Unintentionally took the rest of the year off updating the blog.
Life got so busy with finishing up our last six months of travel and then trying to acclimate back to stationary life back home….this place has been sorely neglected. But as a pre-New Year’s resolution, I’m focused on getting it updated and back up and running.
To start with, I wanted to talk about the surprise international travel we decided to embark upon in February. I’d always meant to share more details on it, even over on our Instagram feed they were lacking. And it’s only taken me nine months to make that happen. 😉
We planned one month in Thailand in less than a week after talking about it for 24 hours.
We’d hit some really bad weather outside of Los Angeles and the campground we had booked in Big Sur was experiencing major flooding. So what really was there to do besides book last minute flights to Thailand? (Before you feel confirmed that we’re 100 percent crazy, know that Stephen lived there for close to a year back before we met.)
We flew into Bangkok, then to Krabi, from Krabi to Ko Pha-ngan, from Ko Pha-ngan to Chiang Mai and from Chiang Mai back to Bangkok in one month. We stayed at a mixture of AirBNB’s and hotels, AirBNB’s really being the way we prefer to travel. We have nothing against resorts or hotels–we actually love staying in more “alternative” ones–but you won’t find us there as often because it’s not typically how we like to experience where we’re staying. We want to see a place as closely through the eyes of a local as possible; take public transportation, wander the back streets, find the hidden gems. Sitting by a pool or at a private beach, eating food from a hotel kitchen and only venturing out for planned excursions gets really old to us after about one day.
Here are some of the items we’ve been asked most about when it comes to our Thailand travels:
The plane ride:
20+ hours, the first leg of which was about 14 hours and the longest air travel experience myself or the kids had ever had. (Rowan had only ever flown once as an infant for a couple of hours and Sullivan had never flown.)
We had a great experience with China Air. The seats we were in had footrests that popped out, which made sleeping–for the kids at least–much easier. Also built in monitors with kids movies, shows and games.
An arsenal of snacks. Quite possibly the most important thing you can have in your carry-on (third only to your passport and wallet). We already know airplane food isn’t great and they only feed you a limited amount of times. You know who doesn’t like a limited amount of food? A two-year-old. And what makes it worse is trying to feed it to your picky “chicken nugget and mac& cheese” kids when the only thing on that plate they would ingest were the bread rolls, yogurt and maybe some of the fruit they could recognize. Whatever you’re allowed to bring with you in your carry-on….bring it. And make sure to pack more in your checked luggage for the flight back.
When you’re flying for that long, all the rules go out the window. Screen time? As much as you want. Snacks, gummy bears and suckers on constant rotation? Totally. You will do anything to maintain the peace and comfort levels of these small humans through the length of that flight. Melatonin was also a lifesaver, as well as buying the biggest water bottles we could for each of us before boarding to make sure we stayed as hydrated as possible.
Cell phone service:
When we landed in Bangkok there were a ton of vendors in the airport who could take out your SIM card and replace it with a SIM card that would give you data and minutes while you traveled through the country. And it wasn’t expensive at all. I had no issues with data the entire month, although I did run out of minutes almost immediately and couldn’t figure out how to add more. (I solved this by just doing web-based calls for meetings.) Not only was this a must-have for me since I was still working, but also because we weren’t keen on the idea of being in a foreign country without internet on at least one of our phones.
Our AirBNB host recommended we download this; it’s the Uber of Thailand. Sometimes they were less expensive than taxis and sometimes they were more; you can preview the price on the app in advance and when it seemed like a lot, we would try to negotiate with a taxi driver. (Always barter with them; 95% of the time they dropped their rates.)
We didn’t have them and neither did anyone else. It took me some time to get used to this, but it’s just the culture there. No one is traveling around Thailand lugging car seats around and if you’re planning to travel here with small kids, it’s something you will need to come to grips with.
Finding places to stay:
You can find lodging (sometimes really nice lodging) pretty inexpensively in Thailand. On AirBNB, I typically only ever book with superhosts, especially in this instance being in a different country. We tried to do as much research as we could on the areas and asked the hosts lots of questions in advance; specifically how walkable their home was to things like the grocery store or night markets, but also how far of a drive it would be to the things we wanted to see. We had to take all of that into account, because we could justify spending a bit more on a place if we were going to be spending less on transportation. I’m including a link below to the condo we stayed at in Bangkok, which was in a secure building with a pool, fitness center and great Wi-Fi. We felt it was in pretty solid location and had no issues getting around. We paid about $35 a night. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/16582111?source_impression_id=p3_1574648589_Ah0XOhjapH1GspFs
But what will the kids eat?
While Bangkok was our least favorite of the cities we traveled to, it did allow us to slowly ease our way into the food scene. Stephen and I will eat just about anything and couldn’t wait to eat everything. The kids were a different story. Luckily, in Bangkok there are 7-11’s on every corner and all different kinds of food options, including some very Westernized ones. The street vendors serving up fresh fruit and fruit shakes (seriously, the amount of fruit would cost you $20 in the States and not be nearly as good–here it was about $1) became daily staples. We also found the ones rather quickly serving up things our kids would eat, like hot dogs and chicken satay.
It will take you time. You never flush the toilet paper. You take the bathroom trash out really often. 🤣
Will be sharing more on our stay in Krabi on the next post….