Children are curious little souls and ones that I certainly don’t begin to understand and would never presume to second guess.
My husband and I like to travel and those that follow One Sunday on Instagram may be aware of this. We are quite fortunate in that we can jet off from time to time to some rather swanky destinations. This is not, I hasten to add because of any financial contribution on my behalf but rather through the fact that I married a super nerd who is rather good at making the green stuff. Anyway I digress. I tend to choose a destination by selecting a hotel and then working out how I can justify the destination to my husband and to a lesser extent the little Sundays. This time we went to Laos (and yes you do pronounce the s) via a long boat on the Mekong and a trip through Northern Thailand. What is not to love? Turns out, not much although I won’t be rushing back to Thailand. Between you and me I think the Thais have had a gut full of tourists and could do with a few fewer of them wandering through their beautiful country.
So we set off on our adventure with at least one little Sunday (who may or may not be taller than me) pointing out that there was no beach where we were going and was I aware of this? I was. I was also aware that it was going to be hot and damp and not your run-of-the-mill Sydney hot day but searing jungle heat that stops you dead in your tracks several times a day and makes simple tasks such a choosing a meal in a cafe almost impossible. Other questions included: Why are we going to Laos? Are we going to be ‘stuck’ on the boat for very long (it was 16 hours over 2 days and I loved every minute of it)? Will I need a jumper (obviously not)? Will we have to go to temples and stuff? Does the hotel have a pool? Will their be children our age there? How long is the flight? How long will we be at Bangkok airport for? Will the food be spicy? What if I can’t eat the food? Will we be back in time for ballet holiday rehearsals? Now I should point out that one of my reasons for this trip was to open my dearest children’s eyes to possibility of intrepid travel, which I never did myself, but like most things in life I am hoping my children will be less like me and more like the version of me I wish I had been. The one that sleeps in youth hostels and jumps on buses in South America with chickens and goats whilst playing my ukulele with the locals to pass the 24 hours it is going to take to get to my next remote destination. That me.
In reality children actually quite like being at home, with their mates, not with me or their dad or their sisters or brothers but with their friends. Ideally pretending that you don’t exist and better still that you don’t particularly care about them all that much. In the words of a young girl recently when I asked her if mum was OK about her going to the city with my daughter “mum doesn’t care about what I do”. I know for a fact that is not true.
So I can definitely recommend the following:
- Go to northern Thailand, stay at the beautiful Lanjia Lodge and support the local hill tribe people by getting to know how they live and partake in batik making and visiting the shaman.
- Take a long meandering slow boat down the Mekong with Luang Say staying in their beautiful lodge at Pak Beng and eat locally sourced wonderfully spicy food. Marvel at the wonderful countryside and local ingenious farming techniques.
- Visit Luang Prabang and stay in the sumptuous Satri House rising early each morning to explore this unique UNESCO town, before the heat sets in.
- Eat at Tangor for a heady blend of French Laotian fusion food.
- Drink and eat at Bar 525 and while away the evening with delightful owner Andrew Sykes (seriously the best food I have had a long while).
- Trek with the elephants at Mandalao elephant conservation. An all round favourite for our family.
- Volunteer and get to the know the locals through conversation classes at Big Brother Mouse
- Do a weaving, dyeing or basket making class at Ock Pop Tok
- Spend hours wandering the streets of Luang Prabang taking in the sights and smells, ideally arm in arm with your love.
- Climb the 328 steps of the Phousi Hill temple to watch the sunset over the Mekong.
- Consider leaving the children at home.