Thailand and Malaysia

3 months late is better than never…

We planned and anticipated this trip to Thailand and Malaysia for a long time because we met up with our greatly missed friends Tom and Alice and also introduced Ayla to Asraf’s family finally. We took the flight from Almaty to Bangkok and it was utter hell because we were all ill. I had been back at work for 3 days and spread disease to all members of the household. It was such a horrible flight it will stay with me forever haha! When we arrived in Bangkok it felt like we had come home. We miss SE Asia so so much. The food, the atmosphere and the weather. I just love the warmth. It was great to wander around the Bangkok food stalls and gorge on all the food we miss in Almaty. Welcome back to spice!

The next day we travelled by bus to Koh Samet which was about 2.5 hours from Bangkok. It was fine until the last twenty minutes when Ayla lost her mind and so did I. The speedboat over to Koh Samet is quick and efficient. I was slightly concerned about our parenting decisions thinking Ayla might be scared but she fell asleep!

When we arrived in Koh Samet I felt myself instantly relax. I miss the island life so much. We stayed at Tubtim and it was great. Right on the beach, cute little wooden huts and amazing food. Later that day Alice arrived and it was the best reunion.

The next day Tom arrived and the gang was back. What a great, great feeling. I can’t explain how meaningful the friendship is to me, I just adore them both so much. We spent our days snorkelling, exploring all the beaches and eating. It was so relaxing and Koh Samet exceeded my expectations because it had amazing coral! We went on a boat trip and I saw a huge black tipped reef shark. I shouted “Shark” to get Tom’s attention out of excitement but he mistook this for fear and thought I was being attacked. I was not I just really love sharks.

So much to love about this island. We had a Christmas buffet at Tubtim and although we had no presents and no real festive feeling, we had such a great Christmas day.

Ten days of pure joy. We then took a flight to Penang. I haven’t been back to Penang since I left and I was filled with nostalgia. I found it both comforting and difficult to be back there because I left during covid after such a difficult 18 months and I never got to say goodbye to many people. It was so nice to see the island back to normal. Introducing Ayla to Asraf’s family was so lovely and I felt quite tearful when Asraf’s mum met her for the first time. It does fill us with guilt that we live far away from both sides of our family and we don’t get to share the experiences of our daughter with them other than through WhatsApp. It was really great to spend time with them and to catch up with friends.

We love Penang so much and obviously for Asraf it is home. It felt like a whirlwind week and we both left feeling unsatisfied really. I guess this is the burden of expat life. Lucky for me I know I’ll always go back there and definitely it holds a special place in my heart. Seeing the joy that Ayla brings to our family is also really special and I’m so glad we had the means to make this trip.

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