Time to head north – and to leave Malaysia for Thailand. After spending so long in other countries – 3 months in Oz, a month in the States, Canada and New Zealand – it seems odd to be leaving Malaysia after just less than two weeks. However, we have spent over 2 months in Malaysia […]Read more "Taking the slow train north"
In the morning, after a Thai Railways breakfast (“Oh, don’t those fried eggs look soo attractive wrapped in clingfilm?“) we watched the Thai coast and countryside slide past as we headed further north. Although we’re only a few hundred miles north of Malaysia, the outlook is quite different – especially the architecture and the ornate […]Read more "Arriving in Bangkok"
The Khao San Road in Bangkok is synonymous with “backpacker”. It has been the historical backpacker haunt in the city since the early 70’s, and it is lined with shops selling everything the modern backpacker needs. Today that seems to be 1) beer 2) fake CDs 3) fake student/press ID cards and 4) hair braids. […]Read more "The Khao San Road"
Getting around Bangkok is a bit of a nightmare – in the non-air-conditioned buses you can sit for hours in a traffic jam with no breeze, breathing in the exhaust fumes all around. Air conditioned buses are much better, but are fewer, and cover less routes. Tuk Tuks – the kind of thing you’ve seen […]Read more "The Cop and I"
Bangkok’s roads may be choked with traffic and moving at a snail’s pace, but at least the river provides an alternative way to get around. As we had a few hours to kill before catching our evening train northwards, we took a river boat up the river to Nonthaburi, a suburb an hour north of […]Read more "Up the river"
We woke up on the train in a different landscape to that we’d left behind in Bangkok – everything looked a lot drier, as the dry season is in full swing up in the north. Instead of lush green trees and grasses, as around Bangkok, there is instead a profusion of different shades of brown […]Read more "Into the land of communism…"
It seems like ages ago that we arrived in Laos, but in reality it was only 11 days ago. But now we need to leave – our visa only lasts for a fortnight, and we’ve got other things to get to. We had 3 options – the two day slow boat to the Thai border, […]Read more "A week later – leaving Laos"
Streets in Thailand strike us as completely chaotic, just a mess of vehicles with motorbikes darting in and out constantly. It makes crossing the road a somewhat hit-n-miss affair, but at least the drivers slow down a little when they see a foreign family weaving its unsteady way across their path. One of the amazing […]Read more "The Streets of Chiang Mai"
We hired a car and travelled out to the Mai Sai village to visit the Elephant Training camp there (turned out to be cheaper to do that than buy the excursion tickets for 4 of us!). Thailand has got a glut of elephants at the moment, because they have stopped using them to work on […]Read more "The Mai Sai Elephant Training Camp"
We left Chiang Mai on the overnight Special Express train, which leaves at 5 o’clock in the evening, and gets you back into Bangkok at 6 o’clock in the morning. As usual, it was a pretty smooth trip, with comfortable sleeping berths, and a good Thai meal in the restaurant car, looking out onto the […]Read more "Back in Bangkok"
Today was a BIG day – the day we were meeting our director, who will spend the next week filming us around and about Bangkok for the Holiday programme. Ginny’s the director, and the great news was that we had the meeting over lunch at her hotel, so we enjoyed a pretty luxurious lunch in […]Read more "Meeting the Beeb"
Hmm. Here’s a challenge for you – make a factual programme about a family visiting the Bangkok City Palace, without being allowed to film in the Bangkok City Palace. Yup, defeats me too! It turns out that item number one on the schedule was sabotaged by the Thai authorities, who won’t allow filming inside the […]Read more "Bangkok Filming – Day One"
On our second day of filming, we didn’t have much packed down on the agenda, but the traffic in Bangkok makes it so difficult to get around – it takes ages to get between shots. Unfortunately the BBC’s hotel is on the other side of town from ours, so we had to set off at […]Read more "Not getting easier"
Today started really early, as we all had to get up at 5:30, to catch a 6:15 taxi to the train station. We were due to catch the 7:45 train out to Kanchanaburi, where the ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’ was built. But first we had to get through a filmed discussion on the platform. […]Read more "A long day out to the River Kwai"
Another day, another early start. We had to jump out of bed at 5:15, so that we were in a taxi at 6:15, racing across town to get to the BBC’s hotel. Then we all piled into the minibus to go to the floating market at Damnoen Saduak. There are a number of ‘floating markets’ […]Read more "To market, to market, to buy me a…boat"
We had a late start this morning, as the crew came to us for 10 o’clock! So we had time to sit down to breakfast, and read the paper. The Bangkok Post’s Quote of the Day, on the front page, was a rather prescient quotation from Albert Einstein – “Insanity: Doing the same thing over […]Read more "Tuk-Tuk-to-Tuk-Tuk, One More Time"
Well, we can’t say that we weren’t warned – we did know that the overland trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap would be terrible. But we also knew we had no choice – we really, really wanted to see Angkor Wat, and our budget couldn’t stretch to 500 pounds for us to all fly there […]Read more "The longest bus trip in the world"
After our journey to Cambodia – 16 hours of slow-moving misery – we thought we’d try and make the journey back to Bangkok easier. Although the flight was outside of our budget, we splashed out $30 on a taxi to the border. Instead of 7 hours in the bus, it took us just under 3 […]Read more "Back to Bangkok"
After a day of ‘hanging around’ the pool at the guest house, we took another sleeper train down to Surat Thani, in southern Thailand. Our desination is Koh Samui, an island off the East coast, where we’re due to meet up with our friends from home – Caroline and Peter, and Charlotte and Emily’s best […]Read more "On the rails again"
Our arrival in Samui was fairly easy – the bus and boat connection was dead easy – but once we were on the island, we were in the hands of the local transport mafia. Transport in Samui is notoriously expensive for foreigners, and the minibus operators and taxi drivers were asking 2-3 times what you’d […]Read more "Arriving in Koh Samui"
