When I was young I adored reading about shipwrecked island stories and of course Robinson Crusoe was the best, there were others of course but what got me enthralled was the solitude and the ingenuity of existing-build a thatched house or a treehouse- catch fish-grow food collect coconuts and strangely “build a boat” to escape this veritable paradise, why escape when to me it was perfect? Of course this was all a dream of a young man and totally just a dream-an escape from the humdrum boring life in cold England (it had to be a tropical island as a wind and snow blown Scottish island didn’t have the same exotic feel and a loincloth was preferable to heavy sheepskin). Of course the island of my dreams had all I ever wanted unlike the traditional cartoon version of the shipwrecked sailor.
My island had water,white sand,wild animals (but no dangerous ones?) fish, fruit all over the place and of course coconuts. Lonely? Yes I thought of that and I inserted the latest dream lover of mine changing with my mental seasons. Those youthful days and nights filled with such dreams-dreams where I could catch fish with a spear-make fire from sticks to cook the fish-could make brilliant houses from palm trees with piped running water using bamboo pipes -I had all the modern utilities except the bills and most of all no neighbours. Dream are for kids aren’t they? I literally lived those dreams.
Years later the dreams faded due to reality-hard work in cold conditions -broken romance -divorce and kids to care for and bills to pay-exotic island fantasy was buried deep under years of emotional baggage.
Bereft of feeling and numb to living anything meaningful I lived zombie life in my lonely prison I faced a decision-I could continue my decline aided by alcohol and anger at my circumstances until no doubt a cheap coffin seemed the eventual outcome or I could make one last dash for freedom to find my buried dreaming self . I don’t know why but words came into my mind. It seems when a point or a depth has been reached in ones life some higher voice of guidance makes its presence felt. “Thailand” “Buddhism” “sunshine” the words kept jumping in my head. Now I had always been interested in religion and after many years of martial arts like judo and tai chi Buddhism grew important to me. Buddhism gave me a bit of an escape from the torture of my own mind and I’m sure the words welled up from those depths. So life in it’s strange way steered me from the rocks after a short lived six weeks traumatic encounter with a decidedly strange lady with certain mental problems that required stern handling for me to escape I breathed a sigh of relief and said those coarse but ever so relevant words of advice from my late father ” it’s shit or burst son” I booked my first flight to Thailand. “Hi Keith” I called my younger pal I’m off to Thailand. Now I knew Keith had been twice before and he was “an expert” so his advice was invaluable.
Many people who visit Thailand go to the sea and many go to an island. There are many islands -Some of the island groups in Thailand come in clusters of numerous individual islands: Phang Nga Bay has 67, the Mu Ko Chang National Park has 52, Tarutao National Marine Park has 51, and Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park has 42. So there are plenty of islands to enjoy -some large and developed and some small and very basic. You can visit a large island such as Koh Samui or Koh Chang and get entertainment and mix with the crowd, shop in supermarkets and sunbathe on a busy beach or you can do the opposite. If you fancy the Robinson Crusoe life you can be a backpacker, sleep in a thatched bungalow with bamboo floors and swim on a deserted beach and look at the stars in a clear sky. If you do this you need to bring your stuff as there may not be a shop but the freedom is amazing.
The island around Koh Chang are -Koh Kham-Koh Kood-Koh Mak -Koh Ma-pring-Koh Man-Koh Ngam-Koh Rang-Koh Wai-Koh Yak-Koh Chang Noi-Koh Klum- Koh Klang -Koh Klang Lek-Koh Kum Pan-Koh Kra-Koh Kradad-Koh Lao Ya-Koh Mai Si-Koh Nai-Koh Nok-Koh Plee-Koh Prao-Koh Rang lek-Koh Rang Yai-Koh Rat-Koh Rayang-Koh Thong Lang-Koh Tien-Koh Tun and Koh Yai. Many of these are uninhabited yet can be visited in certain seasons (During the rainy season from May to October, visitors are not allowed to the islands south of Koh Chang; for example, Koh Kood, Koh Mak, Koh Wai, and Koh Kham).