ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Tropical Dream

Updated on February 4, 2013
Sharing a secret on a bough of the old Frangipani tree. (by the Straits of Johore).  1966
Sharing a secret on a bough of the old Frangipani tree. (by the Straits of Johore). 1966
Two lovely little girls enjoying a day out in the Botanic Gardens in Singapore, 1966
Two lovely little girls enjoying a day out in the Botanic Gardens in Singapore, 1966
Waterfalls in Malaysia
Waterfalls in Malaysia

Happy memories of the Far East

The country side around here ……………………….

Shimmering lakes, tree clad mountains, forests, birds, cows and the noble water buffalo.  That’s just a few of the beautiful sites I can see from my window.  My window is in South East Asia, Thailand in fact.  What an amazing place to have a window!  Or rather, a lot of windows and each one with a different aspect of this amazing countryside.  Do I think I’m one very lucky person?  Of course I do.  This has been a dream for forty four long years and began in 1965 when as a young woman of 21, I was permitted to join my husband as a service wife in Singapore.  But then I wanted to live in Malaysia, not the housing estates of the forces families in Singapore itself.  Singapore is beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but it has changed a lot since those long-gone days when large estates were occupied by British service personnel families.  My thoughts of such an exotic location did not encompass anything other than kampong villages, colourful local markets and enchanting people in sarongs.  So who wanted to live on a housing estate in such a fabulous setting?  The thought of  living with the local people; getting to know them; learning their language; understanding their customs and ways of life; eating as they did; walking and talking with them was an obsession. This obsession was doubtlessly nurtured in my very early childhood by amazing tales from my beloved Grandfather, Tom Pratten, who had served with the Indian Army for many years.   

Living in Malaysia itself really happened.  The very idea was frowned upon by the powers that be; quite naturally of course, they were responsible for our health, safety and welfare.  The communist problems had only just been quelled in Malaysia with the loss of many lives, and they were fearful that the isolated position of our new home would not enable them to protect us should there be any more trouble.    Their fears were thankfully unfounded.  We stood our ground, put forward a good case and were allowed to remain in that delightful setting for the two years of our stay.  I think looking back the thought that comes to mind is ‘the ignorance of youth’, or ‘ignorance is bliss’.  But we had no problems and were made welcome by the villagers in our small village outside of Johore Bahru.

  What an extraordinary experience!   We had two little daughters; Ingrid aged 5 and Vikki, 3 years.  Ingrid was privileged to start her first years at school in a tropical setting and has never forgotten it.   She treasures the few photographs we took and wishes there had been more.  She lives those happy days even now.  Her school was a BritishMilitarySchool in Johore Bahru and was much as the schools are here in Thailand today – primarily made of wood; open and  airy classrooms with wide covered verandahs and noisy fans lazily moving the warm, languid air above their heads.

After a couple of years of mixed bliss - amazing experiences and the agonies of missing home, we returned to England and settled into a  routine that could only be emphasised by the memories of the Far East.  Was it all a dream I frequently asked myself.  We treasured absurd things like shopping bills from the local Cold Store shops; bus tickets and pressed exotic flowers, and imagined we would never see that wonderful part of the globe again.  Of course, we were very wrong and the determination to return one day persisted, sitting somewhere in the recesses of my mind, occasionally surfacing like a sign post through the busy years that followed.  I never imagined I would actually live in this part of the world though, merely that I would visit as a tourist and be happy in the visiting. 

The opportunity came around 1998 when we decided that after years of very hard and stressful work, we really would like to retire early.  We had visited Thailand on several occasions and the more we saw of it the more we fell in love with it.  The gentle people; the stunning scenery; the food; the atmosphere; the culture; the history and art; and of course, the amazing mountains, plants, animals, birds and trees.  Just everything about the place was magic. 

Of course it has its seedier side and living so close to Pattaya makes you conscious of it.  But is the scene offensive?  I think not, a happier bunch of mortals would be hard to find and whether your male or female, you’re always made welcome wherever your path takes you.  The dilemma is that it’s a sad reflection on the huge gap ever present between the wealthier nations of the world and the poor, who would like piece of the action too.  Thailand is not unique in this aspect – it happens, and why shouldn’t people make some ‘bread’ from their only asset.  With a better education system maybe many of the people caught up in the trade would have a better chance in life to make money.  Til then, prostitution is the oldest profession in the world and makes them a good living.  They can support their large extended families and feel good in the process.  A sure case of ‘supply and demand’ that will never be unnecessary.  We have to forget our moralistic Victorian attitudes and allow them to get on with their lives in the way they know best. 

Each and every day, I have to pinch myself that I am still alive and not in an unearthly paradise, having passed away without knowing it!  To walk our two old Labradors through the lanes to the woods and fields around our village is breathtaking.  I turn round at the top of the hill and look out across the lake to the sea.  Between are a wealth of waving palms fronds, spiky old rattans; tall, straight hardwood trees and the innumerable dark green heads of the ubiquitous mangoes.  The perfumes that rise from the disturbed grasses are intoxicating so early in the morning and I linger to watch the little bees busy at work on the tree blossoms.  The birds are amazing in there variety and voices.  Over there I hear the demented scream of the Asian Lapwing as she entices you away from her nestlings with here frantic dance; above is the fluttering ribbon tails of a noisy family of racket-tailed drongos; the chatter of the mynah birds is incessant; tiny birds flit noiselessly from branch to branch and the beautiful sounds from the various bulbuls mingle with the harsh caw of the crows, jays and magpie robins to form a harmony of nature unsurpassed on this planet.  Their music mingles with the soft sounds of the gentle wind as it wends its way between the trees and rustling bamboos.

The only thing that’s missing from those heady Malaysian days is the dawn chorus of the gibbons – always such a joy to listen to.  But gibbons of any sort have been hunted to near extinction, and the loss of their habitat has seen them isolated only in tiny pockets of Asia.  I miss them!

So begins another day in this incredible paradise.  What happy fortune brought me here in the winter years of my life? I’ve no idea, but my canvas was begun as a young woman all those years ago.  I’ve now taken up the palette again after an absence of 40 and more long years, and must finish what I began.   I count myself blessed to be able to do it.  Happiness is illusive and I hold its fragile gossamer wings in my hand fresh each day.  I don’t know what tomorrow will bring and I’m not waiting around to find out.  This moment is precious and to be lived.  I want to live and share it with as many people as possible.   


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Mountain Blossoms profile imageAUTHOR

      Marianne Kellow 

      9 years ago from SE Thailand

      Thank you so much Peter. I feel so lucky to come back and experience it again. Some things never change do they, especially people.

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 

      9 years ago from South East Asia

      Wonderfully written. I lived it through your words. Thank you.

    • Mountain Blossoms profile imageAUTHOR

      Marianne Kellow 

      9 years ago from SE Thailand

      Thank you Dohn, I've got loads of old photos but they just won't download - but I'm glad you enjoy the reads. This part of the world is so incredibly beautiful and can well imagine your feeling a bit homesick. Everyone I know who's been to Laos says its even lovelier than here so its on my 'wish list' too.

      Good luck with your plans and hope you get back soon. M.

    • dohn121 profile image


      9 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I enjoy listening to your descriptions of Thailand as actual photographs or img. or jpg. files are uneccessary due to your picturesque descriptions of a world half around the globe! I'm homesick and pining to go back to Laos! Hopefully it'll happen soon! Thanks again, MB.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)