Bustling Bangkok

We tacked a Bangkok three night stop over onto the journey home from Japan. I am not exactly sure how we were anticipating spending it, but it was clear as we left Sahoro (and 6 days solid skiing/snowboarding) it would be rest that was mainly required and not so much sightseeing.

The trouble is, the husband and I find that hard. If we are somewhere new, we like to see and live it, but the kids are realists and are keen to remind us they are tired. The compromise has been a couple of hours touring here and there, followed by the remainder of the day by the pool and a few of these….

Thailand has a familiar kind of feel for us, having visited the country a couple of times before. I however, had not been to Bangkok. To me it just feels like the rest of the country, but on steroids!

There are the glaringly obvious incongruities, like the buildings that seem to be falling down around people, yet they house the latest model TVs. There are new model cars zipping around the streets and I even saw someone on a freeway on an electric scooter (you know stand up style like our kids have)!!! Then there are the buses that look like a wheel may fall off at any moment.

I first remember seeing crazy things like this, an almost blatant disregard for safety, when I visited Phuket in about 1998. Back then I was new to travelling and I found it all very confronting. Today I just find it a little puzzling……. I guess the disparity between rich and poor is just more evident in some places.

Yesterday we took a trip on the Skytrain (this is great, not delayed by the crazy traffic, air conditioned and with a view) down to the river. The kids were not feeling up to a boat trip, but we assured them it was worth a look anyway. The boats down there are something else, powered by V8 car engines!

Today we wandered over to the nearby Siam Centre, a huge high end shopping complex where you could buy anything from a cheap lunch, to clothes, electronics or a Maserati!! It was quite an eye opener. In some shops you had to be invited to enter. In others, escorted around as you browsed. We just gawked from the outside!

From here, we had an hour or so fun in Madame Tussaud’s, the kids loved ‘hanging out’ with some super stars and posing for photos. I didn’t mind it too much either….

Unfortunately though this holiday has come to an end. All we have left to do now is our obligatory Thai massage, then it is a 3:20am transfer to the airport tomorrow morning.

You know what they say……. ‘all good things must come to an end’. But, dam it sucks when it does! Here’s to planning the next trip.


Food extravaganza – Sahoro Hokkaido

We have now arrived in Bangkok for the rest and recovery part of our holiday. But before I write anything about Bangkok, I feel I have missed something huge from Club Med Sahoro…… and that is the food.

We had never done an all inclusive family holiday before so we really had no idea what to expect. We thought, being in Japan, there would be sushi and sashimi and perhaps some tempura…… we had also heard about the snow crab.

We did not expect to be treated to an international food extravaganza!

Yes there was sushi… (plus sashimi, tempura, miso soup, Japanese fried chicken and Japanese curries)

Prawn Sushi
Japanese fried chicken

And there was Thai, Korean, Sri Lankan and Indian food.

Thai salmon salad

Then there was European food… French, Italian and Hungarian.

There were desserts of all varieties and influences. The presentation was immaculate. My daughter’s favourite was definitely the chocolate fountain! There is no photo of that though, because…….well it was a little embarrassing how she ended up! Something similar to a Vegemite grin.

But, without a doubt the most impressive food, both in presentation and taste, was snow crab night. Although, I am not usually one to go for crab, I figured with a food station so grand and imposing I had to give it a go and boy was it worth it. The meat so delicate and tasty, the dipping sauce setting it off perfectly. Definitely something not to be missed.

We thought we might get sick of sushi, but with the selection on offer, it was difficult to get sick of anything.


I have had to make a quick edit to this blog as I completely forgot to mention the selection of amazing cheeses and breads that we finished each evening with. Brie, Camembert, Blue cheese, Gouda etc. One of my favourite comments from little miss 9 this holiday was……. ‘Dad, I like Brie but I prefer the firmness of Camembert’. We were all in stitches. Looks like we have a cheese connoisseur on our hands!!

TTB (again)

Gondola – Sahoro Hokkaido

Yesterday was a beautiful clear day. After my morning ski, I decided to forsake my Canadian bath soak and check out the view from the top of the gondola.

Unlike most, I went up with no skiis! Although there is a green run down, I had heard there was a patch of ice near the start and I knew it would freak me out. Rather than ruin a good thing, I thought it a good idea to leave my new ski confidence intact.

I climbed into the gondola carriage with a Japanese lady and her two young sons. We had a stilted conversation about where I was from (my Canada beanie causing a bit of confusion). Her boys didn’t understand much English but were able to politely say hello when their mum explained I was from Australia where the kangaroos and koalas are!

