Monday, January 14, 2008

Phuket aesthetic.

Phuket needs an art director.

Away from the west coast beaches - which are, for the most part, lovely; even Patong has it charm - the place has fallen victim to the same syndrome that afflicts almost all Thai resorts from Koh Chang to Samet to varying degrees: a peculiarly Thai version of downmarketness.

Driving from Sarasin Bridge to Kata Noi, completing our last leg on the Bangkok-Phuket drive, we were assailed by tyre shops, cheap red-lit karaoke bars, post-apocalyptic noodle stalls and the general detritus common to all parts of Thailand where large numbers of Thais have relocated in order to make a better living out of the tourist trade.

It's a pity that the whole place doesn't look like the Amanpuri. It could, quite easily, if the authorities had more taste.

What the place needs is a Tourism Dictator. A sort of Lee Kuan Yew of paradise. Someone who has a vision of how the place should look and the guts to carry it through. I'm thinking that the place should be planned as one large tourism resort: where certain zones are for guests, and other zones are for staff quarters. Just like an ordinary hotel, but on an islandwide scale.

The West Coast could be reserved for tourism. East of the main road connecting the Sarasin Bridge with everything else, pleasant HDB-style housing (1950s HDB, not the monstrosities that were built after the glorious initial period) could be erected.

Road verges could be designed and maintained by the Amanpuri.

I don't see why not. Hawaii and Singapore have great tropical vegetation programmes. No reason why Phuket, more blessed by geography than either of those two places, couldn't do the same.

No comments: