This article originally appeared on VICE Denmark.
Ever since I saw and fell in love with Danny Boyle's classic film The Beach as a young girl, I've wanted to visit the idyllic sands Leonardo Di Caprio adventured on. So you can imagine my excitement when I finally found my 30-year-old self just a few minutes away from arriving on the island. Before my visit, I hadn't done any research, because I didn't think I had to. I loved the film. I loved beaches. What else could there possibly be to know?
The film was shot in Maya Bay on the island of Ko Phi Phi, Thailand, more 5,000 miles from my native Denmark. The journey was long, but I was convinced it would be worth it. When I arrived at the quay that would take us to the spot, I was told I'd be enjoying this tranquil, solo excursion as part of a group of 23. We were all issued a red wristband and instructed to wear it throughout the trip.
Soon, we were introduced to our guide, Somporn—a short, strict man who walked fast and yelled if any of us failed to keep up. Strapped into bright orange life jackets, we clamored into a speedboat that took us from the mainland quay to the famous beach. As we approached, I spotted the iconic rocks that framed the bay and felt my heart skip a beat. But I was soon distracted by the approaching sight of what appeared to be a never-ending swarm of people roaming the beach.
When we finally managed to park the speedboat in-between about 10,000 more boats, Somporn yelled out, "40 minutes, you come back to boat." He then blew a whistle and screamed, "Go!" We stormed the beach while trying not to get trampled as we each prepared our individual selfie sticks to capture this special and peaceful moment.
I ended up in the middle of an awkward cluster of people and had to employ the slickest, most creative poses I could think of in order to get a picture of myself without a hundred other people in it. I was not successful.
Forty minutes later, Somporn blew his whistle again. I quickly collected my things and zigzagged through an ocean of sunblock covered bodies all heading in different directions. I managed to lose my flip-flops in the chaos, but couldn't stop to find them as Somporn had made it clear he wouldn't hesitate to leave me behind. A few minutes later, I was once again on open water flying toward mainland Thailand—my girlhood dreams a distant memory.
Scroll down for more photos from my trip to the beach from The Beach.