The Far East has my heart. It always has done. For me it feels like I’m returning home.
Which is why when I was considering where to book for our first foray into long haul travelling with two children, Thailand immediately popped into my head.
The food is delicious and the people are amongst the friendliest you’ll find anywhere in the world. It’s my safe place for adventure (let’s not mention the second degree burn scar I have on my ankle from a moped incident from when I was 18).
If anything deciding to travel to Thailand was a total cop-out for me. It wasn’t brave of me at all, which was the comment I frequently got when I told people of our destination.
Thailand is a country that welcomes you repeatedly with open arms, and cradles you until you leave.
Stepping off our flight at our first destination in Krabi I was hit by the familiar sweet smell that scents the air in Thailand. I’ve never been able to figure out what the smell is. But it’s a smell that will stay with you forever, perhaps it’s the smell of fruit-growing on trees or sweetly rotting on the ground, mingled with the smell of street food.
It’s a warm smell. It’s the smell of happiness.
As the sunshine bore down on our exhausted bodies, we couldn’t help but let the adrenaline build.
The flight was long, we were weary but we’d made it. Just one last push before we were sinking our feet into soft sand and wading out to sea.
Of course that’s when Evie decided to let loose in her nappy.
Changing tables are not customary in the Far East. So before jumping on a boat to Railay Beach- home for the next few days, I changed my daughter on the floor of the boat pier as another family watched on knowing they too had been in the same situation.
Maybe the Thai’s have a better way of doing it? But whether they do or they don’t they’re not judgemental. Children are treated like miniature gods. They’re loved whether they belong to them or not.
Our time in Krabi was spent splashing in the water, playing on the sand and watching the most magnificent sunsets.
It was slow-paced living.
We ate as much fresh fish as we could and marvelled at the concoction of sauces that accompanied all the dishes, which would add either some good chilli heat to the meal or a fresh tangy flavour.
As treats we’d indulge in freshly cooked banana and nutella Thai pancakes.
One evening as we ate our meal, we watched a fire breather perform his act right in front of our restaurant. No health and safety precautions, just spur of the moment fire lighting up the dark night sky.
For a change of scenery and for the chance to escape sandy feet for a while, we headed north of Thailand to Chiang Mai.
Arriving on New Year’s Eve we wanted to do something special. We needn’t have bothered trying to plan anything. We ended up having the most amazing New Year’s Eve at the guesthouse we were staying in.
We feasted on individual hot-pot barbecues which were being tended to by the children who were living in the foundation next door. It was set up by the guesthouse owners as a way to home and educate children from underprivileged backgrounds.
William loved spending time with the children. He made friends straight away with a little boy who fed him cooked sausage using his chopsticks. They danced, joked, played and laughed all night long with Mr Bean playing on an outdoor screen in the background.
With sparklers being lit and dancing competitions being held, it was the best New years we’ve had in a really long time.
We woke up the day after to spend the day with elephants.
Nothing prepares you for that magical moment where you’re face to face with an elephant. They’re majestic. They’re gentle. They’re beautiful.
William was terrified of them, like he is most things right now. But he loved being part of the day and learning about the elephants and making their medicine balls- even if he wouldn’t feed them or bathe with them!
We couldn’t have asked for a more spiritual place to start the New Year. Yes, for me there’s something spiritual about the presence of elephants.
Our final stop in Thailand was the capital, Bangkok. A city which can transform into what you need it to be. As our final stop we wanted a touch of luxury, so we decided to forgo the culture and the magnificent markets to just relax and feast. Our children deserved the break as well.
We managed to put together smart-ish outfits to head to one of the exclusive hotels to while away an afternoon with the most incredible buffet spread.
Thailand you didn’t disappoint. And I love how you haven’t changed either. You’re still banging out tunes from my youth bringing me back a good few decades. You haven’t aged.
Until we meet again.