So last week I confessed that yes — at twenty-five, I’m still totally obsessed with my birthday. In my defense, I’m equally obsessed with the birthdays of those around me on a scrapbook-making, banner-hanging, cake-baking, Leslie Knope level, so I actually feel totally okay about it.
But anyway — I came back to Koh Tao to ring in a quarter century surrounded by some of my favorite people. I had a very specific vision: spending the day surrounded by friends and a body of water — pool or ocean would do, but a bathtub would probably be a bit tight — and spending the night at one of my favorite Koh Tao restaurants.
Sweet and simple. But my amazing friends had something even more epic in mind.
On the eve of my birthday I was, as usual, hanging in Banyan Bar. I was saying my goodbyes around midnight when suddenly the lights dimmed, flaming shots appeared (shown being elegantly consumed, above left), I was gifted several high-demand out-of-print Banyan t-shirts, and a special rendition of the birthday song was melodically butchered. I Skyped my mama — she was at the library and thrilled, I’m sure, to receive a midnight call from a rowdy bar crowd — but then called it a night to conserve my energy for the following day’s festivities. What I didn’t count on was that the party would come home with me — not long after I crawled into bed I heard a knock on my door and opened it to find four friends holding Cards Against Humanity under one arm and several bottles of booze under the other. We took turns out-offending each other on the porch until I finally kicked everyone out as it neared sunrise.
Not many hours later I heard a knock at the door again — it was Heather again, bright eyed and bearing gifts of my all time favorite breakfast burrito from Zanzibar. She told me to eat quick — I had a massage to get to!
I was blown away — how sweet of my fellow spa addict to arrange an early morning treatment for me! But that was just the beginning — when I walked out of my massage feeling all kinds of blissed out, Heather, Janine and Katy were waiting, champagne in hand, to meet me for another hour of foot massages, girly gossip, and birthday toasts. I wasn’t even twelve hours into twenty-five yet, and my girls were already making me weepy.
Next stop? Back to the Aminjirah pool, where I donned a third-hand bikini top Katy had gifted me, wrapped elegantly in a roll of toilet paper. Wracked with laughter, we explained to a very confused Heather that another friend had given the bikini to Katy as a hand-me-down a few months ago, and I was consumed with jealousy and basically begged her for it. She wouldn’t relent — until now, that is.
It was the perfect low-key afternoon, with friends dropping by left and right to soak up the sun and the views. It had been rainy and overcast all week — November is traditionally monsoon month in Koh Tao — but this day was perfect.
Around sunset we broke off to make ourselves presentable, and reconvened for the evening down in Mae Haad at The Whitening, my favorite restaurant on the island. It was like any big group meal on Koh Tao — hectic, loud, indulgent, and delicious.
As we were getting ready to go, I heard a commotion and turned around to find a big, red, sparkler-topped cake heading towards me. I’d never seen a red velvet cake on Koh Tao before, and asked thought big bites where it came from — turned out my dear friend Scottie had remembered me mentioning it as one of my favorites months before, and commissioned a local bakery to make it, even bringing in special ingredients from Koh Samui!
I was truly overwhelmed (the man also gave me a gift card to one of my favorite boutiques on the island — ladies, let me know if you need to be set up on a blind date with the most thoughtful human on the planet). I remember thinking one thing while I blew that candle out — I was completely spoiled. Spoiled with love.
The day had turned out to be an amazing vortex of awesome that would not end. Coincidentally, my birthday this year fell on Loy Krathong, another special Thai holiday associated with Yi Peng. Mae Haad was taken over by jubilant festivities, and the beach was filled with revelers releasing lanterns into the sky and floating offerings into the sea.
Though the local festival was a little overwhelming, we made our way to a quiet corner of the shore to let off our own floats and lanterns with good wishes for the year ahead.
Silliness aside, it was a really special moment, and I felt as filled up with love as those lanterns bobbing towards the sky.
From there, we made our way back to Sairee — and that’s where things really got wild. From clothes-switch surprises to laughing gas balloon bonanzas to dance floor shenanigans, we shut the beach bars right down. And then, in a routine that was quickly coming familiar, we continued back to my porch for even more laughter filled toasts, deep life talks, and Cards Against Humanity showdowns.
Don’t you love next day iPhone discoveries?
Between my pre-birthday beach getaway, the most perfect November 6th a girl could ask for, and the belated surprise party that I didn’t even know was awaiting me yet in New York, I’ve never welcomed in a new year feeling as lucky and as loved as I did twenty five. I can’t thank my nearest and dearest enough for making it happen — y’all rock my world!
How does one girl get so lucky? I don’t have much stability, or much financial security, or many material things. But man, I’ve got good people in spades. And as I wrote in a post published right around this very birthday of mine, when I look around at the people riding shotgun through life with me — I mean that metaphorically, you know, because otherwise it would be a pretty darn crowded car — I feel like I must be doing something right in this world to deserve them.
Here’s to an entire year as epic as the day that kicked it off.