Beautiful Beaches and Barbed Wire

The modern incarnation of Phra Nang fascinates me on so many levels that I could write a book on this one single beach. Phra Nang is stunning, preposterous, perfect, horrifically flawed, a sham, a jewel, a white-powder contradiction. It’s also a rather unique achievement.

At some point in the second millennium, I strolled across a flawless, deserted version of Phra Nang that was truly deserving of the word perfect.

The beach was so perfect that humanity decided to carve into the jungle which backed the beach and construct the Rayavadee Hotel, a luxury resort designed to cater to exclusive individuals who like their decadence sitting in the middle of what was once a pristine natural location. Marketing hyperbole swirled, travel magazines swarmed, and Phra Nang was declared the most beautiful beach in Thailand. As of this posting, Rayavadee lists its rates between $750 and $5,300 per night, depending on just how much decadence you require. Ouch, that beats our $11 room in Krabi town.

Now, I know what everyone is expecting, yet another lecture on how humanity is destroying nature – oops, I just did that – too late.

No, the focus of this post is on something far more mundane, yet strangely fabulous. And that is the fact that despite the big money behind Rayavadee, Phra Nang beach remains accessible to the public. And I’m sure the hotel guests would prefer otherwise as these customers’ reviews on TripAdvisor.com suggest:

– The beaches are not private and are full of backpackers and tourists. Considering the quality and price of the hotel this should not be the case.

–  The property extends to three of the beaches on the peninsula and is all connected by jungle type foliage which is beautiful. It is slightly odd in the sense that security guards guard its perimeter, I guess to keep all the backpackers out??

Early in the morning, Phra Nang can be amazing. But at peak times, the beach is packed with day trippers from Ao Nang and Krabi as well as people walking in from East and West Railay and Ton Sai. On top of that, Thais bring in food boats to market directly to the crowds and taxi boats plow the waters looking for customers. It can get a little manic.

Normally, all this commotion would annoy the hell out of me. But somehow, it seems like an enormous achievement for the masses who can’t afford the Rayavadee’s rates. And despite what the comments above suggest, it’s not just backpackers; it’s mid-range and high-end tourists as well. There are a lot of people in this world who don’t want to pay a thousand bucks a night for a hotel.

Stop! I know what you are all thinking: those poor souls at Rayavadee are paying all that money, and they don’t have any privacy at all.

Nonsense. Rayavadee has gone out of it’s way to ensure its customers are guaranteed their privacy and a sense of exclusivity by erecting walls and barbed-wire fences to insulate them from any sense of the reality beyond.

Seriously folks? Do you really want a barbed-wire fence between your bungalow and the beach at those prices?

2 responses to “Beautiful Beaches and Barbed Wire”

  1. I love that final photo. You’re right, this is a fascinating story, on so many levels. I enjoy seeing what happens when lives crash together. It has the potential for a great novel, a la T.C.Boyle’s “Tortilla Curtain.”

    • avatar Tony says:

      We just saw your comment. Thomas is flopped on the bed working on an upcoming video, and he is yelling across the room that he loved T.C Boyle’s “Water Music,” so we just have to find a copy of “Tortilla Curtain” somewhere.

      By the way, one of the security guards was eying us suspiciously as Thomas shot that photo. I think he wanted to yell at us, but wasn’t really sure what to be angry about as we were still standing on the “right side of the fence.”

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