What About Doing Nothing for a Change?

Normally, Olivier and I are not the type who opt in for long beach vacations. In fact, we joke that it wouldn’t be a de Bellefonds trip if we weren’t constantly getting lost climbing hills on our bikes, traveling 12 hours a day. But after a month of doing exactly that in Japan and Hong Kong, we wanted to sit still, preferably somewhere sunny and warm, for a few days. Which made the beaches of Thailand sound like paradise.

We decided to skip Phuket (according to our book, an orgy of alcohol) and Phi Phi (very touristy) and settled on the island of Koh Phagnan. It’s known mostly for its hedonistic full moon parties, but we weren’t there for that (nor were we there on a full moon anyway). It’s also (less) known for its pristine white-sand beaches. What’s more, it’s a 30-minute ferry ride from Koh Samui, a larger island with many more beaches, as well as 90 minutes from the diver destination Koh Tao—we figured, just in case we got bored.

sunset on Ko Phagnan beach

Um…yea…we didn’t. In fact, we enjoyed our beach vacation—in our pristine villa at the Anantara hotel, with its own pool overlooking the ocean, on a tiny cove surrounded by palm trees and mountainous jungle—so much that we stayed put for six whole days and found it hard to leave.

our villa at Ko Phagnan Thailand

Here’s our idea of the perfect Thailand beach vacation:

Eat fruit. OMG, the fruit! Japan restaurants, delicious and healthy as their sushi is, serve barely any greens—and I was starting to miss my daily dose of vitamins. I should have figured–I’d get my fruit on in Thailand. Coconut water, fresh out of the lid of a cut fruit. Juicy pineapple, mango, papaya, jackfruit, dragon fruit, banana, watermelon…usually served blended with ice in a tall cup. For dessert (or lunch itself) more than once, we had fresh mango on sticky rice topped with sweetened condensed coconut milk. I drool thinking about it.

mango coconut sticky rice in Ko Phangnan Thailand
Drink. What goes well with fresh fruit juice and the beach? Alcohol. Regularly. Every day our hotel offered a drink special, like banana daiquiri or pomelo martini, and a three-hour, 2-for-1 happy hour. Totally acceptable to have one in hand any time of the day on vacation. Amiright?

drink on the beach in Ko Phagnan Thailand

Sleep. When you’re on a quiet, secluded beach, even I—who can’t snooze past 7 or 8 am even on the weekends—can pass at 11 pm and sleep until 10 am…and then nap again later in the day. Nothing like lying under the umbrella in the sand, fruit juice, book or beer in hand, listening to waves lap the beach, to encourage a nod off.

On the beach in Ko Phagnan Thailand

Walk on the beach. With all this sleep we still needed to get the blood flowing at least a little. A walk, splashing in the water: Perfect.

beach Ko Phagnan Thailand

Get a massage. This is what Thailand is known for—for good reason. A good dozen massage shops hawking 1-hour rubdowns for $10 were just outside our hotel. TEN DOLLARS. The best part? Our daily massages were excellent. As good as (or better than) any $130 massage we’ve gotten in NYC, hands down. (We tipped a good percent…and market rate is market rate, I tell myself…though I did feel guilty.)

Write. We had to have at least some busy time. So I read a lot, and wrote. A little. Because there’s nothing like being on a beach with a clear head and nothing to do to inspire creativity, whether it’s writing short stories or playing music or working on whatever other pet project you’re into at the moment.

Repeat. Sleep, eat, read, drink, massage, repeat. Yes, please! Even we can learn to settle down for a few days.


  1. Sara Novak says:

    Sounds just dreamy!

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