We went to Thailand for three weeks and it was absolutely amazing. There. That’s the short version of our recent three week holiday – our first “real” holiday together as a family, actually. Not including our several trips to Denmark, of course, as they just go in the “going home for a visit”-category.
The long version of our trip is rather…long. So long that I have decided to divide it into two parts. This first part will deal with our initial three days in Bangkok and our trip to Koh Chang with my brother and his family.
Ready for take-off!
BANGKOK WITH KIDS
We flew into Bangkok in the middle of the night and we went straight to our hotel, Chatrium Riverside where we arrived at 3am.- just in time to get a couple of hours sleep before sunrise to suppress any possible jetlag. And it worked out pretty much perfectly. We all woke up around 8am. More than ready to indulge in the huge breakfast buffet by the riverside before we jumped in the pool to start off our holiday with the first of what seems like thousands of swims.
The hotel was great and it suited our needs very well. As the name suggests, it’s located at the river and from our riverside room, we had an amazing view of the city and of the busy river where the girls loved watching all the boats sail by. Great in the day, absolutely stunning at night time.
From the hotel there is a free shuttle boat that sails to a nearby hub for tour boats and taxi boats and it is also where the nearest sky train station is located. It was very convenient for us, since we were so clever to forget to bring our baby carrier on the trip. Like, we forgot it back home in Australia. Man, did we regret that again and again. So, pretty much wherever we went on our entire holiday we had Billie in the stroller. It made walking the streets of Bangkok quite a challenge. None-the-less, it’s what we did the first day. We walked a lot.
After our slow morning at the pool we went all in on sightseeing in the old part of Bangkok. Catching a ferry/boat taxi there was easy and a good way to see a bit of the city from the waterside, and as we got there we basically just walked for 5 hours. We walked through markets, we walked through tempels, we walked on random roads, we walked, and walked, and walked. We ate too. We ate really, really good, cheap street food and also found a tiny, little café that served us some of the best food we ever had on our trip. Fair to say that we were very tired as we, late in the afternoon, got back to the pier to catch a ferry back to our hotel.
The next day didn’t go exactly as we had imagined. Abby woke up at 5am and that influenced the entire day. She was tired, grumpy and emotional from the start and when she is in that mood she is not fun to bring anywhere. We decided that we had to try to give her a nap before venturing out into the city. Unfortunately that turned into quite a battle.
A tired three-year-old that refuses to sleep, a dad that is very determined that she HAS to sleep, a mum that is also tired and frustrated that we are wasting our time in the hotel instead of experiencing Bangkok, now that we only have two days here. And then on top of that a one-year-old that got woken up by her over-tired, crazy sister during her nap, so she didn’t get nearly as much sleep as she needed. Yeah, it was a combo doomed to fail.
It ended up with me taking Billie for a long walk in the neighbourhood while Josh stayed back at the hotel where he finally got Abby to sleep. She ended up sleeping for three hours. She needed it. Billie never really went back to sleep and I eventually caved in and realized that travelling with children ultimately has to be on their terms. Instead of going for some late afternoon sightseeing for the the adults’ sake we let Bangkok be Bangkok and had dinner poolside in our swimmers. We had some great hours swimming in the lid up pool while we were watching all the lights from the city. It was not too bad at all, actually.
Before we went to Bangkok we had heard both good and bad about it. Some people even adviced us to ‘don’t waste your time there’.
We decided to decide for ourselves. And we are happy we did. We loved Bangkok. Yes, it was smelly. Yes, it was busy. Yes, there’s a lot of traffic and there is not pretty footpaths everywhere (like there isn’t in most suburbs I’ve been to in Australia). But we knew all that before we went. We were prepared for it and Bangkok is also so, so much more. It’s full of life. It’s full of culture. It’s full of impressions and food. So much food! Good, cheap street food. Unfortunately two days were not enough. Especially since one of those two days was basically just spend at our hotel. We did not have time to see and experience nearly enough, but we got a tiny taste of what Bangkok has to offer and we will most definitely be coming back for more.
FAMILY TIME IN RELAXING KOH CHANG
After our days amongst the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, it was time to unite with my brother, his wife, Karen and my little nephew, Emil in Bangkok airport to fly to Trat to catch some beach, sun and family time in Koh Chang. It was almost surreal to finally see some of my danish family there. In an airport. In Bangkok. We had dreamed of that moment ever since we left Denmark back in July. And then, just like that, it was reality.
