Tom and Renee's World Tour travel blog

View of longboat leaving Rai leh

After bus breakdown

On our way to the ferry

As my vacation comes to an end, I am reminded of a Bodenhamer family tradition. At the end of family vacations, we'd be sitting in a Perkin's somewhere in Nebraska and Mom would ask, "Kids, what was your favorite highlight of the trip." So I ask myself, what is the highlight of this trip?

The moment that comes to mind surprises me a little. There are a number of exciting activities to choose from, rock climbing on limestone cliffs jetting out of the ocean or scuba diving in one of the most vibrant coral reefs in the world. But the moment I think of is a meal we had during the transition between our first destination, Railay, and the second, Koh Tao.

We had been traveling all day expecting to arrive at the island of Koh Tao by late afternoon. We took a 6 a.m. long boat ride to Ao Nang and a 5 hour bus ride to Chumphon. We were at the bus stop without an appealing form of transportation option to get to the ferry, so we started to hit the road on foot. A bus stopped and picked us up only to break down a ½ mile later. We hit the road again on foot. Things weren't so bad; a feller on a moped with an ice cream sidecar stopped and gave us a treat. Shortly after, we were picked up by a taxi and taken to the ferry.

After all of our efforts, we arrived at the ferry docks to find out that the last boat departed the dock 30 minutes ago. We decided to stay in a hotel at the ferry dock and take the first boat in the morning.

Next quest, food. We began walking to look for a place to eat. Options seemed to be quite slim and I must admit, I wondered if we would be eating one of Thailand's delicacies for dinner, seaweed or lobster potato chips. After walking about a ½ mile down the road, we saw a dock with lanterns and soft voices and we wondered, could that really be a restaurant? Not only was it a restaurant, but it was built over the water on the river heading out to the ocean with soft lighting and an exceptionally friendly Thai staff. The atmosphere was so enjoyable and we were so happy, we stayed playing Hearts for the duration of appetizers, a meal, desert, more appetizers, and another meal.

I chose this as my highlight because first, it was such a fun moment that was completely unexpected. We were hoping to be on the island sipping pina coladas but instead ended up spending the night by the ferry dock. Each enjoyable moment was a surprise. I also really gained an appreciation for the group I was traveling with. During the most uncertain moments, I didn't hear a single complaint. All comments made by the group were focused on what we were thankful for and how we were glad things happened the way they did.

Thailand is a place that seems to have it all, incredible natural beauty, the friendliest people on the planet, and most importantly, food that makes me crave dinner 1 hour after lunch. My highlight indicates to me that in Thailand, you don't have to look hard for these things. Almost no matter where we ended up, this is what we found.

In addition to reflecting on my highlight of the trip, I would also like to share some other thoughts. I planned my trip to Thailand with the expectation to spend quality time with my sister and Tommy and maybe see and do some neat things. The moment I arrived in Thailand, I felt a new feeling of excitement I didn't expect to experience. I realized that each moment would be filled with sights, smells, and tastes that I have never encountered before. It reminded me of what it was like to be a kid going to the county fair for the first time. And then I understood why Tommy and Renee have devoted a year of their lives to this adventure. Each new place they travel to they get to feel that feeling. Then they stay at the new place long enough to really absorb the characteristics so that they can take a piece of the place with them. They move on and get to do it again, except the next time they bring their experiences from there previous travels to the new place. They've learned incredible skills that I didn't expect from them. I've seen Renee on a number of occasions stand up to the tuk tuk drivers because she knows she is being tricked and gets us a ride for ½ the original quoted price. The duration of the trip, I've seen the two of them face adversity with teamwork and not a single time did they show any impatience or frustration toward each other. I am so thankful to have gotten a taste of what their travels have been like and grateful that Renee and Tommy get to share an experience like this together.

Michelle Bodenhamer

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