Archives for category: Travel

In my last post, “Island of Smiles”, I not only told you what made ‘magical beach’ special, I showed you. Now, I will wholeheartedly strive to articulate the scenery and views, which give rise to the beauty of ‘magical beach’.
Each morning, my internal clock would wake me shortly before sunrise. I initially attributed this to jet lag, the time difference, and being in a new place. I didn’t mind because I took pleasure in an occurrence that I had taken for granted in the past.

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I would lay in the hammock facing east, dozing, having the sun kiss me awake, suggesting I turn and face west. While stationary, I would admire the clear blue sky, the deep green jungle, and the ocean that contained shades of both. I never grew tired of the view nor the musical arrangement produced by the waves rolling onto the beach. It was amazingly peaceful. I guess one can never tire of peace.
I would later be driven by the desire to see the breathtaking views this island had to offer.

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Dan, who so graciously volunteered his time, agreed to take a few of us on a hike to a view point he believed to be one of the best on the island. Dan, Frode, and I trekked the not so visible path, being infrequently directed by signs that were either painted on rock or made out of sticks.

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My excitement was initiated by the thought of seeing a most wondrous site. The fact that I couldn’t turn back, there was no distinguishable path, after getting halfway there kept me going. I was hot, drenched from sweat, and just plain out of breath. This was no walk in the park.

My look at the beginning of the hike

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My look halfway there….glasses off, shirt wet, face red, no more smile

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After an hour and a half of ‘are we there yet’, beyond the overgrown shrubbery, this is what I was blessed to see.

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Sitting on top of Koh Phangan

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I’m staying riiiiiight here

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The viewpoint, that rock peeking out in the middle, from across the beach.

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Me and the boys

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Dan did not lie about this view point. Actually, as I would come to find out, if Dan said it, believe it.

Can all experiences be put into words? I’m starting to believe otherwise. As I lay in my hotel room in Bangkok, reflecting on my time spent on a “magical beach”, I had a hard time summarizing my Koh Phangan experience. I arrived on this island with no expectation, but somehow it exceeded in every way.
I had the opportunity to become acquainted with a place where the sane, insane, happy, sad, or indifferent co-existed seamlessly. Well, at least while I was there. Everyone did what they wanted, how they wanted, without being intrusive. I now understand why people come back to this anomaly, year after year. This beach is beautiful because of the exceptional scenery and unbelievable views, but this beach is made special by the people. While on Koh Phangan, I crossed paths with some fascinating people.

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If you know me, you know that I thoroughly enjoy conversing with people; trying to visualize their unique journey. I find myself in constant amazement when our lives intersect. To know the paths we’ve taken in our respective lives have led us to a place where we meet is pretty awesome. Especially, when it is half way around the world! I know my steps; I want to know theirs. It deepens my understanding of the human experience. It is a blessing to realize that essentially, we are all the same.

Me and the girls

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Frode is a cool, cool guy

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Piña colada time

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One of the many funny moments with James

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Charlie and his Angels

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Dan was an unexpected surprise. He became my unofficial guide to exploring the island of Koh Phangan.

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Nic made that lovely bikini top for Catherine for her birthday. Beautiful.

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Lou, oh Lou. One of the most thoughtful people I have met. Such a sweet spirit (until she gets hungry!).

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Massimo and I sharing a moment

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Piña colada time again

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Catherine, oh Catherine. I shall see you again, same place same time.

