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Friends enjoy the fun as Phuket City celebrates Children's Day

Phuket's Dreams and a Nightmare Too Close on Children's Day

Sunday, January 12, 2014
PHUKET: Each year on Children's Day we visit Phuket's Garbage Mountain to see what kind of a world lies ahead for the kids, and this year we were appalled. Sad to say, the mountain is winning. The future is toxic.

The mountain is growing higher and it stinks and sticks to your shoes. There are wild packs of dogs, flies galore and a stench that this year was incredibly bad.

A visit to the garbage zone at Saphan Hin in Phuket City becomes truly alarming when you move 300 metres upwind and find hundreds of Phuket kids enjoying Children's Day with their families in the public parkland.

The Garbage Mountain is creeping towards them, quite literally, and most people may not see it coming until its too late. Over the years, we've watched the amazing changes to the landscape as Phuket's authorities try to contain the muck.

There was the year we discovered the sisters whose father sorted garbage with their help, and they were proceeding through university with an intimate knowledge of waste management.

There was the year one of us stepped onto what appeared to be the dry edge of a lagoon and sank into a waste swamp.

There was the year the wild dogs almost won and we had great difficulty driving them back to photograph parts of the dump that were new to us.

The vastness of the place is what continues to shock us, year in, year out, and what would impress newcomers looking to trace what happens to everything that goes into their garbage.

We cannot begin to explain how shocking it is to see a backhoe distributing muck over and area that was previously untouched bush, a backhoe already at perhaps third-storey level.

And with the constant flow of trucks backing up and dumping their loads from sunrise to sunset, it's plain the battle is being lost.

One of Phuket's two incinerators is still not operating, we were told, so the island is steadily sinking under its own waste.

Three hundred metres away, the children of Phuket were performing on stages in the most exquisite costumes and enjoying themselves, touching the hearts of hundreds of parents.

There were children dressed as adults and adults dressed as children, smiles galore and the occasional tantrum. It was a delightful vision of Phuket and its future. If only we hadn't been to the Garbage Mountain first.

Comments

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It's not just the garbage mountain that is disturbing. It's garbage everywhere on Phuket. Along the roads, the side streets, around local housing, in parks, beaches, everywhere. Who wants to go and vacation in garbage?

Posted by James on January 13, 2014 12:29

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I practically have to horsewhip my workers to get them to recycle. A new guy walked past my two rows of assorted refuse containers to throw his lunch leavings into the neighboring jungle. Thailand simply is not teaching its populace how important this is. It really should be a priority.

Posted by The Night Mare on January 13, 2014 17:41

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Would it be possible to take some students from a local school to go and look at the landfill site? I would like to open their eyes a little bit to the extent of the problem.

James: Yes indeed. I like to do some mountain biking along the bypass road and there are random heaps of trash dotted around everywhere, despite the signs stating no tipping allowed. I have a beautiful yet horrible photo of a trash pile there with Big Buddha in the background over looking it all.

Posted by Local Teacher on January 13, 2014 19:08

Editor Comment:

You'd have to watch out for backing trucks but the more people who see the scale of the problem, the better.

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Journalism at its finest... good work. Now if only we could cleanly transform that waste into energy...

Posted by Jake on January 13, 2014 21:28


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