Table for 18, Please
Over the past week, our running joke has been that we should be on our own version of the Real World – Ex Pats Version! 18 strangers in a new place – most of us without phones. Everywhere we go its “do you have 18 beds available?” or “table for 18”? Most people travel in groups…but this is a pack! For god’s sake, we took up an entire beach bar this whole weekend!
Before coming to Thailand I’ve always traveled with someone I’ve known to some extent. So I’ve always had that comfort zone to hold onto. But now that I’ve picked up and moved half way around the world, I have no choice but to step outside of that bubble…and boy does it feel good.
Now I’m not saying I don’t love NY and everyone there… (you too, MA) but being able to go somewhere and start a new chapter of your life completely alone is so exciting. With one week under our belts, we’ve gone through the “how old are you”, “where do you come from”, “why Thailand” nonsense. But my favorite is “why travel?”
I know I’m the oddball out when it comes to my friends at home – everyone loves a good vacation, but picking up and starting over somewhere else is a huge deal for most people. Within a week I’ve noticed how cool it is to have all of us weird travelers come together into one group…no one’s the oddball anymore. We’re just people who love to travel.
Similar hobbies are always a great way to create friendships, but the traveling hobby isn’t a hobby. It’s an addiction. Those of us who have been bitten know that there’s no escaping this. We may pack our bags for a few months to take off to a new and exotic location…but when will it end? Will it ever end? Will we ever be cured?
To those of you reading this that aren’t travel junkies like us “Real World” characters, it’s hard to explain. It’s a high and it doesn’t go away. You can wake up day after day and think, wow, this is where I live! (Which was said several times this weekend.) How often do you wake up on Long Island with a huge smile, throwing open the curtains and getting excited to see Hempstead Turnpike…you don’t. And if you do, then its time for a vacation my friend.
With our second weekend trip to Koh Tao, a few of my fellow travelers laughed at how ridiculous it is that this is our home for the next few months. This is our backyard. This is our food. This is how we spend our weekends.
Being the only farangs (foreigners) in Surat Thani, it was already a shock to see so many English-speaking tourists in Koh Tao this weekend. And I’m sure it was shocking to see such a flock of people flood the night boat on Friday night.
We arrived at Koh Tao at 6:30 in the morning, just as the sun was coming up. We were on the beach by 7:15 ready for the weekend. After snorkeling and some shanties, came the sunburns. Boy is this equator hot! But nothing helps raw skin like some beers, fire dancers, and fireworks on the beach…(cough cough #secretsofafestygirl)
The next day was your typical day at the beach except for the sand. This dumbass group of twenty-somethings followed the lead of a 3 year old. Our new adopted niece will be with us the next few months as her parents are teaching at our school and damn she likes sand! Isabel spent hours covering us in sand and dunking us under the water…which, after some more drinks, seemed like the best game we’d ever played. Six hours were spent in the water on Sunday dumping wet sand onto people and judging the “coverage”, “flow”, and “consistency” of the pour. Did I mention Isabel napped for about 3 ½ hours while we did this?
I’m sure tourists on the beach thought we were on drugs as they walked passed us dripping with sand. (Eileen, are you cringing at the thought of this?)
After a long and sandy weekend we boarded the musty night boat and rode into a thunderstorm, awaiting our beds and Air Con. Now we’re back at training for another week and counting down the days until the beach this weekend…although I should probably work on getting all of this sand out of my ears before then.