Here at Autistic Globetrotting, we believe that there’s no substitute for personal experience. While most of the articles here detail our personal travel experience, in this post we interviewed Yumi Yasuyama about her recent trip to Thailand.
How was the flight?
This time we flew with Thai Airlines. We couldn’t get a flight with Japan Airlines because it was peak season, but even so, the Thai Airlines flight was crowded.The flight was 6.5 hours from Chūbu Centrair International Airport to Bangkok. The service was excellent. The flight stewardess gave Aki, my son with autism, a lot of papers and colored pen markers so he wouldn’t get bored.
Where did you stay?
We stayed in the Sukhumvit area at Grande Centre Point Terminal 21 Hotel. We were looking for a very convenient area especially because Aki has autism, not to mention ADHD, a panic disorder and food issues. I chose this central location so that if Aki had some meltdown, it would be easier to rush back to our room.
As always, I emailed the hotel before booking and explained our situation. The hotel gave us connecting rooms and even upgraded us to a room with a kitchenette.
Furthermore, they put us on a less crowded floor, and every time we showed up in the restaurant, lobby, pool, spa or fitness center, the staff was quick to give us assistance. We felt like we were given V.I.P treatment.
What the highlights of the trip?
Aki wanted to ride an elephant, so it was our primary purpose. We made inquiries online and planned a visit to an elephant camp.Also, the original plan included visits to some temples and some public markets. When we were there, most of the temples were under construction, which was quite a disappointment for us.
Also, it was too hot at 39℃ to be outside. So we ended up visiting the Indian district of Bangkok, had made-to-order tailored suits and shirts for the boys, and tried differThaimassages.We found the people in Thailand very helpful and friendly. They didn’t even ask for tips, but their services were fantastic.
Did you encounter any particular issues?
In the hotel, the communication was not a problem since everyone spoke English.Outside it was a little more of a challenge, but we were able to communicate through gestures, a little bit of English, pointing to pictures, and a Google Translate App. It was fun, and the boys giggled every time they understood us.
Overall we had a great experience even the street vendors were polite. At night we did wander into some districts where there were bars, but we still felt pretty safe.
In what ways did you find Thailand similar to Japan?
The people in Thailand are very honest. I left some tips for the staff in the hotel for making our beds, and when we got back to the rooms, the money had been left there on the top of our pillows.
Aki lost his bag in Bangkok, and we didn’t know where, but somebody found it, saw our hotel room key and brought it to the hotel lobby. We had already given up hope on ever finding it, but when it was returned, the money inside was untouched. Sadly, since the kind person who returned it never left their name, we couldn’t thank anybody.
In what ways did you find Thailand different from Japan?
The foods were different in Thailand compared with Japan. They add a lot of spices. The boys giggled every time they tried new foods.We tried noodles, BBQ, and Thai curry. Their fruits were superb! We even found this Steak House right outside our hotel where they served Angus prime ribs which were delicious.
Tackling the congested traffic was challenging for Aki; especially with loud horns and motorcycles driving in the opposite lanes.
One of the sad differences was seeing some young girls, very young much younger than our boys who are 17 and 18, in the alley at the night district in Sukhumvit acquiring customers while wearing their very sexy outfits. I’m glad my son didn’t ask for clarifications as to what these girls were doing.
What souvenirs did you bring home?
Aki bought some fridge magnets, dried fruits, and chocolates that he gave to his teachers.Our other son got these scorpion keyholders and a Bulgari leather belt. He didn’t go crazy shopping this time. I was quite impressed.
We visited a gem factory, and my mom bought 23k earrings as she thought the prices were lower than in Japan.
What is your fondest memory?
My favorite memory is of visiting the Safari Park; riding the elephant, seeing so many giraffe and tigers up close and touching them. Seeing my boys communicate with the local vendors using sign languages and trying to get discounts is a close second.
The best part was that Aki didn’t have any meltdowns.We traveled with some friends this time, and they did help me a lot with the boys.
Sometime in the near future, we would like to go back and visit some of the Thai islands and stay longer . This visit was way too short.
Yumi Yasuyama lives in Aichi-Ken, Kariya City, Japan and is a mother to two sons, one of which (Aki) has autism and ADHD.She and her sons share their family adventures on their Facebook page called-Adventures in Autism. In this interview, Yumi sheds light on what motivates them to travel as well as describing the different challenges associated with planning their trips.