Happy New Years everyone! I hope that everyone had an awesome and safe time wherever it is you counted down. I thought I’d write a bit about my NYE adventure.
Our group has been talking about New Year’s plans since the first weekend we all left Hua Hin. We knew it was going to be our first big reunion, so everybody had awesome ideas. However, have you ever attempted to coordinate a large group of people for something like this? If you have, you know it’s damn near impossible to get everyone on the same page.
Originally we wanted Koh Pha Ngan (where the full moon parties are), but most hostels had a 7-night minimum. We thought about Ko Tao, Koh Samet, Bangkok, and a litany of other places. After a while, I gave up on mass coordination and did some Google-foo on good places in Thailand for New Years. I ended up booking a spot in Phuket on Patong Beach
and hoped for a “Field of Dreams” moment. If you build it, they will come.
It worked! We had 30+ teachers migrate from their respective towns for a grand reunion and mental break from our newfound careers.
Seeing everyone was awesome. We’ve all had such different experiences on one hand, but so similar on the other. Getting together like this is great because we were able swap stories and trade advice on what has and hasn’t worked for each other. Collectively we can all become better teachers.
So, Phuket. And Patong. For most of my life, Phuket and Bangkok were the only two places in Thailand I knew. In my head, I associated Bangkok with a crazy bustling city, and Phuket as paradise. And while I’m sure that the other areas of Phuket truly are beautiful, Patong is a different story.
It’s vile. It is filthy, smells like pee, and is chocked full of bros. Outside of the employees, I don’t think I saw a single Thai person there. For tourists who are just visiting, they likely have a different perspective. They come to party in Thailand, and to that extent, they fully succeed. But for us who have been here for a few months and lived in what we’ve been calling, “real Thailand,” there was some serious culture shock here.
I haven’t seen this many white faces in months. Plus all of the Thai we have learned to speak was moot as well since most of the beach vendors were from Myanmar, Cambodia, etc. Also, this place is hella expensive. Whereas we are used to paying 40-60 baht per meal, here it’s more like 120-150 baht per meal. If you’re converting to U.S. dollars, this is still pretty cheap. After you’ve been here for a while though, you stop converting, and this place is like Vegas on crack.
Our few days together were amazing. We spent our days lounging on the beach, snorkeling, telling stories, swimming, and getting sunburned. Maybe a Chang or two. One of the days we took a tour to Koh Phi Phi island that is about two hours away by ferry. It is honestly the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. Crystal clear blue water. White sand so fine it feels like mud squeezing between your toes. Literal heaven. But more on Phi Phi later.
Come evening time, we threw on slightly more clothes and headed back to the beach and danced the night away. We counted down too early, lit lanterns, and smooches were had. As the blur of the 31st turned into the 1st, most of the group had to leave.
The day of the 1st was no different than everywhere else around the world. National hangover day! By this time, I was simultaneously battling a cold and a dulling headache. The few of us still left in Phuket spent the day pathetically sprawled out on the sand while whining and drooling. We treated ourselves to a taste of home that night and went to the movies to see American Hustle. It was awesome. It’s really too bad Christian Bale is a big douche in real life because dude can act. And of course Jennifer Lawrence… Oo la la.
By the 2nd, we were down to three of us. Blaize, NYC Brian, and I decided to cruise back to Phi Phi because one afternoon there just wasn’t enough. It was a little hectic at first because we had no accommodation plans and got denied from numerous guesthouses before we finally found success in a half hostel/half tattoo/half chicken satay stand. (Yes, this place had 3 halves. Don’t think about it too much.)
This island is so cool. It’s still touristy but super small and you can walk from one side to the other in like 10 minutes. There are no cars and only the occasional bicycle on the streets. The streets are narrow and packed with shops. Imagine a hedge maze full of amazing street food, cheap tank tops, and the most beautiful beaches you’ve ever seen.
After a chill night at The Rolling Stoned bar, complete with an awesome Thai cover band and a connect-4 marathon, we set out for our day tour of the even smaller islands surrounding Phi Phi. I took some of the best pictures I’ve ever taken. One of the islands was a national park and was truly incredible. Seriously breathtaking. If there were any place that I would be fully content to be dropped off and left to live off the land for the rest of my life, it would be here. All I’d need is a bloody volleyball and a hammock and I’d be set. We eventually made our way to Maya Bay where they filmed the movie “The Beach.” Needless to say, it’s more crowded now. And sells Pringles. Every spot we stopped had the most incredible snorkeling I’ve ever done with crystal clear visibility. Saw beautiful coral, some Nemo’s, and countless other fish.
Saturday finally rolled around and it was time to start the trek back home. I treated myself to a flight home as opposed to another 14-hour bus ride. Best decision I’ve ever made. In one day, my travel consisted of: waking up in Phi Phi, taking ferry to Krabi, taking van to Surat Thani, and finally catching a plane to Bangkok. I’m back at school now and I can’t wait for the next adventure with the group. Although I’m gonna need a month or two of saving to recoup after this week long spending spree. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. So now I’m giving the proverbial handoff to the group for our next big adventure. Maybe Chiang Mai? Maybe Myanmar. Who knows? If you build it, we will come.