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We rented two beachfront villas in Koh Samui, up in the north next to Big Buddah pier. (Villa Tanamara).  Being on the beach is key, because the kids can run from the beach to the pool, and you never have to get up off of your lounge chair or leave your deck :>  no schlepping stuff back and forth to the beach.  The villas are perfect, they are two bedroom with a living room and kitchen.  The grounds are beautifully kept with tropical plants and a skinny little pool in the middle.  There are only 8 villas, so the place itself is pretty small.

We spent the first day splashing around between the pool and the ocean – although one time we went down for a swim and Kailani made a big jump into the pool and some lady threw a hissy fit because her book got a droplet of water on it, and she stomped back into her room shaking her head – don’t worry, more drama on that in the next post.

After a full day of beaches and pools and thai massages, we decided to organize ourselves for a nice New Years Eve dinner – we asked Tan (our resident manager) where we should go.  He organized a taxi and drove us to a Thai garden restaurant – he went with us, because the place doesn’t cater to Westerners so they didn’t have any English menus.  He translated the items, and ordered for us, and then left us to fend for ourselves.  The restaurant was set back off the main road, in an open air massive gazebo.  Since were were early (Thai people don’t normally eat dinner until much later) we had the entire staff at our beckon call.  The food was delicious and the kids scampered off to entertain themselves in the playground towards the back of the restaurant (genious, by the way).

I ordered ice cream, and asked the waitress to put candles in it for Stuarts birthday, and added Mike’s name in an attempt to make up for his bummer day.  Not only did she create an ice cream cake, but she also got the Thai band to sing them happy birthday – while the kids paraded on the dance floor.  All in all – a huge success.

We put the kids to bed and then went on the beach to drink beers and watch the fireworks – which is when we discovered that our hotel is about 4 houses down from the Koh Phangan pier.  Koh Phangan is where they have the full moon parties, and it just happened to be both new years eve and a full moon, so all the twenty somethings were in a frenzy with wanting to party and make sure they “got somewhere” by New Years Eve.  We had front row seats to observe the mayhem – about 1000 people were crowded on the pier waiting for a boat to show up and take them to the island – only problem is that each speedboat only took between 25 and 30 people, and as there was no order to anything, when a boat arrived people would rush into the water to be one of the chose 25 that got to board.  It was quite a scene to watch, and the Thais had even set up music with vodka red bull stations, so the crowd proceeded to get more and more wasted as the night wore on – spectacular.

Mike had purchased some lanterns, so we woke the children at midnight and lit 20 lanterns, sending them into the night sky.  It was pretty cool to see thousands of lights alight over the ocean.  The kids went back to sleep and we stayed up with Stuart and Laura and had one of the most memorable new years eve nights ever.

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We visited the Elephant Nature Park to spend one full day with the elephants.  It was magnificent.  A lovely lady named Lek decided to create what she calls “elephant heaven”, a sanctuary where elephants can be elephants.  We got to feed them an entire bushel of pumpkin and bananas – the kids had a blast getting the good into their big trunk.  There were two baby elephants that we got to play with, while Lek sang them lullabyes.  After lunch it was time to get into the river and bathe and scrub the elephants – the children were roaming around the feet of the grand beasts as if they were rearranging their room — needless to say my heart jumped once or twice.

It was so nice to spend the entire day there, as it was a beautiful valley, and the entire experience was unstructured, so you could roam around, but you always felt like there was a part of the elephants to enjoy.  Also, it felt like we were there for the elephants, rather than the elephants being there for us – which was a nice feeling.  We wandered out into “the herd”, which was pretty crazy to be wandering out in a field with elephants all around you.  They are so magnificently giant – a few elephant facts:

  • their skin is one inch thick
  • they have enormous sensation through their toes
  • they have 4 teeth (each tooth is about as big as a child’s head), and they lose their teeth six times in their life
  • only 5% of the male elephants get tusks
  • elephants live until 70-80 years old

Mid-afternoon, Pung (our guide for the day – her name means “bee” in Thai) showed up with a birthday cake – of her own accord she somehow got a birthday cake in the middle of this remote valley!  

Soon, it was time to take the one and a half hour journey back to Chiang Mai. We were sad to leave the elephants, so we bought some souvenirs to remember our stay.  The kids were so wound up, no-one fell asleep the whole ride back.  Returning to the hotel was such a sanctuary – all brightly lit in the beautiful shaded garden.  We put on a movie for the kids, ordered delicious food from the hotel – and made a little crib out of the chairs for the babies to play in.  We all had drinks and toasted our day.  Then we put the kids to bed, and ordered our own feast with some mai tais.  With way too much food leftover and too many drinks down, we finished the day happy and satiated. (a stark contrast from Mike’s birthday only 3 days earlier, a fact I’ll be reminded of all year, I’m sure.  better start planning his fortieth now so I can redeem myself.)

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