Once in a lifetime you do visit a place that leaves you breathless. As one grows older our ability to get surprised and stunned reduces radically. We question too much, we compare and are quick to find a fault or a breach. The same applies to travelling as well. Stemming from the same, there is a sudden one-upmanship while sharing travel stories. Everyone seems to have gotten to a better place, seen a better beach or hill station or dined at a fancier restaurant. With all that pressure of competition and social media PR goals in place sometimes you still experience a place that does not seem to fit in any of your criteria. It stands out with its beauty and charm of such magnitude that all the pettiness goes down the drains the moment you stand face to face with it. Such is Koh. One glance of it and it makes you a better person.
We reached Phuket, spent a night in its bustling party streets and the very next morning found ourselves at the Grand Marina Pier deck all set to ride through the azure sea. The 30 minute speed boat ride to the island is an experience in itself. The clear aquamarine waters, the scattered uninhabited islands on the skyline, the glistening sun rays and the gentle spray of water droplets on you as you ride through transport you to a magical land. And then you see her. The wooden jetty stretching far away into the sea welcomes you like a nymph. From the moment we landed at the luxurious Santhiya Koh Yao Yai and everything else that happened over the next 3 days seemed kissed by stardust.
The island resort is opulent and at the same time rustic in its built, stature and service. You can have the choicest wine at one of their beach restaurants paired with the best cheese or meat from around the world. You can take a walk in the property and discover orchids of multiple hues bedecking the hills which overlook the sea. This place will calm you. The wooden villas featuring extensive wooden handwork, the thai style patios, the ornate wooden verandahs opening up into the unending sea, the Victorian beds or the attentive staff together ensure that your body, mind and soul sing get rejuvenated during your stay here. You can go kayaking into the clear waters, rum your drone into the sea or go snorkelling and observe some marine habitat. You could also like us sit in silence, read a book and watch the clouds as they weave magic in the skies above.
Let me tell you what we did while at this island. We took long walks and stunned ourselves at the turn of every road with a brand new and gorgeous sea view. We sipped wine at the far point of the jetty with open sea on three sides at the night with a star light sky above us. We got ourselves massaged, dined and enjoyed beach parties with fire dancing. We swam, ate and talked to each other about life and dreams and then stared into the vast nothingness in front of us.
The best part about this property is the fact that it has something for everybody. Where you want to venture into the beautiful Krabi and Phi Phi islands close by, or you want to dance to the music of drums on the beach this is your place. I saw children from all over the world building castles in sand and walking deeper in to the island for family picnics on the beach the joy of absolute freedom written all over their faces. If you are a Honeymooner you would be pampered well – with flowers, cheesecakes and a lot more.
I am sure our world is dotted with places of such brilliant beauty. I hope most of us chose to and get to travel and experience those magical lands. In your list add Koh Yao Yai. It is an amalgamation of natural beauty and artistic architecture seamlessly weaved into a single experience. One which is to treasure forever. The warm Thai hospitality is another thing to come back here for.
Lastly, I made a whole bunch of friends on the island. And no, this is beside the butterflies, the smiling trees on the long road that drive you to your villa. It is fellow guests at the property who irrespective of their culture and nationality seem to loosen all their guards while in here and share with you their stories. The sea does that to people I guess. It opens them.
As I walked back into my boat for my journey to the next destination, I made a solemn promise to Koh. I told her that I will come back and until the next time I will always keep her in my heart, in a very dear place. While the boat gained speed and slowly the island melted into the horizon I saw her gently nod and smile in assurance to my promise.
Shakuntala is an entrepreneur and runs a venture Maaati.com , in which she closely works with traditional artisans from corners of India and gets to the consumer markets Indian handmade products of diverse source and designs. In her personal life she is a book worm, hippie, lover of art and history, and strong feminist rolled into one. Her business partner, Debraj collaborates with her via his photographs in most of her travel writing, otherwise she is a self proclaimed Technology-Bum, and can not handle most things that come with a switch,!