it that time of the year that teachers all over the world look forward to more than any other; the time when all of their grades have been submitted and they can spend the next two to three weeks thinking of nothing else but recharging their batteries and enjoying those small moments of life. In a normal year, you would see flocks of these people gathering around pools and vacation spots filling in the void that has been left behind because of the vast amount of individuals who have responsibilities due to the regular scheduling of the school year, whether it is themselves or their children who need to be attending one of these institutions located everywhere. But when that restriction relaxes, so does the rest of the world.
That was until Covid-19, and now this group of people are so happy that they do not have to spend their time staring at a computer as they try to learn in any way possible during this unprecedented time in history. They know that they can’t move anywhere right now, and if given the opportunity to do it safely, they would. Luckily, I have found myself in one of the countries where travel is still possible because of the way the way they have handled the pandemic. It still is not completely under control, and hints are on the horizon that quarantine might come back soon even though there is now a vaccine, but it is still under control enough to take this opportunity responsibly. So on Friday, after school with a packed car, we took a drive down south to eventually reach Phuket to enjoy the holidays the best we could without the people we would have hoped to have spent the holiday with.
The only problem with this is that the place we hoped to eventually get to is a fourteen hour drive away from Bangkok, and we did not get out of school until noon that day. There was no way that we could make it all of the way without arriving way too early in the morning. We needed to stop half way along the way to make it a reasonable drive. Our goal was the town of Chumphon, a fairly good sized city that is the jumping off point for many of the smaller islands down south, and we first thought of staying at a hotel right along the highway, but found a different one that had really good reviews that we chose instead, the Retro Box Hotel.
The reviews were correct, and it turned out to be the perfect place for us to stay that night. The rooms were tiny, but we weren’t there to spread out. We were there to sleep, and the beds were comfortable. It was in a good location only ten minutes from the highway, and they even served a breakfast of eggs, sausages, and toast in the morning. The price was even great that even included access to a pool which we never took advantage of. The whole thing seemed perfect, so what possibly could be the problem with the place.
Well, there was one thing that might have turned people away from the place. The whole building was built out of reused shipping crates. The Retro Box Hotel took a bunch of these crates that were no longer being used by shipping companies, stacked them on top of each other, and then made a hotel out of them.
Now I know what a lot of you are thinking. Why would anybody want to stay in a place like this? But in all actuality, is was a nice, quiet, and very clean place. Each room had its own bathroom, and most importantly, a working air conditioning unit. It was perfectly, and even well designed that some of the room opened right up to private entry to the pool. I even liked the fact that the place repurposed these crates to make them something useful instead of them rotting away some place in an empty field because nobody knew what to do with them anymore.
I even liked the breakfast. It wasn’t part of some fancy buffet that I have been able to experience lately due to the lowered rates of fancy hotels in Thailand, but it was satisfying and served the purpose of filling me up with a good meal before sending me down the road.
I guess my point is that life sometimes piles on the dirt and it feels like we get buried underneath it, but every once in awhile there is an opening in that dirt that allows us to crawl out and enjoy the sun that is shining up above. It might not be the beautiful paradise that is promised in some brochure that is passed around the workers at the lunch room table, but it is surprisingly great for what it is. We should enjoy it while we are given that opportunity. If that means smiling while spending the night in a shipping crate, then that is what it means. There has never been a year where this means more than this year. It is has been full of life piling dirt on us, but there are those small moments where life is truly great. In fact, better than it ever could be because of its simplicity. We should treasure those moments when they are given to us.
I know I did not spend a lot of time savoring my time in the shipping crate, but it was such a unique experience that I don’t think I will ever forget it. It is a great start to this tropical holiday, and makes me excited for all of the other opportunities that will present themselves over the next couple of weeks. Whether it is fancy or quaint, I am ready to take it on, and enjoy it while I can.