Trip Report: Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand Trip Reports

Horrible start

We were still dealing with a sick child.  Parker was absolutely miserable and by the time we were ready to head to the airport to catch our 7:50pm flight, Parker was absolutely exhausted and ready to go to bed.  He was a complete zombie at the airport, literally sleep walking through security and to our gate.

Before leaving home, I read many Trip Advisor posts and other travel blogs about taking taxis in Bangkok and to always insist they use the meter.   We went to the taxi stand at the airport to get a taxi and the driver told us it was something like 500 Thai baht (I no longer remember the exact amount) to get to the Marriott Sukhumvit.  We argued with him for a while about using the meter and he finally agreed.  I knew from looking at Google maps that the airport was about 40 minutes away.  It took us well over an hour to get there and the final meter price was about 125 baht Higher than what he quoted us at the airport.  He purposely took the long way around to get the higher fare because we insisted on the meter.  OK.  You got me.  At that point I really didn’t care because I had a sick baby sleeping on my lap and all I wanted to do was get to our room and go to bed. (it was now almost 10pm)

The Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit was such a welcome sight! A Beautiful hotel (in a rather odd location) and very friendly staff.  They immediately brought Parker a cool towel and took our bags to our room.  They knew we needed to get him to bed as soon as possible and the check-in process only took about 3 minutes.

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I think I will write a separate blog entry about the Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit because it was my favorite hotel of the entire trip.

Parker got a good night’s sleep and on our first morning we went outside to find a taxi to take us to the Grand Palace.  The taxi driver said he could not drive near the Grand Palace because of the protests and it would take too long to go around.  He suggested we take the boat instead.  He said he would take us to the pier for 100 baht (about $3) and I knew the public boat was only 20baht (80 cents) so it sounded like a good deal.  As cab drivers usually do, he tried to get us to stop into a tailor shop for 10 minutes and he would cut the fare in half.  He kept on about that for the whole ride and we just kept saying “No no no”

When we got near the river, he drove down a side road toward a dock, but it did not look like a public ferry dock.   I kept asking him if this was the public ferry and he kept saying yes.  It wasn’t.  It was a private boat operator (more kickbacks for the driver for bringing people there I guess) who wanted 1500 baht for a 1 hour ride.  They refused to tell us where the public ferry dock was but after some chatting with a shop owner down the road, we found out it was only about a block farther down.

I felt like a total travel newbie, getting taken by 2 cab drivers in less than 24 hours.  But the 2nd one was totally not a big deal and actually saved me money from taking a cab the entire distance.  The first one was worse because of Parker being sick, but again, not a “trip ruining” experience by any means.  Travel is an adventure and you always have to be willing to learn as you go along.

Once we got to the Grand Palace, we walked around for about an hour in 100 degree heat. Parker was a good sport about it and was starting to feel much better.  Although the heat there will take anybody down.  I wouldn’t say the Grand Palace is a great place for kids unless they are really into Thai temple architecture.  Once I started to get bored, I knew Parker would be more than ready to leave.

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Family selfie at The Grand Palace

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I love those trees!

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Tourist! But at least he’s feeling better!

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Mommy it’s so hot. Can we please go back to the pool?

Since it was so beastly hot, we committed another Thailand Travel Faux Pas and caught a taxi right outside the Grand Palace.  “Oh don’t ever do that! They will rip you off.  You can get one cheaper if you walk a couple blocks down the street!”  Forget it! It was 100 degrees and the taxi had his A/C blasting.  Best 350 baht I spent on the whole trip!  “WHAT?? I would never pay more than 100 baht for a ride to ANYWHERE in Thailand.” Whatever.  After a while I get sick of hearing that.  In general, the cab fares over there were much cheaper than you would pay in the States. And everything is relative.  If I think it’s worth it to spend $10 on a taxi right in front of me, rather than walk another 10 minutes in ungodly heat to save $3, then it’s money well spent.  As you know, the same is true for how you use your miles and points.  They are worth what they are worth TO YOU.  Not how much some blogger values them by doing complicated math equations.

