Long, white sand beaches. Calm, clear, blue ocean water. Restaurants lining the shore. Palm trees stretching out over the sand. Sunbathers reading and soaking all the vitamin A the sun has to offer.
Quick! What comes to your mind?
You could be thinking about a beach on the Yucatan peninsula. Or the Maldives. Or the South of France. Or the coast of Zanzibar, for that matter.
In each instance, you would be completely correct.
Apart from it's physical location in Thailand or it's prevalence of Thai food on the menu, there's not much about being on Koh Phangan that's particularly Thai. If you were kidnapped, blindfolded, and dropped here without knowing anything, you could very well think that you were in Brazil, or Vietnam, or Greece. This could very well be anywhere in the world - it just happens that the Thai people inhabit this sliver of gorgeous earth.
It's not that we don't appreciate our surroundings or that we're taking the beauty for granted. Far from it. We enjoy waking up every day to a warm sun and an ocean that feels better than taking a bath. We still stare at the palm trees and the waves as they languidly roll into the baby powder sand. There's something to be said about being able to enjoy the scenes like these; in fact, I highly recommend it to anyone.
But as we prepare to move on, I want to be clear that we are still highly ignorant of Thailand. We've had a blissful time on the beach, but we know that Thailand is not that same as its beautiful beaches or it's capital city.
So, if you ask us now "Have you been to Thailand?", we will happily answer, "Yes.". But if you ask us "What is Thailand like?", we're going to have to tell you "I don't know."