John Lechner is a photograher and writer with a particular focus on Equestrian, particularly Eventing.

A family holiday to Phuket, getting there

Singapore Airport Orchid Garden, the amazing colours and variety were breathtaking.

One of the greatest gifts a photographer can have is the capacity to travel. These days I average two overseas trip per annum, but normally they are equine related. In other words I leave family at home and chase my sporting passion as an Eventing Official. Recently we went on our first family proper holiday really since 2005, as a family we had a relaxing week in the sun in Phuket.

First things, first I can tell you there is nothing more satisfying than the tropical heat when you have left behind a cold and damp winter. In Phuket it is hot and steamy most of the year and I did sweat a lot, it is humid. For a bit of karma, the morning after we arrived home my whole car had a layer of ice 5-10mm thick on it.

So as a family, my wife Kim and our two sons E who is nearly 7 and K who is a mature 8, we packed up on a Thursday headed to Sydney where we crashed before the flight first thing Friday morning. We crashed at the Airport Sydney International Inn, they offer an awesome parking deal for anyone, not just guests of the hotel. They charge $10 a day for parking, yes not a misprint, it is incredibly cheap.

Just stunning and meticulously maintained.

There is a BUT, the Inn doesn’t offer such a good deal to its patrons. If you stay at the Inn, you get your first 5 days parking free, after that it is $15/day. However that starts when you checkin so we paid $90 for parking for 11 nights. But the killer was the family room, a normal room with 4 beds jammed in, we barely had room for our luggage and using the bathroom required yoga. Not worth the $200 for the accommodation, next time we will crash somewhere else and dump the car for $10 a night.

Anyhow key message the Airport Inn is great for cheap parking within 3 mins drive of the airport but don’t bother staying there.

Neither of our boys had done a long trip, well K had as a 14 month old toddler but toddlers are much easier to entertain than the young men they are today. So we were armed with books, puzzles and of course they each had their own iPod Touch. After an uneventful transit through Sydney Airport we boarded our Singapore Air flight to Singapore.

The boys were lost in the movies and other TV on the inflight system, and once they mastered the controls for the system I didn’t hear another peep out of E. Except for his regular trips to the toilet, boys love toilets and aircraft toilets are even more fun (I get it). Anyhow a two hour stopover in Singapore’s Changi was fantastic for the kids, a great opportunity to stretch the legs.

Been a long day, a weary Kim at Singapore

I loved the Orchid Garden which was fantastic to shoot, they must have had 30-40 different orchids, and despite my fatigue (I barely slept at the Inn) dragged out my camera and shot some of the orchids and some of the boys. I guess now is as good an opportunity to describe our kit. Both Kim and I are photographers so we took a lot of gear, although most of it stayed in the bag for the duration.

Our kit for the two of us:

  • Tenba Shootout Medium Backpack, (this is a serious bag)
  • Nikon D7000 with 18-200mm fitted (Kim’s)
  • Nikon D3100 with 35mm 1.8 fitted (mine)
  • Nikkor 18-55mm
  • Nikkor 55-200mm
  • Nikkor 50mm 1.8
  • Spare battery for each camera, plus cards, chargers, adapters, cables
  • External 1TB 2.5 HDD
  • Flash
  • Giotto blower & other cleaning gear
  • Cheap ($12) tripod with Manfrotto ball head
  • MacBook Pro
  • iPad 2

Craploads of gear and to be honest most of it stayed in the bag. Every day I carried the D3100 with the 35mm on it, once I put the 55-200mm on for some reach but I love the 35mm especially in low light. Kim only got her camera out twice in the trip and I can tell you now we will not carry 2 DLSRs on a family holiday again. Plus the boys each had a pocket Lumix, which they shot some interesting stuff on too.

This family seem to have no problem fitting on a moped.

Once we arrived at Phuket, we found a young lady with a Club Med sign who directed us to our own air conditioned mini bus and we were whisked off with cold water offered to Club Med. Because of our morning departure from Sydney we arrived in Phuket at about 5pm, so everyone was travelling home from work and school which added to the traffic but certainly made the experience interesting.

Seeing a family of four on a moped is quite eye-opening, it looks so natural and strange all at the same time. Plus as an equestrian I am a little bit of a safety nut, don’t get on your horse without a helmet. Here you can have a whole family from infants up, none have a helmet on.

Just getting around

If you have never before arrived at a Club Med you need to experience it. You step out of your bus, are greeted by pumping music, a smiling staff member GO presented with a necklace of flowers and then whisked upstairs to a lounge. At the lounge is cold water, sweet tea and a refreshing chilled towel.

Then while you are sitting down and relaxing you are talked through the checkin process (it didn’t even feel like we had, it was so easy and never once did I leave the lounge) the General Manager of the Village was introduced to us, he was a smiling Frenchman dressed in head to toe white clothes and then we were shown to our rooms.

This water feature is one of the first things that greats you at Club Med Phuket, it is stunning at night.

Our rooms were adjoining and on the second floor (quite a good thing given all the food we consumed during the week), we settled, then headed out for dinner in the main restaurant of the resort before heading down the street for a wander around Kata.

I think this a good spot to finish up, the story continues….



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