Is it Railay Love?

A travel love story – part II

This is part 2 of my travel love story, or how the guy I met casually on a ferry crossed a whole country to spend 2 more days with me in Railay Beach. It is the beginning of the rest of our love story. This is also the continuation of a corny soap opera, written by a latin drama queen, so heads-up for inappropriate language to those who are romance-intolerant.

Flying from Malaysia to Thailand

I was at the boarding gate in Kuala Lumpur, ready to fly back to Thailand and explore the west coast, which has some of the most iconic, picture-perfect beaches in the country, including Krabi, Railay Beach, the Phi Phi Islands and Maya Bay.

Railay Beach
Railay Beach – one of the prettiest and most iconic beaches in Thailand, with its dramatic cliffs, dense jungles and transparent water

Greg, the nice Kiwi guy I had met in Ko Samui (if you missed that story, you better read it first here), was going to continue living there, on the other side of the country, and we wouldn’t have anything to do with each other ever again (latin-drama-queen emphasis).

I was fine with it. I mean, I had met the love of my life and spent a couple of days with him. That’s better then never meeting him at all, isn’t it? That was exactly my philosophy during those days! Or at least what I was trying to convince myself of…

Railay Peninsula
Railay Peninsula – fairytale limestone formations

Just before boarding we started texting and I told him jokingly that he should join me in Krabi, to which he replied:

“OK I will”

Obviously, I didn’t believe it. It could only be a joke! A bad joke, by the way! But then he said:

“I’m being serious. I f*cking loved spending time with you and I am going to Krabi tomorrow to be with you”.

Railay cliffs
Railay beaches surrounded by cliffs


That’s exactly what I wrote on my journal. And then this:

“I almost died!

I wanted to burst with joy!”

This guy changed his original plans of staying in Ko Samui, where he had settled in a nice apartment, or of moving to the neighbor island of Ko Phagnan, which he said he planned to do at some point. Instead, he bought a ticket for the next morning to cross to the other side of the country to spend a couple of days with me!!! How unbelievable is that? Is he freaking nuts?

En route to Railay Beach
En route to Railay Beach on a typical Thai Longtail boat

Please readjust your levels of acceptance of cheesiness

I drew little clouds in my journal and wrote inside:

“I am stupidly in love! It is him, I know it. And it doesn’t matter until when”.

“I wasn’t  looking for anyone, and then I found him”.

Blah! Ugh! Ew! Sorry… I’ll stop it now!

Accidentally in love
Accidentally in love: corny text, corny photo, corny legend – one’s gotta be consistent! =P

So powerful and yet so vulnerable

My flight from Kuala Lumpur lasted a couple of hours and I arrived in Aonang in the afternoon. Greg would only come the next day, so I stayed the night at a backpackers’, sharing a big dorm with around 10 other people. After settling in, I decided to go out explore the place and find something to eat. The little town turned out to be very lively, with hundreds of hotels, bars and restaurants.

Exploring Aonang
Exploring Aonang on my own: lively town with beautiful landscape

However, I didn’t feel very motivated to spend a big night out (mainly after all that had happened the day before in Kuala Lumpur), so I came back early to the hostel. In my room I met a nice American guy from San Louis Obispo. He gave me his business card, which said “Filmmaker and World Traveler” – and that was his first world trip. Quite optimistic, huh?

The next morning I went for breakfast with my world traveler friend and after that I went for a walk on the beach by myself. Greg would only arrive in the afternoon, so I had a few hours to kill in Aonang. I walked many miles, until I reached a neighbor fisherman’s village. The beaches were of an unimaginable beauty, with white sand, crystal clear water, high cliffs, and idyllic islands as far as the eye could see.

The island I swam to in Aonang (on the left)

I found a quiet, beautiful beach and went for a swim alone until one of the islands. That gave me an incredible feeling of freedom and power. But also some butterflies in my stomach. It’s funny to feel at the same time so powerful and so vulnerable!


Then I took a tuk-tuk to (new tongue-twister!) get back to the hostel, as I was already a bit late. Getting there, I quickly grabbed my backpack and left for the pier to wait for Greg.

