Krabi, Islands in Thailand and Runaway Widow Reflections

Traveling widow healing adventure after the loss of spouse. two weeks in Thailand

The island near Krabi called Ko Klang is 95 percent Muslim and has a population of 5000.  There are no cars, dogs or alcohol allowed on this island.  We took a moped that had a cart on the side for a tour.  We passed people harvesting rice in a rice paddy. We visited a batik shop where the women showed us how they dye, wax and use floral prints to decorate fabric.  It was interesting but we were too hot to partake in arts and crafts so we supported the community by purchasing sarongs for $4 each.  We then visited a local boat craftsman who proudly showed us his awards and his method for making model Thai long boats.

Ko klong batik Thailand
Batik
Rice paddy Ko Klong Thailand
Rice paddy

hand crafted long boats Thailand

We passed palm trees used to make palm oil and rubber trees harvesting liquid rubber.  These are 2 exports from Thailand.  Back on our long boat we took a tour of the mangrove forest and were happy to see gray monkeys along the shore.

palm trees Thailand
palm trees
harvesting palm oil in thailand
harvesting palm oil
monkeys in mangrove forest
monkeys in mangrove forest

We checked into the Deevana hotel in Krabi and were ecstatic by the lush accommodations. After a bite to eat we explored the area and on the way back I detoured for another massage.  For dinner we tried a Vietnamese restaurant which was very good.  An early night led to an early breakfast.  My two travel buddies opted to enjoy the serene pool and local spas while I decided to end the trip in the fashion I started; with a solo adventure.

I walked down the street and purchased a 200 baht ($6) round trip ticket to the island Rai Lay. Soon a white pick up truck driver told me to get in the back and 9 of us drove to a canal outside of town to catch a long boat to the island.

truck ride to long boat launch to Rai Lay
Truck ride to Long boats
long boats Krabi to Rai Lay
long boats

The 4-6 foot swells instantly reminded me of the movie scene from the Finest Hour which I had watched on the flight here, especially the part where the small coast guard boat dives through the waves. I was hopeful our wooden boat wouldn’t have to do that.  We arrived safely and I had fun exploring the different beaches and caves.  I watched some people rock climb and enjoyed a swim in the sea. I felt very brave as I walked toward the water in my bikini but honestly no one gave me a glance.  The water was warm and salty and felt so good around my middle.

Rai Lay thailand
Rai Lay
traveling widow healing adventure Rai Lay
solo day in Rai lay

I dried off laying on a towel in the warm sun and soft breeze then suddenly felt the rain.  It’s monsoon season here so when it starts, you gotta run.  I had some lunch, stopped into a beachfront Thai massage studio for my stretching and relaxing zen time and then wandered back to where the boats had dropped me off.  The rain had stopped but the waves were definitely bigger on the way back and we all got wet.

My transfer back to town was nonexistent. I thought I had purchased a round trip ticket to town but that white truck was no where to be found!  So I shared a scooter taxi back with 2 young hostel kids. One was from Russia and one from Vietnam.  I made it back to the hotel in time for a swim and happy hour before a sunset farewell dinner with my travel buddies and our tour guide.

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I packed my suitcase and prepared for my 3 flights home tomorrow.  Thinking back on this adventure filled trip I know I have stepped out of my comfort zone like trekking in the rainforest at night and filled my life with some awesome memories and great new friends.  I had some real moments of joy and wonder and faced a few challenges that I successfully navigated so I’m feeling pretty good about that.  However, as I sit here on a beach, on an island in the middle of the Adaman Sea you must admit I have run away about as far as I can go.

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of Mike’s death and I guess I really can’t escape that date.  This year has had many difficult moments but the hardest part is acknowledging that he is really gone and no matter how much I think about how it shouldn’t have happened, and how I could have changed the events of that evening, it did happen and I will never be able to recreate that night.  All I can try to do is manage my thoughts because that is the only thing I do have control over.

So when I get sad about the loss of my husband, I will let myself feel sad and then redirect my thoughts to some of my favorite memories with him.  And I can count my blessings because I am a very fortunate person.

I’ve been tossing around what I want to do in memory of Mike. I think I will continue to celebrate his life on his birthday, the 4th of July, with fireworks and one of his favorite desserts: an ice cream sundae. At his funeral I asked people in lieu of flowers to make donations to the American Heart Association.  I was overwhelmed at the generosity of so many people who made donations in his name.

