Sunday, April 8, 2012
Thursday, April 5, 2012
One of the many things we enjoy about living in Singapore is the close proximity to some great travel destinations. Last week we visited Koh Lanta - a small island off the south coast of Thailand. Koh Lanta is a wonderful laid back island with beautiful beaches, magnificent sunsets and dense jungle. If you want lots of glitz and glamour then look else where because Koh Lanta can not be compared to some of the bigger more built up islands. There is a timeless magic about Koh Lanta where time is soon forgotten and instead you can spend endless hours marveled by the life and antics of a hermit crab.
There are jungles treks, elephant rides, waterfalls, diving and great snorkeling on and around Koh Lanta but we made the decision to not enjoy any of these wonders on this particular trip. Instead we opted for a very quiet family focussed week. For a variety of reasons we needed to have a few days of doing very little - Patrick needed to quiet his mind, Ella needed a place with little stimulation, Lexi needed to feel safe and secure in a new environment and I just needed my family to be happy!
Our home for the week was Lanta Castaway which is a cluster of bungalows surrounded by beautiful gardens on the beach. The staff are warm and friendly...... and always smiling. Thai people in general are very peaceful and serene so the atmosphere they create is very welcoming.
We woke up every day to the sound of the waves and went to bed the same way. We planted ourselves under a big palm tree in the early morning....and were often sitting under the same tree in the evening watching the sun set. We swam in the blue turcqoise sea, watched the hermit crabs, built many a sand castle, collected shells, read good books, ate yummy thai cuisine, sipped many banana smoothies, played lots of cards, enjoyed lovely thai massages and did I mention watched the hermit crabs!
|Our own little hermit crab!|
|One of the many beautiful sunsets we enjoyed.|
|As we were up so early every morning, we were always lucky to get a big lounger under our favorite palm!|
|One cute girl!|
|Ella enjoying her first, of many to come I think, Thai massage.|
|Reading Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was another great way to relax.|
|Lexi enjoying one of her many banana smoothies of the week!|
|Ella chilling at the bar sipping her smoothie, listening to good tunes and drawing.|
|"Dont even think about it." whispers Lexi to our friendly bartender.|
She enjoyed, but became very territorial over, the free flowing popcorn during happy hour.
|A tidal inlet/canal forms in front of the Castaway - a perfect place for the kids to play.|
|Nothing better then sharing a smoothie in paradise...|
|...especially between sisters!|
Over the years and especially during our long wait for Lexi, we often visited local orphanages when we were traveling or on holiday. We did this with the best of intentions but realize now that we did it more to feel better as individuals then out of the best interest for the children. I will leave that for another post but suffice to say we have learned a lot the past year and a half. So having said that, we set out to find another type of volunteer opportunity that was in line with our objective - to give back to someone(s) in need within the local community that we were visiting. In my research I found a local animal shelter on Koh Lanta that is very open and in need of visitors to play with the kitties, take the dogs for a walk and/or give a donation as they survive solely on the financial support of the founder as well as donations from the local community, tourists and animal lovers around the world.
Lanta Animal Welfare (http://www.lantaanimalwelfare.com/) is taking great care of the stray cat and dog population on the island and overall doing some amazing and honorable work. We were shown around the facility by a volunteer and told how LAW was founded. We were also told about each animal there. The dogs all looked happy and healthy despite some bearing scars as a testament to their past. The dogs and cats were all playful and seemed to enjoy the extra attention. Their is no pressure to make a donation but it is something you will want to do after being there and we were very happy to do so in memory of my sister Susan, an animal lover and advocator for animals in need.
So overall, a wonderful week. Mainly in terms of relaxation and family time but also having the opportunity to give a bit back to the local community.
Sa wat dee.