For 2009

May 30

30 MayWe’ll be Dammed
Surveyors were out with their on the dirt track leading down to our place last week. They were placing markers every few metres along the side of the road. It appeared as though they were measuring up in preparation for finally laying a paved surface. But they weren’t. They were marking the path that the new water pipes will take. As part of Koh Chang’s new central water supply. Good news, an end to reliance on wells and ground water.

So when was work going to begin on putting the pipes in? The answer was not for a long time because before the pipes are put in, the dam has to be built.

Dam? As in very large concrete retaining wall type of structure? So does this mean that there are plans in motion to build a dam in the National Park and flood a valley in order to provide water for the island’s resorts & residents? Apparently so according to those doing the surveying.

The Miracle of Koh Chang
The tourism department has been busy trying to lure various minority and niche groups of tourists to Thailand in an attempt to shore up slumping visitor numbers.

One such group is the ‘Gullible Christian’ demographic. Having seen the numbers who head to sites such as Fatima in Portugal and the income that can be generated from selling specialty souvenir junk to pilgrims, Koh Chang’s Tourism Dept have leapt into action. All that was needed was a miracle or something similar to fire the imagination and wanderlust of the followers of Jesus Christ who were looking to combine a beach holiday with a pilgrimage.

Image of Jesus Appeared on the Coconut Palm

Image of Jesus Appeared on the Coconut Palm

A quick Google discovered that inanimate objects with unexplained depictions of the face of Christ were always money spinners as the image can easily be printed on souvenir t-shirts, disposable lighters and cocktail shakers for example.

This week, the early rainy season storms lashed the west coast of the island, eroding sand and revealing what until now had remained hidden from view for centuries. Khun Somchai, the boss of Koh Chang Tourism and recent convert to Christianity, takes up the story. “I knew it was him as I had seem his photo when I was reading the bible the day before. At first I thought it was Bob Marley, but then I heard the voice of an angel telling me how amazing this image would be on, say, a shroud, and then it struck me. It was indeed the face of Jesus. Imagine my surprise, as only a few days earlier the Tourism Committee expressed a wish for a miracle to occur on Koh Chang and it came true. Praise the Lord. The Christian god is much better than Buddha who has never given me any winning lottery numbers despite repeated requests.”

Rules & Regulations
Print out this PDF from the Department of National Parks. It covers the guidelines and regulations for scuba diving and boat trips operating in Marine National Parks in Thailand. It focuses on the Andaman side of Thailand but does state several times that the regulations apply to all Marine National Parks in Thailand . . . of which Koh Chang is one.

Next time you are out on a boat see how many of the regulations your dive operator or tour company is breaking.

Safety on the Beach
With the sea being a bit rough for the past few days I thought I should, as a public service, outline the procedure regarding what to do, aside from panic and hyperventilate, if you happen to be caught in a rip tide.

But then I remembered that the local authorities have kindly placed signs at strategic locations on Koh Chang’s beaches in order to provide this information for tourists. Here is one sign:

Warning - Riptides Can Knock Down Signs

Warning - Riptides Can Knock Down Signs

. . . and the reverse has the same ‘Warnung’ information but in Thai language.

Ich verstehe nicht

Ich verstehe nicht

So if you don’t read German or Thai, what should you do? Other than asking the guy who just nicked your sunbed or the woman doing the massage nearby, to translate for you?

Simple. Just stroll 200 metres along the beach to the next sign, taking time to shout out to anyone trapped in the current that you are trying to find out what they should do and for them to stay calm and just tread water for a couple more minutes until you can advise the best course of action.

This sign is in Thai but also in English. However, that side of the sign is the one that is lying face down in the dirt. Unfortunately, someone forgot that in the rainy season, when rip-tides are prevalent, the waves are more than strong enough to uproot warning signs placed in the sand under the high tide mark.

What to do as the unfortunate victim drifts out to sea, arms flailing? Shrug and make a mental note to learn German next time you holiday in Thailand is my advice.

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