BALI – To dengue or not to dengue

Did you ever have the feeling that your life has turned into a black comedy and you are watching from the sidelines? I think its a coen brothers movie as they always confuse me. The script go’s something like this.
.
.
It starts of as this typical midlife crisis thing. Woman wonders or this is it in life? Is there anything more to life again then being a mum and a waiting wife. So she go’s out and seeks out people from her past, and digs up lots of sweet memories. But after all the memory diging decides to returns to her life with the intent to make it work.
When due to lots of different factors the woman’s  life appears to fall apart she decides to go on one last adventure with her daughter before school starts. Hoping that during this quest she will find her adventurous self and independence again and upon return see things in perspective.
It starts out great.. Her daughter was an absolute trained pro travelkid on the plane and they got to see their future house from the airplane. Although she gets a warning at the airport for leaving her card in the ATM machine while her daughter ran away. But thanks to the backpacker kindness the card gets returned and she has faith. This is what it’s all about. Stranger kindness.
 Its humid and the smell and feel of asia make her feel alive and at home again. It brings back so many fantastic memories and she feels like a weight has been lifted from her shoulders.  She can do this, She is ready for this and it will be the trip of their lives.
.img_7500-1
.
She starts the trip with taking surfing lessons as that was on the top of her bucket list for years.. She’s loving it!! But soon enough realises she might have needed a little bit more physical preparation. She feels free and alive as she is riding down the waves. But she feels half dead and like an old lady when she try’s to paddle back up.  After 3 days her beaten by board and waves body call it a day. But she is determined to finish what she started. It might just take a little longer.
After goodbyes thank you’s and paying at the surfclub she realises her bankcard is gone. Panick! Looks at the room – Looks at the surfclub – Checks again and again and again.. No Luck. Time to think and count and see if she can make it with the back up card. No Stress. Thats why she has a back up for things like this. So no stress.
.

