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Flying feet, more of a danger than sharks or jellyfish at Patong beach

Patong Now Ruled by Jet-Ski Operators

Thursday, October 15, 2015
PHUKET: The holiday island's most famous beach, Patong, was once a great adventure for tourists. These days, it's a ''miss'' adventure.

We hereby christen it Near Miss Beach.

On the sand, you have to avoid the parasailers. Each of the parasailers takes out a substantial stretch of beach for takeoffs, and a bit more for landings.

A Phuketwan reporter strolling down the beach the other day was grabbed by the arm and physically dragged out of the way of a paraglider coming in to land.

''Look out! Look out!'' the man holding the arm yelled. ''I am working! I am working!''

We thought working was banned on Phuket's beaches. Silly us.

Planning a stroll along Patong beach on your holiday? You have to look over your shoulder frequently to avoid being hit by flying feet.

Being kicked in the head seems to have become a new Patong danger, outside nightclubs - or on the beach.

More than once, we counted as many as five paragliders in the air at the same time in one central part of Patong beach on a recent stroll.

Yes, that's five speedboats, each with a line attached to a large parachute, and with two people - a beach guide and a paying customer - on board, circling in the same small stretch of water.

We took a look and could only say: ''Wow.''

Here's hoping the day never comes when Near Miss Beach becomes an instant hit.

In the water at Patong, once considered the holiday island's premium swimming beach, the jet-skis have complete control.

''Only a fool would go swimming at Patong these days,'' a veteran expat resident and beach observer told us.

''The jet-ski operators are in total control. Nobody seems prepared to take them on.

''The Army hasn't been called in yet to end the siege at Patong beach.''

While other private commerce on Patong was removed from the public beach soon after the military took control of Thailand in May last year, jet-ski operators staged their own bloodless coup soon after.

The stretch of sand that was once covered by sunbeds and umbrellas is now bare of any equipment except for ascending and descending paragliders and parked jet-skis.

Anyone bold enough to venture into the water for a swim would be likely to have to deal with jet-skis zipping along the beach parallel to the sand, just a few metres offshore.

There are no longer any rules for jet-ski operators and parasail speedboats at Patong beach.

Rules, it seems, only apply to everyone else.

For a time before the monsoon season, rows of buoys determined where swimmers could swim and jet-skis could jet.

The buoys gave Patong beach a zebra effect, with jet-ski zones interspersed with swimming zones.

This was exactly what the jet-ski operators wanted - prime positions on the beach, among the swimmers, making it easy for touts who walk the beach and nearby streets to sell rides.

Come the monsoon season, the rows of buoys disappeared.

When that happened, the dreams of the jet-ski and speedboat operators became reality: they had one whole internationally famous public Phuket beach devoted to their private businesses.

With the beach umbrellas removed and their use strictly limited in future, and with the buoys dismantled, the parasaliers and the jet-ski operators control the sands and the seas at Patong.

High season begins on November 1.

Are there still rules on Patong beach? Who will ensure the safety of swimmers and strollers?

Jet-skis and parasailers were ordered to be phased out on Phuket years ago, to be banned entirely as they are in neighboring Krabi and Phang Nga provinces.

It never happened. Polls still show that the vast majority of people want these machines off Phuket's beaches.

But there is one bit of good news: as long as Patong has jet-skis and speedboats towing parasailers, swimmers have little to fear from sharks or box jellyfish.

As long as they can duck on the beach or dive in the water, the tourists are all safe. Welcome to Near Miss Beach.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Now who is a doomsayer as you often call your commenters.

Posted by Not Sue on October 15, 2015 09:22

Editor Comment:

Here's another reader who has become obsessed with the editor. How pathetic.The issue is the jet-skis and speedboats at Patong beach, Not Sue. Add some value . . . or maybe that's beyond you.

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I'm disgusted. As an expat here for 10 years i will never set foot or allow my 8 yr old daughter to set foot on near miss beach again. Fatalities are waiting to happen. They will come for sure and be labelled as a terrible accident. But they will be anything but an accident, they will be gross negligence born through greed and corruption.

Posted by Josh Hector on October 15, 2015 09:33

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You sound very much like a doomsayer Alan, one of your favorite terms to shut peoples comments down, Patong deserves what it gets, lawless rabble!

Posted by Coxo on October 15, 2015 09:37

Editor Comment:

I sound like someone who is advocating change for the better, coxo. You sound like someone who is part of the problem.

Almost 200 comments, and not a single piece of value to add . . .

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You can avoid the parasailers by walking on the footpath and get hit by a motor bike.

