Travelling for long periods away from home and heart, even the most hard-hearted can get a bit misty-eyed around the traditional holidays of their own country. I had a very unusual Christmas and my Easter followed along the same path…
The run up to Easter
In fact, the timing of Easter almost passed me by. Normally I would observe Lent (give up something naughty, or take up something worthy, for the 40 days preceding Easter weekend). With an Anglican priest as a father, starting with Palm Sunday the week before, Holy Week (the week before Easter) was always a busy time, as the Thursday, Friday and Saturday night all involve celebrating different aspects of Easter, as well as Easter Sunday itself. So without all this context, staying in a Buddhist country, whilst attending a Yoga school which is based on Yogic philosophy (which tends more towards Buddhism and Hinduism), I can be forgiven for not realising until quite close to the day itself that it was Easter. As so often happens whilst travelling, it was my trusty Facebook stream which reminded me, as friends and family back in the UK started to take time off and look forward to the Bank Holiday weekend (in the UK both Good Friday and Easter Monday are Bank Holidays).
I graduated from my month of intensive yoga on Easter Saturday, and had only a few days before heading back to the UK for a few weeks – a few days that covered Easter. I was feeling pretty sad about finishing the yoga course – I was really pleased with my physical progress, and was feeling healthier than I had been for a long while. I’d also made some good friends there. One of the strange dichotomies of travel is that whilst you make lots more new friends than you do when living in one place, you also have to constantly say goodbye and let them go. Social media means in the 21st C you don’t have to let them go completely, but after sharing such an intensive month, it felt strange to say goodbye. I was also feeling in two minds about coming home – excited to see friends and family, but also nervous about being home again (in the snow!) after a long trip away – how much had I changed? How would I feel about my UK life now?
A few days relaxation
I decided to have a few days of something different in between Koh Pha Ngan and home. I picked a luxurious resort on the next island, the well-known Koh Samui, and decided to just relax. Well, relax as much as I am capable – given I still had a little work to complete, and had my usual writing and ‘special projects’ on the go.
I arrived at the X2 resort with my partner in crime Caz. She only had the day but wanted to come and hang out with me. The journey through the busy tourist areas of Samui was a bit unnerving – KP is a much quieter island, and we had been staying on the more spiritual side of KP, where yoga and meditation rather than the Full Moon Party was the order of the day, so seeing sunburnt tourists and heavy traffic worried me I might have made a mistake.
But arriving at the resort quickly put us at ease. The X2 Samui is stylish, spacious and simple. At check in we enjoyed homemade iced lemonade and herb-scented iced towels to freshen up, which immediately helped us to relax.
The Villa itself was fabulous. As you may have gathered from previous posts, my environment is very important to me – I love travelling, seeing new places and staying in different accommodation, but I need it to be clean, and I love bright and spacious layouts. Which you can’t always count on – my place on KP, whilst lovely in lots of ways, was quite dark and small inside. So seeing the large private terraced area in front of the all glass fronted room made my heart sing. And that was before taking into account the private pool and waterfall, with three different seating areas – a table area (candle and matches provided for great evening ambience, natch), sun loungers, and a ‘box’ – three areas so that throughout the day you can always be in sun or shade depending on what you prefer. I chased the shade, Caz the sun…
Inside the Villa was also lovely, and again, very spacious. A large white bed, dark contrasting furniture, and grey marble bathroom furnishings – bathroom furnishings that included one of the deepest baths I have ever seen, and a huge shower. Plenty of room to scatter my things (in tidy piles obviously) about the place. Which actually was very helpful given one of my tasks while there was to get rid of some things so I would be under the 23KG of luggage BA require (which I managed – on weigh in I was 22.9KG :-))!
After lunch in the restaurant, which had amazing views of the private beach front, Caz and I got down to some fun in the private pool and water feature (a mini-waterfall!) of the Villa. This was some much needed chatting and downtime, as after three months of hanging out quite a lot, we were heading our separate ways after this – for a while anyway!
When Caz left, I luxuriated in the Villa: I used the Apple TV to listen to new songs on itunes; I did some writing and emailing in all the different possible positions in the room and on the terrace; and I explored the wider hotel. I love the natural feel of the place – the elegant and minimalist design. I also liked the fact that with only 27 Villas, in such a big area, I didn’t see that many of the other guests. Generally I only bumped into them at the restaurant, which was fine with me!
The next day, given my love of massage, I booked into the Spa. This was a very relaxing and pampering experience. No mats on the floor here, and some lovely white cotton pyjamas for me to wear during the Thai massage I had. The staff here were really helpful and looked after me – the ritual was beautifully observed, offering tea to start, washing my feet, an AC room for the massage, and a strong but gentle massage itself. Afterwards, I sat chatting to the manager and eating the lovely peanut brittle snack provided and sitting on their huge swing seat! I think at this point the relaxation was very good for me, and I felt quite inspired afterwards, and wrote a load of bits and pieces plus finishing off some work.
One of the most amusing and yet also inspiring moments for me was that evening. I had seen that the Resort helped you to release a Thai Lantern, which I had often seen in the skies, but never done myself, so I asked if I could take part. They were happy for me to do this (no charge) and so at night myself and a couple of members of staff went out onto the beach to send one off into the skies. Well. At one point, there were 7 members of staff involved, and it took 3 different Lanterns before we got the third one up into the sky. It was just too windy, and the first two landed in the sea and fizzled out. We also weren’t paying attention to the tide which was coming in, so before we realised it we also had to wade back to the hotel as we’d been cut off!
When the Lantern finally went up, it was beautiful, and I watched it until it was out of sight. I wished for Health and Love, and thought three tries was probably a good metaphor for me – don’t give up, keep going: I’ll get there eventually!