Do you ever wish that you can experience something for the first time again? I get that longing a lot when I’m watching Ellie. Sometimes I wish we can retain some of the memories from when we’re babies, except the part about being born. God no, I don’t think I would want to remember something as traumatic as getting shoved out into the cold bright world after swimming comfortably in the warm universe of the womb for 9 months.
But the other memories like the moment you realize you can move vertically through the world on two legs, the moment you first hear music and feel the irresistible urge to shake your booty, the moment when you first meet the ocean–how amazing would it be to remember how it felt. The first time can be over-hyped for a cynical adult like me, but for babies with each first they are absorbing and learning and understanding this world a little more, and that’s an amazing experience. I enviously watched Ellie sitting in the warm, gooey sand as tiny, perfectly-sized waves lap at her, occasionally splashing into her open mouth. How new, yet oddly familiar this feeling must be for her, surrounded by the warm seawater.
I remember when I first got to our resort, I was in my swimsuit in 2 minutes and literally just sprinted towards the ocean holding a laughing Ellie in my arms. I was amazed by the bathwater temperature and the glass-like calmness of the water. I had this familiar feeling like muscle memory as I ran towards the water, but when I was floating in that water it felt like I was on another planet. It was a planet that knows no storms or darkness, just endless sun and warm waves gently rocking you to infinity. It was surreal, and I suddenly understood the metaphor of the ocean being the cradle of life. Cue that record scratch signaling a rude awakening. I was stung by armies of tiny jellyfish that bobbed around me in the shallows. That will be the last time I call those unfriendly little bastards cute.
This entire trip to Thailand made me feel like Ellie, brand new to the world again. The food, the language, meeting the elephants, being awed by the Thai peoples adoration for beauty as seen in every artful detail covering their palaces and temples–I felt every pore opening to absorb these new experiences. Maybe this is what wanderlust is all about. It’s a longing to see the world and feel the wonder you had as child when you see the ocean for the first time and realize how small you are in it, but it still feels like coming home.
When to go
The best time to go if you don’t want any tropical rain is from March to May. The rainy season lasts all summer through fall, from June to November. A mild interlude starts in November to February.
If weather isn’t your only concern but you also want to get away from the crowds, then consider going during the interlude period. We booked our trip in October, which is still considered the wet season, but it’s really at the tail end of it, and we got really lucky with a string of sunny days during our stay on the island. In addition to it being a lot less crowded in the off-season, it’s also a lot cheaper. We splurged on a suite at the Dewa in Koh Chang, something we definitely cannot afford during the dry season. Sometimes it’s hard to feel relaxed and like you’re on vacation when you’re traveling with a baby, but an extra nice and comfortable hotel can definitely make the trip feel more like a treat for everyone.
If you go at the tail end of the wet season or during the interlude from November-February, the northeastern side of Thailand (where Koh Chang is) historically tends to be slightly drier than the southwest (Phucket).
Mosquito repellent is a must. Resorts like the Dewa spray the grounds, so mosquitos weren’t a problem at the resort or at the beach. But I got bitten almost immediately after we walked outside of the resort. Dengue fever is transmitted by day-active mosquitoes in Thailand. Rarer but also present are malaria and Japanese Encephalitis. The CDC website is always a good resource to check before any trip to see what the risks are and if you are up to date on all the vaccinations before you go. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/thailand
Jellyfish can be a nuisance, but strangely they only hang out in a certain area in the shallows where the water is around 3 or 4 feet. Once you get past the band, by walking slowly and watching for them, then you will be in the clear and free to swim as you like.