I had heard that many of the islands of southern Thailand were built up and completely modernized, but I didn’t believe it until I found myself on Phuket, Thailand’s largest island. Not only does Phuket have at least four Starbucks (that I’ve seen so far), but it has been invaded with a plethora of fast food chains, a monstrous shopping mall and a string of upscale resorts lining the most popular beaches. In short, it’s extremely similar to Waikiki or Miami Beach in that the actual beach and beauty of the island has been severely eclipsed by the cacophony of Westernized city life spilling onto the once pristine shores. No wonder “The Beach” by Alex Garland became such a cult classic among backpackers in Southeast Asia. I have yet to see one of those untouched islands that grace tourist brochures, the ones that seem to hover above the sea in an air of mystery, serenely dotting the cerulean waters of the Indian Ocean. Soon we will visit a smaller island called Koh Phi Phi and although it’s not exactly undiscovered, I am hoping it will offer slightly more seclusion than the McDonald’s spangled beaches of Phuket.