Vashon Island is in the Puget Sound next to Seattle. No bridges to the island, just a ferry that takes you there. If you want the closeness and convenience of Seattle, but you don’t like the high pace nature of Seattle, then Vashon Island is the place to be. It’s more slow paced, and plenty of hippies live there, both old-timers, and young. The only drawback, is the jets that fly overheard from Sea-Tac International Airport a few miles away.
A beautiful, friendly, tolerant country (it is full of Buddhists after all). Unfortunately economic development and unbridled tourism has deformed this country. Check out Ko Samui or Ko Phanghan for a real getaway. Stay away from Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. Chaing Mai too has changed for the worse. The hill tribes of the north are worth a visit though.
Maya Bay, Thailand
Many places were untouched by the Tsunami, including the famous Maya Bay on Phi Phi Island, where "The Beach" with Leonardo DeCaprio was filmed. This is perhaps the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been on (and that’s saying a whole lot!)
I haven’t been to Thailand for 22 years, when I took a 2 1/2 year journey around the world. Much has changed here in the intervening years. Thailand has industrialized, urbanized & developed to an amazing degree. Much of this development is haphazard, which has created a whole set of problems, particularly pollution and degradation of their beautiful country’s environment.
On top of that they are now recovering from the devastating Dec 26th, 2005 Tsunami which hit Phuket & surrounding areas & islands very hard.
Tsunami devastation on Phi Phi Don Island, Thailand There used to be a market, restaurants and bars where now there is only sand.
Despite the enormous toll in human life and property lost, the resilient Thai people are rebuilding and those areas untouched (the majority) by the Tsunami are open for business but suffering because tourism is down. Many Thai people working in the hotel & restaurants are having to take huge pay cuts to keep their jobs.