A Beach on the Red Sea

The thing that strikes me as being the most strange with my time in the Middle East is visiting these place that are in the Bible. I grew up with these stories from such an early age that I couldn’t think of them in any other capacity other than tales full of fantastical places that couldn’t possibly be real. Now that I see these places for myself, the first thing that pops into my head is, “This place really exists.” I have had this experience with the spot on the Jordan River where John the Baptist baptized Jesus, the top of Mount Nebo where Moses was able to look on the promised land before her died, and now I have travelled down to Aqaba in Jordan, and can sit on the Red Sea looking over its waters to Egypt, and the place where Moses parted the Red Sea so he could bring his people over to freedom.

Aqaba is the only port city in Jordan, and give the citizens of this country 32 kilometers of beach front property to play around in. It is a tiny sliver of land situated in between Saudi Arabia, and Israel with a clear view of the Sinai Peninsula within clear view of its coastline. The Jordanians have made the most out of this little stretch of land. Not only have packed it full of resorts, and places where people can go out to enjoy waterskiing, scuba diving, and lounging out on their boats, but it is the only port city in the country. Anything that comes in or out of Jordan has to pass through Aqaba first.

A certain amount of history can be found in this city as well beyond the stories that are told in the Bible. Aqaba was used by the British during World War I as a base to help the Arabs in their fight against the Turks. T. E. Lawrence of Lawrence of Arabia fame would retreat back often to Aqaba to resupply or just collect himself before going back out to gather together forces or blow up train routes. It was the one place that they were able to hold on to and may be the reason that they were able to push the Turks out of the area, and is probably one of the big reasons that the Middle East is shaped the way that it is today.

Despite all of this that is offered, the thing I looked forward to the most was finding a beach chair next to the warm waters with a good book to keep me company. It is a nice weekend getaway place from Amman, and I am glad that I can take a quick four hour car ride down here to unwind a bit. I did get a chance to explore a bit of the town, but for the most part, it was all about relaxation this time around, and Aqaba is the perfect place for that. After I collect myself more, I will go explore more, and even if I don’t get it all in this time around, I can always make my way back here. That is the nice thing about living in a country that offers places like Aqaba, you don’t have to squeeze out every moment you are in the place to make sure you saw everything. Instead, you can take your time and savor what it has to offer. So thank you Aqaba for these days of relaxation, and I hope to dive deeper into what you have to offer soon.

The Slow Life – Koh Lipe, Thailand

It might have been a long day of travel to make it all the way from Bangkok all the way to Koh Lipe, and my first evening here was more to decompress from the travel rather than soaking up the island life, but after a good night’s sleep, and a change of perspective, I really found the groove of this place really quick.

And that is to move slow. There is no reason to rush anything because everything I really need is right within my reach, and even more than I really do need.

I have landed on the far corner of the beach that stretches along one side of this tiny island at a spot they call the Sunrise side. It is supposed to be the perfect place to rise up early and get some amazing photos of the sun rising over the horizon. I am not at the place in vacation yet where I want to set my alarm so I can see the sunrise, but it will be one of the things that I will do while I am out here. It is also nice because it makes this the quieter part of the beach. Many of the people who choose to stay here do so because they know that people will be going to bed earlier because of the allure of that sunrise option in the morning.

But if there is a sunrise side of the beach there needs to be a sunset side as well. When the tide rushes out, the beach becomes wide enough where you can make the walk easily to the other side of the beach and watch the sunset from over there. When I first heard of this feature, I though that meant that I would have to curve around the island to get to the other side, but it shaped more like a horseshoe or a bay with each side looking out over the other side of the island. Once again, I have been only here for a day and have not made it to that other side yet, but it is in the plans to make sure I get in one good sunset while I am here. This one should be easier to do because it won’t require me to set an alarm to make it happen.

