The year was 1975. Destination: Thailand. Four children aged from ten to three and their weary parents. For my husband it was a working holiday; well, to be specific, work sandwiched between tantalizing adventures with the family. For the rest of us, it was one big holiday. Except for the times when things went wrong
It started on our flight to Bangkok. Take four young children, one long, boring flight, amazing flushable toilets where everything just disappears with a loud whoosh, and one flight attendant who has reached the end of her tether. Put these together and what have you got? Well, I was to find out.
Deeply immersed in my book, I should have noticed how quiet my children were. Quiet or missing? A distracted flight attendant finally caught my attention. Madam, do you know your children have been in the toilet for a long time. People are WAITING! Guiltily I followed her down the aisle, past the long line of people waiting their turn, and rapped on the door they had managed to lock. They’d been having a wonderful time flushing the toilet repeatedly and imagining what happened to its contents. To this day Michael insists I told him that the waste is just absorbed into the atmosphere and finally makes it back to earth!
I managed to extract the three and five-year-old from this fascinating diversion and the rest of the trip was quite uneventful. We stayed in Bangkokfor around six weeks. Michael nearly drowned in the swimming pool attached to our apartment, being saved in the nick of time by a friendly American who then proceeded to hand out apples (an expensive item at 40 baht each) to each of the children.
For Christmas and New Year we travelled to Phuket to spend a few days in a beautiful, peaceful seaside setting, surrounded by white sand, clear water and coconut palms. After sleeping overnight in our beachside bungalow, we arranged to leave our luggage at the reception desk where we would pick it up later in the day. Meanwhile we took a trip by motor boat to one of the nearby islands. The scenery was stunning, and we spent a happy day exploring. Finally, looking forward to a relaxed evening and good food, we returned to get our luggage. It was nowhere to be found!
Finally word came that it had been sent back to Bangkok by plane! Now we had (foolishly) placed everything in our locked cases, not wanting to take it with us to the island. Money, clothing, toiletries, passports – all gone and it was Christmas Eve! The management were sympathetic but firm. No money, no room. We didn’t know what to do. Then one of the resort workers told us we could stay with them in their simple bungalow.
They generously shared what they had with us. We were embarrassed, being unable to give them anything in return. Oh wait: I remembered I had some Christmas cake in my bag. We shared it around. The Thai women politely took their portion but I don’t think they liked it very much!
We felt a bit like Joseph and Mary on the night of Jesus’ birth. There was no room in the inn but we were made comfortable in the ‘stable’! The day after Christmas we went to Phuket Airport to see if anyone knew the whereabouts of our cases. No, they assured us, nobody had seen any unaccompanied baggage. Oh, they were very definite. We really didn’t know what to do.
Suddenly three-year-old Michael piped up, Mummy, that’s my case! Wearily my eyes followed the direction of his finger. There, under a great pile of luggage, was his little case. I couldn’t believe it. I looked more closely. All of our luggage was there. Thanks to the sharp eyes of our youngest child, we were able to continue on our holiday and to recompense the kind women who had so graciously put us up in their living quarters. Our adventures were far from over, but you can hear the rest another time.