EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece was originally posted on Sonali’s blog. Check it out HERE.
I’ve been to Thailand around seven times in my entire life; five of those times for big, fat Indian weddings, once with family for a getaway, and once for one of the best holidays I have ever had the pleasure to plan and enjoy.
“GRAD TRIP”, as we affectionately call it, happened almost two years ago. On the trip itself we said this was going to be one to remember for the rest of our lives. I might have trouble recounting everything we did, everything we said, and every drop of dappled sunshine that kissed my skin, but one thing I definitely can remember is how I felt. Every inch of stress in my spine was stretched out and released on that trip, and I cannot remember a time in my life that I’ve felt more rejuvenated.
You could attribute it to the fantastic villa we booked, the care we received from the villa staff for a few hours each day, our midnight swim in a private pool under a sky sprinkled with stars, beach days or even impromptu parasailing. Even without any of those things (save the parasailing, that was totally worth 1,000 baht), what really made the trip was my beautiful, fantabulously fantastic friends. Even if it had rained everyday, which was totally a possibility considering we’d booked the trip during the monsoon season, we would’ve still had the time of our lives. Basking in the unforgiving sun could not compare to swimming in our own laughter, and those are the moments I will cherish the most.
Anyway, this isn’t going to be one of those posts where you anticipate all the juicy details and all I give you is a descriptive essay. So here goes, this is the story of an adventure of a lifetime.
I’ll admit, booking the trip itself was pretty stressful. Gunjan (my planning-everything-together partner in crime) and I went through everything from a major fallout to dealing with heinous demands for money and hundreds of thousands of quarrels between parents and teenagers. You see, we’d decided to go to Thailand at the pinnacle of political turmoil – the military coup had just started and one of our friend’s parents called up and screamed at Gunjan for risking our lives. It also involved a lot of wheeling and dealing on my mother’s part to get us the safest flights for the best rate, as well as dealing with the villa owner, car rentals and itinerary planning. It got so stressful that I had half a mind to drop out of the trip myself (sorry guys), but when you plan for ten 17/18 year old girls to go to Thailand during a coup then you’ve got it coming.
It was still very much worth it. Once we got there, I gave up trying to appease everyone and the trip fell together amazingly.
FOOD: The villa came with a chef! This probably the fanciest student holiday I will ever embark on, but Thailand is pretty cheap! The chef was a total gem, she accommodated my allergies and cooked the best Thai food I have ever tasted until date. The green chicken curry on the first night was proof, and I’ve been trying to emulate it ever since. It was also the first time I had tried Pad Thai, something I refused to try before (my allergies will be a hot topic on here soon, I assure you). And the PAPAYA SALAD! The thought of the fresh green papaya and spicy lime dressing has me salivating now (and you would be too if you had tasted it). We also visited the Jung Ceylon mall three times, because we’re city kids. There was a coffee shop that we ate at three times called ‘Cafe 101’, and I don’t know what it is about coffee shops in Thailand but they are phenomenal. This place had an ideal balance of Thai and international food, but being in Thailand we ate Thai food and couldn’t get enough of it. Finally, we visited a Dinosaur restaurant, which is famous across Phuket for it’s prehistoric golf course. The entire restaurant feels like it’s been built into a series of caves. The food was average, but the cocktails were pretty great (get the strawberry daiquiri).
BEACHES: Patong Beach etc. Need I say more? Despite the commercialisation of Phuket, its beaches look as if they’re untouched during the monsoon season. The weather bended to our will during the week we were there; if we felt like staying in, it rained. On days that we wanted to go out it was burning hot and beautiful. Parasailing is something I’ll never regret doing – I’d like to thank my friends forcing 1,000 baht out of my wallet.
TOURS: Thailand isn’t all lazing about and swimming. We went on two tours: the Phi Phi Island (Koh Phi Phi) tour was glorious; there was a storm coming which made the boat even rockier and even though it looked like a clear day it felt like a rollercoaster ride. It was FABULOUS.
Unfortunately, one of my friends almost broke her back on the choppy boat ride. She was sitting near the bow of the boat which wasn’t under the roof. As she was at the front, she felt the full brunt of choppy waves, which tossed her up into the air and slammed her back down into her seat. When she was carried back inside her face was completely grey.
We went snorkeling and somehow found milkshakes made from coconut milk…do not try them. We ended up on another island towards the end of the tour and took a ton of photos, messed around and generally had a good laugh. The best part was that our tour guide was a ladyboy! Our trip wouldn’t have been what it was if it weren’t for Miss Jennifer (WE LOVE YOU <3).
Our second tour was to an amazing clifftop viewpoint called ‘Laem Prop Thep’. We drove up to the cliffs and admired the vista of the other islands surrounding Phuket. It was amazingly peaceful and obviously a great photo opportunity. If you want to get away from the heat and typical resort holiday, Laem Prop Thep is a location enveloped in a natural breeze and beautiful view. Just thinking about it takes me back to two years ago.
Looking at all the photos, as well as our grad trip video is making me extremely nostalgic. After the trip it looked like most of us would never see each other again, but we’ve seen each other many times since and always reflect on grad trip. It proved that my friends are glorious people and that they have my back, as much as I have theirs. Travel cements a friendship and the best memories are brought to fruition when you have the best company around you.
Here’s an amazing vlog that one of my friends put together. If it doesn’t convince you to book a flight to Phuket, I don’t know what will: