Travelling Light

Cats and Cafes, Koh Phangan – Day 1061-1128 (Aug 21-Nov 27, 2016): Change of Plans

Kittens Xena FreyaRecovering from the Agama Tantra Instructor Training took a couple of weeks! During that time, our darling cats reached the age where they were due to be spayed.

At six months of age, they were already the size of many full-grown Thai cats. They would bounce around the house, scaling the walls to spring on one another, and shredding things they shouldn’t shred.

Watching them racing straight up vertical tree trunks made us realise how constrained most Australian cats are. Because they may prey on native wildlife, most Australian cats are kept inside at night.

Some even live in apartments and poop in litter trays their whole lives!

Kittens Xena FreyaNight, however, was party time for our girls. Of course, there were dangers around at night, like the local dogs. They became bolder and more intrusive as the low season wore on. The soppy tourists who fed them were fewer and farther between.

We had to stop leaving our kitchen door open to give the kittens access to their food overnight, after we caught a dog IN OUR KITCHEN, eating their food.

Even after we shut the door, the dogs would still come around at night, hoping to find something to eat. And then they would chase the cats. We got good at leaping to our feet and barking out the window while still waking up.

Time For The Cats To Get The Snip

In Australia, cats can be desexed at quite a young age, but in Thailand the minimum age is 6 months. We took them to the vet on the very day they reached 6 months of age, because cats have been known to be pregnant at 7 months.

It was quite a performance getting two cats to the vet on a motorcycle – well, actually, in the end, we enlisted the help of a friend with a car.

Cats in shirts Koh PhanganWe had to buy a carry cage for them. When we went to pick them up, we borrowed a motorcycle with a sidecar.

When we arrived they looked like this!

The vets don’t stitich the wounds here, they glue them, and the cats are in compression shirts for a week after the operation. The shirts are just made from strips of cloth, cut and tied together in a very particular way.

The cats came home still quite drunk from the anaesthetic, and we had to keep them inside for the first couple of nights. After a few hours of trying to back out of the shirts, they became resigned to them, and eventually they seemed to have almost forgotten they had them on.

Freya’s was a bit too tight at one point, and started to cause a weeping wound, so we ended up cutting off the shirts a couple of days early.

Ravi’s Superpower Revealed

Ravi the computer surgeonAround this time, the screen on Jenny’s laptop started playing up – having odd “fritzing” bands across it.

Ravi found all the information about how to take it apart, and fixed the screen cable attachment point with some sticky tape. A week later, he had to take it apart again and do the same process with the other end of the screen cable. It had worked like a dream ever since.

Reasons To Change Our Plans

We had originally planned to leave the island around this time, but Agama made some changes to their kundalini program, and Ravi needed to decide whether to start the program in Jan 2017, or wait until the new intensive program was released in 2018. To start in Jan 2017, he needed to complete levels 13 and 14 in 2016.

Haad Chao Pao Koh PhanganSince we have the flexibility to do such things, we decided to stay on an extra couple of months so that Ravi could catch the kundalini train in Jan 2017. This meant postponing our planned return trip to India as well.

Meeting Digital Nomads

During this time, someone started a Digital Nomads co-working group, which expanded our range of cafes even more. It was great to be working in a cafe with half a dozen others. We exchanged some useful information, and made some new friends.

Roots and LeavesThis is Roots and Leaves, a little cafe well off the beaten track. We were just about the only people to turn up for the digital nomads meet-up there.

Turns out is is run by Sarah, who was in our beginner Thai class with us!

We had some awesome food, and will be back for social visits, but the lack of air conditioning makes it an impractical space for working.

Digital nomadsThe larger air-conditioned cafes were definitely better working spaces.

We discovered that a friend we had met at a relationships discussion was actually one of the top Bitcoin developers in the world!

He happened to be in a cafe when the digital nomads convened, and he seemed to enjoy the company.

Ed Jenny Koh PhanganTurns out, he and his partner were also good friends with our best island friend, William, who went through a torrid time and two house moves between June and September. William ended up sharing  a house with the lovely Chika, who did Level 1 Agama with us two and a half years ago. We had some great times at that house!

