May 8th, 2015 - Travel day, Koh Lanta, Thailand to Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Messages like these are everywhere at the White Linen Guest House

Peter's POV 

Today was one of our last travel days. Today I woke up and realized that I hadn't packed and our driver came to get us at 10. It was 8. The packing took me 30 minutes and afterwards Lea and I went to go and get some breakfast at the buffet next door. 

When we got back we finished packing and waited for the car. Our drive to Koh Lanta was great, we were in a big minibus and our driver drove very fast so we got to our house in record time. This driver pulled up and we first thought that he was looking for someone else because he had a tiny car. But we made it work. 

When we got to the airport we all stretched out our backs and got ready to check in. We did some shopping to look for stickers. but after trying all of the stores we decided that it was a hopeless cause. When we walked over to the check-in counter we found no one working at any of the booths. We decided that we still had a while before our flight so we walked to get lunch before we checked in. Ironically, our most expensive meal in Thailand was 4 sandwiches and 3 bags of chips at Subway. When we got back to the check in counter we checked our bags and headed off for security. As we were hustling through security my dad told Lea that she didn't have her immigration departure card. So once we were through security Lea was told that she had to go back to the check-in counter and fill out another. 

When we landed in Bangkok it was 4. Bangkok airport is probably the biggest airport that I have ever been in. We had a two hour and 15 minute layover in Bangkok but we only waited for 15 minutes because it took us two hours to get from gate to gate. 

When we landed in Phnom Penh we got our visas and got out of the airport easily. When we got outside we needed to get a taxi. We told the driver where we were going before he got into the car he said that he knew were it was. When he got into the car and my dad asked him if he knew were we were going he didn't know. My dad, having gone through the same thing in Ha Noi had the address pulled up on his phone in preparation. 

When we got to the place that google maps told us to go the hotel was nowhere in site. We asked someone and drove around the block again but we still couldn't find it. After asking again and having someone walk my dad to the hotel we did finally find it. We checked into our room and went right to sleep after a long day of travel. 

Big Pete's POV

Friday May 8th     

Today was a travel day from the wonderful island of Koh Lanta to the madness of Phnom Penh Cambodia.  Stacie and I woke up early because I had a call I needed to be on at 7:00 and we wanted to get our walk in before the sun came up and started to bake the beach.  We had our coffee, our walk and then I had my call.  After the call we had breakfast and packed up and before we knew it we were on the road.  We had a two and a half hour taxi ride followed by a one hour flight from Krabi to Bangkok.  Then after a two hour layover in Bangkok we had a one hour flight from Bangkok to Phnom Penh.  All of the travel went really smoothly.  We arrived at the Krabi airport about two and a half hours early and we were all hungry.  We have not eaten fast food since we left the US with the exception of one visit to Subway in New Zealand.  In the Krabi airport we spotted another Subway and decided it would be nice to have a sandwich for a change.  We ordered two foot longs (for the kids) and Stacie and I both had 6 inch subs and we had three bags of chips - no drinks. The total bill was about $32.  Now $32 is not all that much for a meal in the airport, but it was a stark contrast to the meals we had been eating over the past couple of weeks.  Those meals were generally full blown affairs with entrees like Massaman Curry, Pad Thai, Garlic and Pepper Prawns, Fried Rice, Naan, etc.  They all included drinks and were all LESS expensive than our meal at Subway.  Welcome back to reality.  

The rest of the trip was eventful, just the way I like it.  I will say that arriving in Cambodia was by far the easiest entry into a country we have had in a LONG time, even though we had to get a visa in the airport.  They were efficient as all get out and we were in our taxi no more than 20 minutes after we touched down.  Oh, and another nice surprise - Cambodia uses US Dollars - no conversion :-).  It was nice to hold some greenbacks again!

We arrived at our guest house - the White Linnen, which is owned by the Daughters of Cambodia, with the proceeds going to help protect and rehabilitate women who have been targeted by human traffickers.  

The rooms are perfect and impeccably clean - they have done an incredible job.  

We are happy to be here and are looking forward to working with Cambodian Care on their school projects.   

