Ko Samui

They're building resorts on this island like some sort of twisted tourism arms race. Mutually Assured Accomodation. Like if they stop building, the island will shrink away and disappear. When you build an international airport on a 200 square kilometer jungle-mountain popping out of the ocean, things are going to change.

Samui is a once-pristine slice of place and history that is now in it's death throes. Globalization has claimed another victim, and I feel guilty for contributing to it in some minute way. The island is not necessarily broken or destroyed, just irreperably changed. On the contrary, its economy seems to be thriving. It's a mixed bag - this unique island is being homogenized into the global average, but it's locals get to enjoy a better stardard of living. Locals now have access to modern healthcare, better education, political freedom, and far less manual labor.

If this transition was all bad, the Thai locals would reject it outright. Instead, they reluctantly embrace it, taking the good with the bad. Many are as eager to exploit the scenario as the tourists are. Like most things, the situation is not black and white.

I get the feeling these islands were violently bitchslapped into the 21st century - power lines have been sprayed onto buildings like silly string and the streetlights jut from the ground like unskillfully thrown javelins. This hut has been here for 200 years, but it has a utility box and air conditioning unit bolted into the antque siding. A restaurant isolated at the end of a dirt road has high speed wi-fi access. Strange priorities; internet access before vehicle access.

When I wake up, I have to make a decision: sunblock or bug juice? The white man has just not evolved for this climate. Either UV rays will cancerize the skin, or disease vectors will infect the blood. Hypochondria is one of the many gifts of industrialized society. Luckily, science makes my travels possible.

Science, man! Spray and lather those chemicals and you are invincible! If only they made a spray or ointment against head-on motorbike accidents, the Thai traffic system might get a better wrap.

The gulf coast of the Malay Peninsula is just entering its wet season. Thunderstorms shake the foundations of my guesthouse every morning, making me sleepily wonder if that rushing sound is the ceiling turbofan or a torrential downpour just outside the screen windows. More jarring than any alarm clock is a monsoon thunderclap exploding overhead. Every day, the storms last longer and clash louder. Soon, I'll flee to the Andaman coast, where the wet season is on its way out. Catch the tail end of a few more storms and it's all sunny equatorial climate from there on out.

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