One Place, Two Realities

I am writing this note from the island of Koh Samui, Thailand. Thailand of the magical sunsets, exotic tastes, unique smells, colorful and tropical fruits, happiness, and also, believe it or not, some local sorrow… But why?

This is not my first time in Koh Samui. For as long as I remember, the island has been a lively and exciting place. But never did I notice the gestures of the local taxi drivers as they wave their hands in disappointment while saying “Samui, much change.” Samui has changed from a peaceful island, to a hectic one.

Samui, or any other location for that matter, has no “existence,” as is. People are those who create impressions or realities and assign them to a subject matter (or location) in accordance to their subjective observations and feelings.


To the thrilled tourist, Samui is full of activities, noisy beach parties, motorcycles easy to rent without licenses, jet skis, and big crowds all around. To Chung, the local fisherman, Samui is too noisy and has too many young and crazy drivers on motorcycles. He feels that his home island is over-polluted and not as beautiful and peaceful as in the past. Nowadays, fish is scarce on the shoreline, resulting in more labor for the same amount of produce to be sold at the market. Before jet skis and divers from around the world arrived ruining the setting, life was more tranquil and calm for him. In Chung’s eyes, Sumai’s transformation is a tragedy.

Chung’s impression and reality of his island is completely different from my own. But whose perspective of reality is more true or accurate? Reality is what we, as individuals, make of it. The future is there to create. Somehow there must be a golden path through which the foreign tourist and local fisherman will both have similar or closer realities. How can this kind of a future be built?

The past does feel exciting, but how about the future?