Matt and I celebrated New Year’s Eve on a small, tropical island in Southern Thailand called Koh Phi Phi Don. This island is most famously known for being where Leo DeCaprio shot the film “The Beach”. The resort we stayed at was quaintly rustic with no hot water and no electricity from 6 am – 6 pm. No screens on the windows, either, which mean lots of tropical critters coming in to say hello. (My favorite was a giant monitor lizard who lived under our bungalow. I named him Pete.)
Our New Year’s Eve started off with a huge Thai buffet and Thai dancers. As we stuffed our face with yummy things like No Name Chicken and curried spring rolls, the dancers gyrated against the sinking pink and orange sunset.
As the hours ticked by, we met two sweet gals from Los Angeles, Veronica and Stephanie. We also were joined by two french friends we had met earlier on the day. We all counted down to midnight and then danced in the waves as fireworks sparkled around us. It was magical and easily the best New Year’s Eve I had ever had! We made it till 1 AM and then Matt and I meandered back to our little hut to snooze and pack for tomorrow’s next location.
Did I mention one of my biggest new year’s resolutions, beyond the big fat obvious one, is to exercise more? Well…whoever controls the plot in my life definitely found a creative way to give me a nice strong start on that resolution.
The island we were on is so remote that long tail boats pick you up for a 45 minute ride across the water to the pier. When you get off the boat, you have to walk through the surf to get on shore. We had booked a private boat with Veronica and Stephanie from the night before, because our last boat ride was scarily crammed with people in a very choppy surf and we wanted a more relaxing ride. When it came time for our boat, the owner told us the weather had changed and we could no longer take a boat off the island. The waves were too high and it would be unsafe. We would have to walk through the jungle instead.
I heard a big sigh in my head, because I had also woken up that morning with a raging head cold. But there was no other way- the four of us, dressed for reclining on the beach (swimsuits, sarongs and flip flops) would be hiking the “easy 30 minute” trail to get us to our pier as our suitcases had already left in an earlier morning’s boat. Thankfully, Matt had an extra pair of running shoes that I changed into – one of the few times in my life I was thankful for my gargantuan size 11 feet.
We started up the first path which was straight up a jungle mountainside, and I thought to myself, “You have no choice about this. If you want to leave this island, you need to do this. Oh and btw? If you get hurt, you’re SOL because there’s no medical assistance on the island. Have fun!” Somehow knowing all this propelled me to just charge ahead, and by the time we’d hiked 45 minutes, I was feeling very proud of how well I’d been doing. I was soaked with sweat and out of breath, but despite the physical discomfort, the views were amazing and my endorphins had kicked in, probably at the thought of doing something totally dangerous in a foreign country.
Then, stuff started to go down hill. Several different paths converged and the signs were misleading. We started up one path, only to get eaten alive by mosquitoes, and we cringed as we slapped them off of our legs and their blood smeared on our skin. I definitely regretted not getting malaria tablets at that moment- because if I get malaria next week, I won’t be shocked at all.
We went back down the path, realizing it wasn’t leading us to the ocean. After a few more missteps, up and down various muddy paths, we finally made it to the gorgeous view point- which we thought signified the end of our trek. Here I am looking relieved, as after two hours of hot, sweaty, itchy hiking, I was jazzed up to be done.
And then we saw the stairs. Thousands of stairs, very steep, leading straight down into the city. It was at this point that I started to feel stabby. My cold meds had worn off, and each step I took caused a surge of snot to bubble up in my head. The stairs were in direct 90 degree sun, with 88% humidity. They kept going and going and going and going….and just as I though I might faint on the last set, the stairs stopped, and we wandered through the bowels of tonsai pier, past the shops selling tiny wooden elephants and cheap sarongs, past the fruit vendors with pink juicy watermelon and pineapple shaped like stars. All I wanted to do was sit down and die, but we had to keep walking- quickly. We had ten minutes to make our ferry.
We finally got on the ferry, where we discovered there was no air conditioning. So for the next two hours we sat on sticky vinyl seats, showering in our own sweat, trying to wipe the dirt and mosquito bug pieces off of our legs. It was all very adventurous, as you can see. So clearly – on New Year’s Day, I gave my resolution one hell of a start- with a 3 hour up hill jungle hike, complete with killer stairs. I rock, and now all of my future work outs should be a little less tortuous- because I’ll have the right clothes, the right shoes, air conditioning, and a lack of blood-sucking creatures clinging to my legs.
Did you have any fun new year’s adventures??