Someone suggested I should write a mini-guide of Lembongan but I can’t. There is a lot to do on Lembongan Island. I just didn’t do any of it. I didn’t go cliff jumping, diving, snorkeling, fishing, stand up paddling, surfing, sailing, manta ray hugging or whatever else there is to do. We did scooter around the island one day, but that’s it. And that is very unlike me.
You see, I was never the type of girl to do nothing. It wasn’t that I couldn’t sit still, I just didn’t want to. I felt there was so much to explore, discover, see and do. So you would always find me walking around, planning adventures or when I still lived at my mum’s house, I would redecorate my room at least once every two weeks (which makes me the most creative person ever considering my room was just 4m x 2m).
When I moved to my first apartment, I was always busy making stuff for art school, longboarding, going out or wreaking havoc with my friend who lived across the hall. This one time, we sort of stole a bike. There was a bike outside of our apartment complex. It was locked and she needed a new bike. It didn’t seem to belong to someone, so we took it in the elevator up to our floor, bought a saw and made our neighbor saw the lock. Voila, new bike.
Right about the time my friend and I grew apart, I met Nick. Three weeks later Nick and I got a dog. Not long after that, I quit art school for reasons that are now unknown to me. I got a full-time job managing a health food store, working 40+ hours a week. During this time I also decided I wanted to be a hairdresser. Oh yeah and I tried having a social life. I’m amazed I didn’t have a burn out.
After quitting the health food store and getting a job as a hairdresser, we moved to a new city. And I got really busy exploring this new city. Are you still with me? My point is, I don’t do nothing. I like doing new things. I’ve always been an explorer. Doing nothing to me seems meaningless. Why sit still when I could be out doing stuff? You probably think I’m this super high energy person, which I’m not, at least not all the time. Trust me, my favorite thing to do is sleep. I just like doing something, anything.
Sitting at a beach doing nothing never seemed like my ideal holiday. The first time Nick made me do this was at Koh Phayam. The first day I couldn’t relax at all and constantly got up to walk, talk or look around. It took me more than a week to relax completely and accept that it was totally okay to spend a whole day doing nothing more than laying in the sun while reading, eating and swimming.
Unknowingly and unintentionally, Nick has created a monster. All I want to do now is hang around at the beach and read. It is one of my favorite things to do. The ten days we spent at Lembongan Island were filled with doing not much more than this. It’s amazing how incredibly fulfilling life can be when you take some time to read all the books you’ve wanted to read for ages.
What do you like to do? Anyone who shares my passion for sleep?
Living on the beach is something I could get used to. Filling my days with eating, reading, swimming and taking strolls along the beach. Wearing nothing but a bikini and a sarong. Having elaborate lunches on the beach with smoothies, fresh fruit and noodles (it’s still Thailand).
Our home on Koh Phayam was a tiny wooden cabin with an outdoor shower and toilet. I never thought I would shower among rainbows one day, but I did and it was every bit as wonderful as you would think. The floorboards of our little house were creaking and had massive holes in them, there was always at least one gecko running around the ceiling and at night our only light was a candle.
It felt like going back to the basics. There was internet, but only barely fast enough to check your email. This meant we could not work. The weeks before coming to Koh Phayam we had plunged into work like a deep-sea diver, we had spent every free minute on our laptops. And now here on Koh Phayam, we couldn’t. There was no escaping ourselves. Nick has no problem relaxing, he was made for reading books all day. I always find it difficult to switch from work mode to relax mode. It took me a few days to completely relax and not worry about emails, clients, blogging and Facebook. Even when you absolutely love what you do, it can get overwhelming and sometimes you need some distance.
Feeling free on Koh Phayam like I haven’t felt free in forever. Nowhere to go, nothing to do except for reading or swimming. Reading always clears my head and makes room for new inspiration, thoughts and ideas. I had so many books I still wanted to read and I have to say, I read quite a few of them while basking in the glorious Thai sun. One of the best ones, Looking for Alaska, is actually a Young Adults book.
The patterns the sea left in the sand every morning and the glorious sunshine revived us. We have talked before about living close to the beach and being here made this idea even more idyllic. But, after spending last week in the mountains of Cameron Highlands, living in the mountains, near the woods has also really taken our fancy. A mountainy beach front house with a garden adjacent to the woods, with deers (or alternatively these guys) running around in the early mornings when I get back from my morning walk along the shore line… does anyone know where I might find this?
We have had a great time last week at Ko Lanta. Being on the beach always clears my mind and gives me room to think. There was a lot to think about. Last weekend a year ago Nick’s mum passed away and our time spent remembering her brought back a lot of memories. We drank red wine (her favorite) on the beach while looking at the stars. If she could have seen us, she would have approved.
Being on the beach also got us talking about the Sparrow in Space blog. We both feel that a lot of good photos and special moments get left unshared and we love to share. So that is why this is the first edition of our new weekly post: Through our eyes. Prepare for many more to come!
1 – Ko Lanta, no the beach
2 – Morning light in our bungalow
3 – Waking up on the beach
4 – Nick is watching the birds at sunset
5 – Hundreds of birds in Krabi
6 – Khlong Nin beach at Ko Lanta
7 – Trang, such a quirky little town with amazing sunsets
I love traveling, but today I just want to go home and drink tea with my mum in the living room I grew up in and not worry about anything. Instead I’m in Bangkok, working. Our family dog has been getting older for a while now and today my mum will take him for his last walk to the vet. It hurts not being there to say goodbye.
