And so, to our final month of this trip. We opted to spend it doing what Craig claimed he wanted to do all along – bumming out on the beaches of Thailand where we spent the time diving, drinking beers as the sun set and soaking up the warmth of the tropical islands.
It was a rather strange month; our future travel arrangements were made, we didn’t have too many flights or ferries to book and it suddenly felt like we had a lot more free time than we’d had before. The slow pace of life on the Thai islands also meant we had time to relax and to reflect on the amazing ten months we have had rather than a busy schedule of sightseeing. The 13th June – ten months to the day since we left the UK – saw us arrive back in Chester in secret to surprise my Mum for her birthday. All the arrangements were worth it when I saw her face. I’m going to assume the fifteen minutes of crying were happy tears and not “oh no, not you again!” tears until otherwise confirmed.
I’m a little late with our final month – we’ve spent a couple of weeks just adjusting and trying to get our heads around not only being back in the UK, but unpacking (as best we can), starting to catch up with people and discovering the novelty of being back in Blighty (which for me involves functioning pavements, John Lewis and drizzle following a brief but unsustainable heatwave that had the Daily Express newspaper panicking. Some things never change…).
As you may have noticed, the blog is slightly behind on Real Life (a deliberate choice, honest!) which means there will be posts continuing for at least the next month or so from our time in the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand, which I hope you enjoy. Beyond that, who knows?
Here it is then. Our final month in numbers.
We took three flights – one internal and two back to the UK via Dubai. Hopping around the Thai islands meant we took four minibuses – all disappointingly pleasant and safe – and six ferries. Three motorbikes carried us around the islands to explore.
Once back in the UK we took three tube trains, one train (British infrastructure remains reassuringly appalling, I’m pleased to note) and one lift from Dad to get home.
Favourite dish: Massaman curry, handmade to order by our favourite chef extraordinaire, Da, on Koh Phangan
Fresh lemon and mint shakes drunk while lazing in a hammock: Thirty (estimated)
Snakes: Zero. A great way to end the trip!
Octopuses (octopi?): One – our first while scuba diving!
Cocktail buckets: Three (estimated) at the infamous Full Moon Party
Hours spent midair watching Big Bang Theory re-runs: Seven
Biggest extravagance: An advanced scuba diving course on Koh Tao. We can now scuba dive at night, and up to 30 metres deep!
Biggest bargain: Although UK train tickets are outrageously expensive compared to some other trains we have taken, we saved some money by booking in advance! Even better, because our train was then canceled, we got a full refund! Happy days! Oh, wait…
Best purchase: Whilst we tried not to weigh our rucksacks down with too many souvenirs (an ongoing battle for Craig…) but we did splash out on a handwoven two man hammock for the garden. The minor detail of not actually owning a garden was in no way an obstacle to this entirely necessary purchase.
Best item in our rucksacks: We splashed out on new flip flops in Malaysia – perfect for our month on the beaches! Alas, Craig managed to lose that pair. And the next pair after that, if we’re counting…
Reading list: Craig read (and loved) The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, while I was a bit slack on my reading – finishing off the final Game of Thrones book.
Favourite photo spot:The beautiful bay at Haad Salad on Koh Phangan, where we watched the sun sparkle on the waves and the occasional tropical storm roll in.