May 7th, 2015 - Koh Lanta, Thailand - Day 266

Our last full day in Koh Lanta was actually pretty exciting compared to most.  It was not all that different for Stacie, Peter and I, but for Lea it was off the charts exciting.  How can that be?  I am sure you are asking.  Well this morning Lea declared - I am going to finish school today.  This came as a bit of a surprise to us because, while Lea has spent much of the time in Thailand locked in her room studying and wrapping up assignments, she still had her Final Exams for both Math and Science along with a module test for math remaining.  She confidently declared "I am going to take them all today."  We were surprised, but let her know we would do whatever we could to help.  She disappeared into her room and started to work.  

Throughout the day she would emerge and let us know she was done with another exam.  Around 5:00 she came out and announced she was DONE!  This was a huge accomplishment for Lea and we could not be prouder of her.  To have both kids done with school this early in May is fantastic - we decided to celebrate that evening by going out for a special meal - of course to Majestic.  

Before we headed down though we wanted to take another family picture.  We took a few using the remote I had purchased in Burford, and then we had a passing stranger take a couple on the beach.  

Just a test shot - but blew me away how big Peter is

We had a great celebration dinner and then headed back to the house to start packing up for the trip the next day.  Koh Lanta has been INCREDIBLE and we will all miss its charm and peacefulness. 

May 6th, 2015 - Koh Lanta, Thailand - Day 265

Another day in paradise.  I warned you that these posts were going to become increasingly boring and I am fulfilling my prophecy.  Our days are models of consistency.  We wake up, have coffee, go for an hour walk on the beach, work on individual projects, go for a swim, eat lunch, take a nap, play in the pool, go to happy hour, eat dinner and either read or watch a movie.  These days have provided us with more relaxation and time to really think than any other stop and it has been invaluable.  Stacie and I are really working on what life is going to be like when we return and have made some incredible strides.  This environment has been the perfect place to tie all the learnings of the past year together before we return home.  While we have not done much, this work has been so important and impactful for us.  I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to take this trip and feel truly blessed with the outcome so far.  

In the evening we headed past Miami to our new favorite restaurant and bar - the Majestic.  

The majestic is where we went for our anniversary and it has been the go to ever since.  They have great food (Lea loves their tacos), but the drinks are the real specialties.  Stacie and I ordered our usual - Mojito - and kicked back to watch another incredible sunset.  As you can see from the picture below we are easily influenced by marketing. 

Who would not want to be right here right now?

Although I am sure you are sick of seeing my sunset pictures almost as much as I am sick of taking them, I just can't stop.  But I also got some good pictures of us :-)

Ok - here is the sunset - ho, hum....

On our first night in Thailand we walked out to the beach and there were some bright green lights pointing back at us from the sea.  We did not know what they were but they were bright.  We later figured out they were squid fishing boats and on a big night there would be 10-15 of them out there.  I wanted to get a picture, but was lazy and I figured they would always be there another night.  Well, a couple days later the fleet moved further out to sea and I was bummed I would not be able to get a pic.  But tonight they were back so I made sure to get the shot.  Its not very good because I had to hand hold the camera in the darkness, but we now have the picture.  

May 5th, 2015 - Koh Lanta, Thailand - Day 264

Today we did almost nothing worthy of writing about.  We woke up, did our own things, had lunch, did our own things, had dinner and then went to bed.  I wish I had more to say about the day, but really there was so little that happened, I would just be filling up space with words.  So instead I will just leave you with another sunset picture :-)

May 4th, 2015 - Koh Lanta, Thailand - Day 263

An amazing sunrise

Today we went on another little adventure.  Since we could not get our groceries yesterday because the stores were closed, we decided to rent the scooters and head back into town.  We also wanted to stop by the Lanta Animal Welfare (LAW) site to see how we could help out.  We had heard great things about how this charity was helping with the local dog and cat population and thought we should check it out.  Since the day involved animals Lea took a break from her non-stop studying to come with us, which was great.  We rented two scooters from the shop across the street and were off in a flash.  

Lanta Animal Welfare

We arrived at LAW about 10 minutes later and met with the staff immediately.  We knew they were always looking for volunteers to walk their dogs and sure enough a coupe of minutes later we were off walking Noodle. 

After walking Noodle we made our way back to LAW and checked him back in.  The kids felt good about the mission of LAW and decided to donate some of their charity money to the organization.  Lea even bought a cute tank top and we bought Wrigley a little stuffed animal.  

