"Sawadee krap", our cab driver greeted us folding his hands with a big smile on his face. Passing through wide clean roads surrounded by lush greenery all throughout - the sights and sounds felt familiar. Definitely. After all, it was my second visit to Phuket that year. But, this time on a mission to go off the beaten path in one of the most commercialized tourist locations in Thailand. Something told me that this was going to be an epic adventure - even better than the last time.
It all started a week ago, when I was offered an opportunity to be part of the Great Girly Getaway promotion campaign, organized by Tourism Authority of Thailand. I was going to join a group of strangers, traveling solo for the first time in my life. I was excited to meet new people from different walks of life, but was also skeptical of the how it will turn out to be. For, while traveling, I'm choosy of my travel companions. I think, it can make or break your travel.
After reaching the airport, a girl came up to me and said, "Hi, I am Sahana. I'm a UX designer by profession and also a fashion blogger." She was wearing the white Adidas shoes, which was a popular new fad then. "Do you want a chocolate?", she asked. It was salty, dark chocolate with a hint of caramel. We talked about our shared love for travel, adventures, our trips to Singapore - a place we both love, and we instantly hit it off.
The other girl was waiting for us at the hotel lobby. "Hi, I am Hesha. I'm a social media consultant, and a fashion and lifestyle blogger on the side", she said. She was chirpy, enthusiastic and was always smiling. She claimed that, like me, it was her second time in Thailand too that year, albeit, the first time in Phuket. And also, she was planning to come again to Thailand in October. "You should make me the brand ambassador of Thailand", she said cheerfully to Rashna - who handles trade relations and marketing for TAT Mumbai and was going to accompany us for the rest of the trip. Consequently, the brand ambassador of Thailand from India - Anusha Dandekhar -an Indo-Australian MTV VJ, was also going to stopover in Thailand for a few days and join us in between her shoots. We parted ways and reached our hotel rooms for some leisure time.
The 4 of us, Hesha, Sahana, Rashna and I, took off together to Blue elephant cooking school, where we prepared some delicious Thai dishes under the guidance of a friendly cook, somehow managing to not devour on the dishes (even when we were famished, but only munching) meant for dinner. Even, Anusha joined us to gorge on the sumptuous meal. She expressed her views on being vegan - detailing how cows are tortured for milk their whole lives and the reason behind why she doesn't have diary anymore. "One day, the animals are going to take their revenge on us", she added.
I was eagerly looking forward to kayak and snorkel the next day but owing to choppy waters, that was not going to happen. "Isn't it supposed to be hot, bright and sunny by the beach?", Sahana exclaimed. "It doesn't seem to be our lucky day", I replied. "I'm shivering", Hesha added. We all unanimously agreed on that. We were stuck on Banana beach for the whole day trembling in our beach clothes in a gloomy weather.
"It's a lot of work being a fashion blogger.", Sahana said when I asked about her life as a blogger. She explained that it's an elaborate affair. Finding new outfits, scouting good locations for shooting, then editing the photos and then blogging about it. "It's tough. But I want to have the best of both worlds", she exclaimed about managing it with a full time job. "Yes, I totally agree. It's something entirely your own. Kind of like your baby", Hesha complied. "It's about time I started a travel blog", I exclaimed after years of deferring that idea. "Let me know if you need any help", Sahana said. I said I would. We ended up chatting about our lives back home, our jobs, relationships, adventures and travel. We laughed about our expectations from that day and how bleak it ended up being. The day didn't start on a good note, but it sure ended up on a happy tone. Maybe, it just deepened our connection as travel companions.
Probably, it's our shared love for travel and these adventures and mis-adventures we had that strengthened our bond as great friends, in what was otherwise a short span of time. After all, travel is more than ticking locations. It is all about the people you come across and the experiences you share that makes it worthwhile. And now, I was going back with a jar full of memories that was going to last a lifetime. We bid goodbye with a heavy heart, and promised to meet as often as possible.
It indeed was a Great Girly Getaway.
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