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Books and the Beach


Guest post by John aka. Trippy Traveler.

For me one of the greatest advantages of being on a beach is that you have time to read. You could get a hotel room and watch countless bad movies on the channels offering such average American fare. You could spend hours having beauty treatments. You could go on a long drinking session. You could even decide to hike to the next beach or kayak off into the sunset. However, the chances are that sooner or later you are going to have time on your hands, and will naturally turn to the printed word.

This is especially true if there isn’t any free wifi in the room.

Even people who can’t abide reading in their normal lives find themselves picking up a book on a beach holiday. Women who sunbathe will just lie there in pain but even they will need to break the narcissistic monotony with something else to do. That is normally having a drink and a wee in the sea. If there is a copy of 50 Shades of Grey they could be tempted to a little read.

Once you have managed the first 20 or so pages of a novel the chances are that you are going to get ‘hooked’. This is especially true if you plump for a mystery such as those written by Ludlum, Dan Brown, Stieg Larsson et al. Murder, suspense, clues will buzz through your head as you lounge around in paradise. Before you know it, you will be looking forward to going to bed early so that you can tuck into your holiday book.

After living on a beach for a while you find that you exhaust your book supply, and that you have read all the books belonging to your travel companion(s). It thus becomes an unexpected joy to light upon a new book. There are often second hand book shops to be found. I find the books often fairly pricey for being second-hand, and often unappealing. I have an uncanny knack for sniffing out a new book.

There are the book shelves in restaurants and in hotel receptions. Often people just leave their holiday book behind. You get a feel for the likely spots that books are likely to be found – among old newspapers, brochures, photos, guest books and other bric-a-brac that people ignore. You also get a feel for the staff members that are more relaxed and friendly, and who will be fine with you borrowing or swapping a book. Others will horde books like gold behind locked glass doors. Some bright spark in management will get the smart notion to make extra income from the books left in the hostel or hotel. I harbour ill-thoughts to these types who are taking the perks out of backpacking, taxing dreams and education.

Another great strategy is to keep a couple of books nearby for swapping. When out and about on the beach it is easy to get chatting to visitors. There’s something about beaches that put people at ease. It could be all the negative ions created by the breaking waves.

Anyway, it is always probable that someone who has been traveling for a couple of weeks will have a book they’ve already read and are willing to depart with. Besides, talking about books reveals a surprising amount about a person and can lead to friendship.

For Thong Nai Pan there are books shops in both Noi and Yai. However, you can scout around and find nooks and crannies holding hidden literary treasures. Greg at Tanaporn has a vast and eclectic library under his bed. Moreover, since both beaches are stunning it is easy to find people off their guard and ready to take a real airport clunker.


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