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I’m living in a postcard.

sleeping in a bungalow next to the beach, hanging out with some friends I made in Myanmar, watching fish swim by me in the crystal clear water, scrambling around rocks on a nearby island, reading all day in a hammock. this is paradise.

full moon party tonight.

— A Few Hours Later… —

still scraping paint off my fingernails from the full moon party.

Eight days ago, I met up with Martin (who I met in Myanmar) and his friends Rozenn, Leo and Sophie. After a train ride, bus ride, boat ride and pick-up truck ride (add to this the moto, flight, metro, taxi I had taken the day before and I think I’ve covered every form of transportation), Martin, Rozenn and I found a place on the north side of the island. It was picturesque- a tiny bungalow with a great hammock right on the beach next to some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen*. We spent the next few days living in a postcard**. It was really a paradise.

Now I realize this is a somewhat loaded word. Paradise. First, its kind of cheesy. Its the kind of word a yuppie would use to gush about his/her Caribbean vacation to their jealous friends. “Then we swam with dolphins in the ocean. DOLPHINS.” Furthermore, the idea of paradise is personal. As an individual’s concept of perfection, its something I think people feel defensive about. “Who is to say your paradise vacation is that great? I hate dolphins”. And for the most part, I’ll agree, the particulars of someone’s paradise can be really, well, individual. But when you get down to it, I think everyone’s idea of paradise comes down to one thing.

Lets look at the basics. Paradise requires few things: good weather, separation from your usual obligations, time to read/swim/climb/pursue activity of your choice, the chance to relax/sleep in. Another way to look at this perhaps is: the meteorological, societal, temporal, and circumstantial freedom to do whatever you want. The opportunity to be utterly selfish.

And this isn’t a bad thing at all. The occasion to indulge in self-indulgence can be revealing. Do you want to be with other people? Do you exhibit kindness? Do you cling onto the defensive aspects of your normal life? And what do you want to do?

You can see how the answers to these questions, in terms of selfishness, and in terms of paradise, can be something ugly. There are cases where you want to be without people you’re suppose to care about, or wish to say “screw it” to everything or just want to take photos to brag to others.

Or perhaps like in the case of Martin, Rozenn, Leo, Sophie and I, the answers to those questions can be surprisingly good.

The 12th to the 16th on the north side of the island were filled with welcome company. It was kind and defenseless. We had similar ideas about what to do each day and naturally fell into congruous activities. It was rare, in my mind, to find such camaraderie and even more rare to share a paradise.

Thanks guys. Ko Pha Ngan would not have been the same without you. It felt like family.

– steph

 

*It was really really unbelievable clear. On overcast or cloudless days, it reflected the sky so perfectly, I couldn’t spot the horizon. On cloudy days, I just looked for the horizontal line of symmetry.

**the exception being the full moon party. which wasn’t spring break cancun hell, but more of a fun rave with glow in the dark paint, jump ropes on fire, and 5000 of your closest friends.