In August, Trish and I journeyed on a 'round the world honeymoon, to Ireland, Italy, Thailand and Fiji. Thailand is somewhere I've always wanted to go, and we were looking forward to some beach time as we boarded our flight from Turin to Istanbul.
We had high hopes for leaving the airport in Istanbul and grabbing dinner. With a six hour layover, we figured it wouldn't be too difficult. After waiting an hour in line to get out, the security guard told us we'd need a visa, which were available for $20 and another hour wait in line. We gave up and headed for the a lounge to relax and do a bit of writing. In fact, that's where I started writing the blog post about our wedding month. The flight to Bangkok started around midnight and arrived in the early afternoon on Monday, August 12. The Bangkok airport was massive and impressive, and we grabbed a bit to eat before boarding for Koh Samui.
Our hotel was the W Retreat Koh Samui and it was spectacular. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the General Manager (Brian Segrave) as we marveled at the view. Shortly after, a driver whisked us up to our bungalow in a "buggie" (golf cart). Our accommodations were exquisite, with a rose petal-filled bathtub, fondu, an outdoor shower and our own private pool. Basically, everything you'd want in a Honeymoon Getaway Suite.
We had the best sushi of our lives that night at Namu, the resort's contemporary Japanese restaurant.
The next day (Tuesday), we slept it, rolling around in the cozy numbness of our jetlag. At this point, we decided it was time to take a vacation from our vacation, something we've always wanted to do. For the next two days, we did nothing but sleep by the pool (getting our first, and last, sunburns of the trip), get massages, drink cocktails, and enjoy the pristine views. The W even created a Mixology course for us on Wednesday and we learned how to make Martinis, Mai Tais and multi-colored shots.
Our first big adventure in Thailand came when we journeyed to dinner outside of the resort. We'd asked our travel assistant, Ms. Tik, to setup a few activities for the remainder of our trip and we requested a Wednesday dinner reservation at Zenzibar. This was a restaurant I found on TripAdvisor, and I thought it was the same one I read about in the W's little red book of restaurant recommendations. Ms. Tik notified us that the restaurant's owner would be picking us up to drive us for dinner at 8:30pm. It sounded kinda strange at first, but since it was the #3 restaurant, we figured it'd be fun.
When we got into the owner's dilapidated truck, we started to worry. When we started driving down a dirt road that resembled The Cabin's bumpy, backwoods road, Trish started singing "Trish is for dinner, Matt is for dessert", light-heartedly, from the back seat. She was obviously concerned. The owner and I talked about his #3 ranking on TripAdvisor and I figured it must be the right place. And it was, just a bit rustic. When we arrived, the owner sat us at their finest table, just inches from the water's edge along the beach. The meal was fantastic, the white wine cold and delicious and the ambience, wonderful.
I realized later that I confused Zenzibar with Zazen Restaurant because Zazen was added to the little red book by "popular demand" and they had similar names.
That evening marked our first encounter with a toilet that consisted of a hole in the ground, and a bucket of water. We saw several after that. When in Rome! ;)
Thursday morning, we rode speedboats for an hour to Angthong National Marine Park, along with a bunch of other tourists. The snorkeling was awesome, but there were tiny jellyfish in the water that made it kinda like swimming with mosquitos. At the main stop, we hiked to the top of a mountain on one of the most steep, jagged hiking trails I've ever accended. We even spotted some Dusky Leaf Monkeys, playing and frolicing in the trees. There were ropes that you could hang on to and many times they were necessary, especially when hiking in flip flops. The view from the top was magnificent.
We were treated like royalty on the way back when the boat dropped us off right at the W's beach. In the getting-off-the-boat chaos, I left my favorite "why does Matt always look like a tourist" hat and flip flops. It was an unfortunate, but bittersweet parting moment.
That night, we dined at Barracuda Restaurant. We walked around the local market beforehand and were deeply impressed by all the exotic foods (e.g. insects) and unique souvenirs for sale. We instantly wished we'd taken more more time to shop and experience the local Thai culture.
That longing quickly went away while experiencing a delectable dinner at Barracuda.
We played golf on Friday at Santiburi Samui Country Club. We were pleasantly surprised to find they required us to use caddies. It was Trish's and my first experience with such a luxury.
Our caddies were very helpful in telling us where to hit the ball, how hard to hit it and what club to use. Later, when talking to the GM at the hotel, I found out the real reason.
Brian: How was your day today?
Me: It was fun! We played golf at Santiburi and had caddies for the first time. By the third hole, I'd figured out why - there were no signs on the course, so we needed them to find our way.
Brian: No, that's not the reason. It's for the cobras. Lots of cobras out there - you need them to fight 'em off.
I neglected to tell Trish about the cobras until we were on our flight home from Hawaii, since I figured they might be in Fiji too.
That evening, we enjoyed an intimate sunset cruise on a catamaran. There were only five passengers on the boat and the food was delightful.
We really enjoyed our honeymoon in Thailand. The W Retreat and its staff (especially Brian, Ice and Khun Nong) contributed greatly to our satisfaction and the food was deliciously spicy. Zenzibar, Angthong, Santiburi, Barracuda and the sunset cruise were breathtaking to experience and beautiful to photograph.
On Saturday, August 17, we boarded a flight from Koh Samui to Taveuni, Fiji (with layovers in Hong Kong and Nadi along the way).
In the next (and final) story from our honeymoon, I'll talk about the place that Trish has wanted to visit ever since she was a little girl. She grew up with a Fiji poster on her wall and longed to visit it someday. I was extremely happy to make her dream come true and to experience one of the most magical places on the planet.