My ten favourite things about our quick trip to Thailand:
+ Getting off the beaten track and exploring the little island of Koh Lanta exclusively by scooter. We took a spontaneous half-day trip, 3 of us on 2 scooters, to make our way around Lanta. There’s nothing quite like experiencing a place firsthand without a map or guidebook.
+ Swimming with baby elephants. We happened upon this place on our scooter ride, and the weathered brochure advertised an “ocean swim with elephant.” “Ocean, yes?” I said to the tiny thai mother who just smiled and said yes to everything. “Not lake, ocean?” I repeated. “Saltwater, yes?” I got a smile and enthusiastic nod. Fast forward twenty minutes and we’re swimming in a glorified rice paddy, a tiny murky green pond that made me think about water-borne pathogens and seriously question the wisdom of this decision. Memories of the Bali hospitalisation echoed loud and clear, but what can you do. They were BABY ELEPHANTS and I am not made of steel.
+ Thai massage. Completely unlike Balinese massage, which is very relaxing and left me feeling like I’d entered a new dimension, Thai massage felt more like an exercise in letting go of tension and at times like a partner yoga class. These little ladies do not mess around. I had pops and cracks coming out of places I’d never even reached before, and had to utilise some serious yoga breath to just get through parts of it. (They don’t seem too big on asking about the pressure.) I left each massage feeling like I’d just had everything kneaded out of my body, which was just fine by me.
+ Tailor-made clothes. omg. Asia is rife with tailors (“hey boss, you want suit?”). I can’t wait for my new threads to arrive.
+ The decision to skip the early-morning ferry and rent a car to make our way from Phuket to Koh Lanta, a 4-6 hour journey. Renting a scooter in Asia is normal. Renting a car, not so much. We had a skeletal map, no GPS and the few roadsigns that exist are mainly written in Thai. Several hours and two ferries later, we actually made it.
+ $12 facials and massages. Need I say more.
+ Catching up with old friends from New Zealand and the US in a city that’s foreign to all of us. I love how the universe works.
+ Cheap resorts.
+ The prolific amount of colourful patterned elephant-embellished pants I now own. (That new year’s resolution to not buy any new clothing for six months? Yeah, about that…)
The few downsides of the trip were LOSING MY MEMORY CARD in the rental car (I still haven’t recovered), not getting to dive due to monsoon season pshhh, and mom and I both suffering gastro on our last night and during the flight home. Travelling with gastro is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Asia is not kind to my body, but I’m fine now. And I’ll be back.