10 Moons – Koh Lipe, Thailand

Most of the time I do not concern myself with the places I stay while traveling. I rarely spend time in my hotel and I am usually out and about, so why would I spend a lot of money at a place I would only use for the bed. But there are certain places in the world where the place can make the difference between a great stay and a forgettable one. The island of Koh Lipe is one of the places, and though I cannot compare the place I stayed with other places on the island, I was so pleased with the experience that I had at 10 Moons resort that if I ever came back to the island, I would stay here again.

10 Moons is located on the Sunrise Beach on Koh Lipe just over the edge where many of the other resorts park their longtail boats for the evening, so when you come down for breakfast or hang out on its sandy beach, you do not have this eyesore to look at. Instead you get to look at a clear blues water that stretches out over an expanse of coral reef. And if you get up early enough, the sunrise is worth the alarm clock. I did not do it every morning, but was happy that I had gotten up at least once during my stay there. The mornings are a calm time on the island and the view is just spectacular.

There are plenty of fish swimming around the coral reef which makes it the perfect spot to go snorkeling. 10 Moons have a plethora of snorkels that are free to use if you are a guest there, and they did a great job sanitizing them during this time of Covid, so it made me feel safe to use them.

And if you tire of the scene right out of the hotel, 10 Moons included a snorkeling day trip for us to an even larger stretch of the coral reef with even more fish swimming around it. It was a long day the day we went, but it was worth the effort. The sights I saw while swimming over this expanse of ocean forest was mind blowing, especially for a guy that has spent more time in the mountains than looking out over what nature has to offer in the oceans. If you like more adventure and prefer to do scuba diving, this is also offered at the hotel. Another group that was staying there with us went out every day scuba diving and went on one trip that was organized by 10 Moons itself.

There is a ton of wildlife that is able to be spotted on the shore as well. I came across many crabs, both soft shell, and hermit, as well as a ton of bird including crane, and monkeys and monitor lizards. You also have the soi dogs that can be found anywhere in Thailand, but they are friendly out here and not very teritorial.

10 Moons basically adopted the most famous of the all, Smiley. When I first saw her when we first arrived, I felt sorry for her and the obvious deformity around her mouth, but we were told her story about how a couple of the local boys tied plastic around her mouth when she was young and she lost her lips because of it. Once we learned this, we felt sorry for her, but that soon faded as well. She just became a part of the place, and was always wandering around with her tail wagging. She never really learned about the way she was mistreated because of the amount of love she received from the staff and most of the customers.

The rooms were very comfortable as well. There are a couple of them that are available right on the beach with their own deck furniture, and there are more on the hill that sprawls out behind the resort. Each place has its own patio with amazing views of the beach below though the higher up you get the more likely you are going to lose the view of the sea and the sunrise to the trees. But this is a small price to pay for the comfort of the rooms. The wifi got a little spotty if you left the resort’s reception which was a little annoying, but at the same time, I was not out there to be contacted by work, and this was the best excuse as to why they couldn’t get in touch with me.

The restaurant had decent food as well with option both in Thai cuisine and western dishes. I liked to eat there for lunch because of its convenience, but there are many other places on the heart of the island which served better food. But the staff was friendly and they got to know us pretty well and our tastes as well.

It is a little bit of a walk to Walking Street, the heart of Koh Lipe, and I would not recommend going down there during the heat of the day. But as soon as the sun starts to set, it is only about a fifteen minute stroll down there, and there are a lot more restaurants to choose from down there. You can get any type of food you want as well with restaurants serving Thai, Italian, Steaks, American pub, and breakfast 24/7, but my favorite was the Box. It is a Spanish tapas places with a couple of Mexican items on the menu, and the food is pretty authentic. If you plan ahead and make a reservation the day before, they can even put together an amazing paella dish that would rival some of the best I have had in Spain.

