Posts Tagged 'Thailand'

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.

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!

List 52/52 – The Best of the Lists

It’s the last Sunday of the year which means my 52 Lists project has come to an end! For my final list I’ve looked back over all the lists from the last year and chosen my favourites. Here they are in order of posting:

1. List 24/52 – 7 Reasons For Our Six Month Family Trip

2. List 29/52 – Things We’ve Learned So Far About Traveling With (Our) Kids

3. List 35/52 – The Places Ed Napped Last Week

4. List 43/52 – Family Accommodation in Singapore and Malaysia

5. List 46/52 – Costs in Thailand

6. List 47/52 – Family Accommodation in Thailand

It was interesting reading back over some of the planning lists from earlier in the year, particularly those wondering what we needed to take with us. I might revisit some of them with post-travel updates when we’ve finished the trip.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

A little bit of Thailand in England. Merry Christmas!

The kids in their Thai outfits for Christmas.

 

List 47/52 – Family Accommodation in Thailand

Here is a list of every hotel, guesthouse and bungalow we stayed in during our time in Thailand. All these rooms accommodated two adults and two kids (aged 6 and 3.)

1. Hat Yai – Laemthong Hotel – $AUD25 – one double bed and one single bed with air-con, tv, fridge. Wifi in lobby and sometimes in room. Not clean and do not recommend. Read more here.

2. Koh Phangan – Lime n Soda – $AUD47 – buffet breakfast included, bungalow with two double beds, air-con, tv, wifi best in restaurant but did reach the room at times. Swimming pool with no shallow bit for kids. Good location near pier in Thong Sala. Friendly staff. Not the nicest beach. Read more here.

Lime n soda bungalow

Lime n Soda bungalow

3. Koh Phangan, Haad Yao – Sandy Bay Bungalows – $AUD69 – enormous bungalow with two double beds, air-con, fridge, spotty wifi, huge bathroom, sitting area on verandah, swimming pool with shallow sections, nice beach a few steps away. Read more here.

4. Koh Samui – Ibis Bophut Hotel – $AUD94 – two interconnecting double rooms, very comfy beds, air-con, wifi, wii player, free drinking water, three swimming pools, right on beach. Read more here.

5. Bangkok – Air BnB Apartment ‘Sunset by the River’ – $AUD86 – two bedroom apartment, air-con, kitchen, wifi, washing machine, swimming pool, two bathrooms, one with bathtub. Read more here.

air bnb apartment

Bangkok Air BnB Apartment

6. The sixth place we stayed in Thailand was our homestay while volunteer English teaching in Sisaket. More about that here and here.

7. Bangkok – Air BnB Apartment Baan Chaophraya – $AUD72 – one bedroom apartment with kitchen, washing machine, wifi, sofa bed in living room. Read more here.

8. Kanchanaburi – Pong Phen Guesthouse – 1000 baht ($AUD34) – large room with one single bed and one double, air-con, tv, fridge with free water and soft drink, swimming pool. Wifi good in restaurant but not so good in room. Read more here.

9. Ayutthaya – Baan Lotus Guesthouse – 800 baht ($AUD27) – triple room with three single beds, air con, wifi. Read more here.

Baan Lotus Guesthouse Ayutthaya

Baan Lotus Guesthouse Ayutthaya

10. Sukhothai – Baan Georges Guesthouse – 1000 baht ($AUD34) – good breakfast included, family room with big double bed and bunk beds, fridge, air-con, tv, wifi, free water, daily cleaning, great shower, swimming pool, rooftop terrace, free bus station transfers. Highly recommend! Read more here.

Baan Georges Guesthouse

Baan Georges Guesthouse Sukhothai

11. Chiang Mai – Thapae Garden Guesthouse – 890 baht ($AUD29) – one double bed and one single, fridge, air-con, tv, wifi, very cold swimming pool, free water, room cleaning every second day. Read more here.

12. Chiang Dao – Chiang Dao Nest 1 – 1195 baht ($AUD40) – bungalow with one double bed and an extra single bed, fan, free water, swimming pool, play area for kids, wifi in restaurant. Read more here.

our abode

Chiang Dao Nest Bungalow

13. Tha Ton – Sappaya Guesthouse – 700 baht ($AUD23) – shared bathroom, one double and one single bed, fan, wifi, DIY breakfast included, free water, river view. Read more here.

