Friday, April 13, 2012

Around the World

Longtime readers likely know that my teacher-wife Dawn and I usually take overseas trips every year during her spring break. Or at least we try to...two years ago, we were going to Vietnam, got stuck in Moscow, had to come back to the States, and rode my motorcycle through the Southeast instead. Last year, we were going to China, had a death in the family that cancelled that trip, and did a motorcycle trip down the west coast from Portland. This year, we weren't really intending to take a trip, because Dawn is busy working on her Masters Degree. At the last minute we decided to go anyways, returning to Thailand since it's pretty cheap and easy, and we loved it the first time we went in 2007. Our friends and recent travel buddies Brad and Amber happened to have the same days free, so they joined us for this trip.

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.

4 comments:

Roma S. said...

Pretty cool post and an awesome blog!
I also really enjoyed some of the series you did a few tears ago on the airline industry; still hoping to work it one day, despite the sad state it's now in.
Keep up the great posts!

amazed said...

wow ... those are beautiful photos!
~DeAnn

capnaux said...

Sam,
Haha just got back from 3 weeks in Thailand, and decided to revisit your blog about it. Yep, I recognize those spots! Such a great country.

I got bumped from the nonstop BKK out of LAX (Thai Airways) and rerouted thru TYO also. But, I got to see my buddy Aki and his family there, right at Cherry Blossom Fest time. Amazing the adventures we non rev's have when we roll with the punches, eh?!

Whipping up a blog that's a funny anecdote about my adventure buying a watch in Patong. I think it captures the essence of 3rd world travel...hope you stop in, I'm hoping to post it next week!

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