I do think that Koh Lipe is a place that everybody should add to their itinerary if they are planning a trip to Thailand even though it does take a little while to get down there. If you go, do plan on staying for a few days, and I would highly recommend staying at the 10 Moons resort while you are there. It is one of those places that will stay with you long after you have left.

The Three Beaches – Koh Lipe, Thailand

Anytime I find myself on an island, the first thing I ask myself is how are the beaches. Koh Lipe is no different. The island has basically three different sides, and each side offers its own beach, and each beach has its own thing to offer. The first beach I saw was Pattaya Beach. It stretches in a horseshoe on one side of the island and has a couple of docks along it. It is the place where the ferries drop people off and it has quick and easy access to the Walking Street. The sand is nice, and the water is warm, but every time I made it to this part of the island the shore was covered with boats and tourists wanting to get on and off the island with their bags. It is an extremely crowded part of the island, but I also came out here during one of the busier times of the year, the Songkron holiday, and I am sure that if I had planned a little better, it wouldn’t have been so crazy.

Looking out over to the west is the Sunset Beach. This is the least developed part of the island. Part of the main reason for this is that the beach is completely covered up here during the high tide, and the only thing that is left is a rocky shore with a couple of hotels. The beach is wide open during the sunset and there are a couple of ways to get there. You can follow the shore line until you get to the tip of the island or you can head inland and walk down the main road until you get there. It is a great place to view the sun as it dips over the large island just a little ways away from the shore, but it is usually crowded and once again that might be because of the time I was here. The people who stay on this side of the island like the quiet that is offered during the day, and the ability to quickly leave to head out to the many dive sights that around the area.

I stayed on the Sunrise Beach. The tide does take away a lot of the beach, but there is always enough room to find a nice spot to relax on. There are a bunch of resorts that line up and down the beach, and each of them likes to park their longtail boats just off shore during the night. During the day, most of these boats are used to pick up customers from Pattaya Beach or taking people out to the many spots on the other small islands around the area. Luckily my hotel was at the very end of the beach where there was a little more privacy and less boats, and offered what felt like my own sandy paradise.

All in all, it doesn’t matter where you stay in Koh Lipe, all of the places here are great. And if you are not supper happy with the place you find yourself, it does not take much time to move over to another spot, and enjoy the view from there. Koh Lipe is just a great place to be for vacation and I am glad to have been able to make it out here during my time in Thailand.

Phra Nang Beach – Railay, Thailand

There are two major beaches that can be found on the little peninsula of Railay. One of them is the West Beach which is where the boats serving food come up to, and there are bars and restaurants lining up for your business at the edge of the sand. If you are looking for something a little more quiet, I would suggest going to the Phra Nang Beach, or Princess Beach, on the tip of the peninsula. There are a couple of resorts here, but they tried to hide themselves among the jungle so it makes you feel like you are in a more isolated place.

If you are not staying at one of these resorts, you can get there by finding the path on the southern tip of the town. It is an interesting path in itself and worth searching for. It follows along a cliff face and there are many places where you can stop and take pictures of the rock formations that are being created. It is like spelunking without have to travel into the darkness of the caves. It even has many formations that are highlighted for everybody to see. I won’t ruin what they are, but they allow for some fun conversations along the way.

When I went, I was surprised at the crowds I first encountered along the way, and was even more surprised at the tiny beach that could be found at the end of the trail. The map I was looking at showed that the beach extended a lot further down the coast. I found out later that it was because of the tide and the beach was hiding beneath the waves. The crowds came from tour boats and only came once in the morning and then disappeared. They basically stuck to that small sliver of beach and would not venture out to the other side of the beach.

But it only takes a little bit of wading through warm water if you get here during high tide to make it to the other part of the beach, and you leave the crowds behind if you do this. If you come during low tide, you do not have to worry about the crowds or the wading and you can just walk along the beach. It is really worth the trip because there a lot of great formations to explore, and when you get tired of that you can always cool off in the refreshing waters of the ocean. It is one of the hidden gems in this part of the world, and really worth the trouble of getting there.