Abby had been VERY excited to see her uncle, auntie and cousin
and she loved every minute spent with them.
Us going to Koh Chang was actually a very last minute decision. We had originally planned to go to Koh Phangang and Koh Samui together. However, the weather forecast for that particular area of Thailand was horrible so instead of 9 days with torrential rain we opted for sun and went to Koh Chang and we did not regret our decision (not until our very last day of the trip – read more about that in episode 2).
The 9 days we spent in Koh Chang were very relaxing and it was definitely on the children’s terms.
We spent many, many, many hours in the pool. Many hours at the beach. Quite a lot of hours in restaurants. And then we also went on a boat trip where we got to snorkel, fish and see some hungry monkeys. We even took the girls on a little trek into the jungle to swim at a water hole at a waterfall. Abby was a little trooper on that trip. She walked all the way back and forth herself (well, I might have bribed her with ice cream on the way back…) and she absolutely loved it.
Actually, one little incident that was anything but relaxing happened on the boat trip we were on. We stopped at an island for 45 minutes where the adults could snorkel and the kids could swim in the crystal clear water. It was beautiful. And then we got one of our biggest scares as parents so far. At least I did. Josh did not realize what happened until afterwards.
Josh took Abby out on the deep(er) water. She had her doughnut (blow up ring) with her, but no floaties. Then he left her to go snorkelling. I was in the shallow water with Billie as I suddenly heard a faint sound in the background. Not really a cry for help. Just some weird bubbble-babble. I turned around and saw Abby’s doughnut float around empty. Then I saw a young man running into the water from the beach – then I saw what he was running towards. Abby! Her little face was bobbing in and out of the water, she was trying to call for help, but the sound got caught in the water. With Billie in my hands I ran towards her. The young man got to her first. Seconds later I had her in my arms. My heart was pumping as I realized how serious it actually had been.
‘Mummy, I tried to swim, but I just couldn’t breath’
It could have gone so terribly wrong. It was a matter of seconds. Had the young man not seen her, had I not heard her desperate try to call for help. I can’t even handle the thought. Luckily nothing serious happened and Abby was back in the water in no time.
After that little (major!) scare there was not much serious action going down. Thank god! Back to breakfast time, pool time, lunch time, ice cream time, beach time, drinks time, dinner time, repeat…As it should be.
Unfortunately my brother got sick 5 days into the trip so the last days we did not see much of him. Luckily, he made it back out of his sick-bed on the last day so we managed to have a nice last day and evening together before we had to part ways the next day. That meant a lot and we cannot thank him and his family enough for giving us this experience with them. We loved every minute of it!
It was quite emotional to say goodbye to the three of them as we headed off to new adventures in Koh Samui and Koh Tao and they headed back home to Denmark. Hopefully we will see them again soon – when summer hits Denmark in June/july.
A couple of recommendations and tips from me to you:
I can most definitely recommend families to travel to Koh Chang as the beaches there are very child friendly, the people are friendly and helpful, the vibe is very relaxed but the island is still big enough to offer a bit of everything – plenty of restaurants and bars, Thai street food and market stalls, a handfull of towns/villages, several beaches, jungle, waterfalls, trekking and of course, boat trips with snorkelling/diving – and the prices are fair E.g. it was a lot cheaper to take a taxi in Koh Chang than it was in Koh Tao and Koh Samui, which is worth considering if you don’t wish to ride a scooter with small children, but still wish to experience more than your resort’s beach, pool and restaurant.
Potentially you can travel on to Koh Mak and Koh Kood. We did not do this, as we had already made other plans, but we heard a LOT of good especially about Koh Kood and looking back we would have skipped going to Koh Samui and Koh Tao and gone to Koh Mak and Koh Kood instead. We will do that next time, if a next time ever comes up 🙂
Also, if you have small children that use swimming nappies/diapers when swimming, I will recommend bringing enough from home. We could not find any swimming nappies/diapers anywhere and we looked in supermarkets, pharmacies etc. They might have them somewhere, but if so they are not easy to get your hands on.
NEXT STOP KOH SAMUI VIA BANGKOK
…episode 2 coming soon 🙂