When living the expat lifestyle it is important to establish a routine. Each time you move to a new country, routine is what will help you ease into life in a new place. However, try not to get too lulled by the boring rhythm of the coffee mornings, school pick-up if you have kids, stop ‘n shop, mani-pedi type routine. You’ve got to shake it up once in a while.
Now that we’ve been in Thailand for a couple of years, we’re into a nice routine. I’ve started a writers’ group that meets once a month and I also help out once a week at a local school. Then I work on whatever writing project I have under way the rest of the time. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I live in a different (even exotic) country and exploring beyond the local grocery store once in a while is highly advisable to have the most enriching experience possible.I have a friend (also an expat) who has come to visit a couple of times and spurs this philosophy on. Last time she came we did a side trip to Phi Phi Island. This time, before she came she asked “What remote island shall we visit this time?” I had to put my thinking cap on.
We are blessed with being surrounded by natural beauty in our immediate vicinity but also with a veritable feast of options for places to explore, including hundreds of islands in Chalong and Phang Nga Bays. This time I chose the very remote, not touristy, peaceful island of Koh Yao Yai.
There are a few words of advice I’d like to share when planning to explore those ‘outskirts’ wherever you live:
• First, suspend any and all expectation that the usual meticulously organized itinerary that you might normally plan is actually going to unfold as you imagine.
• Second, be open to change and embrace it with a smile and an adventurous spirit!
Here’s what unfolded for us… our plan was to take a taxi to Bang Rong pier and catch a long tail boat at noon for 50 baht (which is what I had read on the internet was the cost) and enjoy the leisurely one-hour ride across to the island. I had laid out a budget for the excursion as I had also read that there are no ATM machines on the island and anything off the resort would be ‘cash only’. No worries… or as we say in Thai, ‘mai bpen rai’!
Upon arrival at the pier I asked for two tickets to Koh Yao Yai (there is a smaller sister island called Koh Yao Noi so you don’t want to wind up on the wrong island). I was told speedboat ferry tickets were 200 baht each. Silly man, I thought, we wanted adventure… so I asked how much for the long tail boat. He answered, “150 baht.” Hmmm… I explained that I had seen on the Internet that it was 50 baht and the fellow selling the tickets smiled and said, “Maybe 10 years ago.”
The outcome of this exchange? Well, we opted for the speedboat, which left an hour earlier than the long tail boat and took half an hour instead of an hour and was only 50 baht (or $1.67 Canadian dollars) more. We’d leave the long tail adventure for another time. We realized our decision was the right one as we came out through the cut into the open water and a high wind had kicked up the sea to a 2-3 foot chop! We would have been pretty uncomfortable (not to mention drenched when we got there) had we taken the smaller, slower conveyance.
Upon arrival at Klong Hai Pier we were picked up by the resort (Koh Yao Yai Village Resort part of the Treasury Village Group) in a typical local bus, which is a pick up truck with open-air awning over the back with bench seats down both sides. Love it! We enjoyed the view during the 20-minute, slightly dusty ride and were greeted with cooling, wet, lemon-scented towels as we pulled up. The welcome and check-in was 5-Star (it’s rated a 4 on Trip Advisor but I’d give it full stars!) and the resort was peaceful and serene. Our villa was like a tree house, perched on stilts, surrounded by jungle. We thoroughly enjoyed the royal treatment, amazing views, delicious menu, wrap around infinity pool and a spectacular full-moon after dinner.
We topped our adventure off with a tour of the southern part of the island on motor scooters.
This exploration of the ‘outskirts’ of my home on Phuket was definitely a successful mission. I’m sure there are many more to come. I’m thinking a walking tour of Phuket Town but any recommendations are welcome.
by Anne O’Connell.
A published author and freelance writer, Anne O’Connell, has been an expat since 1993 when she and her husband escaped the cold of Toronto, Canada and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They enjoyed the sun and sand for 14 years, while she worked in the PR field, and then decided it was time for a new adventure. Heading for even more sun and sand, they moved to Dubai in late 2007 and then on to Thailand in 2011.
Anne has been working as a freelance copywriter and communications consultant since 2007, specializing in marketing, corporate communications, public relations, social media and website content. She and her husband have a passion for travel and that adventurous spirit has taken them all over the world. Anne grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia and has a bachelor of public relations from Mount St. Vincent University. You can visit her website at www.anne-oconnell.com or her blog at www.anne-writingjustbecause.blogspot.com.
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