.img_7732

Out of nowhere her daughter gets sick she has a fever that is going through the roof. Is it just a fever? Is it just a flu? Is she being over worried? 2 nights go by as she didn’t want to be the worry sick mum.  But there was no sign of improvement and fever was around 40 degrees.
.
Counting on the kindness of locals she finds a dr,  and the nurse came to the guesthouse. The nurse drew blood in the room, the fan is turning while her child is burning up and screaming like it is being slaughtered. The nurse gets nervous. The woman is not sure at this point what kind of nurse this is. For all she knows she could be a vet. And where is this dr?? After the nurse leaves the childs temperature rises to 40 again and the woman is unable to get it down. Still no idea or the people around her are trustable. She contacts anything and everyone she knows while trying in all sorts of ways to get the fever down. She panics she wants to shout and cry but knows it won’t help her daughter so she does what she can and try’s to keep it together.
.
Later that evening the dr stands at the door with the lab results accompanied by the nurse who still seems pale from the screaming of her child. The dr go’s over everything and examens the child. The dr seems kind and knowlagable. He gives lots of information and will not leave before all questions are answered. The lab results are inconclusive. It could be dengue it could also be an infection the values are right on the edge so he can’t be sure. To be sure the child has to be treated for both and she has to be monitored. The mother would have to check for signs of dengue hemmorage and the bag for hospital needed to be ready. If any symptoms like a rash would show up she would need to be rushed as then it would be life threatening. Medication and fluids needed to be given every four hours also through the night. But the mother checked every half hour just to be sure. Days now that she didn’t sleep. All else there was to do was wait and hope for her to get better.
Even with the meds the fever is still above 39 except for that one time. As the fever dropped. She took the child into the stroller and runs to the ATM to get money for the dr and to buy more water and juice to make sure she got her fluids.
She runs back as even in those 5 minutes outside the childs seemed to do worse again and was crying. She was crying louder when the mother tried to leave her in the care of someone from the hotel. So there was not much choice and the woman was telling herself she did the right thing.
.
Back in the room fully loaded with money to pay the dr. She gives the child, fluids and medicine and the child go’s to sleep. The woman lays next to her watching the fan turning and feeling the burned up child next to her. Same scenario for days now.
 Outside is a thunderstorm,  the hot loud and humid kind one. As the thunder blasts through the room she jumps up and realises something. She shouts nooooo and starts to cry. But child doesn’t react. She searches and searches only to confirm her fear. She has the money for the dr,  but the the card. Where is the card?. …….
dscf6879annekepeeters-com
.
She had already lost one she could not have lost the back up. She runs down and asks the person behind the desk if he could watch her daughter for 5 minutes. It’s raining again, she runs through the puddles as fast as she can but there was nothing. No card at the ATM. She runs back up to check for the child to find her still asleep.  She runs again to the ATM to get the number from the bank maybe they can save her. She also try’s her normal bankcards but they don’t work in Bali only the credit cards seem to.
Back at the guesthouse she asks the desk to help her phoning the banks number as her phone doesn’t work in indonesia. The guy calls the number for her. She begs the person on the other side of the telephone line to help her, but the only reply she gets is the  words no english. After many transfers and what seemed hours later she gets hold of someone speaking English. Sorry mam procedure not card from this bank then the staff has to destroy. She begs the person on the other line and explains there is a sick child involved but finally has to hang up gutted and dissapointed. She breaks down and cries in the rain at the check in counter of the guesthouse. Ashamed She quickly thanks the guy at the desk for trying to help her and runs up. Her daughter is still sleeping. She looks up the fan its still turning and her head is spinning at the same speed. She cries and cries and cries. Feeling like her brain had left her and worried sick about the little girl she had no idea what to do anymore.
.
She contacts her husband for help. The husband gets in contact with his bank and they promise to do what they couldn’t do before. Up the limit of the card for groceries. It will take 2 days or so, for those two days she can’t do anything and she needs to keep her fingers crossed that her daughter won’t need to go to hospital within those two days. But after that at least there is a solution to her stupidity.
Its the middle of the night the childs fever starts going down from 40 to 39 and the woman can breathe again for the first time in days. She checks the fever every few hours and by the morning she is sure that she is better. She is relieved. There is a knock on the door and its the dr and the nurse. Proudly the woman shows them how the fever has finally gone down sure that they are off the hook now.
The dr explains that dengue can still not be ruled out and that she should stay around and have another blood test before leaving to anywhere. As dengue haemorrhage could still happen. The woman agrees but the child doesn’t. Neither does the nurse as it seems that as well the nurse as the child are traumatised from the last experience. They leave and the woman agrees that she will call them for another bloodtest if the fever go’s up again.
The woman has hope and so does the child and the child runs and sings for the first time in days. There is a knock on the door. Its the guesthouse staff. They want to make sure the child is ok and ask if she is sure she doesn’t want to go to a hospital. The woman reasures them that the child is in good hands with the dr and that she is better now. The child runs and sings and confirms the woman words. For the first time in days they go down to have breakfast and all the guesthouse staff are happy to see her better. The owner comes to the room again and tells them that they shouldn’t leave the next day until the child has been ok for a few days. They say they will make a special price and they are welcome to stay as long as they need.
.
The woman is relieved and sees beauty in all the kindness around her. After breakfast she and the child go up again as the child still needs rest. On the freshly made bed she finds a credit card. She can’t believe her eyes, It’s the first credit card that she lost. She squeals from joy and contacts her husband but can’t reach him as its the middle of the night in europe. She hopes and prays that they can undo the block. When she phoned for the other card there was such an option in the menu so it has to be possible.
She has hope again, could things be going in the right direction? Could she still get something positive out of this trip? Is the world just teaching her to be happy with what she has which is above all a beautiful daughter? She promises the turning fan above her as if it was god, that she gets it and that she will do everything in her power to be happy with what she has from now on. Just please let things go in the right direction from now on. And let her daughter be healthy.
.
 To be sure she takes her daughters temperature about an hour after the dr left. Fever Again!  A few moments later she gets a text that the credit card can’t be activated again. She stares at the fan while thinking of ways how to ask the staff to stay longer but pay later. She also needs to call the dr for another bloodwork. The fan spins and so is her head… again….
.
 After thinking about this from every angle she decides to try and get into contact with her dr back in Belgium. The dr also works at the tropical institute and specialises in things like this. So maybe she will have another say about the whole story instead of putting her daughter through this whole ordeal again. She looks for the email contacts but they are not advertised but thankfully she remembers receiving an email once from the reception. She finds the contact details and sends an email with the fever chart and the bloodwork attached. Only problem is that local time in Belgium is still only 6 am. So she waits it out.
After getting no response she tries to phone, in the meantime her husband credited her sim card and it should be working now. They pick up and tell her they received the email but that they can’t open the attachment as its too small and so unreadable. She tries to send a larger file and awaits response. As nothing happens she phones again. They didn’t receive anything. She has one last chance to get the blood work over there before the dr leaves her on call room.  She tries to send it from everywhere and in every format possible.
Ten minutes later she phones again, the credit on her phone now almost finished. They just received her email and are printing the bloodwork as they speak. They read it… And as result they tell her exactly the same as the local dr did. The result can’t rule out dengue so she needs another bloodwork if the child still had a fever, and she did. By the time she got an answer it was too late to have the bloodwork done that day.
.
After having dinner together and receiving lots of support from the staff of the guesthouse. Who didn’t make a point of the fact that she would be staying longer and paying later. The woman tried to talk to the child and prepare her for what would happen the next day. Soon she found herself in a situation where she would need to promise the child a dog. Crying about wanting a dog and not wanting injections the child fell asleep. The woman held her and cried with her child softly while she stared at the turning fan on the ceiling. Begging it to make it all stop.  After about 20 fan turns she got herself together and made the appointment for the bloodwork in the morning and asked if they could bring someone extra as she herself would be useless.
.
 The next morning the dr and the nurse came first thing for the blood work. The woman was a mess. A week of not sleeping and checking for symptoms every so often. But most of all she felt helpless and worried and scared. And now she would have to break her daughters trust and pin her to the bed so they could get more blood. She was in a state but she did what she had to do. Together with the Dr she pinned her screaming begging child to the bed for the nurse to be able to draw blood. Mummy please stop!! Those words were the hardest words she ever had to hear. Arm one was pinned. Milla managed to turn her arm and bent the needle inside her arm. Causing lots of pain. Straight to the second arm, don’t know what went wrong there. But no blood came out. Her daughter traumatised by needles for life the nurse had to give up. And they both left. Still no blood, still no result. The child was hysterical for another half hour after they left. The mother held her and cried. Cried out of guilt, disappointment, worry all sorts of emotions a mother doesn’t do well.
It took a few days more and slowly the fever went down. 11 days they had spent looking and praying to the turning fan above them. But after 11 days things were over. She wasn’t allowed to travel not far from hospital but they ware allowed to go. Things should be ok now.
.dscf6885annekepeeters-com
.
Normally we would avoid zoo’s but since I decided that the rest of the holiday should be all about Milla we stayed overnight at a safari park with mixed feelings. But for once i forgave myself. Milla was happy and I still explained her what was good and bad about the things we saw but she was happy and thats all I cared about at that point.

