“Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” – Anonymous
And then there were three.
Our usual group, which started off with five brothers making its first overseas trip to Bintan in 2007, has dwindled over time – four made the trip to Phuket in June 2014, and this time only Boon, James and I were able to make this trip.
Wei Chuen and his lovely wife and two sons are currently braving the harsh winters of London, UK; while Francis did us proud by acing the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, completing his first 42.195km in over a decade.
I guess we have all, each of us, well and truly entered a different stage of life.
Family and other priorities have taken precedence, and in spite of our best efforts to keep this strong bond going – through monthly get togethers to watch football – it’s also time to accept that things will never go back to how it used to be.
But that’s part of life, and it’s okay.
With Clara also expecting a first born soon, this could well be Boon’s last trip with us for quite some time.
Our choice of Koh Samui (or Ko Samui) was a typical guys’ decision. Two men argued over whatsapp chat, while the third (me) observed with indifference.
In the end the more demanding man (James) won, and the usually more soft-spoken Boon, being gregarious as always, agreed to settle with the Thai destination.
It turned out to be a blessing in disguise for us too, as the other options of Lombok or Bali would not have happened, with the eruption of Mount Agung making travel impossible during this period.
This was a trip we really looked forward to. 4 days 3 nights of just the guys. In the cases of Boon and James, it was some time away from their missuses to recharge on their masculine energy.
And in my case, it was my first trip with the guys for years. A welcome respite from a usual solo trip or one with just female companions which typically gets the rumour mill going.
We arrived on the Friday night. And in typical impractical and illogical fashion, we brought along a PS4 console and FIFA 18. Like who brings FIFA on vacation right? Well, we do.
And it turned out to be a great choice as Boon’s gout started acting up, and FIFA18 proved to be the best time killer on our first evening there.
Though I hate the fact that I am the weakest gamer of the 3 of us due to lack of practise, and always get hammered whenever we FIFA.
The next day saw us blessed with great weather, and after some time doing nonsense stuff on the beach – as this was technically supposed to be a beach holiday – we proceeded to try out some Samui Football Golf – my personal highlight of the trip.
Maybe part of the reason it was my highlight was cos I beat James at the game. Who doesn’t love winning? The same probably can’t be said of James though.
Probably not his highlight of the trip.
18 holes of pure creative football execution. I must say whoever came up with the concept of this game is a genius.
Watch this video clip here to see how I beat James in the ‘Zidane’s Header’ course – hole number 13 I believe?
Some Muay Thai in the evening at Phetchbuncha Samui Stadium and catching Manchester United beat Arsenal 3-1 at one of the pubs made it an almost perfect first day that was tough to beat.
And it did turn out that way, with Sunday proving to be somewhat of a dampener with rain and choppy seas putting an abrupt halt to our initial plans for a Jet Ski safari to 5 islands.
Nonetheless we made the most of it and managed a 30 minute Jet Ski ride around the bay, before settling for what was mostly a slow day of eating and sight-seeing between Chaweng and Lamai Beaches, before we FIFA-ed again. Ugh.
On a personal note this trip has made me realise how much time has passed since we tormented teachers in our school classroom.
And although we have each matured, and gone our separate ways in terms of our career and life choices, there is still an unspoken magic that somehow always manages to roll back the years for us when we come together, making us behave and believe as if we have never left school.
And while some outside the group may look at us with disapproval, I have come to fully embrace this part of my brothers and myself.
These are my brothers, I accept and love them for who they are, and I don’t expect them to ever change. Neither do I want them to.