Our time in Asia was coming to a close. Our journey had taken us from incredible India to the breathtaking heights of Nepal. We witnessed the natural splendor of tragic Tibet and grew wildly fascinated with Big Brother China. We lingered in lackadaisical Laos and had our hearts broken in Burma and Cambodia. We’d survived countless overnight journeys on rickety buses, blackened our lungs on one too many rickshaws and even shared a train car with rats.
After five months in Asia, only one thing was certain: this continent had blown us away!
Packing so much into the past few months, we’d saved our last ten days for pure indulgence. On a flight from Bangkok headed south we were bound for the islands of southern Thailand.
It’s not so often in life that you have the chance to sit with a map in hand and ponder over which of thirty idyllic islands has your slice of heaven written all over it. Sitting at home on our living room floor mulling over atlases and guidebooks, these were the moments we’d dreamt about. This is why we stayed in all those Friday nights, why we scoped out drink deals and routinely cooked in. This is why we got rid of TV and cable bills and laughed off all the bad jokes that came our way for those antiquated cell phones we were hanging on to. Flying over the palm-fringed beaches of this tropical paradise, I realized we were now living our dream.
After strong recommendations from several traveling friends we’d met along the way, we settled on spending all our time on the island of Koh Pha Ngan. The island is notorious for hosting the famed full moon parties, which draw nearly 10,000 visitors to the island each month to partake in every hedonistic pleasure imaginable. Looking for nothing more than sun, surf and sand, this was clearly not our draw. We had our hearts set on a secluded area of the island, along the white, sandy, remote beach of Thong Nai Pan Noi.
One flight, one bus ride, one ferry and one rickshaw ride later, and we finally arrived to our destination. Here we found a stark, white beach with piles of white ‘pillowy’ sand. The beach sits at the shores of a bay with mint-colored water and surrounded by lush forests. Ode to our new home sweet home!
We’d booked ourselves a basic beachside bungalow. The wooden hut was plain and simple, offering all the amenities two beach bums might need. We were equipped with the simple pleasures: a blossoming tree of frangipani outside our front door to shade our little haven from the sun, a bucket of water to wash the beach off our salt-water sticky feet and a ceiling fan to cool down our sun-kissed bods at night. What else could ya need?
In the life of a traveler, our days are consumed with decisions. Where will we sleep tonight? Where are we going next? How many days will we stay there? Will we need a visa? Where will we eat for breakfast? How will we get there? How much does the metro cost? Which bus do we need to take? Is this guy ripping us off? Will anyone speak English? How much do we need to tip? Where’s the closest ATM?
Our goal in southern Thailand was to take every question, every decision, out of the equation. And that’s just what we did. Our greatest challenge each day was deciding when to flip our bronzing bodies and which beachside joint served up the strongest cocktails.
When I think back on the fondest memories of my twenty eight years of life, I tend to remember the moments not days. Thinking back on our time in our Thailand paradise, these moments are so vivid…
Beginning each day lingering over heaping plates of fresh fruit…Kayaking out in the open sea over turquoise waters…Burying myself in a book while waves lapped up against me on the water’s edge. Snorkeling with schools of brightly colored fish…Runs up the cliff for breathtaking views of the bay…The smooth, citrusy taste of banana and mango shakes – my afternoon thirst quencher…Endless cocktail hours at sunset over one too many mojitos…Indulging in spicy coconut curries and king prawns the size of your head…Feet in the sand under a blanket of stars…Swimming in the ocean as monsoon rains crashed down all around me…Reminding myself over and over how lucky I am to be living this life…
Yes, this is exactly why I stayed in all those Friday nights.