Thailand adventures Part 1 – our return to overseas travel!

Yes, finally here are the photos and blogs for our August Thailand trip…..

Our last overseas adventure, prior Covid hitting, was a trip to New Zealand back in January of 2020. At the time we had no idea it would be such a long wait until our next journey out of Australia. We almost didn’t take that trip. We’d planned another Christmas in Europe but had to delay due to conflicting events. With a plan to do that for Christmas 2021. We had instead settled on 2 weeks exploring the North Island of New Zealand, and some bike touring, but had almost put that off until later in 2020. We were very glad we didn’t as it’s been a long time between international departures…..

With much excitement at the prospect of finally heading off overseas, we squished, luggage and all into the car for the evening trip to the airport.

There was a slight hiccup with Canberra airport being closed all afternoon due to a shooting incident. Yes, who would have thought that would be a problem here! The airport had only just reopened when we arrived, and the lines at security were epic, but we made it through eventually and were quickly up to the Virgin Lounge for some much needed dinner and wine for the adults.

With some extra time to kill as the delayed flights were cleared, we hung out eating and plane watching. It was after 9pm when we finally bid Canberra farewell and a long night of flights ensued. First stop the under 2 hour hop up to Brisbane.

The kids were weary but too excited to rest. The delay did mean that our formerly 3 hour lay over in Brisbane without a lounge (Virgin hadn’t bothered reopening their international lounge at the time) was cut down to not very long by the time we changed to the international terminal, and got through immigration.

The kids were ready to get on that Singapore Airlines flight to Singapore, and it was well after midnight when we took off. I had the pleasure of Zinnia’s company as she was squished in a middle seat between me a lovely unsuspecting solo traveller who copped her wriggling all night. Not much sleep was had, Anto didn’t fare much better wedged between the other 2 kids. Granny and Max were several rows in front of us with extra leg room but near crying babies…..

We were all relieved to land in Singapore a bit before 6am after an uneventful but long flight.

It had been a long time between visits to Changi airport for all of us, except Max, who hadn’t been here before. We headed off to show him around while filling in time, and grabbing much needed coffee and food.

Changi never disappoints with it’s orchid displays. We did try to visit the butterfly garden, but being rather early it was dark and they were all sleeping. Giant koi was the next best thing.

Waiting in the departure gate for our flight to Phuket, Zinnia demonstrated her thoughts on international travel after her first overnight flights. I tended to agree with her at this point!

The 2 hour flight to Phuket did pass pretty quickly and soon we were off, through immigration and with bags loaded into the van for the long trip down to Khao Lak. All the kids flaked out in the 100+km drive, it had been a long night!

With the time change we reached our home for the next 8 days, Mai Khao Lak by about 11am. Although it definitely felt like late afternoon Aussie time still.

We’d stayed in this resort back in 2015. At the time Astrid was 3 and 9 months (the same age Zinnia was during this stay) and Soren, 17 months. We stayed in a swim-out room and the kids had a fabulous time.

The resort had undergone a significant expansion since then and we found ourselves in a swim-out room in the new area of the resort. Our views were pretty nice and there wasn’t a sole to be seen in ‘our’ pool.

While we were expecting to be in the same wing and rooms we’d stayed in for our last visit, based on the deal we’d booked. The new wing did have even bigger pools, so we weren’t really going to complain. It turns out the old area was still closed after post-covid shutdown renovations and only reopened the week after our stay.

No complaints about being able to walk from our room onto our deck, and out into the pool, and the rooms, while a little smaller than the older equivalent rooms, they were still pretty nice and definitely had better bathrooms.

Our ‘upgraded’ room did get us an the in room jacuzzi. Let’s just say that isn’t so much an upgrade feature, as when we did try to use it, it takes 6 hours to fill with the current water pressure…… and the water is well and truly cold by then! Not to worry, we used it as space to dry our swimmers 🙂

After checking out our room and pool, it was off to lunch and catching up with my brother, Andrew, sister-in-law, Alison, and the our kids cousins Bob and Audrey. They’d arrived overnight as they were travelling on different flights. So they had already had the morning to check out all the different pools!

Some food and a few cocktails certainly helped the jet lag wear off a little.

All rather exhausted we convinced the kids that we all needed a rest before tackling the multiple pools there were to explore. While they needed some convincing, none of them were keen to wake up !

Eventually, opening the curtains and allowing them to spy that vast and pretty pool, did the trick……..

