If you had a look at our photographs we shared from our trip around South East Asia anyone would think that it was us living our best lives in turquoise seas, golden sands and beautiful temples the whole time. There was plenty of that, but travel, especially with your kids in tow, can be pretty grim at times.
It seems that people really love relishing in our pain and misery because ‘Reasons Why Travel Sucks – Part 1’ is our most popular blog post ever – you can read that here if you haven’t already. If you’re ready to hear about more of our crazy escapades then read on…
-On the safari in Udawalawe, Sri Lanka, I popped my sunglasses on my head. When we went over a large bump they flew off my head and out of the back of the jeep into the scrub land. We couldn’t stop to get out because of the wild elephants and 7ft crocodiles. I battled with my annoyance that I’d lost a £40 pair of sunglasses and guilt that I’d basically just littered some plastic in a national park.
-We landed in Kuala Lumpur at 5am after a 3 hour flight from Sri Lanka. The time difference meant we hadn’t slept. We couldn’t check into our apartment until 3pm so we slept on a sofa in the car park.
-Ava did a running cannonball off a wooden jetty into lake. She went over on her ankle on the way in. I was filming at the time and watching the video back makes me sick. We were on a boat trip and had to travel an hour back to the mainland via boat then an hour across the island to the only hospital with an X-Ray department. All with me holding a small bag of ice from a street vendor on her foot. She was so brave, the medical care was awesome and luckily it was just a nasty sprain. Downside, Will had to carry her everywhere. Plus side, we got queue jumps on all the rides when we visited Universal Studios in Singapore.
-I ordered a vegetable curry in Kuala Lumpur. Only when I got to the bottom did I realise that what I thought was some funky Asian mushrooms was actually Squid (I hope!). I wanted to vomit.
-We got in a real funk in Phuket and immediately regretted travelling there. It was smelly, loud, busy, too touristy and just didn’t have the vibe we wanted. We spent too many days round the pool and too much money on room service. We missed some sightseeing, sometimes I regret that, but I try to be kind on myself and remember it was just what we needed at the time.
-Whilst snorkeling in Koh Tao I lost a ring and Bonnie sliced her heel open on some coral, it was nasty.
-Tanote Bay in Koh Tao was also home to what we now call the rock incident. There is a large rock around 9 metres high in the bay which is a notorious cliff jumping spot. Will went for a snorkel with Ava and decided to give it a go. He thought it’d be a good idea to leave Ava with some people at the bottom of the rock whilst he clambered up the rusty rotting rope someone had hammered into the top of the rock. I was left to watch from the beach panicking about the usual mum things like Ava falling in, the rope snapping and him plunging to his death or paralysis. Thinking about whether or not our insurance would pay out if he or Ava was injured. I was not a happy lady! He was obviously fine and loved the dive. Ava was also fine, and Will assured me the kind Canadian DJ’s who sat at the bottom with Ava were awesome people (I’m sure they were but still feel uncomfortable watching her sat with people I’d never met on a rock in the bay).
*DISCLAIMER: I’d like to add here that Will is a responsible, amazing dad I’m way, way, way too overprotective. I forget that Ava is 9, I’m the mum who has to look away whilst she climbs trees and I get sweaty palms when she’s swimming. Also Ava laughed at me being so cross and said “I was fine mummy I told him to do it!”. Also random Canadian DJ’s make awesome babysitters.*
-We stayed in the most amazing jungle hut with an outdoor bathroom. As we were all settling for bed one night William spied a giant huntsman spider (the size of a plate) hanging above our bed. He decided the best course of action was to settle in for the night, not tell us girls and tuck the mosquito net tightly under the mattress. He informed us the next day and we all felt a bit sick as the spider was nowhere to be seen.
-Budget travel tip number 1: check into cheap hotels then sneak into the posh ones down the road to use the pools (we may or may not have done this a lot – cheapskates). We recommend you don’t get caught like we did in Koh Samui as they make you pay quite a lot to use the facilities and buy food from the hotel. Also everyone stares at you like the paupers you are.
-Budget travel tip number 2: don’t check into hotels so cheap they don’t really qualify as a hotel. We checked into what can only be described as a wooden shack in Thailand. Bonnie opened the bathroom door to find a huge cockroach infestation. We were in the middle of nowhere, it was late so we had no choice but to stay. William wedged the bathroom door shut whilst I plugged any gaps with loo roll. There was a sink in the bedroom area, I think you can see where this is heading. A low point in our travels for me was squatting over a sink full of ants to pee. We literally sprinted out of there in the morning after we spied a rat the size of a dog.
-William stood on a dead bee on the beach, his foot had only just healed from the sea urchin incident.
-The girls were pretty fascinated by the fancy heated toilet in a mall in Bangkok. They loved playing with the control panel that controls a little hose to clean your bottom and air dry it after. Whilst I was sat on the loo Ava decided to mess around with the controller and manged to make the loo squirt water up over the rim of the loo and all over my jumpsuit. I had to walk around soaking wet for the rest of the day.
-I walked around a conservative Muslim area with a huge hole in the crotch of my trousers, quite a lot of bottom was on display. I didn’t realise until I got home and was mortified.
-We travelled 2 hours to see some Buddhist temples, got there and realised we’d forgotten to pack spare clothes to cover our shoulders. We couldn’t be bothered to pay the rip off prices for a shawl so had to make do peeking at the monuments over the walls.
So yes, looking back there was some pretty testing times during our 4 months in South East Asia. But, at risk of sounding super cheesy, it truly did test us and made me realise how capable we are.
We have grown so much and I know as a family we can survive anything together.