Exotic holidays with kids

by Maile E. Chow

This story is part of our 'Travelling with Kids' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our recent travel writing competition.

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My husband and I always vowed that having children would not curb our enthusiasm for travel. With that in mind we set off for two weeks in Thailand and Cambodia with our three year-old and eight month-old daughters.

In order to build enthusiasm for the trip we began telling our three year-old weeks in advance that one of the items on our Things to Do in Thailand list was letting her ride an elephant. She spent hours speculating about how she would get up on such a tall animal and we kept telling her how much fun it was going to be.

Finally the day arrived. I climbed on one elephant with the three year-old and my husband climbed on another with the baby and we set off on a lumbering trek through the jungle towards the ocean. About half-way into the one hour trek, I heard my daughter singing softly under her breath. I listened to a few verses and when I thought I had the words right I chimed in: Riding an elephant is lots of fun! I was mentally patting myself on the back for my amazing parenting skills and for showing my children the world when they were mere babies when my daughter turned to me and said, No mom. I am singing: Riding an elephant is NOT SO FUN.

Turns out she was right. Riding an elephant WAS not so fun. It was hot and muggy, incredibly bumpy, and our elephants were misbehaving by bending down to eat the weeds and bushes growing along the pathway every three seconds. Not to mention we were being regaled by our elephant driver who was singing, over and over, the chorus to the Backstreet Boys I Want it That Way very loudly in heavily Thai-accented English.

We asked to finish the trek a bit early and spent the rest of the day on the beach drinking banana milkshakes and building sandcastles. Sometimes you need a child to tell you that travel doesnt need a check-list of Things to Do. Its more important to just take what comes and enjoy the wonder of being in a new place with the ones you love.

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