#1 – Snowy Beijing and blissful Thailand, December 2004

In a few weeks, it will be 10 years since the 2004 tsunami battered parts of Thailand along with many other coastal communities.

Being in Thailand when the tsunami happened prompted a series of life changes within the following year. Quitting my job, moving to Thailand to volunteer and then to Japan to work happened because of December 2004.

This is the beginning of my mini commemoration of that time.

first snow of the year - Beijing

leaving our hotel on the way to Tiananmen Square in a rickety taxi

Our flight to Thailand from Canada was delayed so long we missed our connection in Beijing. Frustration from the delay was easily countered with an unexpected and surreal stopover in Beijing.

The first snow of the season stared at us the next morning. Pulling on every precious layer of summer clothing that could possibly insulate and hoping for the best, we caught a rickety taxi to Tiananmen Square.

beach umbrellas, Thailand

classic beach umbrellas in Phuket, Thailand

We made it! After our China detour, we landed in Bangkok and then Phuket.

The first stop was the beach. Lazing back into a chair and staring up at the umbrellas was sublime and unbelievable.

The previous two days included whizzing through a fraction of the Forbidden City in the snow and leaving deep winter in Canada. Was this a time machine?

outdoor restaurant patio, Thailand

first meal in Phi Phi Don, Thailand

After a couple of nights in Phuket, we took a boat to the Phi Phi Islands. Our destination was Phi Phi Don where we planned to spend Christmas and maybe a few extra days.

Sweating buckets and trying not to obviously stick to the plastic chair, I ordered my first meal in Phi Phi – basil chicken stir fry. Little did I know that a complementary version of the overwhelming heat and humidity surrounding me would soon land in my mouth.

Have you been to Thailand? I’d love to hear your experiences. 

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8 thoughts on “#1 – Snowy Beijing and blissful Thailand, December 2004

  1. Lovely photos! I have been to Thailand several times – the last time we spent a month traveling to up north from Bangkok and then over a week in Koh Samui. It was one month after the tsunami and it was so sad to see pictures plastered everywhere of victims who had not been identified.

    • Thank you! Isn’t is a wonderful place? I ache to return! Yes, those pictures haunted me for months after. When I got home, I spent hours looking through the missing sites. While it sounds awful, it was part of my coping strategy.

  2. Oh, you were there? I can imagine how such an experience can change your life! Regarding Thailand, I usually go there several times a year. I love the beaches and the food, and my first meal is almost always one of the hot and spicy Thai salads:)

    • Yes, I’ll write more over the next few weeks. I’m delightfully envious of you getting there so often! I haven’t been back since 2006 but it is forever on my list. And yes, the food… oh the food! It’s where I finally crossed over to the spicy side of eating!

  3. Beijing is beautiful in the winter! I have been to Thailand once and found the place so enchanting — it’s where my husband and I truly fell in love with Thai curries together, so it will always be a special place for us. Looking forward to reading more of your stories about Thailand!

    • Thank you! Do you have some photos on your blog of Beijing in winter? I agree about Thailand. There is something there that hooked my heart, despite the tragedies. And yes! Isn’t the food incredible? Have you cooked Thai food at home since?

  4. Wow. You were there. Glad to have you here. I have never been to Thailand but it’s in my list.
    What was it like? The way you finished the post left me wondering…

    • Thanks, Lucile! There is more to come over the next few weeks on the 2004 experience and next year, I’ll get into the volunteering experience. I love what I’ve seen of the country and hope to get back in the next few years with my family.

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