This year, we also developed further our friendships with some of the people from the previous year’s ATI.  We really started to feel like we had a circle of friends forming on the island.

Relationship Coaching

Couples started asking Jenny for relationship coaching – something she finds very rewarding. She caused a few outcomes that people described as “miracles”, and the word of mouth kicked in.

Couples coachingWe had a great set-up in the house where we spent most of this year, perfect for couples coaching.

On November 1st, though, Satyama came back to the island, and we had to move two doors along, to a house which didn’t have its own Thai massage mats, or a bed in a convenient corner.

After that date, Jenny did more of her coaching in the homes of clients …

We were also invited to join a panel of complementary health care providers, who could see clients at the Agama Healing Centre.

This was heady stuff, because when we first arrived on the island, our relationships knowledge wasn’t seen as particularly valuable. Even last year, for most of the six months we were on the island we were viewed as outsiders, and critical ones at that!

agama-beach-0022Now, we were being asked to become “part of the team”. We were involved in two professional photo shoots – one for the Tantra Instructors, the ATIT graduates, and one for the healing centre. There were some nice shots out of those …

Learning About Artificial Intelligence

We are both (slowly) working our way through online university courses in AI programming. Ravi is interested in getting involved in AI programming. Jenny is interested in helping to solve some of the potential ethical dilemmas that AI will bring.

Our second home, and venue for a lot of deep conversations about AI, is Bai Jai. It is a new air-conditioned tiny restaurant at Hin Kong. It is just one beach south of our home beach, Ao Srithanu. The proprietor, Mom, is lovely.

Bai Jai Koh PhanganThere are some outdoor tables across the road, which have great views, but no air conditioning. Inside is less pretty, but more practical.

We have provided menu consulting to Mom, and helped her to proof-read the English names and descriptions of dishes.

Hin Kong Beach, Koh PhanganJenny taught her how to make traditional butter icing for her chocolate cake. Mom regularly slips us a little gift of fruit or a taster of a new cake.

Another bonus of our change of plans was that there was no longer any need to find someone to cover the gap between our departure and Francisco’s (their birth “parent”)”s return to the island.

The Mystery of the Missing Cat

Cat mattressTragedy struck in early October. There was a ruckus one night, we leaped out of bed and barked, but there were no dogs in sight. We made the cat-summoning noises, and Xena came, fur standing on end. No Freya.

We never saw Freya again. After a full week of hoping she would turn up, maybe injured or something, we had to admit that if she was still alive, she would have come home by now.

Our suspicion is that Freya was taken by the enormous monitor lizard that lives in the forest beside the house. It is easily 2 metres long, plenty big enough to take a cat.

Xena FreyaIt took Xena three days to calm down, and then she became much more interested in human company. Freya had always been the one we called Needypuss, because of her relentless demands for attention, cuddles, and scritching.

Now, without her sister to cuddle, Xena was thrown back on the humans for comfort. She became a lot more snuggly, and liked nothing better than to curl up on our laps while we watched streaming TV series in the evenings.

We left only three days before Francisco came back. Xena was being fed by three houses anyway, so we knew she would be fine.

Since the Swedish couple arrived in the house behind us at the beginning of September, she had eaten very little at home anyway. They must have nicer food on offer.

Hail The Mighty Hunter

mighty-hunterThe day before we left, Xena caught a huge rat. She was so well-fed that she didn’t want to eat it. She didn’t really seem to know what to do with it. After a while, she put it down on the ground, and after a few seconds, it was up and away!

She caught it again, put it down again, and it ran away again. Eventually, she got distracted by us walking over to visit the neighbour. She rushed to follow us, and let the rat get away.

So we know that it wasn’t a fluke. She can hunt. If she is ever in a situation where no humans are feeding her, she will be able to feed herself.

The neighbours, Satyama and her new housemate, were already familiar with Xena. They hadn’t known her name, but she had been to visit several times.On being introduced, Satyama said “We love Xena!”

So, we had no concerns about her wellbeing when we set out at the end of November to go to Australia via Kuala Lumpur.