The adventures of two Australian families and two grandmas holidaying together in Koh Samui and Phuket.
A writer thrives on new experiences but when facing new challenges and venturing into unknown territory you rely on your instincts, or as I call it, gut feeling. This trip from Melbourne to join my son and his Queensland family in Thailand feels right. I hug my seventy-six year old husband goodbye knowing that the constant 38C heat of a Thailand summer would be too much for him. Son, Paul, drives me to Tullamarine and ensures that my newly validated visa card, ipad and iphone work, I have Thai Baht in my pocket and my 7ks of carry on luggage is the correct weight. He works out a back up plan in case anything goes wrong on the 24hour trip ahead entailing 2 flights, two hour bus and ferry trip to the Thai island of Koh Samui.
When you are a writer your five senses swing into action. You see so many different faces displaying a myriad of emotions. You try to understand if the owner is speaking Indian, German, Russian, Thai, Malayan or a form of broken English. You have weighed your carry-on luggage a thousand times but still worry that it might be overweight. Excitement is tinged with anxiety and unconsciously you cross your fingers that all will go well. So many untold stories surround you and you want to understand and record them all. Waiting to board the plane to Kuala Lumpur you whip out your writing pad and start a diary. It helps ease the tension building inside you.
Sitting under a veranda at the Raja Ferry terminal on Koh Samui intense heat wrapped around me like a hot blanket on a summer’s day. Son Jason arrived in a hired air-conditioned twelve seater bus and took me to meet the rest of the group relaxing by a large swimming pool framed by sweet scented frangipani. At the Koh Sumui beachside Yacht Club I was lovingly welcomed by Jason’s wife, Karen and two grandchildren Tahlia (8) and Caxton (5). Also there were Karen’s brother, Mark, partner, Lou, Tyler (4) and Piper Lily (2). Noela, (Karen’s mother), is the Noni and matriarch of this clan. After dinner we all travelled in the bus to the three story house swap home high on a Koh Samui Hillside.
Fifty years ago I lived for two years in Malacca Malaya but time had dimmed my memory. I had forgotten the intense, draining heat of an Asian summer, smelly drains and piles of decaying rubbish by the side of the road. However, indelibly imprinted on my memory was the friendliness of the people, their sunny smiles and easy going ways. I was delighted they did not seem to have changed.
The house in Koh Samui had a large living area and a huge covered deck that faced the sea. The constant gentle breeze made the heat bearable.
I felt comfortable and happy in my bed in the loft, especially when the cute room had an air-conditioner and two fans. They guaranteed a good night’s sleep.
Every day we explored the island. Sight seeing, shopping and lazed on lounges or swam at a peaceful beach. For fun, Jason hired a long-tail boat so we could snorkel over a reef teeming with brightly coloured fish. I was glad I’d made room in my carry-on luggage for my snorkel and mask and wished I had my flippers. There was a strong current that day.
After a week on koh Samui, Mark drove the bus onto the Ferry leaving for Suriat Thani on mainland Thailand. Jason drove from there and decided to take the all day scenic mountain trip down to the bridge that would take us onto the island of Phuket.
The day we travelled was the festival of Songkran (New Year) a public holiday and the biggest water fight of the year.
On this day, to wash away any problems of the past year, adults and children drench others and in the process are themselves saturated. children and adults bombard cars and passengers with water guns, dishes of water scooped out of barrels put by the side of the road or spray everything with a constant steady stream from hand held hoses.
Symbolically the heavens opened and rain bucketed down for the entire day. No one minded being drenched. It was a relief in the intense mid summer heat.
The villa in Phuket was big and spacious with a lovely cool swimming pool. Much to the children’s delight, Mark and Jason hired a motor bike. The children clamoured to be taken for rides and the guys insisted I go for a spin. Wind whistled through my hair as I clung precariously to the driver, narrowly missing tuk tuks and pedestrians.
In the bus we visited Surin, Kamala and Kata Noi beaches, Bang Tao, Wat Chalong and rode elephants at Kok Chang. The four young adults had a night in Bang Tao looking for cock fights and pingpong balls while the grandmas happily relaxed by the villa pool.
One highlight was a mountain top restaurant with amazing views. The two men had a Chang beer while the rest of us enjoyed long, deliciously cold mango drinks or Mai Tai cocktails.
It is such a bonus to move away from your comfort zone and do something different: to see how other people live and make do with what they have available. Down from the villa in Phuket a local house turned an unwanted toilet bowl into a pot for their plants
This time away with family and friends allowed me to test my boundaries and I discovered I can do many things I thought impossible. It also gave me the opportunity to be with the family and meet beautiful people in a fascinating country. Precious memories that will last a lifetime.