THAILAND DIARIES – VOLUME 2 – DRIVING THAILAND
Driving Thailand is the second Volume of my Thailand Diaries and is now complete. But before I publish it as my second FREE e-book I have decided to post a selection of excerpts which I hope will encourage you to download and enjoy the whole book.
SOUTH WESTERN ISLANDS – KOH PHUKET (Part 1)
Thailand has many islands in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand such as Koh Pkuket, Koh Samui and Kho Phi Phi. I have stayed or lived, on and off since 2006, in Phuket but, as yet, have not visited any other islands. This section of the book gives a broad overview of a tropical island I love but which unfortunately is becoming overcrowded more and more each year.
Not for the faint-hearted
‘The roads are full of even more crazy drivers and I can’t believe how run down Rawai has become in only 12 months since I left.’ So I wrote in my diary [May 2013] and continued. ‘The pavement all down the road from Banana Corner to the junction in Saiyuan Road, Naiharn is now used for parking and as occasionally a garbage dump.
Rawai needs TLC
I read on – ‘Rawai promenade looks like a war zone as much of the promenade has finally succumbed to the constant barrage of waves crashing into the sea wall. Memories of the 2004 Tsunami come flooding [excuse the pun] back. Restaurant owners who serve customers on the sea front don’t have time to wait for the government to do any repairs so they have built their own temporary wooden decks, otherwise there would be nowhere for customers to sit’.
The good news as I write [June 2014] is that the Sala which collapsed, at the entrance to the Pier, has been rebuilt and an attempt at rebuilding the sea wall is in progress. But the area behind the Sala is still a mess and full of squatters too. The march of the building contractors is relentless as every available square centimetre of land is gobbled up for development. The speed of change year on year is quite remarkable which makes me very sad because I love this place.
Wildlife succumbs to human greed and threatening implosion
Over development of the Western coastline which surfing backpackers, only, inhabited 30 years ago, has all but destroyed the eco-system and the infrastructure has been so badly planned that it can surely not survive another thirty years. Landslides are commonplace in Patong where there have been a number of serious accidents on construction sites. It’s hardly surprising when you consider that so much of the hillside vegetation has been cut away thus undermining the stability of the land. Add to this the frequent heavy tropical rains and you have a recipe for disaster. Whilst efforts are being made and plans are being implemented to upgrade the roads I fear that poor planning in the past will make it a very difficult task.
A ray of hope
In the meantime life carries on and there is still time for fun and relaxation on this holiday island. And that is what it is even though some ‘Farangs’ [i] have decided to make it their home. The beaches of Kata, Kata Noi and Naiharn plus some smaller ones are beautiful if you can find room in high season. For me, early morning and late evening are the only times I will go to the beach to walk, swim and maybe just relax a while. The early morning is really beautiful while the late night revellers are still in bed or just about to get in. During the middle of the day between 10.30am and 4.30pm it is too hot and even if it wasn’t the beaches are too crowded for me in high season between December and February. May to November is my time, but if you are on a short visit you may be lucky and not get too much rain.
There is an escape for those who are not glued to the beach or magnetised by the western seaboard. To the east of the spine road which runs from the airport in the north to Rawai at the southern tip the island is largely undeveloped (but for how long?). Koh Pra Taew National Park is a pristine, large forested area in the north-east. From there the natural coastline continues south to the forested Cape Panwa. There are many secluded little bays and limited accommodation on this coastline. The many islands in the Andaman are accessible from several ferry terminals and long boat excursions are relatively inexpensive.
Returning the beaches to nature
Following the declaration of Martial Law the Military cracked down on a number of things including returning the beaches to nature.
[i] ‘Farang’ is the Thai word used to describe a Caucasian.
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