On the morning of Friday 10th February, my parents, sister, brother in law, their three kids and I traveled to Bangkok in Thailand via Abudabi. It was a long journey, but didn’t go half as bad as I’d expected. Etihad airways were fantastic with the boys, (aged 20 months, 4, and 13 years.) They had lots of films and entertainment on the plane, and the airhostesses often brought them food drinks and games. There was lots of music to choose from too, and I was delighted to find a Paul Simon and JJ Cale album that I hadn’t heard before.
We arrived in Bangkok at 7 A.M on Saturday morning, 12 A.M Irish time. We met my brother there and everybody was very excited to see him. His girlfriend is from Thailand and she had already gone to Coh Samui ahead of us. The flight there took an hour. Coh Samui airport is mostly outside, so it’s a really relaxing place to be, especially in 30 degree heat. We were brought to our villa where we were spending the next week. It was gorgeous, and had everything we needed, including very helpful staff who showed us around the area and made a lovely breakfast for us every morning.
We spent the week relaxing at the pool or on the beach, playing with the kids and exploring the Island. There’s so much to do and see, you’d never get bored. Its probably the nicest place I’ve ever been to. The food in Thailand is fantastic, so much choice and everything is so tasty. We went elephant trekking, held a baby tiger and cuddled monkeys. The boys swam in a waterfall and went to a shooting range. We had massages on the beach and went to an amazing spa. Our modes of transport for the week were a pickup (that the ten of us often pild into) and three motorbikes. My brother even let me drive one a bit on our last day. Thai people are careful drivers, but they don’t use seatbelts or car seats for babies or anything.
On Saturday (which was my 26th birthday) we were woken up to a huge thunderstorm. Its just as well we were leaving Coh Samui and traveling back to Bangkok because heavy rain was forecast for the next few days. When we arrived in the capital, I went to my brother’s girlfriend’s favourite hairdresser to get my hair cut. He had no English so I was a bit nervous but it turned out good. Sixteen of us went for dinner in an amazing restaurant called the Greyhound to celebrate my birthday. I got three dresses from everybody, and had a lovely evening. Afterwards we went across the road to a place called After You, which only sold cakes for dessert. I’ve never tasted anything so nice in my life. My brother had it planned because he knew I would be in heaven, and it was amazing!
We were staying in a hotel for the next few days which was more like apartments than hotel rooms. There was lots of space and I had a room to myself, even though sharing with my nephews for the previous week was fine. We ate more lovely food and shopped. Visiting the markets in Bangkok is an experience in itself, so we went to the Chatuchak and Patpong night market. We didn’t have as much time as we would have liked but it was still great to see them again and buy some presents.
Thailand, and bangkok in particular is a fascinateing place for a blind person to visit. There is so much to take in, it would make your head spin. It’s almost impossible to get around because the footpaths are so bad. People with disabilities don’t have a great quality of life unless they have money. Service dogs are trained there but we didn’t see any. Again that depends on money as well. Blind people work in massage parlers if they are lucky enough to have jobs. People are attempting to change laws for people with disabilities in the country, but this is a slow process. Its something I want to find out more about, an definitely wouldn’t rule out a visit there again in the next few years for that reason. Saying all that, the attitudes of the people I met were fantastic and they couldn’t have been more helpful, letting me touch things, showing me where things were, talking directly to me and getting me a seat when we were in shops.
We came back to Ireland last Wednesday morning. Both dogs were very excited to see me. I know they were looked after brilliantly so it was great. I’ve been sick since we got home with some kind of bug, but got lovely flowers and perfume for my birthday from Nicky, who looked after me well and tried to make me feel better over the weekend.
Being in Thailand again with my family was brilliant. It was great to spend time with my brother, and to let the children experience something that many other kids couldn’t even imagine. They have seen cultural differences and experienced things that will teach them lots, but more importantly, they loved every minute of it.
I was in Thailand in 2004 when the tsunami happened, and although most of the holiday then was amazing, the disaster overshadowed most of it. It was nice to be reminded of how beautiful and brilliant the country is, how nice the people are and why they call it the land of the smiles.