Title explanation: Over our causal NYE beach dinner, still sandy and in wet bathing suits we toasted our beach cocktails and played the game Rose, Thorn, Bud. Something wonderful from the past year, something a bit sour and something to work towards/look forward to or a way to group for the new year. As soon as the game was suggested, (and no even though this sounds like some corny thing I would have brought up just like my mother "When was the first time you knew you were in Thailand--did cross my mind though...it was not my idea) we all sat in silence trying to come up with what to say. We all had the obvious rose and thorn combo of moving to Thailand and leaving our family behind. The bud was a bit more of a challenge and not as obvious. Most of us settled on the simple idea of finding out more about ourselves this year and what we want to do when we grow up. 2013 should be a breeze of a year with that bud.
This weekend was our first really long holiday. New years is a big deal in Thailand and we were off on Monday and Tuesday (rumor had it we might get Wednesday off too--but no such luck this year). For the long weekend we planned an island weekend in Koh Chang. Now realizing how short weekend trips can feel, we took every possible short cut and round about/more expensive measure we possibly could to make it to Koh Chang on Friday.
I've said it before, but I'll say it again: traveling in Thailand is the least efficient process in the entire world. Alicia's brother came to visit for New Years and it took him less time to travel from the US to Thailand than it did from Bangkok to Koh Chang. (Bangkok to Koh Chang should take no longer than 5 hours). So this go around we coughed-over the money and hired a driver--best decision we've ever made. Super fast, stop for snacks/bathroom whenever you want! I don't ever want to take public transportation in Thailand again.
We arrived at the ferry around 5 and were lucky enough to see the sun setting. It was the perfect way to start the trip: emerald blue water, firey red sunset, a cold beer and let's not forget stagnant air--but once on the island it was actually quite breezy! This trip over on the ferry was actually one of the best things we saw all weekend. As the sun set in one direct the moon rose in the other. Friday was a full moon and words cannot describe the orange-y storybook version of a moon that filled the sky that night.
The sunset and within minutes and the sky was dark. We arrived and could see more stars than I've seen in a long time. Jump on a songtao and took the scary windy road to our hotel. This weekend was not only a long holiday weekend and NYE, it was also a bit of a reunion weekend. Fifteen of us rang in the new year together!
Two of the other girls also arrived Friday afternoon and we all went to a Mexican Restaurant (yes--we eat foods other than Thai on vacation sometimes, because we miss them!!). The restaurant was amazing--owned by a French man and his Mexican wife. They marinate all their meat for hours, salsas incredibly fresh, homemade black re-fried beans and of course amazing margaritas and mojitos (I think mojitos are the best drink in Thailand, because the mint here is so flavorful!).
After dinner we called it an early night, so we could make it to the beach early the next day. And early it was, we woke up for coffee around 8:30 and grabbed a bite to eat. We walked a ways down the beach to a beautiful spot Maddie and Shannon found the night before called Sunset Beach. We posted up there and did not leave until nightfall. It was perfect. I swam a few laps in the calm, clear ocean, took a nap, chatted and read my book. Very peaceful and quiet. As the sunset over the ocean the other 8 arrived! They arrived just in time to see the colorful sky and snap a few pictures.
That night we planned on reservations at what was suppose to be one of the best Thai food places on the island, but unfortunately Ryan and his friend Pierce were still stuck traveling and hadn't arrived yet. A few of us stuck behind to wait for their arrival. They finally around around 11 and obviously by this point our reservation was no longer. So we took a songtao up to Lonely Beach and sat down at the first place we could find. We ended up having a great meal at a place called Magic Garden--but I'm not sure if it was good or we were just so hungry.
We then went dancing for a bit and out to the beach to see the stars, but head home not too late, because waterfalls were in store for the next day! We woke up early and climbed a short hike to see a pretty small waterfall. It was pretty, but nothing to write home about (but I guess worthy for blog writing..haha). The best part was the fresh water pond below the waterfall. It was so cold and felt so refreshing!
The rest of the day we posted up at the beach and once again did not move from under the umbrella (Mom, I do not have even the slightest bit of pink skin...you'd be so proud!!) That night I had to call it a night after dinner. I was so tired and wanted to save up some energy. I tricked everyone into coming back to the hotel so we could "look up places to go in white sands on wifi," but really I just wanted someone to walk back with. So, they all ventured out and I hit the sack.
We woke early again the next morning for a a full morning of kayaking. I kayaked a bit in Chile, but it was not river or ocean kayaking. It was definitely a ghetto version. This go round we received a lot of nice gear and were actually taught the correct paddle strokes. It was a lot of fun, a good work out yet also very relaxing at the same time. We stopped half way through and jump off a few cliffs into the ocean. I done cliff jumping in Hot Springs before, but these cliffs were had super jagged points and my heart was pounding. It really was quite scarey (quite was a word used a lot this day--our guide was from England). I did it though and only managed a few scraps and to flip my kayaking upon exiting it. Of course I was the only one to flip my kayak--what a dumbie.
That afternoon we met up with the rest of the group and suprise once again spent the rest of the day at the beach. This was my favorite beach day. All fifteen of us were together and we acted like little kids again. We played frisbee, did handstands, yoga, and drank cocktails out of coconuts (guess that isn't like little kids...) It was great. The one thing missing was a game of paddle ball. I tried to ask a few people if we could borrow their paddles, but the timing wasn't ever right! Bummer--next time!
Instead of trying to plan something big for NYE dinner, we just stopped at the same beach side restaurant we'd eaten at the night before: Family Restaurant. We had great fresh seafood and delicious curries. We then headed home to play dress up, get glitterfied and add tinsel to our hair. It was like a mini factory assembly line. We started with Alex and she did our make-up, then stop over to Laura and she sprayed us down with glitter then off to Hannah who tied a very dramatic yet understated piece of tinsel in everyone's hair.
The night to follow was pretty perfect. NYE is one of those holidays that has great potential to be horrible and normally is so for me. If we do a quick NYE recap of the years: last year broken ankles...and I don't really think the list needs to continue from there....
We just acted silly. It was great! I hate to say it family members, but y'all have some competition. Becca is maybe the best dance partner I've ever had. She can read, follow and lead some pretty amazing choreographed romie and michelle-esque dance moves that always end up taking up the whole dance floor. We are thinking of buying a tuk-tuk and driving around Thailand to show everyone our dance act and charging high dollar for this quality performance. The cameras flashes that night where a true testament to just how good we were--who knows where our dance moves will show up next. But all I can say our popularity is spreading like wildfire throughout Thailand and we are known by many for these epic dance moves.