Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Traveling to Beijing and Bangkok with Kids

The last thing that was going to happen to me was to be stuck at the Beijing International in the dead of winter breathing potential bird flu strains with no ride in the middle of the night.  Long gone are the backpacking days of my 20's.  Researching, planning and confirming are my new norms.

So when I was planning this trip I asked myself, "how am I going to deal on a 24 hour plane ride with 2 kids and a sleeping husband and not freak out?" My first answer was simple. Don't go.  But I wasn't willing to let parenthood rob me of an adventure so I got us there slowly by not flying directly to Bangkok, but somewhere closer first, Beijing.  A 12 hour flight, instead of the 20+ hour ordeal with layovers and plane changes to Bangkok.

We stayed at the Peninsula Hotel in comfort for 5 nights while we got through jet lag. The mall lobby is lame, but throw in the fact that no one speaks English and getting a cab is impossible (take this seriously and plan for it) made the Peninsula concierge an absolute must for us.

The shorter plane ride, a car from the airport, two hotel rooms, major big time breakfast and a gym made what could have been a nightmare in jet lag hell into a relatively easy transition to Asian culture.

We went to the Wall and shared it with maybe 10 people.  Unreal and Unforgettable.

 Walked to and through The Forbidden City
 Shopped and ate in the Hutang

 and discovered that when your face goes numb you aren't getting avian death just eating regular ole numbing spices.  Who knew!?  No one mentions it, but it's cool, you're cool, just keep eating it because it will pass.
We found handmade dolls and shoes.

Then off to Thailand on a 5 hour flight - aka a breeze.

Here we were spoiled with family members everyday, so I lack much travel advice except: 
1. The best food is on the street
2. Never get in a car during rush hour- skip it, take the boat ferries, or a motorcycle  (not with the kids though) 
3. Ship your clothes home and pack your souvenirs in your suitcases
4. Get a Thai massage early on you'll want another one
5. Don't be afraid to walk.  Pack the umbrella stroller and use it.  Thai's couldn't be more opposite to a New Yorker when it comes to walking.  They'd rather sit in a cab for hours than get out and walk 30 minutes. If the cab ride has been 2 hours and your iphone says you're a mile away, then I suggest you get out and walk or it will be another 2 before you get there.  

In general, I ate the best food of my life there and watched my girls subsist on white rice and peanut butter off of plastic spoons.  sigh.  Despite midnight thoughts of malnutrition we had an amazing trip of: 

Tuk Tuk rides
 Late Bangkok nights
 floating markets

 and a side trip to Cambodia
Then home via Beijing for a night - another planned rest instead of a layover - a doable feat.

Travel with the kids, because soon they will go whether you do or not.

Some fun Traveling with Kids blogs:
Mother of all Trips
Travel Savvy mom
National Geographic - Jenss Family Travels

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