Reid Bramblett was able to visit the famed waterfall of Alex Garland’s novel The Beach on his visit to the islands of Thailand. He describes his day of hiking to the hidden locale with a lost guide named Sami and his bumpy ride aboard an elephant in the evening in his article Discover Hidden Lagoons and Trek the Jungle on Thai Isles for The Daily Herald.
“But a dazed-and-confused guide only added to the surreal experience of Ang Thong. After breakfasting on the boat during the two-hour ride to the park, we paddled sit-atop kayaks to the shores of Ko Mae Ko. Sami scampered ahead while the rest of us laboriously zigzagged up a cliff path and scrambled through a narrow rock cleft.
I arrived first to find Sami slouching against the platform railing. “Nice view, yah?” He grinned and swept his thin, dark arm across the scene. Before us, the jungle opened up to reveal Ko Mae Ko’s famed hidden lagoon, a massive azure eye of crystalline water fully encircled by sheer karst cliffs dripping with vegetation.
We returned to Ko Samui for the included cheesy, 20-minute elephant ride through a coconut plantation. In a largely pantomimed conversation with our driver, I learned that our elephant’s name was Dao, and she was 33 years old. As the sun set over the jungle canopy, he showed me how to slip my knees behind Dao’s rough ears and take an elephant for a spin.”