Our Thanksgiving in Thailand

And…we’re back!

It was the kind of trip that made a day feel like a week because it was so full, everything in it so new. It was the kind of trip that left even the kids with no desire to watch TV in the hotel room at the end of the day. We tried to read and all three of us dozed off within ten minutes.  At 8:00 PM. Of course, that was probably the jetlag, but still. A full trip, indeed.

The boys did great on the planes, all 21 hours’ worth (just to get there). The three of us met my dad in Bangkok. He had been staying in the northern part of Thailand for a week and flew down the day before we arrived. Nigel’s only issue on the plane was not wanting to sit next to any “strangers,” and when it was his turn to do so, he started to have an anxiety attack. This was somewhat unexpected – he is usually so social (yeah, I know – autism and social sounds like an odd co-description, but it happens) that I didn’t think it would be a problem for him, or else I would have prepared him better.  I just didn’t think of it at all. Seeing the writing on the wall as Nigel started to escalate there on the plane, I quickly switched seats with him, much to Aidan’s chagrin. “Don’t give in to him, Mom;” I’ve heard it before.  I tried to explain to Aidan that it was not a good time for a teachable moment.  I always feel that I lose respect in his eyes when I have to do things like that. It comes with the territory, unfortunately.

Lots of things come with the territory when you travel with someone who has special needs, of course. The two that affected us the most were food preferences and wandering. I took a risk embarking on an international trip with a child who wanders, but it was a calculated risk. Nigel has a history of wandering in public places, even fairly recently. I would never have attempted a trip like this in his younger years, or even two years ago. But I felt confident that at this point the risk was manageable. And he did wander once – at the Ayutthaya ruins, the highlight of the trip for him – but I quickly noticed and found him within five minutes. Of course, I was beating myself up the entire five minutes (which felt like twenty), but it was really just my PTSD kicking in. My rational mind knows that he can pretty much hold his own these days.

Enough of the negative stuff! We had clear skies the whole week, and all of our tours went off without a hitch. My dad treated me to no less than three (!) Thai massages, including one on the beach! Aidan’s stomach bothered him a little one night, but other than that, no one got sick. And other than a few mosquito bites, no one was injured. A successful trip on all counts! And without further ado, I give you…the pictures:

Aidan on the plane, right before I switched seats with Nigel.

Nigel on the balcony of our tenth-floor hotel room.

On a khlong boat on the Chao Phraya river, which flows through the middle of Bangkok and most of Thailand.

Along the river sits Buddhist temple Wat Arun, which means “Temple of the Dawn,” with its Khmer-style tower, approximately 80 feet high.

With Dad at the base of Wat Arun, photography by Aidan.

Guardians at Wat Arun

Climbing Wat Arun’s scary-steep stairs!

Aidan (in red shirt) at the bottom stair landing of Wat Arun.


Along one of the canals of the Chao Phraya river. Bangkok is nicknamed “Venice of the East.”

The famed Floating Market, where Aidan bought a cool wooden crossbow as a souvenir. Even with my suggestions, Nigel had great difficulty choosing a souvenir, saying, “Everything is so unfamiliar to me.” Finally he settled on a giant, one-inch-diameter pencil, stating that he could use it as a prop in his films. I guess it was the only thing that looked familiar to him! But still, his souvenir from Thailand is a pencil.

Dad purchased a coconut from a floating vendor who cut it right then and there and stuck in the straws for us (that’s the top of the coconut, not a drink umbrella). It doesn’t get much fresher than that!

Even Nigel drank it!

Ah, coconut palms…they were everywhere, and I loved seeing them.

At the Bridge on the River Kwai (about an hour from Bangkok). Nigel did some filming here. Not only did I have to keep my eye on him, I also had to make sure he didn’t set his video camera down anywhere. Can you imagine the meltdown if he’d lost it?

At the Tiger Temple (two hours north of Bangkok).

Nigel with a “real Tigger”!

Some of the many buddhas in Thailand.

Walking around Wat Po, aka Temple of the Reclining Buddha.

Nigel standing guard.

Aidan’s favorite (because of the top hat!)

Mealtimes were interesting! Nigel subsisted on fruit, rice, and the doughnuts served with the hotel’s continental breakfast. Aidan, the pickier eater, dove in and tried pad thai, among other things!

Chakri Mahaprasat Hall at the Grand Palace.

