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Published: January 24th 2013
No we didn't have any!
Back in 2012 we'd settled on a return to SE Asia for our next trip, we'd toyed with many ideas.. Central America, South America, Africa but we had loved the variety of countries in this area so much and wanted to take it a bit easier this time around so SE Asia it was.. we can't say that the weather and beaches in this part of the world didn't have a large part to play too!
When we mentioned to Sophie's family that this was our destination they decided that they'd like to come along for the first couple of weeks so flights were booked and the deal was sealed. We'd chosen Bangkok and Boracay to share our time with them, after which time Eleanor (Sophie's sister) would return home and her mum & dad would continue onto Sabah after having a bit of a taste of the Asian lifestyle to give them some confidence to venture out on their own. We'd then be on our own to continue our time in true backpacker winging it style!
Just after things were confirmed we read various reports about Boracay's demise so were a little unsure about what lay in store
but we were determined we'd make the best of it regardless, and spent the next 9 months looking forward to returning to the area we had fallen so in love with the first time around.
On the 2nd January bags were packed and off we went looking forward to some much needed sunshine and settling back into Asian life. We flew with Oman Air via Muscat and have to say they were excellent and would highly recommend them for anyone looking to fly this way. The food was a bit dubious at times but lets face it no airline food is much to write home about and we were kept very entertained by the super duper entertainment system and so the 2 flights flew by before we knew it.
We landed in Suvarnabhumi airport on time at 7.00pm on Thursday 3rd January, met up with Eleanor (who'd flown on a different flight) and were instantly hit with the warming temperature as soon as we stepped outside… bliss! A short taxi ride into the city and we were back!
We weren’t on a mission to live the cheapest of the cheap this time around as we were with
family so had pre booked the fabulous Lamphu Tree Hotel
to stay for our 4 nights in Bangkok. It made a nice change to have an actual en-suite (hot) shower as well as an included buffet breakfast and was all very different to the usual 250B fleapit we usually stay in! We did however check the prices in our usual abode as we went past just so we were sure of the increase for when we return a few months down the road.. yep still 250B so we’ll be back!
We had 4 days to spend in Bangkok.. too many some may say but we will never tire of spending time here so the word only is strongly used in the next sentence. With ‘only’ 4 days we’d already mapped out a rough itinerary for the family which would hopefully give them a small insight into the sights, tastes and sounds that can be found in Bangkok and it’s surrounding areas.
Much of what we experienced has been covered in previous blogs so we won’t go over old ground but we will say that being able to share this city with those closest to us was a great experience if a
little tiring at times, especially when we are so used to skitting around areas as if we were back at home! We had worried that the heat & humidity that Asia can bring would affect us after spending so much time away but it was immediately like we’d never been away and as usual Sophie would have had people out walking 12 hours a day if they could keep up!
Our first few days were spent shopping ‘til we dropped (literally in 35º heat!) around Siam Square, particularly MBK and of course the ever popular (with Sophie!) Chatuchak Market. We topped off the days sipping cocktails in the Vertigo Bar or beers and fabulous food along the streets surrounding Khao San Road. Keen for everyone to try a bit of everything we got around on river taxis, tuk-tuks and buses and it all went down a treat especially when the buses were free!
We were keen to get out of the city on at least one day and on our previous visits we’d loved the Kanchanaburi province so decided to take everyone there for a bit of history and so they could have a hands on experience with
some big cats. We wanted to do it under our own steam so hired out a taxi and visited the Bridge over the River Kwai and the Tiger Temple.
There is quite a lot of pressure when travelling with family, especially as it’s their first time somewhere and they are relying on you to show them a good time so we could only hope that they would enjoy the things we had first time around. Thankfully this day was a hit and it was nice to get away from the city for one day and see some of the countryside, it was also nice to be able to do it at our own pace even though the day still felt a bit rushed at times as there was so much to do!
On our last day we had planned to visit the Grand Palace, something we've surprisingly never done before. We had read about the do’s & don’t of visiting here but were confident we were all smart enough to be allowed entry.. WRONG! Immediately some of us got pulled up for not being up to standard, we tried again with articles just purchased from the market but
Sophie thought these were tiny people when she first saw this photo!
it was still a no go, after this we got a bit fed up with all the rules and left.. Do they expect people to go in their Sunday best or what.. Clearly they do! Instead we went to the much more relaxed Wat Pho so everyone could get a taste of the Thai architecture and culture. It was quite funny as were only in there about an hour before it was agreed that they had seen enough and it was time to move on! Good job we didn’t spent the 500THB on the Palace then! One day we’ll get there.. maybe next time!
Everyone loved Bangkok, especially us and we were so glad to be back in this city we love so much. It was a tiring few days though and we were all looking forward to the next 10 days which would mainly involve relaxing on the beach watching fabulous sunsets while sipping on a couple of SMBs!
January was our long travel day to get to our next destination. Our flight wasn’t until midnight so the day was spent as above around Bangkok and in the evening we
ventured back to the airport for our next destination which was the Philippines, namely Boracay. A midnight flight to Manila followed by an 8am flight to Kalibo followed and we were more than ready to reach our hotel by time we touched down on Panay Island. Unfortunately for us we got in the minibus which broke down halfway, probably because he was so heavy on the breaks, so we had to wait for a rescue van so come and save us which delayed our arrival by the best part of an hour. The family started to sweat a bit thinking we’d be left by the side of the road and left to hitch a ride but we sat back having full faith in the Filipino system and eventually someone would come to our aid.. as of course they did.
