We’ve all seen The Beach and some of us may have even read the book (so much more disturbing!). However, for those who haven’t seen the movie or read Alex Garland’s novel, I’ll share with you the very basics. (I won’t address the plot or major themes it explores so don’t worry about spoilers.)
The Beach is set in an idyllic secret community of travellers, who have discovered a pristine beach on a lagoon sheltered by large cliffs from the outside eye on a Thai island. A travellers’ dream – ultimately they decided to keep it to themselves at all costs (hint hint).
But that beach, that quest for the perfect destination, a place not overrun with tourists, a peaceful and perfect destination off the beaten track, a place where you can break free from technology and modern conventions – it can be found on Koh Rong.
Currently, I’m on my balcony, sheltered by the palm frond roof of my bungalow, metres from the water. Pristine white sand, travel magazine blue water, peace, no roads, and electricity only powering a single globe above me and a small fan for a few hours in the evening. The only noises are those of nature and like-minded travellers playing volleyball up the beach, not a tourist in sight.
“Town” consists of a main strip of sand, lined with bars, a couple of shops and guesthouses all powered by generators until 3am each night. Signs for fishing trips to be your own hunter and gatherer lean outside each building. Those who don’t want to catch their own dinner can still enjoy fresh BBQ whole fish with the guesthouses setting up restaurants (of sorts) on the sand each night.
My hammock sways in the breeze as I listen to that beach volleyball game, a game that is endless, anyone welcome to join at any time. I’ve lost track of time, living by my stomach and the sun’s movement across the azure sky – It must be early afternoon.
We swim before breakfast; we swim after breakfast; we float out to sea until Koh Rong is a speck in the distance, before cruising back to the beach. We play volleyball and then we swim, go for a hike or a stroll, followed by another swim. We relax in the afternoons and then we dance, not forgetting a skinny dip with the glowing plankton before bed. For some this may sound boring, but the time is shared with like-minded souls, conversation always flowing when wanted.
I only planned to stay here for a couple of days; that was a couple of weeks ago now. I’ve found it too hard to make that walk down to the jetty, pack on my back, book a ticket to the mainland and climb aboard the ferry to speed away from this dream.
Each day I watch other travellers making the journey, shoulders hunched and sadness in their faces but a small glimmer of hope can be witnessed in their eyes, after all, they are in search of another Koh Rong somewhere else exotic. Others, evidently don’t realise what they’ve found here, but they will one day, long after they’ve gone.
Koh Rong, a home to a community of travellers sharing the joy of their discovery and a lifestyle they’ve been searching for, some spent years in hope of discovery, others, months.
With rumours spreading of Russian developers planning to knock our paradise down and turn it into a luxury resort, I wonder how far will we go to protect our discovery?