After an exceptional flight on Quatar Airways from Hanoi (dinner, unlimited wine, movies with Ryan Gosling… hello) we arrived in Bangkok. It’s wild to think it was almost two months since we were last here- it feels like ages ago.

Instead of Bangkok being a hectic transfer city, we had two days of R&R at the Hilton with our friend Chris. (Are we still backpacking?!) We lounged by the infinity pool, put a serious dent in the breakfast buffet, and enjoyed our first hot shower in ages. My former teammate Matt met us for the day on his way through Bangkok – great to see friends from home.

The first stop in Southern Thailand was Ko Tao, a small island off the East coast of Thailand, where we completed our open water and advanced scuba diving certification over five days. We met some fantastic people both in the course and teaching the diving- our course instructor had been teaching for 18 years and couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. He had a wicked and mostly inappropriate sense of humor that kept us splitting our sides. We were all bitten by the diving bug.

Ko Tao had some amazing Thai food – our favorites were e-san pork, almost caramelized on the outside and tender with a spicy dipping sauce, the green and red curries with fresh coconut milk, no-name vegetable, and shredded green mango salads. The nightlife was also a lot of fun – the beach was set up each night with small mats and tables, torches, and candles lit in small caves built in the sand. Perfect to enjoy a Chang beer and play some cards.

After Ko Tao, we spent three nights in a beach bungalow on Koh Phangan. We planned to spend Christmas Eve listening to a Charlie Brown Christmas, drinking wine, and watching Elf. However, after the wine we decided to head over to Hat Rin Beach (the party beach) and check out the scene for Full Moon and had a fabulous time dancing the night away on picnic tables.

Christmas day was slow, reading on the porch and walking on the beach. We found an English pub for a proper Christmas dinner which was a welcome taste of home, where we found two other couples there that were also traveling- funnily enough, both guys in their group were also named Chris. After a few games of pool, darts and a few rounds of beer, we were having a great time and skipped out on the madness of Full Moon for a slow walk home in the moonlight.

After Ko Phangan, Cami and I headed to Khao Lak for some diving and to see Cami’s former Penn roommate. Island hopping means boats instead of busses, a much more civilized mean of travel.

We know it’s late (it’s hard to find computers in Southern Thailand… and we’re very busy on the beach!) but we hope everyone had a very happy Christmas with family and friends. We missed everyone very much- and also missed Christmas baking!