This got me thinking……… are we still going to have koalas in the future? A symbol of Australia that has been so badly effected by the bushfires. Everyone back home seems to be doing as much as they can to ensure we are. There are some heartwarming stories of donations coming in and people making pouches and jumpers etc for injured wildlife. I am sure too, the zoos of Australia will have a job ahead with breading programs.

I had wondered in my ‘Australia is burning’ blog if I would see evidence of global warming here in Japan. As it turns out, there most certainly is. It is still quite ‘warm’ here for this time of the year and snow came much later than usual. One of the staff here at Club Med told us of how one week before the season started and paid guests arrived, they had had no snow at all.

A traditional Japanese healer was called to the resort. They performed a snow ritual (sounds like a rain dance!). Apparently some of the new staff were rather sceptical, but sure enough the next morning, snow fell for the first time.

As I reached the top of the gondola and looked out, I wished I could somehow scoop up all the extra snow now and dump it on Australia. Or perhaps send the Japanese healer down under. Imagine what a dump of snow could do to those fires!

The healer’s work here, is truely stunning……

I definitely picked the best day to check out the view. It was a lonely ride back down in the gondola, but a safe one! Incidentally, the two little Japanese boys didn’t seem to be too concerned about the patch of ice or long, steep run ahead, they flew off down the maintain, barely pausing to take in the view!


Club 2/Canadian bath – Sahoro Hokkaido

For days 3 and 4, I have developed a new routine. I love it so much I might stick to it for our last two days.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I have progressed to the Club 2 level. We are now doing wedge/parallel turns and working on our body movement. Today we even went up chair lift two!! I am super proud of how I have been going. I can control my speed (mostly) and turn ok, my movement up and down is getting better and honestly it is all feeling pretty good.

After skiing down my longest ever run today, we paused before a steep bit. Our instructor said ‘Ok guys, it is time to pick up a bit of speed, I know you can all do it and we need the speed to get across that flat at the bottom’.

I was terrified! At first my head said ‘no way, I will just go slow’, but then as I started downwards I realised the instructor was right. I relaxed into it, started to gain speed, turned a couple of times and then skimmed across the flat. It was so much fun!! I had a big grin on my face (not that anyone could see it under my neck warmer!!).

It really was a great morning, but dam does this skiing business hurt! My legs are aching and at times screaming at me to stop. My thighs burn as I turn and turn, wedging and wedging. My Achilles ache from the constant stretch in the boots. Several times I have thought to myself….. dam I should have trained for this. But, yesterday I found my solution.

Instead of skiing all day and getting jelly legs, I ski until lunch, enjoy a lovely meal and then head to the pool complex. Today, little miss 9 also accompanied me (she is exhausted). We jumped in the pool, swam a few laps, then played a little waterpolo. Then we went outside into the snow and into the Canadian bath (yes in our bathers).

There had been a little bit of snow this morning, but as we arrived in the tub, it started to really fall. I don’t know what temperature the tub actually is, but it is really very hot.

Imagine if you will, sitting in a hot, round, wooden tub, with your head out and snow falling. It was so weird, your body is so hot and your head and ears cold. In fact we had snow settling in our hair and on our noses. Miss 9 loved it and my aching legs loved it! It really is an awesome experience!

Canadian bath

Meanwhile, the boys were out on the slopes in the middle of a snow storm carving out their ‘c’ and ‘s’ turns. Both even making it up to the top of the gondola. Sounds like they had a great afternoon, but I know where I would rather be!!

This afternoon was at times a bit of a white out, so here’s hoping for another great morning tomorrow. Only two more skiing days (sad face).


Club 1 – Sahoro Hokkaido

Day 2 of skiing was awesome. It started with a little review of the magic carpet. This was a great place to warm up and have a chat to your fellow ski students. An astonishing 80% of the guests here at the moment are Australian (this is unusual apparently) the remainder are mainly Japanese, Singaporean, Korean or Taiwanese.

The magic carpet

The instructors are from all over the world, today ours was Korean. He started to explain (with a lot of hand signals and demonstrations) what he wanted to teach us for the day and then we were off to chair lift one.

What followed was a day full of giggles, wide eyes and the beginnings of burning legs! We had everything happen; from falls, to people heading into the scrub for a tree hug, a lost ski on the chair lift and an amusing introduction to a button lift (This is where my limited experience in NZ came in handy, I knew you are not meant to try and sit on the button!).

All the while, our instructor stayed cool and calm. At times his eyes widened in surprise or even alarm at some of the things that happened. He paused thoughtfully and then went off to help fix the situation. When it was sorted he would return to the group and brightly say ‘Ok, let’s go!’

Everyone else’s experience became your experience. We learnt from each other. We watched people doing well and tried to emulate it, we watched people doing things wrong and tried hard not make the same mistake. The advantage when something went wrong, was we had the chance to look around while our Instructor sorted it out.

