On this blog post Joel and India will take you to a series of tours through the rich, beautiful, exotic and wonderful regions of Southeast Asia. We will take you to three beautiful country’s of Bangkok, Hanoi and Phuket. We will fly in to China and stay in our first destination in the beautiful country of Bangkok, Thailand. The year is 2019. No international restrictions. No social distancing. People mingled and smiled beautifully with their whole unreserved aura radiating with hospitable gestures. We connected and understood a bit more as a simple corner smile meant for an approval.
The flight took about 12 hours to fly into China and prepping for a long flight involved packing light. Two large bags, one for the children and the other slightly larger bag for me and my wife. A 60L backpack that separates dry clothes on the top section and a compartment for a smaller camera bag on the bottom. The smaller pockets in the front store the travel documents. The second larger pocket holds the powdered milk ready to mix with water. The last pocket stores the emergency medication like tylenol, daily vitamins, bug spray etc. On a day trip the backpack is packed lighter and transforms to whatever the day requires. My two children were two and four year old then. They played along so well that it made for this trip incredibly light., like resting their heads on my lap as the plane cruised to a more stable altitude.
The kids brought with them their own lightly packed backpacks with little straps I can hold on when I needed to walking on a busy sidewalk or crossing a street. They get a choice of three toys and bring their 18$ drawing tablet to keep them busy while waiting for a ride, in a restaurant or while in transit. They quickly learned to be flexible and absorbed the wonderful etiquette of international travel; learning the simple routines and solving small hickups and bumps together as a family. We divided and conqured the world one toddler steps at a time. Sometimes becoming a cheerleader was all that meant for a well balanced chaos confronted in travel.
The lay over are at least three hours to the next flight so we can stretch and bring the kids to a nearby play area. The many international airports have them and this airport in China has my sons favorite- the most happy and helpful super wings!
Make sure they walk to the play area and back to the gate to use up their energy for a nice small nap for the next flight. Its an easy routine as they navigate and aquire a sense of space and different modes of transportation.
Breakfast in China was super simple but incredibly delicious. Chicken feet and congee (rice porridge). The Chicken feet skin is soft and the cartilage make for a crunchy balance. The flavor is a nice sweet marinade of soy sauce, garlic and spices. This one is lightly seasoned for the little ones to enjoy. It is also not a foreign taste to them. We have introduced them to our Filipino version adobo at an earlier age which is a similar marinade flavor of choice meat. The sauce bring a nice flavor to the rice which is a favorite. There are many fast food restaurants to choose from. But travel is the best opportunity to explore and learn the people through their incredible diverse culinary expressions. A way to their culture.
Chicken feet and congee | right: the cheap 10$ battery operated drawing board
The next leg of the flight was a connecting flight to Gaung Zhou and the final destination to Bangkok. We were greeted on arrival by the hotel staff and was taken in a shuttle van. I carry two grab and go car seats for the kids and are incredibly portable and easy to stow in a backpack. We stayed at the Luxury 5 star Park Hyatt in Bangkok for a few days. The hotel included a suite upgrade and a free breakfast and a free all day cocktail. This was a nice warm welcome from the staff with a room view of the gorgeous Bangkok skyline. On the lower level was an infinity pool adjacent to the hotel restaurant perfect for a nice dip after breakfast. The food is always a welcome surprise specific for the country and the region. This meant more congee rice, authentic pad thai, lovely servings of the local fruits like papaya, dragon fruit, mango and wonderful sticky rice for desserts,. not to mention the chai tea!
My son was four and a half on this trip. He was already enrolled in a pre-k school back in the states. We asked the school and they allowed him to bring along his school work for that week. He would finish his distant school work American standard time (about 6 pm local time) while he slowly switched to local Bangkok time. His quite time involved homework on a table all for himself.
clockwise: the infinity pool with the picturesque cityscape of Bangkok | Joel on his private table in the hotel doing his school work | in the streets of Bangkok with India on the look out for tuk tuk’s
We would also go for a stroll at night to acclimate and bring in the surrounding as we prepared for the next few itinerary ahead. It is a nice way to displace their energy and slowly get use to the humidity. We’d buy the kids fresh milk at one of the local 711 store just a few blocks from the hotel and warm it up just before bedtime. The children has also been taught to pack their small backpacks for next few trips ahead. A choice of kinder joy egg was their favorite to bring when we find one in the store.
A full day rest and we headed out to see the many temples famous in Thailand. A good alternative transportation is a grab taxi and is comparable to the lyft or uber in the states. A simple app download will save you time and money. The grab and go car seat is my favorite travel light essential item and is a must bring for the little ones.
We visited the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and is regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. The area is a big complex consisting of number of buildings that are a nice walking distance within the Grand Palace in the historical center of Bangkok.
This Palace was built in 1783. Each successive King thereafter have been as involved in restoration and embellishment as a way of making a religious merit and enhancing the dynasty. The intricate design make for a jaw dropping sight to see.
My daughter India who was three and and a half then learned few more tricks in going up and down those marble stairways and learned to greet “sawadikap” to strangers and the taxi drivers.
We were drenched in sweat a few blocks into the Grand Palace with the thick humid summer-like day and the sea of people made getting around more challenging. Make sure you bring extra towels, extra light colored shirt, and small water bottles packed in the kids tiny backpacks. Sometimes a handy umbrella would help just incase the rain decide to pour. Luckily it did not rain that day. The taxi queue was just as congested so we decided to take a little detour around a few blocks to find flowing traffic, in a shaded corner and reserved for a grab taxi on my mobile phone. A quick point is to also turn on roaming in your cellphone and contact your provider few days prior to your flight.
from top left: the Erawan shrine of Bangkok | right: the cityscape of Bankgokok from our hotel room | bottom photo: riding a tuk tuk at night is a great way to explore the city
The next few days was more of a relaxing time in the hotel amenities and exploring the streets of Bangkok. Park Hyatt is right in the heart of the city and we slowly immersed in the food outside of the hotel and explored small shops and stores just a few walking distance away. The infinity pool made for a relaxing time with the kids while we prepared for the second leg of the destination- catch us next time on our flight to Hanoi, Vietnam.
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