Phuket Holiday 2016 – Katathani

Our first family holiday of 2016 brought us to Phuket, Thailand. While this was not our first trip to Phuket (we travelled there when it was just the two of us, for our first babymoon and subsequently for Jah’s 1st holiday at 7 months), this is the first trip where we have ventured out further than 15 minutes away from the airport. No I kid you not! We always stayed 10 minutes away from the airport on all previous trips and basically parked ourselves in the vicinity of our hotel. We never visited Patong or any of the shopping malls ever. Ironically, we decided to stay almost 1.5 hours away from the airport while on holiday with 2 kids and ventured out every night by Tuktuk, for dinner. Perhaps parenthood really does make you stronger, more adventurous or just flat out mad! :p

The kids were really excited about this holiday and we were all up by 5am for our really early 8am flight. The first milestone we hit this holiday? Jah no longer needing his CARES Safety harness! He was constantly coaching Bella on how she should sit still in hers and that he could handle the ‘big people’ seatbelt now. 🙂 Honestly the CARES safety harness has been a great help for us when travelling with the kiddos. You can read more about it in our previous post here.

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Big boy seat belt finally!

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CARES Safety Harness for this little one (who is pretending to sleep btw)

We were picked up by our hotel private transfer and we managed to fit 4 adults, 2 kids, 3 suitcases and 2-3 handcarrys. Ermm yes we were there on a beach holiday but don’t ask me why we had so many suitcases. :p The transfer was about an hour long to the hotel and Jah and I were lucky to have a nice massage function in our seats. 🙂

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Massage function in the car

We stayed at the Katathani which is located at Kata Noi. It essentially is right at the end of the Kata area and spanned a really large area, with two different wings. We booked 2 interconnecting Junior Suite rooms and were located at the Thani Wing which is closer to the beach. Each room came with either a king bed or twin beds + a sofa bed and they covered the sofa bed in our room with nice clean sheets, pillows and a blanket so that Jah could use it. We also had a really decent view of the pool and the beachfront.

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Junior Suite with a Sofa bed made up for Jah

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Junior Suite (Twin Sharing) with the sofa bed for regular use

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View from our room balcony 

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Garden massage ($15 for 50 mins)

The hotel had many pools throughout its property which was one of the main draw for us when we were deciding where to stay. However we ended up playing at the same pool (right in front of our block) every morning before heading out to the beach and sea. The beach was located in an inlet and the waves were rather mild (usually got a bit ‘fiercer’ around noon time) so we can venture out with the kids. While the beach is not a private one, it felt pretty private to us because we had a guard watching the entrance from our hotel to the beach and you wouldn’t really venture out to Kata Noi Beach if you are not a guest at the hotel.

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Empty clean beach…peace….

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The kids also had a swell time at the kids pool with their toys and crocodile float which we bought from one of the many shops in the area. They also insisted on coming back from the beach at 11am every day without fail so that we could join the Aqua Aerobics class. Oh we had tons of fun and laughter with that class alright.

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Aqua Aerobics Time!

 

The kids club at Katathani is located at the Bhuri Wing so it was a 5 minute walk from our block but the kids were more than willing to make the walk before lunch. The kids club is supervised and had tons of toys, games and even a ball pit. They have paid activities and free ones and even an outdoor play area. The kids really wanted to play outdoors but I wouldn’t let them because it was just too hot at 12noon. We didn’t go for any of the paid activities but there was more than enough to keep them occupied. In fact it was really tough trying to get them to leave and go to lunch. *grrrr* The thing I liked about the Kids club was the fact that they have a very flexible policy. You could choose to drop off your child with the staff or you could stay in the kids club with your child. We had one too many bad experiences with hotels who insist that the adults have to leave even when we just want to spend time with our kids in the club. We had no such problem at Katathani.

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We really had a lot of fun at the Katathani, my only gripe was the fact that it was almost a 1.5 hour journey to the airport which can be really tiring. But the facilities and service far outweigh that little inconvenience. I have a feeling, this might be our go to place in Phuket from now on. 🙂

Want to know what else we did in Phuket with the kids and how we managed to have authentic Thai food even though we had kids with us? Stay tuned for our next Phuket 2016 post!

JahBella’s Mummy

 

JahBella’s Flight to Tokyo (Our take on what flights work for toddlers/ kids)

We finally took our long waited holiday (planned almost a year in advance) to Tokyo with Jah and Bella. It was a holiday which we were very much looking forward to but at the same time really nervous about. After all it would be the first time we would be travelling as a family of 4 (with no help), travelling to a city we have never been to before (all our previous trips were to familiar places), taking our longest flight yet (8 hours compared to the previous 5 hours to Perth) and having the two kids nap and sleep in the same room for 11 days (we have never ever succeeded in having them nap in the same room EVER!!!!) Yes so alittle nervous would be an understatement..I wonder what ever propelled me to even attempt it. 😛

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All set!

All set!

So of course the first hurdle to cross would be enduring that 8 hour flight with 2 kids.! Honestly I wasn’t really worried about dealing with Jah, he is getting pretty good with this whole airplane thing and I was even contemplating doing without our CARES Harness for him. But Bella…oh Bella is a whole different deal…we don’t call her Miss Ants-in-her-pants for nothing.

Miss Ants-in-her-pants...thank goodness she was only annoying the people behind her...Jah and I!

Miss Ants-in-her-pants…thank goodness she was only annoying the people behind her…Jah and I!

Planning this trip a year in advance left us with a lot of time to second doubt our decisions. We went back and forth with our choice of airline as well as the aircraft configuration and flight timings. Yes lots of thought went into choosing the PERFECT flight and while I would say it definitely wasn’t perfect…we learnt quite abit from our choices.

