Last weekend, Shannon and I took a day off of house repair and travel prep to ski closing day at Purgatory. It was just about as perfect a spring skiing day can be. It was sunny and warm, and still a some good spring snow. After a few runs, we both realized that this may be our last ski day for at least a few years. This marked what may have been our first of many “lasts” that we will be having over the coming weeks. That realization made the ski day much more meaningful. Instead of just lapping the runs and thinking of when to take a beer break, we slowed down and just took in what we may have taken for granted over the last 18 years in Durango.
On Tuesday we headed to our regular Super Teds Super Trivia, hosted at the Ska Brewing world Headquarters. We had known for weeks that the Ska trivia season was over, but it finally struck us that this would be our last one as we will be gone by the time the next season starts. We again took that little bit extra to try and remember the wins, the losses, the MANY nights winning the “mediocre” award, and above all, the regular gathering of Los Jefes to drink, have fun, and sometimes answer the questions correctly.
Change is inevitable, instead of holding on the the past, and what has been comfortable, it is time to fully embrace the coming change. These last few weeks have shown me that I need to look closely at all the things that I have, that I do, and that I think, and decide weather or not that thing is helping me toward the next goal, or if it is just something that I do, or have taken for granted for so many years.
While there are many more lasts to come over the coming weeks. It is not the end of anything, but the beginning. The beginning of our next adventure.
We were more than happy to check out of our hotel and check onto our Beneteau 343 for 3 nights and 4 days of sailing in Phang Nga Bay. Since we had already completed our course plotting the previous day, we jumped on the boat and left the marina ASAP. And we were off….
We started our trip heading toward the northwest part of the Phang Nga Bay and to Ko Hong. We had to motor most of the way into the Bay due to light winds but we finally convinced Gunnar to let us put up the sails. The scenery along the way was beautiful.
Once we had anchored, we had just enough time before dark to jump into the dinghy and do some exploring. Gunnar drove us through a cave and toward interior of the island. The sheer granite walls were beautiful. We were there during low tide and were able to get out and put out toes in the sand.
Day 2 of sailing, we pulled up the hook and headed to Ko Roi for lunch and another chance to go inside an island. We got there just in time to have the place to ourselves.
As we passed through the cave, we were in mangrove heaven and you could hear the screeching of bats almost instantly. When the tide comes in, the dinghy is too big to get through the entrance. We stayed here as long as we dared…
After exploring, eating lunch and having a nice refreshing swim, we left Ko Roi and headed for our next anchorage off of Ko Yao Yai. The weather was beautiful but not all that windy. We sailed as much as we could and the boys fixed a fan for our cabin so that I could have some air during the night! I was soooo thankful!
Once we made it to Ko Yao Yai, we finally got some wind and were able to practice tacking (turning so that our bow goes through the wind) and jibing (when our stern/back of the boat goes through the wind). We had a blast. We were also excited for dinner at the ‘Blue Roof.’ I don’t know what the place is actually called but it had a blue roof and ice cold beer. Also, don’t tell anyone that we went because we it was kind of against the rules. Whatever, it was worth it!
Day 3 of sailing began with the clouds moving in. We picked up our anchor and headed right for it.
We finally got up to 18 knots of wind and it felt like we were flying. Of course it also rained but it was warm and refreshing. I promise I felt happier than what I looked like in this picture.
With the higher winds, we got to practice lowering the head sail and reefing the main sail. The trick is to prepare the sails before the storm actually hits so that you don’t loose your sails or mast.
See, We were actually having a blast!
Finally, the squall past and we made it to our last anchorage of the trip, Ko Rang Noi. As Justin and I were completing our ASA sailing tests, we got a brilliant sunset! Since it was our last night on board, we did our best at eating all the remaining food.
Day 4, our last day sailing. We headed back to the marina and outran multiple squalls. Once back safely in the harbor, we did multiple man-overboard drills and will now be capable of getting people/animals back safely on board. We learned so much during our experience on board and did our best to have all the information and sites soak into our memories.
We loved our little trip in Phang Nga Bay and look forward to having many more sailing adventures in the future.
Just as I promised, I now get to tell you about our adventures in sailing!
As part of my search for the perfect ending to our trip to Korea, I scoured the internet and found YachtPro, a sailing school in the cool (as in “interesting”, definitely not cool as in “weather”) location of Phuket, Thailand. The first 3 days were sailing ‘school’. This is when we would start each morning with a latte at Yacht Haven Marina, go to the boat to learn some stuff, come back to the marina for lunch and then go learn more stuff on the water. And mostly in the rain.
