Our Memorable Thailand Adventure

Melissa Hirst

“Don’t book your accommodation in advance, it’s so cheap, do it when you get there”, “Don’t pack much, it’s so cheap you can buy everything out there”, “Don’t book full board, it’s so cheap to eat out there”. I was given lots of advice before I left on our holiday to Thailand.

Longtailed boats in Thailand

How can I not pack everything? What if the only food available are deep fried creatures? What if I get there and there is no accommodation available after flying almost half way across the world with my two kids? I bit the bullet and listened to the advice, with the exception of booking accommodation when I got there. As a single parent, I wasn’t THAT brave.

I researched extensively. I wanted an authentic Thai experience but with enough to do to entertain my 10 year old daughter and 14 year old son, with a little R&R for mum. I wanted the idyllic beach, the incredible food; I didn’t want to be in the centre of a busy town but close enough to experience it. I chose the Centara Karon Beach Resort in Phuket. I wasn’t disappointed - the hotel, its location, the service – all excellent. And with three outdoor pools, a gym, tennis courts, and wifi throughout the hotel, the kids weren’t disappointed either!

I won’t pretend I wasn’t concerned before we left…a week before we left on our travels, I experienced a serious allergic reaction to nuts, having eaten them daily for as long as I can remember. How would I be able to go to Thailand and avoid nuts? Armed with two epi pens, a daily dose of antihistamines, spares in case of any problems and ‘I cannot eat nuts’ translated into Thai on my phone, we headed off.

After a brief stop in Dubai, we arrived in Phuket a day later. After the ‘guilty’ smile in the camera at Thai immigration (is it just me or does anyone else feel like they’ve committed a crime despite their innocence when faced with such authority?) We found our transfer minibus and, as we sat down, my daughter piped up, “Er Mum…look at the dodgy seatbelt”. “Forget them…they don’t work” was the swift response from the driver. I’m well-travelled enough to know that the UK’s attitude to health & safety is not replicated across the world. In fairness, every other minibus we took thereafter did have working seatbelts.

The ‘Tuk Tuks’ however were a different matter entirely. These are the local taxi service - an open carton on wheels – from those barely able to get uphill, to the Queen of all tuk tuks which contain a full-blown sound system and plush seating. I knew then that this holiday was going to be a crazy adventure! 

And so it began…a safari adventure with elephants at a local (and government approved) sanctuary, an afternoon out to see the ‘Big Buddha’,  a boat trip to see Phang Nga Bay which included a stop at the iconic ‘James Bond Island’ as well as sea kayaking through the caves. A visit to Old Phuket Town, experiencing Pantong Beach and the craziness of Bangla Road by day and (even better) by night. My 14 year old son certainly found that experience memorable – a sense of humour and open mind are definitely required!

Traditional silks in a Thai market

Visits to Phuket's Temples including beautiful Wat Chalong were incredibly moving and spiritual to say the least and the chance to sit back and relax on the beautiful sandy beaches and swim in the turquoise sea were fantastic. The fact it was monsoon season did not affect us in anyway. Yes, we had a couple of days of warm rain, but it was always short-lived; the fact it was their low season meant it was affordable for the three of us.

The food was amazing – there is no substitute for authentic Thai cuisine. A Thai meal for the three of us, including drinks, rarely came to more than £20, and my son can eat for England! And as for the shopping…well…great fakes are aplenty! My final words of advice…Thai massage, not for the faint hearted, which thankfully I’m not! Wow, just wow! And take a Thai boxing class…but don’t forget to guard and duck, as my poor face discovered with our over-enthusiastic coach!

Traditional Thai food

I could go on…but you get the jist. Thailand will forever hold incredible memories for the three of us. The kids loved every minute and came home richer in knowledge, experience and cultural understanding. It has inspired us to travel more…and off the beaten track. As a single parent I found the experience enlightening and, with a map open in front of me as I type, I am already planning our next adventure!

 

**This blog post was previously published on Medway Leisure Travel, now trading as Pettitts Travel**