So it was always going to be a dilemma… how the hell do you do Xmas for 4 kids with no tree, no presents and no home??? After much thought, it was actually a very simple solution. We would do Xmas using the same values and principles that we are basing our trip around. Its all about family time, being together, being kind and creating memories with each other. We are a pretty full on Xmas family so still wanted to make it as special as possible for the kids. With that in mind we decided that we would book an island resort and do some exciting family activities rather than try to recreate what we usually do at home.
Having done Phuket before, we decided to try another Thai island. After plenty of research we came across Koh Chang which is just off the south eastern coast of Thailand near the border with Cambodia. It looked perfect for us. Less tourists than all the other islands, more authentic, more original. It was Thailand 30 years ago.
Undoubtedly the 6 hour minivan trip from Bangkok was up there with some of the crappiest days of my life. Bangkok belly had hit that morning and it was sticking around to stay. Plenty of burly was offered up for the fish on the 30 min ferry ride to the Island. The thought of clasping into a clean bed in an air coned room was agonizing when I still had to endue a 30 minute tuk tuk drive up steep windy roads, sharing the tuk tuk with some young foreign backpackers who kept offering me their water while I hung my head out the back of the tuk tuk. This poor old haggard white lady was dying in our tuk tuk while her kids were creating chaos and her husband was an exhausted, embarrassed mess is what they would have told their friends and family. First impressions at their finest!!!
Ahhh the lovely and delicious Koh Chang Paradise Resort… it was perfect. Pretty much everything you would expect from a 4 star island resort. Great pool, great beach, great everything!!! We had 2 villas, each with their own deck and gorgeous view of the tropical garden. Being a mainly Buddhist country, we weren’t sure what to expect for Xmas but we need not have worried, the resort had it covered. Decorations, Xmas lights and a huge Xmas eve gala was all set to go. Thankfully by Xmas Eve we were all, kind of, up for eating again. Before heading off to the gala, the resort staff delivered Xmas cookies to all the rooms with kids so that the kids had something to leave out for Santa. We had a wonderful Xmas eve enjoying a huge BBQ buffet. The kids joined in the games and Ronin got crowned as the Koh Chang Paradise Resort musical chairs Champion, earning himself a huge soft toy cactus…. I know… a bit random… but he thought it was cool. Santa arrived by boat and delivered a small gift to each kid and there was a fantastic fire dancing show on the beach. We wandered back to our villas about 11pm and tucked the kids up in bed.
We had explained to the kids that Santa would only be bringing something very small this year as he knew we didn’t have room for anything in our packs. Even though the kids knew this, they were still as excited as ever. Santa came and delivered a small pile of things for each of our kids, no wrapping paper, just a little name tag on the top of each pile. A few i tunes vouchers, a few tiny toys and lots of lollies and chocolate. I couldn’t have been any happier on Xmas morning. The smiles, laughter and happiness from all 4 kids was awesome. Each of them was so grateful and appreciative of the little amount they did get. At home, they always get spoilt rotten with hundreds of prezzies under the tree, but it just goes to show that being together with no expectations, no stress or pressure is infinity better than hundreds of gifts. The rest of the day was spent enjoying being together in our beautiful surroundings. By Xmas evening we all had small yucky tummy’s again so we went for a walk to the local village and sat in the gutter, had a coke each and an ice cream sundae. That was Xmas…. we did what we wanted and it was the best ever.
After our week at the resort we decided to stay on Koh Chang for another week and celebrate News Years together. A perfect little Airbnb beach hut at the south end of the Island was our home with our own little private beach. We did some exploring, met some awesome people and had a great time. It was the perfect time to catch up on some reading, writing and maths for the kids and also to research some more travel destinations. Afternoon naps in one of the hammocks was the norm as well as plenty of swimming, and paddle boarding. Getting chased by a family of monkeys was a fun story for the journal and watching them eat our potato chips that we had just walked 15 mins in the hot sun to get was a little heartbreaking for our little guy!!!
We rang in the New Year the same way we are planning to spend the rest of the year… together, happy with bugger all money but huge laughs, smiles and fun times. It was bitter sweet leaving Koh Chang and heading back to Bangkok. Excited to be moving on with our adventure but sad to be leaving this island with some of the best beaches we have ever seen and sunsets to die for. We are beach people so knowing that we were heading away from the coast for at least the next month was a little rough.
Koh Chang…. you kicked us in the guts for the first few days (actually, we can probably blame Bangkok for the spews and poos) but then we fell in love. You gave us some very special memories and one day we will bring our 6 backpacks and and come visit again x
PS…. The huge giant cactus soft toy is still living the dream on Koh Chang!!