We arrived in Thailand back on October 10 – spent some time in Bangkok and then headed southeast to Koh Samet on the Gulf of Thailand. We discovered it was still rainy season so instead of spending more Thai beach time went through Cambodia and Laos for a couple months. Then it was back to Bangkok to get our visas for Myanmar. After biking in Myanmar for two weeks it was back to Bangkok again for a couple days of errands before heading southeast first along the Gulf and then across the peninsula to the Andaman Sea where we spent the last week in Ao Nang, just outside of Krabi.
Part of what’s so crazy about all that is that, while we spent nearly six weeks in Thailand, I still feel as though we just scratched the surface. Lots of beaches and islands we didn’t get to, and we didn’t travel north at all (we’d already been to both Chang Mai and Chang Rai on an earlier trip, but as usual when on vacation we didn’t have enough time to see them properly). That’s another good data point for answering the question of whether we’re going to get bored or tired of traveling like this, or if we think we’re going to run out of places to go.
Hardly. We’ve just firmed up plans to visit with our old Cambridge neighbors Bart & Ann & Wil in Bali for a week in April, meaning that we’ll spend a full six months in Southeast Asia before we head back to Europe for the spring and summer. And there will be enormous pieces that we won’t have seen, like most of Indonesia (where I could easily spend four months island hopping), Vietnam, the rest of Thailand, the Philippines, East Timor. To say nothing of New Guinea and the islands of the South Pacific that we’re missing. How we’re ever going to have time for Africa or Australia or Central Asia remains a mystery.
A few words about our last week in Thailand. We took a boat from Koh Samui to the mainland and then a bus to Krabi and a tuk-tuk to Ao Nang. Ao Nang makes no pretense of being a real Thai town – it’s a place for tourists who want to be on the beach. Unfortunately our first experience there wasn’t very good; our first morning we took the 20-minute walk from our resort to the beach and it was ugly. The tide was w-a-y out and it just looked bad. It definitely improved over time, though, and eventually we got into the swing of things. There are some beautiful karst outcroppings in the area and of course the beautiful, warm sea. It makes you wonder why anyone lives north of maybe the Rio Grande… And then there was some great Indian food, so we ended up pretty happy.
But now we’re done with Thailand. We’ve discovered Air Asia, a super-discount carrier here – there’s almost no legroom whatsoever, and they don’t give you so much as water, but the fares are cheap – so yesterday we caught a flight down to Singapore. We’ll spend three days here and then join up with Mark’s father and brother to spend 10 days moving up the Malaysian peninsula. We’ll probably spend more time in peninsular Malaysia after they leave and then head over to Borneo where, since we’re retired, we hope to avoid the headhunters.