On our previous visit to Koh Adang, Tony came across a beautiful stretch of white-sand beach while water-hiking. (Clearly, he was ignoring rule No. 2 in our last post.) He couldn’t wait to go back and show me his discovery. Twenty minutes of walking and twenty five minutes of swimming took us to what he had perceived as paradise. As we climbed out of the water onto the beach, we found ourselves standing on a once stunning stretch of white-powder sand covered in garbage. How could this be?
Well, out here on the islands, trash is either burnt or gathered up on boats and transported to the mainland. Sometimes, when the waves get a little cranky, these garbage bags find their way back into the sea and eventually onto the shore. On other occasions, locals taking a shortcut just dump bags of trash directly into the ocean. You would think the park staff would clean up these trash spills immediately. But as we mentioned before, the workers in Koh Tarutao National Park are extremely lazy. Of course – why keep the garbage off the beaches when you can sit under a tree and play cards with your friends. Exactly what are park entry fees for?
At first, we sat helplessly staring at the devastated stretch of beach. I wanted to leave, but Tony just stood there shaking his head.
“Can’t they leave anything alone? Do they have to destroy everything?” he yelled. He flopped down on the sand and eyed the filth. Suddenly, he jumped up and announced, “I’m going to clean it all up.”
He picked up a plastic bag half buried in the sand and started stuffing trash into it. I walked down the beach and started cleaning up from that end. There we were in the midday sun picking up trash – not really the best way to enjoy Thailand. We found everything from lighters, rice bags and pieces of fishing line to apple cores, light bulbs and Styrofoam cups. Amazingly, the clean-up didn’t take long.
After only an hour, we had removed all of the garbage and moved it to the back away from the surf. The beach looked fantastic. Unfortunately, we simply didn’t have the ability to swim back out carrying several large bags of trash. Theoretically, the park staff will discover the trash while patrolling the beaches and permanently remove it. Theoretically.
But if Thais don’t feel they need to clean up the coastline, maybe it’s time for us visitors to grab a bag and start cleaning it up for ourselves. If you decide to clean up a stretch of beach, let us know about it here.