BK (2 nights) Phuket (4 nights) Khoa Lak (5 nights) BK (2 nights)
2017 turned out to be quite a year for us in terms of holidays, we started the year by going to Thailand. We have previously been to Thailand- many moons ago- but this was very a different trip. We would be visiting Bangkok, Phuket and Khoa Lak and although we had been to BK and Phuket before, that’s where the similarities ended. When we had come in 2007 we were a young group of 6 friends looking to party and see new sights. This time around we were coming on a family holiday with my husband’s parents, bro & sis in law, and 2 toddlers in tow! This trip was planned to try keep young and old occupied in a country with so much to offer. Although things don’t always go to plan….
We flew with Eva air and could not fault it.The plane, service and journey went by effortlessly. we arrived in Bangkok and after arranging transport from the airport to the hotel I started to get excited in the minibus as I took in the familiar sights and sounds of the bustling city.
‘I had been craving an authentic Pad Thai noodle’
We had chosen the Marriott Apartments in Sukhumvit soi 7 , for varied reasons, the apartment set up gave us flexibility for the boys and the extra space an apartment provides with a living room and having 2 bathrooms is always great. The location was really convenient being only a few minutes away from the sky trains. We were a short walk from the Emporium shopping centre. After a quick refresh we headed out for dinner. Due to it being quite early we opted for the shopping centres food hall. The array of food was amazing. After getting to grips with the prepayment cards we finally got ordering! I had been craving an authentic Pad Thai noodle for ages and this really hit the spot, the perfect balance between sweet/spicy/salty/tangy is an art.
‘Blood just started gushing out EVERYWHERE!’
We headed back to our apartments to chill in one room to discuss the next day’s trip and to eat some of the fresh mangoes and dragon fruits we had bought. Within 5 minutes of entering the room Dylan had tripped and bumped his head on the coffee table. He started crying and as I went over to him to say its ok your fine he moved his hand and blood just started gushing out EVERYWHERE! The whole family jumped into action! Mum (MIL) rushed to her room to get her first aid stuff, Ashish (BIL) got a towel and ice from the fridge whilst Heena (SIL) ran straight to call the Hotels onsite doctor. Me and Dee were trying to console our little boy but he could see everyone panicking and it just worked him up even more : ( Mum had packed some turmeric, known for its antiseptic properties in her kit and we applied some of the powder and held the towel closely to his head. The doctor came and said the would on his forehead was too deep and to take him straight to A&E, he called a cab for us and sent us straight there. 5 of us arrived at the hospital and before we could even explain what happened they took him into an examination room and said he’d need stiches. I was kind of hoping that they would be able to glue to the wound close but they said that it was too deep and it would not hold. A few more nurses came in and they started prepping for the procedure. I hadn’t even had a minute to breathe or to take it all in and my poor boy was being strapped in what I can only describe as a straight jacket on a surf board- to keep him as still as possible. He was still crying uncontrollably and the fast paced changes where scaring him.
‘We had never had an accident before on holiday’
They let 2 of us stay with him in the room and me and mum stood by him as a male nurse literally clamped his head between his hands to stop it from moving. I stood closest to his face so he could see me to try bring him comfort and mum beside me. I can’t even remember if they gave him an injection to numb the area but I do remember his poor little screams as they started stitching. He was crying and screaming and begging me to take him home and telling them to stop and I all I could say was ‘its ok Dylan, it’s going to be ok, the doctors are helping you…’ he was looking at me like I was letting him down and letting these people hurt him. I have never felt so much pain for someone else. I would have done anything to swap places. Dee and Ash could hear the screaming in the corridor and were worried for him, not knowing what was happening must have been awful too. He had to have 2 layers of stiches to close the wound up. It wasn’t big- just deep (about 3 cm long). The forehead is not very fleshy so it had split when he hit the table. After they patched him up and gave us our meds we finally let a sigh of relief, but what now? We had never had an accident before on holiday so we’ve never had to use our travel insurance before. What was the procedure? What do we do now at the hospital? Luckily the nurse at the reception spoke enough English to tell us we had to pay first and they would give us a certificate which we can pass on to insurance if we wanted to claim. We had to come back to the hospital the next day for a dressing change and check-up. We got into a cab back to the hotel completely drained. The last 24 hours had been long without a doubt, from actually travelling over to the emotional distress we all felt. Dylan fell asleep in my arms he was exhausted, I was glad he was sleeping I didn’t want him thinking about his head.
