The atmosphere in the studio is mirrored by us. A couple of young women are interviewed in Time Square, they so eloquently get to the nub of the issue with Trump “If he is elected, we have a President who admits he sexually assaults women, and that tells every man in America that its ok to sexually assault women”. A heavily accented man, who is part of a group of middle eastern origin, is asked who he supports. The reporter is stunned when he says Trump. She asks what he thinks about some of the anti-Semitic statements Trump has made during his campaign. He laughs, and smilingly opens his mouth to speak. His friends pull him away before he can answer. We sit at our table slack jawed at what we’ve just seen, so are the pundits in the studio.
Democrats and Republicans at their headquarters in New York are interviewed. Sarah Palin comes on, beaming through her interview. After the interview a pundit reports rumours that she will be a candidate for Secretary of State. I tell the Americans at Bee Bees. They shake their heads in despair and order more beers. They’ve huddled together now, away from our table, talking intensely, heads shaking as they speak. There is a lull in the results coming in, we leave the feed running, and I draw Fred diagrams, teaching him the structure of American government. The role of the Executive (President), Legislature (House of Representatives: Congress and Senate), Judiciary (Supreme Court), and how the Founding Fathers set out to create a ‘balance of power’ between these three arms of government. We cover the Electoral College system, and in it discuss the merits of proportional representation, or not. Today it’s a rounded Political Science seminar, more hours of it than we expected. I eventually give up. It’s looking like Trump will triumph. I pick up my detective book “A child killer stalks the frozen streets of Aberdeen”, it comes to something when a novel about paedophile serial murderer is more appealing than watching the results of the Presidential election.
The election is called, decisive states have voted Trump, and we cannot believe it. To make matters worse, the majority of Americans voted for Clinton. She won the vote but, for only the 2nd time in 120 years, the Electoral College system has delivered a President who did not have a majority of the vote. Al Gore lost to George Bush Jnr on the only other occasion. Fred tells me to stop swearing. I tell him I will, its just that “I cant f***ing believe it”. I say this many, many, many times. The Americans apologise to us, we tell them its OK. They tell us they feel so embarrassed, we tell them it’s OK. The couple, that are part of the group of three leaving today, say they’ve already emailed their financial advisor to see what they would have if they liquidated their US assets. They’re not joking.
We don’t watch anymore. We swim, play, read, and then go out for dinner. Mark, us, and the two American ladies. We don’t talk about the election, but we drink a lot of wine and talk about nice things. We stop thinking about Stevie Wonder’s thought for the day “it’s like putting me in a car and asking me to drive”.
The next day I wake early and lie in bed watching the speeches. First Kaine and Clinton. Fantastic, thoughtful, authentic, measured, and utterly heart breaking. Then Pence followed by Trump. Dean had said to me that Trump was reported as being quite moderate in his acceptance speech, I’m curious to see this change. When I watch Pence and Trump I’m utterly thrown. They are both appalling, shatteringly appalling. It’s a rambling mess of homespun nonsense, chants of “USA USA USA” in the backdrop. The satirical puppet film ‘Team America’, from the South Park team, comes to mind instantly. Pence, to his shame, says he is proud to support and serve Trump. No he’s not, and we know he’s not. He says a lot more than that, words that could have been written and delivered by a small town bank manager at a Rotary Dinner, not the Vice President elect of America with a team behind him that should have written a worthy and noble speech.
He introduces Trump, weird music plays in the background, really really weird trash opera music. For 2 minutes everyone is left waiting, cameras pointed at the staircase down which Trump will descend. Hilary was introduced by Kaine and walked on the stage immediately. Trump apparently does this a lot, like a band at a gig, leaving the crowd waiting allowing the anticipation to build. The Queen is never late. Eventually he appears, descending the stairs painfully slowly. Was he worth waiting for? If you like South American soap operas then yes. We watched them occasionally in Rio, Santiago, and Cordoba, with Fred, giggling at the bad acting, poor delivery, over the top make up and dress, and obvious absence of any plot sophistication. The cast of one of these soaps follows Trump down the stairs. They look like they’re going to a wedding dinner and took a wrong turn. The speech itself is a rambling mess of non-sequiturs, pointing out people, praising the secret service then randomly acting out how he’ll throw himself to the floor of the car when they tell him to “coz these guys are tough, they’re really really tough, and you do what they tell you”. I could go on, but just watch it for yourself if you haven’t already.
As I watch Trump, I wonder if the Republican party is dying inside. It’s like your most embarrassing relative turning up uninvited to a party and dominating proceedings. I cheer myself up by thinking that this is actually the best thing that could have happened. The Republicans now have to manage Trump, 50 key Republicans signed a letter saying he was ‘dangerous’. Did they hope he’d lose? Did they expect to win Congress and the Senate, but have Clinton as President, making her a lame duck President by killing her policies in the legislature, just as they have done with Obama? Now the dream scenario for political parties has turned into a nightmare for Republicans. There will be nowhere to hide for Republicans for the next 4 years. Everything, good and bad, will be at their door; a Republican Congress, Senate, Presidency, and Supreme Court (due to a vacancy Trump will nominate, and Republicans will endorse, the deciding judge). The figurehead, in the President, a narcissistic psychopath, sex attacker, hater. The Republicans will either have to manage Trump, who has shown himself to be unmanageable to date, or civil war will break out in the Republican party. I smile a bit when I think of this. But like a rapid cycling bi-polar sufferer, it makes my despair even more acute. There is no ‘balance of power’ as envisaged by the Founding Fathers. I swing between the two emotions for the rest of the day. Over Mojito’s we raise our mood, reminding ourselves that the young will right the wrongs in the next few years.
Koh Lanta and Bee Bee’s are our island paradise. A beautiful setting that has been fabulous because of the people we’ve met and spent time with. Our only common threads, tying us together, are that we are travelling and like things basic. We differ in many things; some people here do drugs, some of us don’t. Some of us believe in God, some don’t. Some of us have kids, some don’t. Some of us have employment, some don’t. Some of us are rich, some aren’t. Some of us are old, some aren’t. But without exception we do not fear the strange or the different. We wake in the morning to the sounds of Muslim Prayer, broadcast over the tannoys that line the streets. We are served by Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and Atheists on Koh Lanta. We all learn the three genders that the Thai language has, female, male, and transgender (they had these long before Caitlin Jenner) for our humble Thai greetings. Collectively we share a disbelief at the result the Electoral College System delivered. We console the Americans amongst us, who are bereft. We remind ourselves that young people, in both the Brexit referendum and US elections, voted for inclusion. But make no mistake, if we look to history, avoiding disaster will be either a miracle, or the result of sensible souls in the world ensuring that we have a compassionate culture that is unafraid to challenge and stand up to hatred. I’ve quelled my anger and anxiety. Let’s have a revolution of compassion that people hear, see, and feel through individual and collective behaviours. My blog was going to finish here but……..
……..Last night I checked my Facebook page. A former work colleague had devastating news. Her 18 year old only daughter died suddenly in the early hours of Sunday morning. It’s heart breaking. The fragility and preciousness of life came into sharp focus. I sent her my love and let her know I will be thinking of her, a paltry token given her loss. Two things will get her through the tough years of grief; the love of those around her, and her own resilience and fortitude. She has these in spades. Love, resilience and fortitude……….
For me this trip is all about having a great adventure with my family. Its taken years for us to finally stop talking about it and do it - simply because it both excites and frightens the life out me! So I'm stepping out of corporate life, where I singularly failed to achieve a work/life balance....to experience different cultures and spend time with those I love xx