Posted by Dobby on October 15, 2015 09:51

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I couldnt agree more, its a disgusting mess, and as Dobby says, the footpath is just as dangerous. Even saw the white police owned Honda PCX riding the wrong way up the footpath last week. Usually seen riding the wrong way down Bangla Road about 4.30pm each day.

I no longer go to Patong Beach, I would far rather drive to Kamala or preferably BangTao. So much nicer. Will anything get done about it? Highly unlikely! If there was the will to change things I think it would have been done by now.

I hope I am wrong and the mess is resolved.

Posted by Discover Thainess on October 15, 2015 10:06

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U NOT sound like a doomsayer this time. u addressing a major problem, but i see u get no solution for it or am i wrong? anyway i cant stop thinking about all the people thinking that Patong doesent need Bangla and the redlight district.. well i guess thats all that being supported frog the authorities isnt it? so i guess thats what we gets, lucky me...... its a shame that no one actually cares more about the complete Islands future....

Posted by frog on October 15, 2015 10:06

Editor Comment:

The solution is hidden between the paragraphs, frog. You can work it out.

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Stop-stop. Was it not the director of Phuket marine 5 office who said public that he was in control and did set the rules for jet skies and parasailing business? Who now is responsible for the total mess on Patong beach cq Near Miss beach?
About the free feeling toots on the beach, where is the Patong Police?
There is now a police beach brigade, yes? In sorts and with bikes, where are they hiding?

Bangla Road is in the tourist safety zone, right?
So why not the Near Miss Beach?

Posted by Kurt on October 15, 2015 10:12

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well here we go again with another article of what all of us already know...and now what?...is it supposed to change for the better?...not in any of our lifetimes!...Calling me a doomsayer?..then tell me when the change is coming. I've been waiting for over 10 years and the only changes I see is that it has gotten worse...

Posted by zig on October 15, 2015 11:16

Editor Comment:

This transformation of Patong has only taken place since the monsoon season began, zig, and after the clearance of the umbrellas, so ''what all of us already know'' only applies to you and the other loony know-alls.
A lot has changed in 10 years but I don't have time to waste on doomsayers.

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"Phuket's Most Famous Beach Now Ruled by Jet-Ski Operators and Parasailers"

Shouldn't the headline be in past tense? It's been like that for a long time?

And as a doomsayer i am it'll never change. You know, i know it, everybody knows it!!!!!!

Posted by Nicke on October 15, 2015 11:40

Editor Comment:

Only with the arrival of the monsoon this year have the parasailers and jet-ski operators taken the entire beach. Before that, the beach was shared with vendors, umbrella people and swimmers.
If you are a doomsayer, then I feel sorry for you. Life must be really depressing, without hope.

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Now the problem is written clearly, can just hope someone, with power to change things, read it and do something about it.

Perhaps a few rows of chairs could block the landing strip.

Posted by Sherlock on October 15, 2015 12:22

Editor Comment:

An Army division would do it better.

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If people keep going to Patong and using jetskis why would anything change whilst the money is flowing? Only when those luxury resorts owned by politicians start to lose customers will anything change. You actually think anybody cares about the environment? It's about money- it's always about money and nothing else.

Posted by Arun Muruga on October 15, 2015 12:25

Editor Comment:

The beaches were cleared last year because it's illegal to have private profit-takers operating in public space. Nothing to do with money, all to do with upholding the laws of Thailand.

PW articles are usually read by the military.

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B/S Editor they cleared the beach because people tried to put the nose in there trough.

Posted by william on October 15, 2015 12:32

Editor Comment:

English is clearly not your first language, william.

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Do the Phuket authorities realize that it is just a matter of time and than foreign tv/broadcast station are coming and make a 'nice' tv program about Patong , about beach and nightlife, the absence of law enforcement.

I already predict that the Phuket thai authorities ( now just sitting on their hands) after such tv programs are shown in Europe, China and Australia will cry: "This is not fair".

Posted by Kurt on October 15, 2015 12:32

Editor Comment:

It's still true that people can expect to have a wonderful holiday on Phuket but there is the threat of needless violence, and of unnecessary risks for beachlovers.
We've told them that the risks are there for tourists, just as we warned well in advance of May's discovery of the death camps and hell ships that boatpeople were being raped, beaten and allowed to die. Will we be ignored a second time? I doubt it.

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"The beaches were cleared last year because it's illegal to have private profit-takers operating in public space. Nothing to do with money, all to do with upholding the laws of Thailand."

Ahem!..am I wrong but aren't jetskiis and para sailers private businesses?...as far as I can see nothing has been cleared.

