On holiday

I wrote about our recent holiday, and you were bloody lovely about my writing.  It made my week.

I’m not one of those bloggers that wangs on about the architecture in the foyer of the cutting-edge hotel they stayed at, on holiday.  That’s not my forte, plus, I’m the sort of person who gets more excited about omelettes at the breakfast buffet than about see-through chairs and objets d’art.  So you only have to sit through one more post about my holiday, I promise.  But as recompense, amongst this post’s pictures and captions with me attempting to be witty, you get tigers!  And elephants!  And ANTS!  Yes you do!

It had been ages since we’d had a holiday.  I think we’d powered through thinking they were unnecessary and extravagant and actually, they’re pretty necessary, it turns out.    Just some time away from your house, your job, your routine.  A field in Wales works as well as anything else.  We got on a plane.  But you don’t have to.

Mr K and I used to be very, very different in what we wanted, on holiday.  I liked hammocks and huts, and mosquito nets, and getting change from a fiver from a night’s accommodation.  Mr K liked an en suite.  I used to mock him for this mercilessly.  Still do.  Until we checked into our hotel room, and the lady said the immortal words “oh, don’t worry, your bath’s on the balcony”.

Pffffghgffhtfh.

Where’s your hammock and machete combo now, you hypocrite?  Hmmm?

We were on an island, and I was waxing lyrical about the limestone cliffs, and the fields, and the beaches, and how I couldn’t find the right words to describe the colour of the water.

 

 

I turned around, and Mr K was bent over a tree trunk, taking pictures of this:

 

I wish I were kidding, but amongst our holiday snaps there are 203 close-up pictures of ants on a tree trunk, and at least three videos.

I think one thing I hadn’t done for ages was laugh.  Not laughing as in – that’s a brilliant joke and I’m crying a lot – I do that on an almost daily basis whilst texting Aisling and Clare.  I mean the sort of laughing where you think your ribs can’t hold you together anymore, where you have to wrap your arms around yourself to stop your sides coming apart, where you can’t breathe.  This happened to me on holiday.  Specifically, whilst I was on the back of an elephant, in a river.  Bear in mind I was still pasty Brit-white (there’s no other white like it in the world) at that stage, and I’m not one to wander around in a bikini at the best of times, so having my thighs splayed over the sides of an elephant in the sun’s full glare in front of a camera should have made me in some way perturbed.

It did not.  Because the elephant kept sucking up water in its trunk and absolutely soaking me and Mr K, and Mr K kept cowering behind me saying things like “make sure it doesn’t get in your mouth!” and I was laughing so hard I thought I  would pass out.

 

I think there’s something about feeling alive that makes you laugh.  And the unexpected.  I did not expect to be bottle-feeding a tiger cub, on holiday.  But I did.  It was ludicrously cute.  But actually had a hell of a bite.  Mr K and I spent a happy 45 minutes playing with these guys, learning about them, getting closer than any sane person gets to an Actual Tiger, ever.

 

 

I will try very hard to remember what the above felt like when I am next rammed up against someone’s armpit on the Victoria Line at 7.30am.

Whenever I visit a city, I head straight for the markets.  Nowhere on earth do you get a grip on what people are truly like then when they are haggling the hell out of something.  I watch people and make up stories about their lives.  Mr K walks the length and breadth of said market to get the best deal on satay and fresh mango.

 

Ninja salad lady.  You have never seen anyone roll summer spring rolls quicker in your life.

 

You remember, on holiday, that eating doesn’t have to be the military operation that it often becomes at home.  Home at 8.30pm.Try and eat by 9.30pm and usually fail.  Realise you haven’t got anything in the fridge.  Plan ahead, plan ahead.   On holiday, you see something you like the look of, you buy it, you try it, whatever time of the day it is.  Buying food in markets, on holiday, reminds you that food is so much more than fuel, more than something in a box to be put in your trolley under fluorescent lights, it’s something bend over and stick your face in and inhale and pick up and feel.

