Beach club blues

PHUKET: I’ve heard it many times from long-term Phuket expats – over the years the island has changed for the worse. But it doesn’t take decades to notice the decline. For me it took just one year.

Take what used to be my favorite Phuket beach – Layan. A half-moon of sand on the border of a national park, edged by pine trees providing protection from the scorching sun, with just a couple of local coffee and ice cream vendors, stunning sunsets and silence broken only by the crashing sound of waves, cicadas and laughter of children. Then the construction work began.

It took a good couple of months of drilling, digging, jackhammering and bulldozing to erect the beach club, an ugly block of concrete on the very edge of the beach and the National Park. I watched it grow in terror during my weekend visits to Layan, not realizing that the noise generated by the building crew was just the beginning.

Last weekend I was back after a long break and noticed that something was different… and wrong. The drills and hammers were gone, the sounds of nature that used to be Layan’s only soundtrack were still there but in the background I could hear a deep bass line capable of making my internal organs shiver. At 5pm on Sunday, Layan wasn’t a beach anymore, it was a discotheque.

Trying to escape the noise, I moved further north, away from my favorite shady spot in the pine tree forest. To no avail; even a few hundred meters away, the noise of the club could still be heard, the bass still reverberating in my gut.

And not that it’s the club’s fault, but the beach around me was filthy. Empty bottles, Styrofoam containers, plastic bags…the moment I saw my 18-month-old daughter taking these for toys, I had enough. I got up and went back home, feeling I won’t return to Layan for a long time.

Are there any quiet, family-friendly beaches left in Phuket? If there are, don’t mention it – some greedy investor might overhear you and come up with an idea of building yet another beach club where overdressed people sip overpriced drinks separated from what used to be “the pearl of the Andaman sea” by a wall of bass lines and dance beats.

While they are having all the fun in the world they should know that their mojitos and margaritas come at a price much higher than the one on the drink menu.

— Sarah Connor

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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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