Back to Basics, Koh Phayam Island, Thailand
Thailand’s stunning palm fringed islands are something of a rarity these days. Commercialism has spoilt many of the ‘go to islands’ with their large beach front resorts that oh so often replace the shady trees and their wild life or cause sandy beaches to wash away. Small family run businesses are squeezed out, prices rocket, girlie bar, seven elevens, jet skis and pollution proliferates. Full, half, quarter, harvest moon parties thump out music to dawn not giving much respite to those wanting to sleep. So where can a traveller find a place to chill from today’s excesses? Koh Phayam. A small island that has no cars, runs on solar power and generators, contains unspoilt beaches with family owned restaurants and accommodation that blends into the surrounding lush forest behind the shore line. It takes a while to reach this island which is why it has remained relatively unknown to many but the effort is worth it.
We book into the Hornbill – a favourite of ours – owned by T and her husband. Half way down the 3 mile beach it sits behind the treeline and blends in – just like all the other hostels on the beach. It is supposed to be rainy season but Thailand is having a drought. The sky is blue, the sun is hot and the beach is practically deserted.
From the hammock on the balcony of my wooden traditional hut I count at least 30 different types of bird including hornbills. I share my bathroom with huge gekos, skinks, tree frogs and a large spider – all of which keep the mossies and gnats at bay. Since my last visit several new small places have opened up offering good coffee and amazing food.
However the island is threatened. A Korean electricity company KPU wants to make the island the first SMART off the grid island in the thailand or maybe the world. Seems like a good idea until you realise that they want to put the turbines at the end of the beaches as well as inland, widen the concrete road that now only accommodates bikes to 12 ft wide, build a gold course and korean holiday resort and bring in a seven eleven. Most of the locals are opposed but it seems to be a given thing and that they have very little say. I attended the second meeting between the company and the locals. Representatives for the scheme refused to give specifics about amount of land required, how many people would loose their business due to the road widening how much forest would be destroyed, what impact it would have on the environment and wildlife, how much it would cost the locals for the electricity and so on.
Meeting between locals and kpu electric company – locals air their concerns.
Only last year Ian Lloyd Neubauer’s wrote an article on the island extolling its virtues. https://www.facebook.com/Kophayam/posts/10153228635071798last or http://cnnphilippines.com/lifestyle/2015/04/15/Koh-Phayam.html
According the the islands committee attempts to contact ministers and newspapers to highlight their plights have been stonewalled and no they have had no response. Social Media is their next step – hopefully someone out there take notice and write a story on the first SMART of the grid island scheme that is not so green as it seems.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dxsqh-jy8dshttps://www.change.org/p/%E0%B8%AA%E0%B8%B4%E0%B9%88%E0%B8%87%E0%B9%81%E0%B8%A7%E0%B8%94%E0%B8%A5%E0%B9%89%E0%B8%AD%E0%B8%A1-%E0%B9%80%E0%B8%97%E0%B8%84%E0%B9%82%E0%B8%99%E0%B9%82%E0%B8%A5%E0%B8%A2%E0%B8%B5-stop-ruining-koh-phayam-with-the-green-energy-from-korea-company?recruiter=161866634