Living And Working On Beautiful Tropical Islands of Thailand

Before coming to Thailand I used to dream about living on a lush tropical island in the middle of nowhere. When the TV show, ‘Lost’, first aired I was working in a cubicle for a large American corporation, and the highlight of my week was talking about that week’s latest episode to my coworkers. I wished I could trade places and be in a plane crash somewhere on a tropical island. Ten years later, having lived and worked on some of the most beautiful islands in the world, I took it so much for granted that I actually left it out of the first version of this my blog – forgetting how amazing it is to most people. The first island I lived on was Koh Tao.

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The same story happens to everyone: on arrival they love it, exploring the beaches, secluded bays, snorkeling all day and having drinks on the beach watching a beautiful sunset. Then one day – usually after around six months – they can’t wait to leave. But the saying is, “you’ll be back”, and it’s almost always true. I never thought I’d go back but I did. I’m almost considering doing it again; it’s just such an easy place to live . Koh Lanta, the second island I lived on, was beautiful as well. When I first arrived in November the main beach called, ‘long beach’, was empty. It was a mile of pure white sand and I was the only person on it in the middle of the day.

After Christmas when it became busier, ‘long beach’ would start filling up but there were 26 more miles (41km) of other pristine beaches to explore! Unfortunately, due to erosion – from building up the beach front properties – there wasn’t any coral left for snorkeling or diving off of the shore. This forced dive companies to buy bigger, more luxurious boats and take trips further out. As a customer you would have to pay around 5,000 baht ($160US) for a day trip but it was absolutely worth it, particularly if you were on your honeymoon or just there for a few weeks. There were really only a few different trips to take but they were all magical with their own charms: First there was Koh Haa, the five islands. In the middle of the islands was a clear, unspoiled blue-water lagoon. The snorkeling and diving around the islands were amazing – some of the best in Thailand – and underwater visibility was up to 30-40 meters. Once I even got vertigo! With the water being so clear you couldn’t take it all in and could lose your orientation. It was at Koh Haa that I scuba dove with my only Manta ray and first ever Whale shark.

Also at Koh Haa there was a beautiful underwater Cathedral, an underwater cave that you could pop-up in, take off your regulator and mask, and look around with an emerald light glowing from the water. Then there was Koh Rok, which was somewhat boring diving but had a cave that was unbelievable. The island is surrounded by rock on all sides and the only way in is by snorkeling through the emerald cave. After around 10 minutes of darkness, you start to see a light which opens up to a hidden white-sand beach. The first time I swam into it, I instantly thought how amazing it would be to get married there. But the most remote island I’ve lived on, by far, was Mabul Island in Borneo. It’s a tiny island with just a few resorts and a local fishing village. The company I worked for was an all-inclusive resort which meant no one had to carry any cash on them – ever. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were all free to the guests (and staff) and everyone had a bar ‘tab’.

The staff were given a per diem bar allowance which was good for around three or four beers a night. I never used mine up, as I’m not a big drinker, and every time I would go to the bar one of the guests I had taken out diving would insist on buying me a round; so, I often cashed out the balance at the end of the month. The first two months on that island were incredible! It was almost the best vacation of my life but I was actually being paid for it. Every morning we would go on day trips to different parts of the island or to others nearby. It’s one of those things, that while I was doing it I loved it; unfortunately, ‘island fever’ is real. Thinking back, (it sounds stupid, selfish and unappreciative of me, I know) but as amazing as it was, after a few months you really want off the island and can’t think of anything but to complain. I’m glad I finally fulfilled my dream of living on a beautiful remote island, but maybe you’d be better off just going there as a tourist or for no more than 12 weeks at a time. A ‘dream job’ is – at the end of the day – still a job, and as humans we can get tired of anywhere, no matter how gorgeous.

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