Thank You

First of all, thank YOU, to everyone who read this blog, the commenters, the silent ones, people who followed on Facebook and Instagram and everyone who virtually kept us company along the way.

Thanks to James and Cara for sparking the whole idea with the invitation to their Thai wedding, a highlight of the trip for sure.

Thank you to Mike and Sandra, housesitters extrordinaire, who took great care of our home and car and garden. Also thanks to our neighbours for keeping an eye on things when Mike and Sandra weren’t there.

Thanks to my Dad and Pam for receiving, opening, scanning and emailing six months worth of mail for us. Excellent service!

Thanks to friends back home who kept us up to date with all the news, both good and sad, from home.

Thank you to the family travel blogging community. The ones we met along the way, the ones who gave advice through the best facebook group for travelling families, the ones whose blogs provided information and inspiration before and during the trip and that I will continue to enjoy following.

Thank you to Tae, Jun and A-Tong, the best Thai host family we could have hoped for. They kept us extremely well fed and looked after for our month in Sisaket.

Thank you to all the friends and family who hosted us, fed us, and drove us to airports and train stations. Nonna deserves an extra special thanks here for having us over Christmas and New Year, but also thanks to: Jo and Dirk, Tory and Vince, Noa and Luc, Richard and Lucy, James and Cara and a big thank you to Poppa for getting up at some ungodly hour to pick us up on our return to Sydney.

Thank you to anyone who spent time playing with our kids! Especially above mentioned family and friends, the students and teachers at Sritrakool School, and friendly guesthouse and restaurant staff everywhere!

Finally, thanks to my three favourite people in the world for a most excellent adventure and for putting up with me on those days when all that family togetherness got a bit too much.

Thank you all!

IMG_8854

Trip Count

 

Being Home

Home! (We have lovely neighbours.)

This sign from our neighbours greeted us when we arrived home. (It’s still on the door.)

We’ve been home for six and a half weeks now. It feels like much longer than that. For the first couple of weeks it all felt a bit surreal, but now we are pretty much back to life as normal. Dave is busy at work, Lil is back at school, I am gearing up to start back on my studies. I think Ed is having the most trouble readjusting to life here, which is funny because he had the most trouble adjusting to travel. He really misses Lil when she is at school (they hug each other hard every afternoon at pick-up) and I think he gets sick of being with just me so much. It’s a big change for him after six months of being together as four pretty much 24-7 and he has been through some big changes since we got home – no more nappies and no more dummy.

Didn't make it to bed time.

Couch nap

There are parts of travel that I miss, for sure, but I love our little house and community and city. This is home.

This is life when we're not on holiday.

This is life when we’re not on holiday.

I’ve been running, I’ve been sewing, I’ve been spending afternoons chatting to friends in the park after school, I’m back at craft night, I can have a great coffee whenever I want one, these are all things that make me happy.

First Parkrun in about 8 months. Lucky the view is nice!

A nice place for a run.

Today is Dave’s birthday. We’ve had presents in bed, he went for a run, cooked poached eggs for breakfast with home made bread, the kids have been drawing, playing with lego, watching some ABC Kids. Later on there is a food and music festival just a block away. We’ll wander down and look at the stalls, listen to some music, drink some coffee. In the afternoon we’ll meet friends there for birthday drinks. It’s days like this I love being here.

Dig dig dig

Beach time

We talk about the trip a lot. I’m surprised by how much the kids, even Ed, remember. The other day he said, “What’s that word, when you look at something from the top of a temple?…The distance!”

I’m so glad we took this leap and did this trip. I’m not sure what our next travel adventure will be. Right now I’m content to stay close to home for a while, but I’m sure that bug will bite again.

Six Months of Travel: Final Trip Stats and Costs

Here we go! The final trip stats post along with information on costs. All costs are in Australian dollars.

– Number of countries visited: 10 (counting the hour in Myanmar and half an hour in Luxembourg!)
– Days traveling: 184
– Days in Asia: 130
– Days in UK/Europe: 54

Accommodation Stats and Costs
– Places stayed overnight: 35
– Average number of nights in each place: 5.2
– Longest in one place: 32 nights (Homestay and volunteering in Sisaket)
– Nights in UK/Europe with free accommodation (thanks to friends and family): 27

– Total cost of accommodation for the whole trip: $10,331
– Total cost of accommodation in Asia: $6,833
– Total cost of accommodation in UK/Europe: $3,498
– Average cost of accommodation per night overall: $56
– Average cost of accommodation in Asia per night: $53
– Average cost of accommodation in UK/Europe per night (minus free nights): $125

Our Amsterdam apartment

Our most expensive accommodation

– Most expensive accommodation: Amsterdam apartment at $191/night
– Least expensive accommodation: Little Home Guesthouse in Mae Salong at $20/night