In between the sunset and the sunrise, there are all the things one would expect to see on an island. There are great snorkeling opportunities, and I have been out a couple of times already. The fish that hide among the coral reefs right off the shore are amazing and I need to figure out a way to take pictures underwater so I can share some of these treasures. There is a Market Street to explore that has a lot of great restaurants and a night life scene that I will have to participate in a couple of times while I am out here. And there is always the surprise around the corner. I have heard wild boar rooting around underneath my cabin at night, and I have run into a couple of monitor lizards enjoying the beach as much as the tourists.

All in all, now that I have slowed down a bit and am able take in things at a more reasonable pace, the vacation mindset has taken over. It is nice to be a part of the slow life every once in awhile, and it looks like Koh Lipe is the perfect place to take in this slower pace.

Paradise Defined

Why do all paradises have to look
The same? Where does it say that palm trees
Need to sway next to a babbling brook
And the views have to have the bluest seas?
Maybe sights a little more dramatic
Is where my soul will find the peace it seeks,
A wintry landscape that’ majestic
With the earth torn asunder by peaks.
The gathering clouds threaten a snowfall,
And I beg for them to release their might.
We are protected from its bitter call
In a cabin perched on the mountain’s height.
I start to long for a different view
When I am in the one thought of by you.

Fighting the Riptide

The water rushes from under my legs,
Taking me closer to the rising wall.
I fight against winding up in the dregs,
Hoping the wave doesn’t cause me to fall.
I run to it with reckless abandon,
Building up bravery against the tide.
With my head high to show I’m having fun,
I prepare a bear hug with hands out wide.
After the two stubborn forces collide,
One is beaten down by the other’s might,
Leaving it up for nature to decide
Who will be crowned the victor in this fight.
It may look like I am the one losing,
But I come back due to my own choosing.

One More Day – Siam Summer

The view at night from the beach at the bottom of the hill at Santhiya Resort on Koh Yao Yai

I was supposed to be picking up my belongings, packing them into my suitcase, and getting on the speedboat to go across the bay and arrive at Phuket again today. But I am on summer vacation and there is no schedule that I need to attend to except enjoying myself. I have been enjoying myself so far on Koh Yao Yai and there are a lot of open hotel rooms out here for a good price. So why not stick around for one more day and enjoy all that this resort has to offer?

The empty beach on Koh Yao Yai

I did venture away from the top of the mountain and ventured to the restaurant that was opened by the beach and the dock which is where they dropped me off when I first arrived. The beach was completely empty due to the low amount of people staying at the resort at this time, and though it was inviting, it was a stark reminder as to what was going on in the world at this time. The building at the bottom of the hill that usually houses many people during their stay here was also abandoned. They were not getting enough business so it did not make sense to open up many different spots throughout the resort. Instead, they have put all of the people in the hotel buildings at the top of the hill nearest the infinity pool. But I do not know how much longer this is going to last until they are going to need to open up more of the resort. It kept getting busier every day that we have been here. Part of that might be because of it now being the weekend and people are able to get away right now, and it might be because people are feeling pretty safe right now and are willing to take that chance and travel.

Carving work that has been done on the pillars holding up the entry point from the pier when first arriving on Koh Yao Yai

Many of the places that can do so are taking advantage of this time of lower numbers at their location, and Santhiya Resorts is no exception to this trend. The buildings in the lower part of the resort that are not being used right now are seeing a lot of upgrades. There was a lot of evidence of construction that had been going on, and there were places where they were making unique carvings into the wood to help to add to the unique atmosphere of the place. It will just make it that more of a great getaway the moment the crowds finally do return.

The view of the sunset from the beach at Santhiya Resort on Koh Yao Yai

It is still strange to know that all of the amenities that are usually available are not here at this time. We thought we would be getting different menu options at the other restaurant, but they used the same menu, and the food was still cooked at the restaurant up the hill and then carted to the restaurant down below. All we did by going down the hill was change the scenery, but it was still a fun evening though we did not get to experience everything out here to experience. I still should not complain. I have found myself in the middle of paradise for a quarter of the price. I did not have to contend with the crowds that would normally be out here, and it has been so great that I decided to stay an extra day.

It has been a great part of this summer vacation, and I will have fond memories of here, but I am also excited to see what the next step will bring as I force myself out of my pool chair and to more exciting adventures.