On holiday, I discovered another world.  I have always wanted to learn to scuba dive, and for health reasons I can’t.  Mr K qualified,  and I was so proud of him, and a little bit jealous.  Me, I was stuck snorkelling.  The poor cousin.  Or so I thought.

I was wrong.

Snorkelling was the best thing I have ever done.  I say that with no hyperbole.  There’s just you, silence, and an underwater world, and those fish are just getting on with their lives, in the most weird and wonderful of underwater landscapes, ignoring the lumbering human being above them, sporting fins and a lifejacket, breathing through a tube.

Grouper are the cam whores of the fish world.

 

 

I must have stalked these guys for 40 minutes.  My efforts resulted in a behind so sunburned, I couldn’t sit down.  Now THAT’s how to do “holiday chic”.

Mr  K is not the biggest fan of heights.  One day, we went to a rainforest and zipwired through its canopy.  I can’t even tell you how high up we were.  Even I felt scared, and I’m usually the first one racing up the steps of any tall building to look at a panoramic view.  I can’t even describe how high these planks of wood were, on which we were standing.  Every time you moved, the trees shook.

 

 

But it was all okay, because on holiday, if you are brave enough to jump, then things like this happen (warning, the video below contains unedited images of a very, very sweaty blogger flying through the treetops (it was 34 degrees…that’s my only excuse)

We were on a boat, in search of more snorkelling, in the middle of the Andaman sea.  The boat made a stop at a island famous for its “Sailing Rock”.  I got in a minor strop on the boat.  I may have flung a snorkel mask in disgust.  I didn’t want to waste an hour and a half of being on holiday looking at a rubbish rock.  I wanted to snorkel again.  Woe is me.

Mr K, ever the patient half of this marriage, told me to shut up, and to follow him.

This is what we found.

Unfortunately, the moral of this story appears to be…always listen to Mr K. Even on holiday.

Categories: Travel, Written By Anna
34 interesting thoughts on this

34 Comments

  1. Posted April 17, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    I want to immediately be teletransported to a tropical place. Wow.
    The pictures of ants are good, and I am so jealous, you bottle-fed a tiger!
    Like you, we go to markets, supermarkets and the movies everywhere we go. People watching and inspecting new foods is where it’s at.
    Those fish are so beautiful.
    Ohhh thanks for making me dream!

  2. Alex
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Bath on the balcony? Riding an elephant and getting sprayed?!
    *envy! Think we need to book a holiday soon! * Thank you for sharing!

  3. Vivienne
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Elephants and tigers, oh my! It looks and sounds beautiful – the four of the sea is indeed indescribable. Thank you for sharing this on what is a very grey morning

    • Vivienne
      Posted April 17, 2013 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Colour, not four!

  4. Elsie
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    These photos here have made me feel all blissed out and longing for exploration of markets and beaches. One of my favorite things on holiday is tomatoes. I know it’s a weird favourite to have but I love that they burst with flavour rather than being disappointingly watery. Ahhh come on sunshine and warmth so we can all sit out with a book and at least pretend to be somewhere more exotic.

    • Posted April 17, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      YES! A fellow tomato fiend! I want to print out the above photo and hang it in my kitchen. I am a tomato obsessive and year upon year UK tomatoes disappoint me…

      • Amanda M
        Posted April 17, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        There is a whole chasm of difference between a rubbish tomato and a good one. Fact.

        • Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

          With good tomatoes it is so lovely to have them grated with loive oil and a little salt on toast for breakfast. Had that on honeymood its like a burst of happiness in your mouth (I am also a tomato lover)

  5. Posted April 17, 2013 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Wow, this place looks utterly amazing. And has reminded me that I really need a holiday. I am definitely going to have to insist on a bath on the balcony now as well…..

  6. Posted April 17, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    If I wasn’t going away in a month I’d be feeling utterly sick with jealousy right now! (who am I kidding, I still am! *stamps feet and sulks about not being able to play with a baby tiger*)

  7. Anita
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Ooh! Ooh! Is that opening sequence of photos on Ko Phi Phi Leh? Hands down most beautiful place I’ve ever been, EVER.