 .

.
The next stop after the zoo was Ubud. Originally I was going there to do yoga and babysit was sorted. But after what happened I chanced those plans. We would take it easy and it would be all about Milla. So we rented a motorbike and went on child friendly exploring in and around the rice fields and stopped to have a chat with almost every local on our path. We also did a bike trail with ecotours. Me cycling and Milla on the back in a kids seat. We started at mount Batur where we had breakfast with the most amazing view and then cycled down in the rain through local villages and rice fields. Ubud although very busy now still has this friendly relaxing bus around it and the people are so incredibly friendly. And then Im not even mentioning the food. Yummy!
.
After Ubud we took a taxi up North to Amed. I fell in love instantly. We stayed in a hut that had no lock. But felt safe none the less. Amed for me was perfect. Small enough so that when driving around the village after one day everyone knew your name. Or at least they knew Millas name. But big enough to find what you need in the supermarkets,  a good choice of seaside restaurant to eat from and the right kind of travellers around that you like to meet.  The beach is perfect for snorkelling? You just walk in and there is an abundance of fish and they put a little temple underwater that attracts the fish. Milla loved snorkelling there and even for me as a dive instructor there was plenty to see. Some reef had been damaged by dynamite fishing but there were artificial reefs trying to make up for that. The local ladies on the beach took their responsibility and shouted to tourists standing on the reef. They cared they know this is their income. Fish and tourism and that is the fish and diving are not there tourists won’t come so plenty.
One day while sitting at the beach there was a pod of dolphins just before us. It was my first time seeing dolphins from land. In my instructor days I’ve seen plenty but I still got excited as a little kid. Well honestly I got more excited then the little kids.
I wish we had more time to explore the lush green surroundings but we only had a few days. One unforgettable experience we had is that we got invited to a local ceremony. A cleansing ceremony before the big festival the next day. aaaah I forgot the name now.
Milla, our neighbour and I got invited by our guesthouse host. When we arrived we were greeted as friends and were introduced to the family. Everyone came to share food while our host explained the rituals. His toddler son was along and was learning from is father how to pray. All dressed up this was an adorable sight. I could have stayed in Amed forever. Its one of those places I could live. Driving our motorbike after dark there is this scent that the jungle only makes at night. It took me back to the beginning days when I was living on Koh Chang. Sweet memories those vivid memories that only smell can bring back. I felt home.
.
From Amed we took the speedboat to Gili Trawangan together with a wonderful family we had met a few nights before. I was going to Trawangan to meet some friends. Trawangan always makes me feel old. I think the average age is 18. Especially the one night I went out was very bizarre. After that I was happy just to be a mum. The end of our stay did take another weird turn though.
One night while having dinner with our Canadian friends I had fish. I had been eating fish all the trip which I normally don’t do. But after having a severe headache for a while my face turned bright red. I then started getting a rash on my torso. Also bright red. Then I started to feel sick. My heart was racing but weak and I felt myself fainting. Just in time I managed to contact a friend  to stay with milla and the dr on the island and they put me on a drip with everything they had. Apparently I went into an allergic shock. ooh the joy. It scared the life out of me. And I was out for another day or so but after that I was fine. When I contacted my dr in Belgium to tell her what happened and if or there was anything else I should do she sort of laughed. This could only happen to you couldn’t it. Two medical dramas on one trip. Ha! I guess its catching up with me. As except for motorbike crashed I never had anything wrong with me living abroad.
.
From Gili we went back to the place we started. Legian. Same guesthouse same everything. Only this time healthy and happy. We thanked everyone again for their help again in the beginning of the trip and we got treated like family.
When it was time to leave Bali I didn’t want to leave yet. I wasn’t ready to leave all the kindness and smiles around me. Even with the medical drama’s it gave me the energy and the insight that I needed. Be happy with what you have and  now go fight for your marriage to work.
.
.
PS. A year later Milla needed blood work in Belgium. And I asked if they could check for dengue. And it got confirmed that she did have dengue. So now when we travel we need to be extra careful. She is now immune to one strain. But if she would get another strain the chanced for complications have doubled.

10 things you should know before you start traveling.