We had agreed to meet at 14:30. I arrived a little early and lied down at a bench by the pier to wait for him. He was late and I started to get a little anxious. But there was not much I could do. I didn’t even have a Thai phone card! All I could do at that time was patiently wait for him.

Longtail boats, cliffs, jungle and beach

And then he arrived (the driver had taken him to a different port!)

I could barely believe it! We kissed and hugged as if we were one of those desperate couples meeting again after the war 😀 I remember thinking that he was even more handsome than two days before! 🙂

Faux Pas

Greg in Railay Beach
Greg in Railay Beach

The boat ride was short, but absolutely stunning! When we got to Railay and I was getting off the boat, I fell back on the water (with my huge backpack on!!) and got completely wet. I almost died of laughter and shame! But it was good: this way Greg would get to know the real, clumsy Ana.

He had booked a room for one day in an amazing resort in Hat Railay West. It was probably the most exclusive hotel I had ever stayed (even though he claims it was much cheaper then any hotel in New Zealand). The resort had a big swimming pool and bar in front of this paradisiac beach, which was one of the most beautiful I had ever seen in my life (remember, I come from Brazil, which is famous for its beaches!). The beach was surrounded by huge cliffs and vibrant green nature. The sea water was warm and of a green and turquoise color. I couldn’t have conceived a prettier landscape in my wildest dreams!

Monkeys seen from our window
Monkeys seen from our window

Our apartment was a lodge in the middle of nature, with dozens of monkeys playing in the branches of the trees outside our balcony. This gave the whole experience a greater sense of adventure and exoticism.

In search of glow

We left to explore the village and have dinner. After a few Shingas (Thai beer) and piña coladas, we decided to look for a beach which supposedly had bioluminescent planktons. I had never heard about it, but Greg had read they were an off-the-beaten-track but somewhat famous attraction in Railay, so we decided to check it out.

Christchurch connection
Christchurch connection

Just outside our hotel we randomly met an English tourist, who took us to the east part of Railay Beach, which we didn’t even know existed. It happened to be a very pleasant surprise, with many cool bars and restaurants. On the way, we found a nice funky-looking bar and decided to stop for a beer. The barman was from Christchurch (Greg’s city) and there was a Filipino guy who loved Brazil and could sing many Brazilian songs in perfect Portuguese (particularly Garota de Ipanema and Mas Que Nada).

After a few beers, we decided to resume our search for the luminescent beach. Following the barman’s instructions, we eventually found the beach, which was completely deserted. The moon was full, which would’ve been perfect in any other occasion, just not when you want to see the minuscule luminescent planktons!

In search of the scintillant beach
Walking in Railay, in search of the scintillant beach

Still, they were there! We could see them! And they were an amazing spectacle! We stepped into the shallow part of the water and as we moved our feet, we could see many tiny little bright blue dots.

Sparkling happy

Because I was feeling like an adventurous, fearless girl, I decided shallow was not enough for me and just dove completely into the see. I know, I was probably disturbing the blue scintillating spectacle, but in that moment I just wanted to merge with nature. I felt like the luckiest person alive! The planktons, the warm water, the deserted beach, the full moon and, above all, the company!

Strangers on a honeymoon
Strangers on a honeymoon

I could feel Greg was a little bit reluctant to enter the water in the middle of the night. But he faced his fears and followed me. I dare say that was probably the most special night of my life (who was missing cheesiness here?).

I added those incredible moments to my “favorite memories ever” mental folder. We got back to the hotel after 5 am, happy and in love, like strangers on a honeymoon.

Let it go, let it go

Breakfast with a view
Breakfast with a view

Next day we had an unbelievably hearty breakfast and relaxed for a couple of hours by the swimming pool. While we were there, Greg got a notification on his phone from a girl who had just matched him on Tinder!

I thought “well, I better get used to the idea that we’re both free spirits and that in a couple of days I’ll be in India and he might be seeing her”. So I decided not to worry about it and instead just enjoy every moment we had together. (Carpe Diem, huh?)

