Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
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Standing on this coast and looking at the one across the way I was estimating distances and my swimming speed, trying to visualize that scene in the Beach. Speaking of which, the movie was filmed on a nearby island named Ko Phi Phi (to which I didn't go). If you haven't seen it, I'd highly recommend it. I'm sure I'm not the only person to say that it was in no small measure an inspiration for my traveling, and indeed very accurately captures a key sentiment shared by the entire "backpacker" community. The sentiment is rather hard to summarize, and can be described in several ways depending on your cynicism. However, I'll put it like this:

Travelers "ruin" their destinations because what they seek in theory is differs from what they want in practice. Thus, the "unspoiled" beaches of the world are quickly being replaced by strings of bars and resorts, because people that theoretically go to these beaches to "get away" actually would prefer to have a drink and sleep in a nice bed. Thus, this conflict between idealized and realistic travel becomes increasingly hard to ignore, until eventually people start going that don't pretend to want anything other than a bar or a resort, and then it's all "ruined".

Anyway, in an ironic twist of fate, the beautiful beach of Ko Phi Phi is now almost a model of such spoilage. Not only did the movie producers physically damage the beach during its filming (pulling out ugly local foliage and planting or digitally inserting prettier replacements), but the movie has drawn so much attention to the island that it's simply overflowing with tourists (ahh, it's funny how that word has such an evil connotation in the backpacker community as if we are somehow different. Hypocrisy is so much fun).

And because I'm just on a roll, have you read the book? I recently did, and I have to say, it's *very* different than the movie. And the ending! What crazy drugs did that author take while writing the final chapters? My brother has this joke he uses to fake-spoil a movie. He says "Man, and when they all died of radiation poisoning, I sure didn't see that coming." Well, they don't die of radiation poisoning in the book, but what does happen is no less unexpected. Anyway, I think I actually liked the movie better. After all, Leonardo is just dreamy, isn't he?

Copyright 2021 - David Barrett -