The only bad thing we could say about LAW was it's location, which we deemed to be somewhere on the surface of the sun.  By the time our walk was over we were all so hot we thought we were in danger of combusting.  We had planned on taking a tour, but decided that having four people melt while viewing their facility would not benefit the organization in any way.  So we said our goodbyes and jumped back on the scooters. 

On the way to the grocery store we stopped at the smoothie shack to get a little ice cold refreshment.  We have passed this little shop three times and every time we stop and get a smoothie - $1 each.  

The grocery shopping went smoothly and we jumped back on our bikes and started heading to Time for Lime for lunch.  Since we struck out yesterday we were all excited to go today.  Peter and I were in the lead and stopped and waited for Stacie and Lea at the turn off to Time for Lime.  We waited and waited and after about 5 minutes we knew something was wrong.  I immediately became worried that they had been in an accident.  We raced back toward the grocery store and a couple of minutes later we found them on the side of the road with a flat tire.  I was relieved.  

We decided to leave the bike, grab a taxi for Peter and Stacie and Lea and I would go get a table at Time for Lime, where we would regroup and make a plan.  We got there quickly and went to get a table - sorry - no luck - they are not open for lunch, bummer.  

Lea and I made our way back to the main road where we met Stacie and Peter and gave them the bad news.  We decided to cut our losses and head back to our neck of the woods.  Lea and I raced ahead on the scooter while Peter and Stacie hailed down another taxi and negotiated the fare.  

When I arrived at the rental shop I started to try to communicate what was going on.  Now when you think rental shop you are thinking walk up to the customer service counter and have someone with a name tag help you.  Indulge me for a moment while I try to paint you a picture of this rental shop.  

This is a family run business which is conducted in a concrete building which doubles as the family's home.  There are about 10 scooters to rent, but in case you don't want to rent a scooter you can get your laundry done there (which we have done several times).  When you enter there are generally 4 or 5 kids running around, someone fixing a scooter and a baby in a makeshift swing. To rent a scooter you give them your passport and you are off.  This is not Hertz, but the people have been extremely friendly and we have had no issues.  

Badass Grandma Scooter Rentals, Taxi, Tours and Laundry Service

Now back to the story.  When I arrived back with one bike instead of two you could see they were a little worried.  Coming from the US where you have roadside assistance and cars are maintained to a high standard, I figured they would be apologetic and would try to make things right.  I was wrong.  They wanted me to go back to the bike, take it to a repair shop, get it fixed and then bring it back.  We went back and forth for a while and while I was arguing my position, I still understood they had not only my passport, but my clothes, yep we had dropped off a large load that morning when we rented.  After a while they guy I was dealing with said he would go get the bike, but I needed to pay for the repair.  Just then Stacie and Peter showed up in the back of the taxi.  While they were getting out I walked over and gave a brief update - "they want us to pay for the repair" and while I was doing that the guy I was talking to took off to go get the bike, then they brought in the heavyweight - Grandma.  The Corleone's had the Godfather - these guys have the Grandmother.  She was badass and was not about to let me get out of that shop without paying for her bike.  The negotiations started all over again, only her english was not quite as good as the sons.  So it went something like this -

Badass grandma - "you pay! - any shop here - same, same! - you pay!"

Me - "huh?"

Badass Grandma - "You pay new rubber!"

Me - "no - you pay - I had to pay for a taxi"

Badass Grandma - "you pay - same same!"

This went on for what felt like an eternity, and finally we agreed to split the difference.  The daughter was clearly not happy with Badass Grandma and was uncomfortable with the situation.  We had been the lion share of their income over the past few days and she was worried that we were not coming back - and she was right.  She tried to make things better as we were leaving with a big smile saying "see you at 6:00 for laundry!".

We were finally done and in desperate need of some lunch.  We went and got something and were back home for the afternoon before we knew it.  

That evening we hit the beach to watch another spectacular sunset.  

Please believe me that my pictures do absolutely no justice to these sunsets.  This place must be considered the sunset capital of the world.  The range of colors that fill the sky are simply breathtaking.  I wish I had the ability to capture the essence of these moments, but I simply don't.  Just come here and see them for yourself, like these two are:

May 3rd, 2015 - Koh Lanta, Thailand - Day 262

18 years ago today Stacie and I were on an island as well.  The island was St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and we were 25 and 26 years old respectively.  We were not there on a vacation, we were there to get married.  Today was our anniversary and I cant think of a better place to spend it.  