Adventurous diving-hiking woman

Stalactites and monkeys
Stalactites, sea snakes and monkeys

We decided to quickly jump in the sea before checking out from the hotel. I spotted a little cave in the middle of a huge cliff. Obviously, I decided that for some obscure reason it would be a great idea to swim to the cave. So I dragged poor Greg for many hundred meters until we reached it. He was honestly freaking out a bit and watching out for sea snakes or whatever other threatening sea creatures.

I was so excited that I just rushed into the cave without even considering any risk. We swam under stalactites and tunnels, until we rose on the other side, where we sat on top of a rock for a few minutes, just to appreciate how spectacular and full of surprises life is.

Adventurous mountain woman hiking to the viewpoint
Adventurous mountain woman hiking to the viewpoint in Railay

To finish off our stay in Railay, we went to the famous viewpoint. To get there, we needed to climb a very steep mountain, and had to use ropes and climbing gear. I picked up the momentum and rushed up in no time. Until today, Greg still calls me “adventurous mountain woman” because of that day 🙂

The view from above was absolutely breathtaking! We could see the whole peninsula, with beaches on both sides, the cliffs, and the vast green forest.

Farewell Railay, you’re really gorgeous

Breathtaking view
Breathtaking view

We quickly came down, because we had to catch the last boat going back to Aonang. Railay was magnificent.

I saved this beach in my memory’s folder “most beautiful places on Earth”, thanked for all the infinite blessings I had in my life and said goodbye.

Time was short and many more adventures awaited: Phi Phi Islands and Maya Bay, piña coladas and curries, love and exploration, all in a couple of days before we had to part forever.

Farewell Railay

To be continued…

Cheeky and Cheesy: Not Just Another Travel Love Story


This post contains corny and cheesy content about a “travel love story”. If you’re allergic to any of that, do not read it. Just stop reading now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

This is my travel love story or the story of how I met Greg

It could be just another travel love story. But this is a different one and you’ll soon understand why!

Without further ado, let me start my story. As I said before, those allergic to romance can leave this page right now, otherwise you might be infected by the virus of latin-drama-queen-cancerian-hyper-sentimental-corny Ana.

Greg and Ana's first picture in Ko Samui
Greg and Ana’s first picture together – Ko Samui, September 2015

Long journey to Ko Samui

I had an amazing time on my own in Chiang Mai, exploring the jungle, bathing elephants and feeling like a powerful woman (if you didn’t read about it, here‘s the link to that story). After 5 days in Chiang Mai, I took a 2-hour plane to Surat Thani, and from there a 2-hour bus to the Raja Ferry Port in Lipa Noi, where I boarded the ferry to Ko Samui.

Ko Samui is Thailand’s second largest island. I had read it was not so beautiful, so my initial plan was to spend only a couple of days there and use it as a base to explore Koh Pha Ngan and Ko Tao.

ana smiling
Did I look happy?

I was the first person to enter the ferry and I chose a seat on the first row, left side. I threw my big backpack on the seat, happily thinking I had made a great choice, because I’d have the whole panoramic view right in front of me (I was proved wrong, as you will shortly see).

First Interactions

Just behind me sat a guy, who was also carrying a huge backpack. He was wearing an orange hippie-ish T-shirt with a tree pattern, shorts and a very charming Panama hat. I left my backpack saving the seat and went to the ferry bar, to buy a package of chips and a lychee juice. I noticed he came behind me and bought a can of Fanta. When he paid, he said a “Kop khun kap” (thank you for men in Thai) that I thought sounded really convincing. “He must have been here for a while”, I thought.

beach Ko Samui
It is not recommended to swim on the beaches in Ko Samui. Still, they are very beautiful

We went back to our seats and he said “Hey, how’s it going?”. (Note: Kiwis are strangely friendly people and believe it or not they still communicate with the person sitting next to them on public transport!)  I said I was fine and we started a conversation. I asked if he was Australian, to which he vehemently denied and said he came from New Zealand. He tried to guess where I came from and his first shot was Argentina (how funny, exactly our respective arch-enemies!)