AIRLINE

We had a choice between Singapore Airlines (SQ), All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JL). We eventually chose ANA because we wanted to experience their Dreamliners (supposed quieter cabins, ambient lighting and supposed better cabin pressure), coupled with the fact that their aircraft configuration was 2-4-2 which allowed us to take 2 seats each by the window. That benefit was eventually non-existent because ANA changed their configuration to 3-3-3 (packing in 1 more seat into their Dreamliners :/) Which meant that there was a high chance that we would be seated next to a stranger on an 8 hour flight 😦

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Drealimer Economy Class

We were fortunate to snag a last row seat for Jah and I, which was a 2 seater and prayed very hard for Joel and Bella to have an empty seat next to them.

Jah and I had our last row 2 seater

Jah and I had our last row 2 seater

3-3-3 Config..fortunately Bella and Joel had a free seat next to them on this flight..

3-3-3 Config..fortunately Bella and Joel had a free seat next to them on this flight..not so lucky on the way back!

So how did our flight on ANA go? Joel and I had pretty different takes on it. He was really impressed by the service on ANA. He felt that it was personal without being intrusive and that the cabin crew were very ‘sincere’ and understanding when it came to their little passengers. However the food left much to be desired and I would have to agree with that.

Kids Meal

Kids Meal

Adult's Meal

Adult’s Meal

I was perhaps a little pickier than him and felt that the meal service was rather messy. I was pretty used to having the kids served first on planes so that the parents can feed them and then attend to themselves later when the kids are fed and happy to continue with their activity. However there was no such thing on ANA and we were all served at the same time. Seems like a small deal but trust me it makes a big difference to a mother trying to multi-task her kid, his food, her food, turbulence, the inflight entertainment system, blankets, pillows and seatbelts. :p That being said, the flight was relatively comfortable and all the complaints I read online about the seats being really uncomfortable because they were shell-scheme seats, well didn’t bother us. I have to say I love the ambient lighting and the fact that you can fade out the window (this meant Jah could still look out the window but we didn’t have to put up with the glare). The big spacious toilets with baby facilities were also fantastic and very well-equipped and comfortable for cleaning up the toddlers and even little kids. The window in the toilets also served as a distraction for them. :p

FLIGHT TIMINGS

So what flight timing works for toddlers and little kids you ask? Well it really depends on your kids. I know of some people who swear by red eye flights so that they get in bright and early and don’t waste a day or have to cope with wide awake kids on the flight.

We tried both types (the full day flight and the red eye flight) on this trip, for reasons that we thought were perfect. The full day flight got us into Tokyo at 7pm, in time for a nice shower and a good night’s rest before we start the day fresh. I can tell you now that the choice of a full day flight at the start of our holiday was the right one for us! We departed Singapore at 10am which meant we only had to deal with the kids for about 2 to 3 hours before they were due for their nap. We were very fortunate that they napped! Both of them! (I have a distant memory of my kids going mad on their Perth flight because they refused to nap and were high and over-stimulated from the lack of sleep..oh that distant memory….)

Awesome! 1 napping kid!

Awesome! 1 napping kid!

2nd kid napping!! This was after I successfully transferred her from my carrier to the plane seat..

2nd kid napping!! This was after I successfully transferred her from my carrier to the plane seat..

They finally woke at about 4 to 5pm (yes they slept for 3 hours!!!! I couldn’t believe it myself!!) and this meant we only had to deal with them for another 2 hours before it was time to land! So yes awesome flight choice!

Remember to bring lots of activities to keep them occupied!

Remember to bring lots of activities to keep them occupied!

We contemplated having a full day flight for our return flight but that would mean being at the airport by 9am. Perfectly do-able if we were coming from home but just too stressful a task coming off a holiday so we decided to take the red-eye flight. This gave us a full day in Tokyo with enough time for a good dinner and kids who are showered and ready for ‘bed’ on the flight. Perfect in theory for us but not so perfect in execution. We definitely appreciated the full day in Tokyo but because our flight only departed at midnight. The kids had to be up and about in the airport till that time. Bella fell asleep in her carrier from 10pm to 12 midnight and then was wide awake once we were onboard the flight. OMG! I was fortunate that at least 1 child slept (Jah slept from 1230am to 5am) and only woke because the lights came on for breakfast. We struggled with Bella and only got her to sleep momentarily. The upside to having the red eye on the return is the fact that at least we were on homeground, with two zombie-fied parents dealing with a cranky toddler and a super re-charged kid.

VERDICT

If you asked us whether we would attempt such a trip again? The answer would be yes yes yes!!! The frustrations and crankiness all become a distant memory soon enough and you know what they say..what doesn’t break you, only makes you stronger! We will probably just avoid any red eye flight options for now. :p

Stay Tuned for more posts on what we did on our Tokyo Trip with JahBella!

Stay tuned for more Tokyo Adventures!

Stay tuned for more Tokyo Adventures!

JahBella’s Mummy

3 ‘Must-Have’ Items when flying with kids

Alright so they might not exactly be ‘Must-Haves’ but they have definitely made our family travels a lot easier even if for a short while…

Lets start with the first item, the one item that all of us are very familiar with…yes the iPad. I know there are tons of views and articles of when we should expose our kids to iPads and their equivalents or if we should ever do it. Well that’s a debate for another time or maybe never

For us the iPad works and is especially useful on flights and holidays. I have to say that we are fortunate that Jah is not addicted to his iPad. Well yes there are days where he would insist on watching his ‘eggs Youtube video” on the iPad or watch one more video or play one more game before he showers. But there are also times where he has gone without his iPad for an entire 2 months (we almost forgot where the charger was). So yes we are ok with it and we just make sure to put lots of age appropriate content and educational apps in it.

The iPad comes in very handy when you are travelling on an airline that doesn’t have in-flight entertainment or the movies do not interest your kid. Continue reading