    WHY do my travel write ups never sound like yours Anna K?!

  8. Anita
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Oh and geeky question- what camera did you use to take the amazing underwater snorkelling pics?? They look pretty different to my blurry blue messes taken with a cheapo Boots underwater disposable…

    • Posted April 17, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      It’s the Olympus Tough TG-2. When Mr K bought it I thought it was a ridiculous idea. I barely let it out of my hand all holiday. It withstands EVERYTHING.

  9. Clare
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    K, I love you. And I love every single word you’ve written here. And I love that Snorkelling was the best thing you’ve ever tried in your life, because it was the Absolute Worst Thing I’ve ever done. I am all up for adventure in other ways, but my god, sticking my face into the OCEAN with only a stick to breathe through and and and…can’t type any more because it’s too stressful a memory.

    Moral of the story: you are far braver than me, and I love you, you elephant riding, tiger feeding crazy woman xx

    • Posted April 17, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      The first time I snorkelled I hated it, couldn’t get my breathing to work and just ended up holding my breath. Did it again on honeymoon and loved it. Managed to work out what to do properly and there was so much to see. I also got an attractive burnt stripe at the bottom of my back from it!

      • Posted April 17, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        I don’t like snorkelling either, although it isn’t the breathing. I have a jellyfish phobia. We went snorkelling to see sea turtles in Australia and I spent the entire time having a panic attack into my snorkel tube because even though it was well out of jellyfish season, what if one forgot to migrate or got left behind or lost, and what if that single lost jellyfish was lurking JUST OUT OF SIGHT and about to come up BEHIND ME and OH GOD I WILL DIE…..

        K x

  10. Posted April 17, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I am so jealous of your story and your photos.
    I always feel so hard done by. I haven’t done much travelling. My husband travelled extensively to many exotic places in his twenties while the most exotic location I went to was a different pub than my local. But I didn’t mind.
    Now I feel the need to go and see some of the world and we have the funds to do this. My husband on the other hand, wants to stay at home. So badly that I had to drag him on our honeymoon kicking and screaming. (I want to say this light heartedly but I can’t, it was stressful and a whole other anxiety based issue has since arisen for him that one day I may share…)
    I don’t want to be one of these people who hasn’t been anywhere more interesting than a beach resort in Turkey but alas I feel that may happen.
    I hope you had a fantastic time, it certainly looks and sounds like you did. Treasure every memory that these delightful experiences bring you. And frame some (all!) of those photos. They are amazing.

    • Vivienne
      Posted April 17, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Caroline,I have the same issue – my husband has lived abroad and seen the world, where I have not. He is now a self confessed homebody while I have dreams of strapping my baby on my back and visiting exotic places. One day….!

    • Fee
      Posted April 17, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      Well, Caroline as I have a totally free schedule I vote that we ditch the husbands & go somewhere tropical, ASAP.

      I’ll steal T’s wallet for spends – he prob wont notice til we’re at the airport.

    • Another Aisling
      Posted April 17, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      Just wanted to say that it is never to late. My mum and dad always wanted to travel the world but didn’t do it when they where young and then came children and all that. But when I was 14 they decided to just do it with me and my bro in tow, so that summer we went off to Malaysia with a some back packs and a guide book. it was completely awesome and I loved meeting people on their gap year and explaining that I was there with my old folks. since that trip we have had three other ‘backpacking’ trips as a family and now that we are grown up my parents have been on three around the world trips. so it is never to late.

  11. Alex
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Wow! We went to Thailand in Feb and it was amazing however we did not ride elephants in the water (it was in the jungle) and we saw a tiger but it looked so sedated I felt so sorry for it and ended up instead quizzing the guy about why it was so sleepy and kept in a cage?? I want to feed baby tigers so much!!

