Welcome to the Island Wrap, a free monthly round-up of Thai island and coastal news. If you haven’t yet, feel free to subscribe to Thai Island Quest for free, or upgrade to gain access to the entire Thai Island Directory as it’s being published, and many other island-rich articles, for $5 USD per month.
February was a lighter month when it comes to news about coastal Thailand, but you’ll still find many articles that might pique your interest in this edition of the Island Wrap. Among them are stories about what might lie ahead for a sinking and flood-prone Bangkok, a new report on the damage caused by bottom trawling in the fishing industry, and the biggest Full Moon Party in years.
The gradual release of the Thai Island Directory continued here at Thai Island Quest last month, albeit at a slower pace owing to some recent travels and other things I needed to do. I did get more than halfway through the Southern Andaman chapter with an in-depth Intro and sections on Mu Ko Libong and Ko Rok, the Trang coast, and Ko Sukorn and Mu Ko Phetra. Coming soon are a few more sections covering Ko Bulon, Ko Khao Yai, Ko Lidi, Ko Tarutao, Ko Lipe, Ko Adang, Ko Rawi, Ko Yara Tot and the mainland shores and additional islands of Satun province in Thailand’s far southwest. It is another one of my favorite areas to explore.
I’m currently back in the US for a visit, which means that March might be a bit slow here at TIQ as well, but I am looking to send out at least four new T.I.D. sections to go with an article about Ko Yao Noi. If you’re a free subscriber and you would like to access all of this and more, consider an upgrade.
Cool website or page
The website / e-newsletter Future Southeast Asia by James Clark delivers insights on what new infrastructure is coming — or being planned or just talked about — around the region. Over the last month I appreciated an update on proposals for a bridge between Ko Chang and the Trat mainland, and an analysis of Thailand’s current rail developments. The latter includes some pointed thoughts on how the country could have more efficiently updated its railway system.
News wire picks
Environmental Justice Foundation calls for end to bottom trawling in new report (Thai Enquirer)
”’Thailand’s fish populations are being devastated by a small, unregulated portion of its commercial fleet. Destructive and uncontrolled bottom trawling is wiping out the ocean ecosystems that support livelihoods and food security across Thailand, in a short-term grab for profit at far greater longer term costs for everyone and the environment,’ said Steve Trent, EJF CEO and Co-Founder.” The TE article is a good intro to the full report, which can be read at the EJF website.
Bangkok is still sinking, and fast! (Bangkok Post)
”According to the annual Global Climate Risk Index by Germanwatch, Thailand jumped from 43rd on the ranking of most affected countries by extreme weather in 2011 to ninth in the latest edition of the analysis in 2021,” reports the Post. Meanwhile, an expert quoted in a separate Post article forecasts that another “mega-flood” is probably not far off because “the volume of rainfall across Bangkok is expected to increase by 20-30% over the next decade.”
Thai farmers tap into sustainable rubber industry (CNA)
”As the world's largest producer of natural rubber — supplying more than a third of global stocks in 2021 — Thailand's policies have stimulated massive deforestation, plummeting biodiversity and soaring soil erosion. The vast majority of the kingdom's plantations are still working conventionally, but a few farmers like Wanida are abandoning pesticides to try and lessen their impact on the environment.”
Embattled Chaiwat Limlikhitaksorn to oversee Thailand’s national parks (Thai PBS World)
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that a man who is strongly suspected of having been involved in the 2014 forced disappearance and murder of Karen activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen, whose remains were later found cremated in a barrel and dumped at the bottom of the Kaeng Krachan reservoir, is not a great choice for Thailand’s top national parks official.
More than 50,000 tourists join in Full Moon Party on Phangan Island (The Phuket Express)
Remember a couple of years ago when some were saying that this infamous party might be “over for good?” Yeah, I didn’t buy that either.
Chinese tour group flights arrive in Phuket (The Phuket News)
Representing a big piece of the puzzle that is Thailand’s tourism rebuild following the pandemic, a pair of Spring Air flights on February 6th marked the first package tours to reach Thailand from China in nearly three years.
Marine life sightings
Three Bryde’s whales were spotted in Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park for a second time in recent weeks.
The carcass of a young, endangered dugong washed up in Sattahip.
A mature hawksbill sea turtle is undergoing treatment after beaching on Ko Samui with a “severe wound” on its shell.
87 more endangered leatherback sea turtle hatchlings emerged from a nest on February 21st on the Phang Nga coast, bringing its leatherback hatchling total to 238 from three hatches during the month. In addition, 32 leatherback eggs hatched from a nest on Phuket’s Nai Yang Beach.
In other news
Modified Krabi long-tail boats capsize three times in two months with two deaths and many injured (The Phuket Express explains how modifications to the boat’s roofs may be to blame for these accidents.)
Songkhla Lake wants rid of eyesore boats (Bangkok Post on the roughly 150 seized fishing boats being stored on Thailand’s largest lake.)
Seahorse ferry in Sattahip to reopen on February 16th (The Pattaya News on a ferry now running between Ko Samui and the Pattaya area.)
Operators ask govt for Samui cruise terminal (Bangkok Post)
Engine fire aborts takeoff at Phuket Airport (The Phuket News on a close call that occurred on an Azur Air flight bound for Moscow.)
Thai Smile makes emergency landing in Phuket (The Phuket News on a second scary incident at HKT last month.)
Phuket fines vexatious French wannabe ‘dek waen’ moto punks (Coconuts Bangkok on the misbehavior that sparked a crackdown resulting in the arrests of 44 foreign motorbike riders for operating without licenses.)
Anti-Putin graffiti tagged on national park rock (The Phuket News)
Researchers discover new orchid species (Bangkok Post with photos of the delicate find deep in a Songkhla jungle.)
A view of the beautiful East through the windshield (Thai PBS World takes you on a spin along the coasts of Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat.)
I leave you with…
A rare interview of our friend Richard Barrow, one of the most influential expats in Thailand. He long held to a no-interviews policy, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear him on The Bangkok Podcast, in two parts, discussing his fantastic Thai Train Guide along with thoughts on social-media trolls and much more.
Thank you for reading Thai Island Quest, an independent, reader-supported e-newsletter sharing the beauty, challenges and distinctive identities of Thailand’s islands and shorelines. Yes, all of them.
i shudder to think of just how long Thailand can continue to turn a blind eye from its many problems in terms of ecology, sustainability, corruption, etc etc etc ad nauseum!
at a certain point, the can can't be kicked any further down the road to subsequent generations, and i fear the tipping point has already come and gone! that said, my heart remains in the LoS, and i will return there for good, soon...