We did lots of stuff in Thailand other than ward off culture shock (and concern over military coups) using therapeutic travel games.
We also admired limestone karsts, climbed twelve hundred and sixty steps to a Buddhist temple with free wifi, swam in a natural spring, ate breakfast with a princess, risked zoonoses canoeing through bat caves, ran in the Laguna Phuket 2014 half-marathon/kids’ run, rode horses on the beach, and played in the surf.
It was enough to make us all glad we didn’t miss our train connection from KL to Hat Yai despite waiting on the wrong train platform until after they’d closed off boarding.
But that’s all too much to talk about tonight, especially since it’s not a school night for a couple more weeks. So let me start with a brief run down and we’ll take it from there.
Who Went? Mum, Dad, one 3yo, one 6yo.
Review: Nice little trip, if a bit light on the anticipated scorpions.
Just booked a room near Krabi with the following review: (plus) setting was beautiful (minus) scorpion in bathroom.
— Bronwyn Joy (@JOTFabulist) May 23, 2014
We ranged from mountainside in Krabi to beachside in Phuket, which gave us a variety of scenery and experiences. Could have stayed much longer.
Highlights: Solitaire and serenades at Phanom Bencha Mountain Resort; Tiger Cave Temple; Thung Teao Forest National Park with its Emerald Pool and Blue Lagoon; Laguna Phuket International Half Marathon; horse riding on Bang Tao beach; surf at Kata Beach; canoeing around Khao Phing Kan aka “James Bond Island”.
The long overland trip up was obviously a challenge, but the kids both did really well. We made use of the on-board entertainment system during the coach trip from Singapore to KL, after which we switched to those travel games I’ve been banging on about so much lately. There were toilets on both the bus and the train, thank goodness.
It also helped that the bus dropped us at KLCC which has a great play area for kids, and only for kids, and not for teens, tweens, or parents of infant children who want to sit said children on their laps in order to swing them, as the aggressively-peeping playground Whistle Nazi will tell you.
The ride that undid us was actually the one-hour minibus transfer back to the hotel after our visit from James Bond Island – about which, well, more later.
Otherwise, just mosquitoes. You could actually hear them buzzing with evil laughter as they forged straight through our natural repellent (I heard one of them comparing the smell of citronella in the morning to the smell of victory), and it was lucky the hotel at Krabi was able to lend us something stronger.
Touting seems fairly tame these days compared to our last visit to southern Thailand, or we just weren’t so worried about getting overcharged, or both.
Price Bracket: Moderate. So probably we should have hassled the touts a bit more.
- Our house -> Harbourfront by public bus.
- 11am – board Aeroline bus to Kuala Lumpur (5-6hrs). Spend thirty minutes repeatedly advising the children that we don’t know anything about the onboard entertainment system.
- Border control proceedings. This bit would take a lot longer during peak times, but it wasn’t too bad on a Tuesday morning. There are two stops (Singaporean and Malaysian border control) and these are a short bus ride from each other. The Singapore side was a doddle. At the Malaysian side we had to offload and carry through our luggage, but it was still pretty straightforward.
- 11:45-12pm (ish) – clear Malaysian border, receive headphones, on-board entertainment system switched on.
- Lunch on board coach (included in ticket price). I’d advise bringing lunch for fussy eaters, unless you think they’re prepared to live on rice alone.
- 4:30pm – arrive KLCC. Play in park, eat dinner at shopping mall food court – just like home, but with added Whistle Nazi.
- 8pm – make way by LRT to Sentral Station. Sit around on wrong platform blissfully eating ice creams and stocking up on snack foods until the train – on the only other platform – is nearly sent on its way. At the last possible moment, realise this mistake and dash across to the right platform. Beg to be allowed on.
- Once on board, remember you only booked three berths, because there were only top bunks left, you didn’t think T would be ok with a top bunk on her own, and children under four are allowed to share a berth free of charge. Draw straws to see who shares with The Night Thresher. Lose draw.
- Overnight on board train.
- 8:30am – arrive at Thai-Malaysian border. Ask what should be brought off the train and get told “just the passports”. Clear two lots of customs and immigration and return to the platform to realise the train has been taken away with everything on it. Believe the first person who tells you, with an air of authority, that it will be back in one hour, even though he is totally making that up. Cue children saying they’re tired/hungry/thirsty/bored.
- Buy kaya buns and drinks at the cafe upstairs. Madly invent equipment-free games to keep the kids distracted. Repeatedly advise them you know as much about the train as you did about the on-board entertainment systems. Participate in a prolonged debate in which you seek to assure them that you are nevertheless very much in control and still need to be obeyed.
- 11am – re-board train, reunite with luggage, books, food, water, etc. Participate in a prolonged debate in which you seek to assure the children that you told them so.
- 12:30pm – arrive Hat Yai, follow random minibus touts, negotiate fare to Krabi.
- Lunch at cafe near train station.
- Bus to Krabi (4hrs, one official stop plus one extra toilet stop ten freaking minutes after the official stop, as if you didn’t just go, T).
- Drop off directly at Phanom Bencha Mountain Resort.
- Overnight in two-bedroom wooden cabin overlooking stunning mountain scenery.
- Awake to stunning mountain scenery
- Breakfast at resort
- Kick around
- Kick around some more
- Overnight Phanom
- Breakfast at resort
- Full day private taxi tour to Tiger Cave Temple and Thung Teao Forest National Park with its Emerald Pool and Blue Lagoon
- Overnight Phanom
- Breakfast at resort – with a princess!
- Private taxi transfer to Kata Beach, Phuket, stopping off at Bang Tao beach to pick up runner’s kit
- Attempt to distract Æ from the realisation that Kata Beach is a fair bit further from Bang Tao Beach (1hr) than it looked on the map when I booked our accommodation. Hat tip And Three To Go (who recommended the area) and Where’s Sharon/our next door neighbour, who both recommended Kata Palm Resort and Spa. None of these people knew where the marathon was, either.
- Swim and dinner at resort.
- Overnight Kata Beach.
- Æ awakes in “the absolute dead of night” in order to make it to Bang Tao beach for his half marathon.
- T, P and myself wake later, breakfast at the hotel, and join him as he’s finishing.
- Æ and T take up a position on the sideline, as P and myself line up for what has, since we registered, been renamed from “The Family Run” to “The Kids’ Run“. Awesome. By the way, your kid-sized T-shirt is too small for me.
- Bananas, rambutans and a light post-run lunch for all afterwards.
- P, T and myself take a one-hour horse ride along the beach while Æ relaxes with a drink in town.
- Lunch on Bang Tao beach
- Taxi back to Kata beach for a swim at the resort, followed by dinner and bed.
- Overnight Kata Beach
- Breakfast at resort
- Infamous James Bond Island Tour.
- Dinner and overnight at Kata Beach
- Breakfast at resort
- Swimming, boogie boarding and lunch at Kata Beach
- Change, taxi to aiport (1hr)
- Fly Phuket-> Singapore (2hrs)
Disclosure/disclaimer: any links are just FYI (for your information) and also FMFR (for my future reference).
Last time I did this, you told me what you wanted to hear more about, and I delivered (plus or minus some flying dolphins). So tell me which bits you want me to expand upon this time! Otherwise it’s pretty much you listening to me whine about the James Bond Island trip and maybe a travel hack involving mosquitoes.
Read more about our time (and mosquito hacks) in Krabi in The Spy Who Loved Krabi.
Everything we learned about running with kids in Just Like The Wind.
Less-than-stellar travel moments in The Failed Bus Journey From James Bond Island.