On The Road – Day 7 (Haad Rin, Thailand)

It was time to return to civilization. Making my way south, I left the nature reserve and made way along the mountain pass to the south east corner of the island of Koh Phangan.

Arriving on the beach of Haad Rin (Hat Rin Nok – Sunrise Beach), I checked in to my beach front cabana and plotted my next few days from the hammock overlooking the Gulf.

Life here was a bit hectic (relativism), with people frolicking on the beach, long boats going to and fro from the south end of the cove, etc. I was in a contemplative frame of mind. I was reading Taleb’s “The Black Swan” and thinking a lot about decision making processes, my own choices over the years, and casual relationships to this point, from both a professional as well as a personal standpoint. As Pierre-Daniel Huet wrote, any event can have an infinite number of possible causes. This is all well and good, but with the desire to understand linear relationships, this line of thinking makes it very difficult to pinpoint relationships.

“Minds of the gods cannot be read by just witnessing their deeds” was a theme that was resonating with me as of late. Understanding the disconnect between cause and effect, the illusion of understanding between perception and reality combined with “retrospective distortion” (assessment with rearview mirror analysis) were notions that required some processing on a personal level.

But I digress, after a day or two of reading, writing and contemplation, I came to the stark reality that this first phase, the half moon phase of the trip, was wrapping up. As the Thai-Kadai family of languages suggests – sa bai dii!

It was time to head over to Hong Kong to take care of a little biz. Thus, I waived goodbye to a few of the friends assembled. I bid farewell to the Israelis whom had spent many an hour on the beach discussing the Palestinian and Iranian conflicts and their views on a “solution”. I made hay and jumped on the catamaran and headed back to Koh Samui for a flight to HK.

A few observations on life in Thailand from the last two days:

– The people are incredibly hard working; unlike countries that border Thailand, the Thai’s were often witnessed working (vs sitting around in the debilitating heat). It suggested a strong work ethic and culture and I think the future is very bright or this economy. With a GDP that grew 6% in the first quarter of 2008 and was clocking in at $596.5 billion, the rocket was continuing its ascension.

– To state the obvious, some of the most beautiful coastline in the world. With 3,200 km of coastline, 27% of the land arable, a world class reef 200m from the sandy beaches and an abundance of natural resources to enable building (tin, rubber, natural gas, tungsten, tantalum, timber, lead, fish, gypsum, lignite, fluorite), it would seem there is multiple layers of value in the real estate? Buying real estate would be a very handsome investment that will payoff in the coming decade as the Singapore and chinese money continues to flow into this region for development.

– If I were a Thai entrepreneur, I would open an eye care service. Anecdotally, very few people wore eye glasses for reading? This seems probablisitically unlikely that so many of the people have 20/20 vision? It doesn’t appear to be a financial/economic issue as the people have flat screens and cars in numbers? Maybe an access / health care issue? Open a lasik outpatient franchise? Or a Lenscrafters?

– Buddhist culture and lack of a colonial past (sidenote: a unified Thai kingdom was established in the mid-14th century. Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by a European power. A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy) should continue to enable an entreprenurial spirit to thrive in this country.

– Thai’s challenge seems to be the seemingly corrupt government (from my daily reading of the bangkok post, every day illuminated a plot that uncovered this or that minister guilty of pilfering the state). Certainly a cancer, but not insurmountable?

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