(written by the girl while swinging in her hammock exactly 19 steps from the ocean)
There once was a girl, and she loved many things, but Islands were probably at the top of the list. This girl spent many years always searching for the perfect one, and she managed to discover many beautiful islands, each one so different from the last. One day, she heard about an island. It’s name was Koh Lipe (Leepay) and she knew with all of her being that she had to go there. She thought about the place for many months and soon realized that it would not be an easy journey to arrive. She forged ahead as she knew that, often in life, the best places and things were not the ones easily obtained, but the ones that had to be worked for, to be earned. And finally, the day arrived for the girl to go.
She began the journey on a local minibus, most of the people traveling down to Malaysia to renew their visas. The driver spoke no English and the girl spoke no Thai except for Hello and Thank you. So this made it hard. The girl sat next to another girl from Brazil and was glad that she, too, was going to Lipe . The girl started to worry as they were running late, but she had to remind herself that she was learning to be patient and that she should not worry. This was hard for the girl as even from her own birth, she refused to stay in the womb for nine long months, but came out instead after only eight-ready to see the world. The girl finally arrived at the pier 30 minutes late, but was relieved to see that they were on Island time, and the boats, too, were running late. The girl could barely stand it, so close she was to Lipe, and had to laugh as a girl next to her told her boyfriend, “Be patient” And the girl sympathized with the boy because she knew that being patient was hard. After three more hours on a speedboat and after talking to a very old Thai woman who was excited because she was coming from the market and was opening a Thai pancake stand today (one which the girl would eat at for breakfast the next morning enjoying a banana and mango pancake), and after staring entranced at the beautiful (Malaysian?) people with their toffee colored skin and their beautiful almond-shaped dark eyes, the girl finally landed on a pontoon in the middle of the ocean with her first glance of Lipe.
The girl could hardly believe her eyes as she hadn’t imagined anything more beautiful than Phi Phi. Where Phi Phi had the beauty of an ancient woman whose every line in her face tells a story, Lipe had the beauty, the innocence, the purity and freshness of a newborn baby whose life had just begun. The girl got tears in her eyes and a lump in her throat that has still not gone away as she took in the sparkling waters of the Andaman sea that were varying shades of turquoise, aquamarine, and sapphire blue. The water here was even cleaner and clearer and everything was even prettier than the pictures that she had studied for months. The girl had to giggle as all 21 people and all of their luggage was piled onto one longboat causing it to sink low into the water spraying the bags with ocean spray, the boat swaying side to side. Now that was about 4,000 lbs on a boat that is basically a lawnmower motor and bamboo boards over the water. The girl was dropped off almost last, as she could not move through all of the people to get the captain to stop at her beach and so they passed it and had to go back.
Now the girl had been on longboats before. They usually hung a set of stairs for you to get out of the boat and help you with your bags. But not here. The girl now had many bags as she had to buy new clothes because all the ones that she brought were way too warm. And she had bought many other things. So the girl climbed/ fell over the side of the boat into the knee-deep water and carried her bags one by one from the boat onto the shore. The girl had to smile as butterflies now circled around her and gentle waves lapped at her feet. There didn’t seem to be a soul in sight which contrasted with the many many people who were on Phi Phi. However, the girl soon realized that a rolling duffel bag doesn’t roll through the sand especially not deep sand and she would have to carry it on her back. At that moment her sandals decided to break, so she had to remove them and walk barefoot doubled over with this bag on her back, carrying two backpacks, and another bag. She was having a very hard time as sweat dripped into her eyes and down her body and her head pounded with dizziness as the girl was very dehydrated as she had only allowed herself 1/2 a bottle of water the last 12 hours because there had been only one bathroom stop on the eight-hour journey. The girl was sure she was about to faint as she walked slowly through two resorts trying to reach hers. Vultures actually circled overhead as the girl thought maybe she had arrived in heaven before she actually died. Finally she arrived at her resort and throwing her bags under a palm tree, the girl collapsed onto the beach. The girl wished her welcome would have been better, but the girl was learning “Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, but we can see the perfection in everything”.
Finally the girl dragged herself up to the open air lobby feeling much like a castaway herself-her clothes drenched with sweat and seawater, and the salty taste of courage. She was greeted immediately with cold pandamus juice, the taste of buttered popcorn and coconut finally quenching her thirst. After being made to rest and to drink lots of liquids, the girl was finally shown to her glorious bungalow made of a wood so fragrant that she went straight up to the wood and smelled it. She opened her balcony doors to let in the sea air and laughed and cried at the same time at the fact that she was actually here. She knew that every part of her journey had prepared her to be right here, right now.
The girl realized that all of her senses were coming alive and she felt hunger and had not felt hunger in such a long time. She went to the outdoor restaurant and ate every single piece of food with her fingers because she didn’t want to just taste the food but feel the texture of it, too. The girl then rolled out the mat made of palm leaves that the hotel had given her and laid in the sun and inhaled it’s scent of beeswax. The girl wrote this story in the hammock on her porch and then made the journey across the Island to Sunset Beach to watch the sunset. The girl has resolved to watch more sunsets when she returns home. The girl thought she was relaxed before, but she felt herself breathing even deeper and sinking down into the silence, as if it were a deep comfortable couch she didn’t want to get up from.
The girl found a nice café where she could drink a mai tai and listen to the pok pok sound of the papaya salad being made with the mortar and pestle behind her. And as she was writing these words, a man passed by, and said, “I’m sure it will be a best seller”…
The girl sleeps by starlight, the sounds of waves lapping at her doorstep, the ocean breeze causing the mosquito netting to billow around her. She awakens to a sunrise which she can watch from her bed, and is glad that she chose to stay on Sunrise beach, as there have been too many endings in her life, and now is the time for things to begin….