A Chinese woman stands amidst a throng of tourists frozen in ridiculous poses in waist deep water, and quietly vomits into the turquoise blue as cameras click all around her. Nobody seems to notice. Welcome to Maya Bay, the location of the Leonardo Di Caprio blockbuster ‘The Beach‘.
The plot of the movie is as such: a group of western backpackers create their own commune on an impossibly beautiful unknown beach in Thailand. The secret of the islands existence is closely guarded – if other travellers were to find out about it, it would threaten the groups very existence.
With this in mind, arriving at Maya beach is hilarious.
The shore is almost completely covered in boats – at one end of the beach a long row of traditional longtail boats are moored side-by-side, at the other end is an even larger collection of flashy high-powered tourist boats. Lady Gaga can be heard pumping from one of these. In between the two rows, a small area is fenced off for swimming. Its high season here, and if any more tourists come , boats will have to queue just to get in.
The beach is covered in tourists – short and tall, fat and skinny, the only common trait seems to be serious sunburn. People alight from their boats, and spend their 20 minutes on the beach trying to take photos of themselves in ridiculous poses, flicking hair out of the water, thrusting hips and breasts and doing stupid duck-lips. Thanks, Facebook.
Everyone tries – and fails – to take a photo that hides the fact that the world most beautiful, secluded beach can barely be seen among the great hordes.
Im not trying to be ‘holier than thou’ here – we were a willing part of this great mass of cameras and poses, during a short stop off on a snorkelling trip around the Phi Phi islands. Its just a good example of a common paradox you see while travelling – a site is so beautiful, it attracts so many tourists that the beautiful thing that once drew people to it can no longer be seen.
Somewhere, beneath the boats and bronzed bodies, lies one of the worlds most beautiful beaches. We catch a few glimpses of it, its beauty still manages to shine through in places. Later that day, we visit countless beaches just as beautiful as Maya Beach.