We spent that afternoon in the pool at the Marriott and even ordered lunch poolside!

After swimming and a short nap, Parker was ready to go explore so we took the BTS (train) to the ferry dock and headed to Asiatique.  Asiatique is Thai for “tourist trap”, but kids love it.  They have lots of shops and restaurants and of course, a giant ferris wheel.  Does every major city have a giant ferris wheel now?

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Parker found a guy making balloon animals and he made him this most awesome Minion balloon!

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When we left Asiatique, we took the public ferry back to the dock to catch the BTS train. When we got to the top of the escalator, the security guard said that we could not bring the Minion balloon on the train!  What the? I told Matthew I was going to noballoonsgo back down and stuff the Minion in my bag and then come through again.  The security guard probably heard me say this and was conveniently not there when we came back up. It’s a crazy rule, but I guess there is a reason for it.  I’m glad I didn’t argue with the guard too much because apparently in 2012 an Irish passenger was badly beaten by BTS security guards for trying to bring (a big bouquet of ) balloons on a BTS train.

We decided to spend Friday indoors to beat the heat.  We went to some of the big shopping malls that honestly were not much different than the malls at home.  Mostly high-end stores.  We did make our way over to MBK which was a bit different.  Knock-off haven.  The most popular knock-offs in Bangkok were Polo and Ray Ban.  We bought some “Polo” shirts and shorts for Matthew and Parker and I got a pair of “Ray Bans” for about $3 that broke after about a week.

Terminal 21 was probably my favorite mall.  Each floor is themed like a different country, Japan, England, France, USA etc.  Very neat concept and they had some great restaurants and interesting bathrooms.

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Saturday morning we went to the weekend market known as Chatuchuk Market.  I am not a fan of flea markets in general, and this was no exception.  There was nothing new or unique there that I couldn’t have bought at MBK.  I read a lot of travel reviews about Chatuchuk and how much kids would enjoy it.  Parker didnt.  He was hot and still sick and there really wasn’t much there of interest to him.  Plus it gets so crowded! We only stayed for about an hour and then took the BTS back to Taksin pier to catch the ferry to Wat Arun.  If you get off the ferry at Ta Tien, you can catch another ferry to take you across the river for 20baht.

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Parker enjoyed climbing the steep stairs at Wat Arun

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Very steep.

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I made it to the top!

Before heading over to Wat Po, we found a vendor on the street with a nice assortment of food.  I should mention, we had been having a very hard time getting Parker to eat.  A very hard time.  It’s not that he just wouldn’t eat Thai food, he wouldn’t even eat Western food (McDonald’s) because he said it tasted different.  He got better as the trip went on, but in the beginning he ate very little.  It could have been because he was sick, so I can’t write him off as a picky travel eater….yet.

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It all looked delicious to me!

I got a few things that looked like chicken nuggets and hoped that Parker would eat them.  He did eat a few bites, but then started spitting it out.

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My picky eater

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Wat Po

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Reclining Buddha

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Shoes off….shoes on

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On our last night, I had to go to Khao San Road.  Backpacker paradise that I first read about 15 years ago and was always a “Bucket List” destination for me.  I’m not 25 anymore, but I still had to check it out.  It’s not easy to get to because it’s not serviced by the BTS.  We took the ferry there, which was easy, and took a cab back to the hotel.  It wasn’t as “cool” as it was in my daydreams, but I’m still glad I went.

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Khao San Rd

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Parker loved the “sawasdee” Ronald McDonald. Even though he didn’t care for his food.

I think Parker enjoyed Bangkok.  He loved saying “hello” and “thank you” in Thai.  He played with Thai children in the parks and loved all the attention he got from the adults.  They love little blonde-haired faring babies!

He loves public transportation and liked buying his own tickets on the BTS and trying to figure out which train we needed to take by looking at the maps.

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Is our train coming? That tall building in the background is the Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit

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People on the Bangkok trains are very polite. They always gave up their seat to Parker and kept their bags in their laps. And there’s always that one guy on the train….