14. Mae Salong – Little Home Guesthouse – 600 baht ($AUD20) – bungalow with two single beds, tv, big bathroom, free water. Read more here.

15. Mae Sai – Navy Home Hotel – 1000 baht ($AUD34) – big room, two double beds, fridge, air-con, tv, free water, hotel looks like a ship! Read more here.

16. Chiang Rai – Chez Moi Handicraft and Homestay – 650 baht ($AUD22) – including cooked Thai breakfast, fan room with one single and one double bed. Read more here.

Chez Moi Homestay Chiang Rai

Chez Moi Homestay Chiang Rai

17. Our final place in Thailand was back in Bangkok at the same apartment as number 7.

Bangkok’s Grand Palace and the Flight to London

To finish off our three and a bit months in Thailand we had another six nights in Bangkok. It was our third stay in the city this trip and we spent it at the same Air BnB apartment that we stayed in last time. It was nice to come back to the same place where the doorman recognised us, we knew the area, and the apartment was just as we had left it. Even my washing powder was still there.

The main thing I wanted to do this time in Bangkok (besides shopping for shoes for the kids) was visit the Grand Palace. We chose to go to the palace on a Sunday. It was hot and it was busy. Much busier than I remember it being in 2004. Perhaps a week day would have been quieter? Anyway, we were there and we were on a mission to have our family photo taken in the same place as my mother and her family had theirs taken in 1961. First we had a little look around and tried to dodge the crowds. Lillian really enjoyed the murals.

mural gazing

Mural gazing

I really enjoyed the details.

flowers

Flower walls

And then we found the place for the photo. In 1961 my mother was almost 8 years old when she visited the Grand Palace with her family at the start of their big family trip. You can see more photos from their time in Bangkok here. The palace in 1961 was quiet. No crowds!

1961 and 2013 Grand Palace Bangkok

1961 and 2013 Grand Palace Bangkok

The day before we flew to London I did some shopping (alone!) and bought some books for the kids to help keep them occupied on the thirteen hour flight.

Surprise goodies for the 13hr plane ride tomorrow. The book bottom left is a comic about a novice monk!

Activity Books

I went to the Kinokuniya bookshop in the Siam Paragon shopping mall and happily stumbled upon these Thailand activity and colouring books by Nancy Chandler. They have great things like a hilltribe paper doll to cut out, masks, and word searches with Thai towns and places. I also got Edward a new sticker book about London. Sticker books are always popular. The Satima book is a comic about a novice monk that I couldn’t resist for Lillian.

The flight to London went well. It was a daytime direct flight with British Airways and was only half full so we ended up with six seats for the four of us. Because it was daytime we also had some spectacular views out the window. We flew right across Afghanistan and it was amazing to look down on that landscape, so mountainous and barren, and see tiny villages and wonder what those people’s lives were like.

snowy mountains Afghanistan

Afghanistan

When we arrived in the UK the sun was just setting and the plane flew right over the city. We saw the London Eye, the Thames and a beautiful sunset. Getting through immigration was a breeze and Dave’s mum was there to meet us on the other side. Two kids fell asleep (short-lived) in the taxi on the way home. More on our first week in the UK to come.

List 46/52 – Costs in Thailand

coin bowls

Temple coin bowls

At time of writing $AUD1 equals about 30 baht.

– Our cheapest accommodation: 600 baht

– Our most expensive accommodation: 2500 baht

– One way internal flights with Nok Air for four people: about $AUD200

– Visa extension for 30 days: 1900 baht per person

– Coffee: ranged from 15 baht for a cup of instant to over 100 for a coffee from international coffee chains. Usually about 50 – 70.

– Small bottle of water: 10 baht

– Big bottle of Chang beer: 65 – 90 baht

– Thai dish in a restaurant: 50 – 90 baht

– A serve of plain rice: 10 – 20 baht

– Condensed milk roti: 5 – 15 baht

– Banana waffles at market: 20 baht

– Loaf of bread: 37 baht

– Ice-cream: Thai style on a stick 10 baht, Cornetto 24 baht

– Short tuk tuk or songthaew ride: 40 – 80 baht (for 4)

– One hour songthaew between towns: 100 – 200 baht (for 4)

– Local bus between towns: 70 – 100 baht (for 4)

