A River of Flowers in the Keukenhof Gardens Netherlands. A must see spectacle in April/May
Last Year in November I think I found a slice of Paradise. I have embarked on more than my fair share of backpacking/roughing it holidays, I have paid my dues and gone through the initiation rights to be called a traveller and not a tourist. Some of the tales of places we have stayed across the world could make your hair curl but this is not one of them. Our third and no means last visit to Thailand was on an altogether different scale. Roughing it? Oh no, we ‘Smoothed’ it big time and I liked it!
We stayed on two islands, firstly the very beautiful and famous Ko Phi Phi but we avoided the bustling backpacker town of Tonsai and continued on the ferry to go around the corner to a tranquil and azure blue water beach. Here we had a week of snorkelling and taking it easy. I have Scuba Dived many times in Thailand, the Red Sea and Spain (!) and been slightly disappointed at times, in all those deeper dives I have never seen such an array of colorful and abundant marine life as I saw around these islands, here you need nothing more than a snorkel mask and fins (optional) We even managed to hit Maya Bay (The Beach) and virtually have it to ourselves, it really is a stunning location!
All perfectly idyllic but no, the slice of paradise I was talking about came in the second venue which was Ko Lanta and the Layana Hotel.
The Layana is a small scale boutique hotel that promises to make time stand still for just a moment and to create a harmonious and tranquil setting. It did not disappoint. The moment that you enter the tree-lined drive, magic starts to happen. The first day we lay by the smooth saline pool (its composition equivalent to human tears apparently) and I just drank it all in (not the pool I hasten to add) The beautiful palm fringed manicured gardens to the left, the infinity pool reaching out towards the beach and sea with a serene buddha statue keeping guard on the right. We truly thought we had found heaven. The staff were discrete and very hospitable, we lay in the glorious sunshine until suitably toasted then cooled off in the glassy aquamarine pool only to start the routine over again. We were treated to cold flannels by the passing waiters and constant top ups of iced water. As if that wasn’t enough they would re-appear with fresh chilled fruit from time to time.
Once night falls the restaurant and bar areas come alive, the beach side dining terrace lit by candles and fairy lights in the trees was pure romance. To eat amazing food in the balmy night air to the sound of the lapping waves was perfection.
I have never wanted time to stand still so much as when we had 1 day left. I sat on our the balcony listening to the unfamiliar birds singing, watching a rare little cloud waft across the sky, Enjoying the last moments of enveloping heat around me and feeling a million miles away from the stresses of real life. I wished I could freeze the moment and remember every detail so that I could replay it back at any time.
But all good things must come to an end and this was no exception . I felt a definite tinge of sadness as the staff waved us off on our departure, it felt like leaving home but I did manage to capture those moments in my mind and writing this on a cold and dreary February day in the UK has taken me back there to all the sounds, smells and sights I was lucky enough to experience in Thailand and at the Layana. Perhaps I have indeed managed to freeze a moment in time, I will recall it whenever I need to be transported away from reality and to a calming place.
I have learned and experienced so much from travelling and roughing it on many levels around the world, there is a rich, colourful and vibrant planet out there not to be missed. These days we are eager to tick off that bucket list as if there really is no tomorrow. we ‘go’ and ‘do’ as much as possible, of course one day for all of us there won’t be a tomorrow but don’t forget to ‘see’, ‘feel’ and ‘soak in’ the small details no matter where you are. I found a rare peace, serenity and ‘happy place’ in a sometimes frenetic life by ‘smoothing’ it just this once!