We strolled off the plane at Bangkok a few days ago with the slightly floaty, surreal feeling that you get from not sleeping for 24 hours solid and breathing in more CO2 than is probably good for you. Well, Spud and I had that feeling, the kids had had a few lovely in-flight sleeps, sprawled across us taking up all the pillows to rest their delicate little skulls from the inconvenient armrests, while we were too afraid to even drink any free wine for fear of waking them. So, full of beans, they chittered away, wrestled each other and slid across the airport’s shiny floors as we tried half-heartedly to make them behave. Parenting is hard when combined with sleep deprivation. Bangkok Airport is ridiculously easy to navigate and the taxi system is now automated and straightforward, you are given a number from a machine and then you jump in the matching taxi. After reassuring Newt that not being in a car seat is OK in Thailand and she wasn’t going to get in trouble (like her mother, she’s not one for tearing up the rule book), we headed off to our hotel.
On arrival the lovely lady let us check in and then informed us that we would have to come back in five hours as our room wasn’t ready. We were stinking and tired and she is very lucky I didn’t burst into tears in her foyer. Instead I chose non-verbal methods to show my indignation. I huffed and puffed and rolled my eyes like a teenager while pulling the contents of my rucksack out over the floor to find clean clothes into which I could change my children. The sight of my underwear on the lobby floor seems to have magically inspired some sonic room preparation because suddenly one was ready and we were taken up. When I was travelling in my twenties, I always hated this bit, when someone (always a man), would take my bags from me and carry them up, and then we would work our way through the painful charade where they tapped through the TV controls and showed me that the fridge door opened, and I would play my part by nodding vigorously and looking as if I was eternally grateful for such insights into how to make the most of the facilities, while clutching a pathetic amount of the local currency in my sweating hand and praying for it to be over. Now, however, it doesn’t bother me a bit, I just give the tip to my husband while I ‘see to the children’, and he gets to go all awkward and British about it instead.
So now we are supposed to be on Easy Street, I had decided that the next three days were for sleeping, eating and coming to terms with our newly found purposelessness only. Spud and I had been to Bangkok about five times before so we didn’t need to rush out to see the Grand Palace or anything and we also needed to acclimatise our Irishness to the throbbing Thai heat. This acclimatisation is not a pretty sight and is best done as privately as possible as it involves pink faces, sweaty marks left on all soft furnishings and many, many showers.
Anyway, the kids decided to respond to being on Easy Street by going on hunger strike in protest against the weirdness of their new situation. They wouldn’t eat the weird pineapple that came already cut up in a bag, or even the weird cheese sandwich that came TOASTED and involved three bits of bread instead of the standard two. We even tried them with bowls of (bloody expensive) cornflakes and milk but stupidly underestimated the weirdness of the milk and so ate those ourselves as well. As expected, Buzz broke after about a day of this nonsense because really, he was only copying his sister, and eventually the lure of a chicken omelette was too strong (we all have our weaknesses). Newt was harder to crack. When the promise of ice cream wasn’t enough, we banned her from the swimming pool under the premise that if she didn’t eat, she couldn’t possibly have the energy to swim. She gave in. Today she was eating red pork and wonton soup and flat noodles in Chinese gravy, we are on Easy Street again.
Today, we really did do very little. The best part of my day was watching my two-year-old repeatedly bounce off an enormous inflatable killer whale in the swimming pool while shouting “body slam” at the top of his voice every time he did it. There wasn’t anyone around at the time to judge me, so I just let him crack on. It’s good to see they have got their mojos back and have recovered from the jet lag because we are stepping off Easy Street shortly and heading out of Bangkok. Our next adventure involves trains, ferries and temples, and we all know how much children love temples.