With pool toys at the ready it was time for a swim and to check out our surroundings. It wasn’t going to be too rough for the next 8 days!

We caught up with the cousins down at the pirate playground. The kids had been eyeing it off during our lunch at the nearby restaurant. We had the whole of the giant pool and playground areas just for our group. The resort was rather deserted!

The big slides weren’t operating in the afternoon but the kids made use of the small ones and the pirate ship while we lazed around in the lagoon pool and the adults and kids all caught up on how our trips over went.

Zinnia wasn’t phased by the slides and was straight down!

The kids weren’t going to limit themselves to one pool area, so it was back for a swim in the pools near our room. Granny, Max and whichever kids was currently on rotation were in one room, while the rest of us were in the room next door. It was a 2 metre swim between them and for the majority of our stay we had very few other guests in our entire section of the pool.

The outdoor spa worked better than the indoor one, well ours did. Granny and Max’s was either on or off for the entire stay, as they had to fix it daily! The pool toys, were quickly inflated and put to good use.

After a lovely afternoon swimming, we had decided to eat at one of the resort restaurants for our first night. Apparently most of the beach restaurants were closed on a Monday night, and we had 2 included meal vouchers a day, so picked one of the resort’s beach restaurants for our first night.

It’s a reasonable walk down to the beach from our new wing, but it was a good stretch of the legs. The resort now runs buggy’s and they were more than happy to come and pick us up and drive us to wherever we wanted to go in the resort. A feature the kids loved. I generally preferred to walk for the exercise but it was a handy feature in the rain!

While waiting for our dinner, the kid made use of the many beach swings. Meanwhile we all made use of our free drinks, working our way through the cocktail menu for the adults and mocktail menu for the kids.

We were unsurprisingly, all awake early on our second day, ready for more swimming and relaxing. Yep, no one in the pool still so Astrid and Anto did some laps, while the rest of us swam around.

The day before we’d noted the big water slides were only open at 11am for an hour or so. Once we had our morning swim it was off to the pirate playground for slide time.

Astrid took on the big slide, while Zinnia was happy with the pirate ship slide (the little slides are open the whole time).

The little slides were heaps of fun for the younger kids (and parents got plenty of turns too). Astrid and Soren were fans of the big slide, even if Soren couldn’t make himself go fast enough for his liking.

As usual we were the only ones in the pool area, and our kids were the only ones on the slides, so there was no waiting for turns! It’s definitely a great area for kids to play.

After our fill of slides for the morning it was back for a swim outside our room. Apparently our Nemo inflatable likes to snorkel 🙂

The weather definitely wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t actively raining so we headed down to the beach with Granny and Max while Anto was off having a massage. The beach was a bit rough for swimming after some storms, but that didn’t stop Zinnia checking out the rock pools.

We’d worked up an appetite with all the swimming and water-sliding for the morning, so decided to check out the only open restaurant in the resort we were yet to try. While the resort has at least 8 different restaurants there were only a few open while we were there due to low guest numbers.

Today we decided to try the Thai restaurant, and it turned out to be our favourite of all of them and we were repeat visitors throughout our stay. Lucky all the staff got to know us pretty quickly!

Some spicy Thai food and cocktails for lunch were just the ticket for a holiday lunch.

Miss Zinnia voted that it was definitely afternoon rest time! In holiday mode, the rest of us didn’t disagree.

The plan for the afternoon was for the girls to get their hair braided. Astrid had gotten hers done when we last came here in 2015. For weeks before the trip she’d been talking up the hair braiding to Zinnia.

After Zinnia had rested, it was off to the beach with all the kids for some braiding.

With 3 girls to get braids (Astrid, Zinnia and Audrey) it took some time, and a few phone calls for the beach ladies to round up enough people to tackle the job, especially when they saw the length of Astrid’s hair 🙂

Meanwhile Soren and Bob took to the beach swings (along with Zinnia while she was waiting her turn)…..

Icecreams while getting your hair braided! At least it kept them still. I hadn’t forgotten how long this process takes. It’s definitely a long time for a toddler.

Poor Audrey was getting pretty tired, and only made it half way through her braiding before needing a rest! Astrid was showing exceptional patience with hers.

As we were getting the braiding done at the Mr Bao restaurant down on the beach, the adults passed the time by checking out the cocktail menu!

Well over an hour into Astrid’s braiding, and Granny had earned that cocktail!

It took almost 2 hours in the end but the girls were stoked with their hair! Poor Audrey was napping on the massage beds, half her hair done.

