Sunday, 23 September 2012

Eight months on...

Having brought our wedding forward by 8 months, it seem only fitting that we should push our honeymoon back by a similar amount of time. In fact, the truth is that romanticism got shunned for practicalities immediately after our December wedding. I had to return to work, and as soon as I was able to take a break, the football season had started which meant that Tom was occupied. So, this is how we wind up, nearly nine months after our wedding, sitting in Koh Samui airport after six nights of glorious relaxation in Thailand.

It was worth the wait.

We have spent the week at the Mantra Samui - a boutique resort nestled in the Bophut hills. It is not only a long way from anywhere, but separated from the hustle and bustle by a long, bumpy, steep and windy road. We picked it on a whim in an Expedia sale that had 90 minutes left to run at 10.30pm one Sunday night, and it was a calculated gamble that paid off.(I say calculated because naturally we consulted trip advisor before booking).

Our room was luxurious, the view was like a postcard, the infinity pool was an aqueous haven, and the staff were friendly. However it was the attention to detail that made this hotel so memorable. Notes on our pillows at night time, beach bags and flip flops provided, complementary juice shots by the pool, golf buggies to drive you around the resort, the mantra signature dog toy on our beds (which incidentally made a great iPad stand), and little 'mantras' written everywhere from menus to staff uniforms to the pavements...

'there are two sides to every story ' (etched in the pavement)

'you are beautiful' (in the bottom of every rubbish bin)

and so on...

Our lazy days by the pool were accompanied by a highly amusing sound track of popular western songs, transformed into easy listening background music by Thai covers. A good chunk of the songs were typical easy listening titles - Careless Whisper by George Michael, a bit of Lighthouse Family, you get the picture. But then, we had slow ballad covers of YMCA, Bring Me to Life, I will Survive, Mr Brightside, and to top it off, Radio GaGa from We Will Rock You. Hilarious.

The food from the hotel restaurant was delicious and served a range of Thai stir fries and curries, as well as the best pizza I've had in years! One night the staff from reception performed Thai dancing, which was slow and intricate and involved bending their hands into shapes that are not anatomically possible for me or Tom. I'm wondering if this results from (a) a genetic predisposition to supple joints in Thai people, (b) a regime of childhood stretching or (c) Tom and I being severely inflexible.

The latter is definitely true if our yoga lesson was anything to go by. Our Thai paradise seemed like the ideal time to try yoga, although I didn't expect our teacher to be a cockney ex-pat who reckoned he had 'done a couple of courses'! I also didn't expect our honeymoon to degenerate to the lows of Tom exclaiming, 'who's idea was this?!' as our new cockney friend pushed him to the limits of his flexibility, and then some more. After a reminder that we were in fact on holiday, and would like to be able to walk tomorrow, he eased up on us. For the record, Tom was far better than me!

We made trips to two local areas during our stay. Firstly, the town on Chaweng, which was typical tourist Thailand (let's call it TTT). TTT consists of rows of shops selling counterfeit goods (handbags, sunglasses, DVDs etc), beaches lined with tacky bars and jet skis for hire, rows of hungover sunburned bodies, and countless locals offering services (taxi, massage, both?!) or asking for money. There was also a car driving circuits playing 'Final countdown' at full volume advertising Thai boxing. One circuit and a Diet Coke was enough for us to experience TTT before we moved on. The highlight for me was a Boots store selling UK cosmetics, where everything was on 2 for 1!

Secondly we visited Bophut village, which has retained more Thai culture and was less touristy. We had a delicious cocktail by the beach and the water was warm and clear. The quality of  accommodation for tourists was very high, but when venturing outside of the resorts the diversity of the local surroundings was significant. There were pockets of land strewn with litter and shacks for houses interspersed with much higher quality dwellings. The majority of locals use mopeds for transportation with no helmets and with children standing up between adult's knees! I had expected the roads to be a fast and scary experience. In fact the pace of traffic was very slow (thanks to scooters with small engines dictating the pace). It was the different perception of acceptable distance between vehicles that got me however... My foot was hovering over the break pedal from my back seat driving position!

The week has ended in record time, and as with all good things it has come to an end. I write this from Samui airport departure lounge (side note - just spotted a cat for first time ever in a departure lounge!) from where we will fly to Sinagpore for a few final hours of holiday before returning to Melbourne. Dinner on our last night was like the final of Strictly Come Dancing. We put on our best  clothes and ordered our favourite menu item from the whole week, plus a little something special that we had saved until the very end! There was no trophy, but we leave Thailand with tanned skin, relaxed minds, less baggage, more flexibility and a dot to dot puzzle of insect bites on our legs.

Thank you to the guests of our Aussie wedding party who kindly contributed to our wonderful  honeymoon experience... we won't be forgetting this in a hurry! x

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