Sunset Improvement – Railay, Thailand

I think I have become obsessed with sunsets. I have been collecting my things and rushing to the closest beach around 6 o’clock every night to try and witness the best one before the end of the year. For some reason, it makes me believe that when I see it, it will give me a sense of closure to a tough year, and it will let everyone out there know that there is still beauty in this world.

My new beach has given me the best sunsets so far. I had to do a little traveling to get there, and I arrived just in time to witness a pretty good one, but I still believe that it could have been better so I will keep on searching until I get that perfect one.

This sunset came of Railay’s west beach. Railay is a tourist destination on the tip of Thailand that is a small strip of rocky mountains and sand that juts out from the country’s mainland. You can not get there by car or airplane. You can only arrive by getting in a tiny boat and having them shuttle you around the tall jutting mountains that surround the beach.

But the promise of sunsets from the spot is huge, and it looks like the perfect playground to stay at for the next couple of days. I will let you know more about the place during the next couple of days, but for now I hope you enjoy the moment that my camera was able to capture.

Chasing the Sunset – Phuket, Thailand

One of the things that everybody visits if they come to the island of Phuket is the beach. It is impossible to miss one of them. They are all over the place. There are small beaches with an almost private feeling to them, big public beaches, sandy beaches, and even ones that are a little rocky. There are ones that look to the east in anticipation of the sunrise and there are one that look to the west and collect people on its shores to watch the sunset every night.

I have visited a lot of the beaches on my stay out here, and it has been a treat this time around. Phuket is still waiting for the tourists to return to the island, and the beaches are practically empty, but the city is ready for their return so they have been cleaning up the beaches which makes them really nice to walk on and enjoy.

The city life is a little different though. Many of the business owners have not returned and there are many for sale signs on buildings and restaurants that have not opened up in a long time. There are still enough of them out there to make it feel enough like a vacation and there are corners that are opening up again.

For the most part, I can feel a more positive vibe coming from the people of Phuket then I felt when I was out here during the summer. They know that there is hope around the corner and they can get back to the thriving economy that this place once was. It will be a slow process and there will be a struggle to get back there, but they are up for the challenge.

You can see it on the west facing beaches of Phuket. The people who live here have come down to watch the sunsets. They know it is the one feature of the island that can never be taken away even though they have not been as great as they are during the summer months. During my whole trip out here, there has been a collection of storm clouds gathering on the horizon, and I have never been able to see the sun set completely. I have had some nice views of it as it has reached the storm clouds, giving a hint at how glorious it can be, but it has never reached that level of spectacular. But just like the people of Phuket, I know that those clouds will eventually disappear and I will once again get to see its beauty. I just have to keep on chasing it until I get to see it for what it can be.

Until next time, stay safe and be kind to each other.

The Importance of Play – Nai Harn Beach

There are many reasons that many people go on vacation: to relax and recharge their batteries, to see and experience different places in the world, and to go visit loved ones. No matter the reason for travel, it is really important to understand and participate in one of the biggest aspects of it, play.

Play is one of the things I believe the most in. I know that there is a time to take things seriously, and we always need those moments to unwind, but play is the time in our life where we truly find our passion and make the most out of the moments that we are given. It is the time when we find real joy and experience a variety of emotions that allow us to say that we have really experienced life. It is the one thing that I try to incorporate into my lessons, because when my students are actually having fun with their learning, it is when they are really processing the information and internalizing it. The lesson that they are supposed to be learning suddenly becomes their passion because it is now a part of their playtime.

There are times on vacation where I just lounge by a pool or stroll on a beach and do not find time for play. It makes the trips relaxing, but it does not make them memorable. It is those times when I go out a play that I start to have a good time with my vacation. The Nai Harn Beach Resort understands this and gives their guests many opportunities for play on the beach that the resort overlooks. They supply the guests with boogie boards, paddle boards, snorkels, and kayaks. The waves are not big enough right now to make the boogie boards of much use, but the rest of the stuff there has made for some memorable moments.