The day was pretty normal.  We had our long walk at the beach in the morning and then after breakfast we went across the street and rented scooter to head into town to go to the main market.  We were running low on supplies and the mini-mart across the street did not have what we needed.  We arrived downtown around 11 and as soon as we got off the scooters we could feel the heat engulf us.  

Downtown Saladan

There is a difference between 96 degrees on the beach with a nice breeze and 96 in a town with no breeze and the concrete and asphalt soaking up the sun.  

We walked around the town for a little while to see what the shops had to offer and pretty quickly realized there was not much to see, other than the Pacquiao vs Mayweather fight, which everyone was watching - literally everyone.  So after about a half hour of wandering we decided to head over to the Lanta Mart to get our supplies.  Unfortunately we did not realize it was Sunday (we have completely lost track of time) and all the grocery stores were closed.  So we decided to go grab some lunch at a place that we have wanted to go to since we arrived on the island - Time for Lime.  Unfortunately, Time for Lime was closed on Sundays as well, so we decided to cut our losses and head back to our neck of the woods for lunch at Miami - the old standby.  Lunch was solid and afterwards we headed back indoors to get out of the heat.  

For dinner Stacie and I asked the kids if they minded spending a night at home alone so we could have an anniversary dinner alone and of course they had no issue with that.  Stacie and I wandered down the beach a little further than Miami to a new joint called the Majestic Bar.  As we walked up the very kind owner came out and greeted us.  She set us up on some cushions with a little table right on the beach in the sand - it was perfect.  I decided to leave the camera at home so we could just focus on the evening instead of pictures and I am so glad I did.  The evening was amazing.  We enjoyed the best mojitos we have ever had, an incredible laid back beach bar, one of the most spectacular sunsets we have ever seen and an incredible conversation.  We both continue to be shocked that after nine months together all we want is more time with each other.  We are truly blessed.  

Like I mentioned above, the sunset was truly stunning and had I brought my camera I would have spent the entire time taking pictures.  Fortunately the owner was taking pictures and came over and showed them to us.  She then posted them to Facebook so we could download them later.  I think it was the best of our 18 wonderful anniversaries and a night I will never forget!

May 2nd, 2015 - Koh Lanta, Thailand - Day 261

Peter's POV 

The waves have been really weird lately they have been really big and fun to body surf. Every morning my dad and I go out to body surf while the waves are good. After we got back from body surfing we got some work done. Around 12 we decided to go to lunch. Lea decided to stay home and work on school instead of going out to eat.

When we got back to the house we went into our rooms to escape the heat of the day. I got up around 4 to go for a swim. When we got out of the water we got ready for dinner. Today was different because we didn't go to Miami or Cook Kai we decided to try a place further down the beach. The place that we ate at had some great smoothy like drinks and the food was pretty good. When we got back we decided to watch a new TV show called Wayward Pines. My dad read the books and said that they did a great job with the first episode. Because we started watching the TV show right as it aired we have to wait a week for the new episodes to air before we can watch them. Great day in Koh Lanta. 

May 1st, 2015 - Day 260 - Koh Lanta, Thailand

Today I woke up to the thundering of waves on the beach. You might think that I should be used to the waves by now but these waves were bigger. Last night a storm was swept out to sea.  Apparently that storm threw some big waves at Koh Lanta because for a relatively calm beach the waves were pumping. My dad woke up at 1 o-clock for a board meeting that was supposed to end at 5 but at 6:30, when I finally dragged myself out of the bed I was surprised to hear my dad still on the phone. 

When his board meeting finally finished up we changed and headed down to the beach for some body surfing. My mom didn't really feel like getting wet so she grabbed the camera and took some pictures of us body surfing. 

Catching a tube

My dad decided we should play football too

When we decided that we had taken enough pummeling for one day we ran up to the pool to cool off. After we got out of the ocean I had a chance to Skype with Cam, one of my friends in Boise. After Lea got some breakfast from Miami we all retired to our rooms to get out of the heat.

