Though the triple digits on the thermometer may argue otherwise, we’re smack dab in the middle of Spring, and for us in the field of education that means a nice, relaxing chunk of time off.
We were supposed to only have a week and a half off, but saving my three annual personal days until now meant the perk of getting to extend that to a full two weeks. Break saw me and my friends exploring both Thailand and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Before adventuring out to Indonesia, Saturday saw a group of myself and five friends travel to the coastal Thai town of Phuket. Having been to Thailand more than a handful of times now, but never visiting a beach town, Phuket was a welcome change of pace. The stresses of work quickly melted away in the heat of the tropical sun, and the ocean waves washed away anything else keeping me from relaxation.
I had no hand in booking our lodging, but kudos to my friends that picked an absolutely perfect condo. Called The Heights, I highly recommend it to anyone looking to stop by Phuket. Within walking distance of the beach and tons of good restaurants, I couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay.
Speaking of good places to eat- holy cow. I know it probably seems counter-intuitive to look for Western food in the heart of a country with such a rich culinary tradition, but living where I do has certainly skewed my perspective a bit. That being the case, our first dinner brought us to Two Chefs restaurant, and I grabbed a delicious craft beer and the biggest rack of ribs they had. Others had burgers and tacos, and, combined with the nice live music, all agreed the moderately high prices were worth it.
The highlight of our excursion, though, was a day trip to Club Med, an all-inclusive resort right on the ocean. Now, the price of over a grand USD a night is astronomical, but it was absolutely worth to 65 or so dollars we paid for a day pass (though we were lucky enough to have a former employee in our group, so I’m not sure how that compares to what the normal price would be.
We were treated to all-you-can-drink cocktails and beer all day, as well as an absolutely fantastic buffet-style lunch and dinner. We relaxed at the pool, checked out the ocean, and even dabbled in archery and acrobatics. I highly, highly recommend you check the place out if you have the chance. Everything really was top-notch.
The sunset was breathtaking as well.
That was only part one of our trip, though. Following the glitz and glam of a developed tropical paradise was a journey to the other end of the spectrum for my buddy Andrew and I as we hit three different locations in Summatra, Indonesia.
The first town was a small collection of buildings at the edge of the rainforest called Bukit Luwang. Check out pictures of our two-day rainforest treck in which we got up-close and personal with a lot of wildlife, including some absolutely mesmerizing orangutans.
I’ve obviously seen apes in captivity before, but to be so close to ones as rare as orangutans- to actually touch them and watch them act on their own accord- was an indescribable experience. They’re so human, but so not, and you can see emotion in their faces and body language that just makes it all the sadder to know that their numbers and habitat are quickly dwindling.
A quick stop in Medan to break up the otherwise-nine-hour drive brought us to the beautiful Lake Toba.
Lake Toba was interesting. Clearly a popular tourist destination for locals and foreigners alike, it was frustratingly lacking in actual tourist amenities. First, we were there outside of tourist season, so there were only a small handful of people out and about, and most restaurants were completely empty. We expected things like lake cruises, kayaks, fishing, etc, but they were all largely MIA. It was strange, but the one thing that was undeniably worth out while was a five-hour drive through the island, where we found some beautiful spots to snap a few photos.
We ended the trip with a few nights in the city of Medan, which was, honestly, fairly underwhelming. We had a hard time finding things to do, and agreed we probably didn’t need more than a night there.
Overall it was an interesting experience. Perhaps poorly planned with too much time spent in places without much to do, but worth it for the moments that really took our breath away.
School is in its final few weeks, but look for birthday updates, a year-in-review, and photos from my June trip to Phuket and Krabi coming soon.