  • Be ready to accept that nothing will ever be as awesome as the things you experience while traveling. The older you get and the more you do, the harder it will be to top your previous experiences.
  • Traveling changes you a lot. The longer you travel the more you change. You grow as a person at a faster pace, because life gets so intense out there. As well the good and the bad experiences will mark you for life.  The people you left behind stay exactly the same. There is a big chance you will grow apart and things will never be the same.
  • Get used to having to say.”I guess you sort of had to be there to understand”ALOT.  While  trying to find the words to describe the intensity of your travel experiences to someone from back home. They will never get it! I guess well they had to be there 😉
  • It will be more difficult for you to find people that you take interest in. You might catch yourself nodding off dreaming of exotic places every time people around you make small talk. Or well to you it sounds like smalltalk, but to them the fact that their favourite Tv show is playing an hour later probably is a life threatening situation. You will try over and over again to fit in. When that doesn’t work you will try anything to meet kindred spirits back home. But the truth it while not traveling you will probably feel alone a lot of the time.
  • Because of all the above. Home might never be or feel like home again.
  • Once you have left once. It will be difficult to grow root anywhere. Your wanderlust will always take controle and your feet will never stop itching ready for a new adventure.
  • You will always miss someone somewhere as your close friends will be spread around the world and you are lucky if one of them lives in the same country as you do.
  • If you wear flip flops for a significant amount of time it will be hard to fit into shoes again. If you don’t wear shoes for several years your feet might actually get wider and it might even be physical impossible to get into those shiny tiny shoes. Shoes are not friends!
  • If your native language is not English then there is a good chance that if you stay away long enough you might need to take a language course if you would ever return. (actually happened to me)

If you are ok with all of the above.. Then be ready to HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE!!! 🙂

Please let me know how this applies to you or continue with your own points below.

Thailand 2013-2014 with a toddler, it’s a new kind of travelling for us

Thailand 2013-2014 with a toddler, it’s a new kind of travelling for us.

What to do for Christmas? After a few “normal” Christmases,we decided to run away.   Pursuing the memories from my Christmases abroad. No tree, no presents, no shenanigans but most of all no commitments. Not having to be somewhere and knowing you are letting other people down. That’s not what Christmas should be about but that’s what it for some reason turned in to when we spend it in Belgium. So we booked our tickets and hoped for the best. We knew we would like it, but would Milla?

We tried to prep her as much as we could.  We took her on short flights to start with.Then we took her on an overnight road trip to Switzerland. It took us 9 hours to get there. And Milla absolutely hated it. She was taken out of her comfort zone and because of this she wouldn’t eat, she wouldn’t sleep, didn’t like walking around and turned it to an unmanageable baby from hell. We held our breath for Thailand but kept trying other things. I let her sleep in the big bed the last two weeks, tried to have her sleep on my lap now and then, and cooked Thai food as much as the family could handle. Most of my prepping plans didn’t really work out though.

When we finally did get on the plane we didn’t think much of the holiday that was to come. But at least we would be away for the holidays and that was enough for us.

I have to be honest. I don’t remember much of the first few days because there is no fun in being sleep deprived and jet lagged with a toddler who is going through the same. I don’t think anyone is a big fan of long haul flights. But as an adult over the years you find ways to deal with them and make them as less painful as possible, as most of the time there is something really good at the end of them. We made sure we had a direct flight so it was only 10 hours of flying. Where I normally manage to sleep at least a few hours I now slept none. Even though Milla was pretty good during the flight. Having 11 kilo on you for 10 hours is just is not comfortable.  But it’s a choice we made. It’s such a big difference money wise and our last chance for a “cheap” Thai holiday.  I knew it would be a gamble as she has outgrown the baby beds on board. But we went for it anyway. It was doable but even the airplane staff wasn’t convinced as they eagerly tried to move the guy next to us to make a free seat for Milla. No one blames him for not moving though cause that would mean giving up the leg space of the bulkhead seats.  At the end of the flight we did get a little heads up nod from the Thai Airways staff for giving the other passengers a quiet flight. Even the ones that kept reminding us that 10 hours was a very long time gave some appreciation in the end.

