Saturday, 21 April 2012

Just under three months to go

Yes, another of our travel blogs, but with a bit of a twist. This year, hopefully, we will be adopting a child so this is likely to be the last big holiday we do as a couple for quite a while. This means that we need to have a great blow-out. Not that we've ever been that hedonisitic, but we need to do the things on this trip we won't be able to do when we have a sprog in tow. I mean, sure we will still be able to do long-haul trips like this with our new family member, but what we do will be different and how we go about things (like being out for 6-7 hours, mostly walking, spending the evening in bars) will need to be different. Having said that, one of the things I'm most looking forward to with our new son or daughter is showing them the world and all that the natural and human worlds has to offer, but that will be a different blog for the future. Anyway, our ongoing journey to parenthood is being chronicled in another blog, 21st Century Paddington

OK, so what's the plan this time around? We thought about going to visit friends and family in Australia, but we only really have a fortnight (needing to reserve a little holiday for when we are three) and a trip out there really needs longer, not to mention it would be a great place to take the new person in our life when they do arrive. So we looked at our favourite part of the world, SE Asia. Well, we've had the flights to Kuala Lumpur for a few weeks now. We got a good deal on return flights from Manchester to KL via Heathrow through BMI, with the long haul leg a code-share with Malaysian Airlines, a good carrier with whom we've travelled before.

Flights sorted, next up, an itineraray. The beauty of the modern world is the availability of cheap flights on budget airlines. We have used these a few times now in our trips to SE Asia, and it efectively means that it doesn't really matter which of the major hubs you enter the region via, you can jump on a cheap flight and go to almost any country in that part of the world very easily. So, to this end, we debated where we'd like to go. We love nature, especially tropical jungle where we might see some animals and we like beaches for a bit of snorkelling. As we're flying into Malaysia, this might be the most obvious place to go. Nature doesn't get much better than the delights of Borneo but we've done a couple of recent trips to the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah, and while it is one of our favourite places which has something truly magical about it, we wanted somewhere different. We've seen a good deal of mainland Malaysia also, again one of our favourite countries, so this was out. Singapore is great and as somewhere we've lived, but there's not that much there to occupy us for a couple of weeks (and not enough nature or decent beaches). Other places we've been to have been Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, but again decided we wanted somewhere else. Burma is now OK, but we dismissed there as it's not as easy to reach and is a bit rainy at the time we'll be there. This is also the case for most of the Philipines.

This essentialy leaves Indonesia and Thailand. Both are huge countries with a vast breadth of different areas to see. We've been to both before, though for Indonesia we've only seen Bali and Lombok, two of the smaller islands. My preference was to go for something really off the beaten track. I really fancied somewhere that still had an element of frontier to it, somewhere that people haven't heard of (because I'm such a travel snob). Sad to say it wasn't that easy to reach places like Komodo or the Spice Islands which was what I really wanted. However, looking at flights on Air Asia, the major budget carrier in the region (actually part-owned by Malaysian Airlines), I noticed flights to Sulawesi in Indonesia which appealed, but once there it is difficult to get around with the limited time we have available, and might also have been quite wet. We could have made it work though.
While I was looking at things like this, Jane was (as always) thinking more pragmatically and looking at a part of Thiland we'd not been to before which would allow us to incorporate the beaches of the Gulf of Thailand (Koh Samui, Koh Phang Gna and Koh Lanta) with some rainforest in the Khao Sok National Park which has tigers, elephants and bears. This was easily reachable from KL.

So the die was cast. Thailand it is for a couple of weeks of tropical heat, jungles (including leeches and also possibly scorpions), beaches, snorkelling and fantastic food.

Now I just need a fitness programme to make sure I'm in top shape...

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