As the sun set over the calm waters in Koh Tao and the sky took on the colors of a fruity sorbet, I took a deep breath and thought to myself…”wow, this is paradise!” We began our 3 week jaunt in the Thai Islands on the beautiful island of Koh Tao situated in the Gulf of Thailand where the dive spots are a plenty, dogs rule the beach, the water is as warm as a bath, and the sunsets take your breath away.
After a long night on a sleeper bus, a sunrise ferry ride through the gulf and some wandering around to find accommodation, we settled into our wooden bungalows steps away from the beach. We contemplated how we were going to spend our days on the island and the same question kept on floating around – “to get scuba certified, or to not get scuba certified?” Well, our driving force was the fact that Kaila and Taylor were already certified and the thought of possibly getting to dive with them in Thailand…or elsewhere on our trip…was enough to bump that activity to the top of our bucket list.
So long story short, after a day of breathing underwater during our “trial dive,” we were hooked. Sign us up for the full monty! The next few days we spent in the crystal clear waters with sea life that resembled Finding Nemo, in the classroom learning about safety while diving, and a celebrating with a beer at the end of each class as we talked about the beautiful sightings of that days dive. We were so proud to go back to our bungalow and tell Kaila and Taylor all about it and have them give us little tips that we could take with us on the next days dive.
Finally, on our last day of class, we got to go with Taylor and Kaila to one of the most beautiful dive spots in the world: Sail Rock. From the surface, the rock looked just like any other rock you might see in the water, but underneath the surface laid a world so colorful, so full of life, and so magical. We swam trough massive schools of fish, peered into cracks and crevices that housed beautiful corals and anemones, spotted barracuda from 20 feet away, and admired the turquois blue waters we swam through 30 feet deep. As we silently waved to the Kliman’s, Sean and I caught glimpses of each other and he had the biggest smile on his face while I just continued to give the hand signals for “oh my gosh, THIS IS AMAZING!”…aka…”mind blown.”
Aside from diving, there was one night in Koh Tao that will stick out as just one of those nights from our trip. We ordered delicious (and I mean…so so so tasty) pizza from this little wood fire oven pizza place and chased the sunset down to the beach. We got there just moments before it made its descent and the colors that illuminated the sky, the water, and our souls were colors that God chose just for that special night. Never to be re-created…never to be witnessed again. With our toes in the sand, cheesy pizza on the picnic blanket, cold beers in our hands, and endless conversation flowing between the 4 of us, we sat in awe as the sky turned from cotton candy to a dark blue canvas sparkling with stars. Every night after that, we made it a point to catch the sunset and admire Gods nightly paintings.
As we thought about what our minds, bodies, and souls needed at that point in the trip, we made some decisions for our next destination. What did we need? Rest. Relaxation. A place to call home. An extended stay. A kitchen. Movie nights. A whole lotta days to just do nothing, see nothing, and not feel bad about it. Where on earth could we do that? Well, without even looking very hard, we found Koh Lanta in May to be the perfect place for all of those things!
We booked our AirBnb apartment for a lovely 10 days and our first stop was the grocery store. We stocked up as if we just moved into our forever home and envisioned all the amazing things we were going to cook for ourselves. I get giddy just thinking about what it felt like to step into a grocery store with the endless possibilities of what we could cut, chop, stir, steam, fry, etc. It was so very needed for all of our sanity to just get our butts in the kitchen, pour ourselves some gin & tonics, listen to music, light a few candles, cook food that nourished our bodies, and gather around the table.
Lets just say…we made some bomb a$$ meals if I do say so myself! Kaila and Taylor whipped up these incredible Asian inspired meatballs with perfectly cooked veggies on the side, Sean and I filled the air with smells of marinara sauce and garlic bread, tacos were a must, breakfast burritos were necessary to uphold our California pride, and Oreos with milk were enjoyed nightly. I don’t think any of us have ever consumed so many Oreos before in our life but when you just need something sweet, something familiar and something that you cannot deny as being one of the most delicious treats on this earth – Oreos take first place in all those categories.
When I say we did nothing, I mean we did nothing. As in, we left our lovely AC’d apartment for just a handful of reasons: the beach, the pool, the grocery store, and a 2-hour trip to an animal rescue. All other hours of the day were dedicated to cooking, reading, and movie watching. Except for one day (Taylor’s 28th birthday!) where Kaila took him on an awesome fishing trip for the day and they came back with loads of fresh fish to cook! While they were out, Sean and I decorated the apartment and once they arrived back, we celebrated him by cookin’ up a fish fry storm and then ended the evening with Kaila’s delicious spin on an apple crumble. It was a good day, for an even better man.
Our time in the Thai Islands ended in the mainland city of Krabi. With the image of Bali just mere days away, we nestled into our hostel about 1 mile away from Au Nang beach. At some point every day, a huge gust of wind would wash over the town and seconds later, a torrential downpour would ensue. We came to really love the moments where we could be outside under a patio and listen to the giant raindrops fall hard above us. We were in the middle of monsoon season after all!
We filled our days with trips to the beach, playing cards, munchin’ on different street foods, oh….and watching Sean get cornrows!!!!! I will not go into the whole story, but the shortened version is: back in Pai, Thailand, Sean and I made a bet. It was over whether a piece of paper read a certain time of day and Sean thought it said one thing, while I KNEW it said another. He would not back down and absolutely thought he was right. Well, like I said…I knew I was right. So to keep things interesting, we made a bet. With my confidence backing me up, I made the bold bet of “If I am right, you have to get corn-rows.” He took the bate and I didn’t even listen to what he wanted to bet me if he won because the battle was over. This guy was getting cornrows. So, with that being said, we found a place on the beach in Krabi where his fate awaited him. He wore those babies proud for almost a week, before his hair just couldn’t take it anymore and they unraveled on their own. Watching my husband have to rock those bad boys confidently (especially through the Kuala Lumpur airport!) was an absolute treat and the photos will bring me joy for the rest of my life.
Thailand was amazing – every part of it from North to South. I will miss Pad Thai, those delicious Thai iced coffees, and the beautiful beaches but now it’s time to enjoy Bali for our extended stay!