Around four after making ramen for lunch we went for a swim and decided to go out for dinner. After getting ready quickly we decided to go to Miami so we could watch the sunset. We were glad that we did because it was the closest to the sunset that we got on the first night - here are some pictures:

April 30th, 2015 - Koh Lanta, Thailand - Day 259

Peter's POV 

Today was another relaxed day on Koh Lanta. Around 7 o-clock my dad mom and I went for a swim on the beach and in the pool. After we retired to our rooms to escape the heat of the day. Around 11 we decided to go and get lunch at Cook Kai one of our favorite restaurants. Lea was busy working on school so we got her some food and brought it back to her. When we got back we went to escape the heat again. When we got out of our rooms it was four, we decided to go for another swim. When we got out we made dinner and watched Whiplash. I had already seen the movie on one of the planes that we took but my mom was seeing it for the first time. We returned back to our rooms after another day in Koh Lanta. 

April 29th, 2015 - Koh Lanta, Thailand - Day 258

Now that we have made our decision to come home a little early and have made all of our travel changes related to the decision we can get back to the hard work of relaxing.  

This day was pretty standard for us.  A walk in the morning, staying out of the heat of the day and then some ocean time / pool time in the late afternoon followed by happy hour to watch the sunset and then some dinner.  We are reading a lot, working on our little projects. and taking some long naps.  Lea is cranking on school with the goal of finishing her year while we are still in Thailand.  

We have been so relaxed I did not even take any new pictures for the day, so here is one I took a couple days ago.

One thing we did do differently on this day was to actually try a different restaurant.  Having eaten at Miami for probably 80% of our meals since we arrived in Koh Lanta we figured it was time to branch out.  We had to walk an additional 100 yards to reach this restaurant, so we were really tired when we arrived.    The restaurant, Cook Kai, was not on the beach, it was across the road, which was not ideal, but the ambiance was very cool and we could tell immediately it was a family run affair.  Everyone was incredibly friendly and the food was fantastic.  It was a great evening and was really nice to find an alternative to our go to spot. 

April 28th, 2015 - Koh Lanta, Thailand - Day 257

Big Pete's POV

Today we finally made our decision on how to rework our trip.  After reading as much as possible and connecting with a few people who know Nepal we decided that a trip there this soon after the devastation was not going to be feasible for us.  This was a really hard decision, but we all think we are making the right one.

As a result of the change in plans combined with budget constraints, flight constraints and our capacity to plan a new section of the trip from scratch we decided to come home a few days early.  We had been scheduled to arrive back in Boise on the 28th of May and now we will be arriving back May 20th - 8 days early.  While this is disappointing, we really had very limited options given the constraints mentioned above and we are making the best of it.  On a positive note we are now going to be able to spend a couple of days in Bangkok and even better we are going to be able to see a very small slice of China.  Part of the travel constraint was rescheduling our return trip home.  United was great about accommodating the change without the typical $300 per ticket change fee, however, it did mean we had to travel on a United flight back to Boise, not simply a flight booked through United.  That meant we needed to find a United destination we could get to fairly inexpensively and that meant Shanghai.  So the new agenda is two nights in Bangkok followed by three nights in Shanghai and then home.  

While we are not excited about having to cancel the trek, it is nothing compared to what the people of Nepal are dealing with.  We are so fortunate to have been on this trip for 10 months and be safe that any inconvenience is easily waived off.  

Peter does a good job describing another mellow day in paradise below.  We will miss our new friends, but hopefully we will see them again soon in Idaho!

Peter's POV 

Today was a regular day in Koh Lanta. Last night we met a family from Australia at Miami. We were bummed to learn that they were leaving today at 11. We went and had breakfast with them and hung out with them on the beach.

After they left we all did our on things until 1, when we went to go and get lunch. When we got back from lunch we decided to relax for a while. Around four my mom, dad and I went swimming in the ocean. When we got back we watched the sun set and got take out.

We capped the night off by watching Unbroken, which we all thought was a really good movie, except my dad who said the book was way better and they left out way too much important stuff. 