The next morning I think we all woke feeling a bit glum. Dylan and Druv were too cute. Dylan woke to show Druv he had hurt his head and Druv took to looking after him. These little boys of just 2 ½ and 2 were being so sweet to each other. With having to go to the hospital again we arranged a car for the parents to go visit some of the temples and sites. Us four had already seen them before so we stayed together letting the boys play together. We had sent the parents to see………………………………………… we thought we could take the boys to Dinosaur planet before the hospital but by the time we got there, and seeing the entrance ticket prices we gave I a miss. The park is easy to find alongside Benjasiri Park. It’s a short walk from Phrom Phong Skytrain station. The hospital appointment was more of the same. Dylan started panicking just by being there. The docs gave him a quick check up, cleaned and dressed the wound and told us to come back in 2 days. We explained that we were leaving BK tomorrow and would be in Phuket then. They said to visit the closest hospital and gave a note in Thai to show the doctors. On leaving we realised that we had been visiting the private wing of this hospital hence the speedy service and amazing facilities.
Our Peek- a-boo rooms!
We caught a plane to Phuket, the short journey excited the boys. We arrived at Grand Mercure Phuket Patong and were greeted by a beautiful open reception with a high pitched ceiling dragging your view up and then across to a raised seating area overlooking the pool. The hotel offer swim up rooms but we had chosen a standard balcony room due to the ages of the boys. We checked in and headed to our rooms. They felt compact and the balcony was actually just an opening to air not a real sit out area. This made the room feel more cramped. The bathroom, although a good size, had a large window out into the room- with the blind on the room side. This made it hard for a few minutes of privacy especially when Dylan figured out he could play peek-a-boo. He loved it, us? Not so much!
The hotel is a 5 minute walk off Rat Utihit Road and there are a few restaurant and shops just across the road.It is a short walk to the famous Bangla Road and the beach. We chose to have dinner in the vibrant Tiger restaurants. The décor is set to be like a jungle with large heavy wooden furniture and cravings of animals all around. The food was good, and due to it being aimed at tourists there were options for the boys too. The street really comes to like in the evening with colourful took tuks and street sellers with lighted toys.
Island Hopping Boat Tour
The next day we had family friends joining us from India. Thailand being quite close to them, my aunt and daughter joined us for a few days. It was nice for all of to be meeting in a different country to our own. We planned an island hopping boat tour. We chose the speed boat as opposed to the traditional boats to save a little time and to cover more ground. The speed boat comfortably holds around 20 people. We had visited the doctors for Dylan’s wound and it was healing well. On the day of the trip we changed his plaster to a waterproof one just in case of sea spray and splashes. He was so excited to be going on a boat he didn’t even care about his head. We arrived early at Laem Sea pier and where given a talk on the days plan and were told to take the sickness tablets they provided.
Our first stop was Panak Island, a beautiful island where we got off and could swim in the sea and have a drink and snack at the local huts. The sea was a beautiful and warm, I had a quick dip whilst the boys built sandcastles with their dads. We carried on to a snorkelling spot and got to have a swim with the fish! The boat took us on to Hong Island this is where everyone gets to go in canoes and explore various caves and (grottos)- some that are only accessible in low tide. Men with Canoes are waiting to take you to the different spots, and although this is included in your trip a small tip is always nice. From my previous trip this had been a high light as we had seen a walking fish! Yes an actual walking fish just…walking hehe! It was nearing lunch now so the two boys had drifted off to sleep so I stayed on the boat with them and let everyone else go exploring. It was nice to have a few silent minutes just taking in the unforgettable surroundings, large cliffs protruding from clear blue waters. We proceeded onto Panyee Island a larger island with a small fishing village This is where we stopped for lunch, a buffet style meal with a variety of veg and non veg dishes. We had time to wonder around the island andwe saw dried fish for eating and for decoration too! Before we were on the seas again.
