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Time to Think

February 15, 2017

*Preliminary Aside* The inspiration for this blog came as I sat on the beach morning after morning waiting for the sunrise. Sitting on the beach with just the sound of the wind and the waves for company I had time to reflect on what brought me to this place at this time. I thought back to high school when my longing to travel first surfaced. Those thoughts led to musings as to where I would be today if my path had gone straight instead of turning; turned left instead of right; doubled back sooner when I realized I was on the wrong path. As these thoughts meandered through my head, songs of the late 60’s and early 70’s showed up so strongly that I had to bring them up on YouTube to hear them again. These songs may or may not be a part of your past, but I invite you to listen to a bit of my past as I attempt to describe my present. (I hope the links work!!)

 

NOTE: This picture should be viewed with Good Morning Good Morning by the Beatles from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) as the soundtrack.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen: Drum roll please!

This is my forty-first blog!!
*Aside* I’m not sure how writing a blog even occurred to me. Despite years of encouragement from different sources, I don’t keep a journal, but as I look back over my postings I’m incredibly grateful I started the project!!
We have been traveling for 275 days which is equivalent to 39 weeks and 2 days; 75.34% of a year; 6600 hours; 396,000 minutes; 23,760,000 seconds or eight months and 26 days from May 16, 2016 through February 14, 2017.
*Aside* I’d like to say I figured this out on my own, but actually Mr. Google did it for me.
We have one week left in Ao Yon, Thailand. Just a few more days remain in the one month “The Expat Life” test. Then we’re on to Singapore.
When I booked our beach house I didn’t realize it was so remote.
*Aside* We almost immediately wished there was a little more civilization when we found out it would cost us almost $30 to get to Central Festival Supermarket for groceries.
However over time this has worked to both our disadvantage and our advantage.
Disadvantages:
1) You can’t see the sunset from our beach.
*Aside* This has caused a major shift in my waking-sleeping habits. I tend to be a stay-up-late-girl, but during this stay I have converted to a get-up-early-girl to see the sunrise which is often completely awesome from our beach!

 

NOTE: This picture should be viewed with “Good Morning Starshine” from Hair sung by Oliver (1969) as the soundtrack.

 

 

The dining choices within walking distance are limited to left (a roadside stand), right (The Bookstore Restaurant) or over the rocks (Chom Ao Coffee and Food; The Ship Inn and The Cove). *Aside* All very good but we all know variety is the spice of life!

*Aside* Over the rocks in the dark is scary and semi-dangerous, so if we want to visit any of those three restaurants on foot we must time it so we return across the rocks before dark.  

 

NOTE: This picture should be viewed with “Ain’t no Sunshine When She’s Gone” sung by Bill Withers (1971) as the soundtrack.

 

 

The Cove is the best place to see the sunset in our neighborhood.

However, if we watch the whole sunset to the end, it doesn’t leave us enough time to get back before dark . . . it’s a conundrum.
3) A taxi to anywhere is expensive.
*Aside* Actually there seem to be no taxis, just individuals who will transport you for a price and that price is steep (see the trip to Central Festival above).
Leaving our beach house is easy with a driver from the neighborhood. Returning is more difficult as our beach house has no real address or house number.
*Aside* Things that make you go hummmm . . .
Advantages:  
1) Our beach is semi -private and uncrowded.
*Aside* Although there are tourists in the area and our house is certainly a tourist rental, the area is remarkably calm and quiet: no loud music; no raucous parties. When I go out in the morning to see the sunrise I often am completely alone on the beach or share it with only three to six people.

 

NOTE: This picture should be viewed with “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles from Abbey Road (1969) as the soundtrack.

 

 

2) Because we are on a semi-protected inlet bay, our beach is remarkably clean and free of debris.
*Aside* I read reviews of classy lodgings just down the road with complaints about their beach being very dirty. Our beach does not have that problem at all. When there is only a light breeze and the waves are soft and low, there are all kinds of creatures in the water right along the shore.
As seen on our beach:

3) At low tide there are the most remarkable mud flats to explore.
*Aside* This is something new to me that I have never experienced before: mud flats. They are fascinating and full of life and critters!

