by Susan Brady

It is amazing the variety of items that one can buy while lying on a lounge chair at the edge of the Andaman Sea. Seemingly at the end of the world, persistent vendors hunt you down and offer everything you never needed.

Hungry? No problem. You can buy peanuts, fruit, banana chips, fried pies, bags of cookies, and many more objects unidentifiable to my Western eye. Since overhead is low, prices are reasonable, in fact downright cheap, but most U.S. health departments would frown on the cooking and delivery methods.

Need to relax? Foot and body massages are available to calm those frayed nerves from hours of lolling on the beach. Or maybe a henna tattoo to go with your new tan (or sunburn). Small flowers to full-blown back tattoos are available without even leaving the comfort of your towel-covered, padded beach chair.

Looking for a new wardrobe? You can start with the standard cotton t-shirt emblazoned with island advertising or misshapen elephants. Moving on, you have your choice of short wrap skirts, long wrap skirts, or sarongs, with complementing blouses, of course. Some jewelry to go with that? Beadwork and native materials cut into interesting shapes and forms are strung as necklaces, bracelets, anklets, tiaras (just kidding). All that is missing is a good pair of sandals to complete the outfit.

Lastly, we have an array of trinkets and artifacts. Hand-painted parasols and fans, bamboo musical instruments (not loud enough for my niece and nephew), intricately carved teak elephants, and wooden marionettes that pop up big wooden erections (interesting conversation piece). You want it, they’ve got it.

And just in case you want something less tangible, you can purchase sea canoe tours, surfboarding lessons (do I really look like I want that one?), or elephant rides. No sales here.

No real need for me to dress and head downtown to shop. From the white-sand beach, on a chaise longue with a frou-frou drink in hand, I can buy all the island has to offer. Kind of like lying in bed at home, watching QVC for those must-have items.



About Susan Brady:
Susan Brady has filled various roles throughout her nine years with Travelers’ Tales, having been with the company since its inception. She is currently director of production, responsible for book and catalog production, scheduling, inventory, print buying, and general office management. When not slaving over books, she lives the life of a typical soccer mom in the suburbs with her husband, three children, two cats, and iguana. Before coming to Travelers’ Tales, she helped birth babies rather than books as the director of The Birth Place Resource Center.