There’s a certain degree of depression that is inherent when experiencing life in ways that are both powerful and beautiful beyond words. I imagine people see my various social medias and assume that I’m on cloud 9 here in Thailand- and a lot of the time I am. I am happy and I am certainly counting my lucky stars. There is a side effect to this happiness, however. When you are lucky enough to live moments that have surpassed many others in your life thus far, there is a crippling downfall that inevitably follows. I realize that I sound like a complete and total ingrate, but believe me when I say it’s a double-edged sword. Once the bar is raised, it takes a lot of work to maintain that level of happiness. It’s why people come home from vacations and fall into a deep depression. It’s the extreme highs that make you completely reevaluate your life. They make you insatiable. They make you wonder if the life you left behind will ever really satisfy you. They make you addicted to travel. This is what moving to Thailand has done to me. This country is a thought-provoking bitch, and it got even worse when I got a delicious taste of the south of Thailand.
But. Before I tackle the epic vacation topic- I’d like to touch on how I spent my first Christmas away from home in 27 years. I never imagined I’d find an ounce of holiday cheer here in Thailand. After all, it’s a country with a Buddhist population of about 95%. Something I’ve learned about Thai people, however, is that they love a good party and they will use any excuse to throw one. I was warned that there would be some Christmas activities at school on the 25th, but to what extent, I had no idea. The other thing about Thailand, as I’m sure I’ve said before, is that you never know what’s going to happen until it’s happening. This is kind of how it went when we (Sara, Hillary, and myself) were informed that we’d be dancing to “Jingle Bell Rock” in front of the entire school. We had one day’s notice. Sara, the one decent dancer in the group, got sick and was out, so Hillary and I spent the 24th watching YouTube videos and attempting to choreograph an acceptable routine. The language barrier made it difficult to decipher just which part of the song we were responsible for, because our 3 male coworkers and some students were dancing as well. As a result, we choreographed the whole thing just in case. I mean, it wouldn't be outlandish to think that Channel 3 might show up to broadcast us on national television- you literally just never know. Towards the end of the day on the 24th, the students informed us that we would be performing on our own as well as with them. We had a whole new dance to learn. Did I mention that I was blessed with two left feet?
On the 25th we were allowed to deviate from the monotonous weekly dress code, so I showed up to school in a candy-cane red shirt with matching lips, jeans, and a santa hat and reindeer ears which I interchanged throughout the day. The morning assembly was…different. It included the foreign department doing the “chicken dance” on a stage. It also included the Mayor of Pathumthani, aka “Chanta Claus” standing at the edge of the stage and literally “making it rain” 20 baht notes into a crowd of screaming children. Normal. I only taught one class in the morning, and I use the word “taught” loosely. We sang Christmas songs and colored elves and Christmas trees. At the end of the class, I put the pictures up on the whiteboard (Thai kids have coloring abilities that put me to shame) and had them all yell “Merry Christmas” to my friends and family back home via an iPhone video. After class it was activity time. The large hall at school was chock full of students, and our performance was one of the first items on the agenda (granted I didn’t know this until 2 minutes before showtime). We assembled on the stage and began with our student-teacher dance, which considering the amount of preparation time, was quite coordinated. This transitioned into our trio’s performance, which also went surprisingly well, and ended with the boys and their fancy footwork. The rest of the afternoon was spent manning the ice cream station (this assignment proves that they know me well around here.)
When school ended, the day was far from over. We had a party to attend. It was a cowboy-themed evening, with the alternative option of wearing Christmas colors. I was all cowboyed out, having to dress as such every Friday anyway, so I opted for the Christmas colors. We were driven to the same place our Loy Krathong parade was held- better known as the giant field of mud. The event had quite a showing, and the area was filled with tables, some with bales of hay as seating. The Thais were all dressed in cowboy attire, and there was live music with lavishly dressed dancers on the big stage at the front. Food and drink were free, so we indulged in some beers and consequently danced the night away. There isn’t a ton of interaction with the Thais at our school, but tonight language barriers were of no consequence. When there’s alcohol and music present, words really aren’t needed. We had a blast dancing together. Afterwards, we went home and faced the tedious task of packing. We bought ourselves a nice little Christmas gift this year- a much needed vacation to the south of Thailand.