 

NOTE: This picture should be viewed with “Good Day Sunshine by the Beatles from Revolver (1966) as the soundtrack.

 

 

As seen in the mud flats:

What we learned during our stay at the beach house:
1) When you’re remote, rent a scooter.
We have resisted renting a vehicle though this entire trip. First: in many of the countries we have traveled driving is on the left. At our age muscle memory is strong which could lead to an accident in a situation where reaction time is reduced. Second: in most places taxis and/or public transportation were cheap. Prices have ranged from less than a dollar for a tuk-tuk or a trike to just a few dollars for a taxi. Third: the traffic is CRAZY!! There isn’t enough money to make me drive in the Philippines where two lanes suddenly become four lanes with scooters and motor bikes zooming in and out between the other vehicles so close you can feel their exhaust on your face!
That said the streets around this location are fairly quiet. Once our immediate area was explored

on foot we really needed to get out farther or go crazy. The deciding factor: that trip in a taxi to Central Festival cost almost $30; a scooter cost less than $6.00 a day to rent. Thus, we set our trepidations aside, put on the cheap bicycle helmets they issued with the scooter and (after Tom’s solo test drive) got mobile!!
2) Having a phone with a local Sim card is invaluable.
We have known this all along but when we started driving on our own it was brought back to us big time!
*Aside* When we hit the Philippines, one of the first things we did was get local Sim cards. I now have a collection of Sim cards: one each from the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
*Aside 2* I have never used Google Maps more in my life. Also I have never been more frustrated than when I can’t tell which direction we’re pointed on Google Maps: it’s great when we’re moving but devilish when we stop. 
3) Remote is calm and peaceful but areas with more action are more fun.
*Aside* That said I’m not complaining at all about having this beautiful beach right in front of me, handy for walking, sitting and enjoying. But I miss the variety of sights and sounds, people and food available in a more populated area.
With the scooter in our possession we expanded our eating: The Bull, Tree Top Thai, Haluam Haon and Baan Ra Tree to mention a few.

 

NOTE: These pictures should be viewed with “Sunshine on my Shoulders” by John Denver from “The Essential” (1971) as the soundtrack.

 

 

We saw the most amazing sunset at Baan Ra Tree.  A brilliant white sun sank into a glowing hot pink ball just before sinking below the clouds and the horizon.
*Aside* I swear I did not Photoshop the color of the sun!!
We also had the worst food of the entire trip at Panwa Boutique Hotel. Nice looking place;

beautiful pool; nice looking but really bad, tasteless, greasy food.
*Aside* I feel sorry for their guests who may leave Panwa Boutique Hotel thinking they ate (good) Thai food!
We also expanded our exploring to the Phuket Aquarium and Koa Khad Lookout.
We didn’t expect much at the Phuket Aquarium so we were really surprised by the exhibits, especially the Sheatglass Fish! You could actually see their spines right straight through them! We even went “behind the scenes” to see the hatchery with tanks full of different kinds of fish, seahorses and baby sharks. Oh! And a mermaid!

 

 

NOTE: These pictures should be viewed with “You are the Sunshine of My Life” By Stevie Wonder (1972) as the soundtrack


Koa Khad Lookout was an amazing two level hilltop tower with 360° view of Phuket Island. You could climb the stairs or use the nature walk that wound its way through the trees.

*Aside* We ain’t dummies; we chose the nature walk: cool and pleasant!

We didn’t avoid all the stairs, but the majority of them. The views were spectacular! Truly amazing!
There is a third level for viewing on the lower road. This immediately became our go-to, easy-access location for sunsets.

NOTE: This picture should be viewed with “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream on Disraeli Gears (1967)as the soundtrack.
So we are relishing our last days in our little beach house with our quiet remote neighborhood living the expat life. We enjoy other people’s cats and occasionally see a dog and can hear the daily screaming of the child next door who does not want to have the sand showered off his body.
Some things will never change . . .