Holidays and Other Excursions

Tag: Etihad

Thailand Days 9 onwards

Thursday 17 December 2015 to Wednesday 24 December 2015

We move to another hotel and location on 17 December – Khao Lak in a very prestigious upmarket hotel – so much so that we have a small private plunge pool for our own use.

Most of our days here are spent on sun loungers which are essentially in the main pool.  If there are other people in the hotel we may only see them at dinner.  None of them seem to want to use the pool.

There are sunloungers on the front and it is easy enough to descend steps from them into the sea.  The sunloungers are on top of a sea wall which was constructed after the tsunami as that caused immense damage in this area and everything along the front has been reconstructed since that event.

The “apartment” is split level with a sitting area downstairs and a bedroom upstairs with an adjacent bathroom with both a shower and a double sized bath.  All with glass doors so that you can see into the toilet – I am not sure I like that!

During the week Jackie is less than well – she thinks her stomach disorder is probably food poisoning – may be the buffet dinner on the theatre show – and is sufficiently bad that we send for a doctor.

The doctor arrives with an assistant, about three bags and a drip stand – which cheers her up as she knows she is not that ill.  She does effectively spend a couple of says in bed and this does reduce the amount of browning time available – but she is in a bad state.

The day before departure we ask if we can have a late book out but we are told this is not possible.  I also report that I have broken the steps into the plunge pool (it came away in my hand and I could have fallen).  Anyway they know they have to repair it so we get another upgrade – I should have broken it sooner.

We eat in every evening bar one when we walk into the market as I need a new bum bag.  Once secured we eat at an Italian.  None of the places look special – very much thrown up after the tsunami so nothing special.  The food in our own hotel is actually good and possibly the best locally, so why eat elsewhere.  We have eaten most of the menu by the end of the week.  And we have some great lobster on one evening.

The upgrade apartment is larger with three levels – two at the front as before but a much larger bathroom on the intermediate level.

Eventually our week here comes to an end and a taxi whisks back far too quickly to the airport.  Here we are guided through immigration to the waiting lounge and before too long we are on our way to Abu Dhabi.

A few hours in the lounge in Abu Dhabi in the middle of the night is less than fun – it is busy and noisy and our body clocks do not feel like eating.  A DumTeeDum podcast arrives via wifi!

Our final leg is our first on a Dreamliner – definitely more room, the berth is longer than on the 777 – and we both get some more sleep.  Finally we arrive at Heathrow on Christmas Day.  An absolute bevy of waiting drivers to take the travellers home and from plane to our front door is an absolute record – one that will never be equalled.  And Jackie is going to cook a turkey!

Thailand Day 2

Thursday 10 December 2015

We leave the Etihad 777 and enter terminal 3. Prior to landing the plane on board information system had advised that our connecting flight would be leaving from Terminal 1 gate 6 and time was limited if they are as distant as Heathrow. We should not have worried as even a gentle stroll would have got us there with time to spare; the forced march merely made the wait longer still.

Once again priority boarding and slip into another business class flat bed seat on another 777, although no plans to sleep much on this leg. Once airborne something for breakfast and advance the watch by three hours. As we trundle to the runway I am pretty sure one of the planes in the queue behind us is an A380 – Dreamliner.

A couple of episodes of Borgen are also consumed whilst keeping an eye on the flight path. Initially we are shown taking a route over both Mumbai and Hyderabad, but the plane heads north towards Pakistsan before turning more south-easterly and we will now pass to the north of the two cities.

Time for dozing and listening to music programmes simply to block out the aircraft noise. Emerge from sleep for my “lunch” but now a little confused over what time it really as the clever displays show a local time which is 30 minutes out of step with other timezones. We are also crossing the Andaman Sea heading down towards Phuket – we will follow much the same path heading for Bangkok when we visit Australia next year.

From above the land at this end of Thailand looks stunning, green of course but rocks jutting out of the sea as well. We turn round on ourselves to land and the air part of the journey is complete.

Once back on land reality returns; a queue for immigration and our bags on reclaim 5, except when we get there it seems they have been moved to 4 and they are already off the belt and awaiting our attentions.

Exit the airport, find our local contact and then aboard a taxi for about an hour of typical (so it seems) foreign taxi driving as we taken through / round Phuket itself to the Radisson Blu hotel. All taxis abroad seem to be driven by those willing to take risks!

Check in is straightforward. Shown to our room. It is 8pm local time so we have been on the move for 21 hours. Unpack, order some room service, choose a couple of outings to book for later in the stay, eat room service, shower and retire to bed.

Thailand Day 1

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Not our planned holiday but we are still travelling business class to Phuket rather than Chennai. Etihad provide a collection service so the taxi arrives and we get a text message confirming he is waiting outside. House secure we are on our way.

And the continuing advantages of business class at the airport are numerous. No waiting in line to deposit cases, fast track through security (why does the UK insist on laptops being extracted from carry on bags – this does not seem to happen elsewhere?) and into the shopping area. No need to stay there long, where is gate 10? The lounge is opposite but one floor down. And in the corner is a Six Senses spa; we book a back and neck massage for 20 minutes time; still allows a glass of champagne to be consumed.

Massage over and it is time to dine; spicy tomato soup, some white wine, a slightly spicy chicken, some more white wine, some fresh fruit, finish off the white wine plus a cup of coffee and we have had a leisurely couple of hours with about an hour to kill before we fly.

The plane is waiting at gate 10, so convenient! More champagne. Once airborne we order some fine cheeses and some red wine before seeking to get some sleep. Manage about 4 hours with some breaks. Listening matters is some recorded Mike Brown on CHBN from some months ago. His “More Me Time” hours are always relaxing.

Manage to get a cup of coffee before we descend into Abu Dhabi. Good lord we have also advanced four hours so it is 7 in the morning, so we move onto Day 2.

Heading to India (or perhaps not)

Friday 4 December 2015

A long awaited holiday – a second visit to India, this time to visit the southern areas of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Goa; including a trip on the Ooty railway, a night’s cruise on a houseboat and a week on the beach (or close by) in Kerala – early morning call as we have to leave the house before 6 am.

Only we are in bed well beyond that time as a call yesterday from the travel company brought bad news.  Chennai airport is closed, there is serious flooding in the area, there have been power cuts and it is still raining.

So on Thursday evening we sat down and hammered the tablets and looked at possibilities.  Jackie got very close to booking a couple of weeks in Mexico; but we held off.

This morning we hear back from Trailfinders who have sorted flights via Abu Dhabi on Etihad to Thailand – two weeks in Phuket and Kao Lahk (one week each), leaving next Wednesday and on the final leg we come back on a Dreamliner; arriving back in the UK on December 25 (that date rings a bell).


So if any of you wondered when notes on India would start appearing you will have to wait until 2017 as we are taking our 2017 holiday now.  Thailand updates will start appearing once we are on our way!