Tuesday October 31, 2017 – Saturday November 11, 2017
Our first stop in Thailand was the lovely island of Koh Phangan. Best known for its full moon party, we came to stay at a wellness/detox retreat for 7 days, and for Jesse to get his open water diving certification (3 days). It’s about a 10 hour trip from Bangkok – 7 hours on the bus, and 3 hours on the ferry. While the bus was amazing, and one of the better bus rides we’ve taken (we lucked out being seated on the bottom floor and had plenty of extra leg and recline room!) – the ferry was like a tin can in a hurricane! It was pretty choppy water with several metre swells… which made for quite the bumpy ride. We sat with our eyes closed for the majority of it, since having trying to do anything would have caused some serious motion sickness.
We stayed one day in Thong Sala on Koh Phangan, which is where the ferry dropped us off, before parting ways – Kylie to the wellness retreat and Jesse to three days of dive school first. Kylie pretty much relaxed and chilled while only drinking delicious juice, while Jesse sat in a classroom the first morning, then spent the sunny afternoon of day 1 in the pool, getting the basics down (essentially dive training is all about prepping you for the worst case scenarios, so it’s not for the faint of heart, or those that freak out when they get a bit of water in their lungs!).
After day 1, Jesse was told that he could not go out to Sail Rock (the school’s preferred dive) site due to poor weather but that they’d do a local dive instead. The next day Jesse was up bright and early to go out solo with his instructor (class of 1, wahoo!), and went out to a nearby island where much of The Beach was filmed. Unfortunately, as soon as the instructor jumped in, he said visibility was only about a metre so if they wanted to see anything, they should come back another day. Jesse agreed. He was still going to be on the island for over a week – since the plan was to join Kylie at the retreat after his 3 day course. Little did he know that he would have to wait until the last two days on the island to finish his certificate.
Since day 2 and subsequently day 3 of dive school were a bust, Jesse went to meet up with Kylie at the wellness retreat earlier than planned, and he somehow convinced Kylie to push pause on the detox so that they could head to the full moon party! Kylie really wanted to try the fire jump-rope, but thankfully Jesse’s sound judgement prevailed*, and they stuck to people watching, and were home before 1am (on the way to the party, while sharing a cab with some Irishmen, we commented how we didn’t want to stay too late, to which the Irish responded “oh yea, we get that. We’ll probably only stay until sunrise ourselves”). All in all, it wasn’t as wild as we were expecting, though our expectations were admittedly a couple years old. A local bartender agreed that it had been crazier a few years prior and it’s not quite as busy anymore… plus it was a windy night in November which may have had something to do with it. We’re both glad to have seen it once though!
After that night out we went back to our health cleanse! The week was low-key and very peaceful, and we each had two awesome thai massages, as well as a reiki reading. The reiki experience consists of lying on a massage table as your reiki professional spends an hour with her hands on different parts of your body (ie. forehead, feet, arms, calves) in silence – picking up vibes. At the end of the session she tells you what your energy is like. For Jesse, she picked up that he had a lot going on in his head, and that he needs to focus on being more grounded… which is why she lingered around his feet. For Kylie, hilariously, she got nothing. She literally ended the reading by being like, “well – I’ve got nothing… you’ve got no emotional or physical obstructions, you’re totally healthy”. She then thanked Kylie because she was experiencing visions while doing the reading, which is very rare and special, apparently. Go figure.
Following a relaxing but rainy 5 or 6 days at the wellness retreat Jesse finally got the call that the weather had calmed, and it was off to Sail Rock for the next two days! There was a now big group, and visibility still wasn’t the best… but Jesse both got his certificate, and was able to enjoy the amazing coral, urchins, conches, and schools of fish at Sail Rock! And now he can dive to 18m. Wahoo!
The island was a great health-and-relaxation break for us – but just the beginning of our month in Thailand prioritizing just that! Next stop: Bangkok!