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Candles were lit for the King all over Thailand and on Phuket. Visitors to the King's Cup Regatta paid tribute.

Waterfall Has Uncertain Future

Thursday, November 29, 2007
THE WATERFALL in Patong that HM The King visited in 1959 no longer looks quite as beautiful as it did back then.

Today, it is hidden from public view and a nearby roadway by a concrete obstruction, billboards and an apartment block.

Yet up close, the waterfall remains as beautiful as ever.

In many ways, today the falls have come to symbolise the pressures of progress on Phuket. The waterfall and the land around it is now in private hands, despite its long history of community use and its remaining beauty.

Yet when you stand alongside it, the waterfall is just as natural as it was back then, when it was the main water supply and washing area for villagers who lived around Patong 's main Buddhist temple.

Many of the villagers and their descendants still live in the area. Many of them would like the waterfall restored to its former glory and treated respectfully as an important part of Patong's history.

When the King came to Patong in 1959 on a surprise visit, free from the tour schedule and the royal entourage, he wanted to know where the water source was for the village.

The villagers, recovering from their astonishment at his arrival, immediately took him to see the waterfall, which was central to village life back then.

Photographs taken at that time show the beauty of the waterfall and its jungle setting. At the time, the waterfall was used for all the water needs of the entire village.

Today the falls still tumble around the same rocks that could be seen behind the King in the photographs. But it is much more difficult now to find the waterfall and the flowing waters are now surrounded by an apartment block and other buildings.

The villagers who were there at the time have not forgotten the King's visit. They think the time has come to memorialise the royal trip to Patong in the best possible way, by preserving the waterfall and the important history that surrounds it.

Visitors would be able to look at the rocks now and see exactly where the King stood. It was here that he talked to Patong residents about the village, its natural water supply and its future.

It was here that he smiled when a young local villager gave him a glass of Bilit soft drink.

When it rains on Phuket, the waterfall becomes a strong torrent, the way it always did. At one time, monks would even come to this spot to sit quietly and meditate.

But today, the same rocks and flowing rivulet that the King visited are hidden behind billboards, an apartment building, and a concrete obstruction.

At some point, the land surrounding waterfall itself even became private property.

Now the villagers feel it would be appropriate to have it restored to the public as a tribute to HM The King and his historic visit to Patong.

Given its natural beauty and its important royal connection, the waterfall would certainly make a superb history park in the foothills of old Patong.

It is understood talks are taking place between local officials and the owner of the land, and a survey will be taken in December asking nearby residents what they think should happen to the waterfall.


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