Monday, November 15, 2010

Koh Phangan - Oct 25-27

I left Koh Samui in search of a few days of luxury retreat before heading home on Saturday. While I was no longer interested in "exploring" or adventuring, there were enough notable recommendations about Koh Phangan, the middle child of the three famous Gulf Islands, that made it worth the trip.

On the ferry over I met a few people with roughly the same plan as me. They were looking for a semi-luxury place to spend a few days, but had no idea where they would find it. We were all hooked by a guy on the boat pushing a resort on the west side. It was a free taxi out there so we all decided to take a look. When we got there, three of the 6 of us were sold on it, but the other couple and I were unsure. It was fine, but we wanted more than just fine. Plus flushing toilets, we wanted flushing toilets.

They said they would likely head back to a place they had just spent two weeks. They ventured off the island for a week or so, but decided to come back to their favorite spot (even though temporarily distracted by giving this new place a chance). The place they described sounded fantastic, but it was on the east coast and secluded requiring a water taxi to get there. Up for the trek if it meant getting a toilet I understood, I decided to go along.

We shared a taxi around to the east side and got off at Haad Rin. This little row of shacks on a beach is famous for the full moon parties which I had apparently just missed a few days earlier. Shux. The town didn't look like much during the day, but I was told not to let its sleepy appearance mislead me, I had to keep in mind it was before noon still and no one here has had breakfast before noon in some time.

With not much to see here, we jumped in a water taxi and uttered the words Barcelona, which thankfully the kid driving the boat understood because I still had no idea where we were headed.

It was just 10 minutes out into the sea and around a point into a hidden cove and paradise unveiled itself to me. Just like a postcard, wood bungalows lined the white sandy beach. The water was acqua green and the tranquility vibrated out onto the water to us. With a smirk and a giggle I laughed at the discovery. Places like this do exist.

I walked up to the bar (read: shack on beach with blender on the counter) and asked if they had a bungalow. He said he only had the expensive ones, but tomorrow night a big group was leaving and a cheaper one would be available. Figures. So I asked how much the expensive one was and decided I might take a hit one night seeing as I've come all this way. "$500 baht" he says. That's approximately $16 a night. "Sold" I told him.

He gave me the rusty key to the padlock which secured my bungalow and I took myself into my new accommodations. Well, some things are true no matter where you go and this much I know: you get what you pay for (and $16 doesn't get you very much).

It was basic. A roof over my head, running water (but not hot water mind you) and a flushing toilet. Apparently you don't really come here for the luxury, the beauty is on the beach. So that's where I went.

The secluded beach was home to four different "hotels" but everyone mingled and socialized like one big community. The last place on the end was a bit bigger and had a much nicer bar/restaurant and played movies every night. Just about everyone on the beach came to watch. A neat experience.

I stayed a few nights here and even moved into a cheaper cottage which didn't have much less other than having to walk further up some steps to get to it, and it even had a hammock on the front porch. Being higher gave it an incredible view and it poured rain most of the day my second day here so I spent the majority of it making use of that hammock.

After the initial shock of the beauty wore off, I was back in the same place I had been for the past few days. Tired of traveling, missing the comforts of home and missing Anthony. I had some incredible experiences and great opportunity to create even more had I been up for it, but I was just feeling lonely without him. Nothing was as fun, even if it was fun I wished too much that he was there with me and I just wanted to leave so that we could come back and experience it together.

It was an interesting few days and I had met some interesting people. Many of them had been on that beach for months. One guy for 6 years! Most of them had the same story. They needed to get away. They quit their jobs, rented out or sold their homes so they could afford to get away for a while. A long while. While I listened to some of them, I couldn't judge them in one way or another. I heard myself in their stories, wanting to travel but never knowing how to do it. Wanting desperately to escape the mundane and routine of work, home, work, home. The pressures of societies norms and expectations... Rah rah rah. I had heard it all before, unfortunately it was out of my own mouth! I couldn't agree or disagree with any of them. We were just in different places in our lives and for them, right now being on a secluded beach with absolutely nothing to do everyday was what they were searching for. It was what they needed.

This beach also brought me some clarity. I on the other hand figured out that this was exactly where I did not want to be. 2010 has been a major year for me with some significant milestones, closing of chapters, achievements and devastation. And to get through most of it I had to commit. I had to commit to those things I knew wanted for myself and trust that if I stayed focused on what I wanted to achieve, I could only move forward and my life would continue to unveil the great things I know are in store.

One of my life's "to do" list items includes "see the world". While I haven't quite seen all of it, I feel I saw a good chunk in the last 45 days and a certain curiosity has been satisfied. There is still lots to see and I have still some traveling to do, but unlike my comrades on the beach, I can't help but be excited about what's waiting for me at home.

This year started pretty badly, but being sad everyday will not change what's happened. And just because I'm not sad everyday doesn't mean I do not hurt. But I have so many things to celebrate in my life that overlooking them would be an injustice to the things she taught me.

Life is so wonderful. Swinging in my hammock, I began thinking of all the things I've experienced this year.

- I had an experience of a lifetime with the Olympic Games.

- I completed an Ironman after 5 years of dreaming.

- I celebrated the first anniversary of finding a man who loves me unconditionally and has been my rock through it all and even agreed to come on this wild adventure with me.

- I satisfied a dream of traveling. Starting to see the world.

And now, I have more dreams. I have a new chapter to start and I can hardly wait to get the hell off this beautiful beach and go home to start making them happen.

Life is so good to me. I'm so excited to move on.

More photos of Thailand here:

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