Paradise Found in Thailand

Travelers' Serendipity
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Within 24 hours I was on a train to Suret Thani, a small port on the east coast. There, I boarded a motorboat for the trip to Ko Tao with absolute confidence in travelers' serendipity. The whole journey from Bangkok to Ko Tao cost about $40.

As we approached Ko Tao I saw how tiny it was, a mile across and less than three miles from one end to the other. The spine of rugged hills in the center of the island was clad in a green mantle of cocoa palms. Long stretches of radiant white sand beach were accented with black granite boulders. Best of all, luminescent blue-green water signaled plenty of coral reefs to be explored.

Our boat tied up to the pier at the village of Mae Hat (pronounced "My Hat"). It included an open-front general store, four small seaside restaurants, and a few clusters of bungalows. What really captured my attention were the 11 dive shops. That told me a lot about the quality of the scuba diving I was about to enjoy.

A shaded path led out of either end of the village to more cottages and occasional small restaurants. There's no real road, not too surprising since there are no cars.

I rented an A-frame bungalow about a quarter-mile down the beach from the village. It was a cozy place with a comfortable bed, an attached bathroom, and a deck with a view of the beach and the sparkling water. It even had electricity for a few hours each evening to power a slow-moving overhead fan as well as lights to read and write by. The cost? Seven dollars a day. I was living on a remote tropical island for less than it costs to spend two hours in a crowded movie theater at home.

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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