Years ago, I interviewed a man named Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, a professor and the director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University. I was writing an article on Tampa Bay’s best beaches, and wanted to know how the man known as “Dr. Beach” chose his ten top American beaches each year. He went into specifics about beach conditions, sand softness and color, the presence of wildlife, the views, water temperature, safety. He actually had a list of 50 criterion.
You’ve seen it. Or, at least, you’ve heard of it. Playing on hostel screens all across Southeast Asia, the movie “The Beach,” starring Leonardo has been declared a “must-see” for all travel enthusiasts.
The premise is that a young American man with a longing for adventure arrives in Bangkok, Thailand. He walks through frenetic Kaosan Road, through the neon-lit streets, past drunken backpackers and street vendors. He’s yearning for something different. At his guesthouse he comes in contact with a mentally disturbed man who tells him of a secret paradise–a pristine island, hidden by limestone cliffs–hidden from tourists.
I recently returned from a week in Krabi, Thailand with my parents. I hadn’t seen them in eight months, and we decided a reunion at the beach was just what the doctor ordered.
I was of course responsible for choosing which island we would go to, since apparently being an expat in Asia makes me an expert on all Asian countries. And while it’s true that I have traveled quite a bit in the region, I’ve done it a little differently than my 65-year-old parents would want to (i.e. staying in non-air conditioned bungalows for $10 a night).
Where does the time go? Seriously.
I remember rolling my eyes when “old” people used to say this to me. And now, all of a sudden, I’m the old one saying this. (Well, not old, but “old-ish” according to my teenage students). It seems like overnight all of my friends got married and had babies, and my bedtime became something of an embarrassing topic of conversation. I’m also about to wrap up my fifth year teaching abroad. It just doesn’t make sense.