Leaving Singapore was sad, we had such a good time there, but always remember, it is always great to leave wanting more, and I am sure we will be back.
The Airline lounge has a buffet of all this fabulous Asian breakfast specialties, from prawn dim sums to potsticker dumplings, edamame beans, gorgeous Asian broths where you add in your own hard boiled egg, chicken pieces, glass noodles, tofu, crispy veg, seaweed strips, and potent chilli sauces to add a whack of flavour. Heaven! I had to taste a bit of everything, while Gavin looked the other way, with his muesli and fruit salad. What a great way to start the day, instead of all the sugar laden cereals, heavy breads and decadent bakes, with cured meats and cheeses that the Western world tend to favour.
Come to think of it, in Thailand, we didn’t eat bread or pastries since we left Singapore, but there is of course rice with everything. I do feel this is better, as it is a natural product, albeit a carbohydrate.
Landing in Koh Samui, after a quick flight, felt so familiar. How many times have we landed there at that little airport in the past, say 12 years or so, with small children, or with friends to celebrate milestone birthdays, or with clients for photoshoots. Memories of people that have joined us over the years, the good times we shared, the laughter and the fun times, all bubble to the fore of my mind, and I feel warm inside. The kids growing up here, our 3 month sabbatical, when the kids said NEVER AGAIN to home schooling, as we were way stricter than any teachers!
Moments in time…that is what I think happiness is, just a series of fabulous moments that make you happy at the time, and then again later when we recreate these in our minds.
We took the 40 minute drive past familiar places to the FOUR SEASONS property on the North of the Island. Clouds were getting darker, and the air was thick with humidity. With excitement we hoped we would actually get to experience a wonderful thunderous tropical downpour! The property is a superb place with many one to 2 bedroomed villas, and then the bigger “estates” they call them, which have up to 5 bedroom villas, with rim flow pools, lounges both in and outdoor, kitchens and so on. We were fortunate enough to have been invited to stay at one of these, on our own. Well, with the Chef & the butler… just saying! We kept looking at each other, wondering what on earth we had done to deserve this magical treat!
Our Villa was perched high up, with spectacular views over the sea with different hues of turquoise water, and the sprawling manicured, yet wild thick tropical vegetation that led down to the beach area. We just sat soaking in the view, in absolute awe of the spectacular place we were in. Our suite was huge, simply decorated with slight turquoise highlights, light wood, bamboo and light muslin curtains and the biggest bed we have ever been in. You literally had to hop, to get onto it, the mattress was THAT thick. The best thread count for the linen, and the lightest Hungarian goose down duvet, made us feel pampered beyond belief.
This led onto a dressing room, with his and hers basins and wardrobes, and all the walls were clad in ivory speckled caesarstone. What a great idea! Light and functional! Then through to the bathroom with a huge oval caesarstone bath, a very happy sight for us from the drought stricken areas. This looked out over the sea, palm trees gently swaying in front of the window. All of this had large sliding doors opening out onto a spacious deck. Here we had a minibar, tea & coffee station, and an outdoor lounge. Oh heaven!
So, we were now hungry, so unpacked quickly, and called a buggy to take us up to the famous Sunday Brunch (from 11 to 4pm) where you literally eat until you just can’t any more! Cocktails are recommended to start, so of course I chose something gorgeous with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, just SO good. Like a Tom yum Soup flavoured cocktail. There was a 3 piece band playing discreetly, and maybe 10 tables or so, a quiet civilised affair. This does tend to be more of a couples getaway than a family style resort, and is seriously upmarket. We just kept going back and back, for small tasters, trying to pace ourselves to get to try it all. You could choose a hot dish as well, and I went for the Lobster with beurre blanc and avocado, which was heaven. Gav went with the New Zealand Lamb chops, which were okay. Think he had order envy!
Oh and then there is a whole room dedicated to the desserts and the extraordinary cheese platter. We had to have a sliver or two, again just for the taste, as by now, we were bursting!
The rains did come, gently while we were just finishing off our meal, and by the time we got back to our villa, the heavens really opened, and it was incredible. I ran a huge bath, with all the lovely coconut bath salts and oils provided, and just lay there, soaking it all in. How blessed are we! Had to have a short nap thereafter, just seems the right think to do. Luckily Gav set his alarm, as I think we would have slept right through.
Our wonderful personal Chef Kob and the ever efficient butler Khun Pui, were waiting for us in the lounge when we finally went through. I was going to have my first lesson with Chef, and Pui opened some delicious wine, as we know that it is impossible to cook without wine, right!