Next up: Khao Lak

Trip Report: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailand Trip Reports

We Made It!

Monday March 24, 2014

We arrived in Chiang Mai around 8am and easily made our way to Le Meridien Chiang Mai in a taxi.  Parker had slept most of the flight and was still fighting whatever stomach bug he brought with him from home.

I was immediately impressed with the friendliness of the hotel employees and Thai people in general.  They noticed my husband carrying Parker and asked if he was tired from the trip.  I told them no, he was actually quite sick.  IMG_0196They told me they would have a room ready for me as soon as possible and to wait in the lobby.  I think we waited about 30 minutes before someone came and told me our room was ready.

We don’t have any status with SPG, so we were just given a basic room.  But it only cost me about $80 for 2 nights, so that was just fine with me.   The hotel was beautiful and in a great location, so we really couldn’t ask for more.  In the “Pre Child Days”, my husband and I stayed in many guesthouses and hostels with shared baths, so staying in such a “fancy” hotel was a great treat for us.  One of the benefits of having a child and traveling:  not wanting to subject them to the uncleanliness and potential dangers of true “Budget Travel”.

Since Parker was sick and we were absolutely exhausted from flying in coach all the way across the world, I abandoned my Chiang Mai itinerary and original plan of hiking up to Doi Suthep Temple immediately after our arrival.  Instead, we went to the room for much needed showers and more sleeping for Parker.

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I thought this was all we would ever see of Chiang Mai.

We had a big day planned for Tuesday – elephants! So I wanted Parker to get as much rest as possible.  In between naps, Matthew and I took turns exploring the hotel and surrounding areas.  The infinity pool was very nice, but it was a very hot and hazy day, so the view was not that great.

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The view from the pool

While on my walkabout, I noticed a McDonald’s across the street from the hotel.  Parker had not eaten anything in well over 24 hours and he will usually always eat McDonald’s.  So when dinner time approached, I told him about the McD’s and he actually got excited about it and said he wanted to go.  However, once the food was placed on the table in front of him, he said he didn’t want any.  I feel terrible about this now, but I thought he needed to eat so I pretty much forced him to take a few bites.  My mistake.  He threw up all over the table and floor.  Of course I was mortified, but the Thai employees and even other patrons rushed to his rescue (from mean Mommy).  Everything was cleaned up and he was given much love and pats on the head from just about everyone in the restaurant. Poor little yellow-haired Farang baby.

After that drama, we decided the best thing was a nice bath and more rest.  So back to the hotel we went.

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Enjoying a warm bath. What’s with the windows? No privacy in most Thai hotels.

Tuesday March 25, 2014

Today was our whole reason for coming to Chiang Mai.  Patara Elephant Farm.  Parker had been looking forward to this for months.  It was all he talked about.  But on this morning? The first thing he said was “I don’t wanna go”.  Yikes.  We were being picked up at the hotel at 7:30am, which left very little time to talk him into it.  We were leaving Chiang Mai the next evening.  I could not reschedule this.  So once again, I forced a sick child to do something against his will.  Before the nasty comments come in, I honestly did not realize how sick he was.  I thought it could possibly just be jet lag.  He was not running a fever, he was just very very lethargic and had an upset stomach.

He slept on the van ride to the Elephant Farm and sat around for most of the introduction.  There was another little boy, the same age as Parker, in our group.  If Parker had felt better, I think they would have had a great time together.  But Parker just really didn’t want to be there.  At one point he laid down in the dirt and tried to sleep.  It was at that point that Matthew and I seriously considered finding a ride back to the hotel.  But then the elephants came around.  Despite being sick and not eating for 2 days, Parker perked up a bit.

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Let me tell you a little about Patara Elephant Farm.  I researched several elephant farms in the Chiang Mai area.  I wanted to visit one that gave you lots of one on one time with the elephants and also one that was truly interested in their well being.  I absolutely did not want touristy elephant rides through the jungle or elephants in chains!

