One night in Bangkok

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…. Two, actually, but I’ve had the song going round in my head for the last week (thanks so much to Mr James, secondary music teacher for his assiduous instruction in popular musicals).

I’m rapidly finding that changing country is the hardest part of a trip like this. After all, you’ve got used to the last one, for all of its fallabilities and frustrations. I adored India, so perhaps it’s natural that I thoroughly resented Thailand for being ‘not India’, and it took me a few days to get over it.

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Fortunately, Bangkok had one big attraction, in the form of Grandma and Grandad, who have very bravely arrived for a month to come travelling with us. We caught up with them at Bangkok airport. As well as being delighted to see them, the girls were thrilled with gifts from their auntie that are so large that we are seriously wondering how we are going to fit them in the case.

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It’s been ten years since we’re been to Thailand (then sans kids) and Bangkok seems to have become even bigger and buzzier. The area we stayed in was also devoid of recognisable breakfast food, so we end up cooking pancakes made from tempura flour – not bad, actually.

The best thing about our apartment? A washing machine (did I mention my utter laundry obsession?).

Tempted as I was to simply stay in and do washing, I forced us out to do a ‘klong tour’, or trip on Bangkok’s old canals. Mum and Dad coped surprisingly well with the early start, the getting on and off a boat, and eating sticky rice in the market and noodles cooked on a boat.

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Our guide Nui, educated us all about Buddhist Monks who are ‘not allowed to do the sexy’.

Apparently, it is common for older men who are married and have had children to leave and become Buddhist monks, and they welcome it. “They think, ‘he can go – I have the farm, and the grandchildren’ she explains.” I’d not previously seen Buddhism as a way of getting your menfolk off your hands when they retire, but it is always good to have a new perspective.

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We also indulged in a little health tourism (hoping not to have to visit the hospital in every country we visit) when Clover went to have her stitches out. Thai private healthcare proved as efficient as everyone has said – she was in and out in twenty minutes, it cost £14 and she’s healing beautifully.

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After Bangkok we took the night train to Chiang Mai, in the north, where we nearly got arrested for drinking beer on the train. “Did you not see the sticker!” shouted the guard at me, dragging me over the other end of the train carriage where a small sticker showed a glass of wine with a line through it. Felt like a naughty sixth former – haven’t had my alcohol confiscated in years.

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