Only the top-most parts of the buildings appear above the jungle canopy but nevertheless, the buildings can bee seen from quite a distance. They have almost been swallowed up by the trees and vines which wind their way through doorways and windows – echoing the appearance of an ancient temple overgrown for centuries.
What are these buildings? Why have they been abandoned in the jungle for decades? The Phuket News’ Pakin Intajak recently investigated these very questions by speaking to the person perhaps best placed to answer them; Wanchai Saetan the Chief of Public Works for Karon Municipality, who has been in the role since 1997.
“I have heard that the buildings have been at the hill about twenty six years,” he said.
“I believe their construction commenced in 1992, but I am uncertain about when the project was abandoned,” he said.
While they are certainly not the only failed building project on the island, it seems that in the quarter of a century since the project was abandoned, the identity of the company, or the individuals, that set out to build them are long forgotten – perhaps not surprising given the breakneck pace of development across the island over that time.
Mr Wanchai admitted he did not even know the proposed name of the abandoned project. So it seems as though even the officials tasked with overseeing development in the district know little about the place, adding to the mystery.
Despite the buildings having been deserted for around 26 years, it appears that they were well constructed, given that they seem largely intact and solidly built – if the undergrowth were cleared they might look as though they were currently under construction.
It is not clear whether these buildings were intended to be hotels or private residences according to Mr Wanchai, who said that he believed that Somprasong Group, which ran a condominium construction business, owned or were contracted to carry out the project.
So why have these buildings been abandoned in the hill for so long?
“The main structures of the buildings were completed, but the project was ruined before the buildings were fully fitted out for use. Following the collapse of the project people scavenged any material from the site that was of value,” Mr Wanchai said.
When asked if Karon Municipality has any plans for the site, Mr Wanchai explained, “The area has a land title deed (chanote) and this is why Karon Municipality can do nothing but to leave these four buildings on the hill in peace.”
According to Mr Wanchai, when the project went belly up, the chanote was seized by a bank but he did not know which bank. Unfortunately, he said that he had no further information to provide as Karon Municipality did not have any documents or evidence to further illuminate the origin and subsequent abandonment of the buildings.
Mr Wichai, did however, reveal that the buildings were not granted the correct permissions by Karon Municipality, as at that time, the municipality was not even completely set up. Therefore, he said, legal permission for the project to begin construction was granted directly by Phuket Province and the Governor who was in office at the time.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there were rumours or tales of ghosts and spirits inhabiting the area, not to mention the dangers of exploring an abandoned structure that could be unstable, or it being a place that attracts undesirable or even dangerous people: So it is not recommended that you visit the site, which along with its beauty and mystery, could spell danger for the unwary.
By Pakin Intajak