After a long hiatus on our “Traveler Spotlight” series, we come back with a lovely family and a lovely tale!
Meet the Smiths, an Australian family traveling the world with their 3 kids and a wheelchair. They write the “Smiths holiday road” blog and you can also follow them on Twitter and Instagram (that’s where I found them!).
This family of 5 has many great travel tales and Bron, the mom, was super nice to write a “time travel” tale for us.
Thanks, Bron for sharing your story!
Waiting at HuaLampong station in Bangkok I look around at people talking, sharing travel stories, waiting for trains and drinking fruit shakes. I board the train in a third class seating compartment and wonder how I will sleep on a wooden seat for the next 12 hours. Instead I lie on the floor on a newspaper using my backpack as a pillow and fall in and out of sleep. I am 20 years old and spend a month backpacking around Southern Thailand.
Today close to 20 years later as I wait at Hua Lampong station people have their heads in devices, selfie sticks are everywhere and go pros are attached to bike helmets hanging off backpacks. Fruit shakes are still cheap and the station looks and smells the same. I look next to me and along with a backpack I have three kids and a husband. We are about to jump on a sleeper train to the Laos border at Nong Khai. This time I have prebooked tickets in a first class compartment. This basically means a bed with a locked door which eases my mind with a wandering toddler. Luxury compared to that floor 20 years ago but somehow still with as much adventure.
My kids are aged 10, 6 and 3 and love to travel. It’s because of them we are taking the train and not the easy hour flight that’s also available.
We have one big bag, with three changes of clothes each a small day bag with essentials such as wipes, change of clothes, vomit bags, first aid kit and a variety of snacks. We also have a satchel filled with iPads for journaling, blogging and episodes of Paw Patrol for the three year old. In reality all we really need are passports and cash, but I am thankful later on for that first aid kit and vomit bag.
Our eldest son also happens to use a wheelchair that we take apart to fit down the narrow corridor of the train. I balance him while he tries to walk to our compartment and the younger two run ahead to help with the day bag and finding our bed for the night. Everyone is excited as the train starts to leave and the kids somehow eat the bag full of snacks that was meant to last all night. My daughter falls asleep within minutes on the top bunk while the boys take longer to settle as they watch out the window.
In the morning as we are planning to arrive the train attendant comes in to inform us that due to a previous derailment our train has been delayed four hours. I wonder if a packet of Oreos is going to suffice for breakfast and lunch?
The kids spend the time playing Rock Paper Scissors and noughts and crosses. Things are going smoothly, calm, settled. The younger two start playing on the bed and the bunk rail comes loose and falls on my three year olds head. My daughter rubs it better and as she takes her hand away it’s covered in blood. Blood all over the bed sheet and screaming heard throughout the carriage. My husband grabs some wipes to stop the bleeding. I grab an instant ice pack that I found for $2 at home. The train attendant laughs nervously and brings 2 cotton balls and a tube of iodine. I run to the squat toilet on board and vomit after seeing all the blood and wonder how useful a cotton ball will be? Eventually the bleeding stops, my sons hair now has a lovely red tinge and I’m more grey.
And here I was thinking that this trip wouldn’t be anywhere near as exciting as in my twenties. Sharing these adventures with my family gives us so many stories to tell and re tell. As I look around this new town, I see people on their phones, on Google maps trying to figure out which way to go. I’m teaching my kids not to do that, to do it like I used to and actually speak to locals and ask directions and with any luck we’ll all get lost.