The view while we waited for the missing ski to be retrieved

I saw my daughter several times wizz past me in her Mini Club group. She would wave and the others in my group were astonished this was only her second day on the slopes. My son also passed me on the snowboard, making some cool hand signals and carving up the snow. I did see my husband once or twice but mainly he was further up the mountain.

What was clear in every group we came across, was how attentive and patient the instructors were. Nothing was too much trouble to fix and they were constantly giving you tips to improve. In fact, everyone on the mountain was so polite and helpful.

Only once did I see anyone look slightly annoyed and that was the button lift operator. After three of my group fell off in a row he did look a touch weary! This was probably because it was the first time I had seen a line form at any of the lifts (it is amazing there is no wait here at all).

I received the news I would be moving up a group again tomorrow!!! Then, as has become our usual routine, the family met up in the bar at 4:30pm for a drink and a snack. We exchanged animated stories and chatted with another family whom we had met in our lessons.

Dinner was again extraordinary (I will have to do a separate blog dedicated to the food here), then we joined in for an entertaining quiz before we all fell into bed at 9:30pm.


Club beginner – Sahoro Hokkaido

We arrived in Sahoro Hokkaido yesterday afternoon. If I am completely honest, it was rather a long and arduous journey, including a two and a half hour drive, two flights (7 hours and 6 hours) then another two and a hour drive. It felt longer than we had anticipated, but living in a rural WA town we should be used to it.

We were all exhausted and a bit grumpy when we arrived at Club Med Sahoro. However, the smiles on arrival, mulled wine, amazing food and a comfy bed did wonders towards curing the weary traveller’s woes.

This morning we awoke refreshed and excited. Well, at least the kids did. I on the other hand, was feeling rather apprehensive. The last time I went skiing was 20 years ago in New Zealand and I was rubbish!

I was the one you looked at and thought….. gee thank goodness I am not as bad as her ……. I was also the one with a horrible memory of falling off the chair lift which in turn, led to it being stopped and a rather lengthy delay while they ‘recovered’ me. So embarrassing!

Therefore, you might understand my apprehension. But, I enrolled in a ‘Club Beginner’ course, pretended I had never skied before and hoped for the best. This turned out to be a good move (starting from scratch I mean). In fact, the whole family enrolled in classes, each at different levels and none of us together.

At first I thought us being separated was kind of sad, as this is meant to be a family holiday. However, the advantage of this situation was that we were all at the correct level, could completely concentrate on ourselves and not worry about the others. Nor, would I be holding anyone back as I was anticipating being a slow learner!

Off went little miss 9 to Mini club, Master 12 to snow board beginner and husband to his snowboard lesson. We came together at lunchtime to exchange stories of our morning and discuss how we had got on.

I loved watching the kids and their animated faces as they described their day thus far. It was clear to me, this was actually going to turn out to be fun (I have been a little sceptical). Even my son who I was little worried about, seemed to be loving it. One of my son’s ‘funny’ stories however, involved me.

He had looked over to my class, wondering how I was getting on. He saw me on the magic carpet. Apparently, I was just staring at my feet. ‘What were you doing Mum? Why weren’t you looking around?’

The answer was simple, I was slipping on the carpet and I was trying to work out why. But, it did make me realise that I probably was being a little intense and I needed to have a bit more of a look around. After all, I want to remember more than just my ski boots!

This afternoon I had my chance. I progressed from the magic carpet to the first chair lift where I had a better view of the surrounds. Boy is this place stunning. The snow is thick and powdery as far as the eye can see, buildings with hats of snow and dripping icicles. The whole place truely looks like a winter wonderland. The trees look bare and stark against the sky, the contrast between the white of the snow and blue of the sky, breathtaking.

Above us there were huge birds of prey circling. Eagles with a wingspan wider than I am tall. Incidentally, dressing your child with a cute animal helmet or hat is not a good idea near these birds!

I took note of the beauty around me. I took note of the terrifying slopes above me (that I will most definitely not be going anywhere near). I took note of the smiles on my kid’s faces and thought to myself, this is a pretty cool birthday!!

I never dreamed I would spend a birthday skiing (and actually feel that I was enjoying myself)! But here I am….. killing it!

All four of us have progressed to the next level class for tomorrow, which we are all pretty impressed with. (Do not fear mum, I am not going to go crazy). There will be no racing or fancy tricks, I am just going to take my time and enjoying what us around me. Tomorrow, when I feel confident, I will try and take a few pictures (a camera was too much to cope with today!).

All in all, a great day topped off with the most entertaining show back in the hotel. What more could a girl want on her birthday? Laughter, happy kids, beer, mulled wine and yummy food!