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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Beach Club Asia

Back from yet another weekend of traveling - this time to the Deep South - in Thailand that means...Phuket!! This was no ordinary trip, it was also a Studio 911/ Kairos 67/ Beach Club reunion!

Nell and I were giddy all week looking forward to the arrival of our BFF Lauren or "Seyf" as we know her.  Seyf is studying in Singapore this semester as she finishes up her Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown (she's a smart one!), and after her final exams she decided to come visit us. On Thursday, we picked her up from the airport and brought her back to the Soup to show off our hometown. I think Seyf was surprised how remote our city is - I'm not lying when I say we live amidst the rice paddies! Seyf was able to come to school with us on Friday, meet the kids, enjoy our favorite lunch spot, and sample the best iced coffee before a mad rush back to Bangkok to catch the overnight bus to Phuket.  (Side note: the overnight bus services have vastly improved since my previous experience with my brothers in 2004, aside from the ridiculous Thai movie they showed- as Seyf said "Why is this happening to us?", it was a smooth ride.)

Once we found a nice hostel in Patong, we hit up the beach where we lounged for the afternoon (hello, sunburn!) before checking out the market in town, relaxing with a 1 hour Thai massage ($6, NBD), and enjoying some Pad Thai for dinner.  The next morning we had an early wake up call for a full day tour of the Phi Phi islands by speedboat.  The islands are stunning with limestone cliffs, white sand beaches, and water that is a ridiculous turquoise/teal blue too beautiful to be real.  We were able to swim at a few points, take some jumping shots on the beach, and check out the underwater life while snorkeling.  It was an awesome adventure with 2 of my favorite people in the world - who else wants to come visit?!?

We finished off the trip with a delish breakfast on the beach that consisted of Thai iced coffee, fresh pineapple and mango, and warm muffins and croissants.  We then said a teary good-bye at the airport as we flew back to Bangkok and Seyf took off for a week in Cambodia - jealous!

As a footnote, I was curious to see what the lasting effects of the 2004 Tsunami would be, especially since the last time I visited the Phi Phi islands was in April of '04 before it happened, but beyond a few signs noting a tsunami evacuation route, I really didn't see any evidence of the tragedy that had occurred.  I always expect a place to be deeply marked by a disaster like that, and while I'm certain the people all have stories to tell, I was surprised not to see any physical remnants. Thailand really invested in getting this tourist hot-spot back in order - apparently with help from European governments donating to the cause as a thanks for the Thai response towards European citizens on the ground in the immediate aftermath.   It's especially impressive to me since my favorite US city, New Orleans, is still so far from the finish line in its own rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

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