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It was planned for a long time that we are going to Thailand during the spring break because we have some important people coming over to visit us. Our family! Hanne and Yuna have been looking forward to seeing Grandma, Aunt Angelique, Uncle Tom, Ferre and Noor for months.
Waiting for our family in Bangkok
First, we stay in Bangkok for another week. We still have to recover from our busy travel rhythm in New Zealand and in the meantime get used again to the tropical temperatures. We have an apartment in one of the suburbs of Bangkok and immediately notice the traffic chaos that prevails in Bangkok. Did it use to be less busy? Or maybe we didn’t notice it as much because we were staying more in the centre? It takes us no less than two hours to reach our apartment from the airport instead of one hour.
We finally have a swimming pool again and the opportunity to eat delicious Thai food at a very low cost. But we also notice how tired we are after camping for weeks and can use some rest. The warmth and bustle of Bangkok make us dizzy. What a difference with New Zealand. And of course, we are a bit tensed as the reunion approaches.
But no luck… The day before they were due to leave, something happened in Pakistan which led to closing off the airspace. No flight and much sadness. Will they still be able to come? Are we going to be able to see them only for a very short time? Three days later we get confirmation that they have a flight! And luckily they get everything arranged so they can stay a few days longer. While we wait for them a few extra days, we walk around Bangkok a bit lost. Some shopping, some work, … It’s time for them to be here!
When we can finally go pick them up at the airport, we arrive way too early. So exciting … And then the time has come! When they come around the corner the tears flow and everyone is super happy to see each other again. This feels good after 6 long months! Due to the cancelled flight, we cannot stay in Bangkok for long; in the evening we fly straight to Phuket. But first a quick visit to Khao San road. The first tuk-tuk ride is a fact, the Singha’s and also their first Thai curry is being tasted! A little more shopping (grandma goes wild because everything is so cheap here) and we go back to the airport to take our flight to Phuket.
Rawai Beach – Phuket
The reason why we chose Phuket is that the rest of our family has never been to Asia. Phuket is easily reachable and very accessible. The big disadvantage is that it is very touristy and not really authentic anymore. So only a few days here to acclimatise and then we are off to discover more of Thailand.
We stay in a fantastic villa a few hundred meters from Rawai beach. We have been to this beach a few years ago when the children were still toddlers. Many familiar places are visited and the next day we immediately head for our favourite bar, Nikita’s beach bar. With a view of the surrounding islands, we can talk about our adventures and how everyone is doing now. It is great to see everyone again.
In the meantime, we also arrange a few trips and head out for Koh Bon Island the next day. After a boat trip with a traditional Thai longtail boat that takes about 20 minutes, we arrive at a beautiful sandy beach with accompanying bar and palm trees. The first ‘real’ tropical island for grandma, aunty and co.
We install ourselves for the rest of the day. Beach, sea and sun are enough to keep us busy for hours. The children have the time of their lives discovering everything and being able to play together again. The adults enjoy the warmth and tranquillity. Although it hasn’t been that long for us that we had good weather, it still feels good to be back in the tropics after colder New Zealand.
Nai Harn en Karon Beach
We stay in Phuket for 4 days and although our villa is a great place to relax, we also want to visit some places nearby. We have already been to Koh Hon Island. Now it’s time to explore some of the beaches in the area. First, we go to Nai Harn. A wonderful beach, also for snorkelling. Although we see some tropical fish, it is not the masses we would have hoped for. And it’s hot on the beach! The children have a lot of fun playing but it’s wise to buy some umbrellas. One of them will survive until the end of the week and will even get back to Belgium with Angelique.
Karon beach is also on our list, but it is busier than we thought. A beautiful beach, but 20 years ago it must have been so much more magical. Tom and Angelique go try a jet ski while grandma drinks her new favourite drink, pineapple juices. Some more shopping, eating delicious corn (the way they only prepare them on the beach in Asia) and it’s time to go back to our villa. Tomorrow we will take the minibus to Krabi.
After four days in Phuket, which is more than enough, we drive to Krabi. We have booked a few bungalows at Melina’s Cottage. Right on the beach, we walk straight into the sea from our cottages! It is absolutely amazing and every evening we can admire the beautiful sunset from the terrace. The view is breathtaking, with the mountains rising up from the sea. We have the place to ourselves (or maybe we have just rented everything ?). The family time that we’re experiencing here with the nine of us is a once in a lifetime experience.
The kids play on the beach for hours, under the shade of the trees where grandma in her chair sees that everything is fine. When it is low tide, we look for crabs and sand dollars (very beautiful flat shells with a star-shape in the middle).
