THE sound of children playing was Zenchai's wake-up call. Usually painfully slow to get dressed after rising, Zenchai, like Superman going into a telephone box, would bounce out of bed, rip off his pyjamas and throw on his play gear. Then he unzipped the tent and was off.
Often we wouldn't see him for hours - though we could nearly always hear him. The kids in the campground would ride their bikes and scooters endlessly, in and out of puddles, around the toilet area where the ground was flat and along the trail path. There was no concern for traffic. Children of all ages playing freely in the streets - isn't that what childhood should be like? The cars drove slowly and carefully and the kids learned to stop and allow them to pass.
Mostly, visiting families would arrive on the weekends and leave before the work week started again. That felt strange to us. One minute the campsite was deserted and then crammed and then deserted again.
Zenchai continually had to readjust. He made some good friends and had great fun doing what young boys and children do. There was hardly any need for parental policing - just lots of kids playing happily together. Kobra, as she does, just fitted in where she could and wanted to and smiled at everyone. She loved having all the children around.
We had a community and met some great people - all so friendly and welcoming. We shared food, time, stories, experiences and played cricket, using a chair as our wickets. The children joined in, too. It was great fun.
This camping experience really grew on us. My cousin came down from Melbourne and we hung out with her children. We took some family bike rides along the beach front after dinner together. We found another fine playground with ramps and Zenchai got to practice new stunts.
It was only when the rain came and was prolonged that life became really challenging. Our dining area, with chairs, drying clothes, table and fridge, would get damp and cramped. If the rain persisted it would be hard to clean dishes or clothes or even venture far. Shoes got muddy and getting in and out of the tent proved a struggle.
One night towards the end of our stay the winds, joined by heavy rain, reached 110kmh. I thought the tent was going to take off. But it stood firm - and the gazebo, too.
Dealing with adverse conditions is all a part of the adventure and experience, I suppose. The days, which seemed long to begin with when we weren't so sure what we were doing, soon flew by at a rate of knots.
November, December and soon it will be Christmas again. Where has the year gone?