It’s not often that I delve into the world of road building but it appears that, after years of rumours, the road around the back ( inland ) of Kai Bae is being built. Way back before tourism began the original route of the road in Kai Bae went around the rear of the village, hugging the hillside. The starting point was 50 metres before what is now Cliff Beach Resort and the end point was the base of the hill at the southern end of the village. The current road which is narrow and can get very congested was built by a resort.
The upshot of all this could be very positive for Kai Bae, especially if the current road can be converted into a pollution free walking street or at least a place where traffic free street markets could be held once in awhile without causing a major inconvenience. The new road won’t remove all the traffic though, as deliveries will have to be made, tourists will have to get to their hotels, staff will have to get to work, taxis & tour companies will have to pick people up. Which I guess means that the only people who will use the bypass are those with no interest in seeing what Kai Bae is like and who are in their own vehicles . . . . Hmmm.
Just to confuse things I walked from the centre of path of the road back towards the start at the northern end of Kai Bae where construction has begun. Nothing to see on 70% of the route at present. Anyway here’s some civil engineering excellence in action.
An update with more accurate info, from a good friend who has been coming to Koh Chang for over 20 years and was living in Kai Bae when the original road was being built:
The road in Kai Bar. It never did go around the back. Many years ago the plan was to do just that and in fact electric posts were put in over twenty years ago . However, when the beach land started to be developed they decided to scrap that and have the road going through where it is now as they were worried some tourists would bypass Kai Bae.
The plan was for the main road to be at the back and a small road where it is now with both roads connected by a grid system of sois and including car parking. Obviously no one would give up any land for parking. When Rung from Coral first became ‘Poo Yai’ ( village leader ) it was his intention to pedestrianise the present road from 6pm, which would have been great but this was too sensible an idea for him or anyone else in Kai Bae to take on board.
December update – Part of the road is now paved and it is easy to see where two new side roads linking the new road to the current road will be – one to the rear of The Stage and the other coming out opposite Kai Bae’s only gogo bar. ( Which could be handy for some visitors ). There’s also a huge area of land being cleared and filled in at the northern end of the start of the road. About the size of a shopping mall car park.
Despite the good intentions , it’s still hard to see who is going to use this road. The access roads are narrow – there’s not room for trucks and a car to pass each other. When vehicles hit the main road they have to do a 90 degree turn from one narrow road onto another. People checking into hotels aren’t going to fancy parking their car and then having to drag luggage to the hotel. Or being dropped off a couple of hundred metres or more from their hotel and being told to walk the rest of the way. Likewise people being picked up from hotels for trips or tours., that’s going to lead to all kinds of confusion if you have loads of tourists milling around a parking area waiting for transport for various boat trips etc and if people are missing then the driver will have to walk over to their hotel to try to find them. Pick up truck taxis won’t use the new road as no one on foot is going to walk a few hundred metres up to the new road to catch one. Traffic coming from the south isn’t going to use it unless the road through the village is closed, which still leaves the problem of narrow access roads.
It could work if there are free shuttles whizzing along the current road or to the massive, presumable car park at the northern end, that visitors can use. So it will be interesting to see how things progress.
One other thing I noticed is that at the start of any construction project in Thailand that is funded by the local government a large green sign is always put up which shows the details of the project, the cost, the completion date, who authorised the project etc. For some reason, there is no sign for this project anywhere.