What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I say tropical island? Right: white sand, palm trees, beach front wooden bungalows, bars, reggae music; or, even better, a deserted place and a Robinson Crusoe life style. I had all of these in mind before stepping for the first time on Koh Sukorn. This trip was meant to teach me there are also regular islands in Thailand.
Fact is if you ignore the Andaman Sea which surround the island, visiting Koh Sukorn is just like visiting any countryside village in Thailand. No resorts, no restaurants, no tour operators or taxi cabs. Well, there are two or three so-called resorts but, trust me, you do not want to spend your holiday in any of them. The only reason Sukorn is famous for are the watermelons grown on the island. It seems they are so tasty and precious that you can only find them in Trang province, along the coastline’s villages and cities. Determined to taste this miraculous fruit, I decided it is time to check the source-island itself.
I arrived in Sukorn one late afternoon on a boat sailing from a port called Taseh. The boat trip was, in fact, a 250 baht worth shower. Disembarking on the island I took a deep breath, trying to smell the scent of the legendary watermelon. My wild imagination was picturing this place as a Las Vegas Sukorn, with shinning watermelon pyramids laying in the sun. A never ending festival dedicated to the outside-green and inside-red fruit. A watermelon orgy, simply put.
I walked under the stifling sun, trying to spot a pub, restaurant or an eatery which served the local specialty. Nothing. Weirdest thing of all was that none seemed to understand the word watermelon. Neither the mimics were enough to explain what I was searching for, so I finally had to use my highly limited drawing skills and sketched a watermelon on a piece of paper.
– Aaaa, daeng-moh! No hep, she said pointing to another seller’s stall. Maybe hep.
She had, indeed. One. One watermelon. A small daeng-moh. I placed the order she sliced it and served it to me on a chess table next to her stand. It was hot as a pie, but this didn’t matter at all after a whole day on the road. The taste was good, juicy and sweet, though I felt a touch of spiciness. It must have grown next to a chilli plantation. Romanian watermelons are definitely tastier than the ones in Thailand; none ever broke my heart with disappointment. While I was munching the single watermelon on the watermelon island, I suddenly realized what the explanation was for the lack of the famous fruit. Well, if everyone here grows watermelons, what’s the point in selling them on the island? If they all have it, who would buy it, me?
I returned to the pier, embarked the boat and headed to Taseh still holding that sweet-spicy taste in my mouth. It was the whole day to blame for it, not only the watermelon. Koh Sukorn guessed what I would be writing and made a last attempt to win my favor. Halfway to the mainland, the boatman’s face suddenly lightened with a huge smile: You, look! Merely a few meters away a team of dolphins had started their evening show, executing their funny trick for the joy of all the fishermen in search of food and that of a Farang in search of a land fruit. Thank you!
Note: the Thai name of the island has two transliterations: Sukorn and Sukon.