After my time in Thailand I was really touched by the elephant rescue centers.  However, when I read that it is estimated that 800,000 children are being exploited here in sex trade I started to research organizations that help rescue children.  I found one called Destiny Rescue that uses funding to rescue girls and help train them for jobs outside a life of prostitution.  This year I will make a donation in Mike’s name for destinyrescue.org and invite my readers to make a donation as well.  Thank you for joining me on this healing widow adventure and I hope to make running away to cool places a new habit for me!

Solo female travel krabi and rai lay Thailand

Jungle Trekking at Night or my least favorite thing to do in the Thailand Rainforest

Jungle Trekking at night in Thailand’s Rainforest. Solo widow traveler discovers the joys of primitive and wet night hiking in Thailand.

As my sneakers squished through the black mud and flooded trail I began to wonder why this adventure had not been designated optional.  The trail through the Thailand jungle was exactly what it said it was. The lead trail guide was using his 9 inch machete to swipe fast growing vines from the narrow trail.  Walking between the dense forest was a challenge with a walking stick, however the stick came in handy as we started to climb the side of a limestone mountain.  There was not much mud on the trail at some points and we needed to grab branches and use the walking stick to balance and move forward.

Continue reading “Jungle Trekking at Night or my least favorite thing to do in the Thailand Rainforest”

Unforgettable Day Trip in Thailand: Ang Thong National Park

Tour of the Ang Thong National park with hiking, swimming, kayaking and lunch. Green lagoon and Ko Samui Thailand with small group

Ko Samui Thailand
Ko Samui

Ko Samui day trip healing grief trip

We spent the first part of our G Adventures tour exploring the northern part of Thailand including an amazing visit with elephants in Chiang Mai.  We took a 50 minute  flight from Bangkok to southern Thailand for a week of island hopping and rainforest trekking.  After landing in Ko Samui our tour guide and van driver escorted us to the main strip of a busy little beach town. 

Map of Ko Samui Thailand

Ko Samui is an island in the white square of this map.  The main strip is bustling with international young people visiting beach front bars and clubs as well as hostels for inexpensive accommodations. 

Our hotel the Mercure at Chaweng has a very nice pool area, air conditioned rooms with decent showers and breakfast is included.   Across the street from the hotel is a beautiful white sandy beach.  The water is clean and warm and so very salty.  I paid 200 Baht ($6) for a cushioned lounge chair under tree.  Along with a place to sit for the day I also had access to the hotel bar, pool and toilets.  Well worth it.

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The next day our group crossed the island of Ko Samuii and took a ferry 90 minutes to the Ang Thong National Park. This park is made up of 43 islands surrounded by beautiful turquoise water.  The ferry moored near one of the bigger islands and we boarded smaller long boats to reach the beach.

The first island had a sandy beach and a steep hiking trail to the top of the mountain.  Stone steps were lined with ropes on the side to assist in the climb.  The climb is steep but he views were spectacular, especially from the top.

Ang Thong National Park Thailand
Ang Thong National Park

After the hike, we returned to the ferry where chicken curry, rice, vegetables and watermelon were waiting for us.  The next island we had a  kayaking lesson on the sand then followed the leader around the island and through some caves. Very cool.

Kayaking at Ang Thong National Park Thailand
Kayaking

 

After hiking it was off on another hike that overlooked a green lagoon at the peak.

Green lagoon Ang Thong National Park
Green Lagoon

We weren’t the only foreign tourists on this trip.  The trails were crowded. Not sure where he was from. LOL

Ang thong national park

After the hike I used my goggles and went for a swim.  The water was amazingly clear and clean. Little fish of many colors joined me in a refreshing swim above the undamaged coral reef. It was an amazing day with spectacular views and I finally got some much needed exercise!

Ang Thong National park Thailand

Our group enjoyed dinner near our hotel back in Ko Samui at a Swedish restaurant that served Australian steak. Yummy!

Off  to the rainforest now if I can leave this beach: Next post:

Jungle Trekking at night or my least favorite thing to do in Thailand rainforest.

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More Fun in Chiang Mai and Bangkok

After our time playing with the elephants I was on a super high! We still had time in Chiang Mai and this group just keeps moving.  Some of us visited a really cool 3D art museum which brings taking photos of yourself to a new level.

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Our tour guide brought us to visit a village outside Chiang Mai to have a traditional Thai Khantoke dinner in the home of a local family.  The patriarch invited us to place a flower in the spirit house before we entered the home.  Many places have spirit houses outside them to keep bad spirits out of the homes.  People must offer the spirit house food, drinks, flowers and other gifts as well to bring good luck.

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Our host then invited us upstairs to his home and we saw pictures of his family.  Then we sat and he had us put some odd ingredients in a leaf.  So we did.  Then he told us to chew it.  So we did.  The  we spit it out because that’s what you do.

