Part of what lured me to Koh Tao in the first place was the fact that it’s a small island that seems to exist in an undisturbed parallel to the outside world. As the island lock down begins, these same qualities could come back to either haunt me or save me.
Starting April 1, and continuing for two weeks, the island will be closed to visitors – that means tourists and foreigners. Night ferries will bring in food and supplies every evening, and people are welcome to leave, but foreigners will no longer be permitted to enter.
Initially, it sounded like something out of a horror movie: stranded on an island with nothing but time and a potentially deadly plague. I’m sure there are already plenty of scripts underway and a big movie boom is looming on the horizon.
I don’t want to jinx myself, but so far we have no cases of Coronavirus. Koh Tao could turn into one of the safest places in the world, quite literally. If these next two weeks pass and no cases surface, maybe we would have a chance at continuing with our daily lives as if they were relatively normal, aside from the lack of people creating an eerie emptiness. With no foreigners coming in and no confirmed cases, it would literally be our own bubble of safety.
Or, on a more pessimistic note, one person could catch the virus and this could become a rock filled with walking zombies. I chose to side with the more positive thoughts, as I’m too much of a baby to even watch scary movies, let alone live in one. Hands down, I’d be the first one go, opening the closet everyone knows you shouldn’t open.
Anyway… Up until the past few days, it’s felt very much like we’ve been on our own planet. Roads and shops were quiet, but there was no mass hysteria for food or supplies. There still isn’t. As the lock down begins, the streets are lonely and filled with empty space, eyes peeking out behind face masks. Still, it could be much worse.
Of all the places in the world to be right now, I would choose to be here. I left home in January, unsure about what my future would hold. I still have no idea, especially now, but somehow feel that this is where I am supposed to be.
In these quiet moments, where isolation is imminent and the unknown is waiting at our doorstep, I have found peace in the stillness. There are some things we have no control over, and my little island reminds me, now more than ever, to appreciate the little things in life. I didn’t realize how much I would miss going diving with my friends, watching the sunset, or even just eating in a restaurant until that freedom was gone.
My little island home, which I stumbled upon entirely by accident, slowing down in a virus haze and shutting its doors to the outside world, will forever inspire me to live each moment with appreciation and gratitude.
Today marks the beginning of a new period of solitude, and for many a new challenge. I can only hope that these times will bring us as a society closer together, despite the physical distance. If ever there was a time, it is now.