Ko Samet, Rayong

We had our first visitor this month, my broseph’s girlfriend. It gave me a chance to be my obsessive-compulsive self about hosting. I’ve also always loved showing people around – watching their awestruck faces. There aren’t enough words to describe just how much I love it. My ideal job would be to own a bed and breakfast, a cafe with a library and a tour company that will prepare your itinerary for you and then show you around all the good sights. While I’m waiting for that dream to become a reality, I had the chance to visit my first island in Thailand.

Thaisland?

Okay, Okay. I’ll stop.

The island we visited is called Koh Samed. There is surprisingly little information about how easy it is to get there. So I decided to note these things down on the off chance that it will help someone. First thing to do is go to BTS Ekkamai and the Easter Bus Terminal which is 2 minutes away from the station. Then take your pick of the myriad of bus options available. We picked the 293baht return journey. What you get is a 2 way open ticket that’s valid for a year. A YEAR!

Anyway, they tell you which stand to go to. The bus leaves exactly on time and since there are seat numbers allotted, you don’t need to fight over the good seats. This, you have to understand, is new to an Indian person such as myself. We will push people down if we have to – anything for a good seat. The bus ticket wins you a free bottle of water (YAY!) but it is a 4 hour drive to the pier so bring plenty of snacks.

Once you are at the pier, you will need to buy a ferry ticket to Ko Samet. If you have a work permit, you pay the Thai price for the tickets (50 Baht). If not, you pay the farang price (100 Baht) which is all normal (we have this sort of disproportionate costs in India as well). 40 minutes later, you are on the island. You could also opt for the speed boat option (200 Baht) but you are there in 10 minutes. Personally, I prefer taking the ferry. I enjoy being out at sea. I enjoy the sight of the beaches coming closer and closer. There’s something so thrilling about it.

While in Samed, you can get an AC Dorm for about 250 baht. There are also fancy sea side beaches for a more romantic/private setting. And now, to let the photos do the talking for me – 😀

Ban Phe Pier
Ban Phe Pier
Nan Dan Pier, Ko Samet
Nan Dan Pier, Ko Samet
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Views from the Samet Pier
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Beach Side Dining at Sai Kaew Beach, Ko Samet
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Secluded Beach at Ko Samet National Park
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Another view of the secret National Park Beach
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Panorama shot from abandoned national park pier
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Sai Kaew Beach, Ko Samet
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Ko Samet National Park Beach
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Sai Kaew Beach, Ko Samet
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The Mermaid of Ko Samet. Beats the scary one that greeted us at the pier!
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A reflection of me just chilling out on the beach! Check out my ‘on point’ eyebrows!

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I still can’t get over the fact that what most people consider a honeymoon destination is just a weekend’s trip for me. Gotta love life!

Guest Blog – Five Years in a Life

Karina from Lazy Happy Bored Happy Sad has been one my oldest blogging friends and after a few awkward tweets, we became close enough to meet in person. You can read all about that adventure here. And while you’re at it, catch up on her previous posts for me here. For now, this is the story of the past 5 years of her life – they reached my heart as I’m sure it will touch yours. Show her some love. 

I jumped at the idea of writing another guest post for Anju because I love her and her writing and she is one of my oldest blog friends. I jumped without knowing what to write.

Five years seems like a short enough time; especially to someone who still thinks the 90s were less than 10 years ago. Spoiler alert, they are not. The thing is, almost everything about my life changed in the past five years, hell, five years is longer than my oversharing on the internet even spans.

Anju’s question really brought that up, because while I already realised that a lot had happened in the past couple of years, it never registered that dramatically.

I went from being a student to being a full time employee.

I went from daughter to orphan, passing the roadblock of being a caretaker.

I went from assuming I was straight to knowing I’m a lesbian.

I made a whole lot of friends spanning all over the world.

I travelled to more cities than I can even recall at this point.

I stopped writing to then write a novel and stop writing again.

I grew up more while staying childish.

And I kept thinking about all the things that did change until I remember the things about me that are so inherently me that they stayed the same because they always were and I find comfort in it. Some things will never change. Like me being an unapologetic feminist. It has been the label I have worn proudly for as long as I can remember because I never fit any standard definition of feminine and I didn’t want to. Now more so than ever. This may be the single biggest thing being queer certified for me. I don’t have to conform to anyone’s expectations and norms aside from my own. And that’s okay. Being a woman doesn’t mean you have to wear dresses and shopping in the men’s section doesn’t make you any less of a woman. And being a lesbian doesn’t mean I have to run around in men’s clothes either. I can be whoever and whatever I want to be.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, the last five years taught me to be myself. I’ve always been fairly in tune with my own being but it’s like I got permission to be me and just me. My lovely grandma still wants me to dress the way she thinks I should dress and while I find it extremely annoying and off putting I stay my ground because I have to. There is no way for me to not be me.

I’m afraid this post turned way more serious than Anju anticipated when she asked me to write something for her but it’s a faithful recount of my last five years. Some of those years were the worst of my life and they don’t include the day I woke up to the police hammering at our front door looking for my father who was hiding in the bedroom.

In five years I learned my own strength and breaking points. I met my true self.

