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Paradise Beach, a world away from Patong

Beaches: Take a Spin to Phuket Paradise

Sunday, January 27, 2008
THE SIGN says ''Paradise Beach. Private Property.'' But it also invites visitors to venture in.

As with all beaches in Thailand, only the land abutting the sand is private. All beaches are public, by law.

Be prepared once you go through the gate to see Phuket the way it once used to be everywhere.

There's no electricity here, not even a generator. Yet the food is excellent.

Coming by sea makes it easier to find. Just tell the longtail captain that you'd like a run to Paradise.

The pleasant little cove is just a few minutes across the waves from Patong and not much longer from other West coast destinations.

Getting there by road is slightly more arduous. A new public road has now replaced a goat track that once lead to the Private Property sign.

The gate opens onto a rollercoaster of a concrete trail leading through jungle to the beach.

What you find at the end is a secluded glade fronting a sandy strip. While large resorts have added an international if antiseptic flavor to many of Phuket's beaches, Paradise Beach remains . . . just that.

And with luck, it's likely to stay heavenly. There's a beachside restaurant, outdoor dining, a few loungers, a small dive shop, and a first-rate toilet.

Yes, it's Paradise.

At weekends, Thais come to fish off the rocks at either end of the beach or just enjoy the tranquility.

Visitors turn up for the same reason. Paradise Beach is pleasantly relaxed and likely to remain that way. It's a good sign when the lounger comes with an ashtray so smokers are not tempted to pollute the sand.

The land owner, Amphean Theanthin, impersonates some of the large rocks that guard the sand here. He's well-weathered and immovable.

A man with a faraway look in his eye and a constant smile, Khun Amphean has been offered large amounts of money over the years for his slice of Paradise.

No matter what amount is involved, his answer has always been ''No.'' Why is that, when over the years so many Phuket families have chosen to take the money?

Perhaps he doesn't want to see a Paradise Resort and Spa. He likes the beach just the way it is, a natural heavenly haven.

He doesn't want it to change. And it won't, as long as he enjoys sitting in the restaurant gazing out to sea.

''I am like a pier,'' Khun Amphean says. ''Businessmen who come to Phuket are like boats. They go everywhere and stop in the places that make them rich.

''But that's not for me. I'm a local person. I was born here and one thing is for sure, I'm going to die here.

''So I have to stand by my island. I do everything because it's my home.''

The beach and the coral offshore are cared for well here.

Snorkels and other gear can be hired to swim out for a look.

Visitors who enjoy nature at its best are always welcome to join Khun Amphean at Paradise.

The gate opens at 9am and closes at 6.30pm. The beach is rocky and a bit shallow at low tide for swimming, but if you want to escape to the past, it's perfect . . .Paradise regained.

How to get there: Hire a longtail and head for Paradise. Driving from Patong, head south along the beach road, veer left at Amari Beach Resort, then keep going uphill and downhill, past spectacular views back at the beach, then up the hill past Tri-Trang Beach. Keep going through the gate along the concrete path to Paradise.

Look for more in our series on Phuket beaches soon

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