Our next stop was Phi Phi island. We were dropped on the other side of the island and had to climb quite a few steps to get to the famous view of James bond island. The grandparents didn’t do the walk. We took Dylan and it was hard work over the uneven surface in our flip flops only for him not to be so taken with the view but more the souvenir huts!
The weather was now beginning to turn, we could see grey clouds developing in the distance, we had only one more stop to go and it was to see the large Ice Cream stone that has formed in the cave over thousands of years. We only stopped here for a quick 5 minute visit and we could hear the boat driver hurrying us back on the boat. We got on and felt the first few drops of rain. This isn’t too bad I thought, we were already wet from swimming and snorkelling etc but then the large clouds that were in the distance were on top of us and beating down with hard rain and the speed of the boat made it feel colder. Everyone on the boat grabbed a towel and wrapped themselves as much as they could, not to stay dry as such but from the speed at which the rain was falling. The weather had made the waves choppy and the boat hit bump after bump in the grey. We couldn’t see where we were going or how long we would have to travel for still. Eventually we made our way out of the storm and it was just like crossing a line. One-minute dark grey clouds and rain to next calmer seas and clear skies. By now we could see land approaching and knew we were close to the end of the trip.
‘A quick fire moving up my skin’
We woke feeling happy, the day had come for Dylan to take out his stitches. He was finally going to get the rest of his holiday back! I couldn’t wait to take him swimming. We went to the the hospital and were taken into a examination room. The doctor and nurse began getting everything ready. By now Dylan was already weary of hospitals and it was hard work keeping him distracted. This time it was Dee and I in the room with him, and as the nurse removed his plaster my heart sank. The wound was sore looking and the stitches didn’t look clean closed like they had the day before. What had happened in the last 24 hours.The doctor came in and looked at it and said all was fine and told us to hold him flat so she could start taking out the stitches. It looked horrid and didn’t smell great and I was sure it was infected but I couldn’t disagree with a professional with language already being a barrier. As she was was cleaning the wound and redressing it I felt my whole body heat up, it was like a quick fire was moving its way up my skin, the next thing my vision started going and I knew instantly I was going to faint. I shouted to Dee to hold Dylan in place and I think I must have just said I was going to faint when I felt my legs going. The Doctor shouted for the nurse who literally caught me as I fell. I remember the cold tiles feeling so good against my back and legs, I could hear Dylan crying for me,telling me to stand up, I wanted to move but I just couldn’t. Dee was torn between calming Dylan and seeing if I was ok, luckily i was in the right place! It took a couple of minutes before I dragged myself up to Dylan to show him I was ok. I wanted to get some air so I shakily got back out with the family as Dylan was ready now. God these hospital visits weren’t fun, and to top it off Dylan was not allowed to swim for the rest of the holiday. I think this upset me the most. The rest of the day was relatively quiet. we were going to Fantasea in the Evening so I was looking forward to that.
Fantasea – Cultural Theme Park and Show
Fantasea is a theme park which hosts a spectacular show every night (apart from Thursday) its in Kamala, just 9km from Patong Beach. I had come on my last visit and thought as a family trip everyone could enjoy it.We had booked our tickets to the park through an agent in Phuket near our hotel, we chose a private transfer and to have the buffet meal at the park. The meal is only 400 baht extra and well worth it! The restaurant is HUGE by that I mean GINORMOUS! It can seat 3000 people! We arrived early so we could take our time around the park and not be rushed with Dinner. Dylan and Druv were mesmerised by the bright sparkling lights, the neon colours popped against the dark evening sky. There are different areas to explore with a focus on shopping, but there are small funfair rides too. The boys then noticed the elephants that were walking around the park. This is the only bit that I’m not too keen on, there are lots of elephants in Fantasea, they are in the show and for tourists to meet before. To be honest the elephants are in good condition and health and they all seemed to be treated very well and respectfully but at the end of the day they were still ‘working’ and not ‘free elephants’. Dylan got to feed one some sugar cane and I think it was a mix of excitement and fright, he wanted to get closer to him but the more he did he realised how big the elephant was and wanted to go retreat! We went for dinner expecting it to be chaotic, but it was far from. The restaurant is broken down into sections which all have their own buffet stations and numerous waitresses making sure everything is ok. The food was tasty, considering its cooked on such a mass scale. After our meal we started the process of entering the theatre. This is long. The theatre can sit 3000 and security is strict. You have to queue also to leave your cameras and mobiles in lockers as they are not allowed in the auditorium. The show itself is in Thai and the story in parts is hard to follow but its visually beautiful and the acrobats and pyrotechnics and amazing animals make it worth it.