But we’re not only relaxing. Again we plan a lot of trips. The area is too beautiful to stay on the beach the whole time.
The first day we arrange a boat trip to Koh Hong. Our boat leaves right on the beach where we stay, very easy! Koh Hong is quite busy but heavenly beautiful! We can snorkel all afternoon, lie on the beach and discover the tropical jungle of the island. Oh yes, and our family is also trying coconut water for the first time, served in a real coconut.
One of the highlights during our stay in Krabi is certainly our kayak trip! Just half an hour from our beach huts there is the possibility to discover the mangroves with a kayak. Our guide leads us through the narrow passages, past beautiful caves and shows us some small monkeys. One of them jumps on the boat with the guide and nephew Ferre. A little scared but an experience that he is still talking about!
And grandma, she makes us laugh until we cry. She cannot swim and is therefore not 100% at ease in the kayak with Jurgen, but is experiencing the time of her life. Certainly when Jurgen, her son, intentionally sends his kayak to the trees so they get stuck. This trip was definitely one of our top moments!
Phang Nga Bay
Three years ago we visited James Bond Island and Phang Nga Bay. We really liked it at the time, and although it is a bit further (an hour’s drive), we decide to go there anyway. After all these years, a lot has changed, however. A new jetty, even larger boats and of course a lot more shops and tourists.
But it remains beautiful to see and the journey between the karst mountains rising up from the sea is wonderful. We stay in a floating village for lunch. Nice for our family to see how some people live here. We don’t have much time left but can quickly go through the “main street” (with of course a lot of shops which is a bit of a shame).
This is one of the best-known beaches in Krabi, because of its location between high karst mountains. A place where many climbers also try to conquer the steep walls. We decide to pay it a visit on our last day. It is busy again but very beautiful.
Since the beach is completely surrounded by high rocks, the easiest way to reach it is by boat. Therefore, they also provide all food and drinks on boats, it is almost like a floating market. Very nice to see, dozens of boats in a row, moored on the beach. Each with a delicious choice of hot food, snacks, ice creams and drinks. You can get everything right here at the beach!
We decided last minute to do a two-day trip to Khao Sok National Park. Last time we were here, we loved this park and want to show our family this same natural beauty. Khao Sok is an old tropical jungle with a large lake that was created in 1979 by building a dam. They say it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Going up the lake and sailing between the high rocks rising from the water is pure bliss.
When we arrive at our lunch spot, we get told there is a walk planned through the jungle in the afternoon where we also need to go through a cave… Only that cave is partly underwater which comes to shoulder height for adults or sometimes we’ll even have to swim for a small distance.
Grandma doesn’t feel up for that and will look after little Noortje while we go on an adventure with our guide. We all get a headlamp, which is of course very exciting for the children. Especially when it turns out that there are also big spiders and bats in the cave (the moment it gets extra exciting for aunty ?). With the children on our shoulders, we swim through the narrow corridors but in the end, we all come out of the cave safely. Undoubtedly the most exciting adventure so far in Thailand!
The walk to and from the cave through the jungle is also beautiful! Trekking through the lush nature of a tropical forest, we look for wildlife. Unfortunately, we don’t see snakes, but we do spot monkeys, a tarantula and other scary insects.
After our walk, we can hang out and swim near the water bungalows of Khao Sok. Next time we really want to spend the night in one of those bungalows. And then it’s time to return to our guesthouse near the entrance of Khao Sok National Park.
Our final days in Bangkok
We end our vacation with our family in Krabi. Unfortunately, they have to return to Belgium. We will stay in Bangkok for a few more days before we fly to Bali. Saying goodbye is hard. We know it will be another few months before we see them again.
After the large and slightly more luxurious houses we had with our family, it is a bit of a setback when we get to our room in Bangkok. We stay in the Oldtown Hostel. It’s a very low budget accommodation this time, after spending too much during our more expensive family trip. The kids and we all sleep together in two bunk beds. Not a problem as far as we are concerned, but the hostel looks older and dirtier than it appeared in the pictures. And it’s so hot here !! The traffic is still a disaster but we want to work and homeschool anyway. Although we do want to visit a few more temples.
During our last days in Bangkok, we visit a few markets, discover Chinatown, go to Wat Po and Wat Arun and can enjoy a sunset at a rooftop bar on the Chao Phraya river. A very nice ending of our time here in Bangkok and Thailand. And now it’s time to go to Bali for the first time!