Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Thailand

Vacation Highlights

Dave and I enjoyed an amazing and relaxing vacation in Thailand. We stayed at the Apsara Beachfront Resort & Villas. The resort was on Khao Lak Beach. Here is a picture of the resort from the beach.

It was a very quiet and secluded area of Phuket. We were about an 1.5 hour drive from the airport. The closest hotel/resort was a little over a mile away. Between the two resorts we could walk the beach and often not see anyone. We would usually walk about 2 miles down the beach in one direction and pass three resorts and maybe a dozen people. It was so quiet and peaceful.

About a half mile in the other direction was a little cove with several Thai longboats. We would walk that direction daily so I could take pictures.

Besides enjoying long walks on the beach, we enjoyed lounging by the pool at our villa.

Fabric in Thailand is excellent quality and low price. Therefore, it is very reasonable to have clothing made to order. We decided to have a few custom items of clothing made for each of us. It was a whole new experience for both of us. We selected pieces we liked from style magazines and then picked our fabrics. We were measured and the clothes were made to order! We returned a couple times to have the clothes fitted perfectly. The fabrics were “Armani” brand and the manufacturers (seamstress) were budget prices. My skirts and dresses look like Banana Republic or J.Crew and I paid Target prices. Dave’s suits were the same. I’ll be sure to mention when I/we where them and snap a picture.

The food at the resort was delicious. We decided last minute to upgrade to the all inclusive option. For less than $50/day per person we had all we could eat and drink. I should mention most drinks started at $5.00. We had everything from fresh fruit, Thai staples, pizza, seafood, etc. Plus, wine, beer and cocktails.

The customer service at the resort was beyond superb. We were always greeted with a happy hello. At our favorite restaurant on the resort, they would reserve our dinner table each evening at 19:00. Our favorite bartender quickly learned our drink order. We truly felt like we were living the life of luxury.

The resort grounds were immaculate. Beautiful gardens, lush palm trees and sparkling pools were everywhere.

Evening sunsets were also a highlight. With such seclusion, it was hard to always find a person to take our picture. Fortunately, I bought a ¥100 selfie stick before we left. I was able to turn it into a makeshift tripod and with the use of my Apple Watch, I could snap our photo! A few of my favorites.

We celebrated Christmas, Dave’s birthday, and New Year’s Eve. All were fun. My favorite was definitely Dave’s birthday. We had a private dinner under a cabana on the beach. While we ate dinner, a live band was playing in the background. After dinner, we danced on the beach and before too long, the band sang happy birthday to Dave and brought out a cake. To top off the evening, they brought Dave a wish balloon to light. It was a perfect evening. I was so happy and had so much fun, I felt like it was my birthday!

One last little thing I want to mention. Blame the science teacher in me. On the beach were these tiny crabs called sand bubbler crabs. They come out of their burrows at low tide and create tiny sand bubbles as they search for food. It was so interesting how they made perfect little circles around their burrows.

The beach was covered with them during low tide. They would get to work and put bubbles everywhere. It was pretty cool. I took a short video. When I zoomed in at the end, you can see the crabs running around.


This vacation was truly a trip of a lifetime. We enjoyed the opportunity to relax, take long walks on the beach, talk and laugh. We had no schedule or agenda. We just enjoyed time together.

Now that we are back in Japan and have returned to our routine, I will have more adventures to share. Thanks for waiting patiently while we took a couple weeks to relax.

Out of the Office

Dave and I are flying to Phuket, Thailand today to enjoy a little R&R on the beach. I will be out of the office during our vacation.

Thank you for all of your love and support in 2017. I appreciate you following our adventures and look forward to sharing more with you in 2018. Please enjoy a happy holiday season.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


The purple mangosteen fruit grows on the tropical evergreen tree known as the mangosteen tree. The fruit is offered referred to as simply mangosteen. It is native to Indonesia and grows throughout Southeast Asia and Southwest India. Recently, it has been introduced to tropical areas like Puerto Rico and Florida.

The rind of the mangosteen turns a deep purple when the fruit is ripe. The rind softens as it ripens making it very easy to cut with a knife. 

After cutting, the white edible sections can easily be removed and eaten. The white fleshy sections have a similar texture to a peeled grape except maybe a little smoother. All of the sections have seeds. most of the seeds are small and can easily be chewed. One of the section has a larger seed like a small pit (the size of an almond) and shouldn’t be eaten.

The growing season for mangosteen is only about six to ten weeks, resulting in limited availability. Because of strict import regulations having to do with the Asian fruit fly, mangosteens weren’t available in the United States before 2007. They are still very difficult to find in the U.S. and when they are available, they are very expensive. More readily available are canned mangosteen or beverages containing mangosteen. One notable beverage that uses the mangosteen is Xango Juice. My mom has been drinking Xango Juice for years. For several years my mother-in-law was also drinking it. It claims to have numerous health benefits because it uses the rind which has many of the same antioxidants as blueberries. The actual edible part of the fruit is limited in nutritional value.

