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.
Published by Brandey Kabat
What I like: Dark chocolate, yoga, fresh squeezed juice, laughing, hiking, wine, travel, food, lush products, being warm, having long hair, the ritual of drinking something hot first thing in the morning…
What I don’t like: When people smell their fingers, pushing elevator buttons, confrontational situations, not being able to fall asleep quickly at bedtime…
Most random job ever: Plastic surgery consultant
As for my love life: I met my husband mid way through my junior year in college, as soon as I laid my eyes on him I was attracted to him. In fact, I made the first move which was a bit out of character but there was something about him…probably the fact that he was smokin’ hot!!
Where from and where to: I grew up in NY, went to college at The Ohio State University and then headed to CA after graduation. My boyfriend (Giff) and I had a map, a borrowed van and used stuff from his mom’s basement aka a vacuum, silverware, old Christmas ornaments etc., and about $1000 each. We thought it would be a good idea to head straight to CA since neither of us had been. Being we didn’t know anyone there nor did we have a job or job interviews set up or a place to live…I would say we did it the hard way! However with a bit of help from Giff’s mom who flew out to put us up in a hotel, bought me a suit for interviewing and co-signed a lease to get us a place to live we eventually found jobs and an apartment and have been in CA for 10 years.
Our story: After moving out to CA and living together for about 3 years we got engaged. He popped the question while down on one knee on the beach at sunset after we finished our picnic he had packed of bread, cheese, shrimp cocktail and wine. He even had the ring in a box that had a light shining down on it when opened so as it was getting dark, this amazing man was asking me to be his wife as he handed me a huge rock…Yes! Yes! Yes!
In 2005 we were married (I am biased but our wedding was absolutely amazing). By the end of 2005 we were new home owners. 2006-2009- we were both happily married, attached to our 3 cats and were focused on building our careers.
Giff and I got pregnant mid year 2009 with our first baby but what should have been one of the highlights of our life was soon distracted by the news I received at the doctor’s office.
The lump in my breast that had been dismissed the year before as nothing was now being diagnosed by a different doctor as breast cancer. Thankfully Giff is a persistent person and when we went in for our ultrasound (to hear our baby’s heartbeat) he brought up the request for testing to be done on the lump rather than dismissing it based on feeling it.
The going gets rough: Things began to move so quickly at that point, it was hard to breathe. I was 30, pregnant with my first child and going into surgery to remove breast cancer. I was about to go through what would be the worst year of my life. The plan had been discussed, we were going with the most aggressive regimen possible- double mastectomy, port surgically placed in my chest, chemotherapy, drug therapy and radiation. We also had to terminate the pregnancy. This cancer was estrogen positive and the hormones were actually feeding the cancer. That little angel whom was the cause of our going into the doctor saved my life.
Giff was my rock through every step…interviewing a team of the best doctors, memorizing which medicines I needed to take and when, driving me to chemotherapy and sitting next to me while I was so scared, telling me I was beautiful when I was bald, and so many other things…words cannot express. When you say your vows, in sickness and in health…you would never guess sickness of this magnitude at this age would be in the near future. In addition to this hardship, Giff’s dad died of a complicated prostate cancer the day we came home from my surgery. I could not hold my husband as he mourned for his dad because of the pain I was in from the mastectomy. How did Giff handle all of this pain at one time? How was he so strong for me? He is amazing. Giff’s dad was one of those people whom you naturally wanted to be around…his smile was contagious, his love for life was invigorating and he listened so intently when you talked in a conversation with him. He made you feel special. We think about him often and will miss him so much.
My family and friends were also by my side…my mom flying out from NY several times to help us with cooking and cleaning and holding my hand. It must be one of the most awful things in the world to watch your baby girl be diagnosed with breast cancer. My girlfriends also flew out to take care of me and help with anything they could. Other friends living closer would come by just to sit and talk or watch movies. There were so many cards, letters, flowers, cookies, and other gifts that came from all over the country. It’s amazing to have such great people in my life. In addition to my amazing circle of friends and family, there were the strangers with whom crossed our path. Whether it was a letter in the mail from a breast cancer survivor, the anesthesiologist who called Giff during my surgery crying happy tears that the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes, or our fertility doctor who promised to watch over our frozen embryos as if they were her own. There were so many small gestures that made such a big impact on our lives.
Looking at the bright side: Thankfully this was caught in stage 1, had it been caught a year prior by the first doctor I had gone into about the lump, it may have been caught at stage 0. Please learn from my lesson…insist the lump be tested – a lump cannot be diagnosed by touch. They were able to cut all the cancer out and after I finish the entire regimen including a pill I take over the next 5 years, they said there is a 95% chance the cancer will never come back.
Our exciting future: We’ve decided to re-prioritize, we are taking 400 days starting February 7th of 2011 to travel the world! We will travel to new places, eat new foods, taste new wines and meet new people. We will focus on healing ourselves both physically and mentally. This will be one of the best years of our lives.
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One Reply to “Day 331 of 400: New Years Eve in Yao Yai Island – Thailand”
Happy New Year!