Lazy Days in SEA

Trip Start Jun 19, 2005
Trip End Jun 19, 2006

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Tuesday, January 3, 2006

It's amazing just how time-consuming nothing is. We're not just saying that - we've done research. In fact, over the past month in Thailand, we've achieved a certain mastery in the art of doing nothing, and as such feel quite confident when we assert that when it's done right, nothing takes pretty much all day. The weather in the south of Thailand was pretty dismal actually, and we were amazed to discover that day after day we remained content to read books, take walks and watch the rain fall through the palms from the comfort of our bungalow's porch.
Not that we haven't occasionally strayed from nothing - we jogged (ok, fell gradually forward) along the white sands to and from our daily yoga class in Kho Lanta, and devoted many an hour to the masochistic maneuvers that the locals here call Thai massage. We swam with mantas again, this time in the Andaman Sea, and H managed to complete both dives without incident. She did however narrowly miss what would have been a dramatic collision with our bungalow owner's front door when she took her first and last stab at driving our rented motorbike. Mike thought it unnecessary to explicitly tell H to release the throttle when applying the break, and what ensued was a graceless low-speed surrender to gravity. Even while pinned in the mud under the mighty moped, she managed to assign the blame for this incident squarely on Mike's shoulders, and with no injuries save her pride, H resumed her role as back-seat rider. We tooled around the island for almost three weeks before moving on to a mainland beach for Christmas.
On X-mas Eve we paddled a sea kayak around the magnificent limestone rock formations of Hat Ton Sei, setting anchor occasionally to snorkel in the crystal clear water and landing on a near-by beach to help ourselves to deli sandwiches, fresh fruit and cold beers. The locals put on quite a show for the holidays, with lights on every palm tree, Bing Crosby and Jonny Mathis serenading our walks along the beach, and Christmas Eve curry served by Santa himself.
We hopped a train on Christmas night to head back for Bangkok, and the pain of leaving the beach was attenuated by a short but very sweet visit with our good friends Dan and Rachel who were honeymooning in Thailand. We bid The Smiths adieu and jumped back on the train, headed north this time, to Chiang Mai, a beautiful riverside city with flower-covered bridges, illuminated at night by countless white lights. We endured our longest separation to date when H took an all-day Thai cooking class and left Mike to get some work done on the course he'll be teaching in a few months. As if we needed another reminder of how fast this year is flying by, it was time to make plans for New Year's Eve, and we chose Pai, a small mountain village north of Chiang Mai, as our venue. It turned out to be a perfect spot - mobile pubs and beer gardens were everywhere, as were Volkswagen vans converted into morning-after espresso bars. The night sky was filled with great music, fireworks and hundreds of floating paper lanterns, and as we ate with our new friends at a sidewalk café, we watched a parade featuring the music and costumes of the nearby hill tribes. We ended up dancing at an outdoor club until the impending sunrise convinced us to call it a night, and spent January first paying the price.
Having recovered from our Y2K6 blowout, and (oops) overstayed our visa six days to squeeze in a few more precious moments in paradise, we are heading South to BKK and onward to Penang, Malaysia, where a little less nothing might result in a little more something for the next Pod entry. Here's to a healthy and happy 2006!
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