This was a special holiday for us and we knew it would be good- but such an exhilirating , fascinating, cultural and culinary experience, with great company, and just the right mix of relaxation for the children (including sun soaked white beaches), ensured that all our expectations were surpassed.
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
The afternoon of contrasts - visiting a local market to see the vast array of fruit, vegetables, insects and frogs for sale; watching the sky as a tropical rainstorm approached; walking through the hot, steamy, muddy jungle during a monsoon 'shower'; meandering through banana trees with limestone cliffs towering above; rustic hilltribe villages surrounded by neat rice and maize fields, pigs, dogs, cheeky-faced children and vividly dressed women drying and shelling nuts, contained so many new impressions that it seemed longer than the 4 or 5 hours that it actually took. An informal exchange of 'east-meets-west' song and dance for evening entertainment in the tribal village, followed by a night under mosquito nets in a hut listening to dogs and coquerels, trading for trinkets with the locals before breakfast, and then the lolloping elephant ride through the jungle to visit the local school , all combined to make an outstanding 24 hours that we will never forget.
What did you think of your group leader?
Our group leader made a huge impact on our enjoyment. His cultural, political, historical and religious knowledge was outstanding, and he always gave full and informed answers on a very wide range of topics from a demanding audience, thirsty for information. In addition he had a loads of patience and you could tell he really liked children and even understood most of our quirky sense of humour. Excellent organisation meant we were never waiting around for long, so making the most of our time , yet flexible enough for us not to feel rushed either. He was really helpful in enabling us to plan activities for free time and was generally good company !
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Take a sleeping sheet, but don't bother with mats, pillows and sleeping bags. You're moving locations quite a lot and its more to lug around, and equipment is available in the villages. It was also too hot in August to bother with any additional covering at night.
Laundry services are very cheap, quick and regularly available, so take very lightweight clothes - it is very, very humid- in the knowledge that laundry is available whenever you stay more than 1 night at a hotel - allows more room for presents and lighter luggage!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thai food tends to be spicy but our leader was great at sorting something out for everyone's taste, even the children whose eyes light up at the sight of a McDonald - (yes, even in Thailand.) I don't think even the fussiest eater went hungry, and for some of us, the range and quality of Thai food is exceptional and every meal was thoroughly enjoyed.