The Leonardo Dicaprio movie, “The Beach,” is centered around a secluded piece of island paradise that is as close to perfection as can be attained. Many tourists now flock to where the movie was filmed, Maya Bay in Thailand, which can no longer be described by the words “secluded paradise.”
Update: As of June 2019 Maya Bay is closed for environmental rehabilitation reasons, which is great news. The longtail snorkeling tour boats will still take you near the bay for pictures.
On the island of Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia, I have found a perfect beach. In doing so, I have learned that the perfect beach is actually a very subjective matter. When I saw my beach for the first time, it was love at first sight. The clear, green water and the warm color of the sand complimented each other and I loved the way the landscape was framed on either side.
I soon learned that the same things I loved the most about it, counted against it for other people. A friend of mine pointed out that she didn’t like the sand because it wasn’t white enough. An older gentleman named Bill, said he didn’t like how secluded it was and that there weren’t enough businesses on the shore.
So what can we take away from the subjectiveness of paradise? Fellow travelers have great intentions in giving recommendations but everyone is looking for something different. The best example is Bangkok. Everyone I’ve met has said Bangkok is dirty and not worth the time. “Two nights is enough,” is one of the most common things heard about Bangkok. I spent a week there and loved it. I would go back many times because it’s a huge and dynamic city with many neighborhoods to explore.
The other thing is that places change. Some change faster than others. While traveling in Cambodia, I have learned that development of the south of Cambodia and specifically in Sihanoukville has upset many travelers to say the least. One traveler I met has said that he was there 20 years ago and it was very similar to Koh Rong Sanloem now. Now Sihanoukville is far from the paradise it once was due to the rampant construction, development, and casinos.
Regardless of whether the changes comes from real estate development, tourism, pollution, or all of the above, some perfect places will inevitably change. Whether it takes 20 years or less, that perfect beach you once found may not be around the next time you return. So stay as long as you possibly can, even if it’s a little longer than you know you should. Perfection, like most other things is fleeting if it was ever really there in the first place. Or if you can’t stay that long go back as soon as you can.