Disclaimer: general overviews are fun and all, but I'm switching things up a bit with the following account of my trip to the south. It's more of a story, and a really, really long one at that. It's not going to be as surface-level as usual, either. This contains a bit more detail, at least as much as I feel comfortable sharing with the general public (and even then I may be crossing the line) but, this is me. Apologies if I've offended anyone. So, here we go:
On the 26th, we left school early and headed for the airport. We had 9 full days of vacation ahead of us, and this was the first chance to really travel beyond a long weekend since arriving here. Our first stop was Krabi, a quick 2 hour flight that we took in lieu of the alternative 12 hour bus ride. Flights are relatively cheap in Thailand, so unless you’re really on a budget, the difference in travel time is pretty significant. We arrived in Krabi around 8 pm and headed to our hotel. It was booked super last minute, and was the cost of a good sandwich back in the states. That being said, it was no surprise when we walked into the worst hotel room we’d seen yet. The stench that radiated from that place was rancid. Sara accurately declared that her shit was an air freshener in comparison. But we had a ferry to catch in the morning, so we held our breath when possible and went to sleep. We got up early to both escape the fumes and get some breakfast. In touristy spots like these you’re able to find Western food quite easily, and so I splurged on a chocolate/banana waffle at ’89 Cafe. After breakfast we checked out of our fragrant hotel and were picked up by our favorite paddy-wagon-like vehicle that took us to the pier where our ferry to Koh Phi Phi would depart.
The plan was Bangkok —> Krabi —> Koh Phi Phi —> Phuket —>Bangkok. The way the geography was set up was like an upside down U-shape. Krabi was on the eastern tip of this upside-down U, and Phuket was on the western part. Koh Phi Phi is an island that is equidistant between the two in the Andaman sea. We departed for Phi Phi on Saturday at noon, and enjoyed a beautiful ride past Thailand's very characteristic limestone mountains. We docked at a colorful and busy pier full of Thai men holding signs bearing various resort and hotel names. We carried on by with our suitcases, assuming we’d hail ourselves a cab and find our hotel, but there was only one problem. Taxis don’t exist on Koh Phi Phi. The island, it turned out, does not have real roads. It is a walking island, which became one of my favorite features, but only after getting our heavy luggage to the hotel. It didn’t take long before we realized that this hotel was a vast improvement from our stay the previous night, and even then by American standards most would scoff. We’re on a bit of a budget however, and there’s no sense in spending loads on accommodations when you will hardly be spending time in the room. We dropped off our things and went for lunch- a big, juicy hamburger on foccacia bread and a strawberry daiquiri at Unni’s. From there, the crazy photographer in me rushed the girls over to the beach in time for sunset. It was a very worthy cause. We headed back to our room to shower and get ready for our first night out on the island.
I’d like to take a moment to describe the general geography and population of the island of Koh Phi Phi. I can only speak for what I assume is one of the most popular island holidays, NYE, and cannot be sure that my findings are consistently the case. I’ve visited several islands prior to this point, so I can safely say that what I discovered is not common elsewhere. Imagine one of the most naturally beautiful islands in the world (wikipedia said so) that is so small that your mode of transportation is limited to walking and long tail boats. There are no roads. There are no taxis. There are no cars. Now imagine all of the beautiful countries of the world. Imagine that each country contributed handfuls of their most beautiful people….and then sent them to the small, concentrated island of Koh Phi Phi. In addition to this absolutely baffling sea of stunning people, I’d say the average age on the island was 24 (damnit, I'm old), and the predominant gender was men. Of these men, many possessed qualities that I’ve recently decided are undeniably attractive- beards and tattoos. God must have had a divine hand in this.
Back to the story. After meeting some new friends, of Dutch and New Zealand origin if I remember correctly, it only seemed sensible to head down to the beach, which was lined with numerous bars and nightclubs. It didn’t take the girls and I long to decide we’d rather not be tied to these foreigners, and we decided we “had to go to the bathroom” and made a run for it- a risky move on an island where there’s not too many places to hide. We ran until summoned into what would become our go-to spot on the island- The Banana Bar. We climbed the winding spiral staircase to find a large but low-key bar, boasting several bar areas, beer pong tables, and a rooftop with additional higher set platforms with views of the island. We decided it’d be fun to drop a few baht for a game of beer pong. We met some Canadians, one whose friendship was solidified by the Red Sox hat he was wearing, and played a few games. The end of the night was pretty uneventful: Hillary got tired and peaced, Sara and I got hungry and scarfed down some rare and delicious street pizza, and we all crashed. We can’t know what time that was.
