OMG. It’s real. I’m *FINALLY* taking a proper vacation. ::bounce::
May 29 – June 20 … Thailand!
[conference in NYC]
June 27 – July 2 … Family time!
OMG. OMG. OMG.
I haven’t had a day off in months nor a vacation in years (and never more than a few days). I kept meaning to take one (and y’all have done wonders at giving me inspirational sites). But now it is real. (Translation: tickets have been purchased.)
If anyone has advice for Thailand, let me know. My intention is to have a vacation full of beach, yoga, meditation, massage, scuba diving and visiting monastaries. The goal is complete and utter relaxation which will be measured by the distance between my shoulders and my ears.
Oh… and a warning… Because the idea of coming home to 20,000 emails terrifies the living shit out of me, i’ve also decided that i’m going to bounce all emails during that period (or send them to /dev/null). I need to get the weight of email hell off of my back.
OMG. OMG. OMG. ::bounce::bounce::
I had a great time on Koh Phangan (home of the famous Full Moon party, though I skipped it). Can’t remember the name of the specific beach Yuki and I stayed at, but it had nice clean bungalows, pure white sand, a husband-wife couple who did mindblowing traditional Thai massage, and lots of cool people smoking the strongest weed I’ve ever encountered. It was the week after 9/11 and we managed to forget what was going on in the rest of the world for while, which should give you an idea of the relaxation factor…
One word of warning–make sure to bring a mosquito net. We contracted dengue fever there and spent a month in the hospital after we got back. Still have great memories of the trip, though.
If you’re looking for a place that’s a little secluded, but only a boat ride away from the main beach on Koh Phangan, I highly recommend The Sanctuary at Hat Tien Beach. It has excellent yoga instructors (some trained at Kripalu) as well as Chi Gong lessons (I never knew that I needed lessons on breathing!) and the accomodations are pretty cheap, the food is excellent, and the people are super nice. Definitely my favourite spot on that Island.
Koh Tao is absolutely the place for diving, although when i was there in 2003, I was satiated with snorkeling. The variety of life and the bathtub-temperature crystal water made for hours of amazing gazing and swimming.
If you head to Koh Tao, I would definitely recommend Nice Moon Bungalows (firstname.lastname@example.org). It’s run by a really nice Thai couple and has a gorgeous view of the bay. Cheap, friendly, good times. It’s also somewhat secluded, but scooter rental is cheap on the island so you can easily get into town. Good yoga on this island is at Monsoon Gym.
That’s about it. Let me know if you have any questions.
I recommend that you stay away from the full moon party on Koh Phangang.
The beaches are nice, but I recommend that you make time to visit the mountain village of Pai which is just a wonderful place to do absolutely nothing. Catch a van there from Chang Mai, any hostel/hotel should be able to hook you up.
I further recommend you eat often at Na’s Kitchen in Pai, which has the best Thai food on the planet, afaik, prepared with fresh ingredients and love by Na.
Here’s a bunch of photos: Pai, Thailand.
I *highly* recommend the 10 day meditation retreat at wat suanmok (http://www.suanmokkh.org/ret/ret-sm1.htm). Juli and I did this 9 years ago and it was the best part of our time in Thailand. Feel free to email/call me if you want more info.
Also, my parents recently spent time with Mae Chee Sansanee, a nun who does some amazing work in Bangkok (http://www.sansanee.org/). They where quite moved by her, and I would certainly stop by meet her if I where you and had some free tim in Bangkok.
Have a GREAT time!
danah … i was holidaying in Thailand two weeks ago .. and spent the most delightful 5 days at this place called Narima at Koh Lanta which i would recommend to you – http://www.koh-lanta-hotel.com/narima/. It is just divine there – absolutely lovely cottages with hammocks that overlook the beach, fabulous food, no tv or telephones in rooms, the most wonderful thai couple running the place who make you feel like you are a guest in their home … i even went into their kitchen and spent some time with the chef learning how to cook thai curries :). They have a diving school there as well. I have some pics of the place at my flickr page – http://www.flickr.com/photos/dina_mehta/. Its about a 2-3 hour drive from Krabi airport – the road isnt too hot tho. Let me know if you want more dope on this place … dina
Daily Soy spent several days in Thailand in February and has a write-up of his experience (with pictures) starting here.