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After that experience we ventured into the garden.  He had an herb and a leaf for everything! Stomache issues, bleeding, headaches, muscle aches, allergies, impotence, you name it.  He had so many interesting and helpful plants.  He even had his own rice paddy field.

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After our tour his son and granddaughter offered us an appetizer.  Meanwhile grandma was rolling cigars for us.  There was a family of 14 living on this land and everyone was involved in welcoming us.

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We ate a delicious authentic  Khantoke dinner which was a large round tray that had several small dishes to share with friends.  The food was absolutely amazing and everyone enjoyed the dessert and tea after dinner.

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On our way back to the hotel some of us were let off by the market and the Chiang Mai stadium to watch the Thai boxing fights.  Yes.  I actually signed up for this one and was talked into sitting ringside!  I’ve never been to a fight before so if you’re going to go, get front row.  So the Muay Thai fights are 5 rounds, 3 minutes each with a 30 second break.  We watched 3 fights and the third fight was a Thailand girl vs. a British girl.  The Brit won so we were happy and left after that fight.  The scariest part was when they would lean on the ropes in front of us and seriously looked like they were coming over brawling.  My adrenaline rate was quite high I am sure!

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 Saturday morning we were up early for travel back to Bangkok.  We had a lovely tour of the Wat Po temple known for the golden reclining Buddha.  This is also the place where monks live next to and they teach Thai massage.  It was very hot and humid walking around the grounds but we enjoyed taking photos.

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I even have a vertical panoramic photo of me in front of a pagoda.

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So we cooled off on a wild 45 minute speed demon long tail river boat touring some of the canals around Bangkok.

Our last free day before heading to southern Thailand included a visit to The Jim Thompson house.  He was from America and built a beautiful home here in Bangkok with lots of antiques and artifacts.  He also brought a lot of the silk trade to America.  He disappeared in 1967 and no one knows whatever happened to him.

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We visited one of the giant malls, did some shopping, had another massage (they keep getting better) and had lunch.  Also we had time to fit in a fish spa where little fish nibble on your feet for 20 minutes and you try not to laugh too much.

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We said goodbye to some friends who will not be joining us on the second week but all promised to keep in touch with our whatsapp and Facebook. I am enjoying my time and travels in Thailand so much.  This is definitely what the runaway widow needed to do to help get through the loss and memories of this month.  There is plenty of time for reality and grieving when I get home.

Ultimate Thailand Experience: Bathing Elephants in the Mud

Traveling as a widow over 50 as a solo female can be a challenge and a way to heal after loss. Bathing and playing with elephants in Thailand is a joy.

Mike died almost a year ago but he was in my dream the night before what would have been our 26th anniversary and gave me a wonderful message.  I know I am grieving and a widow but I felt happy to wake up today.  I had such a good marriage with him and I have had more than a few dream visits so I knew today would be great.  Also, I was on my way to play with the elephants!

Continue reading “Ultimate Thailand Experience: Bathing Elephants in the Mud”

Temples, Pagodas and a Cooking Class in Thailand

We woke early in Ayutthaya to visit 700 year old ruins of palaces and temples.  We walked around mainly brick and stucco structures and even saw a Buddha head entwined in some roots. One of the pagodas was hollow and had quite a few bats living in who did not seem too pleased that we had visited as well.

Ayutthaya Thailand
Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya Thailand
Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya Thailand
Ayutthaya

Ayatthaya Thailand

Bats Ayutthaya Thailand
Bats

We drove from Ayutthaya to the Bangkok airport and took a one hour flight north to Chiang Mai.  This large city has a population of about 1.5 million people.  Our hotel was centrally located. Upon arrival we had a chance to shower and then all met for dinner.  We walked to a nearby Thai restaurant and then had fun shopping in the night market.  We bargained for scarves, t-shirts and elephant pants.  Some stayed shopping and some of us went home.  Then one of us found a massage parlor near the hotel.  One hour for 250 baht ($9) – I’ll meet you back at the hotel!

Kao Kab Kang Chiang Mai

Night market Chiang Mai
Night market Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai

The next morning we all woke up and took a taxi (cute mini mini van with 2 benches) to a local food market.  There we met the chef for our cooking class named Kong.  He took us shopping for the foods we would need for our class.  He also explained a bit about the different foods.

Thailand Cooking Class

Chiang Mai market cooking class
Chiang Mai market

Chiang mai market shopping for cooking class

Then we took another taxi to the cooking school.  We learned how to make spring rolls, cashew chicken curry, chicken stir fry and banana cake.  Kong was a great teacher and we all enjoyed eating everything that we cooked.

