Thailand, twice

Our quest to find an infinity pool ended in success at Ao Nang Cliff Beach Resort, following a luxurious two-hour massage.

My last experience in Thailand overlapped with a surreal transitional ~life phase~ , serving as a high-key emotional goodbye to the life that I’d lived in California. This time, my time in this lovely country was much more mellow than it was melodrama (though I still definitely ugly-cried a few times).

My beloved K (not to be confused with my significant other KT, who unfortunately could not join me on this trip) met me during our layovers in Singapore. I’d just finished a frenzied half-day tour of the city and checked into an airport lounge. (Thanks to a credit card perk, I’ve discovered the beauty of airport lounges and not-so-secretly enjoy feeling like a part of the 1%. My. Goodness. To think that I was sitting in terminals for so many years, when I could’ve been going HAM at buffets…)

Gardens by the Bay in Singapore was not part of the free city-sponsored tour, but definitely worth the taxi fare!

After that, it was a quick flight to Chiang Mai. K and I got numerous massages, people-watched at hip cafes, explored a mountaintop temple, braved a literal flood during a downpour, and, of course, ate our weight’s worth in khao soi: that regional, zingy coconut curry filled with crispy and cooked egg noodles. Most importantly, we celebrated the marriage of our sweet T & V, for whom we’d traveled around the world. While they now call Berlin home, our most jet-setting friends used to live in Bangkok and have family in Chiang Mai — hence their destination wedding.

We happily washed down khao soi from the best spot in town, Khao Soi Khun Yai, with fruit smoothies. Khao Soi Islam also serves up a great bowl, including a seafood version.

Cherng Doi’s roast chicken with sticky rice was a definite favorite meal.

K & I took a day-long class at Thai Farm Cooking School, which was a well-oiled production and incredibly fun experience.

Having made twenty or so new friends in the mountains, we then hopped on over to seaside Phuket. Unbeknownst to us, T & V had rented out two villas of the Most Extra Luxuriousness. A master architect had designed several airy, gorgeous villas, placing an oasis of palm trees, cabanas, koi ponds, and a saltwater pool in the heart of the property. It was unreal, and we happily spent most of our time there.

This tiny view of the villa does not do the property justice… but I just love the lil cat in the shot.

We were in Thailand during drizzly monsoon season, but the sun definitely came out for our afternoon at quiet, local Surin Beach.

I wish we remembered the name of this family-style, open-air kitchen right by our villa — but instead this photo will have to do. Look for pink tablecloths?

Once the party was over and the wedding group disbanded (cue tears of gratitude and bittersweet goodbyes), K and I headed over to Krabi, a beachy province in Thailand. There, we spent equal amounts of time exploring the shores and touring the tropics. We nearly lost our minds hiking up to a famed mountain temple — and then nearly lost our lives boating through choppy, monsoon-made waves to the most perfect-looking islands. You can be sure that we celebrated our survival with boba, McDonald’s, and, yes, more massages. Never enough massages.

K & I were lured in by this spot’s signs advertising Hainanese chicken rice. It’s right by the Muslim Street in Ao Nang.

We also partook in an absolutely lovely sunset yoga session with Ao Nang Yoga.

On my final, solo day in Thailand, I top-roped a few routes at the world-famous climbing destination, Railay Beach.

After two blissed-out weeks in Thailand, I was ready to return home to the States — right on time for the start of school and my first natural disaster. More on that soon…

My final moments in Thailand were spent eating coconut ice cream, watching longtail boats depart and arrive at quiet Railay Beach. Perfect.

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