No trip to Phuket is complete without a wonder down Bangla Road. This is the main stretch of road that has the go-go bars and dance clubs and all that is weird and wonderful. Phuket has developed massively since I was last year but my husband had only come a couple of years back so we let him guide the way on the way to dinner on the last night. We thought we could go as a family before it got later and crazier. We had walked down the main road looking for the side road onto Bangla, this was hard enough with 2 buggy’s on the narrow pavements that were already heaving with people. We kept walking until Dee looked at the Sky Train station approaching and looked baffled, he then stopped and said we must have passed it as this was too far! We turned around and walked back down the street but with still no luck we gave up on searching and went for a meal and laughed it off. Maybe it was better that the parents hadn’t seen it! We planned though that after both the kids would go sleep the parents would keep them and Me, Heena ,Ash and Dee would go out. Whilst Druv fell asleep nicely and was placed in the cot in the parent’s room, Dylan decided that having cuddles and watching cartoons with his gran was better than sleeping. We waited an hour for him to fall asleep and he just wouldn’t so I let the other 3 go out whilst I took Dylan back to our room and no surprises he was out like a light in 10 minutes! The had a great night! Ash and Heena hadn’t been to Phuket on previous trips so Bangla road was an eye opener. The go-go bars with women dancing proactively to lure the tourists in, the street performers looking for tips and the night workers going about their business. They stayed out for a few drinks and were still home at the respectable time of 2 am.
Khao Lak is north of Phuket and a 2 hour drive away. We chose this as our beach option as we ideally didn’t want to fly to another Island and Khao Lak is not so touristy offering beautiful beaches. Our transfer was smooth and we arrived at the Sentido Graceland resort in good time. We were greeted by the staff with a delicious Lychee drink and cookies. The staff although polite looked at the boys strangely and I wondered if they had spilled their drinks, but I quickly realised they were looking at the boy’s head plasters. Druv felt in the transfer that he was missing out on having a plaster and wanted one too, so we had put a large plaster on his head like Dylan’s. They were both matching and happy- but the staff must have wondered what we had done to the boys!
Sentido Graceland Resort is gorgeous. Located on the clean quiet beach in this idyllic location, remote from everything. The hotel offers a shuttle into the nearby small town daily if you do fancy a change of scene. The hotel has a large kids club and even has a kid’s corner in the main restaurant which has the children staples of plain noodles chips chicken nuggets. The hotel has swim up rooms and a large long pool. That afternoon we walked across the beach to the beach hut restaurants next door. We tried the Coconuts Restaurant which is one of three close by on the beach. The seafood was wonderful and fresh. Whilst we waited for the food the boys played on the sand. We had to keep a watchful eye on them always as playing quickly turned to throwing sand. The beach was so quite only a handful of people would pass by, leaving us with uninterrupted views of the waves lapping. I finally was feeling a little better and looking forward to a few days of relaxing.