I told him a bit about me: you know, environmental engineer, traveling around Thailand on my own, before going to India to do a yoga teacher training… He told me he worked online and had been living in Ko Samui for 2 months, “for a change of environment” (those bloody digital nomads!) We talked about our projects and passions, such as traveling, sustainability, yoga, and I thought, “wow, we share a lot of interests!”.

First Impressions

Greg’s photo of me

No more than 10 minutes on board, I realized he had gotten the absolute best seat, because even though he was on the second row, he was sitting just by the window and could get some sea breeze, while I was melting beside a glass that magnified the heat like a greenhouse. So I stood up and stayed by his side, enjoying the nice warm breeze with him.

At some point, he took off his sunglasses and I remember thinking he had the longest eyelashes I had ever seen! Something about it reminded me of “A Clockwork Orange” (even though now when I see the movie cover I can’t imagine what could have possibly possessed me to think that). I thought he was really cute. I wrote on my journal: “huge blue eyes, huge eyelashes, beautiful smile, beautiful face” (yes, I’m very descriptive on my memoirs).

Photo that I took of Greg on the exact same spot!

The sun started to go down and I suggested going up to the deck to watch the sunset and take some photos. We took our Nikons (another shared interest!) and went upstairs. The views were stunning! The sun was setting between idyllic islands, creating dramatic drawings with the clouds at dusk. While we were up there, I realized he had one leg shorter than the other. For some reason, that profoundly captivated me.

Time to say goodbye

After two hours (and a lot of talking), we finally got to Ko Samui. We exchanged phone numbers, but he was living on the opposite side of the island from my hostel. I asked myself if he would call me. I wondered if I should call him instead. “Yeah, maybe I would”. He was really interesting, nice and cute! And I was feeling like an independent, pro-active woman, so why not?

ana yoga
I know, this pose again! Just trying to impress…

The plane tickets included the vans that would take us to our hotels. We went to catch one but there was just one seat left. I suddenly got really upset, because for some reason I would love to keep on talking to this sweet Kiwi guy for a bit longer. Or maybe I was hoping for something more, who knows? (Well, I know, I was).

For a couple of seconds, my heart sank and I prepared to say goodbye. Then they shouted that there were actually two seats left at the back of the van. So I happily hopped on with him.

We kept on talking all the way and having a lot of fun. I was going to sleep in the cheapest, shabbiest hostel in the center (adventurous traveler life). He was living in a nice flat with two rooms, in a nice condominium with swimming pool, sauna and gym (digital nomads’ life).

ana funny face
Why not? (Grimacing on the first date, how seductive, Ana!)

At the eleventh hour

We reached my hostel first. When I was about to get off the van, “at the eleventh hour”, the most (un)expected proposal came (you probably already imagine by now):

“Actually, I have two rooms in my place. You could stay in one of them if you’d like.”

(Thank you, thank you! My prayers have been heard!)

But because Greg is the sweetest boy, he said he genuinely just made that offer to help a poor traveler who deserved a nice shower and a nice bed during her travels in Asia. I believe he actually did. As for me, I can’t say my intentions were as pure (oops).

ana at the temple
Exploring Ko Samui on my own while the digital nomad works

I thought (or pretended to think) for a couple of seconds and said, “why not?“. After all, was it that much different from couchsurfing? And by then, we had talked for almost 3 hours!

So I told the driver I was not getting off at my hostel anymore and was going to his condominium instead (I wonder what he thought about it). His flat was located in Bo Pun, on the north part of Ko Samui.

We arrived feeling so hungry that we decided we wouldn’t take a shower and would go straight find something to eat.

He took me to his favorite roadside restaurant, where I had a delicious Pad Thai (you must think I only eat Pad Thai – and you’re probably right). When we finished, he asked if I’d like to have a couple of drinks before heading back to the apartment. “Yeah, why not?” So he took me to a street full of bars that ended at the beach and we bought a couple of beers and drinks from different bars.

