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Book set in Thailand (island life on Ko Phi Phi)

4th February 2014

Cross Currents by John Shors: book set in Thailand (Ko Phi Phi).

I have been wanting to read this novel for quite some time now. It was amongst some of the first we loaded onto the TripFiction website and it was of particular interest to me because we had been to Ko Phi Phi in the Spring of 2004 – only 9 months before the dreadful Tsunami hit the islands. It was a magical trip and whilst reading this novel I felt truly transported back in time.

John Shors has beautifully captured the feel, smell and the beauty of this part of Thailand. Through the storyline he takes the visitor behind the Thai smile and portrays the reality of life as it must be for many inhabitants catering to the tourist influx across Thailand. It is a simple hand to mouth existence that many visitors perhaps overlook as they enjoy the beach setting, fresh food and heat.

The author initiates us into local island life through Lek and his wife Sarai, and their three young children who are permanently looking for more ways to bring in income – the permanent threat of having to move to Bangkok to make a living hangs over their heads and it would mean giving up their carefree, though poor island life. With them lives Patch, an American young fugitive, who through hot-headedness attacked a policeman back in Bangkok. For this he may have to pay dearly by going to gaol, if he is found.

Ryan, Patch’s brother arrives from the States with his girlfriend Brooke to save the day, and encourage Patch to turn himself in. Ryan is a very black and white person and struggles to see any other outcome other than surrendering himself to the authorities. Patch’s only other option would be to take a boat to another country and repatriate himself back to the States from there, a potentially very risky alternative – but with his two options Patch is between a rock and a hard place. Ryan soon settles into laid-back island life, and his boorish, two dimensional attitude to life soon takes a battering.

We know right from the beginning that, when the book starts on Saturday 18th December, the Tsunami is looming on
the 26th. What we don’t know, however, is the effect it will have on the characters’ lives.

And today on Ko Phi Phi life goes on. Hotels and bungalows offer their rooms, food is being cooked, people are lazing in the sun and the views are still stunning. The book totally took me back to trip we made, back in 2004… 7 months before the Tsunami. Despite the terrible tragedy, the lure of island life in Thailand hasn’t lost its appeal, although the feel of the island has since changed significantly and has become a very different place.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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