The night before necessitated sleeping in, and so we gathered our thoughts and our dignity and headed out to explore the island. The Phi Phi Viewpoint was recommended to us by a weird and stocky bald man who falsely proclaimed to be gay during our sunset watch the prior day. Despite his chronic lying, we took his advice and made the very steep climb to the mountaintop viewpoint. The view from the top was incredible. Limestone mountains, lush green vegetation and palms, a strip of boomerang shaped land separating the side of the island where the ferry docks at the pier and the beach near which our hotel was located. We befriended an English couple, who were of Indian ethnicity, and spent some time hearing their adorable love story. Gurpreet and Amar are 5 years apart (Gurpreet being my own age) and met at a wedding when Gurpeet was 17. Her mother had forced her to go, and she reluctantly went. That night she met Amar. They chatted for a bit but when she left she didn’t take any of his contact information, nor did she even remember his name. Years later he found her on Facebook. They started chatting and catching up, which soon evolved into dating. They’re now married. They were so kind, and we took turns photographing each other and took a photo together (something we need to do more often with the people we meet abroad). On our descent from the viewpoint we got a call from fellow Greenhearter and Colorado-native Kirstie, and met up for lunch. The climbing and full bellies put us all into a comatose state, and we decided to take a nap. We woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and we were ready for night 2.
We headed to Banana Bar for some legit Western food and Thailand’s notoriously dangerous buckets. My joy was unparalleled when I discovered my favorite dish on the menu- PENNE ALFREDO AND CHICKEN! Highlight moment right here. AND, it was delicious. You can find “Western” food relatively easily in Thailand, but having it actually be pleasant to eat is a feat all its own. Sara and I split a pina colada bucket. In the interest of saving precious baht, we beelined it for the nearest Fresh Mart (not 7 Eleven for once) and drank Spy and beer like alcoholic Hey Arnold stoop kids outside. The raised stoop gave us a great vantage point for people watching, and apparently for people to watch us as well, because a handsome guy stopped in his tracks and goes, “Hillary?” Allow me to introduce Bob- Hillary’s very attractive Tinder match who comes from the Netherlands, but currently resides in Paris, France. Bob designs cars for a prestigious motor vehicle company there. Bob is a tall, dark, handsome, and slightly squinty-eyed 33 year old who speaks French, Dutch, English, and German. Bob sounds like male perfection with the exception of his terrible name (if you're reading this, sorry Bob.) Bob came with an entourage of friends, also from the Netherlands. They were a truly amazing collection of men. They were sincere and fun and had personalities that were literally worth writing home about. We parted ways only to meet up again soon after down at the beach. Slinky’s is the more popular beach club, characterized by ear-drum threatening music and a stage full of pure debauchery. Like, naked man on a pedestal being inappropriate beyond words kind of debauchery. Much dancing ensued until we could dance no more- the music stopped at 3 am. We walked Kirstie home to her bungalow, obscurely set up in the hills a decent trek away. It was an amusing residence. A slug of sorts had landed on her bed, leaving a slimy trail, and there was a tree stump, dead center, protruding out of the floor in her bathroom. On our way back to our own hotel, we bumped into an older Australian gentleman who informed me that he was from Sydney. As most know by know, the word “Sydney” usually results in a surge of adrenaline in my body, so my gushing about the country began and I expressed my desire to get a job there. This led to him taking my name for a Facebook request that would never come. Oh well.
My body was impressive and decided it would power through and live yet another day on Koh Phi Phi. We walked out of our hotel and the first thing I saw was, to my surprise, the very same Australian guy sitting on the curb across the “street”. “Australian!?” I called with a hint of a question in my voice. He looked at us, initially confused, until I explained that he was the last person we saw before going home last night and a light turned on. He took my name for a second time- also not resulting in a friend request. I’ll chalk it up to there being a lot of Lauren Carey’s in the world. It was thanks to this gentleman and his friend that we were encouraged to go check out Long Beach, which would require a 100 baht per person long tail boat ride. We figured Long Beach would be a relaxing and ideal place to hang out for the day. I’d been photographing long tail boats left and right, but had yet to take one for a ride. We climbed aboard and our 100 baht was well-spent as we sped through the see-through water, past more breathtaking limestone mountains. We turned the corner of a bay to see a much quieter resort-style beach. Our first task was to find someone who would rent us out three chairs for the afternoon, and after a bit of asking around, our mission was accomplished. It was a wonderful, stress-free afternoon, and I swam around rather blissfully in the ocean and rested on the beach, while reading my new book, “If I Stay”. I'll admit it did make me cry within the first 5 minutes of reading it. I take this reaction to be a testament of good writing, so there's my recommendation for the day if you're looking for a new book (and are a similarly aged emotional female.)
