In December 2021 the opportunity came for me to join others in experiencing Thailand with the Tourism Authority of Thailand. We were set to leave in January, however due to the Omicron wave just starting, this was postponed to March 1, 2022. Myself and seven other Canadian Travel Agents were excited for this trip and the pretty incredible itinerary.
After being confirmed as joining this spectacular group, I felt a whirlwind of emotion from elation, disbelief, excitement, as I have always wanted to see Thailand, and planned for as long as I could remembers to travel to Thailand for my 50th birthday (December of 2021). With 'the virus' playing a large part in those kiboshed plans, I placed the dream on the back burner for a time when I knew I get there under better circumstances. This opportunity could not have come at a better time for me!
The trip started for me on March 1 and was supposed to end on March 15 (that story comes later!). I visited luxury resorts on many different islands of Thailand, and took part in local experiences I cherish and reflect on fondly and will for years to come. My travel itinerary is as follows:
Day 1 - March 1
Traveling from Lethbridge to Calgary, PCR Test. Flight from Calgary to Vancouver
Travel at this time required several 'hoops' to jump through, such as applying for our Thailand Pass and timing our PCR test to ensure our results would be valid upon arriving in Thailand. I had to schedule my Rapid (and expensive - at $200!) COVID PCR test in Calgary hours prior to my departure to Vancouver since it had to be timed with our arrival in Thailand. You can imagine my nervousness when I opened my email while landing in Vancouver to find my test result was negative and I could continue on. Sadly, one agent wasn't so lucky - so we were down to 7 agents and two Thailand Tourism representatives.
Day 2 - March 2
Flight from Vancouver to Singapore
If you ever have the chance (and I hope you do!!!) to fly with Singapore Airlines - you must!!! Despite it being a 16.5 hour direct flight from Vancouver to Singapore, it was an amazing experience! Please spend the extra money for an upgrade to seating as this will make a world of difference. The Singapore airport is literally the most beautiful airport I have ever been to (complete with a Louis boutique 💕). There is a butterfly pavillion as well, so there's lot to see, do, and shop for!
Day 3 - March 3
Singapore to Phuket - PCR Test #1
After a nights stay at the airport hotel, we finally boarded for our last flight and arrived in Phuket! We stayed at the beautiful Racha resort, located on Racha Bay in the Andaman Sea, and I had never seen anything as lovely. We had to have our first in country PCR test on arrival and wait in our glorious suites until we were negative.
The Racha Resort: https://www.theracha.com/
Day 4 - March 4
Phi Phi Island and Maya Bay, Phi Phi Lei, Site inspection of Saii Phi Phi Village
Phi Phi Island: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phi_Phi_Islands
Saii Phi Phi Village: https://www.saiiresorts.com/phiphiisland/village/
Day 5 - March 5
Flight from Phuket to Chiang Mai, arrive at 137 PIllars House Hotel
Chiang Mai: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiang_Mai
137 Pillars: https://137pillarshotels.com/en/chiangmai/
Day 6 - March 6
Visit to Patara Elephant Farm and Site Inspection of Anantara Chiang Mai
Patara Elephant Farm: https://www.pataraelephantfarm.com/
Day 7 - March 7
PCR Test #2, Spa Day, Site Inspection of Raya Heritage
Day 8 - March 8
Indigo Dye Workshop and Flight to Koh Samui, Check In Ritz Carlton
Day 9 - March 9
Day Trip to Big Buddha, Grandmother and Grandfather Rock, Site Inspection of Anatara Lawana
Grand Mother and Grand Father Rock
Day 10 - March 10
Luxury Catamaran Trip from Koh Samui Bureerasa Pier to Koh Phangan, Banyan Tree Site Inspection
Catamaran and Koh Phangan (home of the full and half-moon parties in Thailand)
Banyan Tree Site Inspection https://www.banyantree.com/thailand/samui
Day 11 - March 11
Flight to Phuket, Check in at Anantara Mai Khao, Visit Chalong Bay Rum Distillery
Anantara Mai Khao in Phuket: https://www.anantara.com/en/mai-khao-phuket
Chalong Bay Distillery: https://chalongbayrum.com/en/home
Day 12 - March 12
Blue Elephant Cooking School, Site Inspection Anantara Layan resort and residences
Blue Elephant Cooking School: https://blueelephant.com/restaurant/bangkok/
Anantara Lyan Resort and Residences: https://www.anantara.com/en/layan-residences-phuket?utm_source=GoogleMyBusiness&utm_medium=GMB&utm_term=PhuketLayanResidences&utm_content=Home&utm_campaign=Google_GMB
Day 13 - March 13
Today is the day things went a little south for me. We were to check out and ready ourselves for the airport however I had a sore throat so decided to take a quick antigen test. I was shocked to learn I was COVID positive! I was trying to wrap my head around the idea of staying in Thailand an extra two weeks. I drove separately from the group to take our official PCR test as per Canada's entry requirement, and there were three of us from the group that had Covid so we made arrangements with our insurance companies for the additional stay.
At the outdoor testing facility close to the airport, waiting to find out where I will be going for two weeks. Arriving at my quarantine resort and happy to see some food! This is how food would be delivered to me every day. I had more than enough delivered at breakfast to keep me alive for the day!
Here are some more pictures of my resort where I was not allowed to leave my room and yard until I tested negative, which happened on day 8.
Days 14-23 - March 14-23
Quarantine At Anantara Mai Khao Residences
Once I tested negative I was then free to roam the two resort areas. I was very fortunate to have the entire resort basically to myself (there were 5 other people I saw there). While traveling the world during a pandemic is not ideal for the health scare side of things, it was 100% ideal when you end up with basically private resorts and beaches!
Day 24 - March 24
Finally... home time! Spending this long away from my friends and family, especially knowing others were facing the pandemic as well, was pretty tough to deal with emotionally at times. I felt incredible guilt for not being home with my dogs, or there for my children, my partner, and my mother who may need me.
My flight home was from Phuket to Singapore, Singapore to Vancouver, Vancouver to Calgary. I then had to drive a further 2.5 hours home. Once home I had a LOT of catching up in the office to do and hugs to give out!
I will NEVER forget this time away. Life can be so busy and my life is no different from the next persons. We have placces to be and things we need to get done. Sometimes a vacation is not in the cards, and it begins to take its toll. This trip, and the much needed and forced mandatory isolation, is going down as the most memorable for me: I met so many incredible and genuine people in Thailand, met and formed deep friendships with colleagues of whom I share so much with now, and a culture I am thankful to have experienced.