This was emailed to me to share with everyone – Thank you Robert Craig!


22 February 2009

Here we are, just home from an experience of a lifetime. It all started with myself, age 82 (and disabled), my Wife 76 and Brother 77, booking deluxe, flat-bed, return business class ETIHAD (the Abu Dhabi airline) flights from Manchester to Bangkok and leaving everything else to Randy and his Team at

Over the years, we have traveled the 5 Continents extensively and in some style, generally staying in the best hotels—such as the Danielli in Venice—sailing on the most exclusive ships—such as Hebridean International (the Queen’s favorite)—or riding on the most luxurious of trains—such as The Captain’s Choice (4,000 miles across Tibet and China).

So it was with a sense of considerable adventure that we placed ourselves wholly in the hands of, particularly since their quotation was relatively modest, compared to the pro rata cost of our other recent travels.

We needn’t have worried a jot. Indeed the motto of the trip, jokingly, became DON’T WORRY. From the moment of our arrival to the moment of departure we were looked after on a 24/7 basis, even being loaned a local Thai mobile phone with the local staff numbers programmed in.

It all started on Google, with me keying in “tailormadeholidaysthailand” then emailing a specification explaining who we were and what we wanted. Amongst other things I explained that although my wife and brother were active walkers, I had a mobility problem and could only manage a maximum of 50 metre walk, with no hills or serious staircase. By return came a welcome, and succinct, Randy email—”No problem; we will put a wheelchair in the van”.

The “van” turned out to be a brand new luxurious 8-seater Toyota minibus, offering very comfortable accommodation for the 3 of us, plus the Driver (Khaek); Manager/Organiser/General Guide (Nui) and Specialist/Local Guide (mostly Nan or Nok), plus a very large volume of luggage, icebox, liquor store, wheelchair, etc. NOTE: The van was well run-in at the end of our 7,000 mile trip; the wheelchair was just about caput.

Words completely fail me to describe the staff—they were each and all just superb in their work and hugely likable in every respect. Everything, from the moment of our arrival at 8.00am for 4 nights at the iconic Oriental Hotel, Bangkok (listed as one of the “1000 Things To Do Before You Die”), to our departure nearly 2 months later—went like clockwork. There was huge, and much appreciated, attention to detail. For example Nui and Nok were at the Oriental to greet us and had arranged, despite the early hour, for us to go straight up to our spacious 3-room private suite (which came complete with butler) to freshen-up after the 15-hour flight from Manchester.

The wheelchair was a huge success. It transformed the daily excursions, which otherwise would have been impossible, or hugely embarrassing due to my inability to keep up with the others, into exciting experiences, opening up a whole new type of very relaxing holiday for all 3 of us.. It was also a great help to my photography—(I forgot to mention that both myself and brother are serious photographers dependent on using heavy and clumsy lens/camera combinations). From the wheelchair I could easily manage my huge 300mm f5.6 lens, as we worked our way through the markets, etc.

Of course I was particularly close to Khaek (the driver), as he was in charge both of the wheelchair and of skilfully positioning the “van” so I could photo from my window alongside his seat. His performance was amazing and, although he spoke little English, we got on fine. He, along with the rest of the Team, turned their hands to everything that needed doing, whether it was maintaining the icebox, finding a wine shop (most restaurants had either no wine, or a limited range at high prices), producing the corkscrew and glasses, etc—to repairing the wheelchair!

We saw many wondrous sights, recorded on over 2000 photographs, including a superb picture of my brother stroking the lively King Tiger on our visit to the tiger temple.

This was moments before my brother’s place was to be taken by a tall elderly lady, dressed from head to toe in snow white and reeking of perfume. The unfortunate tiger, taken aback at this apparition, jerked its head round with a grin and a growl (as cats do) and laid a friendly paw on the lady’s arm. Pandemonium ensued—I have never previously seen someone so nearly die of fright—the lady reeled back, to be quickly carried away by a hoard of onlookers and the poor King Tiger was subjected to a humiliating onslaught of scolding and admonishment that went on for 10 minutes. Eventually the poor tiger was led away by a monk. Unfortunately I was so intrigued by the excitement, I missed the photos!

There were far too many memorable events to mention more than six!

  1. The internationally famous New Years Eve fireworks display over the river, alongside the Oriental Hotel.
  2. The sale of home brew Snake Whisky in a Hill Village in Laos, each bottle containing a complete small Cobra!— ideal Christmas presents at $2 per bottle.
  3. Visit to a major wood-carving factory in Chaing Mai where my Brother and I purchased various amazing teak carvings, to be sent by sea to the UK. (Total cost about £2,000).
  4. Eye-boggling exodus at sundown of wave upon wave of over 100,000 bats from some hidden cave, high up on the rock face, en route to the Bridge Over The River Kwai. (Another of the “1000 Things To Do Before You Die”)
  5. The superb daily Thai lunches, served in expertly selected, top quality, scenically situated, restaurants, with multi course banquets personally chosen by Nui. Thus each day seemed a complete and different gourmet experience from anything that had gone before and tended to become the high spot of the day!
  6. The magic of the Golden Triangle Hotel, where one can sit on ones veranda and watch the river meander by, with Thailand down below, impoverished Burma up to the left and poor Laos over to the right—thinking of those far off days when this was the Opium Capital of the world.

We could go on writing for pages—but why? You either have a love of superb weather and urge for adventure, coupled with the sort of cash that buys a business class air ticket, or you don’t.

Moreover, if you, or a friend, have the very slightest mobility problem, take it from my personal experience of “ PLUS wheelchair” that a vacation such as I have had could open up a whole new horizon of relaxed adventure travel at no greater cost than a luxury cruise.

Robert Craig

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