As we’re sitting in our chairs, I felt intermittent splashes of water on my skin. This wasn't surprising, the dark clouds slowly blanketing the sky above us gave them away quite some time beforehand. We decided it’d be a wise decision to grab some lunch and packed up our things. Within seconds of sitting down at a nearby restaurant, the sky opened up to an absolute deluge, the wind blowing the rain into the wall-less restaurant. The entire beach decided our restaurant was the place to go, and I’m not sure there were many other options besides. This resulted in terrible service and even more terrible food. When the rain gave way to a drizzle, we decided to make a run for a long tail and get back to the main ferry port. With the weather as it was, oil massages and pedicures sounded like lovely ways to spend the afternoon. We dropped our things off at the hotel and started scouring the streets for a massage place that didn’t completely creep us out. The first place we found was too busy, and our laziness got the better of us when we found a place with availability- albeit it a bit dark. Our section of 3 beds was enclosed by a big pink curtain, and we were instructed to remove all of our clothes, except our underwear.
(WARNING, THIS IS ABOUT TO GET SLIGHTLY AWKWARD) We did as we were told and flipped over onto our stomachs. I closed my eyes. My masseuse, a woman, started with my legs as I had become accustomed to. It was generally relaxing, and she hit on all the normal spots- my feet, my legs, my butt, my back. She asked me to flip over, and as I’d expected, she put a towel where a towel should go. Again, the massage was routine and she gave attention first to my legs, and slowly moved upwards. She then proceeded to slather my stomach with oil, and remove my towel. I could hear a bit of commotion coming from my left where Hillary and Sara were laying. Some nervous giggles, some laughing, and then I realized I wasn’t the only one whose towel had just been removed. I took on the “mai pen rai” attitude, and as we all laughed about later, “just let it happen”. I proceeded to have my chest sensually massaged by a woman. Apparently this isn't entirely uncommon, but I’m not all that sure it’s standard Thai massage procedure either. I’m sure it’s not the weirdest thing that’s happened to me whilst in Thailand, nor will it be the last. The sketchiest part of all? The security camera aimed in the general direction of the massage area. Did I just contribute to some weird internet porn? Maybe. Afterwards, our masseuse took us down to the road to see her friend who runs a mani/pedi business and got some neon yellow on my toes. A nap was in order, so we took a siesta, and then rolled out of bed to get some dinner. Guess where we went? Yup. Banana Bar.
I ordered my penne chicken alfredo once again (when you find a good thing in this country, you stick with it, especially because who knows when you'll ever see it again) and during dinner we struck up conversation with the two guys sitting at the table parallel to ours (shoutout to our fellow North Americans, Canadians Andy and Kevin). Andy inquired as to how the food was, and this simple conversation starter snowballed into a lengthy discussion and story-telling. Before we knew it, it was 9 or 10 pm. We still looked like homeless beach women, so we had to excuse ourselves and run home to get ready. At this point, none of us had any real desire to go out for a third consecutive night…so we half-assed our typically grueling routine and headed out fairly quickly. To Banana Bar. We don't like change, ok!? Bob and his crew of highly entertaining Dutchmen met us out and we surpassed the hours of the bar for yet another night in a row.
Day 4: A day of epic proportions
Four days in and somehow I woke up and felt surprisingly fresh. So far so good, I thought, and I was sincerely impressed by my ability to hang with the youngins on this island. I looked over to find my two little nuggets fast asleep. Hillary was particularly amusing, with her eye mask securely fastened, ear plugs in, all while cuddling her stuffed monkey, Harry. I took a picture for good measure. We knew today was going to be a damn good day- we’d booked Bob’s Booze Cruise- a 6 hour and 2,500 baht sailboat cruise around Phi Phi. If you ever go there, DO IT. We got up early so we could do a little shopping before the boat took off at 1:00 pm. We glammed up slightly, well aware of the plethora of pictures that would be taken, and headed for the pier. On our way, we were visually stunned once more by the unparalleled caliber of men. Now, we’ve learned a few things in Thai over the past 3 months- directions being among the few words that have stuck. Left = si right = quoi straight = trompei. Also, chai (yes) mai chai (no) and the ever-popular mai ow (don’t want). With so many beautiful men roaming about, we got into the habit of shouting out a direction, followed by “chai chai chai”. Example: I spot a tall, tattooed, bearded man and shout “si! si! chai! chai!” Translation: "there is one hot ass muthafucka to your left, don’t miss it." I can't even apologize for acting this way. It was such a mind-boggling collection of people that I assure you, you would have done the same.