Chiang mai cooking class

imageimageRunaway widow Chiang mai cooking class

We learned about some of the different foods. I had never heard of Dorian but we tried some. It is a fruit with a creamy texture like avocado yet it is sweet and a bit grainy.  It smells bad and is dangerous if eaten with alcohol due to the gas. In fact our hotel won’t allow you to bring it in. Tried it but probably never will again.

One of the travelers in our group successfully caught a rare Pokemon on our dining table so I am sure my blog has just gotten way cooler!

After cooking school, we walked over to visit the 14th century Wat Chedi Luang Buddhist temple.  We took pictures and met some monks at the temple.  We had time for a rest or swim back at the hotel, I chose a swim, then left to visit the golden Buddhist temple up on the mountain.  The ride up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep was quite curvy and we all felt a bit ill by the time we reached the steps.  There are 300 steps or a tram that takes you to the temple.  The views from the top were spectacular.  We could see planes taking off below and all posed for amazing photos.

Runaway widow Thailand travel
Runaway widow

At 6:00 pm the monks knelt and chanted.  Some visitors joined in as well. It is a very spiritual feeling to be surrounded by such dedicated faith.

I found a local restaurant after a bit of supper to reflect on my trip so far and write my blog.  I am enjoying writing and traveling and spend little time thinking about the loss of my husband and being a widow.  For me this is the best therapy and I could travel all the time.

We started a whatsapp group with our travel buddies to share photos and videos so it took longer to download it all to my iPad.  Thanks for reading my blog and sharing in my adventures!

Solo Day in Bangkok

Traveling solo to Thailand to heal after the loss of my husband. Being a widow overcoming fear and loneliness with travel as therapy

So I woke up ready to go places today.  Much of this past summer I have been sleeping in very late. The first floor offered a free breakfast with eggs, salad, Thai lunch foods and fresh fruit like papaya.  During breakfast I checked out NomadicMatt’s blog on what to see in Bangkok and opted to tour the Royal Palace.  I asked the front desk how to get there and the clerk told me to take the Chong Nonsi train to the Saphan Taksin stop then take the ferry to Tha Chang Pier. No problem. If I could only pronounce the words. I asked a lot of people for help and even though I went the wrong way for one stop on the rail, I figured it out and found my way to the palace.  They don’t always understand what we say either:

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At the palace I was told I could borrow a sarong since shorts were not permitted while walking around the palace and temple. The statues were beautiful and I loved the mural even though I didn’t understand all of the stories.

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 The best was the spiritual aspect of people praying and chanting.  I also loved seeing the people light candles and offer flowers. There was only one Buddha golden statue in the emerald temple and you were not allowed to wear shoes in there or take pictures.

After a few hours of walking in the hot humid outdoors I was ready to find my way back when suddenly I became distracted by a sign: Massage 250 baht (about $9).  I had heard about these so I went in. It was similar  to a yoga class in that you get stretched out all over but it was in an air conditioned room and the price was right. Well deserved.

The trip back was a wild adventure.  The ferry was only 14 baht (50 cents) but the boat was jam packed with people. Definitely no regulations here. I got a little confused after I got off the train but used the mapme app to find my way back even though I didn’t have wifi service. A great app to have.

My roommate is lovely and a teacher from Nottingham, England. Coincidentally I studied abroad during college in Nottingham, England. Our tour guide’s name is Beam, named after Jim Beam. There are 8 of us on this tour: one honeymoon couple, 4 other women and a young man. I’m definitely the elder in this group but everyone seems very nice. We all went to dinner together and off to bed early for an early travel day in the morning.



I made it to Bangkok!

After flying across the world by myself I land in Bangkok, Thailand and treat myself to solo dining as a widow in a new country. Using wifi to blog feeling quite accomplished.

I don’t recognize these green vegetables. Kind of like raw string beans and cucumbers and cabbage. I ordered what seemed like Pad Thai and a few deep fried chicken meatballs. Also thought a Mai Tai seemed like a fun drink to go with this meal.  I’m super impressed that I can sit at this outdoor RESTAURANT and eat and type on my iPad since I figured out how to log onto wifi.  You just have to ask for the password. Now I get why kids always ask me for the password when they come over.  I’m not being unsociable.  There are 2 couples dining near me and one young Asian guy talking loudly on his phone and smoking.  Here is my meal:

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The flight here went smoothly.  I was a little apprehensive about landing in Qatar, next to Saudi Arabia. So I watched a youtube video and learned it is one of the wealthiest countries in the world with only a population of 250,000 people. The flight attendants were very attentive.  We had 2 meals on the flight and unlimited wine. There were TV screens on the back of the seat and I literally watched 5 movies, including my favorite: The Sound of Music!  Lol. Why not?  I couldn’t sleep on the first flight but on the 6 hour flight from Qatar to Bangkok I was out like a light!

