Published: September 26th 2008July 8th 2008
The options were simple: a tent or a sparse, over-priced room
. We chose the tent (surpriseeeeeeee). A short walk from Koh Tarutao’s ranger station revealed 4 more tents set up under the shade of a few trees in a designated camping area. We chose to ignore the designated area (surpriseeee) choosing instead to pitch tent amidst a cluster of trees a good way upwind. Like seasoned troopers, we laid out the tent, fitted the ‘rafters’
and carefully tied down. Then we strung up our hammocks and stood back surveying our handiwork and thinking “…brilliant”
. And ‘brilliant’ it was. We were set up just off the edge of a long, curving white sand beach. The entrance of our abode opened up to luscious views and cooling winds from the turquoise Andaman Sea. A sizeable piece of driftwood would serve as our table and couch and the trees would shield us all day long from the blistering heat.
With the tent up, we turned our attention to number two on the priority list. Without further hesitation, we streaked across the strand and dove beneath the gentle waves.
The tide receded in the late afternoon extending our beach way beyond the outcropping
of razor-sharp rocks that once was the boundary. For about 2 km, there was nothing but beach. Millions of miniscule crabs scuttled into the millions of holes they had dug in the sand. The tiny excavated sand piles formed alien patterns on the ground. We walked the entire length of the beach and this would become a daily routine.
At night, over dinner in the communal dining area, we finally came face-to-face with the other residents of Tarutao Island. There were about 12 in total. 12 people on a pristine 26x12 km island? Can you say “Paradise”?
We made friends with Alain, a Swiss doctor/backpacker, who, quite humorously (to us, anyway) complained about a lack of sleep. A certain bird’s call annoyed him to the point where he was considering cutting short his vacation and returning to the peace and tranquility of the Swiss Alps. Our other island buddy was Jens, a world-travelling Dutchman. Us four would sit over hot plates of green curry and Pad Thai noodles talking and laughing until just about ‘lights out’. It was during one of these late night soirees that we learnt about the ongoing discussion among the residents about our perfect location.
Apparently, our habitat was the envy of the island.
With 60% of the island heavily-forested, Tarutao did have a fair bit of idyllic hiking trails and more than a few families of monkeys. We would (from a distance) observe them moving through the trees, crossing the road and, occasionally, peering into the window of a room.
Five days melted away in a timeless, peaceful world. No internet or cars, news or noise, decisions or prejudices, politics or worries. Just waves, birds, monkeys, glorious sunsets and pretty shells and a coveted tent under the trees by the sea. That was all there was.
Oh, that, and a certain resident who committed himself to walking the beach with his pants low enough to ensure that the sun evenly tanned his entire exposed backside.
Ah well, except for that, Tarutao was as good as it gets!
Jens & Alain
There are more photos below