Liam and I had both agreed at various points throughout the trip, usually after a gruelling bus journey, that we'd definitely, absolutely need to spend at least a week at the end of our adventure doing sweet FA, just lazing about by a pool somewhere hot, reading cheesy novels and generally relaxing. Jo, a hippified Aussie, agreed, "You'll be dreading going home, right? So, the answer is to make the final week of your trip the laziest, most boring time, so that is goes reeeaally slowly and makes the trip seem longer." I liked her logic.
So, after an action-packed few days in Chiang Mai, we took an overnight bus to Bangkok, then from there took another bus for 3 hours south, to a small town called Cha-Am.
The Lonely Planet said that this was the place that Thais often chose for a holiday - long white sandy beach,a quiet and safe choice.Plus only 3 hours from Bangkok so covenient for the return flight home.
What the Lonely Planet didn't mention, however, was that you had to be over the age of 73 to get in. Instead of a passport, you'll need a bus pass.
If you visit a holiday destination to find the beach full of deckchairs instead of sun loungers, it can only mean one thing. The blue rinse brigade are out in force.
"Well, we DID want somewhere quiet" we reasoned, as we plotted down next to the (almost deserted) pool at out hotel. "Although we didn't anticipate that the silence would be due to the fact that everyone around here is deaf."
There are plenty of upsides to a resort full of golden oldies. The first one being that at least there would be no screaming kids launching themselves noisily into the pool, surreptiously urinating at every opportunity. Although you might get a few OAP's dribbling into it instead.
Another good thing about being surrounded by pensioners is that I can strut around poolside in my bikini, safe in the knowledge that I have the best, fittest body in the vicinity. And all my own teeth.
After doing the backpacker trail for 6 months and being amongst the oldest travellers (the majority are Sloanes on gap years, funded by Daddy. Bitter,moi?), it's quite a novelty to suddenly be the youngest couple in town.
Despite saying all this,we've had a great time - the hotel is lovely, all modern decking and an infinity pool, and as most Thais have an aversion to tanning, we've often got the beach/pool to ourselves.
Thais recoil in horror at the very idea of sunbathing - you try buying a body lotion without it containing whitening ingredients.Even the deodorant has skin-bleaching properties. I tried to buy suncream the other day, but the only one I could find in 7/11 (which is massive over here) boasted an "anti-melanin whitening effect." In a suncream?! Go figure...I guess we all want the opposite to what the good Lord gave us: there we are, baking ourselves in blister-inducing red-hot sun, teeth gritted desperate for a bit of colour on our oatmeal complexions, whilst the naturally olive-skinned locals are hiding under a parasol, fully-clothed trying not to let a single ray get near them, desperate for the pasty-white squid skin that is typical of us Brits. They should try a winter in London - they'd be anaemic-looking in no time. They love the sea, but only fully-clothed. I even saw a gaggle of schoolgirls swimming in the sea the other day, fully-clad in their entire school uniforms. The boys just wade in in their jeans and t-shirts.Even when out and about on their motorbikes, the locals wear gloves upto their armpits and balaclavas, lest they might get, horror of horrors, a suntan. Weird behaviour.
So, we've been swimming in the pool, lounging around reading aformentioned cheesy novels, marvelling at how warm the sea is here (and not because a child has just pissed in it next to you), strolling along the beach, and getting up at 6.30am to watch impossibly beautiful sunrises on the seafront. Perfect.
In fact, the only downside has been the evenings, when we feel like veritable outcasts, not part of the Saga crew, who sit in quiet restaurants playing bridge, glaring at us as though we're a couple of trouble-making teeneagers when we rock up and order a couple of beers. Anyone would think we were wearing hoodies and threatening to stab them for their pensions, such is their look of horror that anyone under the age of 50 has had the audacity to enter the resort. Coupled with the fact that we've not met a single English person here (these OAP's are all German or Scandinavian) and we've had some pretty quiet nights, I can tell you.
Anyway, the tans are coming along well. Although, when we're rotating ourselves on the sunbeds like a couple of hogs on a spitroast, it can be a bit off-putting catching a glimpse of the old dears sitting across from us, all saggy-skinned and mahogany-coloured, sun-damaged beyond recognition. (David Dickinson eat your heart out).It's like fast-forwarding on your own life, seeing what the years of sunworshipping will eventually do to you. It's not quite terrifying enough to stop us slapping on the bronzing oil just yet though...