Patara Elephant Farm gives you a full hands-on experience of being an “elephant owner for a day”.  It is work! You are responsible for one elephant for the whole day.  You have to check them out to make sure they are in good health.  Which means making sure they are producing tears (they’re not crying), that their feet are in good shape and you also have to check the consistency of their poop and make sure it smells right.

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Parker wanted no part of the poop smelling

After inspecting your elephant, you have to feed him or her.  We fed them sugar cane and bananas.  Parker had his own baby elephant to take care of, but since he wasn’t feeling well, he wanted to stay with me.  But don’t worry, someone else took care of the baby!

IMG_1359After their meal, we had to brush them off and take them down to the river for a bath.  I will tell you, it’s not very easy to wash an elephant! They don’t stand still and the younger ones want to play and go under the water. But Parker seemed to have a great time bathing his baby elephant.  I was happy that something took his mind off of being sick.  Even if only for a short time.

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After bathing and playing with the elephants in the river for awhile, it was time to ride them back to the main camp area for lunch.

You ride completely bareback, no seat or bench, just a rope to hold on to.  A few years ago we did a camel trek in the Sahara Desert and I can tell you that elephants are a bit more comfortable to ride, but harder to get on.

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Parker getting a leg up on to his elephant

Once you get yourself on, it’s not completely uncomfortable.  You sit way up on his neck and put your knees behind his ears.  I never felt like I was falling off.  By the way, there is a video of me getting up on the elephant, but I don’t think I will be posting that.

Lunch was delicious, with many different Thai foods – and fried chicken! Parker did not eat anything, just as I expected.

I think Parker’s baby elephant knew he was sick.  During and after lunch, Parker sat and laid on one of the benches in the field.  His elephant kept coming over to him and standing very close.  He was a young elephant, but I think he knew Parker was sick and wanted to comfort him.

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Excuse the finger! I grabbed my camera fast because I had no idea this would happen more than once.

After lunch, we got back on our elephants and rode them back to the area where they spend their nights.  Riding the elephants through the jungle was a wonderful experience that I will never forget!

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That’s Parker in the front!

IMG_2258Wednesday March 26, 2014

This was our last full day in Chiang Mai.  Our Air Asia flight to Bangkok was leaving at 7:50pm.  Parker was feeling a little better today.  Not great, but better.

Another activity Parker was really looking forward to was Tiger Kingdom.  Now, I am not a fan of zoos or any place that keeps animals in captivity for human enjoyment.  So I am aware that I sound like a total hypocrite for visiting this place or even THINKING about visiting it.  Even if the tigers aren’t chained up or drugged, they are still spending their lives in small cages.  Never experiencing their natural instinct to hunt or run.  I have struggled with my decision before we went, while we were there and even now.  But we did it and this is what it was like.

We took a tuk-tuk to Tiger Kingdom which was a huge mistake.  We could have paid about the same price for a cab and been comfortable in the A/C and not breathing exhaust for 40 minutes.  I guess I didn’t realize how far Tiger Kingdom was from Le Meridien.

Children are only allowed to visit the very young tigers so that’s where we started.  Parker was very excited to pet a tiger and he enjoyed the experience from beginning to end.  As an animal lover, of course I loved being so close to these beautiful cats, stroking their soft fur and hearing them purr.  (“soft kitty, warm kitty…”) But, as an animal lover, I was also very disappointed in myself.  What was I teaching my child?

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It’s funny how afraid Matthew was.  He did not trust the tigers.  Even such small ones.  Every picture that he is in you can just see how uncomfortable he is!

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I really wanted to go in with the big adult tigers but when the time came, I didn’t do it.  I felt I had done enough and given them enough of my money.  And for what really? So I could post photos on Facebook and Instagram? “Look at me with the big scary tiger!” No…that’s just not me.  I couldn’t do it.  So we took the long, hot, noisy, stinky ride back to the hotel.

