Jump for joy to the land of dreams

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel - James Jef­frey

THE ho­tel bed stands vast and vir­ginal, its creamy doona folded back to re­veal un­creased hectares of Egyp­tian cot­ton and pil­lows as plump and vul­ner­a­ble as beached whales, al­beit ones with choco­lates on them. The whole ensem­ble looks as if it has just been breathed into be­ing; my small chil­dren, Daisy and Leo, un­ac­cus­tomed to such dis­plays of tidi­ness, are mes­merised.

It’s the same ex­pres­sion I saw on the faces of a group of snow­board­ers as they gazed at a pris­tine, pow­dery slope, awe and glee jostling madly for space in their eyes.

‘‘ I think,’’ Daisy fi­nally says in a re­spect­ful whis­per, ‘‘ that it wants to be jumped on.’’

We’ve been on the road in South­east Asia for a cou­ple of weeks, only for our sense of fis­cal rec­ti­tude to im­plode in Bangkok at the end of our trip. We splash out on a room for our fi­nal four hours in the glit­ter­ing new Novo­tel at the city’s equally glit­ter­ing new air­port (but only af­ter al­low­ing a hor­ri­fied taxi driver to take us on brief in­spec­tion tours of some ‘‘ nice, much cheaper’’ ho­tels). Af­ter a fort­night in Laos, where we strug­gled to spend more than $20 a day, we’re feel­ing a lit­tle devil-may-care.

Th­ese four pre­cious hours, we fig­ure, give us enough time to throw the kids in the bath, jump in the shower, plun­der the mini­bar, or­der room ser­vice and, most im­por­tant, get Daisy and Leo so worn out that by the time we’re buck­ling up on the plane at mid­night, they’ll in­stantly pass out.

With a swipe of the credit card we’re on our way up to the fourth floor. As the door swings open be­fore us, I re­mem­ber Ir­ish drinker-thinker Dylan Mo­ran’s ob­ser­va­tion that noth­ing cor­rupts like a ho­tel room; judg­ing by their squeals of joy, Daisy and Leo are hav­ing the same thought. This room is just beg­ging to be de­filed.

In no time at all, clothes have been flung off and the kids are whoop­ing it up in the bath with my wife, Bel, scented wa­ter splash­ing and bub­bles fly­ing, land­ing on the petals of a cut lily. Soaps have been torn from their wrap­pers and bath gels force­fully lib­er­ated from their bot­tles. Af­ter much guf­faw­ing and singing, thick, shaggy tow­els are wrapped around lit­tle pink bod­ies, then cast aside for the tra­di­tional post-ablu­tion nudie run.

This last en­deav­our co­in­cides with the ar­rival of room ser­vice; the waiter hero­ically man­ages to set the por­ta­ble ta­ble while the birth­day suit brigade zooms and hollers around him.

They get busy try­ing out ot­tomans and light switches and the bed­side phone (a big hit with Leo, who uses it to say ‘‘ Aga-boooo’’ to re­cep­tion) and the bathrobes that, de­spite be­ing twice her length, strike Daisy as suit­ably princess-like.

But among all th­ese fair­ground at­trac­tions, noth­ing com­pares with that bed. As big as an air­craft car­rier and as white as a Siberian Christ­mas, it’s given what can only be de­scribed as an in­dus­trial-strength work­out. With Leo gur­gling and Daisy singing her own care­fully amended ver­sion of the Hal­lelu­jah cho­rus, they clam­ber aboard and bounce and dance and bo­ing their way through nearly three hours.

Ev­ery now and then I glance over at the sound of a par­tic­u­larly merry shriek and am greeted by the vi­sion of two dim­pled, air­borne bot­toms.

The de­vi­ous parental plan, of course, works a treat. We board our flight at mid­night, barely any time af­ter the fi­nal bounce; Daisy and Leo are asleep be­fore the emer­gency ex­its have been pointed out and don’t stir again un­til Syd­ney.

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