The next day we had to go to change Dylan’s plaster. The hotel recommended a walk in clinic in the town, they said this was more convenient than travelling to the hospital which was quite far. They told the shuttle bus driver to stop there and showed us the stop for the way back. The clinic didn’t have the hospital feel, it was a small one unit shop that didn’t scare Dylan. Once all the paperwork and back story done we were taken into the consultation room. Dylan’s body language change and he was fearful already. They had to hold him down just to take the plaster off and the doctor tutted and said the wound was infected! We had known it and were angry with ourselves that we didn’t trust our instincts. The doctor could also see some stiches. This was weird as I had seen the previous doctor take them all out, was it pieces of them left? They had to remove a few pieces and clean his wound thoroughly. He needed a course of antibiotics for a week and his plaster changed twice a day. They gave us all the stuff we needed and said to just do it ourselves as he was finding the clinic distressing and coming twice a day was not practical. Dylan left sobbing again and we just felt terrible for him. On exiting he caught sight of the large Army ship marooned next door. We went over to see and distract him. This was a memorial site for the 2009 Tsunami. The Ship was brought in by the sea during the devastation and had come this far inland. A museum is there and a local shop depicting the tragedy that occurred on 24/12/09. We spoke to the shop keeper for a while and had a fresh fruit juice from his shop whilst a passing rain had appeared. We then crossed the road to a local restaurant and a quick meal. We had rice and noodles whist Dylan had a sandwich.
‘…..this wasn’t the meds, it was food poisoning’
We came back to the hotel and managed to give him his first dose of medicine. He took it then realised how bitter a sweet quickly made him forget about it. We spend the rest of the late afternoon in the kids room. We went down to the beach again for dinner in the evening and spent most of the night bating off flying beetles and making sure they weren’t landing on us. It became funny by the end of the evening and even entertaining watching guests jump from their seats. We headed back full and tried giving Dylan his medicine again. He took it, winced, and then started making whining noises and automatically puked it up. We cleaned him up and put it down to the taste of the medication and thought we would try disguise it in the morning. We went to sleep and he was soon awake complaining about his tummy and proceeds to puke all over the bed. We hadn’t thought it before but we were now sure, this wasn’t the meds, it was food poisoning. The staff sent new sheets and cleaned our bed around midnight and Dylan was feeling awful. He puked a few more times in the night and in the end I had to sit up with him on my lap in the spare bed until he eventually drifted off to sleep in the early hours of the morning. I was dreading the morning, we had to clean and change his wound, make him eat something so that he could take his meds. Me Heena and Dee would become the team that did the wound change and it was always a struggle. On this morning the poor boy had no energy to fight us so he let us do it. we tried to make him eat toast and fruit but he didn’t want anything. We tried to mix his meds with some orange juice but he drank a few sips noticed it tasted wrong then gave up. he then puked it up within minutes. I was distraught he needed to take the meds to fight the infection and the food poisoning had made it even hard to give it to him. He slept through the day and at lunch we tried to mix it with chocolate sauce but still no luck. He was weak and tired and would only drink small sips of water. I stayed with him all day and night, I don’t think I even ate myself. The next day he was feeling slightly better and had some toast. Dee told me to go out for the morning and get some sun. I went down to the pool and played with Druv in the water for a while then went to the beach. I got a couple of hours in the sun which made me feel much better.
Chinese New Year
That evening, our last in Khao Lak we thought we would get a pizza takeaway from the beach hut and chill in the parents room. Dylan was feeling a little better and he was definitely happier to be with Druv. We had an enjoyable evening just talking and laughing. Chinese New Year was just around the corner so the hotel had put on a special feast and show. With Dylan being ill we hadn’t booked tickets but from the balcony we could see the dragons dancing and hear the singers and we watched the fireworks to end the night.
The next day we were going back to Bangkok so had a transfer and flight to start our day. Heena came down feeling terrible. She had got a stomach bug too and had not been feeling well all night. We all mustered together to help as much as we could but feeling weak and travelling do not gel well together. We arrived back at the Marriott Apartments and all the staffed fussed over Dylan they had given us a large 2 bed apartment upgrade so the boys could stay together and had removed the coffee table (a nice touch). We only had the 2 days here before we came home and with nothing set in stone the days went with us spending the majority of our time in MBK centre, a large shopping Mall.
I was kind of glad this holiday was coming to an end, it was not what I had expected at all. I was so glad that it was just not me Dee and Dylan on the holiday, I don’t know how we would have coped. Having the family there was such a help, physically and emotionally. I was tired and drained and even though we had managed to get some of the antibiotics in him I was counting down the hours until I could get him to our GP.