We are back and it is 4.30 am and I am up, after 10 hours of collapse, zombie-like status. It is quiet in the house so figured I’d reflect on our great, great trip !

Travel

Coming back is so much worse. Not sure if it is because you are returning from vacation and all that is awaiting you is laundry, routine and jet lag – but the 13 hour flight back was a killer – for all of us. Mia was up for more than 10 hours of it and ready to flirt, run and entertain. Boys fought over my phone as that one has higher score in some Hungry Shark game so it wasn’t the same on iPad (seriously??). A few comments for Korean Air and the airports we passed through:

  • Airplane food: if your own countrymen don’t pick green tea porridge at 4 am as their breakfast, take the hint and don’t serve it to the rest of us. Being in the last row meant omelet and sandwich options were gone – and while I am pretty adventurous in food – this was not edible. Pair it with the fermented onion and really big ouch! Also, let’s get some variety in kids food – spaghetti 4x in 20 hours is too much for everyone – not to mention bolognese with corn? Pibimpab was rather good !
  • Really nice kids entertainment package on Korean Air – doodle book, stickers, drawings, in a nice bag used as trash through the journey!
  • Kudos to Incheon airport for free showers, playground for kids and overall high-tech, clean and efficient feel – the kids loved it there and so did we ! The only downside was some of the staff not taking responsibility for overall “airport experience” and sending us all over the place to find maintenance crew to clean spilled coffee – next time, call them yourself.
  • I get the security but checking your passport/boarding pass/luggage 5x in between airplanes? What did you think we did with them in 50 meters – or what dangerous substance did we buy at your airport?
  • Overall, a really good experience- would probably fly with them again. On time, friendly staff, reasonable food…

Hotels

Absolutely loved Siripanna Villa Resort & Spa in Chiang Mai. The staff – probably the best service I have seen in a very long time. They adored the kids and I felt like if I left them there all day, the staff would not only take care of them, they would adopt them. Everyone was absolutely fabulous with them and even the boys commented on it: “everyone is really friendly here!”. They invited the boys to splash water in front of the hotel with them during the Songkrat festival – and they both felt they made “real Thai friends” 🙂

IMG_1037

IMG_0745

IMG_0760

IMG_0747

The hotel in Phuket was much bigger, family resort. The staff was very young and inexperienced – but we had great connecting rooms which were large enough for the kids to make a mess everyday. All the boys cared about was breakfast and pool and they sure got plenty of that. Brian and I even got some exercise as there was a huge hill to the hotel and in 37C that is a real cardio!

A couple tips for traveling with kids:

  • Use the unique looks of your kids to your advantage :-). Mine are light haired, blue/green eyes and didn’t lack attention in Asia. They are probably on more videos and pictures of Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai tourists than on our own. But it got us ahead of queues, extra drinks, good airplane seats, free toys, complimentary rides – so very helpful !
  • Let go of your home rules – it makes for easier vacations. I think the boys enjoyed drinking sodas, eating chocolate and playing games, watching TV after a full day – more than some of the temples
  • Immerse in the culture – who cares about seat belts, car seats, high chairs – it works for locals, it can work for us (plus we would never get anywhere)
  • Melatonin doesn’t work for all kids
  • Bring your own snacks/food on planes for kids – but street food in Asia is the best, cheapest and right portions !
  • Give the kids responsibility for their own luggage – theirs was heavier than ours ! Little monster and penguin rollers and backpacks did wonder for carry ons – and got lots of attention everywhere !

to be continued.….