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Passport Required
Koh Kood, Thailand

Day 1: arrive via private jet and give over shoes to staff on arrival. No news, no shoes. Suss out other guests – two surly Russian lesbians, a sweet family from New Delhi, some power honeymooners, and a mother and daughter from the Gold Coast. Admire enormous villa with reclaimed timbers, sri lankan cottons and cunning concealment of mod cons in large safari style trunks. Unpack shift dress saved from new for this trip and hang carefully on padded hanger. Re-apply powder to reduce shine from 95% humidity. Put my worthy novel conspicuously next to the day bed.

Day 2: Only just remember to shower and brush teeth. Lengthy breakfast starts virtuously with watermelon, basil and lime juice and fresh fruit plate. Ends furtively with raspberry donuts and a 9am breakfast chaser of something dark and Ecuadorian from the Chocolate Room. Stroll around the library and guiltily snaffle That Book about a werewolf/vampire love triangle. Worthy novel lies unloved on daybed. Eventually decide to cool off at the beach only to find that although pretty, it’s on reclaimed mangrove and I am sharing the warm shallow water with much crablife. Take the buggy to South Beach on the other side of the resort to be greeted with iced rosella tea and a citronella scented towel. Admire the powdery sands and Bombay Sapphire waters before descending into general stupor, the only cure for which seems to be the scent of wood fired pizza and spicy prawn satay wafting from the open air kitchen. Rouse myself still further to go sample one of the 70 icecream flavours from the dedicated parlour – white peach or watermelon? Lychee or lemongrass? So many stressful decisions. After this flurry of decision making, I’m in the zone and imperiously demand dinner at Benz where some fantastically tasty thai country food awaits after a pretty boat trip upriver which makes me feel like Audrey Hepburn in African Queen.

Day 3: Would not make a good movie star. Forget to shower and brush teeth. Look like I have the pox due to constant attack from feral mosquitos. The resort does its best with daily fogging, mosquito nets, incense coils and citronella lotion but I am a magnet to anything with a proboscis. Hmm, that didn’t come out so well. Diving today to escape (surely they can’t get me 20 metres under)? Weather monsoonal and the visibility is very poor but the coral gardens have potential, although they are somewhat bleached. New dive sites are being developed including some interesting wrecks and this should raise the bar. Dinner at The View for fine fusion food and then onto Cinema Paradiso to loll about on cushions beneath mercury bright stars. Fresh popcorn and an icy bianco, lime and tonic are set down. Out of Africa flickers into life on the big screen across the lake, competing with the cacophony of frogs and crickets. I sigh when Robert Redford washes Meryl Streep’s hair. Remind myself to wash own hair.

Day 4: Another gorgeful breakfast and a review of the local excursions available. Pearl farm? No. Honey farm? Nope. Elephant farm? I don’t think so. Chicken prison? Momentary confusion about what crimes a chicken might commit. My misunderstanding. The translation in the resort compendium reads (verbatim): “it is the top poultry rearing. This will defecate from chicken pour head prisoner confined at all times”. Eww. No. We settle on a swim at Klong Chao waterfall which is gorgeous – a drive through the verdant jungle of the island and then a short trek through dense rainforest to a deep green pool beneath a flowing waterfall, populated with a some friendly thais picnicking and swinging into the pool from tree ropes.

Day 5: monsoonal storms come and go, brief and violent. No diving today. Settle instead for a spa appointment with the magic hands of Khun Tuk. She is so good I want to give her a GPS code and stalk her so I can find her anywhere in the world. Dinner is a buffet, usually reserved for the quite greedy and totally unfussy. Realise I probably fit neatly into that category. No need to worry about lukewarm bain marie stodge though, it’s all spankingly fresh thai with miang kiem (betel leaves wrapped around dried shrimp, ginger, chili, lime, toasted coconut, peanuts, and an intense pork and garlic paste), fragrant yellow beef curry, and all manner of sharp, spicy, lemongrassy, coconutty things. Am too lazy to go to the late night astronomy session in the observatory.

Day 6: back to the beach club where the staff’s apparent love of our toddler is sorely tested when, pantless, he lays a pipe (I think that is the current vernacular?) on the floor of the beach club, to his great pride and our deep horror and embarrassment. No less than seven staff rush to assist. I am pretty sure that turd removal is not in their job description and wave them off to do it myself. However, it is gratifying to know that they were prepared to offer, and even greet us with smiles later on. That is typical of the staff here – they are not necessarily polished, but they have a warmth and charm which is totally genuine.

Day 7: home. Skeeter bites are healing. Hair looks like a bird’s nest. Shift dress is faded and crisp with salt. Worthy novel remains unread. Already planning my return trip.