(or Sawa di kap, for men)
Greetings from Bangkok! We arrived safe and somewhat sound after a much longer journey than anticipated from Perth. We knew the flight would be long, and we weren't too worried about it. The girls handled the bulk of the flight beautifully. We were in business class (HOORAY!), so we had plenty of space. Toy Story 2 was on the kid movie channel, so they were happy (Stephanie watched it almost 4 times in a row). Thai Airways flies direct from Perth to Phuket, carrying on to Bangkok on the same plane with a 30 minute delay. We thought we'd get to stay on the plane, but no. We had to get off, go through immigration and security and get back to the plane. It wasn't too hard, but the process set Stephanie over the edge. The flight to Bangkok from Phuket was very short, so the kids movie channel didn't come back on. She was so angry! She was tired and pitched fits for most of that flight (very atypical for her). On the seemingly unending descent, the pressure was awful and her ears started hurting big time. She began to scream. It was terrible. She didn't stop when we landed. She carried on so much that she made herself sick while we waited for the car to take us to the hotel. Once we settled into the car, she fell asleep hard in my lap...only to wake up 50+ minutes later (still in the car due to traffic) and resumed screaming, clutching her ear. I was worried that she might have damaged it somehow (she was congested before the flight), but by the time we reached the hotel, she was much better. I think it finally equalized...and so did she. Thank goodness.
After that frazzled start, we have nothing else unpleasant to report. The hotel is fantastic! Our room is stunning. We have never stayed anywhere so nice, including the time we lived in the Ritz Carlton. There is a lower floor in the hotel were there is a fitness center, pool, and cafe. We have spent most of our in-hotel time there. The (included!) breakfast is so comprehensive that even Ellie stuffs herself. Yesterday, I was treated to a massage that made me want to give up and join one of the many yoga-massage retreats on offer here in Thailand. Basically, we are being spoiled to bits and loving it! This will only last anothey day or so before we move on to Chiang Mai, where our accommodation is far more low-key. All we had heard about Bangkok before arriving was how busy and stressful it can be, so we decided to make our hotel stay here as lovely as possible. Achieved!
Bangkok is massive. I'm not sure what I expected, but this isn't really it. The city is so huge that I look out the window and think it could be anywhere. But then my eyes settle on some very slum-like houses, and I quickly remember that this is a developing country. The people are incredibly friendly (they are famous for it), and hospitality is generous. We have learned to greet others with "sawa di kaa" (for women) and "sawa di kap" (for men), as well as saying "kap koom kaa (or kap)" for showing appreciation/thanks. Thais love children, and Stephanie is the star of attention! We thought she would hate that (she's very shy), but she's doing just fine. We suspect it is because Thais approach her with a warm smile and very quiet, contained body language...and usually they don't speak to her until she acknowledges their approach. Whatever it is, she is very happy to let them fuss over her. She has had her picture taken on many staff members' mobile phones.
Ellie developed a bad cough last week (of course) and it is still plaguing her. The cough kept her up often in the night last night. Markus seems to have absorbed her germs, and now he has a sore throat and cough too. Ah well. We are all a bit exhausted, but that's why we are on holiday! We know we will catch up and relax in Chiang Mai. There is so much to do and see in Bangkok, but the kids find it too overwhelming to enjoy. We are mostly keeping close to the hotel, though we did take a boat tour of the river and visit the textile market yesterday and we visited the (quite good!) aquarium this morning.
I'm sorry not to be able to share photos right now, but the computer here in the hotel is not speaking to my camera. I hope you are doing well! I do have access to email here in this hotel, though I'm not sure what the situation will be in Chiang Mai. We will be here until Tuesday, August 3, and we'll back in Perth on Tuesday, August 10.