When Dave and I decided we were going to make India happen, (all the India posts are back here), Dave made sure that as long as we were going to be on the other side of the planet, we may as well stop-over somewhere he’s always wanted to go en route back home: Phuket, Thailand. There wasn’t a chance in Heaven I was going to say no to that great idea. I mean, I wouldn’t turn down a chance to travel if my life depended on it, especially if it involves Thai food (my very favorite food in the whole wide world). Plus it didn’t hurt that our friends who were going with us had a fascination with Thailand too. There was a point in making our crazy reservations that we considered traveling home through London instead (I mean, the Olympics were kind of calling, and we found a steal of a deal on that), but Thailand ruled out in the end and I’m so glad. It turned out to be the perfect ending for our India trip. Those last couple days in India were kind of heavy to take in (more thoughts on that back here) and it was so nice to have a chance to unwind a little bit. Although it’s true we were leaving a chunk of our hearts in India, were giddy for our another new adventure as we boarded that plane… …and when we arrived at this amazing place: I have to give a shout-out for our hotel (the J.W. Marriott…go here for their Facebook link to “like” them if you do) because not only was it an exceptional deal (so different from pricing in the states), they took such great care of us. I mean, check out how happy Elle was even just to get that beautiful lei they gave us upon arrival around her neck: (I thought the light was beautiful there.) Everywhere you looked just took your breath away. We settled in a little bit and took off to hike to the closest waterfall. Which, of course, the boys had to figure out a way to jump into… The vegetation was so green. After that we drove around the whole place to explore and to try to see the sunset over the ocean (which we sadly missed) but we did find a great Thai restaurant.Mmmmm, good stuff. The next morning we had scheduled a boat ride to the Phi Phi Islands which we had heard were incredible. But the guy our friend had booked the reservation through emailed to cancel. In his professional opinion the wave swells were much too high. The hotel offered a similar excursion and assured us the waves wouldn’t be a problem. …which conflicted sharply with the email from the other boat company that said the last time waves were that big and tourists had tried to brave them where we were going, three boats capsized and eight tourists died. Very comforting, yes? After some deliberation we decided to trust the hotel (I think their boats were bigger which they told us made the difference). So off we went. The kids were incredibly delighted with the waves (although they don’t really show it in this picture). Maybe that was because I took it before the big ones. By the time we hit those suckers I didn’t dare take out my camera let alone let go of my vice-grip on Dave’s hand…call me a scaredy-cat, but I was scared to death after the “death email” we had received. It was like the best roller coaster you could imagine but with visions of capsizing boats at the end of the ride. But we had an amazing boat driver. You could just tell he knew exactly what he was doing with the way he maneuvered his way through those canyons of waves which eased my visions of death a little bit. First stop was “Monkey Island” where we got to watch these guys for a while: And take in these views:(This was in a bay area guarded from the wind and waves so it was much more calm.) That’s where Max chose to have his first soda after a whole year of soda-free living. (He and Dave had made a year-deal on that one and it happened to end that day.) He was totally not very excited about that, can you tell? We were in awe of these breathtaking views. We got to get out and snorkel for a little bit. Our boat driver was so good that he got us in to Maya Bay. This place is apparently usually so flooded with tourists it’s like a cattle call getting the boats through, but that day only our boat and these seasoned fishing boats made it in.I think the fishing boats actually stay there. It was awesome. This is where they filmed a movie called “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio (which looks like a horrible movie to me from that trailer but it must be pretty beautiful if it was filmed here): We had one more stop where we ate lunch: …and snorkeled some more. Have I mentioned that these guys love being in pictures?(just in case you can’t tell by their faces…) But we had to do our traditional jumping picture. …before we headed back on the huge waves again. We were drenched in what coule have just as well been pouring rain from the huge swells by the time we got back to the dock.Yeah, we made the right choice on taking that boat trip 🙂 It was an adventure we’ll never forget. We got back to the hotel… …just in time to race to the water to enjoy the last lingering color of the setting sun. It was a gorgeous night. The next day we were ready for some down-time.They had the cutest little baby elephants wandering around the hotel (have I mentioned that I LOVED this hotel?). This one took a liking to Dave.Seriously, check out that hairy little sweetie. We enjoyed these elephants too… And I decided I want to paint one of the walls in our house like this:Isn’t that awesome? I made a shell collection for the little girls back home while the other kids tried to catch waves. Max was dying to find some good real surfing waves so he and Dave took off while the Daltons, Elle and I headed to our much anticipated Thai cooking class:I’ve always wanted to do this and Elle was a pretty fun cooking partner although she still turns her nose up just a little bit at Thai food. Her hands were speedy quick crushing that coriander seed. Oh man, wouldn’t it be dreamy to have a place to cook Thai food in every day like this: …with this awesome chef leading the way: …and with that cool cutting board that I was coveting:I even decided I liked shrimp right then and there. Who wouldn’t when it’s swimming in coconut milk? Love the Daltons. We’ll have many a Thai cooking night when we finally move in across the street from these guys some day:) We got done in time to meet up with Max and Dave (after their unsuccessful surfing scavenger hung), and catch the last of the lingering sunset once again. I couldn’t get enough of the beauty of those waves. Neither could Max and Taylor. Body surfing over and over and over again. We stayed ‘til the last drop of light slid gently, quietly from the horizon. Then we indulged in some good old American dessert at Swenson’s. The boys kinda liked the “volcano,” can you tell? As I’ve said before, it was the trip of a lifetime. We hit ten different airports in ten days and never had a flight or delay problem, and never lost a bag. The kids surpassed our wildest expectations in expanding their hearts for those kids there and we bonded like never before. It was hard and emotional and exhilarating all wrapped up together in a package that has changed each of us for the better. It was a long time in the making (and a long time in the savings too), but worth all the wait a million times over. At some point in the future we plan do a big-time service trip with Grace, Claire and Lucy too, but I have to say this trip is going to be rough to match. We better get going on the hunt (and savings:).