All of the hipster backpackers say if you don’t visit Chiang Mai and all the wonderful temples, then you can’t really say you’ve been to Thailand.  Well, I want to say I’ve been to Thailand, so we went to a temple.  Just one.  Wat Chedi Luang.

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It really is a beautiful temple.  Especially at sunset.

On our way to the airport, we stopped at The Mexican Grill.  I had heard about this place on TripAdvisor and Facebook.  People seem to love it.  I don’t know.  We didn’t.  We were the only customers in the restaurant for the majority of our visit and it still took over an hour to have our order taken and our food served.  Our taxi driver was waiting for us in the parking lot to take us to the airport and a couple times he came around to the door to see what was taking us so long.  The food was ok, for Mexican food in Thailand.  It’s in a very out of the way location, so I wouldn’t bother going there again if I was in Chiang Mai.

Overall Impression

I don’t think I liked Chiang Mai as much as I could have because of dealing with a sick child.  We didn’t really get to “experience” many of the things people love about it.  We did things to make Parker happy because he was sick.  We probably should have stayed in the room for 2 days and let him sleep off his sickness.

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I thought Le Meridien was fabulous.  The staff was incredibly friendly.  On our last day they sent the hotel nurse to our room to check on Parker.  He was completely passed out on the bed the entire time she was there.  He looked like he was on death’s door.  She said we should take him to the hospital.  That really scared me.  At the time, I didn’t know that that is how you see a doctor in Thailand. (I would learn much more about doctors and hospitals in Thailand later in the trip)  She did not speak English and had the Concierge with her to translate, but his English wasn’t much better.  She didn’t really do anything to help us, but I really appreciated the fact that she came to check on him.

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A tiger and a smile

Here is a brief rundown of our costs for 3 days in Chiang Mai.  I did not write down every expenditure because we had to pay cash for many things (tuk tuks, laundry etc) but I will tell you that things are very cheap in Chiang Mai.  And even Bangkok for that matter.  If you are planning to tour Thailand I would suggest doing your shopping in Chiang Mai and Bangkok and not wait until you get to Phuket.  That’s what I did, and prices are Considerably higher in Phuket!

  • 2 nights at Le Meridien Chiang Mai: $80 + 4,000 SPG points on Cash+Points
  • 1 day at Patara Elephant Farm for 2 adults and 1 child: $444
  • 1 visit with small tigers at Tiger Kingdom for 2 adults and 1 child: $123
  • 3 visits to McDonalds! $12.37
  • Dinner at the Mexican Grill: $28.78

Next post: Bangkok

 

What Is It Like To Fly Coach Class To Asia?

Coach Class to Asia

I started planning our trip to Thailand in February 2013.  At that time I had enough miles for 3 coach tickets.  I knew coach would be rough, but I wanted to know just how rough.  I searched and I Googled, looking for a blog post that documented just how bad it was to fly coach, long distances,  on different carriers.  I found none.  But I found TONS of  posts reviewing the different business class offerings on different airlines.  Yes, we love to drink champagne and eat ice cream sundaes before we Lie Flat in our comfy “bed” with fluffy pillows and duvets.  Yes, we get it.  It’s nice.

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Yes yes, very nice

In order to get 3 business seats (assuming I could even find 3 on the same flight) I would have to earn another 120,000 miles.  I didn’t have time for that! The time to go to Thailand was now! My son was the perfect age and it was pretty easy to pull him out of Kindergarten for 2 weeks.  When he’s older, that may not be as easy.

When I started my blog, I said it was going to be different.  This was going to be “real life”.  A “real” family traveling in coach for 20 hours because we want to take 2 trips rather than one.  Well….by the end of this article, I may just change my mind!

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Who wants to sit like this for 10+ hours? Not me! But I did.

We literally traveled around the world, in coach, and lived to tell about it.  We had a total of 9 flights on our trip to Thailand.  All of them in coach.  Some were ok, some were bad and some were down right ugly!

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Our routing sent us, literally, around the world!

