I try to take one “big” trip a year. Out of the country, some place I haven’t been before. (And, obviously, good authentic cuisine is a MUST.) Growing up, my father traveled often and all over for business, so school vacations were usually spent abroad visiting him wherever he was. And although we missed him terribly while he was gone, his job afforded us the ability to visit some pretty amazing places, like Australia and South Africa. It left a lasting wanderlust bug that I haven’t been able to shake since. But really, why would I want to?
This year’s flight around the world led my good friend, Katie, and me to Thailand. We flew into Bangkok where we spent the night and part of the next day. The small city streets smelled of dark beer and spicy Pad Thai-it was glorious. We had a quick turn around and proceeded to hop a flight from Bangkok to Phuket where we spent the next week. We were lucky enough (shout out to my incredible extended family for letting us crash your trip) to stay in a fabulous villa on the Southern edge of the city. It was set perfectly into the side of a mountain overlooking the ocean and seemingly endless, greenery covered mountains. We spent the days zip lining in the sky high tree tops, boating and snorkeling from island to island and shopping hand-made clothing in the local markets. It was everything. As we packed our bags I remember saying to Katie, “could this trip really get any better? Oh wait, yes. It can. We still have another week and another city to go.” And off we flew to Ko Samui.
You guys, if you want a place to have on-call massages on powdery soft sand beaches and all the dragon fruit you can eat, Ko Samui is your SPOT. I think the toughest choice I made one day was whether to roll into the pool to my right or carry myself 15 feet into the ocean straight ahead. I’m sure you’re feeling SO sorry for me right about now. I read 2 books cover to cover (can I get an amen?). I can’t remember the last time I read a whole book not work related. And as if all of this wasn’t enough, I spent my birthday watching a private firework show on our beach, organized by my amazing family. It was the perfect ending to the most unique, exciting, delicious trip of a lifetime.
And although the scenery was breathtaking, the water the clearest blue green, the local eats delicious, that’s not what I will always remember the trip as. This was the first time I’ve ever taken a true “vacation”, one where I wasn’t answering emails remotely or skyping phone meetings with my team. I truly let go. And in the process of doing so, this blog turned from random ideas floating around in my skull to something real. I woke up early, drank fresh coconuts on our balcony and dreamt SoulCal Chels into reality. I don’t know if I ever would have spent the necessary time to curate this space had I not taken a full 2 and 1/2 weeks off, sort of “fallen off the grid” if you will. My advice to each and every one of you is to fall off that grid every once in a while. You may just find what you never knew you were looking for all along.
Photography by Chelsea Cooper & Jonathan Berman.