Living in Japan, I have the opportunity to enjoy mangosteen fruit. Ironically enough, I purchased the mangosteen fruit at Costco! I purchased a bag of eight mangosteens at Costco for less than ¥1000. This was my second experience tasting them. The first was during out Thailand trip. They were significantly cheaper in Thailand. I think I paid the equivalent of $5 for a package of eight. 

In Thailand, I purchased mangosteen that were already cut. I broke out our large chef knife anticipating difficulties cutting through the rind. Surprisingly, they were very easy to open. The rind was very soft and the knife cut through it very easily allowing me to split the fruit apart.

They mangosteen is tender and juicy. It has a sweet and slightly sour taste. They remind me a lot of a sweet tangerine mixed with a tart grape. They are a fun and relatively inexpensive treat. (less than $1.00 per fruit – cheaper than the $20 carton of California cherries at Costco!) Also, I feel special eating them because I know I wouldn’t be able to buy them in the U.S. They will not replace my love for freshly picked strawberries, however, they are a special delicacy I can enjoy while I am living in Japan!

Sea Canoe Excursion

The second excursion of our trip was to visit the sea caves of Phang Nga Bay. For this trip we booked with John Gray’s Sea Canoe. John Gray first discovered the sea caves of Phang Nga Bay in 1989. Phang Nga Bay is located north east of Phuket. Again, a round trip transfer was included in our tour. We were picked up from our hotel around 11:30 and arrived at the marina about an hour later. Once we boarded the boat and got underway, we enjoyed a Thai style lunch. It was delicious. The views from the boat to our first kayak spot were amazing. It was a nice change to be on a larger boat. More of a peaceful transit. 

Shortly after lunch, we were introduced to our professional guide who paddled us through Phang Nga Bay’s “Tidal Nape Sea Caves” in a custom designed sea kayak. The “Tidal Nape Sea Caves or Hongs” are literally inside Phang Nga Bay’s marine limestone karstic islands. (Hong is the Thai word for room) Our guide’s name was Friend. He spoke very good English, was an excellent paddler and shared with us so much information about the area we were exploring. Here are a few pictures from our first kayak excursion. The cave was small with only one way to enter and exit.

After the first cave and hong, we went back to the main boat where we were given a snack and a little free time before preparing to go back onto the kayak for our second trip. The second trip was even more breathtaking. The hong was very large and the tide was low. This gave us the opportunity to get out of the kayak and walk around.

Friend took us out the other side of the hong and we were able to have more beautiful views and up close shots of “bowling pin” island and “elephant rock.”

We returned to the boat and enjoyed dinner and more free time. 


After dinner, Friend helped us make a “Krathong.” A Krathong is loosely translated to mean “to float a basket.” Our Krathong was made of a banana plant stem as the base and folded banana leaves as decorative accents. We also added orchids and a chrysanthemum. While Dave and I folded the banana leaves, Friend made two birds out of unopened orchid flowers. The Krathong is also decorated with candles and incense. The Krathong represents so many meanings, to keep it short, I’m going with prosperity, happiness and luck.

As the sun was setting, we returned to our kayaks and went into the “bat cave.” Appropriately named because there were many bats hanging from the ceiling. The tide was already rising when we entered the cave and we had to duck at the entrance. We made our way into the hong where we had a just a small bit of light left in the sky. We brought with us our Krathong to float in the water.

Friend lit the candles then Dave and I made a wish as we placed it floating on the water. We watched the Krathong float and eventually the candles extinguished. It was beautiful and a very spiritual moment.

On our way out, Friend took us to one of the darkest spots in the cave. Here he instructed us to move our hands through the water. We were able to see dinoflagellates (bio-luminescent plankton). It was beyond cool. To make the experience even better, Friend hopped out of the kayak and filled his shirt with water making it even easier to see the bio-luminescent plankton. It was another science teacher’s dream come true. I have taught about dinoflagellates for years. It was pretty cool to actually be able to see and experience them myself and with Dave.

The tide was coming in while were were inside the cave. Leaving the cave, Dave and I had to lay all the way down to make it through the exit. At this point we were so glad to have Friend paddling for us. He was definitely an expert. The caves were dark and only his headlamp lit the way. We saw two other people in kayaks (not part of our group) who were struggling to paddle against the current. Other members of our group provided a towline and helped the out of the cave. It would be scary to be stuck in the dark bat cave for six hours until the tide receded!

We returned to the boat and then to the marina. This tour was significantly different than the first one. Leaving later in the day meant there were a lot less crowds. Also, using a larger and slower boat to go to the islands was more peaceful. Exploring around on the kayak was definitely more peaceful than the speedboat. Both tours were unforgettable and a highlight to our vacation.


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