Nature gave Phuket some of the world's best beaches. Now, perhaps because they haven't been treated especially well, she's taking them back, centimetre by centimetre, at a faster rate each year.
A grader joins the battle most days for the beach at Kata, pushing and scooping the sand towards the decaying sea wall. Yesterday the sand was flying outside Club Med Phuket, towards the northern end of the beach.
''Erosion occurs every year during the monsoon season,'' said Kata-Karon council's senior officer, Veerasak Anekwonbgsawat. ''This year, it's worse than it has been in the past few years.''
Kata remains one of Phuket's finest beaches, with the turbulent seas attracting board surfers to perhaps the island's best beach for wave-riding at this time of the year. And holidaymakers will take to the sea, even when the red flags are flying.
Despite strong winds, tourists appeared to be enjoying themselves at Kata yesterday. Similar scenes were likely to be found at Patong, Karon, Kamala, Nai Harn and other popular swimming destinations.
''Abuse it and lose it,'' could be the saying for Phuket's beaches. But at least, now that the damage inflicted by private commercial use is better understood and sunbeds and umbrellas have been banned, authorities appreciate the importance of preserving the beaches.
Ten years ago, Kata's charm was magnificent. Thais would come to picnic under a broad grassy grove of trees that made the foreshore a picturesque delight.
Today the grove has been whittled away by relentless pounding and no effort appears to have been made to properly protect the grass.
Mostly around Phuket, walls have been built to protect the shoreline.
But at Kata, in its worst recent year for erosion, Khun Veerasak says, even the beach road is now showing signs of collapse in places.
The longer erosion is left, the more the damage will become to Phuket's treasures. This is also a good reason why development shouldn't be allowed too close to the sea.
The grader will be on Kata beach between high tides and the ''king'' tides at full moon that cause the largest amount of damage. But Khun Veerasak realises it's a short-term measure.
Many of the stairways to the beach at Kata are already tumbling and can no longer be stepped on.
''We have to talk about solutions with the Marine 5 office,'' he said.
Phuket's occupation of the beaches by private enterprise and the tuk-tuk and taxi takeover reached crisis point before being addressed.
Erosion of Phuket's most treasured natural possessions means the preservation of mangroves as well as the beaches must be pursued as fast as possible.
Walls don't work. People who study erosion say that depositing rocks along all of Phuket's exposed foreshores is the only way to beat Nature.
The rocks absorb the impact of the waves without giving much in return.
Without action soon, Phuket's tourists may continue to live life in a rut, whether at work or at play.