Bangkok, Thailand — 5.10.13
7-11 was the only shop still open when I landed in Phuket, and they
only had normal sized SIM cards. Luckily one of the guesthouse staff
showed me a SIM-card hack.
“Just buy the SIM card. I have scissors.”
iPhones, annoyingly, only take micro-Sim cards, which are rare in the
developing world. The important part of the SIM card is the same size,
though, so scissors can trim any excess plastic.
This ability to just make it work is one of the many things I love
about Southeast Asia. However, ‘just make it work’ can only take you
so far. Before I start my summer internship with Andaman Discoveries
(AD, andamandiscoveries.com), I have a little time to travel and clear
my head after the frenzy of my first year at the Nic School. My first
stop was Koh Phi Phi, a very small island south of Phuket where I
spent two years working as a dive instructor.
Phi Phi is the site of “The Beach”, as in the one from the Leonardo
DiCaprio movie, and the Alex Garland book (much better than the movie,
a recommended travel book). The beauty of the island has drawn huge
tourist crowds. The ‘make it work’ ethos pervades Phi Phi, and no
infrastructure has been developed beyond the point of just working.
Increasing tourist crowds make local business owners speculate the
island is on the verge of “implosion”. Sewage and trash are barely
managed, and tarnish the island’s appeal. Electricity costs about 6
times as much as on the mainland, yet no one is seeking better
alternatives. Living in places like Phi Phi is one of the reasons I
came to the Nic School.
After seeing the toll uncontrolled tourism continues to exact upon Phi
Phi, I headed north. I am spending the summer in Kuraburi, four hours
north of Phuket in Phang Nga province. I will be working to create a
sustainability protocol for local community-based tourism. Kuraburi
locals would like to bring in tourism, but avoid becoming the next
Phuket or Phi Phi.
Not many people go to Kuraburi, yet. This fact was highlighted when I
tried to buy a bus ticket. There were about thirteen rounds of:
“Pai Kuraburi” (Go Kuraburi)
“Krabi?” (a far more touristy town)
“Mai, mai. Kura-Buri” (no,no. Kuraburi)
I changed my pronunciation several times, and eventually purchased a
bus ticket. However, I think saying “Near Ranong” was the only reason
I managed, as Ranong is hard to confuse with any other city.
I had a quick intro to AD and the gorgeous Kuraburi, before I headed
out for my three week holiday. I’m headed out to Burma where I will
get a taste of a country in the very initial stages of tourism.