My senses are at an overloaded peak. Excited music consumes my ears. I smell fire, salt and the odd cigarette blown in my face. I touch sand, palm trees and the occasional sweaty body by accident. I taste a good trusty Thailand alcohol bucket full of wonderful shots that I can’t pronounce the name of. But what I see. What I see. A beach overwhelmed with people celebrating. Men playing with fire entertaining the western crowd. Luminous yellow paint all over my body and my cute new dress. I see my friends having the time of their lives. I see myself on an exotic island on New Year’s Eve 2016. I often think I’m dreaming when I have incredible experiences here in Thailand but I had genuinely dreamt of having a moment like this and it’s being played out in front of me like a repeated dream. I smile. This is real. Holy cow.
I start comparing. People who know me well enough knows I’m a sentimental mush and the reflective thinker in me takes a minute or two to think back to my previous New Years. Some good, some bad, and some I would like to erase… But I don’t reflect for long. Hell, I have some partying to do! 13 of us girls welcomed the New Year in altogether with hundreds of strangers with the same free spirits and positive vibes. There’s nothing like it in the world. I had a flashback of a New Year I spent in my local club in Merthyr Tydfil (Koolers – uh.) Me and a few friends. I looked around as the clock stroked midnight. No more than 50 people in the whole place and approximately 35 of them were passed out. We left two minutes after midnight muttering ‘Never Again’ under our breaths. But it isn’t all about where you are when you welcome in the New Year. It’s about who you’re with. I always ensure I spend New Year with people I love and care about and that’s all that matters. I looked around at these girls. I didn’t know them from Eve three months ago and we have already experienced so much together and the bonds tighten with each adventure.
I didn’t take many pictures. Too busy living in the moment and partying until we saw double. At the end of the night, we head to a quirky little burger stand. My resolution list has some permanent fixtures on there that never gets removed. I like to call them ‘lifestyle choices’ that sometimes gets ignored. One of these points is to ‘eat as healthy as possible’. I put it into action and order a veggie burger feeling pretty pleased about myself. Bit of mushed chickpea and corn to cure the hangover. It didn’t.
We all gathered for a New Years brunch. Staying true to my healthy self, I ordered museli and fruit and instantly regretted it when everyone else ordered cooked breakfasts, bagels and waffles. Ugh. A few of us went to spend our New Years Day on Koh Nang Yuan Island. To get there, we hired a long tail boat and had a quick shower from the sea to wake us up. We were all drowning dogs climbing out of that boat! We soon dried off when we started to hike up to the viewpoint in the heated sun. It didn’t take as long as I thought to reach the top of the viewpoint and the views were priceless.
The hike up. The hike down. It was fairly easy with steps leading to the top. The only tricky bit is the very top of the viewpoint where you need to climb up some big rocks.
We spent the rest of the day hanging out at the beach and in the sea. The island is tiny so there was nowhere to go other than the beach – not that we were complaining about that at all! What we did grumble about was the fact that we were surrounded by signs forbidding you to put any nasty beach towels on their precious island sand. Instead, you have to rent a deckchair for 150 baht. Uh No. I have a butt that is free to sit on. I should mention that it costs 100 baht to enter the island and 300 baht each for a return long tail boat ride. It comes with a free bath in the boat.
For New Year’s night, we checked out the bars on the island seeing as we didn’t budge from the beach last night. Koh Tao is the smallest island so there’s only so much there which I personally loved as everything was in walking distance. Many people choose to rent motorbikes but seriously, use your legs. Everything is right there unless you need to go to the pier. A taxi will be needed for that. The streets are also very small and packed with tourists so it’s difficult to manoeuvre bikes around human pillars so I was good with walking.
A few bars worth noting that we checked out over the next two nights:
- Choppers Bar: they do a pub crawl there which we did on the 2nd. It’s on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6pm. You pay 450 baht and there’s a free shirt, free bucket and shot in it for you. It’s really popular and they take to a pool bar (with a swimming pool, not a pool table…), a lady-boy cabaret show (which is a lot of fun!), fishbowl bar which has giant beer-pong tables and then back to Chopper’s for live music. Pucker.
- Fishbowl bar: already mentioned but we went there again and the cocktails deserve a second shout out.
- Lotus Bar: This is located on Sairee Beach where we spent a lot of time at on NYE. It has a great vibe, great music and it’s on the beach! Sold.
We stayed at Asia Resorts which was beautiful. For two people, we paid just a little lover 2000 baht each (£40) for three nights. We deserve it. Hard working teachers need a little luxury.
Asia Resorts. Pool included and free of charge. Yes.
I also had the best massage of my life – a bold statement, I know – but it deserves the title. At 350 baht, I had an oil massage at Lotus Spa right by Sairee Beach and Lotus Bar. I have a ticklish back which is often aggravated by massages and the uncontrollable back spasms become s too much to handle. But not one back spasm! It was amazing and I finally felt like air after a massage rather than a victim of Chinese torture.
The only downfall of the whole trip was the boat ride. The way there – sick as a dog. Luckily, I had space to lay down otherwise the projectile vomit movie scene was going to be played out on repeat. On the way back, it was bursting with people. The boat was too full, the rain was fierce and we were outside having another compulsory shower that we didn’t want. It took 9 hours of travel time in total from Krabi. Three hours to Surat Thani by minivan and then 6 hours on the ferry to the island. But it was worth it.
For me, New Year is the start of a brand new year and I have always tried to spend my New Year’s Eve and Day the way I intend on playing out the rest of the year. This year – the focus is definitely travelling. There’s not many things on my resolution list this year. Instead of wanting and needing, I will focus on being grateful for my life right now and people I have around me. I aim to stay happy, healthy, and living life to the full. 2016 will be pretty hard to beat. So please 2017, don’t mess up.
Here’s to 2017 and more adventures and memories.