I have gone out on the paddle board a couple of times to place myself in complete isolation from the rest of the society hanging out on the beach, and today Christine and I took one of the kayaks out to check out the other beaches nearby and the island right across the bay from us. It was a little bit of exercise to get out there, but it was completely worth it. We ran into local fishermen, and in the rocks near the shore we were able to observe schools of tropical fish float underneath our boat. It made for a memorable day.

Which makes the nights even more worth it. It is almost as if I earned the moments of relaxation after the moments of play. It has created the perfect balance on this trip to make every moment the most that it possibly can.

The Healing Properties of Water – Nai Harn Beach

The Celtic culture uses many aspects of nature as symbols to express certain ideas within their stories, and many of these symbols have found their way into the literature of the world. The strange thing about these symbols is that they have a duality to them that can express things that are the complete opposite of each other. One of the best examples of this is water. It can be a destructive force that can wipe out a civilization, but it can also be a healing entity that can restore a person and show them a new life that they had been missing all along. Both of them work hand in hand to form this world. We cannot build something better unless we first destroy the mess that we have left behind. We cannot find something new within ourselves if we don’t wash away the thing that is holding us back.

This has to be the reason that beaches are such a big draw. They are the place where we can find this property in such great quantities that we cannot help to feel the healing qualities that it has to offer. Many people are not big fans of these tourist destinations and I get the reasons why. You spend a lot of time wiping away the sand off of your body and somehow you seem to grab suitcases full of the stuff to bring back with you. Most of the time it is almost impossible to find a nice spot where you are not disturbed by other people. So why would people want to come here?

Well, there is the plethora of water sports that they can participate in and if the world is tilting the right way, there are huge waves that will crash on the beach bringing the surfers to their shores. But I think it is something more. I felt it yesterday as I wandered into the warm waters of Nai Harn Beach. All of the work and stress from a semester as a high school English teacher was washed away. I no longer had to worry about lesson plans or grading essays. I didn’t have to reread books I have read numerous times and guide students who may not have read them through their intricacies. I didn’t need to worry about yearly evaluations or the problems that were happening behind the scenes of my school. I could find myself in the moment, laying on back in a huge body of salt water and let it wipe away all of these worries and just enjoy where I ended up.

This is the reason that people search out destinations where the land ends and the ocean begins. They need to wash away the pains and stress of everyday life in the healing waters of the ocean and be rejuvenated into something new that allows them to look at the world in a more positive and joyful light. After a year like we all have had, I hope you can find that place of calm so the next year is something that you are not only willing to conquer but you are looking forward to the possibilities that it will offer.

Afternoon Arrival – Nai Harn Beach

It is amazing the difference that one night can make. The previous night I had slept at a roadside hotel made out of repurposed material to a hotel that is a destination in itself looking out over one of my favorite beaches in all of Thailand, Nai Harn. It is not that I would ever have been able to afford to stay at this place normally, but considering that the usual tourists that come to Thailand are absent this year, a lot of the higher end hotels are having great deals, and I am taking advantage of them while I still can. In a year, I will have to go back to spending nights in private rooms in hostels, and hotels made out of shipping crates, but right now, it is five star locations overlooking some spectacular scenery.

We arrived later in the afternoon after another good day of driving. It is a nice feeling to be able to get out of the car for a little while and enjoy the place where we have stopped. It is also nice to know that we have left Bangkok just in time. This morning news of a Covid outbreak in the region to the south of Bangkok has put that area under lockdown, and it has not meant that it has crept into the big city yet, but it has put the people living there a little more on edge. Hopefully it does not mean a lockdown of all Thailand in the future, but only time can tell. It just means that this might be our last hurrah for a little while as we go back to a culture of being safer with what we do and how we interact with other people.

