HOLIDAY DISASTERS

A holiday in Thailand with the one you love - how romantic. Exactly what Elizabeth Kelly thought - until she got there
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The Independent Travel
It all began in the heart of London. My boyfriend, Jon, and I were celebrating Valentine's Day over an intimate Thai dinner. Suddenly, inspired by a seductive dish of sweet-and-sour prawns, I put a proposal to him: what could be more exotic, colourful, romantic, than a holiday in Thailand?

That summer, we touched down at Bangkok airport. Everything ran smoothly - for the first half-hour at least. Then, as we were queuing for a taxi, Jon was seized by a terrible realisation. Somehow, in the time it had taken us to shuffle from baggage reclaim to the exit, he had managed to lose our Lonely Planet Guide to Thailand.

Stripped of our travel bible, we dragged our bags around the back streets of Bangkok in search of accommodation. Eventually, we settled for somewhere. The hotel was sandwiched between Bad Girls Massage Parlour and Coffee Boys Bar. A dead rat adorned the doorstep. I was prepared to overlook the fact that we were effectively staying in a brothel for ageing Vietnam veterans, but when, that night, I was struck by a riot of malarial symptoms, I began to despair.

Happily, it turned out that my aches and shivers were nothing more than a virulent dose of the trots. Unhappily, I could barely move for a week.

My period of confinement was far from romantic. Between extended visits to the bathroom and bowls of onion soup, I just lay in bed. Occasionally, a kind member of the hotel staff would pop his head round the door. "Change of season," he would mutter knowingly, as he cleared my soup bowls away. My boyfriend, meanwhile, was free to wander the infamous streets of Bangkok by day - and night.

By the end of the first week, I had recovered sufficiently to dine out at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Revived by the Colonel's secret recipe, I packed my bags and accompanied Jon to the airport. There, we caught the first flight out to Ko Samui - our dream island.

Things were looking up. Within an hour of our arrival, we had checked into a simple but delightfully unseedy hotel. The view was breathtaking. As I looked out over the pale sand, the lilting palms and the bright sea, all the trials and tribulations of my first week slipped away. No matter that I had not seen Bangkok's floating market at sunrise, nor visited the glittering Wat Phra Kaew temple. Here, at last, we had stumbled upon a little corner of paradise.

We were hungry and in the mood to celebrate. As we perused the seafood restaurants that lined the shore, our attention was drawn to a blackboard. The notice, composed in a chaotic chalk scrawl, railed against the dismal standards of hygiene to be found in the neighbouring restaurants. "Come here," it urged us, "if you want safe, good-quality food." Reassured, we requested a table and ate to our hearts' content.

A few hours later, Jon was writhing in agony.

The tables had turned. This time, Jon took on the role of invalid, while I played dutiful nursemaid. I could have borne this burden cheerfully, if only it hadn't rained; thick, driving rain that hammered on the windows and reduced the roads to sludge. Day after day, night after night, the heavens blubbed and grumbled, leaving us no choice but to sulk indoors, prisoners in paradise.

The following Valentine's Day, Jon made a proposal ... of marriage. Funnily enough, we were not remotely tempted by the idea of a far-flung, exotic, romantic honeymoon destination. Instead, we opted for Switzerland.

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