It is January 3rd, 2013. Or according to the Thai calendar, 3 January 2555 or something like that. Sure, why not.
If you had asked me where I would be celebrating New Years Eve 2012 this time last year, I would have said in a cabin in the woods with my friends probably. Or back in NYC. Or something of the sort.
The last place I would have said was Koh Chang, because I didn’t even know it existed. As I have said before and will say again, it is amazing how far a year can take you.
2012 was a great year. I started the year off with a new position at my company, some amazing trips, and the opportunity to visit Ryan while studying abroad in Provence. I then got to spend a summer managing a project for work that I loved, pretended to learn how to golf, visited my friends at the beach, celebrated my boyfriends 25th birthday and had a wonderful summer.
Somewhere in there I also got this cockamamie scheme to teach english in Thailand, for once and for all. And somehow got my application together in about 48 hours. And for God knows what reason, I got in.
From there the rest of the year was a blur. Lots of life changing decisions to be made. Do I quit my job? Ditch my career? Which I actually did like, alot. Do I leave my friends and family and abandon my plan to finally move into Manhattan in a few short months? Do I leave my amazing boyfriend behind to take on some crazy venture that I hadn’t shut up about since we started dating two years prior? Could I afford to move to the other side of the world? With student loans under my belt? To teach without having ANY experience? Am I out of my-goddamn-mind?
August was filled with those questions. As was a bit of September. I almost pulled the plug. A few times. But before you knew it October came along and I was en route to Bangkok. One of the hottest, craziest, smelliest city’s I have ever seen.
Fast forward through this blog and it brings us all the way to New Years Eve weekend. In Koh Chang, the second largest island in Thailand, after Phuket. Not only had 2012 brought me to the other side of the world, but it had brought my bouncing baby brother over as well, to help join me in celebrating one hell of year for both of us.
We met in Koh Chang on Saturday, December 29th, after him and his roommate from college, Pierce, went through an odyssey to get there. My friends and I had a relatively smooth trip to the island, it was easily our most seamless journey to date, so we threw all of our Thai travel karma their way. Gave them a real taste of what it is all about.
After arriving at around 10 or 11PM on Saturday, we went to Lonely Beach, the backpackers beach for some Thai grub at Magic Garden (pretty good) and an island bar experience (moss+vines+dj+buckets+fog lights+tree house feel=success)
Sunday we somehow all woke up early to check out the Klong Plu Waterfall, a really nice waterfall that was an easy trip from our hotel, the Thai Garden Hill Resort (definetely a good, reasonable option on the island, however, not located in the most popular beach areas so isn’t as convenient). The waterfall was a nice little hike away and definetely worth the trip. You could swim in the pool at the bottom of it, until a snake decided to dive in and the “lifeguard” made everyone get out.
The rest of our time was filled with beach, thai food, oil massages on the beach($10), coconut drinks and kayaking. It was an amazing little weekend getaway. Koh Chang has great beaches, food, and landscape- it’s very mountainy so had a great feel. When you are out in the sea, kayaking, it is crazy how big it looks. Thats why it worth kayaking there, so you get a view of the island.
It was so great introducing Ryan and Pierce to all of the friends I have made in Chonburi and through the program that live all over Thailand. We had a really solid group who were down to do anything and it was nice to have Ryan and Pierce as a reprieve to go off and do our own thing.
It was easily the most relaxing New Years I have had to date. Beyond planning our hotel in November, we didn’t have to pre-book or plan anything else. We wanted to kayak, so we kayaked. We wanted to hike, so we hiked. Then we wanted to lay on the beach and get massages, so we did. There was no project or hustle or bustle or pressure on the trip. We tried different restaurants and bars, we didn’t need reservations or tickets or this or that. On New Years Eve we took a cab down to the popular resort town, White Sands Beach, to ring in the New Year at Sabay, a huge, popular, beach front bar. There were thousands of people there, drinking, hanging, having a good time. Waiting for the countdown and the fireworks to start.
Given we were in Thai time, they decided to start the countdown and fireworks at 11:53 which was a bit bizarre, but it didn’t even matter. It was so cool to be hanging on the beach with my friends, little brother and see fireworks. With a thousand strangers.
We wandered to another bar/club from there and had a great night. Ryan and Pierce woke up at 7AM to get a bus to Cambodia to venture on to Angkor Wat (troopers) and I headed back home with my Chonburi crew since we had to teach the next day.
I’m not going to lie, New Years Eve itself wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. When you countdown to the new year you expect to be standing next to the people you love the most. And they were not all there. I am so lucky to have had Ryan by my side but it was hard to not have my boyfriend there or my friends and family and that made it bittersweet. It was also strange not being able to call everyone immediately after midnight to wish them the best and tell them you love them. It would have cost me all my Baht in the bank to do so, and it was only noon back home so it wouldn’t have the same effect.
In conclusion, New Years 2012 taught me a few things.
1. I should probably relax more and stop planning everything- it’s nice to just roll your way into a New Year instead of timetabling/organizing/micromanaging/worrying about it.
2. Although I am so happy, lucky and fortunate to have celebrated on a beautiful beach, in Thailand, in a dress, sans jacket and stockings, sometimes its not where, but who you’re with that really matters (shout out to Dave Matthews)
3. A year can go so fast and take you so far. It is so important to embrace your life, your decisions, and your happiness. I can honestly say 2012 was one of the best years of my life and I hope 2013 brings similar healthy and good fortune.
I am sure it will.