WISH YOU WERE HERE
SOME DESTINATIONS SEEM MADE FOR SHARING WITH SOMEONE SPECIAL AND THIS SERENE SLICE OF THAILAND IS ONE OF THEM
The young lovers are seated under lamplight at a table for two, away from the large, noisy dinner gathering inside the beachfront restaurant.
With soft golden sand underfoot and the rhythmical crashing of waves on to the shore only metres away, they peruse the extensive leather-bound menu filled with local seafood delicacies and Thai food favourites before turning to the drinks selection.
Although happily enjoying the banter of the tour party on our last night together, I secretly envy the well-groomed pair as they sit quietly, lost in their thoughts, soaking up the ambience of the palm-fringed setting.
They only have eyes for each other but their smiles and body language convey their obvious delight at their romantic surroundings.
And I wish I could be like them, sharing this “pinch-myself” moment with my loved one.
His only experience of Thailand was an 18hour airport layover on a trip from Rome to Brisbane.
I wanted to introduce him to the Bangkok I have come to love for its food, culture, friendliness and exotic quirkiness.
But the hour-long taxi ride meandering our way through the chaos of Bangkok traffic from our Suvarnabhumi Airport hotel to the Chao Phraya riverside, a brief walk through Chinatown (with all its Asian aromas from glorious sizzling satays on street vendors’ skillets to putrid, overflowing rubbish) for a late-night snack at a western coffee shop franchise before the return journey to catch a midnight plane was not the best way to convey that.
Here in Koh Kood (also known as Ko Kut) — an island in the Gulf of Thailand, 330km from Bangkok, in the far south-east near the Cambodian border — he could have witnessed all that I adore about this happy kingdom.
With a population of less than 2000, Koh Kood has barely been discovered by the rest of the world.
The mountainous, sandstone island covered mostly in virgin rainforest is a 90minute Boonsiri Ferry ride from Trat, to the south-east of Bangkok.
It offers a feeling of being in the jungle wilds of Thailand while also embracing the laid-back beachy lifestyle in luxury resorts and comfortable bungalows, indulging in world-class cuisine and first-class spa treatments.
At Cham’s House Beach House behind the aquamarine waters of horseshoe-shaped Klong Hin Beach, hubbie could have sat with me on the third-floor veranda of my spacious hotel room with a view of the private beach through the coconut palms and tropical gardens to Hat Bang Bao.
We could have retreated to Weave Spa for a 60-minute aromatic Thai massage in the couples’ room, before a dip in the infinity pool by the lobby reception and gazebo on stilts.
We could have strolled along the unspoilt beach and possibly had a wild macaque monkey encounter, before taking up the offer of selected free drinks at happy hour in Bombyx Bar and Restaurant.
Our love affair with life might have seen us hire a Songtaew (or, as I like to call it, the world’s smallest troop carrier) that is the common tourist transport on the island for up to 10 guests and their luggage.
Up hill and over dale on the island’s good bitumen roads, past rubber tree plantations and roadside fresh fruit and vegetable stands, we could have ventured to the coastal golden Buddha — a popular landmark for visiting sea vessels — and the Monastic House temple overlooking the water at Ao Salad in the north-east of the island.
There, we could choose the crab, fish or bugs from holding tanks to indulge in the freshest-of-fresh seafood meals at the nearby Fisherman’s Village and seen first-hand the “fleet” of fishing boats in a rainbow of colours tied up beside the rickety timber or concrete boardwalks that connect the simple homes on stilts where these humble Buddhists live.
This busy fishing village is also an important port, connecting the island and the mainland, and the meeting place for transfers for ferry and speedboat passengers to their hotels and resorts.
Feeling energetic after lunch, we could have headed to one of three waterfalls — maybe the three-tiered Khlong Chao Waterfall where I would have needed a loving hand to help me scramble over slightly slippery rocks and pull me up the rope for the breathtaking sight of fast-flowing water in this monsoon season. The falls, plunging 10m into an inviting pool in a picturesque jungle setting deep in the heart of Koh Kood, would have necessitated a memorable cool dip together.
Koh Kood’s west coast beaches are known for their brilliant blue waters and sandy beaches with coral just offshore.
The best dive spots also can be found here in fairly shallow depths, with excursions conducted by BB Divers, Paradise Divers and
Koh Kood Divers. So hiring kayaks and exploring the coastline or an afternoon spent snorkelling right off the beach could have led to a body surf at Tinkerbell Privacy Resort at Baan Klong Chaow, where we could have worked up a thirst for champagne at the famed sunset spot.
And we could have arrived back to our hotel room for a welcome rainfall shower and fallen asleep in each other’s arms in the massive kingsize bed while watching a Fox Movies Channel rom-com on the flat-screen TV.
Koh Kood — Thailand’s fourth-largest island — isn’t Koh Phuket, Koh Samui or even neighbouring Koh Chang. It’s not party central. It’s pure serenity. As Cham’s House general manager Charoen (Jay) Hom-in says in a welcome letter, this is a chance to “escape from busy modern life” at a “home for the soul”.
There are few distractions here. Koh Kood’s natural beauty is allowed to take over and create a relaxing getaway and perhaps the chance for a little romance in the wilds.
I may love some of them to death but visiting with a dozen colleagues isn’t quite what I desire for a wildly romantic adventure.
Maybe one day hubbie and I can sit down at that table in the moonlight, sharing a lobster bisque and prawn satay skewers for entree, followed by baked whole fish and croissant pudding, washed down with margaritas in salted-rim glasses.
A girl can dream, can’t she?