Paradise Found in Thailand

Searching for the Road Less Traveled
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Let's talk about Paradise. Feeling a need to get off the beaten path, I flew to Thailand, a long narrow country south of China and east of India. Its reputation is based on Bangkok and Buddhism, temptation and temples.

In Bangkok, I had a fine time wandering through temples and palaces and found the Thai people to be graceful, spirited, and friendly.

But Bangkok is a huge, modern city filled with traffic jams and tourists. In other words, it is the beaten path. I sought a smaller, more distant place.

Of the travelers who venture outside Bangkok, a few visit northern Thailand to trek among villages of the poppy-tending tribes hidden in the hills of the Golden Triangle. I took the trail to Ching Mai and thoroughly enjoyed the trek—but I wanted more.

Paradise Lost
The great majority of visitors head south to seek the sun on Thailand's golden beaches. As a result, coveted destinations once whispered on the travelers' grapevine are now featured in tourist brochures. Phuket, Krabi, Phi Phi, and Ko Samui, each once a paradise, have all been lost to the crowds.

I talked with an English woman who had first visited those beaches ten years ago. She'd stayed in thatched roof cottages and eaten in restaurants that had sand floors and candles in coconut shells. But, she said, those places are gone now, replaced by chain hotels and chefs in white coats. Fortunately, a young Aussie traveler told me about a tiny island named Ko Tao, which, by the way, means "Turtle Island." He said it was so far off the beaten path that it wasn't even listed in tourist brochures. I finally found it on a map, located about 50 miles out in the Gulf of Thailand.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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