The Bionic Salesman
A Journey around Thailand

If God or Buddha or the Cookie Monster gave you the chance to go back and re-experience any minute of your life, which minute would you choose?

I was thinking about this on top of the hill overlooking Kata Beach.

Almost exactly a decade ago, Misty and I had our honeymoon here in a hotel called the Plub Pla.

There have been a few moments in life when I knew instantly that the memory of them would shine for as long as I could remember anything. In my mind, they are invariably associated with supernatural conditions of the light – a laser beam of sun, a moon impossibly large… God playing with Photoshop.

Plub Pla Hotel

The Plub Pla was a strange and beautiful hotel. You drove up a track through the rainforest and arrived at a sprawling estate of pools, huts, a tower and split-level decking, with views over the canopy of trees down both sides of the island.

It was owned by a Bangkok property tycoon, who apparently kept it as his plaything. We were the only guests. They treated us like royalty.

The hotel restaurant was a cluster of tables at the top of the hill. I remember I developed an addiction to their banana flambe, something the doctors say could now kill me.

Our room was east-facing, with a view over the treetops down to Chalong Bay.

In the early mornings, our room would fill with horizontal, orange light and I would sit out on the balcony watching Misty sleep.

And then, in a moment, as the hot wind made waves of the canopy of trees and I sat there making a half-hearted attempt at reading a book, Misty appeared on the balcony naked and whispered in my ear.

It was one of those moments when you feel life can’t possibly get any better.

So it was with some apprehension that I drove up the same winding track with the family last week. I had spent the last decade imagining the Plub Pla dragged gracelessly into the future, the rainforest replaced by condominiums and infinity pools.

But we arrived at the top of the hill to find that the fates had imposed their own narrative structure on our lives. The place was derelict.

It was just as we had remembered it, except that the paint was peeling, the decking had been eaten away by termites, the pool was empty, and feral dogs prevented us getting anywhere near our old room.