weird and wonderful world of family travel

People tend to be curious about our journeys with the kids, currently aged 6 and 9. They have come along on our journeys since they were born, and can still remember lots from places like Cuba, Vietnam, Morocco, Thailand, Laos as well as places closer to home. Normal questions are ‘How do you do it?’ ‘Do you book hotels in advance?’ ‘What do the kids eat?’ and so on…

What will today bring? Morning glory in Luang Prabang

In this post we’ll lift the curtain and shine some light on what goes on behind the scenes of family travel. Here are the basic questions answered:

What do the kids eat?

This question always makes me giggle. My kids are NOT the most adventurous of eaters – at home. They’ll cringe at the sight of peas, carrots, lentils and tomatoes. However, stick them on a street café in a back alley in Luang Prabang, and they’re willing to try anything. ANYTHING. Duck fetus, sure! Fried bat, yes please! Scorpion, why not? Snake, yummy! The list is long. I have no explanation to this, other than maybe I’m just too A4 in the kitchen? The bottom line is, when you’re on the road with your kids, they’ll cope with just about anything as long as their parents encourage them and provide them with a secure backdrop when the surroundings become a bit too alien. Also, I think it’s important to chill out when it comes to food. Living on pasta, rice, eggs on toast and fresh fruit for a month is ok!

Give it to me! Mattis eating duck fetus (left) and scorpion (middle). Siena is happy with her street food and chop sticks.

Do you book hotels in advance?

We rarely book hotels in advance. This would limit our flexibility to stay longer in a place if we really like it. Having said this, we always make sure to have a reservation for our first night after the long haul flight from Europe. We also tend to arrange to be picked up by hotel staff at the airport. This takes the stress out of a potentially highly stressful situation, and is always worth the extra few dollars. Apart from this, we tend to guide ourselves by Lonely Planet or other suitable travel literature along the way. Sometimes we may phone in advance to secure a booking with a particularly desired hotel or hostel, especially if there’s a bank holiday or other festivities happening.

The hotel in the picture below is a great, little place in the centre of Bangkok. It’s a garden and a tadpole pool, a piano and a very arty, laid back atmosphere. A vintage kind of place with some seriously delicious smoothies! It’s called Phranacorn Nornlen, and we are totally recommending it!

We booked this hotel in advance, because we had read that it was child friendly.

How do you do it?

We do it the same way as we would have done it without the kids, only trying to limit the amount of hours spent on transport per day. This is not to say that we don’t do overnight journeys, or time consuming bus rides. As every traveller knows, sometimes it has to be done. Then it’s a matter of preparing the kids for a day of being stuck inside a vehicle, and of course, focusing on what we’ll be able to enjoy once we reach a destination. It may be a beach, a cave, a city or simply a hotel. Either way, the vagabond parent’s secret weapon is always to create anticipation and excitement! Oh, and of course, we always stack up on lots of local goodies. Seaweed flavoured Pringles killed at least one hour on our way from Bangkok to the island of Ko Chang.

Once the kiddos know that there's a bonus like this at the end of that tediously long bus ride, they're more likely to keep going.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks EasyJet, for choosing this post as your blogger of the month!

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Ko Chang secret beach

Do you head East or West on this gorgeous Thai island?

Ko Chang is often referred to as one of Thailand’s least touristy islands. You mustn’t believe any of it of course. It may not see the masses that the islands further south do, but the whole western coast of the island is resortmania. Some places are low key and in touch with the elements, others a display of the type of tourism that hits a place with colonial supremacy.

Below are two examples of the low key places found at the northern part of White Sand beach:

The East coast of Ko Chang on the other hand, still remains relatively unspoilt. In the far South East of the island you’ll find yourself immersed in paradisical surroundings. Yes. I used the Paradise comparison. The one you’re only allowed to use when all the elements fall in to place.


At the East side of the island we stayed at the idyllic Island View Resort, which is a haven for people who like an active holiday. Friendly owner Dieter will arrange sailing trips in the virtually untouched archipelago south of Ko Chang. He will also lend you his motor boat for a small fee (approx 500 Bahts per day = £ 10). Pottering about in the boat for half an hour takes you here:

After a few hours here, we got a sudden craving for Bounty! It was as if the coconuts were whispering to us...

You have to be pretty messed up not to enjoy the spectacular setting of this beach… We fell in love with the place, and except from a handful of tourists arriving by moped, we had it all to ourselves!

Don't know the name of this beach, but Dieter at Island View Resort will point you in the right direction.

Other things to do on the Eastern side of the island is to discover the mangrove forest, the fishing villages which are still authentic places where people live off the sea, the waterfalls and of course – the beaches! It has to be said that Island View Resort doesn’t have its own beach, nor is it located within walking distance to one. This was a downfall for us, as it would’ve been great to have a beach where the kids could play around without having to go by boat or moped. However, they DO have a very nice infinity pool, and the kids ended up loving the boat rides to the beaches. Where exactly is Island View Resort?

Another BIG bonus at Island View Resort is its restaurant. Philip from Austria is on the ball, and tuned in to what people like to eat. Nothing throws him off balance – not even our little ones, who by now had had enough of strange vegetables (as they called it) and Asian noodle soup. They fancied plain ol’burgers, chips and the stuff they’re used to from home, and that’s what they got. We enjoyed their famous fried sea bass with cashews in the sweetest, most delicious mango sauce.

Why didn’t we photograph this place? Browsing through our holiday images, I realise that we don’t have a single picture from Island View Resort. Not of our apartment, which was one of the nicest places we stayed in the whole of Thailand. Not of the wonderful food. Not of the pier leading out into the sea upon which the restaurant sits nicely. Not of the pool. What were we thinking?

I can only put it down to the fact that we were so busy with our adventures by boat that bringing out the camera when we could finally sit down and chill with a Chang (local beer) simply didn’t appeal. Even photographers need a holiday every now and again. In return we do have photos of our excursions:

Going to Thailand yourself? Chances are you’ll be stopping by Bangkok.
Find out why the city of sin didn’t do it for us here.