What lies within
The cold I caught on the flight to Dubai, courtesy of the coughs and splutters of the woman next to me, developed into something like flu. I sweated and took Panadol, which blessedly broke the fever and today I am ready to do something more than lounge.
The sea is still too rough for the four islands boat trip we want to do, so we decide to walk across the island to Paradise Beach. The map shows a path going straight up from the main beach, over the ridge running the length of the island from north to south and then curling down to the sea again to the north.
Koh Ngai is a classic desert island with no permanent inhabitants. The main beach faces east and is lined by a mid-range resorts, including ours, the delightful CoCo Cottage. The prevailing wind, which is doing its share of prevailing, comes from the east, so we hope that the north-facing Paradise Beach will be sheltered.
The interior of the island is pretty much impenetrable jungle with a preponderance of coconut palms. There is a whiff of adventure in the air!
The path leads straight through a resort and steeply up the hill towards the island’s mobile phone mast. As soon as we leave the beach, the jungle closes in on us and all is shade and quiet.
Actually, not completely quiet.
The path is narrow but we catch sight of birds in the treetops. They are quite large and call raucously to each other. They seem to have little fear of us and we realise that we are looking at a pair of toucans. Even if the beach is a disappointment, the day will have been worthwhile!
In fact, the beach lives up to its name: a perfect crescent of golden sand fringed by coconut palms leading down to turquoise blue water. It is not, however, undiscovered. Tourists arrive in a succession of long-tailed launches, ten of which are moored by the time we go into the water.
Paradise is not a place, but a state of mind. After our second swim, the wind gets up and whips the sand into our faces. We retreat into the tranquillity of the jungle.