April 27th 2015 - Koh Lanta, Thailand - Day 256

Big Pete's POV

Today we woke up and had our typical morning, however at about 9:00 our power went out.  Normally this would not be much of an issue (we are in Thailand on a beach, why would we need electricity?), however, we are still in the middle of trying to figure out what to do in the wake of the Nepal news and badly needed the internet to do some research and communication with airlines, hotels etc.  With very little to do and lots to discuss we made our way to what has become our dining room - the Miami Restaurant.  It was already quite hot so we ordered some smoothies.  However, we were informed by our nice waitress that you need a blender to make a smoothie and without power the blenders don't work - duh.  We ordered ice cream instead.  Normally ice cream at 9:00 in the morning is not a solid option, but for this conversation and this heat, it was perfect.  I asked one of the waiters about the power and he told me it would be out all day, at least until 4:00, so we knew we did not need to keep checking. and prepared for an idol day.  

We had a good conversation about our options and then made our way home to spend a lazy day considering what to do.  At 4:00 I found a stray internet connection and started to do a little research, at around 5:00 the power came back on and we made some headway.  We are leaning towards staying in Thailand a little longer and maybe heading home a few days early, but we still have more research to do so stay tuned.  

In the evening Stacie and I headed down the beach for a drink, but this time we stopped at Lucky Fish instead of going to Miami.  They had nice chairs out on the beach and we were in the mood to shake it up a bit.  While we were sitting enjoying another lovely sunset we noticed a mother and daughter walk by and take a seat on the beach in front of Miami.  We had seen them several times over the past couple of days and Stacie and I had been encouraging Lea to go say hello to the girl, who looked like she was roughly the same age.  A few minutes later the dad and son showed up and were attempting to take a family photo, so I got up and offered to take it for them.  We ended up chatting for a few minutes and then the rest of our family came over and joined in.  They turned out to be Canadian's who had been living in Australia for the past 15 years and who were on their last day of a month long vacation in Sri Lanka and Thailand.  

We spent most of the evening with Brad, Lori, Kalyania and Kayden and had a wonderful time.  Both families are on a similar search for something more and we hit it off well.  Even better than that Lea and Kalyania connected immediately and spent the entire evening sitting on the beach chatting like best friends.  It was wonderful to see Lea connect with someone her age and have so much fun.  

We ended the evening by purchasing 8 floating lanterns, lighting them together and making wishes from the beach.  It was a very special evening that none of our family will soon forget.  

April 26th, 2015 - Koh Lanta, Thailand - Day 255

Talking about our options

Big Pete's POV

When we woke up today the first thing I saw when checking my email was a note from a friend back home with the subject "Please tell me you are not in Nepal right now".  I quickly searched Google and found the news regarding the devastating earthquake.  I was shocked and horrified at the images coming across my screen and could not help but to imagine what could have happened if the earth had held for just two more weeks.  I was incredibly thankful we were not there for the earthquake, but at the same time I felt sick for the people of Nepal and the visitors who were there and lost their lives and loved ones.  It put us all in a somber mood and created a whole host of questions for us to deal with. 

Stacie and I spent the majority of the day following he news updates and contemplating our options. As of right now we are considering changing all of our flights and finding another destination, continuing with our trip to Nepal as planned and heading home about 10 days early.  Time will tell where we land, but right now we are just a bit overwhelmed and appreciative.  

Peter's POV

Today was our second day in Thailand. When I woke up I found the sun had just started to hit the deck of our house. I had just missed the coolest part of the day and was already starting to sweat. I had breakfast and worked for a little bit then decided that I had two options, get in the water or go back to my room which has AC. I decided to get in the water because my room doesn't have wifi so I don't think I would have lasted for very long in there.

Lea decided that she would go for a swim with me, so we headed down to the beach. When we got into the water we headed out to see if we could find a good spot to do some swimming. After about 20 minutes we saw our parents walking towards us on the beach. We immediately started to paddle in, while we were paddling in Lea turned toward me and yelled "Peter look!" I turned to see a big wave for a relatively calm beach. I immediately started to get ready to surf it but by the time it hit me it was wasn't big enough. The second wave I managed to catch for a little bit, while Lea wiped out. The third wave I caught all the way into the beach. 

We decided to go get some googles and look around for some fish and other marine life in the rocks. When we got back into the water we found some fish and some dead coral. Around 11 we got out and went to lunch at Miami. When we got back we all retired to our own rooms to relax. When I got up I worked for a little bit longer and when everyone was up Lea and I decided to escape the heat once more and go for a swim. 

