As many of you may know, two days ago, Koh Tao woke up to news that rocked this tiny island to its core. Almost anyone that calls Koh Tao home works in the tourism industry, as I once did during my year here in 2011. For us, it is a joy to show our slice of paradise to those that come to visit it as tourists, just like so many of us were the first time we stepped on the rock. So it goes without saying that we as a community are in mourning over this horrific crime against two of the island’s visitors. An unthinkable tragedy has occurred and our hearts break for the victims and their loved ones.
The media is currently swirling with sensationalist speculation and flat out mistruths, which I hope to address in the near future when the official police investigation is complete and I have had time to process the emotional events of the past forty-eight hours. However, considering my inbox is already flooded with messages from travelers now hesitant to come to Koh Tao, I would like to offer those with travel plans here a confident assurance.
The close-knit community on this small, tranquil island is what has always made it so special for me. The fact that we along with the world are so shocked by this tragedy is a testament to how peaceful Koh Tao really is, and how unheard of something like this is here. As a woman traveling alone and once again temporarily settled here, I feel as safe and welcomed as I have since I first came in 2009. One isolated crime does not change that. This kind of brutal violence could happen anywhere in the world. We are beyond heartbroken it has happened here, but it will not change our love for this island — and as we heal, we look forward to sharing that love with the world, as always.
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It doesn’t really feel appropriate to post photos of anything else right now, so this week’s photos are from various memorials that have been held on the island as locals and expats gather to pay their respects to the victims. Their families and friends remain in my thoughts.