Our boat for the first 2 days was a 26′ S80 and our skipper was John. We spent 2 wonderful days in the rain learning and getting quizzed about all the pieces, parts and functions of a sail boat. Most of these things were taught for my benefit since I had not really been on a sailboat before. We were taught how to attach, raise, lower and reef the sails as well as how to approach/leave a dock/buoy. We were also taught how to tie some essential knots, which I have yet to master. In fact, I still had to go back to the resort and study the American Sailing Association textbooks just to make sure that all of the information was making sense and sinking in. This was aided by some wonderful local food and beverages (I think I mentioned the Mai Tia’s in my previous post).
Day 3 of sailing took us to the big boat, a Beneteau 343, and our new skipper Gunnar (Goo-na). The goal for the day was to learn about our new boat and chart our course for our upcoming 3 nights in Phang Nga Bay.
So we checked out of our hotel and onto the boat with much anticipation of what we would experience over the next few days….
Stay tuned for the final leg of our sailing adventure!
After saying our goodbyes to Korea, it took a whole day of traveling to get to Phuket, Thailand. I had the grand pleasure of learning to drive on the wrong side of the car/road, on a dark and rainy Wednesday night. (Sorry, but we don’t have any footage of this.) For the first 4 nights, we stayed at the Andaman Seaside Resort which was within a short walking distance to Bangtao Beach and many bars/restaurants. Bangtao Beach is on the Northwestern portion of Phuket and the beach completely disappeared when the tide come in. Fun to watch if you have an escape route!
Since we weren’t able to explore the area during the day, we were quite content with our selections of traditional Thai and Western food options (pizza, pasta, burgers) located around the resort. And the reason we couldn’t explore the area much, you ask? We were taking sailing lessons! We were traveling daily to YachtPro, on the northern tip of Phuket to play on a boat…in the rain…but more on that later.
When we were not learning to sail, we took advantage of some non-rainy time at the beach and did our best to stimulate the bar/restaurant economy. We were in Phuket during the off-season or rainy season and we pretty much had every establishment to ourselves. We even had our first ever, but not even close to the last, Mai Tai.
After we got back to land from 3 nights in Phang Nga Bay (don’t worry, I will get to the sailing in anther blog post), we spent our last 2 nights in Phuket at the Beyond Resort. I chose Karon Beach, which is on the southwestern end of Phuket, since it was less touristy but still had plenty of shopping and restaurant options. We were lucky to have the rain disappear but were left with very hot and very sticky temperatures. Thank goodness for the beach, swim up bar and air conditioning in the room. Karon beach had the same soft sand with cleaner water and bigger waves. What we didn’t get on camera was all the trash that was on the shore, even a hypodermic needle 🙁
Justin was just like a kid playing in the water and I was like a mother taking pictures making sure that he came out alive. Big waves + strong under current are not my thing apparently.
Our last day in Phuket seemed to last forever…we stayed at the resort until check-time and then hit the road for some site seeing before having to return the rental car at 11:00 pm. So, we headed to the Big Buddha. I had forgotten that it is a holy site and showed up in a tank top and shorts. Luckily they had some more conservative attire available: a sarong to cover my legs and a scarf to cover my shoulders. Sitting high in the Nekkerd Hills, he is 25m wide and 45m tall and made of concrete and jade marble. The view from there was amazing.
From there, we had a goal of making it to the southern most point of Phuket. Not sure that we made it but I’m not sure that it mattered. The views of the ocean were amazing from any of our vantage points.
In our wanderings, we stopped to roam a pier and have lunch at Rawai Beach. There was not much of ‘beach’ could be found but the view a cold fruit smoothie was nice.
Dinner was at Sala Mexicali. We had to try the Mexican restaurant that was featured on a sailing video by SV Delos. We looked it up via the interwebs and enjoyed our last moments in Thailand killing time grubbing away. Of course we don’t have any pictures of this. I think we were pictured out at this point. Sorry about that…
The long journey home was supposed to take 36 hours but ended up taking almost 45 hours due to flight delays. Phuket to Beijing, Beijing to Dallas, Dallas to Durango. The only on-time flight was our flight out of Phuket. Just another adventure in air travel. Even with all the jet lag, the trip was well worth it!
Advertisement Alert: I have failed to mention how none of this would have been possible without Google’s Project Fi. As everyone close to us knows, Justin loves everything Google. We have switched to their Fi cellular network and were able to have a good, although not always super fast, data connection while we were traveling. We were able to navigate the buses and subways in Korea and through all the winding roads in Thailand. We were able to do research on attractions and restaurants as well as communicate with friends/family with ease. I can’t imagine traveling without consistent access to Google Maps. Since we have been home and have received our phone bills for the trip, they were quite reasonable and not at all too shocking for how much we used our data. Thanks Google for making our trip even more worry free!
