VoW: Dawn at Naiharn, Phuket
PHUKET VILLAGE OF THE WEEK: A young blonde muscular man in muay thai boxing shorts, his muscles bulging out of his T-shirt, is on his early morning jog along the empty road. A Western woman cycles gingerly, exercising or heading to the Lotus supermarket around the corner. A thin farang pulls up on his scooter and buys a big bunch of bananas, for breakfast.
Friday 29 July 2011, 02:13AM
It’s seven in the morning at Naiharn village.
Here, West meets the original Phuket on either side of Saiyuan Rd that turns off from the main south-bound Viset Rd, to go to the popular Naiharn Beach, at the southern-most tip of the island.
Like many other places on the island, the new layer of Western habitation sits at times not all that comfortably on the landscape here.
The picture of every second business along a road being a bar or restaurant catering for farang residents or visitors, is all too familiar in the development of this tourist paradise.
Three small German restaurants, serving good food, home-made sausages and bread, two French, one Italian and many a few Thai, line this international strip in the middle of the village.
Resident Singh Chanalert just had his usual breakfast at a roadside stall with three elderly mates. He crosses the road and sits at another shop selling groceries to chat away the morning.
“When I first came here about 30 years ago from Sisaket (north-eastern Thailand), this was a small dirt road with forest on either side, “ he said. “The first foreigners to come didn’t have anywhere to stay so they camped on the beach and walked about stark naked.
“The original landowners sold their land and they and their children became rich. Not that they spent their money all that well, some gambling it all away,” he said.
In the middle of walled housing compounds and other lodgings, many displaying sale and for rent signs in this low season, the village heart beats early around the Wat Sawang Arom and its village school.
Monks in their saffron robes are back in their cement kuti lodgings. A young monk is surrounded by kittens and puppies, as he shares some of the food that he has brought back from his early morning walk around the village to collect food offerings in his bowl.
It’s morning assembly time and children, in their King-yellow shirts, are seated neatly on the cement schoolyard. They were invited by teachers to meditate, briefly, then the male principal introduced a new woman teacher to students.
Some joggers are making their way around the large cool lake behind Naiharn beach but the beach itself is almost empty this early. Folded beach umbrellas stand up straight in a line against the background of a rough sea.
A lone farang gentleman picks his way between the plastic beach lounges, perhaps his usual morning walk to start his day in his Thai retirement village, far from his original home. – Norachai Thavisin