Written in October 2008
I am in paradise.
To get here it took a half hour taxi ride, a 13 hour overnight train trip, an hour and a half bus ride, a three hour ferry, and a half hour songtaew ride over the jungle: 22 straight hours of traveling. Add that to the 13 hour plane ride from Seattle to Seoul, the 24 hour layover in South Korea, five and a half hours to Bangkok airport plus another hour in a taxi into the city to be able to be here, right here, where I am now. And it is worth every minute, every squat toilet, and every penny. I am in paradise.
If it was easy to get here then it would not exist; this place would be filled with jerks and assholes. You have to make a real effort to get this far away from everybody, from everything you know. Time, effort, money. Will. Courage. You all have these things. You could be here right now; you could be here next year. What do you want in your life? I want paradise.
I am island Shilo. You have never met her. She is an insane brand of happiness, not just happy but content, an emotion which always seems to elude my restless self. I only ever seem to touch it on beaches, in the sun, covered in a magic potion of sunscreen, sand, salt, and coconut oil, with the song of the ocean in my head, hypnotizing me.
I have not felt this way since I was living in New Zealand, swimming in the South Pacific every day, baking in the sun for hours upon hours. I have stars in my eyes, mosquito bites on my legs, and freckles all over everywhere. I am in paradise.
I am on the island of Ko Pha Ngan in the Gulf of Thailand. Remember that movie The Beach? They swam from here.
Ever heard about the biggest beach rave in the world, the full moon parties on Haat Rin Beach which draw 30,000 people? That beach is around the corner from my bungalow.
I order Pina Coladas, Sex on the Beach, coconut milkshakes. I wear a pink bikini and sunglasses and that is it. I eat banana pancakes and red curries. The water is a brilliant aquamarine, warm under the hot tropical sun; home to swimmers in speedos, snorkeling boats headed out for the day, softly crashing waves, and fuzzy green islands jutting up towards the blinding white-hot sun. Neon pink flowers drip off trees and onto hammocks where sweaty children sleep; the sand is as soft as cheese. Fresh fish are grilled just steps away from the shoreline; beers go down quicker than you can say ‘Chang,’ and echoes of electronic music find their way up the cove and into my ears. A scruffy mamma dog nurses three puppies- one white, one black, one tan. Mats are set up on the beach for massages, and beach chairs for bathing. I am in paradise.
The moon will be full in two days; it just happened to work out that I am here the right day of the month to go to the legendary beach rave. The party gods smile on me.
How I wish my friends were here with me, to dance. In paradise.
Much love from silly island Shilo whose brain has turned to mango ice cream and sticky rice.
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