Around the World
This ended up being our first round-the-world trip. The MSP-Tokyo flight filled up so we went to Amsterdam instead, took the train to Düsseldorf, and then caught airberlin to Bangkok, where we met up with Brad and Amber who had nonrevved over via LAX and Taipei. We rode the overnight train to Surat Thani, caught a bus to Phuket, and due to delays missed the overnight boat to Koh Phi Phi. After spending the night in Patpong, we caught the morning boat to Phi Phi. It was as beautiful as described, and as popular. We beat the Tonsai crowds by staying on nearby Long Beach, which was gorgeous and uncrowded. The snorkeling right off the beach was quite good; Brad and I saw reef sharks.
The next morning we moved on to Koh Lanta, a tranquil island whose beauty and popularity are more subdued than Phi Phi. The rainy season has started a little early on Thailand's Andaman coast, for there were thunderstorms every evening, but the days were quite nice and actually not that horribly hot. Our second day on Koh Lanta, I started my PADI Open Water Diver course, which I've been wanting to do ever since doing an intro dive on Koh Tao five years ago. The first day consisted of coursework and pool dives. The second day, Brad went diving with me at Koh Haa, a group of six islands about 15 miles southeast of Koh Lanta. I did well on the dives, and even got to go in an underwater cave ("The Cathedral") on the second dive. The third day, Brad and Amber headed up to Bangkok, while I completed the third and fourth dives required for the OWC near Koh Phi Phi, and even got in a third tank for a long and very good day of diving.
It wasn't all underwater adventures. We also rented scooters (and on Wednesday, a tuk tuk!) to explore the island. On Thursday, the girls went elephant trekking. On Friday, once Brad and Amber left to catch their flight out of Trang, Dawn enjoyed zooming around the island on her own scooter - "I can't wait to get home and ride my motorcycle!" she told me afterwards. That night, we went to a rather chilled-out full moon party at a little jungle bar on the south side of the island.
Rather than mess around with non-revving intra-Thailand, I bought full-fare tickets from Krabi to Bangkok for Saturday afternoon. We arrived early enough to head into town and check out the massive, entertaining Chutachak Weekend Market. We ate tons of delicious street food and bought a few neat trinkets for well under $20 total. Back at the airport, we happily got on the first flight we tried, a Thai Airways 747 to Tokyo. We'd been thinking we'd have to two-hop it from Tokyo, but the direct 777 to MSP turned out to be emptier than expected, and we were back home "only" some 40 hours after leaving Koh Lanta. The travel time meant we had significantly less time in Thailand than we'd have liked, but it was a very good spring break nonetheless, and all the better for having shared it with friends. Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip.