I took a business trip to Thailand two-and-a-half years ago back in June 2014. It was my first time travelling there as my previously scheduled trips were cancelled due to the political situation in Bangkok, where the company’s offices are situated. I remembered that the hotel we stayed in was in the heart of the city, and that it was a good one, with good rooms and food. I remembered that the people were very accommodating and kind, and I loved hearing the locals talk. It was like music to my ears.
Since the trip straddled a weekend, Michelle, my colleague from the Australia office suggested we go on a weekend trip with her brother and his family (they stayed in Thailand) and see some sights and stay in a nice beach resort in Hua Hin. I agreed.
We went on a road trip starting Saturday morning. Michelle’s brother had rented a van. There were six of us in all—me, Michelle, her brother, his wife, their adorable toddler daughter, and his wife’s sister. The first leg of the trip took around 2 hours and then we were at the King’s summer palace. Known as Maruekhathaiyawan Palace, it is situated between Cha-Am and Hua Hin and was build by King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) as a seaside summer retreat in 1923.
We toured the palace and took pictures. I was wearing shorts, so I had to rent and wear a sarong. We had to remove our shoes before we could enter the palace and it was a very breezy, open area, fronting a beach. I imagined myself as royalty, staying in that place, with servants all around me at my beck and call. Not bad.
Afterward, we had lunch at a restaurant near the beach. We drove around some more and pretty soon we were at our beach resort hotel in Hua Hin, called Centara Grand Resort and Villas. It was really nice. I spent some time going around myself, taking pictures with my then newly-“learned” DSLR.
We had an afternoon cocktail at the beach and I just loved it. I had buy-one-take-one margaritas and Michelle had mojitos. That night, we drove around some more, but ended up having dinner at the resort.
In the morning, I woke up early to catch the sunrise and took some more photos. I brought my long lens and got some amazing shots—at least to my eyes. I know they could be crisper and more focused, but those were my first attempts and I was loving them. My favorite was of the little black bird on the white chess piece (see photo on the right). I had to be fast, so the focus was not that great, after I clicked, he flew away. I really love that picture, even if it was almost black (bird) in front of black (chess piece) in front of black foliage.
After my photo walk, I went to the resort spa and got some pampering. I spent a very relaxing few hours. I even got the nice lady at the front desk to pose for me. Afternoon came and it was time to head back. All in all, it was a great experience.
The resort inspired some of the key scenes in my first novel, Turning Points. Alex, one of the main characters, went to Thailand to get over the death of someone very close to her back in Manila. She stayed in a resort spa that she picked at random and went there straight from the airport. While lounging on the beach, near sunset, she met the woman who would become her best friend, Brie. Brie would then introduce Alex to photography. All the scenes described in that chapter was based on my Thailand trip, with the exception of one thing: the bartender that Brie flirted with and was the subject of a bet between Brie and Alex. That bartender character was not someone that I encountered in Thailand.
I encountered him in Mumbai, India! So more about him when I write about India, but suffice it to say, he inspired that very creative and resourceful bartender that Brie had her eye on.
About Turning Points
Be Careful What You Wish For . . .
Seconds before her plane crashed, Sandy Garcia, a forty-something working mother of three, wished she had never met and married her husband. When she recovered consciousness, she realized her wish had been granted. She woke up to a world where she was a popular and multi-awarded theater actress / singer / dancer / published author / professional photographer.
Alex Marquez was a child of the theater and she grew rich and famous by doing something she loved. On the road to success, she made a lot of wrong choices which left her single, with one perfect child, in her forties, remembering the relationships she screwed up and the other children she should have had. When she woke up after a plane crash, she realized she was being given a second chance to live the family life—she was suddenly married with three children.
As both women navigate the intricate web of the lives they never initially chose to live, they question whether achieving their dreams was worth losing everything else that they’ve ever held dear.
Two women. Two lives. An old friend’s promise fulfilled. A bedtime story. A black cat.
What are you willing to give up for that precious second chance?