Gamlang Riian

It’s almost noon on Saturday here. Natalie just took the motorbike to go get some tea. We’re thinking of driving north to the Saturday market in Saladan and strolling around the tourist shops. Or maybe riding South to Khlong Nin and finding the lone open bar and restaurant (lone at least until high season turns the trickle of tourists into a flood next month). Tonight maybe we’ll head to the Irish Embassy (the bar, not the embassy) to watch Premier League. We’ll have similar options tomorrow along with a trip to JT’s Beach Bar to help Trash Hero Koh Lanta clean up the beach. And I should probably sneak some studying in both days before class on Monday morning.

Studying, of course, is the reason why we’re here. While in Antarctica last January I found out that a Thai language school I’d been keeping my eye on was offering one last semester from September to November before closing. I’ve spent the last four Autumns deploying to McMurdo, but it was an easy decision to use a last chance at language school on Koh Lanta as an excuse to break the deployment cycle.

So I signed up and got the confirmation in March. Natalie and I went to Melbourne, Tasmania and Thailand for 40 days and headed back to the US in late May. I spent some time in Denver working, saw friends and family in the Twin Cities, Wisconsin and Chicago, and followed a trail of whisky through Scotland with some old friends for a couple weeks. All told, a lovely summer. But too short, per usual.

On the way to Thailand I stopped in Japan for a week in late August and it quickly got a spot on the list of places I could easily spend extended time (the international portion of that list also includes Vietnam, Ukraine, Mongolia, Melbourne, and Glasgow). I rolled into Bangkok for a night and came down to Koh Lanta on a Saturday before school started on September 2.

I’ve got 10 more weeks of studying, a couple short trips to renew my visa, and a wedding in Phang Nga in November before heading back to the Midwest in December and then back to Antarctica for a few months after the New Year. All told, life is calm and life is good.

As I’ve surely annoyed some of you about, I’ve spent a good deal of time learning about credit cards and rewards programs over the last few years. And then I spent a good deal of time researching and building spreadsheets to take advantage of them. So with the free time life on Koh Lanta now affords me, I’m going to start sharing what I’ve learned over in the How-To section of my website. Mostly it’s a way to sharpen my writing, but hopefully someone finds some of it useful! If you ever have questions about that realm and want input from someone you know just reach out.