We headed to the beach but about an hour later ended up in the pool.

When we got out we started to talk about what to do for dinner. In the end we decided to make pasta and stay in. While we were waiting for the water to boil we hopped in the pool once more to watch the sun dip below the horizon. We had dinner and fell into bed after a great, but sad day in Thailand.  

April 25th 2015 - Koh Lanta, Thailand - Day 254

Big Pete's POV

Today was our first full day in Thailand.  Our drive in last night was in pitch black, so we had no idea what the surrounding area looked like.  Stacie and I woke up at 5 AM when we both heard what sounded like a drunken reveler right outside our door.  I turned to her and said - "what the hell is that?"  She just shrugged and rolled over.  I jumped out of bed to see where the noise was coming from.  When I opened the door I could tell the voice was coming from right across the street and was being amplified by a loudspeaker - it was a call to prayer from the mosque across the street.   It was still pitch black when we got up, but soon the sky began to lighten and before we knew it we were standing on a picture perfect beach right in front of our house.  

Our house is in a new development for the island and is very nice.  It is built in a Thai style with separate rooms for everything and a center deck connecting it all.  

From the pool to the beach - a grueling 50 feet

A look back at the house from the beach

We went for a long stroll along the beach and got a better feel for our home for the next two weeks.  The majority of the beach is made up of very casual restaurants and boutique resorts.  It is not fancy, completely laid back, and a place where you could certainly lose a lot of time.  If you can't relax here, good luck relaxing.  

We needed to stock up on some supplies from the house and decided to head into town.  We are about halfway down the island and the only supplies you can get here come from the mini-mart or the 7-11 - yep 7-11 on a tiny island in Thailand.  We decided to rent some scooters from the place across the street and load up our backpacks with the groceries.  We had no problem making it into the main town and we quickly found Lanta Mart - the main grocery store, which seems to have imported every item they have from the USA.  In all of our travels around the world I have never seen so many American grocery products.  We loaded up on some basics and then headed back to the house.  The island is not very developed at all.  There are empty lots filled with trash, broken down homes, small shops and the occasional resort, but it all adds to the relaxed vibe, this is certainly not Maui.  

Stacie quickly dove into a juicy watermelon, the kids ran to the beach and I decided to go get some lunch.  I walked about 50 yards down the beach to the Miami Restaurant.  

I ordered a beer, some prawn curry and naan and sat back and relaxed while reading a book.  I think I could have sat there forever, it was so relaxing.  I ended up having to order another beer because the curry was hot and I needed something cold.  At least that was the excuse I told myself.  When it came time to settle up I got my bill from the waiter and did the conversion my meal cost $4 and the beers were $6.  In Hawaii the same meal would have cost me $50 - I like it here!

After lunch I went back to the house and Peter announced that he was hungry, so we went back to the Miami.  After he ate we headed back to the house for an afternoon nap.  As a little side note, be prepared for some really boring daily dumps over the next two weeks.  We are in full on relax mode and plan on doing a whole lot of nothing.  This is a time for reflection, relaxation and preparation for arriving back in the real world.

After our nap it was happy hour, so Stacie and I went back to the Miami for a drink.  As we were sitting down I looked out at the horizon and was a little bummed out because the clouds went all the way to the water.  Typically this means a poor sunset and I was looking forward to getting some good pictures.  

Bummer of a sunset

We had heard a lot about the sunsets here and having our first one be a dud was disappointing, but the night was beautiful and we settled in for a little alone time.  Then it happened, the sky exploded with a riot of colors and every minute it kept getting more and more intense.  

I could have taken a thousand pictures - it was the most stunning sunset I have EVER seen - easily. 

The waiters even took a break to watch it - we took that as a good sign.

We had a couple Mojito's and then the kids arrived for dinner.  

The dinner was great and we all had too much to eat.  By 8:30 we were all spent from a day in the sun and running around the island.  We went on out super long 90 second walk back to the house and were greeted by the sound of our next door neighbors living it up.  They are from somewhere in Asia and they were here to unwind - clearly.  

Stacie and I watched the latest Modern Family in bed and by 10:00 she was asleep and I was still listening to the neighbors screaming at the top of their lungs.  It was loud and I had earplugs in.  I went over to say hello and they just waived and said "sorry".  Before long I was fast asleep.