Much as I’m glad to have seen them, most of Thailand’s Southern islands are overrun with European men, Thai bride/hired girlfriend on arm, and 19 year-old gap yah fledglings (I am a 24 year-old gap four-monther, which is of course, completely different…) so memories are confined to list form… 

Rawai beach, Phuket - Netfalls Remy Musser/Shutterstock

Rawai beach, Phuket – Netfalls Remy Musser/Shutterstock

Rawai Beach, Phuket
Only just beginning to sniff tentatively at the buffet of wealth that tourism will probably bring. No one I’ve spoken to elsewhere seems to have heard of it. Get yourself to these empty beaches before they plonk a Hilton there and the LP crew show up.

jess phiphi sunset

Viewpoint, Koh Phi Phi

View Point, Koh Phi Phi
A vertiginous trek was worth the quivering calf muscles for the best sunset I’ve seen in Southeast Asia. But it’s important to remember that it is never okay to sit there surrounded by other people, and take a selfie of you kissing your other half while said sunset occurs. Even if it is a lovely backdrop. Even if you think it will make a winning profile picture (it won’t). Even if you are Italian.

Game over

Game over

Rice whiskey
Or Lao Lao as it’s eponymously known in its birth land. You might think 150baht (about three quid) is a bit steep for a single measure by Thai standards. You get the whole, unregulated bottle…

jess neon

GCSE design skills coming to the fore

Giving in to full moon fever, Koh Phangan
I know. But when in Rome and all that. The half moon party here is bad. Trance music is bad. Neon paint is good.

Than Sadet - Zeonewho/Shutterstock

Than Sadet – Zeonewho/Shutterstock

Thansadet Falls, Koh Phangan
You can crawl through a jet black tunnel and arrive the other side knee-deep in waterfall. There are nearby fruit trees bearing delicious sugary edible leaves, like chewy penny sweets, that are a nice little pick-me-up after the climb. My local guide talked me through the various wild herbs and soil nutrients that contribute to the sweet tang. I explained to him about apple-flavoured fruit roll-ups. I like to think we both came away feeling enriched.

Wind beach, Koh Tao

Wind beach, Koh Tao

Riches to rags, Koh Tao
This diving island delivered the lesson of how much a hotel’s standards can differ. For the mighty fee of £25 (somewhere a backpacker just gagged), you can nab the best room in the house with king bed, plasma screen and ocean view. For £6 you get a hay mattress, guillotine-like ceiling fan and an ant nest. Same hotel. In hindsight it was perhaps not a worthwhile experiment. Or, I’m a sterling investigative journalist waiting to happen.

jess snorkelling

Snorkeling, Koh Tao
The second lesson learnt here was that you should always except drugs from strangers. Twenty minutes in to a whole day snorkel tour (all nearby reefs are clustered with irridescent pink-green-purple parrot fish and Dori look-alikes), the rickety fishing boat began to take its toll. Another ten minutes of forbearance and I was ready to jump overboard to kill the nausea. Captain Albert (his Christian name for sure) took one look at me, pushed an unmarked pill into my hand and nodded encouragingly. Could have been Iboprofen, could have been E, in that moment I cared not. Twenty minutes later I was snorkelling about in the big bad Gulf of Thailand, vaguely sleepy, smile on face. Turns out you can buy these wonder tablets over the counter here. I’ve stocked up.

jess monkey and cat

Monkey petting cat. Naturally.

And Koh Samui…
I still have little knowledge of this one, other than that the airport departure lounge is open-air and gives you free breakfast. The one evening I spent there I booked into a massive hotel room and sacked off the night market in the name of a two hour power shower. It was the cleanest I’d been since Heathrow.