A Sociological Note

I’m about to leave Chang Mai for Laos, and I’m finding it difficult, perhaps for the first time ever, to leave the guest house I’ve been in for the past 5 nights. What’s so unique about it is that not only is it run by the family but the family lives here. 3 generations, all in the same complex. And when they say you’re welcome under their roof, they really mean it – but they’re not indiscriminate. I’ve watched them turn away prospective customers because they seemed creepy or rude, I’ve heard tales of guests being asked to leave because they were up partying too late into the night and woke the family, I’ve watched them go out of their way to accommodate people who are kind and open. The fact that this is their house lends a whole different perspective to the whole venture. The upshot for those of us staying here is that you really do feel at home – I felt safe, for once, leaving my pack in my room without a padlock on the door. I felt safe and comfortable at night, and therefore slept more soundly than I have since I arrived in Thailand. And I’ve been happy and felt cared for, which is a lot considering these people didn’t know me at all just a week ago.

Probably my favorite thing about the whole family living together is the benefits reaped by the youngest generation. Numkin (which I’m probably misspelling) is a year and 8 months old, knows her ABCs in Thai and English, is played with by everyone – literally about 10 people, not including guests – and is just about the best behaved, happiest child I’ve ever seen. In almost a week, there’s not been a single tantrum. I think about how we do things back home and this seems the much healthier option. Instead of a child being raised by one or two people part-time and the TV most of the time, this little girl spends virtually no time in front of the television, but a lot of time learning and playing and meeting people from all over the world.

Will, who’s married to Dao (one of the daughters), is from Canada, and still acclimating to the Thai way of life. Sometimes it’s funny – when he goes out with the guys, Dao isn’t worried that he’ll cheat on her, she’s worried he’ll be struck by lightning.

Really, I can’t say enough good things about the past week. I’m definitely coming back to do the trekking and spend some more time – I’ve even started to learn to speak Thai, thanks to the staff (I teach them how to swear in English, they teach me how to be polite in Thai). Maybe we’ll even come here for Christmas. I hear they have a hell of a party.

And now, off to the bus station.

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