This past week, Brook and I were fortunate enough to enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery on Earth with our very own eyes. Every 6 months or so, the organization we are working with affords its workers up to 2 weeks of leave time to rest, recharge, and prepare for the next round ahead. Since we’ve been here nearly that long already, it was time for us to take our break, and where better to go than to the beach!
Thailand is known for having some of the most beautiful panoramas, brilliant sunsets, and excellent underwater sporting in the world. We were blessed with some wonderful gifts from home to add to the money we’d already been saving ourselves for this short holiday, and as soon as we knew we had enough, we knew precisely where we wanted to go – Krabi. Virtually every picture you see of Southern Thailand’s beaches, soaring cliffs, and spectacular sunsets come from Krabi and it’s surrounding islands (Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Koh Kai, etc.)… but, this time we were lucky enough to witness these scenes ourselves.
Sometimes, you don’t really know how badly you need a break until you’re finally there, and boy did we need a break. Our bodies and minds had all but shut down by the end of our visa run in Malaysia (immediately prior to our week of holiday). How wonderful it was when we finally arrived at Ao Nang and started thinking of the week we had ahead of us! Now, some of you may already know a bit of what we did, how we enjoyed what was around us, as well as a few of the “adventures” we had along the way, but for those of you who don’t, I’m going to lay it out in bullet form for you. Ready? Ok.
- First afternoon, we arrived at our hotel in Ao Nang to find out we’d been given a complimentary room upgrade, and were very pleased with it. Staying 10-15 minutes walking distance from the beach and using online pricing services allowed us to stay comfortably for quite cheap already, so this was a wonderful bonus! Later, we enjoyed some great grilled chicken on the beach about a 20 minute walk down the road from our hotel.
- First full day was spent doing absolutely nothing at all on West Railay Beach. Not far from Ao Nang, West Railay is a beautiful stretch of sand that is surrounded on 3 sides by sheer cliffs and jungle, making it accessible only by longtail boat. Pure bliss.
- Day 2 we decided to hop on an all day tour of islands, famous bays, and hit a few snorkeling spots. The fish were incredible, and the water was unbelievably clear. We stopped at a couple of famous movie locations as well – the first was Phang Nga, known unofficially as “James Bond Bay,” as the 1974 Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun was shot there, and the other was Maya Bay where Leonardo DiCaprio’s film The Beach was made.
- The sand at Maya Bay was like baby powder, so white, so soft, so clean… and so deceptive. Why? It was here, in perhaps the most beautiful place I will ever visit in my life, that I kicked a tree root hidden in the sand, split my toe open, and lost an entire nail. Ha!
- Days 3 & 4 were spent with me hugging the throne in our beautiful hotel bathroom. Lucky me, I got a violent case of food poisoning (most likely from lunch on the tour the previous day), and was forced to stay inside while Brook was a good sport and took care of me. We made a visit to a local doctor as soon as I was able to leave the room, and he filled me up with enough meds to get me better, back out to the beach and finally eating again. Oh, and he cleaned about a pound of sand out of my busted toe, too. But, the upside to all of this? At least the bathroom I had to live in was 100 times nicer than the one we have in Lopburi, and it had a bathtub to relax my sick self in. Good deal.
- Day 5 was back to Railay, lots of water and meds in hand, for another day of blissful nothingness. I think we played about 3 hours of frisbee out in the water, not kidding. It felt good to be back out in the sunshine relaxing, laughing, and having some fun with the Mr.
- Day 6 we took it easy in the morning and headed out for a sunset snorkel tour around 2pm. This trip was far more relaxed and had much fewer people than the tour earlier in the week. We jumped out in 3 different locations, very protected from the other tourist areas, so each was filled with colorful coral and vegetation and some of the most brilliantly hued sea creatures I have ever seen. I even found Nemo! One stop also had a cave where Brook, the experienced Scuba diver, guided me along and took me far under the water to see the giant schools of fish and sea urchins below. I don’t think the snorkeling would have been quite as amazing as it was, had he not encouraged me to go under the water and go outside of what I though I could do.
- After several snorkel stops, sunset on a tiny uninhabited island, and delicious Thai green curry for supper with new friends, it was time for the bioluminecsence swim. We were taken to another sandy-bottomed, protected area under some cliff overhangs after it had become completely dark. Upon jumping in the water, we were instantly surrounded by tiny flickering blue orbs of light. It was incredible! (If you’ve seen the movie Avatar, think of how the jungle lit up at night.) With every movement I made, thousands of these tiny blue sparkles (actually a species of plankton) appeared in the dark ocean water surrounding me. It was almost as if I was wearing them. Even more incredible was when I put on my mask, and looked down into the blackness below and saw my legs glowing. (And yes, for a brief moment I pretended I was Ariel when she was turning from a mermaid into a human… and that is still my favorite Disney cartoon!)
- Our last morning, we slept in, packed up, and took our last chance to sit and chat with the Thai staff at our hotel. They were more than accommodating to us and took great care to check in on me when I was ill. It’s amazing to see what knowing how to speak Thai and actually interact with people can do when you travel.
So, there you have it. Our week of rest was wonderful, even despite my little speedbumps. We both were able to get a great deal of rest, as well as spend some time just enjoying one another again. Between all the stresses of language learning, support budgeting, daily cultural adjustments, the busy holidays/ministry season that just passed, and all else, it’s easy to lose each other in all that mess. This was kind of the honeymoon we wished we’d been able to have a few years ago, and I am ever so thankful for it.
Now, back to daily life. Back to language study. Back to learning how to live our lives here in Thailand. And soon, it’s time to travel again!
Here’s some shots from my Flickr of our trip in Southern Thailand. For captions, please view the set at my actual Flickr page.