Dreams live a strange and unpredictable life. Sometimes they smolder, like the embers of a fire gone cold. Other times they twist and flow, like fog rolling down a mountainside. At best, they grow like a well-tended garden. At worst, a dream that is so close you could touch it threatens to blow up fast and violent.
We were sitting in the Cafe at the Museum of Modern Art in La Jolla (now perminently closed as of 2018), enjoying the best latte in San Diego, when my doctor called. This was the call we were waiting for. Would I be medically cleared for Thailand, or would the last year we spent planning and dreaming explode and vanish before our very eyes? Some would say that at least we had trip insurance… but that was no consolation to our mounting anxiety.
Planning Our Thailand Trip
Our Thailand trip was conceived during the Adventure Travel Show last March. It was supposed to be the first big trip we would document for our blog and be able to try out our new Skyscanner skills. We didn’t yet realize how many bloggers actually called this country their home. No matter, we had a niche that was ours and we were seeing this country our way. Not as roaming vagabonds, but as corporate travelers on a mission to make the most of our precious holiday.
Our Trip Itinerary
According to our plan, our first stop on the Thailand trip is the Bangkok Conrad. We will need a little R&R after a grueling 24+ hours of flying, and besides, how often do we get to stay at the Conrad? Jenn has been a massage therapist for the better part of a decade at many top resorts and spas. She is also specifically trained in Thai massage. With any luck, this will be the first of many spas she visits in Thailand as a trained reviewer. I think I will besatisfied with a full night of sleep to recover from the jetlag. After all, we will have a busy week ahead.
In the morning, we’ll be picked up by Grasshopper Tours for a four-day bike tour down the coast. We love biking, and these guys ranked highly in all the reviews and were local. That sold us. We have planned approximately 30-50 miles a day of amazingly beautiful scenery, and we were surprised when we saw the itinerary of luxury resorts every night.
After our bike tour, the plan is to head to Koh Tao for scuba diving and island time. This will be the first of two dive trips, as we also plan to dive the western coast around Koh Phi Phi. By this time, we will have been in the country about a week and a half and somewhat acclimated and accustomed to the flow of things. Good thing too, because we’ll have two long legs of public transportation coming up. First, we go to Khao Sok from Koh Tao, and then after our time there we will push on by bus to Phuket Town.
Khao Sok is high up in the southern jungles of Thailand. We will be staying in treehouses and then have a couple of days of glamping, elephants, and kayaking. This tour is special because we can stay inside of the park and play with the elephants at the Elephant Hills Sanctuary. This is also the part of the trip where our malaria medicine needs to be in place, just in case as it’s a hot zone – as per the CDC guidelines we were told at the travel clinic where we wentfor immunizations in preparation for our trip.
The next stop of our dream Thailand trip is going to be overnight in Phuket Town, then Koh Phi Phi for our 2nd scuba location. From there we will make our way to Railay beach for some R&R, snorkeling, hiking to the phallus cave, and an island tour that awaits us there. This will be the most expensive stay of our trip (only because of the deal we got for the Conrad) but the Railay Bay Resort and Spa looks like it has a pretty sweet beach set-up, at least from the website.
After our fill of island time, we will catch a combo of a long-tail boat and land transportation to the Krabi airport to fly to the northern jungles of Chiang Mai. There we plan to experience the canopy tours with Flight of the Gibbons and soak in the culture. The plan for Christmas is to, hopefully, spend it exploring Thai Temples. Jesus is denominational, but Kris Kringle is not.
Our Thailand trip will be 3⁄4 done by the time we fly back to Bangkok. Hopefully, we’ll be savvy enough for the big city by then. More biking adventures await with our stay at the Old Capital Bike Inn, and possibly a bike tour of Ayutthaya. Cycling seems like the perfect way to extend our reach and see parts of the old capital that one usually can’t walk to.
What Stood between Us and Our Thailand Trip
There it is. The trip of our dreams – and this call could derail it all. I stepped outside in hopes of finding some more quiet so I could listen to my doctor speak.
I knew I had been bad lately. I put on ten pounds between the cruise, having stopped commuting to work by bike (damn winter), and stopping outrigger canoeing (damn shoulder). Worse still, I was getting hooked on work stress. I was the technical lead on a new project that was both really hard and really cool. Every month, I had been flying back to Tucson for meetings (per diem and donuts weren’t helping my figure either) and was green-lighted to pick up whatever help I needed in the office. This was a big-time responsibility and I was hooked.
I discovered the cafeteria had Monster Energy drinks and the vending machines had Doritos. I would dope up on caffeine until I could feel my heart palpating, and then take the edge off with a dose of salt. My PSA was spiked and I am sure my kidneys were pissed off. I just needed to power through this and I could relax in Thailand.
Who in their right mind would take a month vacation at this point? But it had been on the books forever. Even Jenn, in an unprecedented effort due to working in the hospitality industry, managed for the 1st time ever to get the entire month of December off – including Christmas! Nothing was going to stop us… Except for deep vein thrombosis.
Flashback to about a week and a half before: I had red-eyed to Baltimore the day after our cruise to visit Johns Hopkins, and then flew down for a power meeting in DC. 7 am the next day, I flew from DC to Tucson for two days of meetings. I thought I had pulled off the week from hell. But my body had other plans.
The Waiting is the Hardest Part
By Saturday night, after returning home, I knew something was wrong. My left calf was point tender and swollen. At first, I thought I had been bitten by a scorpion in Tucson (surely I would have noticed that). Maybe I had a sore muscle from exercise. I tried to massage it out, which was the exact wrong thing to do for vascular damage.
Monday in the cubicle didn’t do me any favors. The soreness and inflammation had translated down to my foot along the vascular column. By Wednesday, we were heading into urgent care.
The doctor was worried too. He scheduled me for an ultrasound. Actually, he sent a request for an ultrasound to the imaging lab. It was 30 minutes to closing the day before Thanksgiving, so we had to have the medical assistant call in the order and schedule. The only opening was in Orange County the day before we left for Thailand… certainly sub-optimal.
Jenn was busy at her job as a concierge for Thanksgiving, and I was left alone with my thoughts. It wasn’t pretty. I pumped up on aspirin, elevated my legs on a heating pad, and worked on my master escape plan from corporate America.
The doctor said I should move a bit, so I went for a 30-mile ride each day between the heat and elevation. What cognitive dissonance I was having… touch-and-go for travel, but yet, I felt I could still ride. Of course, I was on full stroke alert, looking for blood clots on the loose.
Finally, the holiday was over and I called imaging. They were able to slip me in on Sunday. The protocol was helping my leg, but nothing was helping my monkey mind settle down. Sunday couldn’t come quick enough. The exam was painless. I just wish they didn’t have to hold me in the waiting room for the preliminary results to make sure I didn’t need to go to the emergency room.
The Verdict is In- Will We Take Our Thailand Trip?
Jenn took me out to lunch and that’s when the call came in. Definitely thrombosis but in a superficial area. I was spared this time. The Thailand trip was on, including diving! I don’t know how many second chances I’ll get in my life, but I do know I have a plan for the future and to take care of myself today. I need to say no to the rush of stress and the searching for external gratification.
I am hoping the next 24 days of travel will not only help me relax and detox, but will also help Jenn and I to reboot and re-evaluate our life and priorities. Hopefully, setting this as an intention will enable us to restructure our time in a healthy and productive way, building habits that will truly enhance our future and quality of life.
Stay tuned over the next few weeks to follow our adventures in Thailand, we can’t wait to share them with you 🙂
Are you planning a Thailand trip? Check out this post from Travel Tom Tom to learn 62things you should know before you travel to Thailand.