Arriving in BKK 6am local time. After getting hit by the tropics we took a taxi to our usual Guesthouse near Khao San called New Siam 2. I’ts about an hours drive from the airport and near to where they where demonstrating at that time. But that day all was quiet. The room cost us around850 baht in high season, has aircon and a small swimming pool to cool off. It’s close enough to everything you need but far enough not to have the noise. They had our room ready for us so we tried to sleep, had a quick look around and got organized for the next day.  During our short time there Milla was introduced to her first Katoy and learned the ropes of winding the Thai woman around her little finger. We had to wake up at 4 that night to take a taxi to Don Muang airport for our flight to Hat Yai. Milla loved the hustle and bustle of Bkk and the room and the pool but didn’t think much of sleeping. So with around 4 hours sleep in 2 nights we left for the airport. Thinking back it would probably have been better to stay another night o get used to the Thai clock .The Airasia flight we had booked only cost us 90euros including seat selection for extra leg room, extra luggage and that for the 3 of us. After a little bit less than 2 hours we arrived in Hat Yai where coming out of the airport we grabbed a taxi to Pakbarra straight away.  Milla and Daddy slept most of the 2 hours taxi drive. Still having Milla on my lap I slept nothing but enjoyed the view instead. Stepping out of the Taxi in Pakbarra the heat of the south hit us like a brick. Maybe that’s why we ended up dropping our camera and damaging our lens. Anyway, we bought our speedboat tickets and were told to wait another hour for the boat at the pier. We were waiting and waiting and not really seeing a lot of people around us. We were wondering why it was still so quiet this time of year but not really making much of it. I had been here 5 years before and waited on the exact same spot so I had faith. Luckey Daddy didn’t. He went for a walk around only to come back and get us ready for a 500 meter sprint with a full bag packs and baby in 34 degrees. We ran as fast as we could to only just make the speedboat soaked in sweat and with by now bags under our eyes that could be folded. It turned out that in the last 5 years they had updated things just a little bit. They had built a whole new pier with entrance fee and everything. This is where now the hundreds of tourists where leaving from to their tropical island destinations. Time doesn’t stand still,even not in the South of Thailand. Only two people didn’t realize this, the taxi driver that dropped us off and me. Thinking back I really should have known asI was told by friends last year. But as it shows I am absolutely useless when Ididn’t get enough sleep. I don’t remember the exact name of the speedboat company PLOY something but it cost us 650baht each and Milla went for free.It’s a set price that all of the company’s seem to use. The ride took us around2,5 to 3 hours in flat seas with a stop at Turatau Island. We sat at the back not to have too much movement from the speedboat for Milla and secretly also cause mummy the cool dive instructor gets seasick. For Milla we didn’t have to mind because she loved every minute of it and was throwing her little arms up in the air with every wave. The boat was filled with Thai people picking up supplies from the mainland. And they were spoiling Milla with fruits and lots of attention. So far it seemed that she loved Thailand and she was turning sleeping on mummies lap into an art form. I couldn’t be more proud of our travel baby.

As the speedboat entered the bay of Pataya Beach on Koh Lipe we could see that it still had the beauty from 5 years ago. Even though at the same time a lot had changed. Finally!!! Just a little bit more and our holiday could begin. They dropped us of on one of the main platforms in the bay. This is where you cross over on a long tail boat to take you up to shore. You do this together with many other tourists and they charge you 70 Euros to go to the island and for support. I tried to get us a longtail to the hotel but that partdidn’t really work. So we were up for a little walk down the beach with all our bags and Milla but in the end that part wasn’t so bad. Yes it was hot and sticky and sweaty and we were dead tired but it was sooo pretty and the beach turned out to be stroller friendly. On our walk down to Z touch resort I tried to recognize things from before. But it seemed like most bamboo huts had made way for middle-class resorts. Like on every other beach in Thailand there is not much you can do about it. The good thing is that they don’t build higher then the palm trees so the view is still ok. I’ve learned since visiting Thailand for the first time in 1999 not to compare too much. So I try to look at it like a new destination with a few familiar things. When going to Koh Lipe or anywhere else in Thailand during peak season the chances are that all accommodation is full. So we prebooked our accommodation through sawasdee.com. They had the lower prices than agoda.com orbooking.com.  Arriving on Koh Lipe it was still a gamble or the bookings actually went through to the hotels as we had never used them before. We arrived at Z Touch Resort quicker then I expected and after a welcome drink we were shown to our bungalow. We had booked a garden sea view cottage and that’s what we got. It was a bungalow in stone with our own little terrace at the front that was closed of so Milla couldn’t run away.The size was perfect for me the only downside was the cleanliness of the bathroom. The friendliness of the Thai staff did make up for that. From day 1 Milla  got all the attention she could handle by the woman, the katoys, the men and the dogs. The resort itself wasn’tbig only 3 huts and a restaurant wide. It was placed in between 2 new resorts,which were still being built. It gave a bit of building noise but that couldn’treally bother us. Maybe it’s because by now we are used to building noise or maybe it’s because the view is so stunning that the noise just fades away.

On the first few days we didn’t do much except for relaxing, trying to catch up on sleep, finding out where to get diapers and good food. The first two nights we ate at Daya at the end of the beach. This is where I stayed 5 years ago. The food was still great, they gave you big portions and not pricey for Koh Lipe. A rice or noodle dish around 90 Baht and curries around 120 not including the Steamed rice. They also serve up a Seafood BBQ like most places but because of my dive instructor principals we try not to eat fish in places where there is overfishing. (Sadly that’s almost all over the world) The First night we ordered separate khoa pad kai for Milla but she never saw it. She happily slept on my lap while I was eating. As the days went by she started to sleep better at night and managed to stay up for dinners. All of us happily settled in to an island routine and loved it. We woke up and went for breakfast, went for a wonder or went straight to the beach until about 1. Then Milla and I went for a shower and she went for her nap while daddy got us cheaptakeaway food. When she woke up we went to the beach again until it was time to shower and go for dinner at sunset. Except for Daya our top pick restaurants are Pancake Lady in the beginning of walking street and Papaya Mum a little bit further on in walking street on the left if you are coming from Pattaya Beach.Our absolute favorite being Papaya Mum. As the name says the papaya salad is todie for but all the other food was really tasty and fresh and cheap. On top of all that, they where extremely child friendly. Even though none of the restaurants have baby chairs they go out of their way to make sure that the little ones are happy. Just to be clear we only eat Thai food when we are in Thailand so I can’t say anything about European food on the island. It was clear soon enough that Milla wasn’t a fan of pad taior khoa pad kai (fried rice) but loved massaman curry and all other tasty not so baby friendly food. She had her own plate that we filled with rice and whatever topping we were having if it was not too spicy. One day she would eat a lot the other not so much but she ate.  We did have to cave in on one European thing for her. We ended up buying a pot ofNutella for emergencies and it worked perfectly.