Cut to 1:00 pm and 20 or so of us are packing on a sailboat emblazoned with “Bob’s Booze Cruise” on the side. I had made a comment earlier in the morning that I hoped there would be no attractive people on our boat so that I could just relax and not think twice about my inevitable beer gut, etc. My wish was granted because there weren’t any at all, with the exception of a couple crew members. The weather was perfectly warm and sunny, and we sailed off, leaving the colorful pier in the distance. We cruised along towards our first stop: Monkey Beach. The boat anchored a bit off shore, and we were instructed to hop off and swim on over to a very small, white sandy beach full of go-pro wielding vacationers. Leave it up to me. If anyone out there thinks I’m even the slightest bit graceful, it won’t take me long to prove you wrong. I clumsily hop over the side of the boat into the ocean and start doggy-paddling, I mean, swimming, towards the shore. The water was the kind of crystal clear ocean you dream about and see in magazines. The limestone cliffs towered above me and left me awe-struck. My go-pro was attached to my wrist-housing and I was capturing the lovely scene when my foot swiftly kicked what I can only assume was the razor sharp edge of a piece of coral. “OUCH!” you can hear me scream in the go-pro video, followed by the bubbles as my arms somersault underwater. When one foot kicked it, the other jumped out to gain my balance and inevitably did the exact same thing. Double ouch. I could tell the cut was probably not as superficial as I’d have liked. When I got to the beach, the blood was apparent. Slices on 6 out of my 10 toes, the more severe being on my right foot. The blood incessantly flowed, but there were cute little monkeys on the beach, so I hobbled along and ignored the pain. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen wild monkeys, so perhaps the novelty factor had worn off, because I took a few photos and was ready to carry on. Worrying slightly about my foot, and strange bits of information I thought I’d heard about the dangers of coral, I asked Captain Bob what he thought. “What, do you want a bandaid?” he said almost a bit too offensively for my taste. “I’m just making sure it’s not a big deal” I replied. “It should be fine” he said. Well, Captain Bob, I’ll tell ya it’s over a week later and it still effin hurts. I still love you and your booze cruise, though. But anyways. Sara and I hopped on a kayak and got an escort back to the boat.
Up to this point, no alcohol had been offered and we were soon facing a cliff jump. If I felt like alcohol was necessary at any point during this cruise, it was then. Back in 2008, when I spent a semester abroad in Australia, I had zero qualms about sky diving or bungee jumping. Ok maybe a few qualms, but I was more than excited to do it. Cliff jumping however was one invitation I’d adamantly passed up on. It comes down to a control factor. There are people and security measures outside of your control when it comes to sky diving and bungee jumping. The person tandem on your back, the bungee cord around your ankles. There’s an art to it all, an expected and precise action and outcome. Sure, accidents do happen with both of these activities, but nothing that would ever fail because of something I did or didn't do. I looked at cliff jumping a bit differently. First, there’s getting up the cliff. There’s liability in and of that itself. Second, there’s the actual jumping. What if I don’t jump quite far enough? What if I slip? Rocks are not something my body wants to come into contact with at high velocity. Third, the unknown. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a reverse stalagmite waiting for me down there. But, despite my better judgment, this was a fear I wanted to conquer. Once again we sailed off and anchored the boat close by the side of a seemingly never-ending wall of limestone. There were people jumping off from two points- off of a tree, and a bit lower off the rock ledge. Fear instantly spread throughout my entire body. I’m still not sure how, but after a moment’s hesitation I found myself a pair of crocs, as instructed, and jumped off the boat, swimming towards the base of the upwards climb. It was a steep and jagged climb, but with more than enough hand and footholds to support me. Vaughan, a friend from Greenheart, climbed ahead of me and I followed in her steps, my legs literally trembling. When I reached the top, Hillary was standing at the edge of the lower jump, ready to go. I turned on my go-pro and watched as she literally dropped off the side of the cliff, my vantage point similar to that of my remote falling off the end of my bed. Can’t see where it went, but it went somewhere. A few other booze cruisers took the plunge, and then it was Sara’s turn. The look of fear on her face almost paralyzed my own legs, but after a few seconds of hesitation, she mustered up the gumption and launched herself as well. I can't be sure but I think I went right after Sara. I turned my go-pro on, and inched towards the edge towards crew member Seth, stationed to steady my newborn-deer-like tremble. Hesitation is the death of bravery, so I shut off the voices in my head, positioned my right foot forward, bent from the knees, and sprung off the cliff. I did my best impression of a human pencil, holding my nose the whole way down. I hit the water quite impactfully as indicated by the giant wedgie I received.
