We've been watching too much Walter Mitty lately. Embarrasingly, too many times to count. In our defense, it is the only movie we have. Consequently, the Quintessence of Life has become a theme. You remember from the movie, “The quintessence of life... what is that? “Sir, it means so rich and full…” “All right... Let’s process some Quintessence!”

 Watching Walter all the way back in Canada. 

Watching Walter all the way back in Canada. 

On our journey, we have defined our own Quintessence of #Nuventures. Our quintessences aren't the places we go, but the people we meet.

An encounter with someone doesn’t have to be a deep, meaningful relationship by any means. For me, I found quintessence as I was simply waiting for coffee in Bali. All of a sudden this fireball, red head from Texas sent me on a whirlwind. In a matter of minutes, she smacked me in the face with wisdom, experience and straightened out my entire vision of life. Then, with a pat on the back, she was gone. Who would have guessed a red head from Texas in Indonesia would be my voice of clarity? Ha! Gotta love Texans!

The man that defined our quintessence on Koh Mook Island, Thailand was Chest, the owner of Coco Lodge. Upon our arrival, the island seemed similar to any other. We saw white sandy beaches, clear water lapping the sand, romantic bungalows lining the beach, jungly mountains as the backdrop, and smiling locals. At the other extreme, the Thai dogs were scavenging, motorbikes were roaring and plastic trash served as the grass.

wpid-20150525_084911.jpg
wpid-20150525_084911.jpg
wpid-20150525_084825.jpg
wpid-20150525_084825.jpg
 Our adorable neighbors!

Our adorable neighbors!

However, once we met Chest, Koh Mook came alive! One night booked at the Lodge turned into a week stay!

 Our bungalow was one of the cleanest, most comfortable and coolest places we've stayed in SE Asia. Add Chest to the experience and we got the icing on the cake!

Our bungalow was one of the cleanest, most comfortable and coolest places we've stayed in SE Asia. Add Chest to the experience and we got the icing on the cake!

 Even at first glance you know this man has character and a great story to tell!

Even at first glance you know this man has character and a great story to tell!

Chest had quite the reputation preceding him on Trip Advisor and Travelfish, but we didn’t expect to fall for him like everyone had promised. As we got to know Chest, we learned he has formed such close friendships with his guests he has officiated several of their weddings! Words cannot describe his warm hospitality balanced by an aura of absolute chillness. His life motto: "Relaaaaax. Take it eeeeeasy."

 How can you argue with that when you sit on his front porch with a Chang in hand, chatting about life and watching the sunset?

How can you argue with that when you sit on his front porch with a Chang in hand, chatting about life and watching the sunset?

 Size has nothing to do with how big of an impact you can make. We compete for who's taller!

Size has nothing to do with how big of an impact you can make. We compete for who's taller!

Adam and my curiosities were raging from all of the new things we were seeing on the island. With Chest's genuine pride and excitement to share Koh Mook with us, our curiosities were transformed to awesome experiences as he opened doors and threw us into everything.

On a morning walk, we heard pounding and went to investigate. We found ladies gathered together all pounding away. "Chest, what are they doing?" "Ah! Making chili paste." The next morning, I jumped in on the action.

 You simply pound/grind fresh chilis from the garden with the pestle. Occasionally, clear the edges of the mortar so you don't lose any of the goodness. It's more about hanging with your girls and catching up on the local gossip:)

You simply pound/grind fresh chilis from the garden with the pestle. Occasionally, clear the edges of the mortar so you don't lose any of the goodness. It's more about hanging with your girls and catching up on the local gossip:)

During our time on Koh Mook, the monsoon season was just starting. With the stronger winds and waves, the blue crabs were pulled out of hiding. Perfect for fishing! Chest got us front row seats to watch the action (we were too lame to wake up at 3 am to go out on the boat.) The fishermen dragged their nets off the boats around 8 am, cleared out the crabs and finished the chore of untangling the nets for hours with a team of family members. Our appreciation for the seafood on our plates has grown exponentially!

wpid-20150526_082726.jpg
wpid-20150526_082726.jpg
 This man had to use a hammer against his butcher knife to cut through this monster fish!

This man had to use a hammer against his butcher knife to cut through this monster fish!

 The blue crab. 

The blue crab. 

Being surrounded by locals living on chili and crabs made us eager to hop in the kitchen and learn how to make Thai food. "Mai bpen rai (no problem)!" Chest opened his kitchen up to us every night to learn how to cook from his staff.

wpid-20150525_183008.jpg
wpid-20150525_183008.jpg

A little fish here, a little pork there, throw in some herbs from the garden and stuff them in banana leaves for steaming. Then, onto grinding more chili paste, prepping the crabs and sipping on Chang. Voila! A delicious homegrown meal from the garden and the sea.

 Everyone was invited around the big family table to dig in on the delicious feast each night. 

Everyone was invited around the big family table to dig in on the delicious feast each night. 

Chest’s most treasured adventure to share with his guests was a full day on his boat exploring around the island. First stop: Emerald Cave. With the waves getting bigger, we had to jump ship fast and start swimming toward this tiny hole in the cliff. The waves pushed us through the hole taking us deeper into the pitch black cave. The name "Emerald" comes from the last color you feel like you will ever see as you go deeper into this unknown, scary, black abyss. Terrifying bellows of a distant monster in the cave (actually, the waves hitting deep, unseen corners) kept me praying during the entire swim. Fear factor for sure! Finally, there was a light at the end with more emerald green! The waves washed us all ashore onto a hidden paradise inside the mountain!

IMG_20150521_095033-2
IMG_20150521_095033-2
 Every fear was worth overcoming for the moment of floating in the waves onto the tiny beach. 

Every fear was worth overcoming for the moment of floating in the waves onto the tiny beach. 

The adventure of Emerald Cave was followed by snorkeling all around the island. Chest lives here and snorkels everyday, but his passion for the sea and finding Nemo  is unwavering.  We were the ones dragging him out of the water!

 Smiling after hours in the water. 

Smiling after hours in the water. 

We have learned we can’t seek out these people that define our quintessence of #nuventures. How can we? They are the people God surprises us with that make our most memorable moments. The spontaneity of the encounter and their unique character makes it all so exciting,  adventurous, and so rich and so full.

We love getting to laugh when we hear others' stories! Share yours with us! What kind of characters have you met recently?

Want to meet Chest yourself on your next adventure to Thailand? Visit him at Coco Lodge: http://www.kohmook-cocolodge.com. He'd love to show you 'round!

6 Comments