Posts Tagged ‘Family Vacation’

15th April
written by bob

This post is long overdue. Yep, my bad…AGAIN. I’ve been slacking…

Over Christmas we enjoyed a family vacation in the southern French Alps. We have skied 2 of the other ski resorts, Auron and Valberg, in the 2hr drive from Cannes. The last one of the 3 we have not skied, Isola 2000, was our destination of choice for this Christmas ski trip. As we were heading there for a week, Miss G requested to go to ski school for every day. GREAT IDEA, G!

For skiing & snowboarding is something that we LOVE (almost as much as hockey for this Canadian)! We want Miss G to learn to ski as quick as possible. Family ski trips are the one thing that we look forward to and we have started G early with ski lessons. She had her first lesson when she was 3. Technically, she “should” have been 4 yrs old BUT since she was as bigger than most 5 yr olds in France, no one questioned it. Miss G enjoyed her week of ski school and improved to being able to use the tow rope and perform “pizza” braking. Two steps closer!

Christmas Day in Isola 2000.

Christmas Day in Isola 2000.

On Christmas eve, we had dinner at one of the local restaurants. Dinner continued into tobogganing for Miss G outside the restaurant. The conditions were perfect; lightly snowing with a healthy blanket of fresh snow already covering the ground. As it was Christmas eve, Santa was scheduled to make a stop-over in Isola “apres le Decente de Flambeaux”. Neither Katherine nor I have ever seen this event but it looked incredible! And just then, at 19h30-20h00 in the dark of the winter night, a line of torches from the right side of the mountain began descending from the top. The line grew longer and longer. It was quite amazing to see! Then, all of a sudden, a second line of torches were ignited and began a second descent from the left. As they descended further and further down the mountain, they were getting closer and closer and eventually joined into one line to become one super-long line. From mid-mountain onward, the line of torches lit the trail all the way to centerville. It was absolutely AMAZING to see and experience this “Decente de Flambeaux”!

Following closely behind at the end of the “decente” was Père Noël. Miss G was soooo excited to see Santa that she began shouting loudly, “Père Noël, Père Noël”! Within the large crowd around Santa and Miss G on my shoulders, all of a sudden candy was flying in every direction. I bent down and managed to grab a couple pieces from the snow while G balanced on my shoulders; quite well I might add.

Enjoy the video of the Christmas 2013 Decente de Flambeaux in Isola 2000.

Au revoir, mes amis!

29th August
written by bob

After 3 weeks in Bangkok, we decided it was time for a little side trip. Where? Well…from everything we have heard from friends, it sounds like Phuket & Ko Phi Phi Don Island is a tropical paradise not to miss. So, a couple of plane tickets later on Thai Airways, we booked 3 days at the Westin Siray Bay in Phuket and another 3 days at the Holiday Inn Phi Phi Resort.

We arrived late on a Thursday evening after an uneventful flight (which is exactly how we like to fly). After a good night’s sleep we awoke for breakfast and figured we’d do a little resort exploring. Unfortunately, we discovered that breakfast ended at 1030h and us late risers missed our chance. We didn’t have to wait long for lunch through and once finished we were off to don our suits and hit the negative edge pool & pool bar! While mommy and daddy sipped a cocktail sitting in the pool Miss G swam/floated around like a little duck with her water wings on. There was no getting her out of the pool, she loves the water!

G lounging at the pool in Bangkok.

G lounging at the pool in Bangkok.

And then, it rained. Wow, did it POUR! It totally reminded us of the monsoon season in Arizona. Ok, so a “little” rain got Miss G out of the pool albeit only for a brief moment. After the short downpour and within 20 minutes we were back out in the pool once again looking out at the bay and enjoying the view of the islands. That night for dinner, we took G to her first sushi dinner. We love sushi and and soon discovered so does G! It was hit! She has such a palette; eats all kinds of things I would never touch as child; broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and spinach. Not only that but she loves fish, lentils, smoked salmon, red pepper hummus, and seaweed sheet snacks (from Thailand). The great thing is, she’ll try everything once and that’s all we ask. If she doesn’t like it, just leave it BUT at least just try it.

Three days flew by and we were on a ferry ride to Ko Phi Phi Don Island for a few more days of serene sun and beach bliss. The weather was clear, sunny and warm; a perfect day for a boat ride! It was a calm 1-hour ride to Tonsai Pier with a view of numerous islands along the way. After a brief 20 min docking, we were on our way to the northern-western tip for our stay at the Holiday Inn. Approaching our resort, we noticed that there was no dock for the ferry. Turns out that long boats come out to the ferry and taxi people into shore. Once on shore, we were greeted with fresh tropical drinks while we waited for check-in completion.

