MY DREAM OF visiting Thailand’s islands was as vivid as it was specific: I would walk along an empty beach, its sand as white and fine as sifted flour, beneath soaring rock walls. I would wade into a cerulean sea so clear that I could make out the chips in my toenail polish. And I would be profoundly, blissfully alone.
This long-held fantasy was born some 15 years ago, when I first saw “The Beach,” the Leonardo DiCaprio film that put Thailand’s Phi Phi Islands on the map. I have since fueled this reverie by perusing countless Thailand travel blogs and Instagram posts showing shimmering, desolate coves and empty be...
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