This September 11, Derek and I were without the sad remembrances that surely took place in America today.  Indeed, we seem to be without the company of Americans altogether.

We’re on a Thai island called Ko Phangan sunriseat a quiet beach called Thong Nai Pan Yai.  Because this island can be accessed only by ferry, it’s frequented by fewer tourists than many of the other islands (except during the monthly Full Moon Party, which is reputed to be something like what I envision as a tropical Bonnaroo, only with more rave music; our visit here doesn’t coincide with the full moon, so we’ll miss the festival).  Most other farangs here (the Thai expression for “foreigner”) seem to be either French or German, with a handful of Brits thrown in. 

We arrived here yesterday after ThongNaiPan 010.JPGa long series of planes, trains and automobiles.  In the last 24 hours, I’ve learned that, while $9 will buy me a Coke Light in Paris (for real, this is how much we paid on Sunday; Derek, in protest, refused to even take a sip…), $9 on Ko Phangan will get us a place to stay for the night that is literally 14 steps from the beach (we counted; the view from our room is pictured here).  Our bungalow at White Sands ThongNaiPan 008.JPGcertainly isn’t fancy–it lacks bedding and hot water, and an ever-increasing quantity of ants seem to be taking over our bathroom–but we came with our own bedding, the cool water feels good after a day in the sun, and we’ve learned to keep our toothbrushes away from the ants’ stomping grounds on the bathroom sink.  We’ve also made friends with a nice gecko that visits us often.ThongNaiPan 065.JPG

If our lodgings are less than luxurious (our own choice after Paris’s Big Splurge), this island more than makes up for it.  About other places, we always hear comments like “this place is great, but you should’ve seen it 20 years ago.”  I’m certain the same will be said about Ko Phangan in 20 years (or fewer), so I’m glad that we’re here now.  The beach is unspoiled, white sand, the water is clean and turquoise, and the pad thai and green curry are cheap and delightful. 

We spent the day today watching day break on the beach (Derek), sleeping in (Shanna), exploring a bit and getting massages.  Hour-long massages here, like a night’s stay at the White Sands, cost $9 and are adminstered on bamboo mats ThongNaiPan 052.JPGwhile the lucky recipient gazes off into the Gulf of Thailand.  Yes, it feels like something out of a movie (or a Corona commercial).  This evening, over a fairly embarrassing number of delicious coconut milkshakes and more Thai curry, we began what is to be a year-long game of Gin Rummy.  Tomorrow, we’re off via water taxi to this beach’s little sister, Thong Nai Pan Noi, hopefully for a day much like this one.