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ตุลาคม 2550
6 ตุลาคม 2550
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The Beach (es) in Phuket... A bit of a rant...

The hotel that my parents stayed in had it's own, private beach. There's photos of it - along with a bit of a rant that I'm about to repeat here.

The beach was gorgeous. Clear water and white sand, fringed with huge, spindly coconut palms. It was quiet and peaceful, the only noise coming from the sea, and a few farangs chattering idly whilst busy frying themselves to death, sorry - tanning themselves - in the sun.

The resort was built on a hillslide, and there's a big sign at the top of the hill in both Thai and English asking people to respect the fact that, the beach was a private place, for hotel guests only. Once you entered the hotel, there were a couple of trails leading down to the beach, or, for those too old or lazy to walk down, there was even a little electic tramway too.

The faciilites were excellent. Great sunloungers, and a small, mallet holding woman woman who instantly dragged an umbrella over and starting knocking it into place the moment you sat down on one. There was also a jacuzzi, a small swimming pool (though not sure why anyone would want to be right next to the sea and go swimming in a swimming pool) and an 'old' (not sure if it was really old or a replica) Portugese mansion, decked out in classic 1920's style.

It fitted a typical westerner's idea of a 'tropical paradise,' perfectly. Imagine, a 2 week package break in a luxury 4 or 5 star hotel, with it's own private beach. No locals playing Takraw at 6 in the morning, no pesky kids hawking fruit, drinks or sarongs. No stray dogs. But, I found it very sterile. There were no kids playing in the sea, only elderly brits sunbathing. The only conversations I could hear in the distance were about paperback books, gardening (yep - 2 people were sat on a beach in Thailand talking about how to make a rockery and build a pond in their garden back home), and stories of other luxury hotels (Brits usually like to compare their holiday experiences with those of their friends) in places such as Barbados and Antigua.

There was no one to buy a cheap can of coke from, no woman walking along screeching 'gy yang' (BBQ chicken - get it here!!!) or selling fresh conconut juice. No hammocks strewn between the coconut trees. No wooden seafood or Som Tam hut. No one to practise speaking Thai, and have the usual 20 question conversation - what's your name? where are you from ? How long have you lived in Thailand ? Do you like Thailand ? Can you eat Thai food ? Have you ever been to Pattaya / Phuket ? - with. No one mending fishing nets. No motorcycle taxi or longtail boat drivers hussling for business. There were none of the things I normally associate with beaches here.

Sure, if felt nice to be somewhere so 'exclusive' (I'm not used to staying in hi-so places) but I found it a bit dull. I sat in the mansion for a bit, reading my book and taking a few photos. It was great, nice and cool. But, after an hour or so, it got boring. Very boring. The beach had no life to it. I didn't really want to listen to conversations about patio doors in England or people talking about cruises and hotels in the Maldives, and Barbados.

I feel really sorry for the locals who live around Pangwa. The hotel has pretty much stolen their beach from them. And it wasn't just any old beach. It was a very nice one at that. OK, in some ways, they're quite lucky. Thanks to the hotel they'll never get stuck with having to listen to lots of 40 something English people witter on endlessly about their mundane lifes back home. BUT they've lost their beach!!! I guess the big property developers who buy land near a beach in Phuket, ensure that they get exclusive rights to the beach too.

There are 2 building sites within 10 minutes walk of the hotel. Both have beaches. Both are probably destined to become luxury resorts. Their beach is almost certainly going to become private. It's sad.

The sea doesn't belong to anyone. Beaches, the things that normally connect them to the sea shouldn't 'belong' to anyone too. They should be for everyone.

Last year, a couple of friends came over from England and we went to Krabi. One beach, near the resort where we stayed is very famous. It's the perfect beach. White sands framed against stunning cliffs and an island dotted sea. The beach itself sits in front of an exclusive resort. It was 47,000 baht a night (and this was at the start of the low season), we were told, when we jokingly went into the reception and asked the price of a room. I'm sure the resort would love to say that the beach its 'theirs' and that its private.

But its not. There's a little tunnel walkway connecting it to the mangrove swamps in East Railay. Anyone who doesn't mind a 5 minute walk, can go there. Longtail boats often stop there, They add to the general scenic-ness of the place. One of them (I wish I had a photo of it) even sold noodles and cans of pop. There were Thai kids playing on the beach, and swimming in the sea. People talked. The longtail boat drivers sat chatting, waiting for their customers to get ready to leave. It had a great atmosphere. I'm sure that the people staying at the resort appreciated it. There were things to see and do, other than listen to other brits talk about their lifes back home.

That beach was one of the hightlights of last years trip to Krabi. It's quite famous (my English friends knew about it because it's one of the images used to market Thailand back home), so any attempts, by the hotel, to seal it off, make it private and prevent other tourists or Thai people from using it would be met with uproar.

Not so in Phuket. No one seems to care that the beaches are disappearing, being snatched away by developers more interested in making their resorts as 'exclusive' as possible than giving the people that will stay in them a realistic idea of what Thailand's beaches are really about.

Create Date : 06 ตุลาคม 2550
Last Update : 7 ตุลาคม 2550 11:09:00 น. 0 comments
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