The problem with paradise is the difference between the fantasy in your imagination and the reality you are faced with. The bigger the difference, the greater the upset. Of course, there may be no difference, in which case you are in a happy place.
Koh Muk is a beautiful island in the Anderman sea on the south west coast of Thailand. On the west side is the small but perfectly formed Had Farang beach, a small crescent of white sand which slips gently into clear, warm turquoise waters. Its surrounded by karst cliffs, covered in tropical vegetation of spiky palms and classic coconut palm trees. A feast for the eyes.
Our sunset facing bungalow had a view between some shady trees across the sea to Koh Kradan. It was the last one free when we arrived and although it was more than we wanted to pay, it was large with an ensuite and our new hammock fitted perfectly on the wooden balcony. Unfortunately it was also home to rats which would scratch around in the ceiling after dark. We were used to this after our time in China and a bang on the wall would quiet them down. However, we weren’t used to small presents of rat waste falling through a loose roof board into the room. The dad of the family who ran the accommodation came round and nailed up the loose board to solve that issue but the environment further tested our Dr Doolittle credentials.
Monkeys would hang around on the roof and go through the bin after dark. I fed giant mosquitoes and in return they left me huge, itchy lumps. Al was greeted by cockroaches in the bathroom. After sunset each day, swarms of small flies would descend and cover you. One evening a giant cicada decided to spend the night with us, flapping and buzzing around the room. In the shallows of the sea, shoals of translucent green fish would hang around your legs. Hermit crabs were constantly shuffling around the beach, hiding in their mobile homes as you approached. Of course, you have to expect to interact with nature on a tropical island.
The resort was also home to a more familiar type of small creature – children. Either side of our bungalow were families enjoying the beauty of the Thai islands, something we hadn’t experienced before and a change from the backpacker trail.
Our days would be spent topping up the tan. I watched Al go brown as some bits of me went from white to off-white and some bits went from white to red. I would easily win ‘Mr Blotchy Tan 2017’ We’d swim in the warm sea, so clear that at chin depth I could see my toes. We’d watch the sun disappear each day with a cold beer or a cocktail and after savoury, rich, spicy, coconut, Thai curries, would watch electrical storms out to sea bring atmosphere to the night sky. A tropical paradise.