I was just in Thailand this past October/November, but I didn’t do much in the way of touristy beach stuff. I went deep into the villages and jungles in the Northeast near the Mehkong River to stay with family on their rice farm. It really gave me a new sense of apprecitation for what I have.
I hear Chiang Mai in the north is absolutely beautiful, although that will take you away from the beaches. Pattaya is the dirty sex beach, Phuket is the nice one.
Oh, and if you are in the city don’t let the cabbies take you for a ride. If they tell you that the place you want to go is closed despite the information you have or that traffic is too bad to get there, get out immediately. A, most books and directories are correct on opening/closing times. B, traffic is always bad, it doesn’t matter. They work with the government owned jewelers, suit makers, and other products. Their goal is to get you to one of those places and shove you in, if they do they geta coupon worth 2 liters of gasoline from the government. They will do anything to avoid taking you directly to your destination. My mother and I literally got out of four cabs before we found one that would take us directly to the Dusit Zoo in Bangkok, and he got a good tip. Cabbies will try and do the same thing with your hotel, they’ll pretend not to know where it is and offer to take you to one that they have a deal with.
Thailand is a wonderful place, but you must keep your wits about you, which I imagine you have a considerable amount of.
Have a good time, and we all expect pictures.
I actually wouldn’t expect pictures as i intend to take no camera with me. This is very much intended to be an internal journey.
As much as i would love to see the mountains, i think it will have to be for another trip. There is nothing more important in the world to me than beaches. Beaches are what brings me back to center, keeps me grounded. Listening to those waves. Meditation, yoga and beaches in combination. That’s why i’m headed there.
My impression is the Phuket was mostly destroyed by the tsunami and to stick with the eastern side. Anyone have any more information on this? I’ve definitely heard about “The Sanctuary” before and i suspect that might be where i head first to get my bearings.
Haven’t squatted in quite some time. But I was reading the front page of the Times this morning and saw that the government is re-doing the food pyramid again. http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/health/AP-FIT-Food-Pyramid.html?hp&ex=1113969600&en=0f05fb1c3d6f0c14&ei=5094&partner=homepage. Didn’t they just re-do it for the whole carb craze? Drives me nuts.
Wow, I’m totally psyched for you. Sweeeet! So you’ve said “beach, beach, beach” which means south but you’ve also said “monasteries” and “internal journey” which feels more north, and you’ve got 3 weeks so if you can make it there at all, you should. It’s really cheap to travel by train and you can hop an o/n with bunkbed and get from south to north and back again while you sleep. The backpackers do make it north, too, but in general it’s less touristy and more suited for that internal journey/self-reflection mode than the party beaches of the south. If you do go north: see the old capital at Ayutthaya, avoid Khao San Road in Bangkok, stay at Wanasit Guesthouse and visit Doi Sutep monastery and Wat Umong forest temple (worth the hike) in Chiang Mai.
South: there is a small island to the southeast of Bangkok, about 2 hours by bus or van, called Kho Samet. It’s a little off the beaten path and less overrun by tourists and the backpacker hordes because it’s not on that western arm where all the big beaches are. Three of us shared a $5 a night bungalow right smack dab on the beach for a week — which we managed to snag on new year’s eve, which tells you how much less crowded this place tends to be over places like Phuket (not that you can go terribly wrong there either, it’s just too beautiful, but more crowded). If you’re looking for beached-out bliss, I can’t think of anything better than waking up and rolling out your door into the ocean. On the western peninsula, I didn’t make it there myself but my travel companions who went on without me after I ran out of money (:)) swore by Kho Samui. One of those companions is actually going to be in Thailand at the same time for the third summer of her Ph.D research there – I feel like the two of you would get on like a house on fire, for some reason. It’s so deliciously random I almost feel like trying to schedule a meetup. She could really tell you where to go. Hit me up on IM if you have any interest in having a contact while you’re there.