Posted by sky on October 15, 2015 13:05

Editor Comment:

Look again. Plenty has been cleared, but not the jet-skis and speedboats.

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I witnessed a near miss on Kata beach recently as a paraglider came in his feet missing the head of a man by less than 10 inches
If the man was killed or injured I suspect very little would happen to the parasailer operators.

Posted by Paul on October 15, 2015 13:23

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Is it possible that the jet skis are inadvertently doing us all a favour by munching the lightly treated sewage that flows freely into Patong Bay on a daily basis?
Our family never swims there in the septic saltwater.
Would love for someone braver than me to publicise the water quality of this world famous beach.

Posted by Mike on October 15, 2015 14:02

Editor Comment:

There were going to be regular reports on water quality close to the beach, honorary consuls were once promised. That never happened. If we aren't being told, only one assumption can be made.

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Things have progressively worsened since the umbrellas & loungers were banned, the jetskis & parasailers have won the war. I have just returned home after 2 weeks in Phuket and as a so called "lotus-eater" visiting Phuket for the past 30 years I am NEVER coming back. Koh Samuii is looking a much better option.

Posted by farang tourist on October 15, 2015 14:48

Editor Comment:

Some things are better now than ever before. Samui has a few issues. Box jellyfish are one.

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When right after the coup I wrote on here nothing s'gonna change for good, I was grilled here in the comments. But what about fighting corruption now? Also you Ed were excited about how they cleared the beach. The promised elections are farer away than ever. It's all so sad....

Posted by Domi on October 15, 2015 15:18

Editor Comment:

The beaches themselves are much improved, so are the foreshores. There has been wholesale change for the better. But Patong suffers worse than ever from jet-skis and parasailers. Change, but not for the better.

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"Farang tourist" and his companions keeps the west coast of Phuket alive.

Without them all people living here will loose their job, so please listen to him.

Posted by Sherlock on October 15, 2015 15:23

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I do believe the new Governor will make inroads into this problem, however, he cannot do everything all at once, nor on his own.

Posted by Duncan on October 15, 2015 17:50

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My partner & I went to Bang Tao yesterday/ last night to celebrate her birthday as it is one of our favourite places in Phuket. Did our usual walk down the access road at the side of the Best Western towards the beach & the first thing we saw were 6 jet skis parked in the water waiting for customers.

The beach was very quiet but I would say they were in one of the busiest swimming areas, right in front of the BW. The guys seemed pretty friendly and were polite when I said I wasn't interested but I thought ' what a shame....even Bang Tao has them in numbers.'

Posted by Michael on October 15, 2015 18:09

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ED why are you not one time honest and admit I was soo wrong! To clear the beaches was a BIG mistake. And what happend in between(White room/ Police-Station) I think the People of Phuket whant to ruin this beautyfull place compliet! What a shame!

Posted by chavis on October 15, 2015 19:23

Editor Comment:

We've always supported clearing the beaches, and we have no financial interest, so no reason to not be honest. Getting rid of the sunbeds was a great move. It means tourism on Phuket has a long future, rather than a short one. Leaving the jet-skis and the parasailers was a bad idea, though.

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Thank God you are leaving the island. Be so kind to take the stupid beachrules with you.

Posted by popov on October 15, 2015 20:05

Editor Comment:

I haven't said I was leaving the island either, popov.

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(moderated)

Posted by Mr Ed on October 15, 2015 21:17

Editor Comment:

No interest in responding to trolls, Mr Ed. Your ego is being shut down. No loss there.

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(moderated)

Posted by Loder on October 15, 2015 22:06

Editor Comment:

Total rubbish, Loder. You qualify for the vivid imagination award, but not much else. What a mean, spiritless person you appear to be.

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popov

Hu Lee Wing Zer Ai Lae Ngd?

Posted by Sue on October 15, 2015 22:45

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Sue,
where can I buy a Sooglish dictionary?

Posted by MoW on October 16, 2015 06:36

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Well, we have rid ourselves of the umbrellas and those ghastly loungers and all the cheap tourists. Why can't the jet skis and parasailers have use of the beach. They are after all mainly in the water and offshore. The beaches still look really nice without all the other garbage. Reminds me of Australian beaches, some of the greatest in the world.

Posted by Chill on October 16, 2015 07:02

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(moderated)

Posted by Loder on October 16, 2015 09:14

Editor Comment:

I'm not into character assassinations, Loder. And in any case, you don't have one.

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Simply uninviting. You won't catch me or my family there. I wonder if they use these photos in their Phuket Travel Brochures. Gross.

