The Bus Journey that Changed my LifeIt’s a bold statement to make isn’t it, saying that a small, seemingly innocuous decision changed my entire life, but deciding to take a bus in 2004 very much did.

After six months of travelling, I headed back to Thailand to spend a week with one of my best friends who had come out to celebrate her thirtieth birthday. She brought her new man with her, and along with a pair of honeymooners that I had met on the boat back from Malaysia we all indulged in a week of excessive eating and drinking.

It was great in many respects, but I felt deflated when we parted ways, and was more than ready for a new adventure. The two day trip to Bangkok afterwards was supposed to be for chilling, but didn’t end up being as uneventful as I had planned.

I met up with some different friends from London, who were on their way to the Southern islands. It got rather debauched, and we had a drunken all-nighter. High on sex, Thai whiskey and goodness knows what else, fun was once again being taken to the extreme.

Early the next morning I was faced with an emotional dilemma: stay with them and go to the Southern Thai islands, or stick to my plan and catch my bus to Cambodia. Plan A was certainly a lot riskier than Plan B would have been, but something propelled me to take that bus.

Life changing decisions

So I bid them farewell, headed to the Khao San Road and lined up for my bus. Whilst in the queue I got chatting to a small group of people who seemed to know each other. It turned out they didn’t, but in the handful of minutes it took us to exchange pleasantries and walk to the back seat a bond was formed, and our little posse stuck to one another like glue for several weeks and had a whale of a time. I’m still in touch with three of these five people, twelve years later.

I heard such mixed stories about people travelling Cambodia around the same time and having horrible experiences. It reinforces what I’ve always believed, which is life is all about the people we meet along the way. After spending a fabulous month in Cambodia, I made plans to head out of the country and go to Laos. Life rarely goes to plan in my experience, and on what was supposed to be my last night there I met my husband, and the rest as they say is history (click here to read the full story).

I have often wondered how differently things would have panned out had I gone to the southern Thai islands instead. I know one thing for sure though, if I had my time again, I would definitely still catch that bus.

Do you have a distinct ‘sliding doors’ moment, where life changed forever? I’d love to hear from you if you do 🙂

Open letter to blue lagoon blog postDear all, 

We have just returned from your amazing Blue Lagoon Village in Kos, and wanted to pen a little thank you before life gets in the way and our break starts to fade to a distant memory (which happens far too quickly).   

From the moment we arrived we were impressed. We had a smooth check in at 9:40pm, and managed to grab some food before the main restaurant closed at 10pm – we had barely sat down before a waiter brought us drinks. This pretty much set the standard, and we were never disappointed, not once. The service was absolutely impeccable at every restaurant and bar, and just when we thought it couldn’t get better it did. 

The children were mesmerised by the entertainment staff from day one, and thoroughly enjoyed their time at Bamse and @611 kids clubs. The two hour sessions were perfect for Polly (6) and Clara (4), and they looked forward to it every afternoon. By the end of the holiday Freddy (2) was desperate to join his sisters. The evening show was the highlight of their day, and by the end of our stay all three children knew the dance moves by heart. We thought that Ellie, Lina and Emily did a marvellous job, and were all in awe of their energy on stage. 

The cleanliness of the resort struck us immediately, and we were continually impressed with how many ‘behind the scenes’ staff were working to keep it this way.  We are unashamed food snobs, and thought that the food was amazing. There was always plenty of choice and it was easy to eat healthily at meal times.    

We’ve shied away from all inclusive holidays in the past, but are converts. It’s safe to say that we’re already planning our next family adventure. 

Thanks again for a wonderful holiday, we’ll cherish the memories for a long time. 

Andy, Reneé, Polly, Clara and Freddy  xx

my love affair with thailandMy love affair with Thailand began in February 2002. It was my first travelling expedition further afield than Europe and for longer than a week. I spent two months lazing around the southern islands – sunbathing by day and partying the night away. That trip opened my eyes to the wider world, and ignited a desire to go exploring it.

I went back to Thailand for a ten holiday in Bangkok and Koh Chang in the summer of 2003, and came home feeling like I had left a part of my soul on the aptly named Lonely Beach. New Year’s Day 2004 was spent on an aeroplane heading out there again. I’d been made redundant from work by that point, and rather than do something sensible (like buy a flat) I’d decided to have an adventure with my payout.   