The Flights

United

We started on a United Regional Jet (RJ) from Cincinnati to Chicago.  You know those kind of flights are going to be bad, and there is no first class anyway, so you just have to deal with it.

Scandinavian Airlines

Our flight from Chicago to Stockholm was on Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), a founding member of the Star Alliance Network. We were on an Airbus 330 with the horrible 2-4-2 configuration.  No hope for a family of 3!  I booked 3 seats in a 4 seat row, leaving one of the middle ones empty in hopes of nobody wanting to book a middle seat in a 4 seat section.  No luck.  The flight was full.

The meal service was not bad.  P’s kid’s meal was chicken fingers, tater tots and cheesecake.  Hubby and I had pot roast, carrots and mashed potatoes.  It really was a decent coach meal.  The service was not so good though.  It took them almost an hour to come around and collect the dirty meal trays.  This just made everyone more uncomfortable having a tray in your lap covered with dirty dishes.

P was starting to come down with some sort of virus that he brought along with him from school.  When we landed in Stockholm, he promptly vomited on the seat.  Of course I freaked out and tried to clean it up with tissues. (that doesn’t work)  I wanted to push past people and run off of that plane as fast as I could.  But having worked for the airlines, I knew we had to tell somebody so it could be safely cleaned up.  Hubby told the nearest flight attendant, who rolled and closed her eyes and shook her head.  Nice.  No “Ohhh I’m so sorry your baby is sick”, just irritation that it was something she would have to deal with.  And by “deal with” I mean “tell someone else to clean up”.

One other thing to be aware of – except for water and coffee, SAS charges for drinks outside of meal service.

Thai Airways

I was so happy to be greeted by the beautiful Thai flight attendants in the traditional silk Thai uniforms! The interior of the Thai 777 was larger, brighter and more modern than the SAS Airbus.  It actually inspired me to take pictures!

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Settling in for the 10.5 hour flight!

This flight was probably the most pleasant of all the flights we took on this trip.  The flight attendants were friendly and attentive, the meals were good, the in-flight entertainment was good and there was even a footrest!

P’s kid’s meal was Swedish Meatballs (we departed from Stockholm) with mashed potatoes and carrots.  He was too sick to eat, so I can attest to the tastiness of the meal!

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Sorry it’s blurry!

Hubby had Hoki fish (aka McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish) with potatoes and broccoli and I had Chicken panang with rice and green beans.

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Thai Airways meals are delicious!

And no Thai meal is complete without Thai Coke!

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Ahhhhhhhh!

I had planned to sleep on this flight, but unfortunately I couldn’t.  I just can’t sleep sitting up.  I  bought one of those SkyRest pillows, thinking that I could sleep leaning forward.  But I am either too tall or too short for the SkyRest pillow, I can’t figure out which.  Either way, it was not comfortable.

I passed the time watching 12 Years a Slave, Philomena and our approach to Bangkok.

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Notice the handy USB plug!

Shortly before we landed we were served breakfast.  P’s breakfast was crepes with little hot dog looking sausages.

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These types of sausages were common in Thailand. We never quite got used to them.

Air Asia

We used Air Asia twice: from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and a few days later from Bangkok to Phuket.

The flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok was beyond unpleasant. No fault of Air Asia, just us.  It was a late evening flight, around 8pm, and we were still horribly jet-lagged and P was still sick.  P was seriously a zombie.  I felt terrible that I literally had to drag him through the airport.

The flight from Bangkok to Phuket was much better.  It was a morning flight. we were over our jet lag and illnesses, and we were greeted with the most beautiful view when we landed.

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The Air Asia plane that took us from Bangkok to Phuket

The Phuket airport was rather small and easy to navigate.  We easily exchanged money after getting through customs and went outside to find our taxi.  Now…where is our taxi?

