Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Se lo han cargado - Phuket, Thailand

Lorenzo's gaze scans the profile of Patong: he's absolutely right, this beach is great. Especially now, when the sun is plunging into the distant waves and a golden dust has settled on the leaves that swell the hills at the end of the bay. Everything else reflects the same shiny hue: the clouds, the Arab and Indian tourists that awkwardly hang from the para-sails, and the jet-skis that break through the foam of the crests like a horde of fat insect-like robots.

Somewhere near the northern end of the beach though, one can spot, beyond the typical tangle of electric wires, a whitish patch among the green of the plants. It's one of the new development projects that are claiming the land between Kamala and Patong.

The next morning we decide to rent a scooter and we tackle the slopes of the snaky road that runs along the western rim of the island. After a stop and a swim in Nai Han, we hop on the bike and we cut eastward, until we reach the centre of Phuket town. We will spend the rest of the afternoon sipping mango shakes in the colonial district and pampering ourselves with an oil massage.

Inspired by the memory of yesterday's sunset, on our way back we stop at Kamala beach. The village is not very different from the other ones that we have seen today. Kamala beach welcomes its visitors with a few hotels and cheaper guest houses. Besides a bunch of restaurants there's a line of bars with girls in miniskirts yelling at those who pass by.

The cheerfully silly and relaxed atmosphere fades when the scooter heads southward, through the the narrow road that runs along the shore. The beam of light is swallowed up by the tropical vegetation and the darkness ahead, while the music and the noises are overcome by the vigorous sounds of the jungle and the sea. The environment takes up a ghost-like air and at the edge of the streets some strange figures appear. The thin white veil that wraps them up is neither a shroud nor ectoplasm matter, but just a thin layer of mortar powder. Dozens of men, women and children, busy themselves up and down the paths, pushing wheelbarrows or carrying buckets and tools.

We come across the first of a sequence of resorts: they cover the hillside like fans of cement, for hundreds meters from Kamala down south. Presented with such an astonishing scene, Lorenzo is reminded of a Sardinian gulf, as it appears to the visitors approaching on a boat.

Though the style of the buildings is not always bad, they're eating up the coast with merciless greed. Our scooter runs besides the file of workers, with buckets hanging from poles balanced on their shoulders, while a list of grotesque names unfolds in front of us: something like “The Plantation”, “Green Oasis” or “Blue Lagoon”.

A few months ago I was talking with Javier, a Spanish friend of mine, about Yangshuo, a nice little town in the south of China, that has also changed shape in the last few years. A sentence that Javier used to describe that ruination keeps buzzing in my head while I'm watching these scene:
“Oye, se lo han cargado bastante el sitio ese!”
You cannot translate a sentence like this, it would be like designing a cheap compact car and then stick a “Ferrari” logo on the radiator in front. It's a modern and wicked form of linguistic blasphemy.

I won't commit that sin myself, but I'm sure that the meaning is pretty clear.

No comments: