In Monday’s post, my little sister guest blogged about her trip around northern and southern Thailand. For today’s post, my older sister, Kris, writes about being stuck with me on a Thai island for nearly two weeks back in March. She is the mother of two girls under 4 and busts out a full time engineering job – this would be the longest she’d ever been away from her family and it surely took a different kind of bravery to step on the plane and leave everything behind!
Dawn was generous enough to fly me out for a leg of her adventures in Southeast Asia (airline points are the best). We settled on Koh Tao, a small island on the eastern side of Thailand, in the China Sea. We picked the island because it’s known for its diving. Dawn is certified and I am not. So I figured, she would have plenty to do, while I got the beach time that I needed. I spent a good ten days, and roughly 10 hrs per day, not moving much from a lounge chair, staring at this view:
It was really beautiful. And hot. And the food was amazing. I don’t have much to report on other than that. We didn’t do much, per my request, because I wanted plenty of beach time and to just relax. No diving for me (SCUBA or sky) or any of that other crazy stuff Dawn’s been up to. Just quiet old lady beach time.
So, Dawn gave me no guidelines on this blog post (WEEEE!). So this is what I came up with: Dawn is really great about blogging about her RTW tips/tricks, so I thought I would provide 10 lessons learned for those of you who might consider going on a cross-globe trip for a shorter amount of time and who are not RTW pros, or even amateurs for that matter.
1) The flights are long. No way around it. I tried to drug myself on the first flight, and woke up really excited to find out how long I had slept. 4 hours. Of the 15 hr flight. 10 hrs to go. NOPE. Just bring lots of things to distract yourself.
2) Pack a pen. I didn’t have a pen. And for some reason, didn’t think I needed to fill out a customs form, so I had to ask strangers while in the customs line. Not that big of a deal, just added extra stress to the “I don’t know where I am, where to go, what to do” situation. (PS: Shout out to the sweet Indian man who lent me his very fancy pen.)
3) Don’t pack makeup, hair products, or anything that would remotely attempt to help you look cute or smell nice. You’re not going to. Ever. And you will attract bugs. Bugs love stuff that smells good.
4) Don’t pack a lot of clothing options. See #3 above. You’re going to stink and sweat. A lot. And might as well wear the same stinky sweated out shirts and shorts over and over again.
5) Plan on nearly passing out at least once a day. Markets, short hikes, kayaking…best to find a beach chair and not move.
6) Trust your gut. If you feel like you’re walking into a murder, don’t. We executed this rule at least once daily.
7) Expect the unexpected. (Good advice, right? I just came up with that.) I expected to get stomach sick and packed an array of drugs to help with those kinds of issues. I did not expect to break out in a full body heat rash on the first day of my trip. And for it to stick with me. The entire trip.
8) And when #7 strikes, go with the flow. You might not do any of the things you planned on doing (i.e. Thai boxing, yoga, running, sweating).
*[left] Magic Thai Fairy Dust. Saved my life. [right] View from kayaking. Nearly took my life.
9) While on a beach, if a man carrying a bamboo stick walks by with buckets of deliciousness on either end, buy whatever he is selling. Pineapple, mango, corn on the cob: good. Can’t go wrong here.
10) For parents considering a big trip away from the kiddos, do it. I really almost didn’t go because I thought I couldn’t leave my girls for 12 days. I did it. They still remember me. I’ll let you know in ~15 years if there were any lasting resentments.
A few notes on Dawn:
Her adventures sound pretty cush. No job, just traveling, going to amazing places? Sign me up! Truth is, I was amazed at how much planning she puts into it. A lot. While I was parked on the beach chair all damn day, she was inside on her laptop for hours each morning planning her next several steps. The logistics are amazing. It really has become her job and she puts an amazing amount of thought, heart, and research into what she’s doing.
And, I’m nowhere near as brave as Dawn is. Not even a measurable fraction. I had a mild panic attack by myself in the airport (see #2 above). She’s marching all over the globe by herself, getting into hairier situations than my little pen incident. Proud of you, sissy!
I’ll repeat myself from the last sister blog, I have the best sisters and am so very grateful that they left their commitments behind to create some legendary family memories with me! I hope you enjoyed their guest blogs…it may have pushed them out of their comfort zone even more than their Thai travels and I love them for indulging me!
And because I think it’s the cutest (even if it’s dark and grainy), check out the video we made for my nieces, who love the movie Rapunzel, after we released a paper lantern for them on the beach.