Posted by Paradise on October 16, 2015 09:48

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Phuket is a tourist destination, unless tourists spend their money..?
If a tourist wants pristine beaches and tranquility suspect they would not gravitate to Phuket more than once.
There is obviously a tourist demographic that likes riding jet skis, para sails, enjoying the seedier side and watching and being photographed with captive animals???ergo paying for entertainment.
It makes tourist economic sense, therefore, to cater to those needs... Distasteful as it seems to so many.
Must be hundreds of pristine beaches to relax on; however swimming and sunbathing does not bring in tourist dollars.

Posted by david on October 16, 2015 11:40

Editor Comment:

Beach destinations that concentrate on amusements inevitably have a short lifespan and quickly die, david. The only reason why the jet-skis and the parasailers are popular is because the touts go out and lure in customers. The polls consistently show that the vast majority of residents and visitors don't want them. There is no economic sense in allowing entrepreneurs operating illegally to dominate a Phuket landmark that has the potential to be one of the finest public beaches in the world.

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@popov
I really hope you going home soon (Russia maybe), And what you don`t wright your real name ?. it`s some we ned here in Phuket that`s is the ED in Phuket Wan. Every can se he mace a good New every day good luck ED :)

Posted by Bjorn Ronningen on October 16, 2015 12:05

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@ david - "swimming and sunbathing does not bring in tourist dollars"

Is that a fact? Surveys shows that less than 5% appreciate jet-skis on the beach.

What is the earnings of 5000 beach set for 200 bath a piece on one day?

Do swimmers and sunbathers eat,drink and sleep after leaving the beach?

Who benefits from that?

Posted by Sherlock on October 16, 2015 13:11

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Move the jet skis and parasails to the south end of Patong beach where the long tails anchor. Out of the way but still available if anyone wants them.
Personally I'd rather get rid of the noisy polluting things but that's not likely to happen in the near future. I'd love to follow the money and find out who really profits from this business because I suspect it's not just the guys on the beach.

Posted by pete59 on October 17, 2015 08:28

Editor Comment:

The trouble is, pete59, there's a successful economic equation to sustaining 170 jet-skis and a handful of speedboat parasailers. Success has been achieved by going where the people are. Putting the jet-skis ''out of the way'' at Patong or on some other beach doesn't work. People don't go to Patong to ride jet-skis. They are sold on the idea once they get there.

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Oh, you only had to stop publishing. What a luck you had with such a wise judge.

Posted by popov on October 17, 2015 21:17

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Have a very nice day 2 you all, and if you don`t like Phuket or Thailand so go home whay you live here ?. And a very good luck 2 Mr and Miss Editor.

Posted by Bjorn Ronningen on October 19, 2015 06:53

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@ Bjorn Ronningen

If everyone always just "went home" instead of trying to change things for the better, we would all still be living in caves.

Perhaps you still do.

Posted by Herbert on October 19, 2015 09:01

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Yeah Pete59 I agree who benefits??

Time to look at bank accounts, assets etc...

Posted by Sharp on October 19, 2015 09:26

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One idea is to move out the para and jet-skies to plattforms a couple of kilometers out from the beach. But of course the greed make nobody pay for it. Not the government on Phuket anyway. We all know what pocket the money stays in.

Posted by A Joe on October 21, 2015 10:41

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@Herbert Yes a hope everyone went home or to Mexico or Sri Lanka some the rest off people from Scandinavian this year, and have a nice day Herbert and i hope you get a nice life whit the Chines and Russian this year and next year.

Posted by Bjorn Ronningen on October 21, 2015 16:35

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Jet-skis and parasailing have been a part of Patong Beach as far as I can remember - I have been coming here since 1996.They are a part of the character of Patong Beach and provide livelihood to a large number of people. You cannot have a status quo situation, if you want progress. Also, the the beach belongs to the local people and is a multiplier to the Thai economy. It cannot be reserved for a few retired expats. The sensible thing to do would be to regulate these activities, by zoning them and enforcing a time schedule.

Posted by Madhusudan on October 22, 2015 16:29

Editor Comment:

If the jet-skis are such an a good idea, why haven't Krabi and Phang Nga rushed to have them? I'll tell you why: the only people who want them are their owners. They drive tourists away. The beaches do not belong to the local people. The beaches are national treasures, ''owned'' by all Thais, places where private profit-making is outlawed.

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worse than I thought looking at one pic looks like a parachute regiment up there

Posted by slickmelb on October 24, 2015 05:59

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Here is an easy solution for everyone upset with these conditions at Patong Beach... Go Home.

Posted by Jay on November 1, 2015 22:51


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