Fortunately for us, the guest house seemed better when we woke up. After a filling breakfast, we cast a critical eye over it, and tried to see if our friends would like it. In the end, we decided that with a few finishing touches, and a couple of sneaky tricks, it would be okay – […]Read more "Waking up in The Florist"
Peter and Caroline’s flight arrived in Koh Samui at 10pm last night, after leaving England the evening before, and having a short stopover in Singapore. They were exhausted, and hot, but we all had big welcome hugs at the airport (well, not Peter and I, but who’d want to hug a big, sweaty bloke?). The […]Read more "The Florist – the real guest house"
Life’s getting better. The children all love the guest house, especially the pool slap bang in the middle of the decking. It’s great for us too – we can watch them swim, while we read our books, or enjoy a drink. And as the rooms are right next door too, it means that the children […]Read more "Enjoying the holiday a bit more…"
It’s tough, but somebody’s got to do it. After all, somebody gets up early to put those beach umbrellas and deck chairs there – it would be terrible if nobody used them. And so Caroline and Sarah have taken to them like sand to a beach picnic. From early morning to late in the afternoon, […]Read more "Life on a beach"
Apart from Christmas, this is the longest we’ve stayed in one place since we started travelling – and we’ve got another 10 days to go! Its glorious not having to pack up our rucksacks and move on, and we’re quickly slipping into ‘holiday’ mode. We’ve even managed to loosen the purse-strings a little bit, to […]Read more "Life’s a beach"
For a few days we’ve hired a couple of jeeps to explore the island. Yesterday we drove up the hills in the middle of the island – despite the absence of proper roads, which made it much more interesting! The children loved it all – especially the bumpiest bits, where we were getting the jeeps […]Read more "Sightseeing on Koh Samui"
Sightseeing around Koh Samui isn’t all elephants, jungle and beach. There’s only one main road which goes right around the island, and all of the main businesses are lined up along it. Which is handy when it’s hot and dry, and you want to stop for a drink and an ice-cream. In Asia you’re never […]Read more "Around Koh Samui"
Waking up on the beach is quite a wonderful experience – as long as it’s not literally on the beach (well, even that would have been great when we were younger). But today, stepping out of the bungalow onto the sand path and then wandering down to the beach was pretty fantastic. And the beach looked better […]Read more "Koh Pha-Ngan again"
Thailand doesn’t run it’s calendar in the same way that we do in Europe. For a start, today is New Years Day, called Songkran – I’ll explain a bit more about that in a minute. The other thing that is curious about the Thai calendar, from our perspective at least, is that it is 544 […]Read more "Happy New Year!"
Well, all good things come to an end, and that includes our fortnight of R&R on Koh Samui. After two weeks of beach and sunshine, its now time to move on to other parts of Thailand. Our original plan was to head north, straight to Bangkok to catch a flight to Vietnam, but we’ve decided […]Read more "Another day of travel – leaving Koh Samui"
What a tough way to spend a Friday! In the morning we swam in the pool, then after lunch we walked to Tham Phra Nang beach, one of the three on the Rai Leh peninsula. Although all of the frontage is owned by the Rayavadee Resort, there is a footpath to it for the general […]Read more "Rai Leh and Tham Phra Nang Beach"
Krabi province is basically a coastal bay, filled with 200 tiny islands. Although some of these, like Koh Phi-Phi are big enough to have accommodation on them, the majority are small uninhabited lumps of rock and beach, dotted around the bay. Whenever you see pictures of Phuket, you will spot three or four pictures of […]Read more "By long-tail around Krabi"
After just two days on Rai Leh, we decided to move on to Koh Lanta, an island with another beautiful beach, two hours south by boat. Luckily, although the first part of the trip was in a long-tail, this was only out into the bay, to board a bigger boat waiting to take us to […]Read more "Moving on to Koh Lanta"
After we’d been travelling a while, days of the week started to become the same. At home, we’d all looked forward to the weekends, and equally we’d all felt a bit down on Sunday night when it meant tomorrow was Monday morning. But while we’re travelling, ‘weekends’ and ‘weekdays’ only matter because of what everybody […]Read more "Monday mornings"
Koh Lanta is an island down towards the south of Thailand, on the west coast. Standing on the beach, you can see the silhouette of Koh Phi-Phi (made famous by the film “The Beach”) and other smaller islands rising in the distance. It is almost exclusively a backpackers place, with few tourist-style resorts. The main […]Read more "Koh Lanta – laid-back and blissful"
Just across the bay from Mae Nam beach lies the island of Koh Pha-Ngan. It is a quieter island than Koh Samui – less developed, less roads and less expensive. It’s famous for the full moon parties held on the main beach at Haad Rin – tens of thousands of backpackers flock there for the […]Read more "Tripping to Koh Pha-Ngan"
Koh Lanta is such a relaxing place, that for a moment it is possible to forget that you’re in Asia – one of the world’s most hectic places! Instead of noise, hustle and hassle, we’re in an oasis of peace and quiet. The children have met some others their own age, and have played cards, […]Read more "Still chillin’ on a tropical island"
All good things come to an end, and so does our Thailand visa. We’re heading north now, back to Bangkok, where we’re going to head off to Cambodia (again) and Vietnam. And as usual, it’s a multi-part journey which seems to go on forever. We start at 7:30am in the back of a pickup, to […]Read more "Heading back to Bangkok"
Well, last time we went from Bangkok to Siem Reap, we bought a ticket right through from a Khao San Road travel agent. And while it did get us all the way, it was deliberately slowed down, so that you could be overcharged along the way for your Cambodia Visa, and for your food and drink stops, […]Read more "Heading back to Cambodia – the easy way"