Little Home Bungalow

Our least expensive accommodation

Transport Stats and Costs
– Total hours actually travelling between places: 142
– Hours on planes: 45.5
– Number of plane trips: 8
– Total cost of flights: $9,621

looking out on Afghanistan

Flying over Afghanistan

– Hours on trains: 33.5
– Number of (intercity) train trips: 10
– Hours on buses: 27
– Number of (intercity) bus trips: 11
– Hours on minibuses: 11.5
– Number of minibus trips: 3
– Hours on boats: 21
– Number of ferry trips: 4
– Hours on sangthaew: 3.5
– Number of (inter-town) sangthaew trips: 3

coming into Bangkok

Train to Bangkok

– Longest single journey: Koh Samui to Bangkok.
– Longest on one mode of transport: Overnight ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam at 14 hours.

Miscellaneous Stats and Costs
– Visits from the tooth fairy: 3
– Mail received at home (thanks Dad!): 2.3kg
– Photos taken: 4,771 or 32.9GB
– Total cost of trip: $36,000. Minus accommodation and flights as above leaves about $16,000 spent on pre-trip costs (passports, vaccinations, luggage, computer etc.), food, all other transport, activities, entry fees and spending.

One Last Stop In Bangkok

We broke up our journey home from London to Australia with three nights in Bangkok. It was our fourth time in Bangkok this trip but unfortunately the apartment we had stayed in the last two times was already booked out. I spent days trawling accommodation sites searching for the perfect spot to end our trip. I wanted to enjoy our last few nights, I wanted somewhere comfortable to recover from the flight and jet lag, I wanted a swimming pool to keep the kids happy, and I wanted to be close to the skytrain for easy access to shopping but away from the main areas where protests were happening. Finally we settled on the Adelphi Grande. It ended up being a great choice and I would have no hesitation staying there again.

kitchenette

Kitchenette in our studio room

For $AUD136 a night we got a room with one king size bed and one extra single bed, full buffet breakfast for 4, a kitchenette, a washer/dryer, a huge bathroom, two complimentary beers, early check-in and late check-out (perfect for our flight times), and wifi (not the best in the room but good everywhere else). The hotel is an easy walk from Phrom Phong BTS station and also the Emporium shopping centre. We ate dinner every night at a place on the street (the sign just said Good Cheap Thai Food) which was great. It was also walking distance to Benjasiri Park which has two good playgrounds, one for older kids and one for younger.

Hotel review by Lillian.

Hotel review by Lillian.

sunset from hotel

Sunset view from our room. You can see the skytrain track.

It's good to be back in Thailand! Dinner here tonight: spring rolls, two mains, three serves of rice, one big beer and one water = $12AUD. (Or €8 or £6.) And with that special roadside ambience.

Dinner here: spring rolls, two mains, three serves of rice, one big beer and one water = $12AUD. (Or €8 or £6.)

We spent our first day recovering from the overnight flight and exploring the immediate area around the hotel. The Emporium shopping center had a big Lego display set up which the kids had fun with.

lego bubble Lil

Lego at the Emporium

The next two days were spent shopping. Dave needed new work shirts and running shoes so on the first day we all went in together. The next day Lil and I had a girls day out and did some more shopping (hippy pants for all!) and got our nails painted (toes for me, fingers for her.)

Lil got her nails painted while I had a pedicure.

Sparkly nails

Before we knew it we were heading back to the airport to fly home.

Off to the airport and heading home after an amazing six months! With a few more bags than we started with.

Waiting for the taxi to the airport

More posts to come! Costs, stats, thank yous, being home.

Paris to London for Christmas

We caught the Eurostar from Paris back to London the day before Christmas Eve. This involved a metro to the train station in Paris, the Eurostar and then two trains to Surrey. At the station in Paris Ed went on strike and sat down saying “No more trains!” Not the best when there were still three trains to go that day. Once on the Eurostar the trip was speedy and smooth. Although we’d only paid for three seats (Ed was free on  a lap) we ended up with four. The kids were occupied with eating and building cardboard Eurostar trains (given to us at check-in) for most of the journey.

on the eurostar

Kids on the Eurostar

We arrived in London the day a big storm was due to hit the south of England. We were lucky to get on the last train allowed through to Surrey but the train before it had been cancelled so it was absolutely packed, the kids and I were separated from Dave in different parts of the carriage, and it was a bit of a push to get all of us and all our luggage off again at the right station. For the final leg of the journey we got a taxi to Dave’s mum’s house and then…relax!

We spent ten days with Nonna that were full of family get togethers. First there was Christmas, then Nonna’s birthday on Boxing Day, then another extended family meal on the weekend.

A little bit of Thailand in England. Merry Christmas!

