The Writer’s Life and a Singha Sunset


We find our quiet spot, an unassuming curve of coastline called Bailan Bay, on southwest Ko Chang, “Elephant Island.” Bailan is somewhere between the Lonely Beach party scene (“Free Red Bull and Vodka from 10 – 11 p.m.!”) and the fishing village of Bang Bao. In Bailan, there are five or six “resorts” to choose from, each a copycat cluster of jungle-rustic thatch bungalows for $4 to 8 a night, depending on private bath and proximity to the surf. Most are already taken, but we find a shabby hut at Wangsida’s, whose best attribute is its nearness to a tranquilo beach bar, where I spend most of the week.


Ms. Naughty’s Bar and Restaurant consists of a no-shoes, cushion-strewn wooden platform stretching out over the green-blue Gulf of Thailand. The food is fantastic, and it is quiet enough for me to sit and type while small waves lap underneath me and the resident family of well-fed cats (and, occasionally, my wife) keeps me company. This is the reason we came to Ko Chang, to find a place for me to work, as I have a book deadline in six weeks, and Ms. Naughty’s makes a perfect office.

I come every morning, plug my laptop into a sketchy outdoor socket, settle into a stack of cushions, order fresh filter coffee, homemade bread, and breakfast, and work through the day. I break only to walk up the road to the Internet café, where, via satellite, I send and receive messages and do some research. If I’m lucky, I catch my coauthor, the Randymon, online in Washington, DC, and we chat it up, coordinating the more than 100 documents we are batting back and forth and which, next fall, will be joined together on book shelves around the world.

I also take a break here and there to join Tay at the Herbal Sauna up the road, or sometimes, just to walk to the breezy end of Ms. Naughty’s pier, sit back, and watch the show.


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