Our arrival in Boracay wasn’t quite as we had imagined. For a start the van broke down.. not so bad.. but while we were waiting to be picked up the heavens opened.. and it stayed that way for the remainder of the journey. We got absolutely soaked walking to the boat and pulling up at the Boracay pier with grey
over the Bridge
skies and rain to challenge that in the UK isn’t exactly what we’d sold to the family when we were planning our trip! As we’ve said we were already a little anxious about what Boracay would be like after hearing so many bad reports about it lately so this only added to our worry. To make things worse when we arrived at Boat Station 3 we were staying we were greeted with the green soup algae we’d heard about, we thought we would be lucky and miss this as it doesn’t normally arrive until March but no such luck, it was here and was here with a vengeance!
We shouldn’t have been too worried though, the family are those who look on the bright side and after a spot of lunch washed down with a couple of beers the sun decided to make a bit of an appearance and everyone started to relax and enjoy the start of the beach stage of the trip.
For the first few days we continued to sweat, the days were grey, some rain but like true Brits we battled it out under the beach umbrellas (aren’t these supposed to be sun shades?!)
and made the most of the sun when it decided to come out. Dale & Dad explored the island from top to bottom while the ladies made the most of the sun loungers and massages! Days involved breakfast on the beach, mooching around then congregating again for the start of happy hour at 1.30pm when we’d have a few 30PHP (47p) San Miguels and comment that it definitely looked a little brighter!
Thankfully we did get a few days of sunshine, and although it was very windy most days this was actually a blessing as the algae started to disperse and those glorious turquoise waters started to show so the Edwards’s could finally see why we’d fallen for this island the first time around. Eleanor had of course seen it before but for Mum & Dad the whole experience on this tropical island was idyllic anyway algae or no algae. Even for us the palm fringed white sand is something that is hard to beat and we soon started to think that everything would be ok and this part of the trip would also be a hit!
We’d done a sailing boat trip on one of our previous
visits to the island and it wasn’t a success so we were sure that we would not be subjecting mum & dad to it (Eleanor had shared the joy the last time!). Instead we wanted a boat with a sun shade and a motor so this is what we set our hearts on. Funnily enough the boat men we’d done the trip with before were still there and remembered us so we made enquiries with them but also with the guys that Eleanor, Dad & Dale had done a dive with just a few days before. As annoying as these guys can be once you get to know them a bit they are really helpful and so nice you can’t help but be charmed by them.
We had been keeping an eye on the weather forecast over the week, it really wasn’t great and there was no way we wanted to be stuck on a boat in the wind & rain. On the Wednesday before we were due to leave there looked like a break in the weather so we planned a trip over to Carabao island with our diving crew which consisted of 3 brothers and their 2
helpers. We needed a slightly bigger boat to get across the strait between Boracay & Carabao so were happy to pay the slightly higher price to ensure we got there in one piece.
So the sun was shining, it was pretty windy still but we could cope with that. We purchased some fish from the market in the morning and boarded our boat ready to experience a new island and everyone was pretty excited. The crossing was certainly one we’d never want to do in a small boat as we were thrown from side to side and it felt a bit like we were on a TV show with people throwing buckets of water at us every other minute we got so wet! Everyone thought it was great fun though and we laughed all the way over there with Sophie more than a bit thankful that we had got there in one piece! As we pulled up on Carabao Island it felt bit like we were discovering a new island and Dad in particular was loving the adventure. The contrast to it’s neighbor Boracay is evident from the moment you land, there are no big resorts with fancy sunbeds
and happy hour beers and it’s very quiet with friendly locals who came out to say hello so we all loved it straight away.
The boat guys went off to prepare lunch while we got to enjoy a spot of snorkeling off the beach. It was mum & dad’s first time snorkeling but they did well and mum even ventured out quite a way.. all was fine until she looked up and started to panic at the distance so we had to accompany her back to safety! After exploring the deserted beach and cooling off in the water we enjoyed our BBQ fish & rice lunch of course washed down with a couple of cans we’d brought over. For us the rustic BBQ lunch was something we’d done on previous trips but for the family it was another first and they really enjoyed the simplicity of it all and how delicious everything was.
Lunch done we headed back over the choppy water to Boracay and stopped again to do some more snorkeling while Eleanor did another dive. The coral around Boracay is mostly dead but there were quite a few fish to see which we will never tire
of. We arrived back at the hotel exhausted but happy that Dale had managed to organize such a successful trip which will provide many happy memories and no doubt funny stories when the family return home.
So our last day with the family had come, thankfully the sun was out, the water was clear so all was good.. well almost. Sophie’s mum had been suffering with some mosquito bites since Bangkok and she’d been hopeful that they would clear up on their own but with the prospect of the jungle looming in Borneo and the blisters not healing she thought she’d better get some medical attention. There is a good medical centre on Boracay so she visited and was put on a course of 3 IV antibiotic drips which wasn’t ideal but necessary so the last day was marred slightly by these but we made the best of it nonetheless and got to enjoy a final day on the beautiful white sand topped off with the famous Boracay sunset.
The following morning tears were shed as Sophie waved off her mum, dad & sister and we were once again left to our own devices to plan the next
once the algae had disappeared!
5.5 months of our trip..
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