PHUKET: When I lived on Racha Island, I could never really figure out where Thalang was. The only time I encountered it was taking a taxi to the airport. Around Koh Kaew I’d ask the driver, “Is this Thalang?”, then again at the Heroines’ Monument. Finally, as we whizzed through the Ton Sai Waterfall intersection, he’d say, “This is it.”
All three areas seemed interchangeable – nondescript strips of slightly grubby shops. Who would want to live there?
Now I do. My original impression remains, but I’ve learned that between those shops – the sand lot and the cinder-block seller, the vendors of used cars and blue-and-red metal barrels – are slivers of green, an occasional overgrown lot, and glimpses of hills.
There’s space here. When I come back to Thalang from Phuket Town or Chalong or Rawai, I feel myself breathing easier.
But that space is rapidly being filled in. Where there was a grassy field across from the cashew factory, a gigantic building is going up; the field next to Tesco Lotus is soon to be a car dealership, and a long swathe of rubber trees along the road after Wat Phra Thong has been cut down to make way for some business or other.
At this pace, Thepkrasattri Road from the airport turnoff to the bypass road will soon be a solid corridor of commercial enterprises.
But it shouldn’t be.
First because – until a dedicated airport highway is built – this road is one of the first sights most tourists will have of the magical tropical island of their dreams.
But most importantly, because the people of Thalang, inhabitants of this semi-industrial landscape, need to see something beautiful every day.
Phuket Government, please buy land along Thepkrasattri Road to preserve green spaces, so that as we race down the road on our daily commutes, we can rest our eyes on them for a brief second and feel uplifted.
Please make parks where we can take walks, play football and badminton, and exercise in the early morning.
The buffalo field at Heroines’ Monument and the jungly patch across from the green mosque in Baan Lipon are prime locations.
And why not buy strips of land all along Thepkrasattri Road – sections of rubber trees and pineapple fields – and hold them as green spaces? Businesses can go in behind these.
Do this now before the land prices in Thalang go up too much, before any more huge housing estates or big box stores arrive.
It’s not too late, but it soon will be.
— Leslie Porterfield
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