The luxury of solitude

Updated: 2012-10-15 10:24

By Pauline D. Loh (China Daily)

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The luxury of solitude

The pool villa has a huge bedroom, a carved stone bathtub a short distance from the bed and a pool by the veranda. Provided to China Daily

The luxury of solitude

Traditional Thai prawn noodlaes, pad thai goong. Pauline D. Loh / China Daily

The luxury of solitude

Akaryn Resort is very new and very hidden.

The luxury of solitude

It is an island where buildings cannot be taller than coconut trees, and it began resort life as a cheap tropical retreat for European beatniks. Now, Koh Samui is pure luxury, as Pauline D. Loh finds out on a nostalgic trip back.

Its beaches are still the color of butter cream, and its water still that pure true blue they call cyan. But other than that, this is a very different island from the one I knew in the 1990s when it was a favorite escape during long weekends from Hong Kong.

As our little jet circles and approaches the island airport, we look down on many other flashes of blue on land - swimming pools, both private and public, that belong to affluent islanders and still mushrooming resorts.

This is Koh Samui, an island on the fringe of the Gulf of Thailand, and one of the most popular resort destinations in Thailand.

It has one neatly tarred road running round the island and enough distractions - Thai boxing shows, the Reggae Pub, elephant treks, waterfalls, shooting ranges, the Big Buddha Temple, monkey shows, excursions to marine parks - to keep tourists happily occupied for a very long weekend.

But for many visitors, it is solitude they are looking for, a refuge from the high-pressure corporate jungle, and a place where phone signals, cable television and the Internet are only options, not necessity.

My husband and I spend what we wryly called our second honeymoon at Koh Samui recently, but the problem is, we both think we had somehow missed the first one. We cannot remember any more.

For our retreat, we had chosen the Akaryn Resort, very new and very hidden. We heard it had its own private bay and beach, and a large sea almond tree under which we can have yoga lessons.

It was the "very hidden" that sold us. We had three days, and we wanted to sleep, eat, swim, stroll and do nothing more strenuous than point at either the mango or pineapple juice.

The journey is a bit tedious since there is no flight on the Beijing-Bangkok leg. We end up flying the red-eye to Singapore and then taking another flight direct to Koh Samui.

Nevertheless, we arrive at noon, just in time to enjoy our first Thai seafood lunch, with a green papaya salad appetizer.

The Akaryn is a short drive from the airport, which itself looks like one of those exotic island stops out of the Hawaii Five-O series, the old one.

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