What sort of place would have no hot water, no television and no roads? These were the questions posed by my 11-year-old daughter as we travelled 45 minutes by motorised longboat up Thailand’s River Kwai to the Jungle Raft Hotel.
I had booked our trip on frequent flyer points, found the River Kwai tour in a Qantas Holidays brochure and paid for it over the phone in a jiffy. Sometimes Mum does know best.
The girl who wanted to spend more time shopping in Bangkok conceded it was a cool trip. Within hours of arriving, Alise was playing with the local kids and by the end of our two-night stay she was drawing maps of Australia for the village school.
The hotel, with its rooms on floating rafts, is run by the Mon people, an ethnic group originally from Burma. They put on a colourful evening of music and dance, massaged our feet and provided elephant rides.
We were left speechless by our journey on the Death Railway, the war cemetery and the war museum, which graphically tells the story of the World War II atrocities.
But there was time for fun, too. We enjoyed Hua Hin, a seaside resort south of Bangkok, where we spent two nights at the Anantara Resort and Spa. We found our bathtub filled with rose petals and ordered drinks from the swim-up bar. Alise loved the night market in town, buying cheap platform shoes and drinking Coke from a glass bottle.
Although the Anantara accommodated children graciously, the Hua Hin Marriott Resort & Spa, where we spent the next two nights, was more family oriented. It fronts a white sandy beach offering horse rides, massages, manicures and hair-braiding. It took three hours to braid Alise’s long locks.
In Bangkok, we shopped at the enormous Chatuchak market and hired a boat to tour the canals. We were dazzled by the gold roofs and lustrous decorations on the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, where visiting schoolkids asked Alise to pose with them for photos.
On our final night, we enjoyed dinner and a show at Bangkok’s Indra Regent Hotel. The costumes and dancing were beautiful, and it was a magical finale to our holiday in Thailand.
Top Ten things to do
- Ride an elephant.
- Have your hair braided.
- Visit the floating markets just out of Bangkok.
- Ride the Skytrain in Bangkok.
- Visit a night market.
- Buy cheap clothes, shoes, jewellery and bags.
- See the gigantic gold-plated reclining Buddha at Bangkok’s Wat Pho.
- Enjoy traditional dancing.
- Eat a banana waffle.
- Ride in a tuk-tuk (motorised rickshaw).