Our trip planning for the month of December has been relatively straightforward. After our last few days in Hampi, we’ll be hitting the beach in Goa and then wrapping up our six-week Indian voyage in Mumbai. From Mumbai, we fly to Bangkok, then it’s off to Koh Tao, Koh Samui, and Koh Pha Ngan for the latter half of the month, including a Full Moon Party celebration for New Year’s Eve. I don’t think either of us are ready to party (let alone even drink alcohol again, India is mostly dry), but if i know Thailand we’ll find ourselves in the mood somehow.
We had planned to have our Christmas and New Year’s on the islands for a long time, but as the trip progressed I personally started to rethink things a bit. Having experienced two very different types of Greek islands in Mykonos and Naxos, we got a healthy taste of what a party island and a chill island is like and how we respond to long periods of time there as backpackers. We’re learning that while we enjoy island party culture as much as the next twentysomething, we also value our quiet time and can’t do back-to-back days like so many of the European animals we encountered in our first four months. I think we’ve found a good compromise that will keep us sane, but also ensure that we don’t feel like we are missing out.
We’re starting off a bit quieter with a week in Tao - Jenny is planning on getting her diving certification and I’m planning on doing a whole lot of nothing on the beach. Then we move on to Samui, a decidedly wilder place, but still not too out of control and plenty of room for relaxation. And then instead of staying in Koh Pha Ngan, a place with $100 dorm rooms and massive crowds during the week leading up to New Year’s Eve, we’ll keep our home base in Samui and just boat over whenever we please. For us this was not only the most economic route, but also the most practical. I am bristling with excitement to finally return to Thailand after 5 and a half years and am so psyched to be spending our holiday season there.
Finally, I wanted to touch a bit on our November in India and how we screwed the itinerary in every sense of the phrase. After Agra, we made the decision to spend a lot more of our time in South India, a decision that really worked out for the best. We skipped Lucknow, spent less time in Varanasi, and booked a flight down to Kochi to spend a week in Kerala, cruising around on a houseboat in the backwaters and relaxing in a quiet cabana. The week in Kerala was truly one of the highlights of our trip and I encourage anyone spending a significant amount of time in India to make some time for it, especially if you are feeling burnt out by the chaotic cities of the north. After recharging our batteries, we were ready for another urban adventure in Mysore and then a week of hippie paradise in Hampi. Sometimes after visits to emotionally draining places like Varanasi and Delhi, you need to give yourself a bit of a break. Learning how to relax in India doesn’t come easy, but can be incredibly rewarding.