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Koh Tao, Why Don’t You Love Me?

“Now, now, now, honey
You better sit down and look around
‘Cause you must’ve bumped yo’ head
And I love you enough to talk some sense back into you, baby
I’d hate to see you come home–me, the kids, and the dog is gone.
Check my credentials
I give you everything you want, everything you need
Even your friends say I’m a good woman.
All I need to know is why
Why don’t you love me?”

– Beyonce

I hiked to a viewpoint today and looked out over your northern hills covered in green. Trees so dense and textured I could reach my hand out and run my fingers through the scrub. I could hear birds chirping, cicadas buzzing, and the soft rumble of boat motors in the distance. The sea was quiet.

It’s like she knew.

Koh Tao:

Why don’t you love me?

My heart used to ache at the nostalgia. Old sights would trigger memories from when we first met six years ago and I would be transported back…The thrill of riding around on the back of a motorbike through your daunting hills to find paradisiacal beaches and viewpoints; dancing at night barefoot in the sand; running along the beach at sunset…

It was magic. It was like we fit together perfectly. Effortlessly.

Portrait in front of rocks on the beach in Koh Tao

The vibrancy of my memories has faded now though.

I can look up at the night sky silhouetted by palm trees on my walk home after dinner and just feel grateful to have known you.

I can snorkel alone, floating wild and free amongst the rich and vast underwater world you clutch at your edges and admit that I loved you and you didn’t love me back.

Koh Tao, why don’t you love me?

Was I not fun enough? Not sexy enough? Or is it a ‘you’ thing; you’re afraid of commitment, you don’t want to be vulnerable?

Portrait on the beach in a red shirt

You know, the longer I stay here with you, the more I realize most of my relationships – with you and with others – don’t mean anything. And it’s not because we don’t have time to form deeper relationships; it’s because no one wants to become attached so people avoid opening themselves up and being vulnerable.

I mean I get it, you’re an island: it’s supposed to be all fun, heat, and sex all the time. When things get too emotional or intimate you’re OUT.

So maybe I’m too emotional, too intense then, maybe that’s why you don’t love me. Because I need commitment, loyalty, intimacy. Because you were special to me, and I wasn’t special to you.

Standing in tree on the beach in Koh Tao

To you, I’m just like every other traveler. They all come here and fall in love with you and stay for much longer than intended. You let them. You stay quiet and figure they’ll give up and leave, eventually. You shirk all commitment making it impossible for anyone to build much of anything here with you.

I wish I hadn’t dreamt about you for so many years wondering what you meant to me when you don’t love me and never will.

Sairee beach on Koh Tao, Thailand at sunset in 2012

In a few years, you’ll be unrecognizable to me. They’ve already torn down Jizo’s Hostel and Banyan Bar. They canceled the Pub Crawl and made the reservoir viewpoint into a restaurant.

It hurts me to watch your jungles being converted into bungalows, bars, and dive schools. I know business is business but where will you put your mystery and your dreams once they’ve tamed the wilderness out of you?

I’ve waited patiently for so long…waited to feel differently somehow or for more clarity. I can’t wait anymore. I have to go. I need more from my friendships, my relationships, my community. If that makes me too intense or emotional then I’ll be intense and emotional somewhere else.

Someday you’ll feel stupid for letting me leave.

Sitting on rocks on Sairee beach in Koh Tao


Goodbye Koh Tao. I’ll think of you. And you better think of me.

Portraits by Jeremy Blooms

Other breakups:

Bangkok, I’m Breaking up with You

Athens, You’re Breaking My Heart


  1. Arwen says:

    Sad to see you ending this leg of your journey on this note. Would love to hear more, you’re a great writer, Michelle.

    • mishvo says:

      Thank you, Arwen! Agh it is super sad. I know I’ll see Koh Tao again but of course it will be a different moment of life by then.

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