Up Above an Empty Beach


“Incheon have an industrial complex.  It cause pollution.  So the air is not clear.  It is hard enjoying nature.”  – taken from a Korean blog post written by “wjung84”

The island of Koh Samui had everything a guy could possibly want.  For men of style, there were tailor shops sprinkled up and down the streets like bars in a college town.  There were also a zillion massage parlors where girls in small yellow tops stood outside promising a “happy ending.”  Personally, I’ve never gone for happy endings.  Not in books, or movies, or even my own life, really.  Maybe if one of those girls in the yellow tops offered me a massage with a “tragic ending” I would’ve been lured in.  There’s also a long sandy beach at Koh Samui where the sun shines bright and the ladies sunbathe without their tops on.  Of course most of the ladies are old and unattractive, but then again I would imagine that the suits aren’t that well made, and the endings aren’t really all that happy either.

One night two friends and I went walking along the beach at Koh Samui.  The sun sets early in Thailand, and by seven at night it was pretty dark out.  Coming from the deathly cold of Incheon, the assumption was that the beach would be packed with people.  The night was lovely, made for sipping fruit-flavored cocktails and watching the waves crash down.  It seemed like a night meant for drinking.  But just as old and unattractive women aren’t meant to sunbathe topless, we found that Koh Samui doesn’t always work the way one might think it would.

The beach was empty.  On such a beautiful night, it seemed like we were the only three people who had any interest in enjoying it.  The affect was confounding; it was like being a bird and flying south for the winter, only to find no other birds around.  We sat at a beachside restaurant, where I drank a mango shake and ate a papaya salad.  When we finished eating our dinner, we looked towards the city lights at the end of the beach and wondered if that’s where the people were.

Maybe we were too preoccupied with people.  It could be why we never looked up at the sky above us.  Back where we live in Korea – Incheon – industrialization mixed with the pollution from China makes the sky a one-dimensional blanket of haze, a deep black void.  My friend Mike was the first one to notice, and he told us to stop what we were doing and look up.

“Check it out,” he said, pointing.  “There are stars.”

I stopped and looked up at all the stars in the night.  It was the first time I’d seen stars in five months.  This seems like such a small thing, but the sight was dazzling.  For a few minutes, the three of us just stood there and stared, as if it never occurred to us that there’s something called the sky, and it’s supposed to have stars in it.

Sometimes things hit a person off guard.  Like how a beach on a beautiful night can be empty.  Or how a night sky full of stars can come so unexpectedly, on an island where the air is clean and everything is quiet.



2 thoughts on “Up Above an Empty Beach

  1. minaretmuse

    Your post reminded me of that Emerson quote:

    “If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.”

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