I booked a transfer from Phuket airport to the JW Marriott in Khao Lak with “Boss Cheaper Than Hotel Taxi” (yes that is the name) several weeks in advance.  Our flight landed at 9:30 am and I told him to be there at 10.  We were outside a couple minutes before 10 and he was not there.  We walked up and down for about 15 minutes looking for him, but he never showed.  I had not prepaid him, so if he didn’t show, I would not have lost any money BUT the rate he quoted me was 600 Baht (around $19) cheaper than the vans at the airport.

After a few minutes of pacing, the airport van drivers decided they needed to pounce on the stranded tourist.  I had about 4 of them following me up and down the sidewalk saying “Taxi Miss? You need a taxi?”  I kept telling them I was waiting for Boss, as I thought he was quite well known.  They acted like they had never heard of him.  I had no cell phone service and there was no wifi at the airport so I was unable to look online for his phone number.  I finally asked one of the van drivers to let me borrow his phone, but I couldn’t seem to connect to him.

I was just about to give up and pay the extra $19 when my Hubby shouted “He’s here!”  Only about 45 minutes late, but Thai time is almost like Island time in the Caribbean. He was late and I was stressed, but I would still recommend him if you need transport from Phuket to Khao Lak.

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Boss operates new and clean SUVs! And his price really is cheaper than the hotels!

Asiana Airlines

Our flight from Phuket to Seoul departed at 1:30am.  I can tell you at least one person who wasn’t very happy about that departure time!

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I wish I could do that!

The flight to Seoul was about 6 hours long.  I have virtually no memory of it, and I took no notes so I’m guessing I was able to sleep for most of the flight.

P was wide awake when we arrived in Seoul and fortunately they had a play area for him to run off some energy before getting on our longest flight of the trip.

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P is a blur at the Incheon airport play area.

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Our 12.5 hour flight from Seoul to Chicago was on an Asiana 747.  I think this was the flight where I decided I might have to change the theme of my blog.  It wasn’t horrible, but … yeah it was horrible.  No fault of Asiana, but 12.5 hours in those tiny seats is almost cruel.

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Asiana kids meal

 

One positive thing I can say about Asiana is they sure feed you a lot.  Our meals were quite tasty and they were very generous with snacks and drinks between meal service.  At one point about mid-flight they came through with chicken burritos.  Those were SO good….even P ate one.  We asked if they had any extras and they brought us 2 more!

We survived the 12.5 hour flight to Chicago and retreated to the comfort of the Admiral’s Club (which has showers!) for our 4 hour layover.

Bottom Line

I am really going to have to reconsider my stance on “real family” travel.  If I have the means to book 3 business class seats, I should do it.  Although it can be hard to find 3 business class award seats on the same flight, it’s not impossible.  I also have to consider the value of the business class ticket.  Is it worth blowing the miles?  Maybe book business class only on flights longer than 8 hours?  Maybe.  There is something to be said about being on an 8 hour flight to Europe and arriving refreshed after getting about 6 hours of sleep rather than arriving like a zombie after a 45 minute, neck crushing nap.

In my opinion, it’s best to save your miles for the long international trips in business class.  Personally, I will spend money to buy domestic tickets because they are usually pretty cheap if you know how to find the deals and use your credit card companion passes wisely. Plus you are earning miles for taking the flights!

I recently earned 220,000 miles with the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card, in addition to about 75,000 miles we already had.  PLUS about 70,000 US Airways miles that will soon merge with those AAdvantage miles.  We are thinking about Australia in 2 years and I think that might be the perfect opportunity to use those miles for Business class.  Let’s not forget I still have 300,000 Delta SkyPesos, but their redemption rates are so high I don’t think I could swing an Australia trip using them.  I would LOVE to fly on Virgin Australia though! So I think I will use my SkyPesos for a couple coach trips to Europe…assuming I can find availability.

I’ve flown business and first class many times, both domestic and international.  Is it worth it? Yes.  It is.

 

I hope this post has helped somebody who was searching for the truth on what it’s like to fly coach class to Asia.  The Asian carriers are definitely far superior to any US carrier, but coach is still coach.  In the end, you have to decide what your miles are worth to YOU and what works best for your family.

Happy Travels!