Some of us are Christmas grinches and some of us are New Year grinches—same difference really. Making them CNY dinners mostly means being subjected to slews of pagro personal questions, “When your turn [to get married]? When you going to have babies? Have you bought insurance? Promoted already not?” from relatives you see barely even five times a year.
It has also been statistically proven that festive seasons bring on the onset of depression and isolationism, and from experience, usually a few inches around the waistline.
Each day that CNY gains ground on us puts a damper on our spirits.
So, fancy a weekend jaunt? Or heck, take the whole week off and jet off to these three nearby getaways.
Surat Thani, Thailand
Not the most popular tourist town—yay purists!—Surat Thani is the perfect place for a quiet lazy weekend and scenic picnics. Because there are so few proper shops, you needn’t worry about the missus swiping your credit card at this place. What Surat Thani does have though, is lots of charm and a sizeable local night market. Think, good spicy southern style street food like grilled meats, fried insects and even crocodile. You may find yourself one of the few tourists there, so be sure to plan your transport routes thoroughly to avoid overpaying on tuktuks and the like.
The biggest draw of this picturesque sleepy town must be the protected marine National Park a stone’s throw away, the Mu Ko Ang Thong an area of more than 100km2, covering over 40 islands, mostly, water. Still undisturbed by the ravages that is tourism, the marine park offers breath-taking views, limestone caves and water sports within the glittering emerald waters.
Getting there: Changi -> DMK (Bangkok Thailand) -> URT Surat Thani (5.5 hr)
Close to the gulf of Thailand, Sihanoukville is a coastal city in Cambodia made up of beaches and several smaller offshore islands. It is still relatively untouched, with minimal traffic (and electricity). Out-of-towners who already tire of the overcrowded basic island getaways can look to Sihanoukville. You will want to visit the Koh Rong Sanloem island, a tree-lined oasis with sandy white beaches, turquoise waters and silence broken only by stretches beachside bungalows and quaint cafes. Night life is practically non-existent, unless you head over to the booming Chinese-owned casinos. But hey, now’s as good a time as any for us to “disconnect to connect”, so bring a book to curl up with.
Getting there: Changi -> KLIA (KL) -> KOS Sihanoukville (5 hr)
Apart from being known for their milky, fragrant coffees, Vietnam’s beautiful bays is another good reason to traipse there. Find the best bays in Phu Quoc, well-known for its white-sand, palm-lined beaches. Go island-hopping on one of the 28 mostly uninhabited islands enveloped by lush greenery, hiking trails and rich wildlife. Last we checked, the Bai Sao Beach is still relatively unspoiled, although of course, littering, an inevitable ugly-tourist behaviour has rattled some cages. You will want to take a day trip out to Hon Xuong, a remote cusp on the west, so beautiful that it is oft-referred to as Robinson Crusoe’s island.
After which, chase the sunsets at Duong Dong Harbour, feast on fresh seafood in open-air, outdoor stalls or join a yacht tour to wring the most out of what Phu Quoc has to offer.
There’s plenty to do inland, with a contemporary art gallery, a peaceful coastal temple (Dinh Cau), cheap Vietnamese beers and more.
Getting there: There are several flights a day from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi
Don’t forget cash, sunscreen and sunglasses.