Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Trip Report, Part 12: Finally On My Own

The view South on Beach Road, Pattaya
[This is part 12 of a series that may or may not ever find its way to a proper conclusion. It has to do with my latest trip to Thailand, and the people, places and things I encountered along the way. You can find the rest of the series by clicking here on Trip Reports.]

You definitely get to know friends, co-workers and casual acquaintances better when you travel with them.

Some days I'd give up an arm
to be on a beach like this.
Even if you're on some form of packaged holiday jaunt there's a fair amount of the unknown, the unpleasant, and the unexpected - such as traveler's stomach - to throw one of you off in one way or another, and that, coupled with a drastic time/sleep/schedule shift can bring out the oddest quirks in people; ourselves as well as people we thought we knew better. Wouldn't you agree?

I learned that many years back, so when I go anywhere away from home with friends I build in time away from them, somehow.  It's beneficial for all concerned; be they your partner, family or your life-long best friend(s). Co-dependents excluded, of course!

Part of the reason of for this trip was to again attend a conference put on by an arm of an organization I'm involved with, and a friend from that same group and I spent some of this trip together.  He'd come along with another couple of guys in 2010; all newbies to Thailand.

Two of them are scuba divers and have branched off to other places since, but one returned in 2011 and again this year; partially for the conference, but in all honesty more for the rented admirers. Everyone has their reasons, and I'm certainly not judging anyone; my stand is this: as long as it's legal and you don't do it in the street and scare the horses - enjoy your vacation however you wish.

From the conference - very nicely done outdoor buffet

Last year he'd established an ongoing connection with a couple of people in Phuket, so this year he wanted to be there for a fair part of his visit.  This worked fine with my wishes, as I had new things planned and a couple of old friends to check in with, although of a different variety.

Some of them were the students I sponsor (and the charity folks who are kind enough to help me), as mentioned in the May 25th post about helping underprivileged kids with their school fees - where there's still far more of a need than funds available, by the way.

Most trips there I tend to over-book myself, and this time I intended to have more time to just wander on my own; time for some strolls along the beach, some reading, maybe a little shopping - and definitely more naps, one of the few guilty pleasures (other than food) I still allow myself.

One of the sights I can enjoy just fine on my own

As the conference was drawing to a close on Sunday morning, my friend was on his way to the airport to catch his flight to Phuket, leaving me on my own.  I walked along the beach, sat in the shade and watched a few beach boys get looped, got a couple of massages from the blue shirts wandering up and down the beach and caught up with notes I'd scribbled on a pad along the way, foolishly thinking that a couple of words would spark my memory and allow me to fill in the details.  HA.

Nevertheless, I had the melody and words of the old Afro-American spiritual - "Free at last, free at last, I thank God I'm free at last" running through my head.  Feel free to insert the name of your own higher power there.

Now I could begin the side trips - and my actual holiday would begin.

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