The Vacation That Almost Wasn't

So as I mentioned, April is a big holiday month for us. Not Easter, but Lao New Year (aka Pi Mai). 3 days off right around the time it becomes ridiculously hot = beach holiday. So I booked us to Khao Lak.

Khao Lak is on the Thai west coast just north of Phuket and is where the Tsunami hit Thailand hardest. I went to Khao Lak for the first time a few days after that Tsunami to volunteer mostly as a translator for foreign tourists trying to ask Thai officialdom for help and also for local residents trying to ask foreign medical and rescue teams about their loved ones. I felt called to go so I did and in the end I ended up mostly helping forensic doctors trying to ID victims. I worked in a make-shift morgue. Weird I know.

Since then I've always wanted to go back to Khao Lak. To enjoy the beach. To see it in its prime (it was beautiful even post-tsunami but...). And there's a cheapo direct flight from a nearby Thai airport to close to there so Check. Check. Check. I booked a fancy-schmancy hotel on the beach and it was to be our last get-away as a 3 person family before we grow again.

On the appointed day, we got to the airport with hours to spare, checked in, caught up with old friends who happened to be on the same flight. Our kiddos were playing together crawling around in front of the gate when the PA system came on.

No, not to announce our flight was ready to board.

To announce that the Phuket airport was now closed due to the threat of a tsunami following a massive earthquake and that our flight was cancelled.

No, really.

Insert complete and utter disbelief on my part. I think I might have even looked around for the candid camera crew.

The rush of passengers back out of security made me accept it was real. But I wasn't ready to give up my beach holiday without a fight. I quickly got us re-booked to Bangkok, called a friend for hotel ideas for another beach and just kept moving forward. By the time we deplaned in Bangkok the tsunami warning was called off and the exquisitely bad timing of our flight really started to rub. We quickly found out that getting to Phuket on another flight was unlikely (3 day holiday weekend in the hot season means all other flights just a *wee* bit full). They offered to put us on the standby list. Ha! Standby to the beach. On the biggest holiday weekend. With a toddler. Ha. ha. ha.

We settled for a beach only a few hours drive from Bangkok. We checked into a cheapo motel near Bangkok airport and I fired up the iPad to find a hotel that still had rooms. That was hard (3 day holiday in the...you've got it). I booked a taxi online. Sout got Nava to sleep and brought me dinner in bed while I worked the phone and iPad.

By lunchtime on the 2nd day of our trip we were checked into a (not fancy-schmancy) hotel on a (not Kaho Lak) beach. And that was ok. Because we still had 4 nights left. And we were together.

(...and before you through things at this post, let me just say I am INCREDIBLY thankful to BE ABLE to take a beach holiday at all. I fully appreciate just how lucky I am. Trust me. )


  1. Anonymous25.4.12

    What an adventure! Happy Belated New Year.

    Nancy Marion

  2. Glad you persevered! So glad you had a good time together.

  3. what an awesome, awesome post. and how quickly you re-group! nice. oh my, and I can't get over the TIMING!!!

  4. I'm impressed by how well you regrouped too! And I hope you make it to Khao Lak sometime with the family without a tsunami warning. It'll just be a 4 person trip :)


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