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Tuesday, 31 October 2006

A €˜Real€™ Desert Island: Ko Lipe - Page 2

Written by Jo-Ann Duff
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The 2000 film: ‘The Beach,’ based on the book by Alex Garland – starred Leonardo Di Caprio as Richard, a young backpacker told of the secret location of the most beautiful beach in Thailand. During my travels around Southeast Asia, I didn’t think for one second that part of my journey would mirror that of Richard’s – but I was mistaken…

‘Resort’ is a word used on Ko Lipe, which has a very different meaning to how you or I would use it. There is electricity on the island for the few tourists and the 500 inhabitants of the island only from 6pm to midnight. Only half a dozen ‘resorts’ operate on Ko Lipe, providing basic tile or bamboo bungalows with cold water shower and fan for around £6.00 a night. There is no internet or phone, no swimming pools or cable tv and only a handful of restaurants. If you do decide to take this journey – remember there is no refrigeration so be careful what you eat or bring your own supplies.

houseAfter dumping our rucksacks, we took a walk to explore the island – it only takes around 25 minutes to walk from one side to the other. A local steered us to Pattaya Beach, so we headed off and quickly learned that Ko Lipe has no roads or paths, just well trodden routes with planks of wood to cross small streams through the tiny village. I’m sure this village has barely changed since the original settlers arrived hundreds of years ago: rickety wooden and bamboo houses on stilts with chickens clucking in the cool shade underneath; locals doing laundry and washing in tin buckets outside. The only trace of a western lifestyle is the odd TV antenna on the roof of a bamboo shack. We thought ‘what have we done?’ but the smiles and warm greetings from the women and the children soon put us at ease. We were seeing the real Thailand.

Emerging at Pattaya beach, we saw what we had been waiting for. This island is truly amazing: A long stretch of perfect soft, white sand ending with a view of the islands limestone cliffs. A few boats were moored and we saw only a handful of tourists dotted along the shore, this was meant to be the ‘busy’ side of the island! Sitting down on the soft white sand by one of only two beach hut chill-out bars, we soaked up the atmosphere and watched the most spectacular sunset: reds and burnt oranges fading to purple and then night. We knew we would never see anything like that again, perfect is the only word I can use to describe this moment. Before returning to our little bungalow, we had a candlelit seafood meal, but learned the hard way to remember to bring a torch for the return journey!sunset

The following day was spent at ‘our’ secluded beach. From here we could see Ko Adang Island and National Park, where the long tail boats can take you. As well as the wildlife, its worth checking out the Pirates Waterfall: a natural water source used long ago by pirates and smugglers, which still may be used today. Snorkeling and diving is fantastic in Ko Lipe, you can hire snorkels for about £1.00 a day and dive lessons and trips on Patttaya Beach start at about £15.00.

Ko Lipe is the closest I will ever get to experience a ‘real’ desert island – completely unspoiled – where humans and nature live harmoniously. With all the negative things happening in the world today, Ko Lipe has shown me that there are still beautiful places in the world.

Thanks to a chance encounter with a stranger, I found a place to completely relax, reflect and bask in the surroundings of what I think really is the most beautiful beach in Thailand.



©Jo-Ann Duff

(Page 2 of 2)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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