Thinking about Hoi An reminds me of why I’m traveling and why I love it so much. One of the reasons we left everything behind and are so far away from our native country is to find a new place to call home. Even though we already know it’s not going to be in Southeast Asia, if it would, it would be Hoi An. Hoi An made us feel at home.
We fell deeply in love with Hoi An. We loved its streets, its beaches and even its touts couldn’t bother us as much as they do elsewhere. Of all South-East Asia’s countries Vietnam has a special place in our hearts and Hoi An is one of the reasons.
Hearing the news about my mum’s dog made me think about our own dog. Nick and I got a dog only two months after we met. Zena was a stray dog and it was love at first sight. She is currently on an extended sleepover at Nick’s father and she is having the time of her life. Still, I wish she was here today.
Editing Hoi An’s photo’s couldn’t have come at a better time. Seeing them cheered me up, remembering our great time there.
How we spent five days on the amazing Koh Ta Kiev
Ever since we first met we have been celebrating New Year’s on memorable places. Our first New Years was in Barcelona, we had only know each other for two months and this was our first trip together. Our second New Year’s was in a little hut in the middle of nowhere.
Angela fell asleep before midnight and when she woke up it was 00.30, having missed everything. It was one of the coldest New Year’s ever with -12 C. There was only one small wood burner which failed in heating the little hut. On top of that, there was something in the hut that made me really allergic. I was sneezing, feeling sick, it was super cold and we were in the middle of nowhere. It was horrible, but memorable.
This New Year’s eve plans formed in a busy alley in Saigon. We were sitting in the sun, enjoying our Vietnamese coffee. There was a unoccupied plastic stool next to us on which a South-African guy sat down. After the usual where-you-from-where-you-going-chat, he told a story of an uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere in Cambodia with hammocks on the beach and just a handful of people. Not thinking too much of it in early November, we wrote it down and forgot about it until some time later.
A few weeks later, the end of December was creeping in closer and we knew that we had to book something if we didn’t want to get stuck in Siem Reap for Christmas and New Year’s. After shopping around a little on the usual hostel-websites we suddenly remembered the South-African guy and his hammock island. So we did some Googlin’ around and we were sold right away.
The place we were told about so many weeks ago in Saigon is Crusoe Island, and it’s one of three guesthouses on the island, Koh Ta Kiev. Crusoe Island is a place Robinson himself would’ve liked. It’s basic, it’s sandy, there’s bamboo, there’s jungle, it’s great. Crusoe Island is run by Liam, with amazing staff (Hi Talu and Jake!). Liam is a relaxed Australian guy who has set up Crusoe Island only a short while ago. He is not planning to make this in to a big fancy resort, thank God. If you want to visit Crusoe Island, you can make a booking on Liam’s website. (We were not sponsored, just really liked it!)
Crusoe Island has its own boat. Pick up is from one of the Sihanoukville beaches on the Crusoe boat. It takes about an hour to get to the island. Sitting in the sun with the wind in your hair, sailing along the Sihanoukville coastline is a good way to start any adventure on an uninhabited jungle island.
A night in a tent at Crusoe Island will cost you $5 with tent, mattress and pillows included. You can pitch your tent anywhere you like, Liam will tell you how big the probability of your tent being washed away is in the spot where you initially want to pitch it. We moved three times in the five days we were on the island. If you are willing to take the time to explore Crusoe Island’s part of Koh Ta Kiev there are amazing camping spots to be found. If you hate camping there are four bungalows you can rent, in varying prices and sizes. You can also just rent a hammock for $2 if you want to go survival style.
After pitching your tent there’s a whole lot of stuff to do on Koh Ta Kiev. There are lots of hammocks in Crusoe Island’s base camp where you can hang out, play cards, have a good conversation. read a book or everyone’s favorite: get high. Places like Koh Ta Kiev attract great people and you’re sure to meet someone interesting there. We met a great Dutch girl who was visiting with her 4 year old kid. They’d been traveling together through Thailand and Cambodia for two months. There are so many people who would never take that leap and travel that long and so far away from home with a little kid, and yet it can be so immensely educative for a child, we think every should do it. This little guy was speaking English and interacting with everyone and he had learned so much more than school can ever teach a 4 year old
If you’re feeling all ‘Dora the Explorer’ you can go for a walk around the island. There are two other guesthouses down the coast, one is Cambodian run, the other is ran by a French dude. At one of those guesthouses is a guy making his own absinthe which once led to a liquor-fueled orgy right on the beach of Crusoe Island.
If you want to have the feeling you’re all by yourself, washed up on a truly uninhabited island, you can find a really secluded spot to pitch your tent and build things. There’s always some stuff to be found in the flotsam that you can use. I built a swing out of bamboo and rope when we were there.
The days we spent on Koh Ta Kiev were perfect. Waking up at sunrise with only the sound of the waves, coming scarily close to your tent. Spending days on our private beach, shared only with crabs, crawling out of their holes and running towards the sea. Seeing several ant colonies relocate. Skinny dipping at six in the morning, watching the sunrise. We loved it. Whenever you’re in Cambodia, go check it out! Koh Ta Kiev is amazing.