Sketchbook Stories (Koh Tao, Thailand)

Sketchbook Stories

Koh Tao, Thailand – February 8, 2019

I think I’ve found heaven on earth, though watching the little island slip into the distance beyond the wake of the ferry made it feel as if it were all a dream. White sandy beaches are strung delicately between rocky pointed peninsulas and huge round boulders are perfectly placed along the shoreline. Softly, the ships are harbored in each bay. Skinny palm trees tower over the ridges of the jungle below, creating sketchy contrasted silhouettes against the sky. Colorful cabanas climb up the rocky cliffs and into the mountainous jungle. We imagined what must go on behind the scenes to paint this place like the fantastical Disney-princess movie set that it is.

Most travelers come to Koh Tao as it’s known as the cheapest place in the world to become a certified Open Water Diver. Divers are a very certain type of people. They’re like surfers of below the sea. Boys walk barefoot along the sandy Sairee beach trail, showing off their long limbs and perfect stature. They’re all tall, tanned and tattooed with shaggy sun-bleached hair and scruffy untrimmed facial-hair. Girls in ripped cut-off shorts bounce off the scuba boats and walk by with sit-marks of sand pressed in circles around their perfectly plump bums. It’s such a healthy lifestyle: salt, sea, and sun every day. In the first three days of being there, I already felt more full of life.

Smooth teal waves lap over layers of pink sandy pebbles. Rusty red fishing boats bob on top of the rolling horizon. Tropical storms roll in daily to keep the island’s humidity in perfect balance and clear away the energy from the day before. Drippy grey rain clouds hang heavy out over the ocean and the sharp black horizon line sits atop the yellowing sky. Furry blue beach-pines and rubbery reddish-purple leaves of almond trees stretch out across the sand, sheltering one from the afternoon sun. Thai mammas with tannika rubbed into their cheeks sweep the sand from their wooden porches. Tourists wearing tortoise shell sun-shades, lounging in slouchy beachside beanbags, stir frosty fragrant pineapple juices or full green coconuts, and pucker their burgundy lips around bamboo straws. Light flickers through the feathery palm trees, everyone smiles at you as you walk by, and life is beautiful.

In the iridescent glow of sunset, families play in the sand while packs of fluffy dogs snap at small schools of tiny silver fish trapped in the pools of low-tide. After the sun goes down, the branches above the beach are lit up with lofty lanterns and fabric tentacles that float delicately on the Siam Sea breeze. You feel a bit chilly, but your somewhat-sunburnt-skin radiates heat and keeps you cuddled in a perfect warm patch. Prickly plucking guitar sounds echo across the ocean air, “and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.” A day in the life: Candle lit dinners, circling toes in the sand, and crying spicy tears over cupfuls of thick red curry.

Beautiful couples enjoy shallow shady areas, tangled around in each other’s limbs, canoodling on top of colorful tapestries; Hands through hair, soft touches, and salty kisses; Interlocking pinkie-fingers while strolling slowly along the sandy beach path, sharing spoonfuls of each other’s homemade ice-cream. It’s truly a place of relaxation and romance. A place of calm and happiness, lazy wanderers and party people, burnt noses and half-priced liquor buckets. Healthy food, salty skin, plenty of vitamin sea and D, fresh air, natural wonders and view-points above sea level, and below an untouched abundance of aquatic life.


Alena Horowitz | Miss Potato

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