A slice of paradise

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Warm crystal-clear turquoise waters on a shallow, sloping white sand beach – check. Panoramic vista of nearby islands and tall karst crags jutting from the sea – check. A vibrant coral reef so close to the shore you can walk to it at low tide – check. A handful of small, low-impact resorts along the beach, one of them offering the perfect combination of simple comfort and great value – check. An open-air restaurant serving great food just metres from the lapping waves – check. Koh Kradan has all of this and more, so why is no one here??

The dearth of tourists is part of the appeal, of course, and this island paradise has met our expectations so perfectly that we’ve decided to extend our stay to nine nights. Apparently it does get busy here, but the rainy season is not far away and at times we feel like we’ve got this island all to ourselves. For our price range there are only a few places to stay on Koh Kradan, and we’ve hit the jackpot with Kalume resort. It’s budget option is a comfortable bamboo hut near the beach complete with attached cold water bathroom, fan, balcony and hammock. The water is barely twenty metres away and the on-site restaurant even closer. Staff are very friendly and laid back, and there is even free wifi that extends to the bungalow. Conditions are perfect, repeat conditions are perfect…

The original plan was to spend just four nights here, followed by a little over a week on the much larger and more developed Koh Lanta about 30 kms to the north. But the tranquility of this spot has entranced us, and as we thought about the crowds, the traffic and the general hubbub we’re likely to encounter on Lanta our desire to move on simply evaporated. Today is our eighth day on the island, and we still have tonight and tomorrow night to go before finally moving on. We wanted to stay until we were sated with this place, and nine nights will be just right 🙂

Our days have varied considerably. Early on we visited The Emerald Cave, wanting to visit while the weather was still good (as it’s turned out it has rained frequently but almost always during the night, leaving the days dry and mostly sunny). We’ve kayaked around the entire island, and walked up and down the east coast several times to swim and take in the view. We’ve also walked out to the reef at low tide to snorkel around the coral, and will probably do this again before leaving.

Other days have been a bliss of relaxation: laying on the beach in the shade of the trees, resting between swims; testing out the hammock pavilion, a sturdy bamboo frame set up on the edge of the beach that houses two hammocks slung facing the water; eating the mostly excellent food at the on-site restaurant; spending time on the computer, catching up with posts, photos, or facebook; and always reading, reading, reading. Kristen will post about her readings elsewhere, for me our time on Koh Kradan has allowed me to finally finish Ken Follett’s excellent Pillars of the Earth which I started several weeks ago. I’ve also read Matthew Reilly’s ludicrous Area 7, James Hawes’ Rancid Aluminium and am currently on another Matthew Reilly book, the not-quite-so-ludicrous Temple.

Our days have become bounded by breakfast, lunch and dinner; and the tides. When we arrived the variance between high and low tide was large, but there was enough depth to swim or at least paddle at any time of the day. However as the full moon has approached the tides have become more extreme, and now at low tide the water recedes from the beach almost as far as the reef several hundred metres away! We’ve adapted, and now swim in the morning and early afternoon when there’s water and do other things when there’s not.

For us, Koh Kradan is the right place at the right time. We were looking for the archetypal Thai island escape, and we got it in spades. While it’s popular with daytrippers, the boats park a fair way down the beach and few bother to wander up this end. And it’s certainly not a party island which suits us fine. It’s a perfect spot that’s a bit off the beaten track, but not so far off that it’s a mission to get here. All of which adds up to a little slice of paradise, (almost) all to ourselves.

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