Volume 20, May, 2011

The Coconut Telegraph


Cultural Consideration

The U Turn




Welcome to the final edition of the Telegraph from Thailand for the holiday season.

Anyone who stays on Koh Phayam for a length of time knows just how cyclical the island is.  From mid-October until mid-December, there are few foreigners, the vibe is mellow and there are plenty of opportunities to get to know the local people, rekindle relationships and enjoy some quiet time in their company.  This time of the year is a particular favourite of mine.

The switch gets flipped somewhere around December 20th when the holiday-makers arrive in droves.  Gone is the backpack toting, wannabe hippy crowd - welcome to the suitcase with wheels world.  Space is tight, rates are raised as everyone wants those elusive Euros and dollars.  People are too busy to remember to breath and everyone starts the whine that they are working too hard.

Things level out somewhat in March and the downturn in arrivals is gradual.  This season, the weather was very unusual and March saw a lot of rain.  It damaged the cashew crop and the psyche of tourists, who left in flocks.  The island was deserted and it seemed as though that peaceful "end of season" period was upon us.  Then, along comes Songkran - Thai New Year - and along come the expats on holiday, along come the Thais and along comes the water. Songkran is always a special time of year in small communities like Koh Phayam.  Here, the flavour is participation not aggravation.  Sure, you might find some cold water, or colored powder, but that comes from someone you know - someone to whom you can return the favour.

My last days on Koh Phayam delivered fantastic surf!  Check out the Beach Report for a full breakdown.

As happens every year, I visited my Weaving for Women friends in Sangkhlaburi, near the Three Pagodas Pass Burmese border crossing.  It has been a tough year for them as tourism was especially low this year following the October clashes on the border, poor weather, a dismal world economy and so on.  Nonetheless, I am continually impressed by their endurance, survival skills and above all continued ability to smile in the midst of all these trials and tribulations.  The town continues to change with each passing day.

And so, it is time to pack up, carry on and return to try and find some elusive dollars for the next adventure. 

Stay tuned.

From the Cockpit

The Breakdown



The Coffee Revolution Strikes


Beach Report

Big Wave Days!