Sawadee

Our idea for Christmas gifts last year was to book a trip to Thailand and travel on Boxing Day with my sister and her family. We booked early with Emirates and were able to get business class flights at £1800 each. From the moment we left our door at home we were looked after. A chauffeur came to collect us and took us to the terminal. We then enjoyed the complimentary food and drinks of the departure lounge. Our flight was delayed due to fog in Dubai and further delayed once we were on board as the wings had frosted over. The staff were 1st class they introduced themselves personally and took your choice for lunch and gave out complimentary champagne. They were very attentive and furnished us with hot towels and regular drinks orders. Their cocktail menu is fantastic and I enjoyed one or two. The entertainment system was OK. I feel virgin Atlantic’s is better. The seat was the selling point, it lay almost flat and came with a mattress which made it even more plush. Ezra at the time was 19 months old and the cabin great were great at keeping him entertained and allowing him to walk around the galley.

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Our first stop was Dubai and we made our way to the lounge as we had a 2 and a half hour lay over. The toilet/shower facilities were great to freshen up in. There was an abundance of seating areas with charging points. The WiFi was great and a wide range of complimentary hot and cold food and drinks were available. We then boarded the airbus which had the wow factor it was so luxurious at the rear of the craft was a bar and each seat had its only mini bar with soft drinks. The seat lay completely flat into a bed and the entertainment system was an upgrade to the previous aircraft. I actually didn’t want to sleep as I was enjoying the facilities so much.

We woke in Bangkok and enjoyed a breakfast. It was nothing to write home about and I expected more. We were given priority passes for immigration which were great as the queues were huge. Once through we had to collect our luggage and check in to our internal flight to Koh Samui. We flew with Bangkok airways the aircraft was very old and tired and the food not appetising at all so take snacks. Luckily the flight is only 1 hour.

Landed in Koh Samui and seeing the sunshine and the palm trees made us realise we were in paradise. Koh Samui has the cutest airport ever. You get that island vibe. Our driver was there to great us and took us to our Villa. We booked via Eats and Retreats which was problem free. On arrival to Villa Floramare the staff welcomed us with cold drinks, fresh towels and smiles. We understood through booking that a maid would visit daily but she was actually with us from 8 am until about 5 pm every day. She spoke little English but we were still able to communicate with her. She cooked for us when needed and sent our washing to the launderette. The villa itself was beautiful and we had the most idyllic view. We were in paradise. The only downside to the villa was the stairs to get up and down every day, the fencing around the pool area and the situation. We had issues at times getting taxis to come up to the hill. It was very steep but the management services of the villa would send taxis when needed.

Several of our evenings were spent in the Fisherman’s village. There’s an abundance of bars and restaurants. Travelling as a family we felt safe and also did not witness any prostitution. We spent our days either playing by the pool or sunbathing on Mae Nam beach. We loved Mae Nam beach as it was clean, not too busy and you didn’t get bothered by beach vendors.

We did hire a driver for the day and he took us to the tourists spots of the island. Please remember to dress appropriately when visiting these places and respect the rules of their religious sanctuaries.

We also took a trip to Lamai and Chaweng Beach. Lamai was pretty small and littered with rubbish which included needles (hoping this isn’t always the case and was just the aftermath of the recent storms) and Chaweng was full of vendors which pestered you at times. For lunch we went to the Cliff. It was a little pricey but the food and service was brilliant. We returned to Chaweng one night to visit the markets. We got there early to avoid the crowds. The market sold clothes (mainly for the locals) and had a range of food markets. The locals ate here so we knew it must be good. Be warned that most street vendors don’t get checked for hygiene so be wary when eating from then. Then  we ate some more food at a local restaurant. Not the best for families as the toilets were not hygienic. I’d say Chaweng is more for back packers and younger people. We didn’t hang around for long as Chaweng is prolific for prostitutes and go go bars. Not really appropriate when with your little ones. I’ve been flashed a catalogue of the lady region in my past when partying there.