Both Astrid and Zinnia thought they looked pretty awesome!

It was now rolling into dinner time. The boys had joined us down on the beach and Max decided he needed his toenail painted with a Minion.

The kids all thought it was hilarious and everyone who worked at Mr Bao’s called him ‘Mr Minion’ for the rest of the trip 🙂

Zinnia somehow also convinced the ladies she needed her toenails painted. Apparently she is cute enough to get what she wants!

Another storm was rolling in and it had been at least minutes since we last ate, so we decided to stay put and eat at Mr Bao’s on the beach, watching the sunset.

More yummy Thai food and cocktails and gentle sea breeze, rounding out the day….

We had breakfast included in the main restaurant every morning. Like our visit 7 years earlier, the selection was pretty good. A nice selection of hot items, including plenty of Thai food plus the usual eggs, bacon and sausages. Fresh fruit, cereals and plenty of Danishes, waffles, pancakes and banana fritters to keep the kids happy.

Over our 8 days we worked our way through the selections and made sure we tried everything more than once! The kids did their usual trick of eating plenty of sugar for the first few days and then reverting to something more sensible, voluntarily, a few days in 🙂

The freshly cooked omelettes were good, even if you had to make sure they didn’t add too much of the rather spicy chilli!

We definitely all did well every morning, even if the selection of pastries weren’t as good as Paris. They do try, but humidity and pastry just doesn’t work.

After our morning buffet we usually had to swim off some of the calories. It was never busy in our pool rooms so our usual routine became a lazy swim around for an hour or two before the big water slide opened.

The staff had told us that despite the resort having capacity for around 5,000 there were only between 70 and 90 guests at any time during our stay. It was low season, but Covid had definitely impacted tourist numbers. This is why the pools always looked deserted!

With the weather better today we decided to head down to the beach. It was definitely much hotter than previous days!

This is the older area of the resort, where we’d previously stayed. Currently deserted as no one was staying in any of the rooms!

Miss Audrey was up for having her hair braiding finished, although we did all think the punk look with the half done hair was quite cute.

It was a beautiful day for a beach swing…..

The beach looked a lot better than the previous couple of days so the kids got a play in the surf and sand. Yep the beach was pretty deserted too……

The beach views were certainly pretty good and not a bad way to spend the last of Canberra Winter!

Apparently it isn’t a resort day until we have been on all the slides again, adults and all!

As usual our kids were the only ones on the big slides. The staff seem to know when they get bored of it they might as well close for the day!

We hung out at the pirate pool and slides for long enough that the food court and bar had opened, so it was time for cold drinks and swims with the cousins!

It happened to be Andrew’s birthday so we all celebrated with some evening drinks by the pool, before a wander down to a different beach restaurant for dinner – Thalay Thai

During our last trip we’d eaten at the beach most nights and a lot of our favourite restaurants had not survived the last few years. It looks like some had vanished, and others were packed up. It was a little depressing walking past empty restaurants and businesses but hopefully with tourism picking up again some may come back with an influx of tourists.

There were at least a few restaurants operating and they did have some pretty good food. There were of course beach swings too!

It seems not that long ago a much smaller Astrid and Soren were playing on this beach when we were last here. It certainly passes the time while waiting for the food to arrive…….

Unfortuantely the weather didn’t hold out for us and a large storm meant a rather wet and dark walk back, but at least it wasn’t cold! All part of the fun of a tropical holiday……

There might have been some rather tired kids from all the swimming and sun. Both Soren and Zinnia fell asleep within seconds of laying down and didn’t move an inch for hours!

The next morning there was no sign of the previous nights storms, so it was off to the beach again. The boys had become fans of the beach massages and the kids had convinced us to let them support the local economy through all getting their nails done.

Astrid added to her aqua and blue theme, Zinnia got rainbows and Soren black with spiders!

We were now frequent visitors to the resort Thai restaurant for lunch. Spicy food and spicy cocktails were always a winner.

Some days we took our cards down and loudly played Uno or Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza while lunching. Much to the amusement of the waitresses!

Another beautiful day and the vote was for dinner on the beach at Mr Bao’s. Tonight there were no storms, so it was gentle breezes and sunsets while we ate and drank.

With a food menu that was about 20 pages long and the drinks menu almost the same, there was no shortage of things to try!

It certainly hadn’t been a bad first few days of our Thailand tropical break, but there was plenty more fun to come.

In Part 2 there are plenty more photos, cooking classes, markets and a trip out to some islands, and of course more food!

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