The kids wore Thai Hilltribe outfits on Christmas Day

flaming pudding

There was plenty of yummy food

After all that excitement we took the kids ice skating under a big top, which was their Christmas present from Nonna. Lil was convinced it was going to be easy and watched ‘how to ice-skate’ you tube videos beforehand with Dave. The reality was a little trickier but she gave it a good go, didn’t get frustrated, and had fun. Ed went around once and decided that was enough.

ready to ice skate

Ready to skate!

Dave and I enjoyed an overnight away from the kids (our first in 18 months), staying with his brother and his fiance who took us out on the town. Thank you Nonna for looking after the kids!

The rest of our time was spent trying to keep the kids from going too stir-crazy in the very rainy weather. We went to see Frozen and emerged from the theatre to a flooded street. On our final full day Dave and Nonna took the kids into London to visit the science museum while I began the big task of packing everything up.

A big reason for doing this trip was to spend time with family, both at the wedding in Thailand and over Christmas in England, and it was really great to be able to spend such quality time together.

comfy

Hanging out on Uncle Richard

Next up – a final three nights in Bangkok on the way home!

Paris Part 3: Winter Fun

This was our third visit to Paris but our first in the winter and our first with kids. We were lucky that it only rained a little while we were there and we had some really glorious winter days too. The temperatures were about 6-9 degrees celsius each day.

The first official tourist attraction we visited was the Notre Dame Cathedral. Although we’ve been there twice before we had never been inside. The lines were always so long. This time we just walked right on in! That’s the big advantage of European travel in winter – very few queues. It was the same with the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Anyway, the cathedral is free to visit unless you want to climb the towers which has a fee. We were considering doing that but there was a (fairly short) line and we didn’t feel like waiting.

lights

Inside Notre Dame

Another good thing about visiting Europe in winter is the Christmas markets. From little craft markets (I went to one in The Marais run by Lions Club) to big food and drink extravaganzas, like the one near the Eiffel Tower.

a Christmas market

A little Christmas craft market

Near Notre Dame was this little market (above) with a Santa handing out balloons for the kids.

balloons

Balloons in Paris

Paris is full of parks and playgrounds and it was not too cold to hang out in them. Luxembourg Gardens has a big playground that costs 2.50 euros to enter. To be honest, I don’t think it was worth the fee but it is huge and the kids enjoyed it. I watched from the fence while Dave went in with them to save a little money! There’s a kiosk there selling snacks and coffee too, and a little carousel (costing extra.) I think the playground in the park across from the Eiffel Tower is just as good and is free.

carousel!

Carousel in Luxembourg Gardens

Luxembourg Gardens themselves are beautiful and well worth a wander through.

Luxembourg Gardens

Luxembourg Gardens

When we arrived at our third apartment in Paris we discovered that the Cirque d’hiver (Winter Circus) was right at the end of the street. The circus is in a beautiful permanent building and has been operating since 1861 during the winter months. We decided to go there on our last night and used it as incentive for good bedtimes from the kids in the lead up. We bought the tickets directly from the box office which was a little cheaper than anywhere I could find online and they cost 24 euro each. The show went for about two hours with an intermission and the kids were riveted for most of that time. Ed got a bit fidgety and tired towards the end but perked up when the clowns came out. The show was obviously all in French but it didn’t matter. There was a live band, dancing girls, acrobatics, aerial performers, and (sadly, I think) tigers. Afterwards Lillian said, “That circus was so good I’ll never forget it.”

cirque d'hiver

Cirque d’hiver

I would highly recommend visiting Paris in the winter. There is so much to do, we didn’t even get to ice-skating or even any of the museums (except for Dave’s solo visit to the Sewer Museum – which he recommends if you like that sort of thing.) We’ll just have to go back.

Video: Six Months of Family Travel

I made this video montage of our trip and I can’t stop watching it! This song is perfect. It’s Go Do by Jónsi and it’s just so happy and uplifting and I love the lyrics.

Go sing, too loud
Make your voice break- Sing it out
Go scream, do shout
Make an earthquake…

You wish fire would die and turn colder
You wish your love could see you grow older
We should always know that we can do anything new

Go drum, too proud
Make your hands ache – Play it out
Go march through crowds
Make your day break…

You wish silence released massive tremors
You wish, I know it, surrender to summer
We should always know that we can do everything

Go do, you’ll know how to
Just let yourself, fall into landslide

Go do, you’ll know how to
Just let yourself, give into low tide

Go do!

Tie strings to clouds
Make your own lake – Let it flow
Throw seeds to sprout
Make your own break – Let them grow

Let them grow (Endless summers)
Let them grow (Endless summers)

(Go do endless summers)

You wish surprise, will never stop wonder
You wish sunrise, will never fall under

You wish surprise, will never stop wonder
You wish sunrise, will never fall under

We should always know that we can do anything

Go do!

Here’s the video! Enjoy!



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