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The Gain in Rain

Sunday, November 25, 2007
WHEN the so-called green season arrives, water starts running down the walls on Phuket ??? and people start climbing up them.

To be an island resident deprived of a few days' sunshine is a nuisance. To be a tourist on a once-a-year adventure spoiled by rain is a small tragedy.

We're so, so sorry.

When it comes to weather, between April and October, Phuket is no different to any other tropical paradise. During the monsoon season, there's always a risk that the heavens will open.

People anxious to promote Phuket reasonably accurately, perhaps ignoring one or two important facts, call it the ???green?? season. It is also the ???low?? season when it comes to tourist numbers. Why?

Well, to be absolutely honest, Nature determines what season it is, and it's truly the ???wet?? season.

With the rain come two big bonuses. The first is that the officials in charge of the year-round supply of water to Phuket heave a sigh of relief.

They know that the Bang Wad Dam will be full, and that the next water crisis, which comes around as surely as March follows February, is still six months away.

The other bonus is that Phuket's waterfalls flow in abundance. There is no better time to go to see the island's hilly sideshows at Bang Pae than after a few days of consistent rain.

Thai families visit and enjoy the rare treat of being part of a living, breathing rainforest. The streams come alive, spilling over pathways. Watery droplets rise as mist, cooling plants and visitors alike.

Dappled sunshine lights the shiny greens across the forest floor. And the waterfalls . . . they burst over the rocks and tumble in shimmering cascades that fill your ears like the finest music.

People who are game enough to take the plunge feel the power of the water and the purity of clouds brought to earth.

Swim up from the rockpool under the descending torrent and be prepared for the shower of your life.

One visitor who enjoyed the experience said that because of the pummeling, his hair had never, ever felt so clean and healthy. Take that, Sunsilk

The forest, filled with knotty roots and climbers, covered in greenery of every shade and texture, always looks clean and healthy, too.

The Bang Pae waterfall is just a short climb up from the Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre, where caged youngsters flit about having fun, and where others call through the bush.

There are also a few restaurants, and a trail that heads off to the second waterfall. Entry to the park costs 200 baht for foreigners, less for Thais.

It's the kind of outing that sticks in the memory just as readily as a perfect day at the beach in the blue/high/dry season, when the waves curl and the surf burbles the same kind of water music.


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