Until then I find out more about that, I will just have to enjoy the beach lifestyle I find myself at. Where the hotel is at, I have only a two minute walk from the top story down to the beach and then I can relax on the sandy beach, jump into the warm Thai waters, or even borrow one of the paddle boards or kayaks to explore more of the bay. Basically, my goal to make the most out of the freedom while it lasts because in this time, we do not know when for the sake of the health of others that it will be restricted for a time.

The fun that can be had in the waters will be a little different this time around as well. Last time I was here, over the summer, the waves were huge and the bay was filled with surfers looking to catch one of the waves. This time the surf is not as crazy. I am really surprised by how calm the waters are. I can see through the clear blue water down to the bottom this time around where as last time there was so much sand and sediment swirling through the water that I could never see an inch into the water even though I was standing right over it. I guess that is the difference in season and part of the reason that tourists make their way out to this part of Thailand during this time of the year as opposed during the summer months. The beach is still not very crowded though. I guess that is another bonus for finding myself here at this time in history. Those crowds are not allowed in the country just as it makes it really hard for me to leave the country.

I am happy to have finally arrived and I look forward to the next couple of weeks off from work. I hope things stay safe and I won’t have to cut things short, but in the meantime, I will make the most out of each opportunity that comes my way when I can grab it. I guess that is one of the better things to come out of this situation. We all have started to appreciate those moments that we used to take for granted, and I know that I am able to have more than most people, but I have really learned to make the most out of them. I hope that you can do the same wherever you find yourself, and that you can make it the greatest that it possibly can be.

Until next time, stay healthy and be kind to each other.

Siam Summer

The beach at Koh Samet, Thailand

The soft sand squishes in between my toes
As the crashing waves taunt me to jump in.
The salty breeze on the seas gently blows
Massaging my heart to slow its pumpin’.
Right now, no place begs for my attention
And I have taken care of all my work.
The whispered name that this beach chair mentions,
Talks of taking advantage of its perk.
The waiter brings me a fruit filled smoothie
As I lean back to face the shining sun.
The scene has been taken from a movie
As I know my vacation has begun.
It took awhile for summer to start,
And now that it has my stress will depart.

Beach Living – Siam Summer

Somebody had the time to set up some rock castles during the time when no tourists were allowed on the island

Not that things have been really stressful or frantic ever since school wrapped up for the year, and we have been forced to go on summer vacation, but the short voyage over to Koh Samet, things have slowed down considerably and I have been forced to slow down to meet the demand as well. It has been basically nothing more than beach living. It is the perfect way to enjoy summer, sit under an umbrella, order smoothies, read a good book, and when things get a little too warm, go cool off in the clear water.

The beach next door, a little more rustic but still as inviting as all of the other beaches I have seen on the island

In fact, I have not ventured very much further from my resort room than down to the beach by the reception area. I did take a fifteen minute stroll to the other side of the island for dinner one evening, and I did rent a kayak to paddle out to other beaches nearby, but I have constantly be coming back to the idea of relaxation.

The sun setting through the clouds, a short fifteen minute hike from the resort I am staying at

I think it is important that this happens in everybody’s life. Too often we are told that we need to be constantly at work, and with the creation of emails, text messaging and the internet, it is even harder to get away from this responsibility. Our jobs now believe that because these leashes have been created for us that they can tug on them any time that they want to, but they need to know for the sake of sanity of humankind, it is important that they let us run out and be free.

a quiet restaurant waiting for the crowds that will soon arrive this coming long holiday weekend

Some times that means running for adventure and capturing what is out there to offer, but at other times, it is just as important to unwind from the stress and do nothing for a couple of days. Koh Samet is the perfect place to do the unwinding, and considering it has not amped up yet with its recent reopening, it is even more calm than it probably usually is. There are not crowds of tourists jostling for a spot on the beach. There are no large lines waiting for a table at the best restaurants. And there is nobody competing to outdo other people on their vacation. It is just a moment of pure relaxation, and I am glad to have been able to experience it for a time this summer.