Dave Rich 315 words
Beaches of Thailand
It's tough for a non-beach person to KNOW what a beach person would like but Southern Thailand is a slam dunk. From Phuket to the dozens of islands north of Ko Samui the beaches boast powder white sands, swaying palm trees and water of bathwater temp plyed by gaily painted boats with black eyes to ward off adverse spirits such as non-beach persons.
Ao Nang is central, close to the legendary Phi Phi Islands where The Beach was filmed and which Lonely Planet instructs us to get over already. The movie was trash except for the scenery which still exists such as the back-to-back beaches on Phi Phi Don where even non-hikers should struggle up the hill to view their breath-taking splendor. Don't miss "James Bond" Island where Man with the Golden Gun was filmed, a poky war club sticking 100 feet out of translucent waters, surrounded by a plethora of other funny pointy peaks and a serpentine maze of mangroves. On the edge of the mangroves sits an old Muslim village on stilts, now a mandatory tour stop and tourist trap of fancy seafood restaurants and shops selling Thai trinkets. The village has a green-domed mosque, marauding sea eagles and little kids hustling whatever they can. Phuket sits across the wide bay from Ao Nang and is only a hub feeding tourists to out-lying beaches.
Ko Samui is 50 miles of beaches, full-moon crazy parties on an island next door and one beach of boulders reminiscent of The Baths on Virgin Gorda. Also next door is a national park worth a day tour, the only way to get there. Climb the exhausting vertical peak for a hazy view, and the next island over with a lagoon in the middle filled with flashing silver barracuda. Life can be a beach, even for a non-beach person.