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If it has ever crossed your mind how I came to be on this island, I will tell you. Last year I met the lovely, kind hearted Catherine Bradley. Catherine and I shared lots of laughs, motorbike rides, and a couple of dinners on the beach. As they say, the rest is history! We kept in touch via social media (gotta love it!) and she had mentioned this beach. So when she invited me, I gladly accepted.
As this vacation approached I remember thinking, on more than one occasion, how I wished time would slow down. In my mind, the quicker December 26th came, the sooner my vacation would come to an end. I wanted to revel in the anticipation of the unknown just a while longer. The time came and I am here.
The views are stunning. A view like this undoubtedly came with a price. I am not at a 5 star resort. I am not at a WiFi equipped facility. I am in a one room bungalow with no, I repeat NO, hot water! Yep, I see ants, other crawling creatures, and I have monkeys in my backyard! Damn Gina! Talk about simple living! This may be harder than I anticipated but it’s cool, I got this. Side note: if you are looking to do a beautiful beach vacation on a shoestring budget, I know just the place!
On a serious note, this place is what I needed. Being here has allowed me to stop, be still, and rest my mind. Let me put it like this, I’m on an island where it almost seems offensive to ask the time! I wake up each morning before sunrise and get in the hammock. I lay in that hammock for hours looking out at the big blue sea, thinking about absolutely nothing; grateful and thankful for everything. With the passing of each day, those things that I once deemed important, aren’t such anymore. Being able to experience life like this…invaluable.

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December 30, 2013

I arrived yesterday disgusted, tired, wet, and extremely sweaty. After a long 3 days of traveling, I was one boat ride closer to the ‘magical beach’. After arriving to Haad Rin, following a very unpleasant speed boat ride from Samui, I now had to catch a boat to Haad Yuan. There was discussion with the boat boys about the price because I thought it was just a little much. After navigating through his very broken English, I understood. It was either pay the price or wait 2 hours for the next ferry. I paid the price and got ‘taken’ for the ride of my life!!
As we started passing Haad Yuan, I motioned for them to go there, and they shook their heads no, and pointed where they were going to drop me off. If it weren’t for my bags, I would have been overboard! Just drop me off here, I will swim the rest of the way! They dropped me off on another part of Koh Pha Ngan, which means I had to walk with my two heavy bags. This my friends is where the journey begins to go down and fast. So, this is not just some walk down the sidewalk and it’s on the left, type deal. There are no paved roads. No sidewalks.
One of the boat boys helped me get up these dreadful steps and pointed me in a direction. No English, just charades. Any other time I would’ve been up for it . Heck, I use it at work from time to time! But today, I wasn’t feeling it. As he dropped my bags, I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. I didn’t know where I was going but I had to take in this view! Breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking. The awe was short lived. As I mounted my back pack, and picked up my roller luggage, I asked God to give me strength because I didn’t have any.
As I walked, looking very lost, more than one person stopped and offered help. It was they who had set me on the right path. “Yes! I see it all the way over there! Is that really where I have to go?” That was my response to one of the helpers. I then proceeded to tell him that it would be very cruel if he was playing with me! He assures me and I believed him.
Walking by the beach and restaurants I could feel people staring at me. I had on a jacket, two pieces of luggage, my sneakers were tied together around my bag, I was sweating like a stuck pig! I was a sight!! I could only imagine what they were thinking! At one point I couldn’t go any further! I stopped at an internet shop and couldn’t move. As I was sitting there Catherine called me and said she would come get me!
I hadn’t seen Catherine in person in over a year; I was so happy to see her face! I met her mate Lou who is very, very pleasant .
As I made it, with the help of Catherine and Lou, to Barcelona resort, I sat down and ordered a drink. Introductions were made and a couple of shots were taken by the birthday girl! Food was ordered but I think a little too late. My head goes down & I can’t move! I think I’m going to be sick!! Oh no! I haven’t been here a couple of hours and I’m about to make a lasting impression!!!
With the help of Catherine and my new found friend Cormac, they helped me to my bungalow where I remained for the rest of the night. The next morning, I thought to myself that if this is how my holiday is beginning, this is going to be interesting!!!