Sitting on the bean bag at the beach, sipping piña colada and watching the fire dancers

Brace for cheesiness

In the end, we reached the beach and went to a bar where there were some fire dancers doing amazing performances. We sat on bean bags on the sand and ordered a couple of piña coladas. Up to today, I don’t think my mind could be so creatively cheeky and cheesy to create such a perfect, romantic first-kiss scenery: on a beach in Thailand, drinking piña colada and watching fire dancers perform in front of the sea, on a warm night of starry sky, tempered with adventure and excitement.  All elements perfectly blended in a timeless moment.

(Could you come up with a cornier description? Well, it gets worse!)

Fire dancers and their amazing performances

I don’t know how to put it any other way, but it was so perfect that I felt like I was kissing myself (yuck, narcissistic Ana!) I’m sorry if that sounded weird. I just mean it was the most perfect kiss. Ever.

When the spectacle was over, we went back to his apartment, walking through street market stalls and holding hands, as if we were a couple (maybe we were?)

This is the moment where you take the kids from the room!

Jokes apart, I think it’s needless to say that the extra room remained empty…

Exploring Bo Pun


The next day we woke up and went for a quick swim in his amazing swimming pool (it is said the sea in Ko Samui is not so clean), before going for breakfast at a local restaurant where I ate poached eggs for the first time (yes, I know, sorry, Brazilians don’t really eat poached eggs).

ana temple visit
Visiting the “teeemple” in Bo Pun, Ko Samui

Then I went for a 3-hour walk by the beach while he was working on some urgent assignment (who said being a digital nomad was easy?)

Ko Samui proved to be quite beautiful, even though the sea is a bit polluted and the city a bit chaotic. I visited a temple, walked through the neighborhood and went back to the swimming pool.

Exploring Lamai

I came back, he finished his work and we went out to the explore the other side of the island. He hired a motorcycle and took me to visit two famous rocks, one shaped like a penis and the other like a vulva (how romantic). Then he took me to Lamai, one of the main beaches in Ko Samui, where we had a few drinks before going back to Fisherman’s Village, on “his” side of the island.

I felt like I’d met who I had always looked for, without even knowing I was looking for anyone

Everything we did felt like we had been a couple for years. Riding a motorcycle together, holding hands, taking selfies. It was a connection that I can’t really describe. This might be me being cheesy again, but it didn’t feel like just another “travel love story”. I felt like we were old friends, like it was meant to be, like I had finally met who I wasn’t even looking for.

Let me put it this way: on our first day together, I felt like deep inside I knew exactly who I was looking for (even though I wasn’t really looking for anyone) and that I  had finally met that person.

Corny session closed, let’s move on.

Another register from my journal says, “I had so much fun with him. His accent is very funny. He says teeeen (for 10) and teeemple (for temple). And I love when he says “Kop khun kap”.

But I was so happy by myself!

Observing the penis-shaped rock

As I drank, I grew nostalgic. During that trip I admit I was allowing myself to live without guilt or shame and I was really happy not attaching to anything or anyone. I felt empowered and happy by myself. But at the same time, that guy was really special. His ideas, his words, his style, his body… everything matched, suited, fit me. And I was leaving the next day! Something had come up and I’d have to go to Kuala Lumpur for 3 days (not Ko Pha Ngan anymore).

Anyway, I had to leave. And he had to stay. That’s how life is. It was just a summer love. Or travel love. I was determined to enjoy every single moment and then let it go without attachments. Just take the beautiful memories with me and keep on traveling.

Farewell stranger. See you one day. Maybe.

The next day we woke up early and he took me to the ferry on his rented motorcycle. However, we arrived right on time to see the ferry leaving the port! Luckily, I had a time buffer, so we went for breakfast on the other side of the pier and I left one hour later, on the next ferry.

The farewell was quick. A short kiss. I thanked and said I’d had a great time. He agreed. And I said, “maybe we’ll meet again one day”. He said, “yes”.

ana romantic night
Hard to leave without looking back

He left. I boarded the ferry still smiling.


To be continued…




Have you ever fallen in love while traveling? What happened next? I’d love to hear your travel love stories! Please leave your comment below!