Phuket Opinion: Paradise found

PHUKET: I lived on Racha Yai Island for five years, teaching English to the staff at the luxury resort there, and I support the local conservation group that wants to ensure that restaurants and hotels deal properly with their wastewater and garbage, and allow streams to flow freely to the sea.

I love nature, but I’m no enviro-activist. I don’t have fecal counts for you or stats about the cuttlefish population going down.

I just love Racha Island.

I never minded the day-trippers who created a commotion every day from 10am to 3pm, crowding the beach and sea, snapping photos against all the pretty backdrops. Why shouldn’t everyone enjoy this special place?

In fact, stay overnight so you can see the grass in the buffalo field turned silvery-green in the slanted morning light.

Then have a coffee overlooking Batok Bay while it’s calm and quiet, with just a few boats nodding in the waves. There’s always someone there gazing silently at the scene, getting filled up with the loveliness.

Stay longer and you’ll realize that the sea has as many moods as a friend – one day clear and sparkling, another cloudy and lukewarm; rough then calm. Sometimes it offers precious sights: an eel rippling across the seabed, a shy squid rushing off with his buddies, a sea snake making a beeline for the surface right in front of you.

Sometimes it gives up other treasures somewhat less Jacques Cousteauy, like a baseball cap and pair of shorts, a cleaver and two 1,000-baht notes floating on the surface.

If you stay longer still, the memories pile up – bush walking up the mountain in the rain, swimming down to the sunken boat, jumping off kayaks, playing tennis ’til past dark. There were the pythons Khun Suk caught, Nhum’s arm burned by cashew-tree sap, the time a squall overtook the boat as we came from mainland and everyone fell instantly silent. There were the 40 whales that beached themselves, Lung Chai selling his sugar cane juice and Aran, starting a surfing craze.

The island, after a while, stops being a backdrop and becomes as precious as all the other players in the action.

Go. Enjoy it, fall in love with it and help keep it healthy.

— Leslie Porterfield


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