Saturday, June 21, 2014

Koh Lipe 2 Years After

The last time I was here 2 years ago, I did not see a Seven Eleven. Neither did I see natives clad in purple vest which were labeled with big numbers like a soccer jersey. Those were the inhabitants who provided official taxi services on the island. It cost only 50 baht per person for getting from anywhere to anywhere. The walk from Seven Eleven to our resort took a good half an hour. Not wanting my fingers to break away from the strangle of heavy plastic bags loaded with a huge assortment of sodas, we hopped on one of those Taxis. A sidecar made of welded rods attached to a smoky putting motorcycle that went breathless ascending the slightest slopes, that what it was.

Taxis in front of of Seven Eleven
The rider, a tiny and tanned elderly man. His complexion told the story of the island's salty wind and her blazing sun. He was a native and told us that the men in purple came about only recently. It was established to ward off the rampant Burmese operated taxis who stole the business of the community. Well at least now, we can be sure whatever we spent on the island goes to the islanders genuinely to help, in the long run, create a better paradise for us city dwellers to indulge. Seated on a thin layer of PVC wrapped foam they called a cushion, we throttled over rocky gravel and speed reducing humps made from harbor ropes laid across the island roads. It took us less than 10 minutes to arrive at the beach where our resort was. We alighted, bid farewell, and he gave us his number so we could call him anytime should we need his service.

Fresh Road
There were times of inconvenience on some days as we tried to walk from Sunrise to Pattaya beach. The pathway was blocked. It just so happened that during our stay on island paradise, they were going through a revamp of the island's connecting roads. New fresh concrete was poured and laid to dry, entire stretches of roads were closed off. We were patient and we stepped gingerly alongside. It sure was an obstacle course stepping over clusters of rocks and moving pass the reeking dustbins. Dogs did not bother and went ahead to walk on the still soft concrete. They left cute paw prints. Some in-considered visitors thought themselves were dogs too, they saw what the dogs did and did what the dogs did. Their sandal prints were large and unimpressive. We listened to the taxi drivers complained some days, they said the roads were built too narrow for two way traffic. Taxis sometimes had a game of fencing with their handles on some of the tighter sections. And on other days, they complained that the roads were encroaching into their homes, the land areas declared by deed.

Waves of Low Season
Was it the season in particular or was it pest population boom? Cockroaches, they invaded our room. I never did had a pest problem last time I was there at Idyllic Resort. One morning, I found an unfortunate bloke who drowned in the leftover instant cup noodle out the balcony, the other day one died next to my shoe for unknown reasons. And one fine scary night, one was terrorizing us by flying all over our room and we in panic called for DDT to be sent from the reception. Only it never came in time to ease our fear of the winged devil smacking into our faces. We conveniently engaged a cat which was always out front of our corridor. Without his consent of any meow, we seized him in the middle of his balls licking routine and let him loose where the roach landed. Cat turned attention from balls to roach in an instant as roach scurried on the tiled floor. Cat 1, roach 0.

Sewage Storage
The island this season, much to the dismay of us tourist, many of the resorts underwent major renovations at the same time. New buildings were being erected creating rather an eyesore, large heavy logs were suspiciously pulled out of the sea after dark. Much of nature remained the same, it was the roads and taxi services that had changed. Water was still suctioned from underground for our use, and electricity still pumped from generators central of the island. We were still able to get strong GSM signal which allowed us to upload statuses during our boat trip all the way from Pak Bara to Koh Lipe. The dogs still woke early to greet the sunrise with me during morning shoots. Contrary to what many websites had portrayed, there were ATMs on the island and they do dispense cash. Let's see how more Koh Lipe will change over the next few years, hopefully not too much. It is her rustic nature that is the magic.

The cove on Sunset Beach
Building Materials
Where Natives Dwells
Morning Walk
The Dog and The Sea
Chillout Chairs
Under the Shade
Boats they Rocked
Helpful Child
An Idyllic Afternoon

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