 

Qatar meal on flight New York to Qatar
Qatar airlines meal with wine New York to Qatar along with movies and T.V. for entertainment.

Landing in Qatar on the way to Thailand
The Qatar flight lands amongst the sand storm smog in newly developed Qatar next to Saudi Arabia.

This is the meal and screen on Qatar airlines.  This picture was landing in Doha, Qatar.  The air seemed smoggy but it was a desert all around.  Maybe a sand storm?

Once we landed in Bangkok it was a long walk to the baggage claim area and you have to pass through customs.  The line went slowly because they asked for your passport, boarding pass, arrival form and departure ticket.  Hardly anyone has a real ticket for when you are leaving so many people were searching their phones for itinerary information.  That’s why I love my mother in law’s idea of having a Manila folder with a hard copy of all those important papers.  Phones run out of battery people!

I headed toward door number 3 where I was truly praying someone was going to meet me and then I saw it! My name in all capital letters on a piece of green paper.  Hallelujah! I shared a cab with a young  woman who was celebrating her 30th birthday by taking a different tour from Thailand to Singapore.  Turns out she is from New York also but since she is employed by New Jersey schools, Governor Chris Christie decided all public school employees must live in NJ. She was excited for her big trip before going back to work just like me.

Now I am going to try not to get lost and find my way back to the hotel FuramaXclusive Sathorn to sleep.  It’s 11:30 am in NY and 10:30 pm here on Saturday. I will have a solo day in Bangkok tomorrow then I’ll meet my small tour group and my roommate. So excited!

 

 

 

The night before the adventure

So I am in a hotel room next to JFK airport. I had mani pedi, took the Dog to the groomers and visited my acupuncturist to settle my nerves.

I picked up my son after his 3 weeks traveling solo in Europe and we found a place to eat dinner so he could miss rush hour traffic and visit with his mom. As we are driving to dinner there is a full rainbow. Both ends. I rarely ever see that. It could be a sign. I’m so impressed with my kids I can’t even go there but he brought me back to the hotel and then went home.

So here I am. I stopped in the lobby and met some other travelers watching the Olympics. We chatted. They were from San Diego. I said we used to live there and we all chatted about San Diego. When does the word “we” leave my  conversation. My wedding ring is still on. They asked where I was going. Thailand! They seemed impressed. It’s so far away.   They didn’t ask anything about my husband so I didn’t offer. Not used to doing this on my own.

Why I started a blog?

Unexpected widow seeks travel and adventures to help in the healing process. Recalling fond memories of my spouse, and sharing challenges and adventures in the life of a young widow.

I have spent the past 11 months searching for information about how to live after your spouse unexpectedly is gone and you have now become a widow.  This was not my plan.  We had a happy marriage.  We had just celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary in New Orleans after bringing our youngest son to college.  We were enjoying each other and ready to make plans for our future.  A week later, my husband was dead and my life changed, forever.  This is a blog about how I dealt with the year and continue to move forward.

I read books and visited therapists.  I talked to sympathetic friends and relatives. But I needed some direction.  What do other people do in this situation?  The first holiday we all attempted to continue our traditional meal but it was sad and I cried for the next 3 days. I decided the best action for me was to runaway and plan ahead for these upcoming triggers to deal with my grief.

I had always loved to travel but marriage, family, work and bills seemed to take up so much of my time and money.  We saved up for the airfare for our 25th wedding anniversary and stayed for 2 weeks at a friend’s water view apartment in Croatia.

In an attempt to heal myself, I started to plan trips.  Therapy through travel was my motto.  The first Christmas I took the 2 boys on a cruise.  For what would have been my 27th wedding anniversary followed a week later by my husband’s one year passing anniversary I ran far, far away.  I went by myself to Thailand and started this blog.  I wrote quickly about the adventures and some feelings that I was dealing with.  It was an amazing trip and it started to help me heal and think about what I was to do in the future.

I think Mike started to get the travel bug after our Croatia trip and I was hopeful that seeing the world would be in our future. So I would like to dedicate this blog to Mike. I will recall memories of our life together and visit some new places.  I will meet new people and continue to have adventures for both of us.  Here are some places he would have loved to see and I hope people he would have loved to meet.

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Kris and Mike arriving in Croatia

 

 

 

 

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