And so my world tour continues…after returning from Beijing and completing my final week of school, it was off to Thailand for the Stinson Family (Dad, Anna and I)! Here are the series of events that unfolded during our time there:
Day 1 (Thursday, April 17): I finished my Japanese Way of Tea course with a much harder than expected quiz (always a joy), then headed to the airport. Dad, Anna and I got bumped up to First Class with lay down beds 🙂 We landed in Bangkok late that evening, but were determined to experience all that the city had to offer. So, we headed out to a rooftop bar called “Red Sky” for a drink before returning to bed. The bar offered a nice view, but I felt Bangkok lacked a true skyline since it is so spread out. We stayed at the Four Seasons, which was okay, but we later found out it was right in the heart of the protests. This made sense because we all were getting a sketchy vibe from the area. On our way back from Red Sky, we think we drove right through the protests…we were all glad to be leaving the next morning.
Day 2: We were up early to head to a second, different airport in Bangkok for our flight to Koh Kood. Since we were flying to an exclusive resort, Soneva Kiri, on the island, we were treated like royalty at the airport. We even recevied 30-minute foot massages for $8US in the private lounge. We were surprised to still not have boarding passes in our hands even after passing through security. But, it all made sense when we were bussed out to our small 8 person plane. We flew for about an hour and a half to the resort’s private airport and were met by Amy, our “Friday,” which is the term the resort uses for butler. We then enjoyed lunch and drinks poolside at the main bar while we waited for our room. When it was finally ready we were blown away with how beautiful it was! We had our own private pool, outdoor showers and bathtubs, and great bedrooms featuring the ever important bug nets. Once we settled in, we laid by our pool for a few hours before heading to “The View” restaurant for dinner. The restaurant featured fresh, ever-changing cuisine with gorgeous views of the water. It was truly something special.
Day 3: We woke up early and headed to breakfast. It was the best breakfast selection we had seen in a while – wheat grass shots, fresh fruits, eggs benedict to die for, nutella crepes, and the obviously necessary meat and cheese room that stayed open until 11am. After that, the chocolate room and 60 ice cream flavor station stayed open for complimentary treats all day – you better believe we hit that hard! After eating our weight in deliciousness, we went to our pool to sizzle in the heat (temperatures were 90-100 degrees). Later in the afternoon we all went to the spa for massages. The spa was gorgeous as it was nestled in the trees, almost like a collection of jungle huts. The massage was great and we all were ready for another yummy dinner. We went to the main bar and each had a few too many cocktails, but at least we slept well that night 🙂
Day 4: Another lovely breakfast to start the day followed by pool time in the afternoon. With the heat too much to handle, I headed to the spa for a second massage, while Dad and Anna hit the gym. It was Sunday so the resort featured dinner on the beach. It was beautiful with candles lighting the way, a buffet of every kind of food imaginable, and the water nearly washing over your feet during dinner. With so many options, I had to try it all – I took around 8 plates of food…whoops 🙂 After dinner, we returned to our room to sleep.
Day 5: This marked our last full day at Soneva Kiri and we were determined to go out with a bang. First, we had breakfast in a tree pod. We were hoisted up into the jungle like trees with a view overlooking the water. Our waiter even zip lined to deliver our food to us – it was so cool! Next, we took an hour long boat ride to Koh Chang, then a 30 min car ride to ride elephants on the island. We each had our own elephant and we rode them for about an hour, even into the water. They walk much slower and were bumpier than I expected. They also have hair on their skin, which I did not know. But, they are such gentle creatures and it was a great life experience getting to ride them in Thailand. Later that afternoon we returned to Koh Kood to spend more time at the pool before taking another short boat ride to a restaurant called “The Benz.” It featured a set menu of nine courses with traditional Thai food. It was delicious, but very spicy! We took a few cocktails, as well, before returning home to sleep.
Day 6: We enjoyed our final breakfast before flying back to Bangkok. This time, we stayed at The Penninsula, which was much nicer than the Four Seasons and was right on the water. We enjoyed lunch upon arriving, then arranged a private tour of the city. We visited the Grand Palace and the reclining gold Buddha before taking a boat ride through the canals back to our hotel. The temples in Thailand are the most beautiful I have ever seen. Their colors are so saturated and the detail is impeccable. Our guide was helpful as she explained some of the city’s history. The boat ride was also eye-opening because we got to see the homes of people living on the water – their homes were falling apart, the wood was rotting, and some homes were even build on trash piles. Riding in the small boat through the waters of Thailand, I felt luckier than ever. I am so blessed to live the way I do and to have all the opportunities and experiences that I do. After arriving back at our hotel, we enjoyed dinner in the lobby before our flight back to the US the next morning at 6am. We were lucky to have lay down beds for both flights, including being on the second level of the plane on our flight to Tokyo. We arrived in Detroit in the afternoon and I returned to my house in Birmingham with Mom and Fisher. It felt good to be back in the US. I did notice some immediate cultural differences (obviously), but I thought it would be much harder to adjust to my life back at home. I missed HK and my girls, but my semester abroad suddenly felt like a distant dream.
Once back in the US, my travels continued…I visited East Lansing for a night to see my boyfriend, Kyle, and we went to his fraternity’s date party. We had such a blast and were so excited to finally be reunited after nearly 4 months apart! It was easily our most fun date party yet! Then, I returned home for a night to unpack and repack before flying to New York City for the weekend for my cousin, Brooke’s, wedding. She looked beautiful and it was great to see the rest of the family. It is hard to believe we have all grown up so fast and she is already getting married. After a nice weekend, we returned back to Detroit for another night of unpacking and repacking before heading back up to East Lansing to spend three more days with Kyle. It was his finals week so we laid low, studied, relaxed together, and went for a jog (such a mistake to go for a jog together – the kid just blows me out of the water athletically even after challenging me to a three week workout challenge. I trained hard, running 30 minutes three times per week and I was the only one of us to complete the challenge, yet he still annihilates me on our jog). Yesterday, I returned back to Birmingham for yet another unpack/repack session. As I write this, I am sitting in seat 5A waiting for my flight to Tokyo, then on to HK to take off. I am excited to get back to HK to see all my friends, but it was so nice to be home. It is a lot tougher to leave than I thought, but that is probably because I am returning for finals…yuck! Wish me luck, I will certainly need it! Over and out from Detroit!