seeing as i didn't get another chance to write while i was away, i'm just going to have to pick a few highlights, so as not to ramble on for pages. but how to choose from the plethora of wonderful options?
after leaving bangkok, we flew south and went to the swanky le meridien resort at khao lak. the pool was amazing, it went on forever! it was so big it had little islands built in it. and it was one of those cool infinity pools where the water goes right over the edge. there was another large pool with waterslides too. fun! of course there was also a beautiful beach that we strolled along.
it was sweltering during the days so we just laid by the pool, swimming now and then to refresh ourselves after getting woozy from the heat. at night we walked along the beach, crossed a small inlet of water that went up mid-calf, and found a very cute little beach reastaurant on the other side where we enjoyed some pad thai. on the way back the tide had come in, making our easy wade across the inlet a shorts-soaking endeavour. and at night the beach was crawling with crabs! it freaked us out.
crap, i'm just going chronologically, it's so hard to skip stuff! but i'd better.
favourite part of the wedding: when everyone went outside after dinner and lit lanterns that floated up and filled the night sky. so pretty!
the islands: after the wedding we went to railay beach, ko lanta, and ko phi phi. railay and ko phi phi are incredible. the karst cliffs jutting up into the sky, the emerald and turquoise waters on golden and white sand beaches, rows of longboats floating serenely on their tethers. every view a postcard! it was impossible not to feel awestruck at the beauty.
on ko phi phi we took a boat tour that included a stop at maya beach - made famous by the movie "the beach". never have i seen water as clear, or felt sand as soft and fine. my words could never capture its perfection. well, it would have been perfection if not for all those lousy tourists crowding it :) ko phi phi at night (at least the town part) is nuts. it's basically just one big drunken party for 20 somethings, with people drinking "buckets" of booze. even when i was there as a 20 something, it was too much for me, so now at 35, it really wasn't my scene. ko lanta was much more laid back. although the scenery wasn't as majestic, we had a super fun time. we rented a scooter for 24 hrs and just scooted around, exploring the island. past beaches and stores and resorts, and little shanty homes with children and chickens running around out front.
chaing mai: flew north for new scenery. although the temperature was still in the high 30s, there wasn't the unbearable humidity. stayed at Libra Guesthouse, same place i'd stayed at back in 2002. one of the women who owns the place remembered me! it was amazing, i felt so special and was immediately glad i'd decided to stay there again. given the time frame, and that we were also traveling with blair's parents, we decided on a pack-it-all-into-10-hours day trip. this included a fairly terrifying 45 minutes or so on an elephant. i've been on an elephant a few times now, so the size didn't scare me. it was the fact that the guide had jumped off and was no where to be seen, and our elephant was walking dangerously close to the edge of the trail, and there was a sheer drop just inches from its feet. we followed that with my favourite part - some fabulous hiking. we clambered over rocks, inched along fallen trees, and maneuvered along narrow and steep paths, all through absolutely gorgeous scenery. unfortunately, because i needed both hands for much of the way, i wasn't able to get photos of the most stunning views. finally, white water and bamboo rafting to finish the day.
sigh... so much for a brief entry of highlights. i think this may need to be a two parter. the remainder of our time in chaing mai was also fun. we took a thai cooking class and made delicious food, including curry paste from scratch. got lost in the endless night bazaar, where i bought a couple of t-shirts and pashminas. ate at a tiny 4 table restaurant and had possibly my favourite meal of the trip, a soup called khao soi. cocounut milk, curry, tofu, noodles, a pile of vegetables... my mouth is watering just thinking of it. yum!
and on that note, i think i will wrap up this long-winded entry. i guess it's just not possible for me to remain laconic when reminiscing about such a wonderful place. i will write about the rest of the trip later!