    Please please explain where you were etc as I would love to go back and desperately want tips on where to go etc…also Clare I really really fancy Malaysia and would love to email you to ask for your recommendations if you wouldn’t mind sharing your fave places??

    Love the post and the photos are amazing!! I had never snorkelled before and it made me vomit but only because Mr M insisted I wear the life jacket. It made me bob up and down and ruined my experience but would definately do it again sans vomitty life jacket combo.
    xx

  12. Posted April 17, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Baby tiger! Baby tiger! ALL THE CUTE!

    Next time Anna and Mr K go on holiday, I am sneaking in their suitcase. Fact.

    K x

    • Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      It had better be big because I’ll already be in there.

  13. Posted April 17, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Haha Becci…currently wearing the stripy one!

  14. Posted April 17, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    My favourite memory of my year in South Africa was getting bitten on the backside by an 8 month old tiger cub, after getting to stroke a cheetah and spending some time with some white lion cubs. My biggest disappointment from that year: the fact the people around me were panicking and didn’t take a picture of said cub latched onto my backside. I guess they were expecting me to be upset, as opposed to finding the whole thing incredibly exciting.

    I need to get out more.

    On the other hand: your holiday looks amazing! I want that bath, and that view. It’s always been a dream of mine to ride on the back of an elephant. Holidays are so essential, just that time to stop, refresh and come back feeling like you’re new again.

    • Elsie
      Posted April 17, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Crysta you just made me guffaw and am gutted there is no photographic evidence of tiger & arse incident.

      • Posted April 17, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        As am I! I mean, it could be my one story! You know, the thing you tell your grandchildren about, over and over again. On the plus side, we got twice as much time with the animals, plus I have a picture of the tiger sucking the handler’s thumb like a baby.

  15. Amanda M
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Oh! OH! Oh my, that water! And feeding a tiger – I may actually pass out with jealousy. How fabulous!

    And I’d ALWAYS rather hear about the food than the perspex chairs. Always.

  16. Rowan
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I currently live in Burma/Myanmar and spend quite a bit of time in Thailand for work. Tomorrow we’re catching a bus to a beach on the Bay of Bengal for a long weekend and taking our snorkels with us. I get to shop in street markets every day before work (and recently bought a blender specifically to make gazpacho to take advantage of the tomatoes!).

    We’ve only been here a few months so far and I regularly have to remind myself that this is not a holiday, this is now our life… mental.

    • AJS
      Posted April 18, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      I just died of jealousy Rowan.

  17. Posted April 17, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    This has made me desperate for a holiday and to go on a zip wire again. Its also made me determined to conquer the panic attacks and go climbing again (going up is fine, going back down is scary) as you make it all look so much fun. My husband prefers nice hotels too and I have to say I’m getting to like it. I think it means backpacking around Thailand is out of the question but if it opens up the possibilty of a bathtub on the balcony then I think I can live with that!

  18. Posted April 17, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    So many things to say! My holidays are ALL about the food, I LOVE going to foreign supermarkets and markets are one of the best things, mainly for the photo opportunities as well as the food! (I must get on with some more picture editing from Korea!) Loving all your photos too, as a proper scuba bunny, I have to say that snorkelling is actually often better for photography as the light is so much better near the surface! Sadly I also suffer from easily burnt bum issues so have to snorkel while covered head to toe in soggy clothing to prevent burnage! Uch.

    Thailand has been near the top of my list for ages for scuba diving but this makes me want to go EVEN MORE!!!

    Lovely write up and jealousy inducing pics Mrs K! xx

  19. Posted April 17, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    I am in the midst of writing a piece about ‘The trip that made me me’ and I now feel inspired! I love your writing.

    And I went to the same place as you on my honeymoon so I will no doubt be pitching up here soon if only for the BATH ON THE BALCONY!

  20. Gemma N
    Posted April 18, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Lovely stories. And photos. Not at all jealous…

    OK scrap that… I want to go on holiday somewhere sunny. Like, Now!

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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image by Lucy Stendall Photography

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