Shannon and I had a free day as the rest of the family was rather tired of walking everywhere and Heather *gasp* had to work. We decided to take advantage and explore something not on our normal list.
We had discovered the fortress during our research of things to do while in Korea two years ago, but we never made it. Turns out it was a TON of walking, but some of the more beautiful old buildings we had seen. We walked for hours around the South wall and city fortress buildings. It was especially nice to see the clear(ish) sky being slightly above the ever-present smog around Seoul.
Lots of what we did in Korea involved just wandering around and seeing where things would take us. Our afternoon wandering around Gangnam was a perfect example of that. Our mission of the morning was to go to the Samsung Building and buy this 360° camera (cant seem to get them in the US yet, and it was a LOT cheaper there). With that mission obviously successful, we had a few hours to wait for the rest of the family so we did some wondering. I really think this camera captures quite a bit of the experience. There’s always a lot going on in every direction there in Seoul.
I have been slowly organizing the many hours of footage we captured over our 3 week adventure to Korea and Thailand. I think we have enough footage to put out 5-6 decent length videos, and probably about 6-8 shorter 360 videos. I hope to create a video a week, but I cant promise anything at this point.
So, with that in mind, here’s the Prologue chapter of the trip. Its not much, just our travel to Korea all thrown together, but it will do.
Justin and I had the pleasure of going Korea to visit my Sister, Heather, and her two boys, Quade and Zane, in the March of 2014. We used the excuse of her moving back and Quade’s high school graduation to get back over there. The goal was to also get my Mom and Jack to Korea. It took some careful planning and the ‘luck’ of delayed flights to get us all on the same plane from San Fransisco to Seoul. We stayed in a wonderful Airbnb in the heart of Sunae-Dong, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-d0. Dinner for the 1st night was, of course, fried chicken.
Heather had some errands in Seohyeon so of course we had to tag along. After lunch, the family broke off to take care of pre-graduation tasks and Justin and I hopped a subway to Gangnam. The mission for Gangnam: Visit the Samsung D’light store and purchase a 360 Camera. Mission accomplished and at a bargain price (compared to the US listed price). Overall, we gained over 5 hours of 360 video and we can’t wait to share the highlights with you! The family found us in Gangnam for a dinner of what? Pizza!
Day 3: Quade’s Graduation, Korea International School, Seongnam-si
We enjoyed every moment of sitting in the hot sun to watch Quade, now a young man, graduate from high school. So proud of all of his accomplishments and we were honored to be able to share that moment with him. Dinner, Korean BBQ in Sunae.
Day 4: Insa-Dong / Tapgol Park / Jogyesa Buddhist Temple
Justin and I went to Insadong during our last trip and it was definitely a place that we wanted to get back to. The streets are lined with street food and shops, which we knew mom would love. Most of all, we wanted to have noodles and makkoli (rice wine). We also wanted to get back to the Jogyesa Buddhist Temple. The feeling of calm is overwhelming, especially with the prayers/songs coming from the temple and the prayer lanterns remaining from Buddha’s birthday celebration. A lovely Korean woman gave me a handmade lotus flower with the kind words ‘Go Home, Be Well’.
Day 5: AKA = A thorough exploration of Seoul’s mass transit systems. Dongdaemun / Jongno / Namdaemun shopping / Itaewon shopping & Dinner
In Dongdaemun, we came out of the subway and explored the outside of the newly build Design Plaza. We then wandered to the Heunginjimun or the East Gate. This is one of the 8 gates in Seoul which was part of the Fortress Wall. We then strolled down the streets of the textiles district to have lunch at an open-air food market. Hopped onto a subway to Namdaemun for lots of shopping, then more transit to Itaewon for shopping and Korean-Mexican food at Vatos Urban Tacos. The margaritas made accommodating for mom’s bum knee worth it (We didn’t know that it would be so tricky navigating the subways to find escelators or elevators or finding short walks from bus stations to our desired destinations).
Mom decided that her knee needed a break and the parents decided to stay close to the Airbnb. Justin and I decided to use this chance to get out of the city, sort of, and visit the mountain fortress city of Namhansanseong. The fortress was build in the 17th century as an emergency capital and was built around a town which sits 480meters above sea level. On a clear day, you could see into Seoul perfectly. However, we didn’t go there on a clear day. Justin and I had a lovely spicy chicken stew for lunch and made our journey back to Heather’s Dong for another round of Korean BBQ.
Mom and Jack stayed another week in Korea exploring and Heather and the boys flew back to the US shortly after, for good this time. It was hard leaving Korea knowing that we may not ever make it back in this lifetime. However, Justin and I had our next adventure awaiting us in Thailand.