I could feel and hear the plane give that hot weather rumble. It is a sound that comes from the thermal waves pushing upwards towards the plane. Even though we took the early morning flight out of Singapore, the heat was extraordinary – a kind of swelter I had never experienced before.
With our carry-on bags in hand, (yes, almost three weeks with just a carry-on bag); we worked our way through customs and outside to wait for the van to take us to our rental car. The Avis location was a small building set off an ally way, with chickens and feral cats wandering about.
After twenty-four hours of in-air flying time, with stops in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore, we were in Thailand. I’ll get back to the other locations in other posts, but for now, I’m going to work my way backwards and begin with Thailand.
The gathering in Phuket was the main reason we were on this trip. We were here with the most interesting global group of people to attend the wedding of two very special people.
I have to hand it to my husband who tackled driving on the left side of the road with ease. We zipped north from the airport, away from the more tourist populated destinations of Phuket Island.
The security at the Aleenta Hotel, our home for the next few days, was surprising, but we soon learned that all of the hotels and resorts had the same level of protection. Walking up the stairs to the outdoor reception area, we were greeted with a breathtaking view. Palm trees, bougainvillea, and an infinity pool with the ocean beyond. Our villa just continued the vision. We had our own pool and the sea only steps away.
There was a welcome party on the beach the first evening. Never mind that I pretty much destroyed my outfit with a much too hot iron, a real problem when you are travelling with only the minimum. I freaked out for a minute, grabbed a longish linen top, wore it as a dress with some sandals, and had a fabulous evening.
The following morning, our party of seventy-five revelers boarded two yachts and headed towards a private island. When we arrived at the island, some brave partiers jumped from the second story of our boat and swam in, others grabbed kayaks and paddled in, while the rest rode in dinghies to shore.
Our lunch on the beach was right out of the Anthony Bourdain playbook. A local family preparing our meal on the shore, with chickens clucking around their feet as they worked, two children sitting off to the side dusting off the plates and bowls. Freshly caught fish and shrimp smoked over hot coals, while pots of rice and curries simmered on the fire. The food was incredibly delicious and the green curry was divine. Somehow there was also a mechanical bull on the beach, which was a source of much hilarity, and then we all made our way back onto the boats to tour Ao Phang Nga National Park.
It is difficult to describe the ethereal beauty of the islands that make up Ao Phang Nga National Park. Conversations became a little hushed as we made our way up to the dramatic islands jutting out of the sea. There was a sacredness to this place and just enough of a haze to give the scene a mysterious and moody feel.
Our last day on Phuket was pure magic. This was the reason we were all there – the wedding. As far as tropical celebrations go, this location, Shanti Villa, the floral arrangements, décor, and especially, the bride and groom, were about as spectacular as could be.
The wonderful thing about weddings is that they remind us of what love is all about. Not just romantic love, but love of family and friends, love of what is and what may come. Sharing our commitment to love in a public way is a truly beautiful thing. We laughed, we cried, we cheered, we ate, we danced, and we all left with hearts full to the brim with joy.
Click here for the Green Curry recipe.