Time for some relaxation. The next 3 days were all about spending time sunbathing on the beach, building sandcastles with Miss G, and swimming in the Andaman Sea. The weather for the next couple of days was amazing! Hot and sunny with clear skies wasn’t a bad forecast to have when you are in tropical paradise, right? Could you relax here?

Mommy and MIss G enjoying the serene beaches of Phi Phi Island.

Mommy and Miss G enjoying the serene beaches of Phi Phi Island.

We explored quite a bit of the beach and walked along the shore past a couple other resorts taking in periodic swims and some seashell searching along the way. On the walk back, we figured we could plan an excursion to a couple of the nearby islands? In talking to the concierge, we wanted to spend some time at Monkey Island where “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed. Unfortunately, due to the time of year and the rough seas on that side of the island, our boat visit wasn’t going to happen. In the end, we had to cancel our half day excursion to Bamboo Island and Mosquito Island due to rain. The problem was the rain kept coming. It hadn’t stopped since last evening as today was our island departure date to head back to Bangkok for one last week of relaxation. Once packed and checked out, we headed down to the beach where we waited for the ferry to arrive. It began to rain harder. Long boats shuttled us out to the ferry. It was raining quite heavily and the wind was very strong. We were receiving the tail end of the typhoon that was slamming Korea! I didn’t have a good feeling about this. With everyone aboard, the captain headed for Tonsai Pier to pickup passengers there before making the 1-hr trek back to mainland, Phuket. The 20 minute boat ride to Tonsai took 40 mins and the waves were only getting larger. Not good. Fortunately, when we boarded we asked the deckhand where a good spot to sit was. He directed us to have seat in a spot where sea-sickness would be at a minimum. Perfect choice, not that we get sea-sick BUT, as I mentioned, the waves were HUGE and…you never know!

Passengers in Tonsai boarded. And boarded…and boarded. People just kept getting on! Then, it happened; “THE” thought. You know…the one that all of a sudden makes all the ferry capsizing stories in the news make sense? Yep, that ONE! I never really completely understood how I could read in the news that all these ferries had capsized in places such as this. It was now WAY TOO clear. Did I mentioned in a previous Thailand post that safety seems to be a secondary concern here? It is. Just check out the wiring strung across building fronts, no seat belts in taxis, etc.

This ferry had too many people on it. There was not enough seats for everyone and people were standing wherever they could find a spot. My stomach was churning one big knot. I mentioned to Katherine that we need to know where the life jackets are and be able to get them on quickly “IF” anything were to happen on the boat ride back. Fortunately, every seat had a life jacket on it. Unfortunately, all the jackets were snapped closed from behind the seat! I’m quite sure there were not enough life jackets for everyone. We departed Tonsai and less than 15 mins into the ride back the staff were handing out puke bags. In fact, people were requesting them and not for the “just-in-case” BUT for the NOW. The sea was THAT rough! Sadly, the only thing that kept going through my mind was our escape route. If something happened, I was making sure we were getting off this boat. The waves were so large now that the port holes that normally come with a great view of the sea are now just consumed by crashing waves on the glass. The swells were higher than the main deck of the ferry! I praised the captain for having the brains to NOT go full throttle back to the mainland. It would suck to miss our flight but there were others.

I am not kidding when I say this…during the boat ride I was scared like I have never been scared in my life. I feared for Katheine’s and G’s lives as well as my own. I prayed the ENTIRE way back on the boat. For the next 2 hrs, I prayed…and prayed…and PRAYED. I prayed that we make it safely back to Phuket. I prayed that this ferry did not become a headline like you read in the news, “Ferry Capsizes in the Andaman Sea”. I now have a full understanding of how ferry capsizing can happen! AND…I’m SOOOOOO thankful we made it back to Phuket safely without issue.

I have never been so thankful to reach mainland and if we didn’t have a taxi waiting for us at the dock to whisk us off to the airport, I probably would have kissed the ground! Normally that ferry ride takes 1 hr and a bit BUT the storm made our trip 2.5 hrs AND I was okay with that. Fortunately we made our flight with a few minutes to spare. Our flight was uneventful, thankfully!

Regardless of the ferry experience, I still love Thailand!

Au revoir, mes amis!