In our Destination Inspiration series I’ll be sharing the resources we use to plan our travels and the materials that inspire us. If I’m looking into visiting a new country or city then I like to investigate it lots of different sources for ideas and inspiration – movies, TV shows, books, podcasts and blogs. It’s a way to keep in the spirit of travel when you’re not on the road.
Let’s start with an easy one – Thailand!
What would you consider the quintessential pop-culture image of Thailand?
It has to be the 2000 movie “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio. For many of us it was the first glimpse into what travel in Thailand was like – cheap flophouses in the Khao San Road backpacker ghetto, full moon party craziness on Koh Phangan and of course, the beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear blue water. Just like the character Richard in the movie it’s something we’re all searching for – ditching the concept of a 9-5 job and a boring existence, “something beautiful, something more exciting”, an island paradise.
The Beach was shot in the Koh Phi Phi island group off the Andaman Coast of Thailand, not far from Phuket. The movie lead to a tourism boom for the area, and despite the damage done by the 2004 tsunami, the island currently swarms with tourists, mostly the unpleasant variety of whiskey bucket swilling 20-year-olds on a gap year. I haven’t been there, I don’t have first-hand knowledge but it definitely doesn’t sound like the kind of place I’d want to take my child. The actual “Beach” island, Koh Phi Phi Leh, is only accessible as a day trip or overnight camping trip which doesn’t allow children younger than seven and recommends not taking them at all. You can read a first-hand account of “Beach” disappointment over on the blog of the Globetrotter Girls.
I’m not saying the movie isn’t great – it is. You should definitely watch it because it will add fuel to your wanderlust fire. The images of Thailand portrayed are stunningly beautiful. We just need to find those gorgeous white sands and turquoise waters somewhere else in a more child-friendly environment. We’re going to Thailand in April and May and will be spending most of our time on the Gulf coast – seasonally it’s better at this time of the year than the Andaman coast which will be in it’s monsoon season. We’re going to try a day trip from Koh Samui out to the Angthong National Marine Park which has a similar look to “The Beach” and is actually where the fabled island is supposed to lie according to the map in the movie. Our island paradise must be out there somewhere.