And so, after being beach-deprived for over a month, the longest 'dry spell' I've had in the past 2 years, I took the Tel Aviv - Eilat flight from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui. Without exaggeration, at least a third of the plane was Israelis. Hebrew was spoken all around, and in a variety of accents. As it turns out, the place where I'm staying is owned by an Israeli, too. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, as many have discovered Thailand as far as 20+ years back while doing Tiyul Aroch, and now return with their families.
The island is rather developed. Other than the multitude of massage places and bars with names like 'Up to you' (this is a cultural reference, if you don't get it you are better for it), there is very little about it that's Thailand, it could be in any other up-and-coming beach corner. The beach around most of the island is so-so, probably rather nice by most standards, but in my opinion, not quite as nice as what I have across the street from my home, in Miami Beach. Even longer beaches are very narrow, and the water is murky, and at times dirty. Still, it was so nice to be reunited with this particular element.
After being away from the beach for a full month, I can now answer the question of whether I'm more of a beach person or a mountain person with certainty. While I definitely appreciate and enjoy mountains, the beach transforms me. It gives me energy, grounds me and inspires me all at once. Before I got here, I was starting to feel a bit tired from traveling, and in Chiang Mai I have definitely found myself wanting to take it easy, and just be, rather than do. Suddenly today, I had the energy to seek out a bicycle in this scooter-dominated island, and set off on a road trip around this rather large (about 100km circumference) island. I stopped at several beaches along the way, here are the pics from my belated lunch stop. The tolerant owner allowed me to go for a dip to cool off after a grueling climb up one of the island's many headlands, and eat lunch while drying up in my bathing suit:
While I'm certainly appreciating being near the beach again, this is not a place where I would like to spend much time at, due to it's rampant consumerist development. The sign, below, pretty much sums it up. Tomorrow, I'm heading for what supposed to be a secluded part of Koh Tao.
...I wrote this several hours ago, and having already downed an Advil PM in preparation for an early lights-out ahead of a break-of-dawn wake up call tomorrow, I was about to hit 'publish' before hitting the sack. Then a couple of other travelers staying at the hotel who I spoke with before (Israelis) invited me to join them for the drag show, nearby. It was a very entertaining experience! I stand corrected, this is something that distinguishes this place from run of the mill resort towns everywhere.