After the cliff jump, we climbed back into the boat, but not before experiencing the stinging sensation of what was described as sea lice. We started the journey over to Maya Bay, the infamous location of “The Beach”. It took a little while to get there, so the drinks started flowing. Once again we docked away from the destination and had to swim our asses over there, an increasingly difficult task. The current was not working in my favor on this one, either. I eventually made it to a huge net that went up the rock wall and clumsily climbed my way to the top in bright pink oversized crocs. A short walk along a path and we came upon the tourist-clad Maya Bay. I was able to see past the swarms of people and appreciate it’s beauty, but only momentarily. We were rushed through to get back out to the boat, this time having to go down the giant net. Luckily, dependable Dave and his kayak swooped us up for a ride back. From there, we took a much longer sail over to a different bay, which boasts a special cave. I snuck my way up to the front of the boat, and threw my legs over the side, drink in hand. It was a truly serene feeling. My feet skimmed the water and dipped into the ocean with every downward plunge the boat made. The sun was getting lower in the sky, sparkling on the water for as far as the eye could see. To my right, the limestone cliffs made me feel so appreciative of my own life and the world’s magnificent natural beauty. I just sat there in a state of complete and utter happiness. It’s cheesy, but true.
We made it to the next stop, and once more, swam from the boat another daunting distance. This time, I brought a scuba mask. Colorful fish companions make the trek a lot more entertaining. We swam into an opening in the rock. It was dry initially, and then gave way to a water filled space with a rather strong current whooshing back and forth. I grabbed for the wall to keep my balance, the amount of headroom above me minimal at times. For some reason I've always loved the thrill of situations like these- it's dark, you're in a small space trying to find your way, there's a little element of danger...it's just fun. From there we made our way into another cave, which required a climb up a rope to get into the mouth of it. Also quite dark, but lots more living space. Captain Bob gave us a brief history lesson about the drawings on the cave walls. He had to really butter up some Thai people to gain access to this cave- which not a lot of people know about apparently. Normally I would take that comment as a ploy to make us feel unique and special, but I actually do believe it’s an infrequently visited site. The only piece of information I recall is that the drawings were carbon dated to upwards of 800 years old. Fierce looking people with weapons and big ships lined the walls. Pretty cool stuff. As we made our way back out to the boat, the sun was setting. The opening to the bay in which we were was quite small. There was a gap between two limestone cliffs through which you could see the setting sun. It was stunning. I bobbed there in the water and stared at it. The view of the water at eye level with the surrounding cliffs and the sliver of sunset was just unreal. There aren’t enough adjectives in the English dictionary to accurately describe what my eyes witnessed that day.
The rest of the vacation was wonderful, and I'll spare you an even longer novel than this already has become- but suffice it to say that I've covered most of the highlights of the trip (at least the ones I feel comfortable divulging.) I met some truly amazing people in those few days down south from quite literally all over the world. I was able to ring in the New Year on an island with amazing friends, old and new, and I wouldn't have spent it any other way. I suppose it's noteworthy to say that from Koh Phi Phi we made the trip over to Phuket. We actually extended our stay in Koh Phi Phi because we loved it so much, so it's hard to say how much our hangovers/depression about leaving the island impacted our first impressions of Phuket. Regardless, those first impressions weren't very good. The best part of going to Phuket was our posh hotel room, covers on the bed, a lot of sleep, and seeing the faces of our TESOL friends, who we met up with there. If it's travel advice you're looking for- I'd spend your precious time on an island instead. Phuket did have some scenic and beautiful beaches, I won't discredit it there, but the general sense I got was both sketchy and dirty. I'm referring specifically to Patong Beach, I can't really speak for anywhere else. It was reminiscent of Khao San Road in Bangkok or Pattaya, the kind of overcrowded tourist traps I've seen enough of at this point in my stay. To each their own though, this is just one woman's opinion.
Well, if you actually made it to the bottom of this- I'm highly impressed and I think a congratulations is in order. This is what happens when I go a month without blogging. I've declared it sober/money-saving January, so there probably won't be much to speak of in the coming weeks until another event or epic trip provokes me to write another mini-novel. I'm blown away by the fact that I've already been here for 4 months- I'm starting to think about and plan my post-Thailand adventures, so that'll be fun to talk about once I solidify the details! If you're reading from the states right now, keep warm and have a hot chocolate for me! xoxo