Click Pic for Ko Jum Gallery
In many respects this tiny, beautiful, idyllic Island ticked almost all the boxes for us and it was a near perfect place to be. There were simply no tourists on this Island, apart from maybe a handful, that we only once ran into. In our humble resort, consisting of about 30 huts, we were the only guests. The nature was great, the prices for anything on the Island cheap and so was the food in addition to being delicious.
The extremely friendly population was predominantly Muslim, which made a nice change from my beloved Buddhist crowd and yet we stayed on Ko Jum for only 2 days. The shortest we have stayed so far in any place in our 4 months old trip. We moved straight on to Ko Phi Phi, the exact opposite of Ko Jum. Ko Phi Phi is a magnet of mass tourism and mass decay. And here is why we would make such a foolish move.
As it is low season, no “official boat” would go to Ko Jum so Eva and I romantically hopped onto a longtail boat that brought supplies to the Island. The journey did take us about 45 minutes to the south from our beloved Krabi Town and apart from the skipper and the guy who helps to “park” the boat and helps to load and unload the supplies, there was no one else with us. Wall paint, vegetables and sugar were the only other passengers. We couldn’t have asked for a better start and it was a good indication of how deserted this Island would be apart from its local population.
On our second day, when we finally ran into some other tourists, Eva was like “Woah T, look… TOURISTS!!”, as if we had found some rotten species, long thought to be extinct. And I was excited too. Not that we interacted with them in any way. It was enough to briefly look at them, like we would look at some creatures in a zoo and move on.
In our resort, that often felt spooky with us being the only guests, we rented scooters and in about half a day we have explored the whole Island including its two small villages. Eva noted that no one seemed particularly rich or particularly poor, at least not visibly. Everyone seemed to be on the same level economically. Once she said it, it really struck me. It was absolutely true and it was so obvious, so everywhere, that I didn’t see it at first.
While this Island seemed perfect, it couldn’t give us what we wanted. We wanted just a bit of beach and chill out time and we couldn’t find the beach part there. So far on our trip, we have spent very little time on any beach, even at the yaw dropping one in Krabi. We were always more interested exploring the place where we’ve been, as opposed to just lying around. But we came to Ko Jum for exactly this reason, BeachTime. And while Ko Jum being an Island obviously has beaches, they often looked like this:
This is supposedly litter that comes over from Ko Phi Phi which is just some nautical miles opposite of Ko Jum. At least this is what Eva has read from some travel site. Not sure if this is true or not. It might as well be home made. But while the beaches weren’t for us, Ko Jum had another thing I loved and this was its Muslim population, or more specifically older, partially or fully covered Muslim women.
They did act very differently compared to the ones I’m used to in Germany or in the UK. It felt, the ones on Ko Jum interacted more with their surroundings, interacted more with us, smiled at us, waved at us, weren’t afraid to interact with strangers or foreigners, or me as a man for that matter.
They seemed strong and independent and full of energy on a laid-back Island. Full of energy when they drove their motorcycles, when they filled up our scooters at makeshift gas stations, when they prepared our food, or when we just drove past their humble houses. I guess the word I’m looking for is active. The Muslim women on this Island seemed more active and less detached from their surroundings than in our home countries.
It was a new experience for me that a partially or fully covered Muslim woman who I had never seen before smiled at me, waved at me, shouted “Hello” from the other side of the street, laughed with me, interacted with me naturally, especially with me being a man. Just seeing them driving around on scooters made such a big difference.
All their interactions came with not a single expectation attached to their behaviour, like they want to sell me anything or similar. Just friendly interaction from one human being to another. Brief, warm, comforting. It was nice to see and it couldn’t be friendlier than it was on Ko Jum.
And this is not to say that the Muslim women in our home country or in the UK aren’t friendly. The difference in behaviour surely has many reasons, with one being that we are currently on a small Island as opposed to being in a city with 1.6 million people where everyone remains relatively anonymous. Another is that these women are at home here. They might be Muslim, but they are also Thai.
But still, I find it a fair point to make that especially older Muslim women are not known for their interactions with strangers. Interactions that is triggered by them and especially interactions with men in a carefree kind of way.
To me, in the streets of Germany or the UK, they are visibly invisible.
One could of course argue that you hardly get any interactions from any kind of stranger, no matter the religion, but sometimes I do interact with strangers, or it is triggered by them. Sometimes I do randomly say Hello to someone or make a compliment without second thoughts and get a smile or some kind of warm feedback in return. I wouldn’t do this with a woman in a burqa or who is partially covered for religious reasons. It immediately has a hint of being inappropriate, but it’s a shame because a “Hello” doesn’t mean I want a baby, it just means “Hello”. As human beings this should’t be strange or weird, but in some instances it seems it is.
Go visit Ko Jum if you get a chance, it’s a great place to be and Eva and I thought that when it’s peak season, they surely make an effort and clean up their beaches but if not, just going there for the people is still a very wise thing to do. They are amongst the finest we have met on our trip so far.