She did have more snacks during the day like the tiniest mandarins I’ve ever seen. The Thai woman in our resort also constantly gave her treats. She started drinking plenty of water and asked for it when she needed it. She was never drinking enough in Belgium so I was pretty happy about this even when she was asking water several times at night.

When we went for our little wonders it was never really that far as the island is only a few kilometers wide and one kilometer across.There are not really any paved roads and there are no cars except for a few resort pick up trucks who don’t have roads to drive on. There are more motorbikes then there used to be on walking street and they even have a motorbike tuk tuk service. This is in case you are for some reason not able to walk the km on walking street. Not sure who uses them but I guess some people do cause otherwise they wouldn’t be there. For us it was easy enough to get around with the stroller. Pattaya Beach being the easiest for stroller use.

Koh Lipe isn’t the cheapest place in Thailand and you will get better accommodation for the same price somewhere else. But it is one of the most beautiful islands I have seen. We stayed there for a week and could easily stay longer. It has bars and nightly entertainment but it’s not a party island. There are plenty of snorkel and diving trips to keep you busy. Also if you would ever get bored of the beach you are staying on there are still twoother main beaches to spend your day. It is hotter and more humid than in the rest of Thailand as it is the most southern Island before Malaysia and itdoesn’t cool of so much at night. So with a baby it is probably a good idea toget AC. Even with AC Milla still developed a heat rash but she didn’t seem bothered by it. You find most things you need on the islands but supplies are limited, they do have a pharmacy if you would need one.

After a week of relaxation and slowly becoming one with nature again we had to get ready to leave the Island. We were planning to go to Koh Lanta so we needed a speedboat ticket. There was Bundaya Speedboat leaving from the other side of the beach and there was Turin Pakbarra Speedboat leaving from 100 meter from our resort. Both of them where leaving at 9 and claimed to arrive at 12.30 and they were both 1900 Baht a person so we took the one closest to us. We said our goodbyes at the resort and headed up the beach. We waited together with quite a few people and the boat ended up leaving an hour late.They also seemed to have overbooked the speedboat as all benches were taken and people had to sit on the luggage in the middle of the boat. The first hour itwas funny but we were all happy when we arrived at Koh Bulone cause that meant people would get off  and we would  have some place to breathe. What we didn’t think of and neither did the company is that 2 people went off but 12 people got on. They somehow managed to packthemselves on top of the luggage and like before we sat at the back. By this time I really had to use the Toilet and gave Milla to daddy because I couldn’thandle both. And then it started…. The sea had been a bit choppy to start with, but now we had to take the waves in a way that every wave went on the boat. Fort he next 5 hours we got wetter and wetter as every wave came onboard. Thanks to another couple we got a big plastic bag to put over Milla that kept her mostly dry. Even in 30 degrees being soaked for 5 hours means you are freezing. Luckilywith every stop we made more people got off and by the last stop I discovered that there was a toilet on board. From then on I could smile again. Milla smiled most of the ride anyway, if she was not riding waves she was sleeping.Even though the boat was so crowded and probably not safe at all everyone stayed kind en helpful and that is one of the things that makes travelling worthwhile. It’s the way people should act around one another but for some reason we don’tat home. But with bag pack tourists it seems that it comes out as soon as they land on Thai ground and that’s one of the things that makes me come back over and over again.