The boys at the Grand Palace.

At the beach at Pattaya – Nigel did not enjoy himself and remained in the beach chair the entire time – two whole hours! Both boys discovered on this trip that they were not fond of humidity.

Exhausted at the end of another full day.

At the ruins of Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Siam. The boys said it was too hot to smile.

We declined taking the elephant tour around Ayutthaya. If it was too hot for us, we thought it would be too hot for them as well.

More ruins.

Aidan taking a breather.


Dad/Grandpa filming the ruins.

Thanksgiving dinner at our favorite restaurant in Bangkok – The Waterfront. Incredible food and ambiance – alfresco, and literally right over the river.

On our way home, we had an eleven-hour layover at LAX – perfect! Nigel and Aidan’s dad came and picked them up and spent the day with them, and one of my sisters came to get me. I freshened up at her apartment and then we went winetasting with our brother! It was such a treat to see both of them, and a wonderful end to the trip. Massages in Thailand and winetasting fresh off the plane – yep, that’s how we roll. I love my family!

28 thoughts on “Our Thanksgiving in Thailand

  1. Elizabeth

    I’ve missed you and welcome home! Your trip looks like it was fantastic — I’m salivating at all that wonderful architecture and the Buddhas! I would so love to go myself. I’m very impressed that the boys both did so well — they look beautiful in every picture (as do you).

  2. Kate

    Sounds like a great trip! I love the tigers. I give Aidan great credit for the food tasting. I’d never try foreign food. I’m a picky eater. lol. I’m not the traveling kind of person. But good for them and for you! Welcome back.

  3. Kim

    Wow, wow, wow!!!!! Such an amazing trip, such wonderful memories you and your boys have created. My fav photo–you and the tiger! Love all of this!

  4. Cheryl

    What an amazing trip! The pictures are wonderful and everything looks so beautiful and exciting! That is awesome that you got to pet a real tiger! I know they’re your favorite, so that must have been a dream come true! :0) Can’t wait to hear more about it! Missed you guys while you were gone! Thanks for sharing your journey with us! XO

  5. Niika

    What beautiful pictures! It’s so good to hear that you all had such a wonderful time there. I can’t believe how tall the boys are. You are going to be the short one soon Tanya! We love the candles.
    From your sister-in-law,

  6. Lex Savko

    That is an incredible collection of pictures to go with your incredible vacation! It was so great to spend time with you and Anastasia at the winery hearing about your adventures, but to see with that tiger is something else! I’m so glad that you and the boys got to share this wonderful experience with Dad. Looks like fun!

  7. Michelle O'Neil

    I am so THRILLED you took this trip. Memories for a lifetime.

    Great pics. What a beautiful family you have!

    (I think I might be most happy about your massages). ; )

  8. rhemashope

    ditto goodfountain. i know the photos only tell half the story and they are AMAZING. i’m so happy that you, nigel, aidan and your father could share such an experience.

    i see nigel in your father.


  9. DeeAnn Lancaster

    What and incredible experience and such beautiful pictures. I can’t get over the fact that you had three massages!
    I am sure your dad knew how much you deserved them:)

  10. macrina

    that looks like a blast! except for the humidity, I’m a wimp about that, too! you’ve got 2 lucky boys and I bet they know it!

  11. Grandpa Savko

    Hi Tanya,
    Your last two sentences caused father meltdown for me.”Massages in Thailand and winetasting fresh off the plane-yep-that’s how we roll. I love my family!” I know Macrina would have loved to have been in that picture at the San Antonio Winery(my old LAFD hangout) with her sibs. In that picture with jetlag and all you look so vibrant! I’m so happy we shared this trip together! Paris, China, Thailand—I pray that God will bless us with one more fantastic trip together. This is my prayer for us, Tanya. And, perhaps, tigers will be there for us!

  12. pixiemama

    What a fantastic trip! I’m so happy for you and the boys that you were able to go!

    And, oh my gosh – the boys are really looking grown up! It’s startling. You doing OK with that, mama?


  13. Nicki

    How awesome is that! I never thought of Thailand as being high on my list of places I wish I could go… but now I’ve changed my mind!

  14. M

    thanks for sharing all of this fun, vivid imagery. looks like you guys had a really amazing time, made some great memories. new experiences can be daunting, yet your sons just went for it, completely impressive. next time stick me in a suitcase and smuggle me along.

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