At 8:30 I board the ferry at Rassada Pier in Phuket. The boat is so crowded I end up having to sit on the back deck in the scorching sun. Shit. I should have put on some sunscreen.
The journey is pleasant enough. It’s a gorgeous day and the cool, salty spray constantly misting me is refreshing in the heat. And the view… Jesus, the view: Numerous islands float by on the breathtakingly beautiful turquoise water. I’m listening to some Duran Duran which strangely fits this tropical scenery.
About 1pm, only slightly behind schedule, I reach Saladan Pier in Koh Lanta. Madalyn, a fellow traveler I met in Bangkok, is already on the island and she meets me at the dock.
After I check in to my bungalow, we chill out on the beach for a while and take a swim. It’s just what I needed. Besides the quick jump into the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon this is the first time I’ve really been able to swim on this trip. Growing up near the water, I take it for granted, a fact I didn't realize until now.
Later that evening we try a restaurant called “The Fat Monkey”. The food is amazing and even more so the dessert: Sticky Toffee Pudding - it’s like a bread pudding muffin made with toffee, smothered in a salted caramel sauce and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Not a traditional Thai dish, I know, but goddamn, it’s so fucking good, I don’t care.
The next day we attend a Thai cooking class. It’s a bit expensive but it’s well worth the money. From 4pm to 8pm we learn to make four different dishes: Golden Bags (kinda like spring rolls but in pouch form), Massaman Curry, Steamed Fish with Lime and Chili Sauce, and Seafood with Tamarind Sauce. After fixing each dish, we sit down and eat. Everything is delicious. By the last course, I’m stuffed. I think everyone is. We only take a couple bites of the Seafood dish.
The next day I bid farewell to Madalyn as she heads off to Malaysia. My next big stop is Cambodia, but Southern Thailand is so nice that I decide to extend my stay. The pace here on Koh Lanta is slow. I think I need that. A small break from the trip, some “Me Time”. This may seem ridiculous to an outside observer. It may seem this whole world tour is “Me Time”. In a way it is but it is work, believe it or not. The constant planning, constant moving, constant problem solving, constant change is hard work. It’s highly rewarding work, much more than any job I have ever had, but it's still work. So this week in Koh Lanta is a different “Me Time”. I’m slowing down, getting up early, seeing the sunrise, meditating on the beach (a practice that I have let wane on this trip), exercising (another habit that has dropped off), taking a swim, reading, writing a lot. Overall I’m just not pushing myself to go go go and see everything I can before jumping on another bus, train or plane. So some people may chide me, saying “taking a vacation from a vacation, huh?” but it’s really taking a “vacation from travel”. There’s a difference. There is Holiday and then there is Travel. Two very distinct things.
So besides the cooking class, I didn’t really do much on Koh Lanta. Could I have saved by money by moving on? Yes? Was it a waste of money? I don’t think so. Now I’m refreshed and moving onto the next island: Koh Phi Phi.