Instinctively, I look at my watch. It’s just after 5 o’clock in the afternoon. It’s time to go if I want to make it in time. I quickly stuff my towels, camera and a cold beer in my purple beach bag, lock up the house and jump onto my bike and zoom off, westward bound to Kata Noi beach.
Arriving at the beach, I drop my bag onto the sand, cement coloured custard powder at this time of day instead of creamy gold under the glare of mid-day sun. I pull out one towel, fold it in half and and lay it carefully on the sand to serve as my seat at the ready. I pull pull my dress off over my head and put it in my bag switching it for my mask and snorkel. I wade into the warm sea until I’m in waist deep water, only pausing to turn side on to allow a wave of incoming tide water to rush past me. I dive under the water’s surface, allowing the water to envelop me and slip through my dry hair. Standing up, I slip my mask over my head and suction it to my face. Biting on my snorkel, I surge forward horizontally into the water and begin to kick and simultaneously windmill my arms in a regular freestyle rhythm.
As I glide through the water, parallel to the shore, I observe the sand and blue water around me. Small white fish flit over the sand in unison. Looking up, I’m astonished to see thousands of small glass fish schooling just in front of me. As I swim towards them, they surge forward just a little further in front of me, urging me on. Looking down again, I eye a sand filled black garbage bag protruding from the sand. “More rubbish” I think to myself. I spot a strange little piece of black garbage bag floating around one side of the bag. “That’s weird.” I stop swimming and float on the surface to observe it. “It looks like a piece of garbage bag but it’s floating perfectly but unusually near the bag”. I take a breath and duck under the surface to take a closer look and am surprised. It’s not a piece of garbage bag but a little black box-shaped fish perfectly camouflaged with it’s unusual garbage bag home.
Onwards I swim and reach the rocks at the north end of the beach. I swim to my favourite rock to see if my two resident lion fish along with the strange anemone-looking fish are home. Floating on the surface I spot them and duck under for a close-up hello. Popping back up to the surface I clear my snorkel with a blast of expired air. I glance at my watch. It’s now 5.45pm. Time to get back. I put my face in the water and start kicking and free styling my way back.
Emerging from the water I wrap my spare towel around me and place my mask carefully on top of my bag so it doesn’t get covered in sand and then drop down onto my sitting towel. My heart is still racing from my swim and my whole body feels energised. I look up to the horizon. My timing is perfect, the show is just beginning.
I reach into my bag and pull out my camera and my can of beer. I crack it open and switch on my camera simultaneously. I sit, sip, watch and click.
The sun is covered in fuzzy grey cloud but it’s not thick enough to block it’s magnificence. Its core glows hot, golden peach surrounded by a halo of simmering tangelo stretching wide along the horizon. It is so beautiful I want to scoop up the horizon and hug it tight to my chest so it never leaves me, so it stays with me forever. But the best I can do is pick up my camera, take aim and click to try and capture a replica of the moment. It is second-best.
I watch as the sun dips further towards the horizon. Its golden core intensifies shooting out wider arms of apricot and dusky pink. Thai fishing boats and long-tail boats cross over the golden walkway of light that the sun is shooting towards me upon the water’s surface. Fleetingly they are caught in the natural spotlight. Holiday makers walk and jog past the golden walkway that also stretches towards them on the dampened shore. Some stop to look or take photos, others pass on by. Slowly, the sun slips behind thick grey cloud on the horizon that blocks it from sight. Instead, a smorgasbord of pastel pinks, peach, apricot and mauve splash across the sky. I smile. If I could paint, this is the perfect picture I would paint.
I sit and watch and wait. Although the few beach-goers left have started to pack their bags and leave now the sun has left their sight, I know the show isn’t over yet. I drain the last of my beer and the wrap my arms around my bent legs, resting my chin on one knee. The cicadas start to sing their cheerful chorus reminding me of summer in Australia, a summer I have missed in preference for these perpetually warmer waters. The incoming tide continues to wash upon the sandy shore with their soothing watery whoosh.
My patience is rewarded. The sky is alight with bright pink and purple hues streaming between the grey fuzzy clouds. Again, I smile, this time a sad, happy smile. The most beautiful show on earth is coming to an end, for today. I offer a simple prayer of gratitude from my heart. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Nothing else needs to be said. I gather my belongings and slowly walk back along the beach, back to my motor bike, grateful for another day in paradise.