Koh Lanta!! The last bit of speedboat was in between kohLanta yai and koh Lanta Noi. The area is full of mangroves so this bit was pretty relaxed and we got to dry up and get excited about what was to come. The only question was will we have accommodation or not? We had phoned HolidayVilla before we left that morning to pick us up from the pier. But they didn’thave our booking. They would however pick us up anyway and we would see from there. The problem was that we arrived 3 hours late so of course there was no one to pick us up. We phoned them again and 15 mins later they arrived and in the meantime also found our booking. The first thing you see when you are on the island is of course the Thai smiles that you get everywhere but more special for me was the female veiled taxi drivers. As in most of the south of Thailand there is a big Muslim population. For some reason I always find it strange to see Asian woman wearing veils,especially if you think of the contrast with BKK. But to me it was even stranger seeing these women driving tuk tuks around. The hotel turned out to be only a few minutes drive away from the pier and while driving we got a short explanation what was where. We checked in and our luggage got carried to our room. Yes it was that kind of hotel… We entered our room and were amazed by the size of it. Only the bathroom was almost the same size as the whole bungalow onKoh Lipe. There was even a bathtub that for me was a first in Thailand. We dropped our bags and went to have a look at the rest Koh Lanta had to offer.The hotel grounds were beautiful. But we were a bit disappointed once we thit the beach. After Koh Lipe it’s almost impossible to find anything prettier and Iguess once you find it it’s difficult to let go.  The beach we were staying at, Klong Dao was probably even longer and bigger then the whole island of Koh Lipe. Because of this you did get a sense of freedom. This beach had mainly midrange resorts and was stroller friendly. Most resorts had a beach restaurant but the prices for food on the beach were up in the air. Because we were travelling on a budget we spent our next few days trying out different roadside restaurants. It did take some time before we got used to the traffic. We found some great value places for the evenings and some 50 baht takeaways for lunch. Laab Royet in Klong Daowas really tasty and most things under 100 Baht. Kantiang is where we ate at Christmas eve and was really good as well for around the same price. Mr Greenin Long beach served bigger portions for the same price if not cheaper. Wetried one of the Fish Restaurants at Baan Saladan Baan Saladan is the town atthe pier where you can find babystuff if you don’t find it anywhere near you.It also has the main tourist shopping area and plenty of footstalls. The fishrestaurant  we ate at was very touristylike most of them but it was nice for a change and the food wasn’t bad at all. For our last night we went all out and had dinner at Time For Lime together with a Swedish couple we met at the resort. It was located on the beach right next to our hotel and was always really busy. We were advised to book ahead and so we did. They also do the main cooking courses on the island and they foundedanimal welfare. That is also where the profits go. So when we decided to go there at least our big spending money would go somewhere good. For the 490 bahtyou got a six course-tasting menu. And tasty it was!!! I’m not sure if it was real Thai or Thai inspired fusion but it was one of the best things I’ve evertasted. Well worth every baht we spent. When your travelling on a budget youwouldn’t be able to eat there every day but you should eat there at least once.Except for eating we spent most of our days by the pool, which was getting abit crowded towards the end of our stay with package tourists. During our time on Koh Lanta you we did feel the difference of travelling with a toddler, even though this is probably the most child friendly place that I’ve ever seen. All the beach places have toys outside and European kids menus and baby high chairs. But we managed just fine without those.

If we would be travelling by ourselves we would have rented a motorbike to travel around the island and that would cost us around 200 baht a day. With a toddler it took us a bit more planning and a bit more money.  But we did manage to get away from the hotel and have a little bit of a feel what the rest of the island is all about. We had a white pick up and driver to get us to old Town and from there to the rest of the Beaches. Milla enjoyed the drive up to old down most of all as there was lots to see and new things to name. Old Town itself consists of a street with wooden houses built on the beach so the backend was on stilts. There is also a long pier that has some of the longtails leaving forthe islands. We were there early so there wasn’t much happening but it was niceto see. After that we drove across the island again to a beach called KlongNin. We first thought of staying here but then didn’t cause there is a road dividing most resorts. Since Milla always try’s to run away we prefer to have no road nearby. Saying this it did have the nicest beach on the island that we saw.White sand, clear blue water, was stroller friendly and had really cute beach bars and restaurants. The prices at the beach again were pretty high for Thailand but at the part of the main road that tur ns away from the beach there areplenty of budget options. After waking up our driver we went on to Klong DongBeach. The main Road was set back from the beach so the resorts had plenty ofspace to build their huts. This place seemed very laid back and there were not many stone buildings. It seemed like the prices on the beach were lower and like it was aimed more at backpackers. The beach itself was pretty although itwasn’t a swimming beach cause the sea was full of rocks. This is however probably what made it beautiful and gave it a wild feel. Milla didn’t see thisbeach and only a bit from the one before as she was fast asleep in her stroller. On the way to the last stop Long Beach she woke up. We only had a quick look cause by now she was a bit grumpy. As the name says it’s a very longbeach. The water is not as clear as the beaches further south and it is not stroller friendly. But I did like it. It was in between Klong Dao and Klong Kong as wel as on the maps as in feel. It was more lively then Klong Kong but it wasmore laid back then Klong Dao.

All together we had a really good time in Koh Lanta and Iwish we could have seen more of it. So advise if you go in peak season withkids book ahead to rent a car for a day or more. Now all cars were taken and wedidn’t dare to go Thai for real and take Milla on the motorbike. After a weekit was time to say goodbye to Koh Lanta and take our boat to Ao Nang.

