Episode 17

Before you read any further, or indeed at all, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Thank you.

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Paradise Koh Yao – the hotel was booked on a whim. I had seen no details before arriving, my mind being more preoccupied with improving my chipping in golf having gone over 100 at the premier course Laguna. I was reminded that it was in 30 degrees and 90% humidity, but that really did nothing to alleviate the guilt of disastrous close to the green golf. Guilt was also the emotion that Jo was experiencing as we managed to cling on to the hand rails of the flat back taxi as it bounced its way through a national forest come rugged rubber plantation along a rutted, potholed track worthy of any off-road 4×4 competition. This is the track that Jeep could well use in their next commercial enticing us to leave the tarmac for a more adventurous drive. An important difference here being that it wasn’t a Jeep, I have no idea of the make of the vehicle, probably a homemade pimped ride, although that conjures the wrong idea. Nothing pimped about this little jalopy, and the other important difference…. I wasn’t driving.

In addition to guilt, Jo, now 25 minutes into this off road jaunt, was feeling like a hostage. She kept muttering to me, between seat departures, of our impending doom at the hands of Thai bandits. I made efforts to calm her by insisting this guy knows a short cut to the hotel and that it couldn’t be the only road in. There was no one going in the other direction, or indeed was there anyone else going in our direction. I could see how Jo came to the swift conclusion that we had suddenly become a prize and worth a substantial amount of Bahts.

Forty minutes into the unplanned, unexpected excursion, I was irritated. I had had enough. I kept peering through the window that separated us from the anonymous driver, expecting to see a clue as to where we might be, but the view was plastered with information inviting us to check the indentity of the driver. Too late for that I thought. And was that a gun on the bench seat next to him? The vehicle slowed to a halt. A chap in uniform and holding a clip board came to the back of the taxi. “Name please?” He said. It felt like checking into a Japanese POW camp. Not that I know how that felt, but that’s the power of the moving image for you!

After the bahtering over the taxi fare and finalising it we duly turned to witness, finally, a symbol of western civilisation, the golf cart or buggy as we might say in Blighty! Driven by a young Thai, in the same uniform as the chap previously, loose fitting turquoise trousers and a white T-shirt, carrying the Paradise logo. Relief. We shall not be witnessing each others demise at the hand of a crazed Thai kidnapper. The young driver placed his hands together, in front of his face, and bowed in reverence to our presence. We both responded with our own versions of hello and thank you, and so joined the ranks of pathetic brits abroad!

The cart loaded we took to the winding narrow path between the purpose built cottages. Some single others two storeys. Deep in the jungle vegetation I was reminded of Patrick McGoohan in the Prisoner series. I know that was filmed in England’s SW but it had that feel, although not now, a few days later, this is very much a jungle hideaway. We arrived at reception to more praying hands and bowing heads. I do like it and would want to take it home, but fear the intolerance and lack of understanding.

Once sat in the deep cushioned bamboo chairs with a glass of alcohol free cocktail I knew this place was special. I checked with the receptionist. She confirmed that our road was indeed the only road to the hotel. Special. The only other route, by boat. Special. There was a quiet serenity which enveloped me. No canned musac. No crying children. No loud guests. No phones blurting unwontedly. Was there a rule about noise pollution that we were about to sign into?

It was actually – peaceful.

With paperwork concluded our quiet buggy and allotted driver took us the short trip to our room. The road twisted and turned through the jungle. It was too quick to appreciate the myriad of plants. Later, perhaps. Our man opened up a new world for us. Special. Passing through the door, on our right, outside, stood a large vase with water, floating flowers and a coconut shell handle for dousing down your feet, following time on the beach. The air conditioning was on and the wall of coolness came as some relief. The four poster bed, was romantically draped with white netting. Presumably, to ward off mosquitoes. Hadn’t seen or heard any since we had arrived!

This was a delightful room. With the colour scheme of the uniform being echoed in the rooms, alongside faded blue and driftwood, naturally, the ambience created was once again Special. The shower was of particular interest to me. Situated down a couple of steps, it opened to a, what one would call nowadays, wet room. The biggest difference, which was the interesting point for me, was there was only three walls. You could, if the mood took, and it just did with me, take a shower, essentially in the open. There was a fourth wall, for all you theatre buffs out there, which folded out to separate you from the open patio with table and swing chair, if you declined the opportunity for exhibitionism. I actually felt quite safe as each cottage has a certain degree of heavy foliage and large leaved plants and trees to conceal such moments of holiday bravado.

The beach is a crescent shape, with pier at one end and yoga room at the other. In between is housed three small restaurants, two bars, infinity pool, dominated by folk who love to throw their towels down at first light, massage huts, a wonderful spa, activity centre, large lily pond, palm trees, beach furniture, bamboo hammocks slung randomly between trees. And that is it. Essentially, one way in and one way out. Long tail boat. This is an idyllic situation. A haven. It is called paradise, and aptly named. Whilst I contend that paradise is a state of mind and not a holiday resort, whoever conceived this spot to be what it is, the careful planning, design; interior and exterior has moved me towards that intended state of mind.

I would recommend, unreservedly, this as a destination for a complete short break. I am here in June, the off season. The weather has been very kind, naturally humid, but sunbathing and swimming has been the agenda every day of the four.

We are fully rested. All four core aspects of a healthy life have been touched, rejuvenated, enriched and enlivened. At this point, I must mention the Thai massage I had on the beach. Just the best thing ever. I was tight in places, stiff neck and aching back. Today, 24 hours later, I feel as loose as soup through a fork!

Thai’s can undo those knots!

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