Girls' Getaway: Submersion in Thailand
For some reason, most of my weekend getaways with "my girls" have always revolved around a lake. When I was younger I attended camp in New Hampshire on Lake Wentworth, where I would spend two weeks every summer running through the woods, tubing on the lake and eating grilled cheese and tomato soup in the mess hall with a group of girls - some of whom would become life long friends. As I got older and was able to organize my own trips away from home, a different set of girls and I would spend the occasional weekend in Pennsylvania at Beech Mountain Lake. Here we would set up camp in Keri's family's ski house and spend 48 hours swimming in the lake, hiking around waterfalls and eating as much food from Walmart's as our bodies could possibly handle (I still haven't recovered from the overload of pancakes I once consumed there). Even though I am off the east coast for the time being, I've kept with the girls'-weekend-on-the-lake theme. Khao Sok here we come!
After a two hour mini-bus ride, we were ready to board a long tail boat that would take us to the floating bungalows, which we would call home for the next 30 hours. To our surprise we had been dropped off no where near the pier. In fact, we had missed it by an hour. Lost in translation, perhaps? Thankfully the woman that took our bungalow reservation just happened to be shopping at the local market and offered to drive us back to the pier, where her husband would be waiting to take us to our accommodations. We piled into her car and off we went...back tracking the last hour, until finally we reached Rajjaprabha Dam. *Note to self: Next time just jump out of the van when we pass the Dam!
We grabbed some road sodas and snacks to hold us over on the hour long ride we had ahead of us. Our good luck streak didn't end there though! No, sir! We attempted to disembark from the pier several times, but each time the engine would shut down, and each time another boat would come back to drag us back in, and each time we would sit on the boat and wait as they tried to repair the problem. But hey, we're a positive group of ladies and we had snacks (lucky for the driver). Had we been snack-less much longer the New York in me would've come out, the West Coast attitude in Ang would've been strongly felt, the Southern bells - Dani and Catty - would have become very unladylike and our token Canadian, Nikki, would have repeatedly said, "I'm sorry", until the problem was fixed. However, it didn't come down to that. The long tail boat gods had punished us long enough and we were off - but not before a quick run in with our fans!
Needless to say, the Khao Sok National Park was stunning. The water was a perfect aqua and the mountains were covered in lush green trees, and none of it had been populated or built-up on. We didn't see another soul for an hour as we drove across the ginormous lake and this city girl was ok with that. The still beauty was more distracting than the A train on a Monday morning.
After a long and confusing trip, we made it! We pulled up to Smiley Bungalows - 10 small bungalows connected by a single pier, with a restaurant/bar in the middle. No 7/11's nearby, no tourist information spot, no vendors selling kitschy t-shirts. Nothing. Just us and mother nature.
As I mentioned before, we like to eat. We don't eat to live, we live to eat. (That actually seems to be a reoccurring theme with my female counterparts.) After stepping foot onto the dock, we immediately sat down at a table that was set for five and anxiously awaited our first meal on the lake! The Thai staff found this hysterical and offered to show us our rooms before we got ready to eat. We hurried along, dropped off our bags, threw on our suits, grabbed a deck of cards and were back in seconds. With no electricity, nowhere to walk, and just the sounds of the lake lapping against the wooden pier, we planned on some serious card playing for the weekend (we might be 75 year old women).
Needless to say, we pounced on the food when it came out. It was just like being back at camp - what you got was what you got. There was no ordering; just plates of food handed over to you and it was all delicious! A mixture of chicken and vegetarian dishes came our way, along with a huge pot of rice. No, there weren't any left overs, we're not amateurs!
Now that we had been fed, vacation could officially start. We posted up on the dock and there we stayed until we would be called over for dinner later that night. (My life revolves around meal time if you haven't figured that out yet).
Most of our weekends have been spent overlooking beautiful horizons, but they have always been on salt water. It was strange to jump into a lake and not taste the salt, not feel any waves, and not have any help floating. Since we were swimming in fresh water (which was very deep) we got pretty tired, pretty quickly. Ok, fine, we ate a lot and we were tired - "I'm on vacation, I do what I want"! (This quote is explained in my dear friend's fabulous blog - Girl Meets Paleo.) So we did what any logical person would do, we strapped on some life vests to help us swim.
Now you may be thinking, "Oh girls, that's not how you wear a life vest!" Thank you Capt. Obvious, we're aware. However, are you aware that you will get tan lines from a life vest on your shoulders while swimming, and it makes swimming a bit more difficult. Which is why we came up with the brilliant idea to put them on upside down, therefore pushing us to the surface on a little seat and no tan lines - voilà ! Mind blown! You're welcome! Plus look how fashionable we are with our life vest diapers - the boys missed an elegant and classy weekend for sure!
Our day was filled with kayaks and naps. Now I know we had life vests on the wrong way, but we had a good excuse. Miss Dani Jo, however, had to face the opposite direction in her kayak because she would 1. Get distracted by the surrounding beauty and stop paddling and 2. Kept heading in the wrong direction and/or hitting Nikki's paddle...get your head in the game, Mabeus!
In keeping with the old lady tradition, we went to bed at a respectable 11pm and woke up at 5:30am to catch the sunrise. As we stepped onto the dock, we were greeted with the crisp morning air and a sky filled with clouds. This didn't deterred us from our plans! (Well, most of us anyway - Dani and Catty crept back into the comfort of their beds.)
Angela, Nikki and I jumped into a kayak and paddled around the bend to catch a glimpse of the sun coming up. As the sun started to rise, the clouds started to move a bit - at least enough for us to catch some great morning rays.
At 3:00, it was time for us to jump back on the long tail boat and start our adventure home. We had only been gone for about 30 hours, but being in the middle of nowhere with an amazing group of girls definitely made it seem like longer. We got a good amount of R&R and were ready to get back on the grind. Well, not really, but we had no choice - we have jobs, contrary to popular belief!