I always wanted to take my family to Thailand to see another way of life, one that I was very used to, having grown up in Hong Kong and Singapore. As soon as we arrived at BangKok the heat flattened them good and proper! I had this crazy idea that to not waste time getting over jet lag we were to start the next day at 5am (yes I know a cruel mother!) to do a bike ride around the floating market region. That way we would see the kids going to school, temples, villages, life on the river before the tourists had even had their first cup of coffee. This was fantastic we cycled 20 miles (which actually killed me, given the 30 degree heat, often holding up the group, much to the amusement of my son!).We had a personal guide who pointed to flora, fauna, throughout and took us to non tourist sites, ending up in a local remote restaurant overlooking the river, which overwhelmed us with all the different fayre. Of course we saw the floating market at Damnoen Saduak and went on a long boat through the backwaters, but I was glad to get away from the tourists and see true Thai life!
Bangkok we spent 3 solid days visiting the usual temples Grand Palace, lying down buddha, went on the Chao Phraya river, visited Jim Thompsons home, a shopping mall and went for afternoon tea at the Mandarin Oriental. However just walking around the streets was enough visual stimulus for everyone so much so we almost got run over by an elephant walking on the sidewalk as they do! We stayed in a hotel called Grand Sukhumvit pretty central with easy access to the Nana BTS so ideal. The roof top pool is worth a visit and pretty much everything was of a high standard! My son couldn’t get over the breakfast buffet where curry was on offer too!
We hopped on a small plane and headed to the island of Koh Samui to escape the city for 10 days . And as a contrast was the break we needed, with beautiful beeches, palm trees and a slower pace of life. We stayed away from the main tourist areas and headed west staying in a small boutique run hotel called paradise beach with beach huts (albeit with mod cons, one can not live without the hairdryer!) overlooking the sea. It was peaceful and the gardens you could get lost in without seeing other guests. The staff will take time to get to know what your into, sport, nightlife, culture, art etc and sort out excursions for you. A courtesy bus ran us to and from sights at Chaweng so we explored the island visiting bars and restaurants, markets, temples, Thai shows, Thai kick boxing but could retreat back to harmony at the end of the day. Close to the hotel is an area called BoPhut where you will find markets and restaurants on the beach and has a relaxed vibe and again less touristy.
We also went on an all day boat trip to explore the national marine park of Angthong with the most spectacular scenery, we stopped and snorkelled looking at the coral before heading off to an island for a beach lunch. We canoed around an island which was fine until a fin popped up alongside us, this prompted my son into gear and we never saw him paddle so quickly back to shore! We also went to see the most beautiful pure blue lagoon which was truly worth a visit. However the scenery and unusual rock formations will take your breath away.
Thailand has so much to offer and does get bad press with the moon parties, drugs etc but there is more to Thailand than getting drunk every night on a beach – the people are so warm and friendly, if you spend time getting to know them being respectful to their way of life, they are very welcoming.
Thai food is my favourite we spent most lunchtimes heading out of the hotel and where the locals ate at the stalls our meal consisting of green thai curry or pad thai noodles with a beer was £2 each with fresh caught fish. Love it love love it!
My husband wanted to see the elephant sanctuary and we had mixed feelings about supporting the venue, but once we saw how the keepers really cared for their elephants, we jumped straight in buying bananas feeding them and the obligitory ride in the jungle. My son rode bareback with happiness and terror expressed across his face but an experience he will never forget!
Go explore Thailand for the beauty of the country but also the people.