The Pink Flamingo’s Web site lured me here with a promise of “something out of the ordinary”. As I lay in bed, surrounded by plush pillows and cozy, soft sheets with birds chirping outside my villa, I know that it keeps its word.
The clock reads seven-something, then eight-something, then nine-something. The quirky manager told me the maid comes around 11. So I figure nine-ish is a good time to start my first full day in Port Douglas. Situated just north of Cairns, Port Douglas is a slow-pace, seaside city that has yet to become touristy like the Gold Coast. Many divers and snorkelers base themselves here for access to the Great Barrier Reef. Celebrities escape in its tropical hills. I’m here to relax in a hammock.
Like a bear coming out of hibernation, I stretch loudly and walk toward the kitchen. I pass the CD player. Bob Dylan? Latin Women? To my surprise Neil Young created the perfect ambiance yesterday afternoon as I refreshed in the Mediterranean-style shower. So I flip on his mellow tunes again.
Through the opened window, the melody floats into the patio where I eat raisin bread and yogurt. The room’s free coffee is stronger than I like, but I drink it and inhale the incense which is burning. The sun is barely beaming through the trees that line the mango-colored wall. The birds have silenced, allowing for the sounds of an unrushed life– peaceful quietness. Soon, my eyes are gazing at the hammock in the back. It was this cute, seclude patio in a tropical setting that led me here.
Once a low-budget motel, The Pink Flamingo is now a sophisticated adult retreat. Until 2004, it operated as a Gay resort, but now heterosexual and homosexual couples occupy the brightly decorated one-bedroom villas and garden studios. With only 12 rooms, it provides an intimate ambiance for lovers, and solitude for single travelers like myself. And in the early morning’s newness, I indulged in the tranquility.
After another long shower and preparation of a beach bag, I slip on my sunglasses and flip-flops, and stroll to Four Mile Beach. The pathway goes from manicured lawns to unkempt forest. It is spooky as the sunlight disappears into overgrown vegetation. I pause, but the ocean is calling, so I keep walking and say a prayer.
I see hairy legs readjust themselves on a 90-degree palm tree. Then I see blue– nothing but clear, refreshing blue. The beach is like a scene from a castaway movie with the smooth sand and seaweed laying beneath palm trees. The breeze is cool as the sun shines. It’s not a five-star beach with waiters angling umbrellas and serving drinks. Nor are there tons of chatty tanners and pestering venders like in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It’s just sand, water, sky and trees — the perfect beach day.
I place my towel partly in the shade. I’m far enough to give hairy-legs privacy but close enough to keep an eye on my ideal hammock. Three palm trees bind together to create a natural hammock that encourages no worrying, no stressing. Hairy-legs is reaping all of it. For now I stretch as though I’m the yoga instructor from my DVD. Just as I am getting into my yoga groove, I notice the hammock is empty. Hairy-legs is leaving. I calmly but quickly grabbed my belongings and go to the tree.
It’s amazing here, like an unwrapped secret from god. The sun is directly above but the towering leaves angle the light so its soothingly warms me. The tree itself is perfectly sized for a reclining body. My back rests between two trunks and my crossed-legs rest on the third. I open my book. “Botchan,” a humorous tale of a Tokyo teacher living in the countryside of Japan, is intriguing, but my eye lids keep sliding south. The breeze, the ocean serenade, the soft sunlight all conspire to be my sleeping pill.
I doze for a while; then, my stomach speaks. I hop down and sit on the beach. The remaining half of my chicken Kebab is just as delicious as when I bought it yesterday on the main street.
I return to my hammock and the sun’s glow. The wind is blowing strongly but it is pleasant. I feel as though I’m Cleopatra and am being fanned by a servant. This is nice, I think. This is how life should be, well at least on a “kimochi ii” day.
Two mornings later as I’m riding to the airport, I see a quote from Da Vinci: “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” I smile and nod. Port Douglas has given me a new kind of traveling– the sophisticated vacation.
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