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A Travelling Family: Real-Life Education

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It’s late November, and both of my kids really should be in school—grades two and four respectively—but instead, they’re bowling a coconut down the beach and hunting for geckos while I type this from a restaurant on the sand nearby. We’re on Koh Lanta, an island in southern Thailand, and we’re not coming home until March.
The kids are Ciaran, nearly seven, and Chloe, nine. Koh Lanta is just one stop on our six-month tour of southeast Asia and southern India. Together with my husband, Mark, we set off from Ottawa in mid-August for Bali, where we spent the first month helping the kids become seasoned little travellers. After that, we spent several weeks roaming north from Singapore up through peninsular Malaysia. From there we took in Bangkok and parts of northern Thailand before heading to Laos via a two-day slow boat trip along the Mekong River. Descending back south through Laos from Luang Prabang to the capital, Vientiane, we then made our way down to southern Thailand.

November 20 is the midpoint of the trip, so the balance has already tipped—sadly, we’ve got less time ahead of us than we have behind us. Coming up ahead, we still have Cambodia, Vietnam and southern India to cover. So far, everyone is healthy and happy and having a fabulous time.

The kids have stunned us with their infinite adaptability and flexibility. They virtually never complain about missing anybody or anything from home. They can find something to love about even the most hideous of hotel rooms. They can find something to order on the sketchiest of menus. They can see the funny side of any near (or complete) disaster. They can sleep in the strangest, noisiest, most disruptive environments.

Unsurprisingly, they can also fight over the silliest things and be incredibly resistant to the school work we sometimes impose on them, but overall I would say we’ve been amazed and dazzled (and relieved) by how well they’re coping.

Of course, a trip of this magnitude is not without its challenges—and the next one facing us will be how to mark the holidays. While we’re not particularly religious, our family has always celebrated Christmas, and Santa Claus has a reputation in our house for being excessively generous. We’re still working out how Santa will find us in Vietnam, whether or not he will be wrapping the gifts this year, and how he’s going to fly his sled around (and land it) in the absence of snow. More news on all of that in my next entry!

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