I sure miss the eastern Thai islands… (although the western islands need tourism now). a few photos:
Stay away from southern Koh Phangan near full-moon-party time. In general it’s pretty depressing to see what was done to the southern tip of that island. The island is beautiful north of that though.
On Koh Samui, I love chong mon beach:
I havent been to the Sanctuary but remember that some places like that shut out local Thais, the Club Med syndrome… which can be OK, depending on you’re looking for.
It’s hard to go wrong down there. Get lost on deserted beaches. Swim and hike. Mango lassis. Massages. Heaven!
I went and stayed at Koh Tao – which is right by Koh Samui and others. It was cheap, fun, and overall pretty awesome. I did 1 week scuba trip which included lessons, dives, and housing for super-cheap. We also rented scooters which make it that much more awesome. There are some nice beaches around there to just space out.
I also hit up the Full Moon party in Koh Phangan which has to be one of the best parties ever. I highly recommend it.
Sounds wonderful! We went North when I was there, up to Chiang Mai, which was beautiful. We rented mopeds (no I don’t have a licence but you don’t need one there. No I probably wouldn’t do that again now – but it was fun!) and went up to a wonderful monastery nearby. We also were on a river boat to another nearby city – I can’t remember the names, but it was a little scary because there were two machinegunned guards on the boat because of the frequent pirates in the region. Yikes.
A major tip: get the train if you’re going from Bangkok and up North. We got a bus, and one thing is that the prices differ so wildly (the people next to us had paid a third what we paid and the people behind us paid twice what we paid) more importantly it’s just not safe.
Our bus crashed thirty minutes out of Bangkok. It was a small crash, but worryingly, the driver ran, leaving the busload of backpackers stranded. We were there for hours, then shipped off to a police station were we stayed for another few hours, and finally dumped back in Bangkok at 3.30 am, which really isn’t the best time to arrive in a huge city if you’re looking for a bed for the night. The next day they ran a new bus and it was sort of OK but the driving was just terrifying, and we found out why the first driver had run: he had no licence, and didn’t want to get caught by the police.
We got the train back down to Bangkok and it was excellent. It didn’t cost much more, there were cute little boxes to sleep in, and it felt SAFE.
Oh, and we stopped at Ank Wat or I got that name wrong, but the big templecity that used to be the capital a few hours north of Bangkok. That was fascinating.
It’s been more than ten years! Wow. I’d love to go back. I’d go south to the beaches, now. And North again too. But I wouldn’t get those cheap buses.
Oh, and I LOVE the idea of simply bouncing email while away. Yeah! Why on earth not make that the norm. I might follow your example – put in an away message that I’ll never, ever read this email, sorry, and assume anyone sending something important is going to resend anyway. Cool.
Phuket, which I visited in 2000, is indeed lovely, and I’ve heard it has largely recovered from the tsunami. I stayed in town, which was a great, “authentic Thai” experience, and took the bus to the beach, which has a more European, touristy feel. Koh Phi Phi, an island between Phuket and Krabi, in the Andaman Sea, was heavily damaged, and I’m not sure what its status is.
But it’s delightful sitting under an umbrella in Phuket sipping coconut milk while staring at the water. That’s what I call an internal journey. Koh Samui is supposedly a big party place if that’s more your style. As for Bangkok, it’s a real shock after the beach. Bring a medical face mask; it’s smoggy.
It is GREAT that you’re getting a vacation!
(selfishly, though, I grieve that you’re going to be gone the whole time I would be at Annenberg if I get this fellowship I was crazy enough to apply for . . . although I’m considering trying to see if I can swing staying longer, like staying at a youth hostel or something, so I can have a vacation.)
I have oodles of Thailand recommendations, having spent three months there last year, but it looks like you’ve got quite a lot pouring in. If you want any specific tips, give me a call. I’d love to talk to you before you go. Congratulations on giving yourself this time. Nobody deserves it more than you.
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