It all started when I was employed to work on the tropical island of Koh Chang.
The resort style facility where I was based, tucked in its jungle heart. A beautiful yet extremely hilly place to reside. I so wanted the courage to ride a scooter on the island but that courage I realise now, has been shaped by my life experiences and as much as I, the person, wanted to do it and even though my friend – an intern, took me out on his bike and reminded me of how it worked (as i’ve ridden previously on Koh Tao). My mind was not allowing me to risk on such dangerous roads. I was fine, yet couldn’t get it over the very real danger driving on the hills presented and the rains which threw uncertainty under your wheels in a moment. They stood in between me and freedom on the tourist side.
I felt frustrated by my inability and had to come to terms with the limitations life has left me with. At times I fight these and escape. At others I need to admit defeat and allow myself to be defined by the trauma experienced in my teens. Frustration at times like these is my friend and I have to harness the energy in that emotion to ensure it has a positive use rather than giving negative reinforcement!
Surrounded by the sounds of the monkeys and cicadas, with a sea view from the little room I called home, I felt very lucky indeed and yet enveloped in a very simple way of living. Due to the nature of the work I was out there to do, it meant the stress levels were very high. So, whilst there, on the run up to my birthday and being alone without my family. I thought I would make the most of living on a tropical island in Thailand and find a location and hotel, I would enjoy to stay at, to celebrate alone.
There were many little villages running the length of the island but one I really liked was Kai Bae. It had a lovely little sandy beach where they brought the baby elephants down to play. Right or not right – I found pleasure in seeing them cavort in the waters and sadness at the constant tinkling of the large cow bell round its neck. That sound reminded me it was not a free life this animal was going to have – yet, I could still marvel in the majesticness of such a creature.
The beach was easy to reach off the main track – the bay close to taxi rank for my quick return home. With a 7/11 close by for small supplies to fill my fridge with on days off and had so many little unique restaurants and bars, that I could easily find a place to be, if the rains came and I needed to hide out for a while with good coffee or a solitary JD and coke.
One of the cafe’s situated down a side road and nearly always quiet on my arrival, was manned by a young woman from Bangkok who came down to work during the busy season. It was the only place I could find the dish of stir fried morning glory for 50 baht. Everywhere else was really expensive – equal to what I would pay for this at home in England. The wifi and coffee were good and it was a great little place to sit for a while and message home, enjoying the cool of an air conditioned environment.
There are so many hotels on the island – I chose the AWA. Falling in love immediately with its cool japanese style, fronted by huge doors at the entrance which allowed the breeze to flurry through.
The pool facing rooms I liked, were divine. The coolness of the relaxed concrete interior mixed with the vivid blue of the pool tiles outside. My balcony facing the pool meant I could be part of everything with others and yet be apart. My morning swim in the hotel quietness was divine and my afternoon sunbathe around others enjoyable. Oh, how in times of covid I am lucky to access the feelings provided by being in that environment with a simple nudge of my thoughts. Positive Psychology pops into my head with its talk of gratitude, happiness and flow. It’s what I felt I was in at that moment. Joy very present every sunny, sunset evening as looking out over the beachfront – the vivid pink hues of a setting sun delighted me in its dance.
Yet it wasn’t until I was leaving the island – when I had my last stay in this beautiful place, where I sat outside in the cool breeze of the morning to drink coffee and eat breakfast, with its fresh juice and multi-cultural delicacies to tempt many palate, did I come across my most delightful finding. It was when tide was low – a beach to my right. Which meant I could walk from the back of the hotel and explore the gardens of the different ones along it and at the same time, find a little peace and seclusion which I hadn’t enjoyed before. I reminded myself that the next time I visited this little island, I would make sure I explored he tiny private cove which seemed you had to swim too – just up the end of the beach. I felt excited by the prospect, sad because I was leaving and glad because I would soon see my husband and children. So many emotions, mixed together – a real melting pot and at its heart stood this hotel which I loved – which offered me sanctuary and connection and allowed me to feel not quite so alone because of its western standards, yet at the same time located in the little village heart, which although was a tourist destination allowed for me to connect with the people of its culture and sample many of its foodie delights. I was more than happy here – with the tree shrouded mountains rising into is green interior and the emerald sea situated in front of me which helped me relax and unwind all the stresses and anxieties which arose from the stressful work I did. It was my pleasure getting to know here and the time in the AWA was definitely one of my most meaningful staycations!