Holidays in Thailand

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I guess you could say a lot has happened over the last several months. To be completely honest, I’m not a big fan of winter. Sure, snow’s great for the first couple of days, but as soon as the New Year gets here, I want spring. I tend to bake and hibernate when the cold weather sets in. Give me a bottle of wine, a couple tv shows in my queue, and my twinkle lights. Books are good too. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Holidays are always hard when you’re apart from the people you care about most, though it can’t be unusual at this point in my travels. My father’s family had a family reunion in New Mexico, and I had the opportunity to connect with them all briefly. We’re a pretty close-knit group and have great times together, so it was as exciting and wonderful as it was a little depressing. I was glad to have the distraction of spending time with friends that weekend. And Christmas? Christmas was much the same, though with my mom’s side of the family. They all pitched in to move my grandfather from Florida to North Carolina, and my dad flew out to spend Christmas with my mom and her siblings. I will say I was very happy to see my grandfather’s face and his bemused admiration for FaceTime. On this side of the world, I helped put together a secret santa party for my coworkers. We exchanged gifts, dined on finger foods, and some of us with finer tastes sipped mulled wine.

Longtail boats in Thailand.

Longtail boats in Thailand.

I booked a trip to southern Thailand for the week of the New Year. After a stop-over in China, I arrived in Phuket around 23:30 and took a cab to my hotel. If you ever find yourself there, stay at  The Memory at On On Hotel. It’s wonderful, the oldest hotel in Phuket, and recently renovated. I caught a couple of ferries to Ko Phi Phi, and then onward to Ko Lanta. Lanta is far less touristy than Phi Phi, so if you’re going to go to only one of those islands, go to Lanta. I stayed at Mook Lanta Boutique Resort, and it was the most relaxing part of my trip. The owners were friendly and accommodating, and Phra Ae Beach was literally a five minute walk from my room. Though the weather was rather overcast for most of my trip, the sunsets were still beautiful. I took a day to visit a spa, do some shopping, and have drinks on the beach. The following day I ventured out on a Lanta Longtail tour that took me to four different islands, snorkeling in a variety of spots, swimming through a sea cave, included a homemade Thai lunch, and my first taste of dragonfruit (yummy!).  If I were ever to find myself in southern Thailand again, Ko Lanta is where I’d stay. I would have loved to spend some time in Old Town, but I have no idea how to ride a motorbike and tuk-tuks did not usually go that far from the main town.

My next stop was Ko Phi Phi, and while nothing could beat the wonderful views I had from my seaside bungalow, I was not prepared for living with snakes, mice, roaches, bed bugs, or mosquitos. I’m probably making it sound worse than it really was. I probably would have thought it was more adventurous if I had gone with someone. The days were wonderful and relaxing, and most definitely full of reading. Though I probably should have hiked up to the viewpoint one day, I decided to finish reading my 7th book. 7 books in 7 days is pretty fantastic. And since I was on an isolated section of the island with only mosquitos for company, I managed to soak up some relaxation if not a tan. The nights however, were far from restful. The thundering waves from the ocean sprayed into my bed regularly during high tide (11-2 am), mosquitos somehow found their way into my netting, and I had to use a towel for a blanket for fear of bedbugs. It was an experience.

Hanging out with tigers at Tiger Kingdom.

Hanging out with tigers at Tiger Kingdom.

With all the ups and downs of that trip, the contentment and the melancholies, I’d say it was an alright time. I’ve learned I don’t always fancy traveling by myself, and that’s something. Were I the outgoing type, I might have had a more entertaining stay, but I think the one I had was kind of exactly what I needed at the time. Plus, I was able to cuddle a tiger. You can’t exactly top that.

Would I go back to Thailand? Sure. I would like to check out the mainland. I would definitely go back to Ko Lanta, and I hear Ko Samui is nice as well. It’s a nice destination and there are several great things about the country. The people have a knack for recognizing your face even if you have only run across them once. They’re kind. They’re earthy and connected to their country and the simplicities of island-living. Would I say I fell in love with Thailand? No. It’s not the place for me, but I’m glad I went.

Now I look forward to warmer weather and spring. I look forward to another fantastic year of growth and adventure.

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