Princess Ao Nang was the name of the boat and it leaves every day at 1pm. It’s a fast ferry and takes about 2 hours or more to get there. Milla liked this boatride least of all maybe because it didn’t moveenough and maybe cause she had a bit of a fever from her last molars breaking through. On the way we stopped at Railey to drop people off. With pain in ourhearts we left them and Railay behind, it was so pretty. We wouldn’t be able togo there this time. We were staying in Ao Nang just to break up the Travel abit for Milla. Looking back there was really no need to do this as leaving from Lanta to the airport is really straightforward and it wouldn’t take up asmuch time as we thought. We had a free hotel transfer that was included in ourferry ticket so they dropped us of at the Holiday inn Resort we thought, we deserved a treat for new year. The rooms and the grounds where really nice andwell looked after. Some of the rooms had balcony’s from where you could enter the swimmingpool. Our room was located at the back with a jungle view and the soothing sound of crickets 😉 I begged for them all the holiday but forgot how noisy they can be in Thailand.  The hotel was not located on the main beach of Ao Nang but on the one next to it called Noporathara.First we were disappointed but when we visited Ao Nang the first night in search of food we were actually really happy. It was just too busy with people and cars and resorts. Not a stretch of land was not built on and there were shops and shops and fast food restaurants more than we could handle. The next day we went for a walk to the other side and found out that this is where theThais and the backpackers stay and eat and we felt more at home. When wethought of relaxing by the pool that afternoon we did not take one thing in account and that is towel tourists. Every bed was taken by towels and books but not by people. It did have a large kids pool with lots of slides and we had funon them with Milla. That evening we went to eat at blue bay you restaurant and bungalows on Nophorathana beach road. The food was really tasty and cheap.Milla still wasn’t herself due to her fever so we headed back to the hotelearly. The next morning we got up at 6 because daddy went for a run. This would be our last day in the sun as we would leave for BKK the next day. We went forbreakfast at Blue bay you and returned for the pool. Again we forgot about thetowel tourist and got a bit grumpy about it. There was no one at the pool but again all beds were taken. When we left the pool for Millas nap a few hourslater still some of the beds were empty. It was such a high contrast with what we are used to or what we had seen before. We treated ourselves with niceaccommodation but paid for it by being put together with narrow-minded touristswho’s main goal of the holiday is lie flat for as long as they can and if theycant, make sure that no one else can. We didn’t understand why people would travel as far as Thailand when they could do the same closer to home. What is the point of going somewhere when you don’t taste or touch or feel what the country is about?  Anyway it was NewYears Eve and we left the Holliday Inn to have their mandatory Gala dinner,which we luckily got out of. Daddy got his tattoo in Ao Nang and after we had aBeach Dinner across the road. It turned out to be the cheapest beachsiderestaurant we had come across so far. I believe it was called Luna. Milla stillwasn’t feeling well so she didn’t eat much but did find the energy to racekiddiecars around the restaurant with a Thai boy. Because of her fever we choseto have an early night again and got woken up by the biggest fireworks I haveever heard. Sadly enough we couldn’t see it as Milla was sleeping and our terrace was at the wrong side of the hotel.  But Happy New Year in Thailand!!! We went back to sleep and woke up early to pack and get our transfer to Krabi Airport.

The Thai Air Smile flight was quick and painless and we arrived in our guesthouse in the late afternoon. We got settled in and went fora walk down to Khoa San and Rambuttri. It had only been 3 weeks since we were here last but it was so much busier. It was still full of garbage from the night before and it smelled of puke and rubbish. The next day we took a taxi tothe shopping malls and went for a walk in Lumpini Park. We ended the day with dinner at one of the food stalls at Rambuttri across from one of the cheapdrinkingplaces. The food was cheap and tasted great but we were interrupted by someone puking only a few meters away. Welcome to the hustle and bustle ofBKK!!! The next day we tried to relax and went for a final look to find theThai clothes I had been buying there for the last 10 years. But no luck. Thingschange, also  in the Khao San area. It had always been busy on Khao San. This is why we stayed in a Soi at the end of Rambuttri. But it seems like the craziness has moved also there now. Maybe itis only during peak season. I don’t know. But I did get the feeling that we’veoutgrown the area a little bit. Since we need to go somewhere else to do our shoppinganyway. I am actually thinking to say goodbye to the Banglampoo area after 10years of great memories.

We took a Taxi to the airport around 9pm and once you getto the airport you know that it’s really over. The only thing between you andhome is a 12 hour flight. The flight was delayed for half an hour. We had putMilla asleep before we left and she slept in the taxi to the Airport.  As soon as the plane took off she fell asleep again. I did sleep a little bit this time but found out that a sleeping baby ismore uncomfortable then an awake one. You cant move so you really start hurting all over. Because it was a nightflight it did seem a lot shorter and before weknew it we were back home. Home with the knowledge that travelling across the globe with Milla is possible and we even had a great time. The only regret we have is that we didn’t stay longer and see more.

Time To Start Planning Our Next Trip!!!!

Sandflies:

When we went to Thailand in 2011 I found out I had areally bad allergy to Sandflies. Not sure or I had always had this but when Iwas living on Koh Chang I never had a problem.  Anyway when we visited Koh Kood and after KohMak I was getting bitten like mad. I had bites all over my body. The bites wouldswell a lot and would itch like mad for another 3 weeks. It wasn’t a prettysight and we had to leave the islands and stay in the aircon because of it. Sothis time I took my precautions and had had plenty of creams and pills with mein case we came across them again. There is not a lot of info on the net aboutsandflies. So I didn’t know for sure if we would meet my little friends again.On Pataya Beach Koh Lipe we didn’t have them, but when we went for a walk tothe other side my feet were full of bites that started swelling again. So I hada bit of a scare. They did however go away after a week and they were not sobad as last time. I’m not sure what it was. And I will probably never know. All  I Lipeknow is that I didn’t see one sandflies on any of the islands or places we visited this time. So for me until now the only place you are sure to meetsandflies is koh Mak.

The end…