Our 2 star hotel breakfast did not exceed any expectations we had for it…there were piles of ants on the actual buffet table helping themselves to the food they needed. Giff found some food not yet taken by the insects and I opted to eat the mangosteen fruit we purchased yesterday. Once we checked out, a taxi drove us about 40 minutes to a dock where a speed boat would soon pick us up. There were a few other people in the taxi with us…all of which were going to the same dock but to different islands.
We were given a sticker each with our island name on it…ours said Yao Yai, others were going to more common islands which will either mean ours will be a non-touristy gem OR we end up on some random island where no one else is…but that actually doesn’t sound bad either way. The boat arrived after a few minutes and several people climbed in. As we all sped away…the wind in our hair, sunshine on our faces and our surroundings were straight out of a coffee-table book of landscapes. The water was that gorgeous sea-foam green and the islands dotted the water in every direction…I think we are officially in paradise.
After a little over an hour the boat slowed down and a couple of people got off at the first island…the next stop was ours. We climbed out of the boat and onto the docks. There was a guy standing there…asking if we were going to Yao Yai Island resort…we said yes and he carried our bags to an old beat up truck. It fits two people in the front and then the back of it has a couple long benches where people can cram in. In the truck was another couple with a little girl and Giff and I. The drive was about 30 minutes through rubber tree plantations, coconut palm trees and green jungle. We saw some of the locals who appeared to live very simply in bamboo huts and drove on motorcycles/scooters.
We finally arrived but were a little nervous…where exactly are we? This is definitely a stranded island-feel but is it going to be a good island? What did we get ourselves into? The truck made a left turn at the sign marked Yao Yai Island Resort…over hills through forests and down towards the water. The truck stopped and a women was waiting with cool wash cloths for each of us since it was hot outside. We gladly wiped our faces while they lifted all our luggage to the “lobby”. The lobby was a big open bamboo type building with the straw roof…there were fans blowing and a fresh juice drink was being handed to welcome each of us. They got us checked in and then had us get on a golf cart to drive us down the pathway to our private bungalow.
When one imagines the perfect tropical island bungalow…one would picture this place. It was on stilts surrounded by lush greenery but had its own pathway right down to the water (we could see the ocean from our patio)…the inside was modern, spacious and clean. The ceilings were super high with fans blowing around the cool air-conditioning. The bathroom had two showers, one inside and one outside…it was so nice to shower outside looking up at the trees and washing off with their fresh jasmine salt scrub. Oh and the main room was a large open space separated by double doors…one side the living room with the flat screen TV, and the other side the huge bedroom…there was also a side room for tea making. Our eyes grew larger as we stepped foot into our new place…we can definitely get use to this place!
We took our time getting comfortable…and thought the little sign they had propped up on the bathroom counter about a gecko was too cute. They named him Jingjok and he was in our room purposely to eat little bugs…convenient! We walked around the property for a bit to get to know the resort. There was a huge infinity pool overlooking the ocean with amazing views. There was a large outdoor restaurant connected to the pool where lunch dinner and snacks were served…and of course there was a swim up bar for drinks. We stopped briefly to drink a fresh coconut and beer while gazing out at the scenery. As we kept walking on the little paths through the forest, we saw a couple additional outdoor buildings with their straw rooftops. One was a little store selling things like flip-flops and island jewelry as well as snacks. There was also the spa and the recreational desk renting outdoor activities like motorcycles/scooters and snorkeling gear. We circled back to our place and settled in for a quick nap before the big New Year’s Eve dinner celebration our resort was hosting.
After our relaxing nap, we showered outside and got on our party suits! We walked down our private path to the beach and walked along the deck to the restaurant. They had a big stage set up with white lights strung in the trees above our tables. There were some cheesy carnival-like games set up, one of which was darts and Giff couldn’t resist flaunting his talent. He won us a couple cheap little necklaces as our prize… We found our assigned table near the stage and immediately started looking at the buffet they had set up which was first rate…they were working each station, grilling fresh lobster tail/shrimp to order, as well as various cuts of meat, and other local Thai foods like fried rice, spicy papaya salad and spring rolls. They had plenty of options to suit every appetite and we had fun going back and forth filling our plates between watching the Thai singing and dancing being performed by locals. Everything was under the stars…food, entertainment and the soft island breeze…it was a pretty good way to spend New Year’s Eve!
After hours of watching the show and stuffing our faces, we walked back to our bungalow lighting our own sparklers along the way and of course kissing as the ball dropped ringing in the new year.