Cinema: The Real Beach

On the islands off southern Thailand, the idea is to get lost

Tamara graduated from the University of Wisconsin last spring and headed east, first to Japan and then to Thailand. She had planned on a two-week stopover on the islands off Thailand's Surat Thani province. She's been here seven months.

Back home she was a sorority sister, a pre-med student. She dated a guy named Dave who still sends her e-mail about his first year at law school. To Tamara, 23, now stretched out on a beach on Ko Pha-Ngan island, those missives read like what they are: archival records of what has become, for her, a lost civilization. Torts. Civil procedure....

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