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December 26, 2013

Last night I walked out the doors of The Womans Hospital of Texas, for what will be the last time. This was my second contract at one of the busiest labor and delivery units in this country; close to a thousand babies in one month! When I walked out of the doors at approximately 7:10pm, I was tired. I couldn’t stop to think about my tiredness because I knew that in the next 24 hours, I would be flying over the Pacific Ocean. I didn’t want to think about how much I desired to stop and be still, because I knew that I was on my way to experience life like never before. I knew, when getting off work last night, that I was going to a place where I could truly VACATE! I am talking about vacating life as I know it and live it from day to day.
Having joy in discernment, that I am truly blessed and favored enough for God to allow me an experience such as this, there are no words. I am not kidding! From 1108 Wisconsin Blvd Dayton, OH to Koh Phangan, Thailand, is a mighty long way! I have been blessed not only to meet people from this country, but people from around the world. Good people. People like you and I. People who enjoy life, laugh, and love.
As I anxiously anticipate my new adventure, I get lost in the thought that I am unable to imagine what is in store. Therefore, no expectations shall be set and for the next two weeks, I will live simple, think simple, and enjoy the simple things in life. My mind and heart are open to experience the world how God intended.

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My time in Bali began winding down the moment my feet hit the pavement on August 13. The week had come that would find me on the plane at the end. A beautiful getaway, hanging out with new friends, and last minute shopping filled my days.
In Amed, each morning greeted me with an absolutely stunning view, into which I melted each time. During my vacation, I met so many wonderful people, including Dana & Kadek who kindly opened the door to their home. When I wasn’t staying in a hotel, they welcomed me with open arms. The one thing I saved until the very end was shopping! Navigating through the market and bargaining with each article, proved to be fun but exhausting.
My time in Bali was amazing. It was exactly the vacation I wanted, yet I landed without knowing what I would be doing my entire 3 1/2 weeks. This showed me that some of the best things in life aren’t planned; to know that I just had to show up. I can’t take all the credit. I showed up because my dear friend Loryann told me, “Just come to Bali with an open heart because Bali’s heart…” was open to me. She did not lie.
Thank you!

The market


The market


The market……again







Yummy salad


Snakeskin fruit (salak) became one of my favorites while in Bali.


This vegetarian eatery was good, despite the look.


She was too cute, so I had to take a picture.


Dana and his mother


Dana’s father


Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is a water temple built in 1663.


Before sunrise, the fisherman in Amed are at work. When the sunrises, their colorful sails can be seen in the ocean.







A sunset in Amed


A sunset in Amed


You know I had to go diving in Amed.


The finished product


This carving is almost as tall as him.


The concentration of this 10 year old was excellent as he carved the face of a bear.


Talk about getting into your work! He’s using his hands and feet!




My morning view at Dana’s house.


Dika, a little boy in Dana’s neighborhood, would come over in the mornings. He took me around the neighborhood to take pictures.


A photographer in the works!


I really wanted to see the butterfly!!

Where oh where do I begin?! For the second week of my vacation, I decided to leave Bali and head a little over 12 miles southeast to the little island of Nusa Lembongan. I have to be honest, I went to Lembongan to learn how to dive. How did I fall into this you ask? Someone recommended that I try diving, which I gave little consideration at the time. As my trip drew near, I realized that I didn’t have much planned and wanted to try something new. So, I revisited the idea, read some reviews on Trip Adviser, and booked the class. I must say, it was one of the best decisions I have made to date!!
Not only did I become a certified open water diver, I was taught by one of the best instructors (Paul Spratt), and met some pretty awesome people. If that isn’t enough, I drummed up enough courage to rent a motorbike and explore the island! I extended my trip there a couple of days because it was hard to leave! Fun times! FUN. TIMES!!!

Learning how to hover


Practicing my buoyancy control


My awesome instructor and I


I’m going down, down, down!


Nusa Lembongan


The hanging bridge that connects Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Ceningan


Yes I rode a motorbike across this!


Seaweed farmer


Seaweed laid out to dry


Shanty village



Me and the girls…Huma, Loryann, Catherine, and Laura


A lovely seaside meal with Catherine


Bye Catherine!!! Until we meet again! And we will meet again!!!

During my first week in Bali, I taught English to Balinese children, visited the Batur temple and the SOS Children’s Villages orphanage, to name a few. This has been a life changing experience to say the least. All of this in the first week and I still have 2 1/2 weeks remaining!!
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