We also chartered a speed boat for the day and travelled out to the Ang Thong Marine Park. Our captain and crew were great and they guided us through our journey. The Emerald Lake is beautiful but very busy. Tip……..make sure you are wearing trainers as there’s lots of steps to get up and down. We took the boys with us but we had to carry the baby as the stairs were crowded at points. We also travelled to another island which in a way broke my heart. The rubbish in our oceans is washing up on these pristine beaches. As man we really have ruined our haven. The use of plastic really is an issue.

As we were on the island during New Years eve we booked a gala dinner at Lana. We were all dressed up and ready to party to be told they had not received our booking as the London office took our booking. None the less the Manager was very facilitating and organised our own private seating area and gave us a complimentary bottle of wine for the inconvenience. We enjoyed a tasting menu and loved the traditional Thai dancing and entertainment. With four sleepy children we made it back to the villa before 12 and watched the fireworks explode over the beach.

A few days later we flew up to Bangkok to end our trip. The journey to the capital was quick but the taxi ride into Bangkok was long as we hit rush our and we were at standstill for majority of the journey. However we had a warm welcome at the Eastin Grand Hotel.  We had a quick change and got the sky train then boat down river to the reclining Buddha. The boat was extremely busy and sweltering hot and the staff intimidating at times. There was a lady who just walked up and down the boat pushing people and screaming  in Thai.

We paid on arrival at the reclining Buddha and really enjoyed a casual walk around the grounds. As it was close to closing times there were no crowds and we were able to fully appreciate our surroundings. We decided to avoid the chaos of the boat and got a taxi back to the hotel. The taxis in Bangkok are quite reasonable and the sky train is cheap as chips and so clean. They have air con too.

The next day we got up early to visit the Grand Palace. This time we got a long boat down river. We thought by going early we’d beat the crowds. How wrong were we?!!! It was so hectic the place was littered with tour groups people shoving and pushing. The whole trip was stressful. People were stopping to take photos of baby Ezra. Most Thai people have not seen a baby with blue eyes and blonde hair so it was quite a site for them to witness. We really didn’t enjoy our palace visit which was such a shame. I visited 8 years ago and remembered it so much differently.

We made our way back to grab a long tail boat home but it just seemed like there was no organisation. After waiting 20 minutes or so in the blistering heat we decided to grab a tuk tuk. You have to really barter with the prices and stick to your guns as they’ll charge your over the odds if they can.

Back at the hotel we played by the pool and grabbed lunch. Then later that evening we walked down the road to Laabubon. We were probably the only white people in there however we knew that was a good sign. The food was absolutely delicious and so cheap. We ordered a full chicken, prawn fried rice, papaya salad, soft drinks and beer and it cost us not even £15.

The next day was time to check out so after a morning by the pool we sought shade at Siam Paragon and visited the aquarium. The aquarium itself is fantastic and we really enjoyed strolling around we then went to the food court and jeez it was busy. There was people everywhere. Not family friendly at all, so hectic. We grabbed a bite to eat then decided just to hang out the hotel for our transfer.

Our trip to Thailand was amazing, it has a very special place in my heart so it was great taking my husband boys there. I love Thailand, you never get a bad meal, the people are friendly and the service is 1st class. Tips for families would be make sure you have an easy fold-able stroller there are lifts but they are not reliable also the paths in Koh Samui were terrible and at some points no paths at all so rather than walking we’d have to grab taxis. Flying business class is such a treat for us but was worth every penny. We travelled 27 hours from our home in County Durham to our villa in Koh Samui. I must say my two boys were real superstars and never once acted up or caused me to have a mental breakdown. We opted for a villa in Koh Samui so we could spend the holiday as a family and not be in separate rooms. Also remember to take change of clothes for the little ones. Poor Ezra projectile vomited on the flight home so the spare clothes were a god send. If staying in Bangkok try and stay in close vicinity to the Sky Train. As I said its super cheap and most ticket staff speak English so will advise you what stop you need to get.

Next stop is Milan. Can’t wait. Isn’t Italy the home of Gucci 😉

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