Friday, May 8, 2015

E- starting in May

For me, the ski season started, and ended in May. Skiing isn't a big priority at this point in my life and the conditions weren't the best this year anyways. 

But when that perfect day comes along and I can find a little extra time, we're not going to let school get in the way. Molly and Finny are great partners thanks to my Mom getting them up to Whistler ski school every Sunday from Christmas to Spring Break. 

We aren't doing Sudan Couloir yet, but the peak is no problem for the girls.

 Prime conditions for a rest in a snow chair for a snack and some sun.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thailand...moving on from Chaing Mai to Koh Lanta!

I don't want to forget to add the pictures from Finny's meet up in the Chiang Mai airport to set up delivery of her hair clips...this is Finny and Lukey with the son of the woman who makes the clips.

And this is Finny with the woman herself! It was a memorable moment, as Finny brokered her first entrepreneurial a place I would never have expected!

I want to make a quick note here of the comfort of flying in Thailand. All our domestic flights in Thailand were on Bangkok Airways. The flights were affordable (a nice plus), but more importantly, they harkened back to a different era of flying. The comforts offered throughout the process reminded me of what I remembered flying was like as a kid. A passenger's comfort was actually considered and catered to...there is even a lounge available to ALL travellers. The lounge had tons of unlimited snacks, drinks, newspapers and magazines, free wifi. It was great.

We woke up early to catch our boat to Koh Lanta. I don't know quite what I was expecting...maybe something more like a ferry? This experience was sort of opposite to flying Bangkok Airways. The boats sort of reminded me of the pictures you'd see on the news of a ferry sinking and everyone on board perishing. These are hard working boats, very low on extras. Also, it was really choppy. Not everyone likes choppy boats. There was a heavy odour of sick in the tiny enclosed cabin down below. Yuck.

Luckily, it was a boat to paradise, so our discomfort was quickly forgotten.

I had been booking all our accommodation on the fly as we travelled. Trip Advisor was my best friend. I used an Asian hotel booking site and had been having pretty good luck. Our good hotel booking fortune held up in Koh Lanta as the Lanta Sands I had booked from afar turned out to be quite a bit nicer than we were expecting. It wasn't the cheapest option on the island, but it was a considerable step up from all the hotels and resorts around us. It's on a gorgeous sandy beach and the grounds of the hotel were lushly landscaped and gorgeous. There were three pools and a lovely beachside restaurant for our breakfast buffet.

As luck would have it, while looking on Instagram while in Bangkok, I noticed that a friend of Eric's and mine from high school, Cristina Herman, was posting pictures from Chiang Mai! I got in touch and we discovered she was about a week ahead of our exact schedule! We arranged to meet up on Koh Lanta. By that time, they were about to head back to Bangkok to fly home, but we managed to have dinner together two nights before they left. Hooray for social media!

Here's a shot of the kids enjoying the benevolence of distracted adults at our favourite (and much frequented!) restaurant on the beach, the Thai Cat.

We went to the Thai Cat almost every night of the ten nights we were on Koh Lanta. We just couldn't get away. We didn't have banana splits every night, though.

It was great fun to see friends so far from home.

There were little hermit crabs all along the beach to play with...

And the Herman family had rented scooters...which some of our group was intrigued by as well (not this girl, particularly). Everyone had a try in the Thai Cat parking lot. Which was sand. So a little challenging. Note Lukey's bare feet...eeek!

And in a rare quiet moment, we even got a picture of us adults all together.

A couple of great evenings with friends was a lovely start to our Koh Lanta stay. By the end of our trip, we had our ordering at the Thai Cat down pat. It was a gorgeous breaded chicken with a lemon sauce on the side, accompanied by Massaman curry. By the time we left, we had upped the number of each of these that we ordered as the kids caught on to how tasty this combo was...

Dinners were great, but breakfasts were pretty great, too. Our first couple of nights at the Lanta Sands didn't have breakfast included. No problem. Just a couple of steps down the beach, we found the Funky Fish.

Breakfast is DIRT cheap in Thailand. Even when you are right on the beach in the middle of a total tourist district.

I am including this picture because it makes me laugh...every morning, I brought out my camera. Our cabins at the Lanta Sands were super air conditioned and overnight, the camera got cold. Then in the mornings, I brought it outside and it was HOT. The lens fogged over for about an hour as the temperatures sorted themselves out in the camera. It makes for quite an effect...

This breakfast of an omelette, toast and coffee would be under $3...probably closer to $2.

And as an added bonus, the kids could get up from the table and run straight into the sea for a swim...! Gives new meaning to "wash your hands"...

And we could supervise from our breakfast table. Oh, yeah!

Another pleasure we discovered on Koh Lanta was massage. For $10, you get an hour of Thai massage on the beach. Eric was almost giddy! As my dad would say, you couldn't afford NOT to take advantage of that!

It didn't take long before we all looked permanently like this:

Our days on Koh Lanta took on a routine. Breakfast, beach, afternoon popsicles (about 25 cents...always these delicious watermelon ones...but each person got to splurge once on a Magnum, which was about a dollar. Except Dad. He always got a Magnum!), swimming, shower, walk to the Thai Cat for dinner. Home to sleep. Repeat!

This was the view from our afternoon loungers:

For a couple of dollars, you could have a full platter of the most divine pineapple (they are totally different in Thailand...smaller, sweeter and far less acidic) and watermelon.

That's the kind of routine I can get behind!!

Our afternoons were spent mostly at this pool.

We developed a series of complicated games.

Quiet, we were NOT. We spent HOURS every day floating around in there.

And when the sun started to head down towards the water and our tummies started to rumble, time to head off to see our friends at the Thai Cat. The waiters all knew us by the end. Gomai was our favourite. We learned that he actually slept on the beach every night. Most of the waiters were seasonal workers who came to Koh Lanta from around Chiang Mai.

There weren't a lot of waves to speak of, which suited Lukey just fine. After a few rough encounters with body surfing and especially skim boarding in Florida, our boy is a little shy of the big water...this suited him just fine.

Here's a couple of shots of the girls having fun:

The second half of our stay at the Lanta Sands included breakfast. This is what that looked like:

It was ridiculous.

As an aside...we only had four breakfast vouchers and six people, so every morning two people had to have breakfast elsewhere. The girls were happy to head to the Funky Fish for eggs and toast. So there were a few mornings where we pushed a couple hundred bhat into their hands and sent them on their way. We laughed, because the kids wouldn't head even a couple of blocks from our house on their own for breakfast, but none of us batted an eye at sending them away up the beach to eat alone in a foreign country at a cafe run by two grumpy transvestites. It was hilarious. Also, a true testament to how safe and comfortable we felt in Thailand. Pretty remarkable.

On one of our last days on the island, we sprung for massages for the kids. For $30, all three got over an hour of Thai massage. The ladies giving the massages were tickled to have kids as clients.

It was funny to hear them giggle as they went through the various Thai postures. As another aside, I LOVED Thai massage. It was a really different experience than any other massage I have had. It was terrific.

The sign in the foreground of this picture is for laundry. We did take advantage of that close to the end of our stay. Super cheap, but they tied a piece of green wool onto everything in our loads. I am STILL finding those green wool threads on our clothes...!

While the kids were in their happy place getting massages, I popped next door (haha...there ARE no doors!) for an iced coffee. It was awesome. Note the sign in the cafe saying there was no to each other or call your mother. Ha!

Now that's happiness!

And when the kids were done, they walked about three steps over to me, all refreshed and relaxed with the cold waters they got at the end of their massages.

In short (not really that short, looking at this eternal blog post!), we were happy.