A relaxing break in Thailand

After packing up and leaving Bristol, I spent some time looking for work, and it really was an impossible task! Even finding temporary work was tough, so I decided to tag along on the family trip to Thailand at the end of October. This was to be my seventh visit to the country since 2003 and, as always, it was a chance to relax and to enjoy the good weather and the great food. Thailand used to be ridiculously cheap for just about everything, but on this visit, everything seemed to have crept up in price. With the exchange rate so bad, along with inflation, a lot of prices had soared since my last visit two and a half year previously. Of course, eating out on a shoestring is still very possible, but the days of 30p meals appear to be well and truly ever!

I worked my last two days of ‘temping’ and excitedly rushed home to get packing for the trip. Even though all of 2009 and much of 2010 has been spent in Florida – the Sunshine State – this was my first proper holiday in a long time, so the thought of getting away was an exciting one. Like a big kid, I stayed awake all night, excitedly counting down every last hour to our taxi pick-up at 6.00am on the morning of 27 October. This was the first time I had ever set off to Thailand so early, but the advantage of a morning departure was that it meant a morning arrival in Thailand, allowing a full day in the sun when you arrive.

We were travelling to Thailand with Emirates – one of the fastest growing airlines in the world and one that calls Dubai home. More than 12 hours 30 minutes in the air was split in two by a lengthy 4 hour 30 minute wait in Dubai, but we survived the trip and touched down in Bangkok at around 8.00am the following morning. Our pre-booked taxi appeared not to be waiting for us at the airport, but after doing half a dozen laps of the arrivals hall, we found our driver and he drove us for the final leg of the trip to Pattaya – around 90 minutes by car.

Pattaya – around 100 miles to the south east of Bangkok – is not everybody’s cup of tea, but it has always suited us. There are no shortage of beaches in the city – some grubby (the main beaches) and some nice (the small, private beaches) – and for shopping and night-life, there is nowhere better. The city, once quite sleazy, is undergoing a massive regeneration and new shopping malls and international hotels are cropping up everywhere. Where the unpleasant pink-lit bars once stood, full of girls touting for clients, the best designer shops now stand! It’s a step in the right direction, but I wonder how far all of this construction will go before the city loses it’s appeal.

Even though I have been to Pattaya many times before, the sheer size of the place means that I always discovering new attractions. This time, I visited a floating market for the first time, which was interesting. The majority of the visitors to the market are local people, but a handful of tourists also browse the hundred or so shops and stalls there. Hiring a boat and experiencing the market from the water is possible and it’s inexpensive, but some people – myself included – prefer to have their feet on the ground! Walking around on the wooden walkways felt like a much safer option!

Having been loyal to one particular hotel in the past, this trip was a chance to change, and we opted for the Sea Orchid Hotel at Phra Tamnak Hill. Whilst not a beach front hotel, the sea was only a couple of hundred meters away, which we didn’t mind. The very short walk to the beach took us past lots of small shops, stalls and restaurants, so we often arrived there feeling stuffed! You can read my hotel review on TripAdvisor.com.

I left Thailand with my sister four days before my parents and we set off at 10.30pm one night to begin the epic voyage home. Our 2.25am flight was again heading to Dubai, but a much shorter connection was possible this time, so we were quite pleased about that. Despite an absolutely rancid breakfast on the first trip, which was left by most, the flight was good enough. The second flight, however, was much better and it was one I had been looking forward to immensely, for this was to be my first flight aboard the Airbus A380 ‘Super Jumbo’. It was certainly an amazing experience and everything about Emirates’ A380 economy class experience was spot on, from comfort to entertainment to food and drink. After surviving what felt like the worst landing ever in winds of up to 60kts, the holiday was sadly over and we set off – on the train – on our way home.

The trip home left both of us feeling exhausted, but with a door-to-door trip time of 24 hours and 30 minutes, it wasn’t surprising!

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