Beset with beach brain! That sun-drained, limp-limbed, dizzy, frazzled feeling of ultimate contentment. Mind emptied of thoughts of scheduling and students and deadlines and anything future-related. The lull of sand and wind, the coruscation of light on water. Sea-sighs of relief. Life’s good.
Being in Taiwan doesn’t feel like much of a vacation. As much as I love it, there are just too many homey things for it to be a “real” vacation. Too many relatives to visit, too many familiar places. The two places we’re staying in Taiwan are my paternal grandparents’ condo in Taipei (they live in Seattle for half the year, so it’s vacant for us to use) and my maternal grandparents’ house in Nantou. But Thailand—ah, a real vacation! Complete with vacation-like things: hotel rooms, tour buses, unfamiliarity.
Of course, it’s not too unfamiliar. Most of the Thai people we’ve met speak at least a little Mandarin, probably because of the huge influx of Chinese tourists. Especially in the cities we trekked to, Bangkok and Pattaya. On the day we went to the beach in Pattaya, our guide took us to a secluded place far from the teeming masses of Mainland tourists… and low and behold, we met a Taiwanese business owner there! He even staked out this part of Pattaya Beach with a Taiwanese flag.
He had a bunch of paddle boards and boats that he let us use, and then he helped us rent jet skis and banana boats. There were a few people on the beach peddling wares, and he helped us haggle with them. Because he lives there, he knows the lowest possible prices for everything. (My husband Robert and my brother Joey both got lovely fake Ray Bans for 300 baht.) This guy even stocked our tables with coconuts, bananas, longans, rambutans, and mangosteens.
Because I’m a freelancer, I don’t get paid vacation days—which means I’ve been planning for this trip for a while. For months, I’ve been working extra and saving up so we can afford to take three weeks of time off! Robert, who does research in a biomechanics lab at the University of Washington, doesn’t get paid vacation either. All of our hard work is paying off, because for the first time in forever, I’m not planning for the next day. I’m not double-checking my Google Calendar every hour, or replying to masses of emails at a time, or prepping individualized study materials for my students. Every day’s a shrug. Whatever happens, happens! Wherever we’re going, let’s go! Whatever we’re doing, let’s go for it!