This soon became our routine every evening for the next 6 days, we came to the kitchen around 6pm, and Chef had prepped and chopped all ready for the quick finishing off, that is so symbolic of Thai food. Do your prep, mis en place, then you are ready to eat in 20 minutes. Every evening she did 3 to 4 dishes, which you eat all together, no start, entree, main. We exchanged food tips, she shared her knowledge and talent freely with me. The lady could cook, that’s for sure! No recipes, just like me, just “gooi”, a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
She made everything look so simple, and yet the flavours were complex and layered. She made her own pastes, and this really made the amount of ingredients added later, minimal. She really cooked the paste well in little coconut milk for a long time to release the flavours before the next steps. All stuff I know, but great to see the order she does it is. I have loads of pictures which will explain this in an easy way. Crab curry was a hit, as was the Crab in coconut milk and lemongrass, the steamed sea bass with ginger, lime, basil etc, and a new one for me, Wingbean Salad, which we will definitely try, perhaps with substitute ingredients.
I will go through the dishes we prepped, and do my best to recreate this in our next Thai class, some great new recipes.
The beach area was just so picture perfect, and again, I think no words are needed here. I found time to write, to read, to meditate and just to BE lying on my round bed shielded from the sun, and hydrated by endless glasses of chilled water supplied by the charming beach staff.
The water was a perfect temperature and was clean and clear, wonderful for swimming. There was a raft just off the beach, a good ten minute swim, and I enjoyed doing that, then just siting there, semi meditative and contemplating the world. So connected, so at peace…it really was heavenly. Gavin went on a SUP a few times as well as a water bike, such a funny site! Peddling away on the water.
We hired a scooter, much to the amusement of the Four Seasons staff, I mean WHO does that? I think it was quite novel to them, and they were not quite sure what to think. We took short rides around, went to Nathon, the local capital, and walked around the shops, went to Tescos to pick up my favourite Tom Yum stock cubes, and some other special ingredients. But to be honest, we were quite ready to get back to our haven, our beautiful perfect peaceful world, and didn’t stay out too long. You do realise the massive contrast from the real Thailand and resort Farang Thailand, a huge difference and this can be quite disturbing even for us, coming from SA! There is such an unkempt, and rough local side with rubbish everywhere, alongside the pristine resorts of the 5 star world. Such a contrast!
We so enjoyed our massages so much, what a spoil. Those girls just know how to do this so well, so generously giving of their calm energy, and so personal. How do they do this! It must be so exhausting. And they all treat you like you will be one of their permanent clients, knowing that you will be gone again soon.
I did the early morning Yoga at the outdoor Sala amongst the thick vegetation and palm trees, which was the teacher Sana’s own kind of yoga, called Dynamix, and this was a strengthening type of yoga which prepared your muscles for the poses that you learn. Quite amazing, and incredibly strenuous. I also joined him for Tai Chi, which we did on the beach, early morning dappled light on the sand. The gym was perched high up at the resort with incredible sweeping views and was really well equipped, and air-conditioned. They had Muay Thai boxing for those who wanted to try this, but I passed on this one.
We did venture out once to Five Islands Restaurant, on our little scooter of course, just to have a bit of an outing. We had celebrate one of my big birthdays there 11 years previously. They had moved, but the set up was identical, and we enjoyed a lovely meal there. Gav had the Duck in Red Curry, (for a change) and me…. well Crab Curry, of course! I will have to try to recreate these flavours with prawns, as we just don’t get fresh crab here, and I am not sure the frozen one will be the same. Perhaps I could make a crab stock… now there’s a thought, as this will bring in that sweetness that you find in this dish, and another depth of flavour. Have to try this…
I so enjoyed our time in Thailand, made so special by being where we were, and looked after by our wonderful Chef and Butler. What an incredible experience it was, and how blessed are we! The people are as I always remember, warm, gentle and smiling. They just can’t do enough to make your stay perfect. They are so proud of Thailand and want you to experience the best of this.
The days went past too quickly, and on the last morning I took my early swim as usual, before the sun rose in the velvety warm water of our pool, as I did every morning. I watched the sun rise and sky change from inky black to a midnight blue, to warm oranges and then yellow. I was filled with joy, with gratitude and felt so calm and at peace. I was determined to take this feeling with me into my real world, my challenging world of busyness and endless lists! How do you maintain this calm when juggling 20 balls in the air and trying desperately not to let any of them fall! But it must be done, for one’s life to be sustainable, and we need to have this inner core strength in order not to become overwhelmed. So now in my morning meditation, I go back to that place, I feel the emotions and the connection, and it helps me to start my day off in the right way.
I am looking forward to sharing the food that I prepared with Chef Kob with you all soon!
Huge generosity of soul and spirit!