Monday, 7 November 2011

The Beach

Apparently there is a novel called The Beach, which has apparently spawned a film called, I believe, The Beach. My limited understanding of these cultural phenomena extends as far as having been told that the opening scene takes place in Khao San Road, Bangkok. This place, to the unfamiliar, is hard to describe in any fashion that does justice to the depths of its depravity. A wise man once told me, long before leaving the UK, that when we were in Bangkok we were not to stay anywhere near Khao San Road or I’d end up killing someone. What he didn’t say was that even wandering down a few blocks of it, with its cavernous British pubs, full of white backpackers, eating British food, drinking British beer and chatting happily to each other in English over the blare of British music about the delights that South East Asia has to offer, was cause enough for justifiable homicide. These people, apparently, are highly motivated to find the “perfect beach”, and this quest takes them to places like Sihanoukville. This, of course, is merely a jumping off point, for Sihanoukville is achingly uncool, with its crowds of other beach bums, hawking children, cocktail merchants and occasional beggar. I suspect that the perfect beach would be one that is populated by the minimum number of locals required to service the needs of a very small and self-selecting group of fairly wealthy gap year students with a high alcohol tolerance and a languid enthusiasm for adrenaline sports. Some sort of backpacker version of “terra nullis”, except with a well-stocked 7/11 hidden out of sight.