Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Just a Touch of Paradise

Sawatdi ka. Hello.

Looking back on the last six days of my life, it’s hard to write a concise account. I have a feeling that the best way to tell you about my trip to Thailand will be in a stream of conscious fashion. That’s the way I would likely tell you about it if we were together in person. On a blog that might work. Let’s see….

The Beach

I’m not really a water person. At least not in my regular life. But for the last four mornings, I’ve gotten up early, put on my swimming togs, sunnies, and a sarong, and walked the 100 metres or so from my Thailand resort room to the sandy beach. There, I laid down a towel, did my own version of yoga (I call it “woga” – Wendy Yoga) and then slipped into the waves for a 15 minute swim. The water was cool/warm and invigorating. It was beautiful. I miss it already.

The Pool

After that start, you still must believe me that I’m a person who doesn’t like the water that much (I seriously haven’t been in a pool for years). Yet, the infinity pools at Pimalai (that’s the name of the resort) were more than attractive. They literally pulled us in. While some people in our party of about 70 (PartyLite people and our guests) didn’t make it into the surf, I don’t think anyone could resist the pools. An added bonus was that no one came running to stop us from drinking beautiful cocktails in the pool while we basked in the sun and floated around. Occasionally I would crawl my way from one side of the pool to the other – just to work off the calories of my Mai Tai… so I could have another.

The Sea

An unexpected highlight of this trip was the “Island Excursion.” What I thought would be a short boat trip to an island where we could walk around and play and eat and drink for a few hours actually turned out to be a 2+ hour luxurious sea tour to a remote island. We tied up the four boats to some buoys and put on the snorkel gear.

I jumped into the ocean, prepared my goggles for a fog free viewing, and looked down. There was nothing. I said to myself that I shouldn’t be disappointed, I’ve already snorkelled in the greatest coral reef in the world (sample of one, and I still think I’m right… it’s the Great Barrier Reef), so I decided to just play in the ocean for awhile.

Then Alan told me to look down. I did and I didn’t come back up again for at least 10 minutes. Once again, I was swimming with fish. They were all around me. In the shallower water, I had hit a rocky, reefy area where the beautiful, tropical, colourful fish swam around me in the hundreds, probably thousands.

After an hour or so in the water, and a beautiful lunch on the boat, the rain decided to drop in on our party. But since we were wet already, we didn’t really mind all that much. We considered calling it a day, but (thanks so much Jason) we took a vote and decided that we would hit our next stop, the Emerald Cave. It was an experience I’ll cherish the rest of my life. I think I’ll save a full description here; the Emerald Cave deserves a posting of its own. (But I've put a picture up above - found it on the net. Just to give you a look inside.)

The Scene

Pimalai is simply a spectacular looking resort. The layout of the buildings provides privacy and texture. The architecture is beautiful, functional, exotic, and lavish. The gardens are simply stunning (and the maintenance to keep them that way is never ending). The entire environment is tranquil, secluded, tropical, rich, and tantalizing.

Away from the resort, Thailand, specifically the island of Koh Lanta, was also beautiful. From the coast, islands dotted the horizon. On the roads, people smiled as they drove their scooters from place to place, sometimes with four people squeezed onto one scooter. Tropical green trees, palms, vines, and flowers of all colours carpeted the view. Hills and volcanic formations gave the island character.

The People

One thing I didn’t ask was what most people on the island do for a living. I assume they all work to make people like me happy. There didn’t seem to be a rush hour. No one looked like they were in a hurry to get anywhere. The element of stress didn’t seem to exist. Genuine smiles came from generous people. Not just at Pimalai, but at the markets, in the neighbouring resorts, at the local beauty salon, and at the airport. Though I will say that the care, attention, friendliness, and respect from the people at Pimalai itself touched me deeply. I’ve never before cried when I left a hotel. I shed a tear when we left as 60+ staff from the resort surprised us by waving good-bye. They will miss us. I will miss them.

The Animals

We rode elephants, worked hard not the hit monkeys as they tried to cross the road, took photos of scorpions that seemed to pose for the camera, and watched geckos defy gravity and crawl over the resort. We listened to the orchestra of birds and insects as they sang and buzzed and chirped their day away. We saw fireflies. We saw fish. We loved it.

The End

For now, I think I’ll stop. The story isn’t complete. I always say that I am proud to be a PartyLite Consultant. But I can honestly say that I am more proud now than when I left. I had no idea what to expect. It seemed like it was going to be fabulous. Instead it was so much more.

Sawatdi. Goodbye. WLC.

Photo Credits: (1) Pimalai Resort Publicity Shot, (2) Unknown, (3) Pimalai Resort, (4) Our Elephant Guide.

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