I was trying to find a small piece of paradise for a few days, some little place amongst a coconut grove with an ocean roaring beyond. It took me a while, though I live on the tropical island of Phuket. I didn't want boutique villas or Airbnb houses owned by expats, and I certainly didn't want hotels.
I wanted rural and real, yet with some modern comforts.
I went north, off the beaten path a bit, and in the shadows of a couple of international hotels, I found what I was looking for. The owner is a 42-year old Thai lady who used to work as an airport representative at Phuket International Airport. Dhao (or Stella) owns a piece of land on which she built eight sweet little bungalows. She built the bungalows away a bit from the sea so that they are not threatened by the sometimes violent monsoon that hit the island during the rainy seasons. "I've been here for four years, and I have not needed to change anything," she said. I like her story as we drove in her little car, laughing like two old friends.
Our little house was basic: plastic furniture, a few sticks of furniture, beach mats in the cupboard. But there were butterflies and little birds in the verdant garden where our pink bungalow sits.
"Look," he said. "There's a sort of a woodpecker just by the long grass."
"Love his stripey pants," I replied, looking out of the window, feeling foolishly happy, loving the peace around us.
We paddled a long way out on one paddle board, just two human beings, the sun, the sea breeze and the open ocean. This is how life is meant to be, I realised, stripped of its complications and unnecessary burdens.
At night, we had the back door open and watched the rain, listened to the call of the insects outside. Yes, there were mosquitoes but hmmm, they never bit me. I slept peacefully and deeply, to wake up to a beautiful blazing day. And the days were indeed beautiful, as well as peaceful and tranquil. I wondered fleetingly how this little piece of paradise would be like when the seven other bungalows are occupied, but no matter, we are surrounded by so much lush, undeveloped space.
I began writing the draft for my new book. He sits cross-legged on the bed, wearing anti-glare glasses, frowning a little as he deconstructs what I wrote. For me, life couldn't get any better than it is at this moment.