– Skytrain ride: 35 – 45 baht per person

– Taxi from airport to Bangkok: 400 – 500 baht inc. tolls

– Cross river ferry in Bangkok: 3.50 baht

– Laundry: 20 – 50 baht per kilo

– Nappies: 37 baht for a 3 pack, 150 – 180 baht for a 12 pack (pull-ups)

– Foot massage: 180 – 200 baht per hour

– One month data on sim card: 399 baht

– Entry to Grand Palace in Bangkok: 500 baht per person

Chiang Rai Activities – Ruammit Elephant Village and Chiang Rai Bicycle Tour

Ruammit Karen Elephant Village

I have mixed feelings about elephant tourism and was kind of hoping to just avoid the whole thing while we were in Thailand. I’m aware of the cruel ways elephants are tamed for use in tourism. However, when we were in the Hilltribe Museum in Chiang Rai there was a sign about the elephant village and why it should be supported, or at least not boycotted. Their reasoning was that this village relies on the elephants for their income. If tourists stopped riding the elephants the mahouts and elephants would be forced to go elsewhere, including Bangkok, looking for income. The village is a much better environment for the elephants than a city. I’m still not 100% comfortable with it, but this made me feel a bit better about giving in to Lillian’s pleas to ride an elephant.

the girls

Boat to Ruammit Elephant Village

To get to Ruammit we caught a taxi to Chiang Rai Pier and negotiated to charter a boat to the village. The boat cost 800 baht ($AUD27) and took an hour to get there (the price included one hour at the village and the boat back too.) The boat ride was great. Lovely scenery, happy kids, quite relaxing!

Ruammit Karen Elephant village

Ruammit Karen Elephant Village

At the village we paid 300 baht ($AUD10) per elephant (max two people per elephant) for a half hour ‘trek’ around the village. We also paid 20 baht for some food to feed the elephants afterwards. The ride was pleasant enough though bumpy! Our mahout sang or talked to himself or called out to locals the whole way.

reduce speed

Reduce Speed

There are surely better places to experience elephants in Thailand. I’ve heard very good things about Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai, but if you’re looking for something to do from Chiang Rai, the boat trip and elephant village are a good half day activity with kids.

Chiang Rai Bicycle Tour

I have no mixed feelings about this activity, it was awesome! We booked a half day bicycle tour to the White Temple with Chiang Rai Bicycle Tour. We paid 3600 baht ($AUD122) for the tour. This included pick up and drop-off at our hotel, snacks, water, lunch at a restaurant, and of course, the bikes and helmets. We were picked up at 8:30am and dropped back again at about 2:30pm. We picked up another Australian family and a British couple and were driven to the start of the tour where we were fitted for the bikes.

Mad and Ed riding

Photo by Chiang Rai Bicycle Tour

Dave and Lillian had a trailer bike and Ed had a proper bike seat on the back of my bike. It was actually my first time riding a bike with a kid on the back and it took a little getting used to. He’s heavy! Once everyone had their bikes and helmets adjusted properly we were off. We had four guides from Chiang Rai Bicycle Tour cycling with us, plus the driver who would go ahead and set up for snack stops.

snack stop

Morning tea stop

The ride took us through villages and rice fields and the scenery was beautiful. After our morning tea stop we called in to a school to use the toilets. We had a bit of a chance to say hello to the students which made us miss our schools in Sisaket!

harvester in action

Stop to watch rice being harvested

The ride was a mix of flat and hills, gravel and tar roads. Some of the hills were quite steep and a little hairy on the gravel roads but we managed with no major spills! Here’s a video taken by one of the guides which shows me huffing and puffing up a hill and then Dave and Lil cruising along.

When we arrived at the White Temple we had lunch at one of the restaurants there before looking around the temple. The temple is bizarre and unfortunately you’re not allowed to take photos inside. The walls are decorated with murals featuring everyone from Hello Kitty to Osama Bin laden. The temple is still being completed and we got to watch people painting more murals inside and doing mosaic work on the outside. There is also a separate gallery of works from the artist who designed the temple.

White Temple

The White Temple

hands with money

Hands from hell

We were all pooped by the end of the day but I highly recommend Chiang Rai Bicycle Tour. We haven’t done a lot of organised tours like this one, and it was a lot more money than we would usually spend on an activity, but it was well worth it. They were very professional, the bikes and helmets were all in excellent condition and we felt very safe.