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Two Tickets to Paradise

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 It’s nine in the morning on a Friday. I’m wrapping up a hand full of phone calls as I ricochet around the house throwing items, almost at random, into a suitcase. I’m running late for a flight…again. It feels like the world is in a state of panic. Right now, Covid-19 has become synonymous with the Zombie Apocalypse. Me, I’m not sure I remembered to put hand sanitizer in my bag. Now, it isn’t that I’m not taking all this seriously, I am, but whatever is going to happen, it’s going to happen out there. I’ll admit that my zealous sureness has burned me before. There was that time forty years ago, back when I was three-feet taller and bulletproof when I ignored warnings about a malaria outbreak to chase tasty waves with a surf trip to Bali. It reminds me of the cockpit scene from the movie Airplane, “Billy, have you ever spent two months in Bali with Malaria?”

I bring this up because the Malaria incident cut short a trip through Southeast Asia that I did not return to complete until this year. Long overdue for a visit to our Asia office in Phuket, my wife, Mariette and I decided to schedule a trip to Cambodia and Thailand to coincide with our son’s winter recess. My wife and I did the spirituality portion of the trip alone. We arrived in Cambodia to tour Angkor Wat and several other temples. We also visited an exotic floating village and made time for a beer with my good friend Chapper. Chapper’s the freest spirit I know. At the time of our meeting, Chapper was making a motorcycle tour through Cambodia spreading the ashes of a deceased friend throughout the scenic country. 

Though he is not crazy enough to ride a motorcycle on the paved city streets of Cambodia, he is exactly crazy enough to ride five days on a dirt road with his girlfriend to drink a beer with Mariette and me. 

After our visit to Cambodia, we flew into Chaing Mai to meet our son and three friends from school. Chiang Mai is a beautiful city with a lush, natural forest, elephant preserves, temples, and extraordinary natural beauty. After four nights here, we headed south to Phuket. Lead by Josh Lee and Martin Holmes our Asia office at Walkers’ Bay is an outstanding team of knowledgeable yacht and charter brokers. Thanks to Josh and Martin, Mariette and I had the pleasure of visiting two spectacular resorts; Paradise-Treehouse Villa Resort and Trisara.

Tree House Resort

Paradise-Treehouse Villa Resort is on the first island off Phang Nga Bay. You arrive by boat after weaving through limestone karst spires that look as though they were cleaved from the depths below – it’s right out of a James Bond movie. Mariette and I rarely want to be away from our son when on vacation, but this place was so nice we decided to extend our stay. Tucked into an ancient tropical forest, the exotic structure of the resort is the epitome of luxurious solitude. The food was incredible; the scenery breathtaking, the service impeccable with just the right balance of privacy and adventure. It’s a blissful wonderland managed by Marc Landgraf, who is clearly passionate about the resort. 

Mariette and I reluctantly left Paradise Resort and joined our son and his friends to explore further via catamaran. We sailed for three glorious days. Everybody put away their cell phones, picked up books, and enjoyed the pleasures of being present in the moment. We passed our time kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, beach-combing and enjoying some of the best food I had the entire trip. 

With their own itinerary ambitions and accommodations back in Phuket, the kids checked into their hotel. Thanks to a surprise treat from Josh Lee, Mariette and I left the kids and stayed at Trisara. Trisara is a private resort comprised of single villas built on 49 acres on the ocean on the west coast of Phuket. Our villa faced a private pool that overlooked the beach and sea. Spectacular! We dined at two of the restaurants and where everything was perfect. Trisara is the dream of a passionate hotelier, architect, designer, Anthony Lark. Anthony has defined luxury as privacy, and he has done an excellent job creating secluded, beautiful, spacious villas, where you can obtain the vacationer’s holy grail of feeling simultaneously doted-upon and undisturbed. A very special place and absolutely one you won’t want to leave.

Of course, no trip to Thailand is complete without a stop in Bangkok. It is a charming and chaotic town, which is home to eight million souls. There are temples, fantail boats, incredible shopping centers, massive hotels with incredible sky bars, as well as a deliberately shocking underbelly…it is all here. We had two fun and filling nights here -yes, we ate insects- and headed home!  

What a trip! Speaking of trips, I’ve got a plane to catch. Princeton has decided that so many juicy brains in one place might attract the zombies. Time to fetch the kid. But, hey, the Zombies have not eaten our brains yet. We can dream. We can plan. This too shall pass, and when the zombies are defeated, let’s all go to Thailand. Reach out to me and let’s make a plan. I’m tired of talking about the toilet-paper shortage.

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