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Come the high season and suddenly the beaches are alive with noise.

2007: Open Season on Lounging Tourists

Friday, December 28, 2007
Year in Review
''NO THANK YOU.'' ''No thank you.'' ''No thank you.'' ''No thank you.'' ''No thaaaank you.'' ''No THANK you.'' ''NothankYOU.''

Yes, it's high season on Phuket, the beach is back, and so are the hawkers. That first paragraph represents less than five minutes of one side of the conversation with a steady stream of passing vendors.

First came the doughnut saleslady, then the bedspread salesman, followed by the man selling whisk brooms (just what you need at the beach) then the woman selling nuts who wouldn't take No for an answer, the man with an armload of Rolex copy watches and the woman doing a survey for a property firm.

The man selling miniature motorcycles, the woman offering tests for new spectacles and the guy who wants to sell you a set of pan pipes occupied the next 90 seconds.

Gritting your teeth and saying ''No thank you'' becomes an annoying feature on most of Phuket's west coast beaches at this time of the year, and a Phuketwan investigation has found plenty to get increasingly annoyed about.

Kata, Kata Noi, Laem Singh and other treasures are all becoming more crowded every day with two familiar kinds of???????beach visitors: tourists pinned helplessly to loungers, and a parade of people with something to sell. And what a pain it can become.

Quiet exceptions were the smaller beaches, Paradise Beach, which is difficult to reach -- and that perhaps must deter the hawkers -- and Naikrang Beach, also south of Patong, below the coral-and-timber Winsulf (sic) Restaurant. Oh, and distant Layan.

But it's probably just a matter of time before the hawkers invade these as well, once high season really swings. Perhaps some of the hawkers will want to escape the crowds, too?

Let's face it, seaside Phuket is not the place it was five years ago, largely because of???????the easy-going official approach to hawkers and jetskis.

Lots of today's tourists won't bother coming back. They will probably go somewhere truly relaxing, like Phang Nga.

Swedes and Germans have already led the way.???????Plenty of other visiting punters will probably also opt for Khao Lakor other quiet destinations once they learn that hawkers are banned on the beaches there, along with jet skis.

Yet the biggest and most alarming revalation of the Post's check of the beaches came at Laem Singh, where we found jetskis on the sand in quite large numbers.

There were a handful of shiny new machines on the beach and more in the water, being driven too close to swimmers by a couple of tourist revheads.

Back on the beach, at least one restaurant proprietor was not very happy to see so many jetskis on what has traditionally been a peaceful stretch of sand.

Now, there's no doubt that some people like to ride jetskis. The debate about them is not primarily about public safety, although that's clearly an issue at times, judging by the deaths and maimings in the past off Phuket beaches.

The main argument against them is that for every revhead, there are 99 other visitor who just want to enjoy the natural beauty of the beach without the annoying noise and the pervasive smell of these machines.

If most people wanted motors up their noses and ears while relaxing by the sea on Phuket, they would lie down on the pavement alongside Patong's beach road.

Mmmm . . . napalm in the morning.

The truth is, the few who choose to ride either don't understand the pollution problem or simply don't care that they destroy the natural ambience for everyone.

There is also no doubt that the continuous stream of salespeople detracts from the freedom of tourists to relax on Phuket's beaches. It's difficult to unwind when a constant shopping frenzy is passing right in front of you.

No matter how stern and off-puting you look, the sales people will persist.

It has to be said, though, that these optimistic souls are wonderfully polite. They just happen to be in the wrong place, and at the wrong time.

While the sales pressure is not as great as it once was on Bali, when the beach hawkers pestered visitors beyond tolerance a few years back, it's still disconcerting.

And it's a huge tourist turn-off. The sooner the authorities realise the negative side and do something, the better.

Strictly speaking, the hawkers are illegal and the jetskis are supposedly being phased out. They are only permitted at five beaches: Patong, Kamala, Karon, Kata and Bangtao.

Funny how there are some at Kata Noi all the time, and now in numbers at Laem Singh. What's going on?

Local authorities at Kamala say they are reluctant to act against hawkers because 80 percent of the 40 vendors who tend to be on the beach there are locals and they need an income. After November 1, new administrative staff will have to rule on the issue.

Karon officials plan to raise the problem again soon with the Governor and the Tourist Police in the hope a solution can be found. The goods being hawked could be seized, but nobody wants to go that far.

In Patong, officials told us that police regularly patrol the beach warning hawkers, who can be fined 500 baht for a first offence and have the goods taken away for a third.

The tailors of Patong, Kamala, Karon and Kata haven't yet opted for beach hawking, probably because they probably realise it's a waste of energy.

If it actually delivered a passable income, the island's tailors would be there, with bells on.


Sorry, that's just a saying. No, we don't want any bells???????. . . or pan pipes, whisk brooms, bedspreads, or doughnuts . . . or jetskis.



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Wednesday April 24, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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