Eden 2004After a month in Thailand, I headed over to Cambodia, and a few weeks later met my husband in beach bar called Eden. As the start of relationships go, it was pretty fairytale like. We lived and breathed each other for six incredible weeks, after which we parted company. He was Australia bound, I was going home to the UK after being away for seven months.

It was quickly apparent that we couldn’t bear to be apart, and less than two weeks after arriving home, I was on a plane heading down under. We stayed in Aus for a while, went back to Cambodia for a bit, came home for a few months, then went back to Cambodia where we lived for a year. Each time we travelled, we passed through Bangkok, and it became a second home to us.

sunsetting on snookyWe usually stayed around the backpackers haven of Khao San Road – which was chock full of the sort of grimy guest houses that Alex Garland depicted in his cult novel The Beach. Always a perfect mixture of grubby and gorgeous; tantalising mischief just waiting to be had. There are many ‘if these walls could talk’ stories from those days, but it wouldn’t be appropriate to share them.

After all, what goes on tour, stays on tour!

 

family travel showI loved my travelling days. I think back on them often, and memories of sandy beaches or interesting characters will always brighten up a dreary day. I’m very excited about having some overseas family adventures once my little ones are a bit older.

As you can imagine, I jumped at the chance of press tickets for The Family Travel Show taking place at London’s Olympia on the 31st October and 1st November. Grab yourself a cuppa, and read all about it below. I’ve bagged you a discount code too, so you can book your own tickets at a great price. You’ll find it at the end of this post.

Discover the world together at the UK’s first family travel show

The Family Travel Show, taking place at London’s Olympia, is the UK’s first exhibition completely dedicated to family travel adventures. Show features include:

shutterstock_104736014 2The biggest collection of specialist family travel operators under one roof
Get face-to-face with the best family holiday providers and specialist operators, all under one roof. They will be on hand to offer advice on everything from all-inclusive luxury getaways, exciting cruise voyages, action-packed resorts and family-friendly villas to intriguing adventures, thrilling ski holidays and incredible wildlife safaris. Discover amazing trips that are hard to find online or on the High Street.

Over 50 FREE Show Talks
With a large selection of show talks across three different theatres you have the chance to gain inspiration and information from celebrity speakers, travel writers and bloggers, journalists and family travel experts. Speakers include Benedict Allen and Simon Calder! The talks will include travel tales and practical guidance, details on new destinations, cultures and experiences, and how to plan for every different type of family holiday imaginable.

Father and SonYoung Travellers Photography Competition & Exhibition
Do you have children who love taking charge of the camera on your travels? If so, then the Young Travellers Photography Exhibition is just the thing for them! This exciting new photography competition has one simple aim – to inspire young travellers to capture their adventures while exploring the world with their family. From quirky signs and bustling markets to incredible landscapes and amazing architecture – we hope to encourage children to get snapping away this summer. Winners and selected images will feature in the Young Travel Photographers Exhibition at the Family Travel Show, 31 Oct – 01 Nov 2015, Olympia, London. To enter please visit www.familytravelshow.com.

Esprit Ski Crèche

Esprit Ski are offering a complimentary crèche for children aged between 17 weeks and 8 years old, giving parents peace of mind so that they can enjoy the show knowing their children are having a great time being cared for by Esprit Ski’s fully experienced child care team. As the ‘Number 1 Family Ski Company’ they have over 30 years’ experience in Child Care and will make sure that your children have great fun in a safe and stimulating environment. With high ratios, excellent security procedures and a wealth of knowledge and experience, their team will ensure that your children will have just as much fun as you at the show.

shutterstock_95568901 2National Geographic Traveller Explorers’ Corner
Get ready to discover the world with a visit to the National Geographic Traveller Explorers’ Corner. Be inspired with expert advice and insight from the National Geographic Traveller Family team who will be on hand with oodles of great ideas for family adventures, from the Caribbean to Italy, the UK, theme park trips and more. So whether you are looking to plan an independent adventure or are looking for a guide with updates on the latest and greatest family holiday destinations, start your trip at Explorers’ Corner.

Claim 2 for 1 tickets to the Family Travel Show when booked in advance – that’s two tickets for only £8! Just quote ‘MUMMYTRIES’ when booking online at www.familytravelshow.com or when calling 0844 209 7360. (Calls cost 10p per minute plus network extras.)

**I was given two free tickets to attend the show, click here for my full disclosure policy**