“Is heaven a place in the sky?  Heaven is what we wear in our heart and in our mind.”

 

I wonder was Erik Pevernagie in Southeast Asia when he gave this quote?  That’s how magical our transition to Asia has been.  It’s hard to put into words the wonderful zen, energy and calm that you feel the minute you arrive into this great continent, certainly in Malaysia and Thailand from what we’ve seen so far.  

There is also an added bonus: People here absolutely love kids!  Rosa is getting spoilt rotten with all the hugs, kisses, smiles and attention she is getting from everyone.  It really was a surprise, in a positive way, to see how children are treated here.  It made us think that there’s definitely a lot we in Europe can learn from this.

Our original plan was to move to Bali, however the volcano risk was too high there, so we decided to start our adventures elsewhere.  Since we arrived, we have spent 2 weeks in Penang and Langkawi (Malaysia 🇲🇾) and three weeks in Phuket (Thailand 🇹🇭).  However, we are absolutely loving life here in Phuket and we really are not ready to leave, so we decided to extend our stay another three weeks – Yay!! 😄

Our first culture shock was in Malaysia, where men are not supposed to give handshakes to women, unless the woman first extends her hands.  This is because the majority of people here are Muslim, therefore women are not allowed to shake hands with men (man to man is fine).  Of course, John is still used to extending the warm welcoming Irish handshake, but he is learning quickly to pull it back at the last second!

Another quirky culture shock was one experienced by Rosa in Malaysia.  She might only be 1 year old, but she’s pretty sharp!  We got a babysitter for a few nights when we were staying in our hotel in Penang, and expected it to go pretty well as we had gotten babysitters every now and again when we were in Amsterdam.  However very quickly Rosa was getting extremely upset, as she now associated anyone with a headscarf as someone coming to take her away from Mummy and Daddy!  As soon as the babysitter with a headscarf came into the room, poor Rosa would burst into tears.  

Of course having a babysitter was nothing new to Rosa, however now she had a “physical identifier” to mark out the people taking her away from her parents.  It brought us to the difficult question as to whether we should ask the babysitter to take off their headscarf, and I’ll be honest we (especially myself as a mother) struggled with this.  

However, in the end, John and I decided that it’s a part of the culture here, and an element we should respect, and we felt asking a babysitter to take off their headscarf could be seen as disrespectful.  At the same time, we gave Rosa a break from babysitters for a while, to help her to settle in at a pace she could deal with a bit better.

Thailand has also been an eye-opener.  We’ve been staying in a small hotel hidden away in the mountains overlooking Kata beach, availing of the daily yoga lessons on site, and riding our scooter to our startup hub every day.  We’ve been sampling the local cuisine in the food stands along the beaches, and meeting the locals to try to better understand Thai culture.  

It’s all been a real breath of fresh air and I’d recommend any budding startup family with a young baby to head over to Asia and sample life here for a few months.  

We are having the time of our life, so thank you, Asia, for the warm welcome so far!