Happy New Year

It’s a New Year, which might warrant resolutions or ponderous reflections on 2015, but I think instead we’ll go Christmas-card style and make this a cheesy update on what we’ve been up to since we last posted.

Since Myanmar we’ve been to Vientiane and Luang Prabang in Laos, Taipei in Taiwan, and Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Chumphon and Koh Phangan in Thailand. We’ve taken cooking classes, swam in waterfalls, zip-lined through the jungle, cared for elephants, taken kitesurfing lessons, seen Star Wars, paddle boarded (Alex insisted I add this even though it’s clearly the least exciting of the list), and gone scuba diving, among other activities. Eventually we’ll get pictures up.

As you may know, I’m a fan of activities, so the active schedule has been great, but actually the highlight has been the social schedule. After a few months of solid marital isolation, we’ve started seeing other people, which has been awesome. First, we were welcomed by a college friend in Vientiane (thank you Hannah and Anou!) and there we also spent time with a friend of Alex’s from a high school summer program in Paris. In Bangkok, we saw more college friends and a friend of mine from high school. And then we had the privilege of attending Courtney and Neil’s amazing wedding in Taipei where the cultural experience was incredible, but again the highlight was the company. We are so grateful to everyone who has hosted and entertained us over the past couple of months. Needless to say, Alex and I had run out things to say to one another in Japan, so it’s been great to have other humans around. And fortunately there is more to come! Over the next two weeks we have our first friends who are flying to meet us on the Thai beaches. May they be an inspiration to you all.

In other news, Alex has decided she is "chill." In her words, “I’m not as crazy about knowing what we’re doing the next day… I’m living much more in the moment.” Otherwise said, when she has no responsibilities, little in the way of obligatory plans, and is lying on a beach in the Thai islands, she doesn’t mind the possibility that things tomorrow will be the same as they were today. Of course, as I write this she has just handed me a tentative schedule of meals for our week in Hong Kong. Bolded and underlined days with bullet-pointed meals below. At a quick glance 8 of 16 meals planned so far. Can’t always escape your nature. But of course she’s very chill about that, too.

In fairness, I totally support the meal planning (it’s Chinese New Year so good places will require reservations) and we have been starting to let our travel style shift away from a vacationer’s mentality toward that of the unfettered vagabonds we are mimicking. Where at the beginning of the trip, we planned and then we executed, now we’re starting to let ourselves change our minds and our plans as the journey unfolds. In Myanmar, when our flight was delayed and we risked missing our connection to a boat upriver which would have thrown off the entire jam-packed itinerary, we just didn’t get on the flight, called the travel agent we’d been working with and went back to the beach for a few more days of lounging. In Chumphon, the idyllic little beach we had picked to “get away from it all” was in fact covered in trash and annoyingly isolated, so instead of 8 days, we did 3 days of kitesurfing lessons and then caught a ferry to Koh Phangan.

We’re beginning to allow for the possibility that sometimes even the best laid plans are limiting when you actually arrive. The other day for the first time we walked around to a bunch of places and picked one to stay in, rather than booking ahead online, and we ended up with a little bungalow on the beach for $50 a night. Sure the shower water smelled like sulfur (and thus did Alex’s hair), but who doesn’t prefer a hose on the beach to a windowless bathroom anyway? For a few days it worked perfectly. And then two days later we woke up, found a guy with a longboat willing to brave the chop and puttered and rocked our way along the deserted rocky coast to our new destination, a moderately-priced hippy village on a cove in the jungle.

It’s an interesting crowd--an eclectic mix of healers (we each get a healing session in our “all inclusive yoga package” so Alex is trying Reiki tomorrow; I’m still in search of something that I will be able to take moderately seriously… Tarot maybe?), hula-hooping hippies, yogis, and slightly-alternative moderately-wealthy people on vacation. Painfully aware of how in the latter group we are, Alex and I have spent a lot of time reading and sunbathing, but we have participated in a few of the organized offerings. In addition to a few yoga sessions, this afternoon we attended a free talk with a professional life coach called “how to change your life.” Suffice to say henceforth Alex and I will be eating healthy, sleeping more, and meditating every day. When I asked her what advice she gives to people who are trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives, she delivered this nugget of wisdom: “try everything that interests you and see what works.” So yea. Look out world, here I come.

Other than that, Alex and I still happy and healthy, in love, and enjoying the trip. Being away from friends has definitely highlighted for us how important to us you all are, so please keep in touch. I wouldn’t go so far as to say “we can’t wait to go home” but it’s a good reminder of why eventually we will and be excited to do so.

Happy New Year!

- Cole