Guest Blog – 5 in 5 by Classical Gasbag

Norm and I became friends over a floppy disk. It’s a long story that I’m saving for an important occasion but what started off as friendly information sharing became a friendship that now spans across a blogging platform, a mailing platform by some corporate called Google and a good old fashioned pen to paper medium they used to call letters. But before all of this, there was Classical Gasbag and that’s where I fell in love with a stranger’s style of writing. If you haven’t already clicked on the link, go read now. 

Norm

Five years ago I left my last part-time job and fully retired. I happily gave up my structured life of getting out of bed early in the morning and showering before my wife, Cindy, took over the bathroom so that she could get ready for work. I was never sure how long her morning ablutions and cosmetics application would take because she was often interrupted by telephone calls, or… Well, that’s neither here nor there. That isn’t the topic of this piece.

My life suddenly became unstructured. I slept as long as I wanted. Except even without an alarm to wake me, I still opened my eyes at 5:30 a.m. I watched the morning news, but I wasn’t going anywhere to talk to anyone about the things that interested me. I tried going to an occasional breakfast gathering of people with whom I had worked while I was still a State employee, but I invariably ended up seated next to or across from the people no one else wanted to listen to. Believe me, there were reasons no one wanted to listen to them. I stopped going after about three breakfasts. I learned the patterns of the mail carrier so that I could stroll out to the mailbox and share a pleasant word or two. Of course the only mail we were getting were bills and sales pitches for hearing aids and assisted living facilities. I started going to the Amazon website and ordering books and CD’s and DVD’s that were on sale so that something interesting would come in the mail.

That went on for a couple of years and then I discovered blogging. I had originally planned to use my blog to rant about things that upset me and to write stories of my life before I moved to Lafayette and met Cindy. I thought that if I played around with those stories I might eventually write a fictional account of my earlier life. But I also planned to write a post a day for a year. And Cindy kept telling people that they should read my blog. Well, I didn’t especially want those people to read about my past, and since I was posting every day I had to fall back on things that were happening every day as subject matter. It did bring some structure back into my life.

The best part of the Internet is not the ease of shopping, or of doing research, or even the easy accessibility to smut, but rather the opportunity to read what other bloggers are posting. Of course I’m only speaking for my crabby, old self. I only follow a couple of dozen blogs. I respect those writers and their visions of the world. That is why when Anju, whom I truly respect, asked me last year if I was going to do the NaNoWriMo challenge, I decided to jump in. It became my way of finally stringing together some fictionalized stories from my past. This year she asked if I was doing a reading challenge, so yes, I am. Now she has honored me by asking me to write this guest post. She is pushing my boundaries as well as adding more structure to my life. I guess that I have to admit that structure, even in retirement, is good for me. Thank you, Anju!

Guest Blog – 5 years in 500 words!

I haven’t hosted Adam here before, but he is THE BOY that I keep talking about. Show him some love. 

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Time stretches back in the form of memories, highlights, edited collections of things we choose to retain. If you had just 500 words to talk about about the last 5 years what would you choose to include, what would you omit, what would you not even be able to recall? How do we select what memories are worthy?

I’d remember first and foremost meeting you, I’d recall with film like quality the first time our eyes met, our first conversation about the beer you were drinking. I’d remember shutting ourselves in as a storm raged outside, the tranquility we’d feel in shutting the world out. I’d remember following Stephen down remote coastal paths, as if on a voyage of discovery. I’d remember our first place together and how hard it was to get here to this point, sitting here now thinking of the last 5 years. I’d remember falling in love.

If I had to pick one unifying factor that encapsulated the last five years it would be travel and expanding horizons. When I went to Cyprus in 2010 I hadn’t been abroad for 10 years, since then I have been on a 3,000 mile European road trip that took in 9 countries, visited my sister when she worked in Germany, been to Spain twice, to Slovakia for my brothers stag do, spent a week in Bangkok and visited India twice before eventually relocating here in 2014. I always thought I had an adventurous spirit buried inside me that wanted to get out and see the world, and now here I am living in India, 5 years ago i’d have found that impossible to imagine.

My family has changed a lot over the last 5 years. The older generation, who were the rocks for so long have found themselves more reliant on the support of the young as time inevitably began to take its toll. In 2011 my Granddad died, I don’t use the words lightly but he was a great man, constantly supportive, always kind, always putting himself second to our needs. I draw inspiration from his memory as I try to make my way in what can sometimes be a vastly confusing world.

In July 2014 my younger brother got married. I think i’ll look back on the memories of that time as some of my fondest. Everyone important to me in one place, wonderful weather and true happiness, something that shouldn’t be underestimated in life, something that can be all too fleeting.

I’d look back to the 2010 version of me and tell him not to give up, that there are new experiences and unimaginable things ahead, that what perhaps seemed like a dreary existence wasn’t going to last forever. I’ve never been one for 5 year plans or planning the minutiae of my life, sometimes I have thought it has been to my detriment. But as I look back across the last 5 years i’m glad I just allowed things to happen, because allowing things to happen can take you to places you never imagined.

It’s a …. Girl!

I spent hours agonizing over how to make this announcement – the right combination of words that would capture all of the tears and excitement and pure adulterated joy. Instead, I made this! wpid-img1414149332931.jpg I’m an aunty, you guys! ❤ ❤ ❤