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Thread: Freedom Beach Blockaded by Longtail men

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    Uber Star Soi wanderer Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน justcruzing1's Avatar
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    Freedom Beach Blockaded by Longtail men

    Phuket boatmen block access to famed beach

    PHUKET: Long-tailed boat operators have blocked the path down to Freedom Beach, meaning visitors can no longer access the beach on foot, and instead are forced to take a longtail.

    Phuket boatmen block access to famed beach

    The operators are quite clear: they don’t want people walking down to the largest beach on Phuket that is untouched by development. They want them to pay for the boat ride from Patong Beach, and they don’t care about the legalities. Their livelihood, they say, is at stake.

    An expatriate who preferred not to be named walked down to the beach with two other foreigners and two Thais on Sunday (February 16). As he reported to The Phuket News, they had no problem walking down the hill above the beach, ownership of which is claimed by a Phuket individual.

    But when they got down to the bottom, they were faced with a new barbed wire fence. Standing on the other side of the fence were three Thai boat operators.

    “They were standing there shouting ‘Go back! You can’t go onto the beach!’ All three had an aggressive posture and they didn’t want us there. They kept saying that we must go to Patong and take a boat from there.

    “We were one metre from the sand,” he told The Phuket News.

    “My friend is Thai and tried to bargain with them but nothing worked as we were clearly not wanted on ‘their beach’.”

    The party thought the final few metres were public land but after 5-10 minutes of pointless arguing they gave up and headed back up the hill.

    “At the top of the hill was the ‘land owner’s’ caretaker. He had no problem with us walking down through the land to get to the beach. He was a very nice, understanding Thai who knew about the longtail people and referred to them them as ‘boat mafia’.

    “We felt sorry for him as it seemed he was under pressure from the longtail operators to keep people from using the foot path to gain access to Freedom Beach.

    “It was clear that the boat people only want paying customers to go there on their transport [boats from Patong] and by no other means,” he added.

    The Phuket News visited the beach on Friday (February 21). There are two paths down to the beach. One is closed with an ominous sign stating, “Tourist Warning! Be careful of the people who doesn’t own this land to collect the entry fee to Freedom Beach. This land is private property. Not allow to pass this land to the Freedom Beach. The invasion is criminal, any violation will be prosecuted according to the law.”

    The other way to go down the beach, however, is still open, apart from the longtail guards at the very bottom.

    On Friday morning, the longtail operators said, someone had come at 8:30 am and removed the barbed wire. No one seemed to know who these people were acting for, but the longtail operators were visibly offended.

    The Phuket News called the person who claims to own the land but she refused to comment.

    One of the boatmen said, “The land to the Freedom Beach in the past used to be overgrown, steep land that no one could walk through. As time passed, however, people built paths down the hill and started charging entry fees for people who wanted to go down that way.

    In fact, the group who contacted The Phuket News about the path being wired off and guarded said that they were never asked for money before they walked down the path to the shore.

    But whether there is a charge or not, the boatmen argue, “We lose revenue. We used to be the only way for people to get to the beach.”

    The boat men, members of the Patong Longtail Boat Association, told The Phuket News that their ancestors had fished the waters off the island’s west coast for at least 100 years.

    But as tourism developed and Patong boomed, wastewater draining from the swelling town polluted the waters and reduced fish catches to unsustainable levels.

    So the boatmen had to switch to providing water taxi services for tourists. Now they fear that the only beach not accessible from the land – and therefore their main source of income – is going to be opened up to everybody because of “rich people” who have managed to grab the land opening paths and allowing tourists to walk down the beach.

    The longtail boat operators believe that the land cannot and should not be owned by private individuals. One said, “We would like to see the beach and the hillside stay natural forever.”

    They have a point; in May 2012 the Parliamentary Committee for Anti-Corruption and Misconduct ruled that a chanote deed for 65 rai of land bordering Freedom Beach had been issued “through illegal process” and petitioned the Land Department to rescind the deed, with the land reverting to public ownership.

    Yet it appears that has not happened and the land still has an “owner”.

    Big money is at stake. Two years ago the 65 rai was offered for sale at B60 million a rai, or about B4 billion for the lot.

    This makes the boatmen resentful – and worried. They remain convinced that even if the land owners are rich enough not to bother about charging entry fees, the gatekeepers may see an opportunity for enhancing their own income.

    “My ancestors were working here for a long, long time,” said one. “Now, investors come and take advantage from the entry fee business. So how will we eat now? You have to understand our point of view.”

    The boat operators admitted that they know it’s wrong to block the path with barbed wire but pointed out that they carry passengers to the beach only from December to March – the high season.

    From April to November the heavy seas of the southwest monsoon are too rough for them to set out to sea. In those months, they say, the “investors” can make money from fees charged for using the paths through their land.

    Ironically, although the action of the boatmen is illegal, it may also be the only thing keeping the issue in the public eye and slowing an insidious land grab that could result in the one remaining large pristine beach on the island being blighted by development.
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  2. #2
    Uber Star Soi wanderer Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน Moo Uaon's Avatar
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    ^ i can remember Rex and others trying to get down to that beach but couldn't find a way through.

    Sounds like tuk tuk drivers but in long tails.
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  3. #3
    ประเทศไทยเพื่อน Founding Member Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน Changone's Avatar
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    Some comment following the article may have a ring of truth to it

    ....The main reason long-tail-boat drivers block access by the road is that they get from the land-owner at least 20% commission on food, drinks and long-chairs rental.

    This is the truth, as we had this problem about commission since 1986 when Le Meridien and Amari Coral Beach hotels were open and tourists were renting long-tail-boats to go to Freedom and Paradise Beaches.

    Fighting between long-tail-boats from Kata/Karon and Patong were frequent as Freedom and Paradise Beaches is on Patong district and some long-tail-boats were set ablaze at night....
    And where the hell was Biggles.....?....when you needed him last Saturday....?

  4. #4
    Uber Star Soi wanderer Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน justcruzing1's Avatar
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    I just posted it as we recently had BM's asking how to get there when they were on their trip.

    Anyone else going, may need to know and save doing a trip, walking all the way down by trail only to be turned around.
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  5. #5
    ประเทศไทยเพื่อน Founding Member Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน Changone's Avatar
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    I suppose its like most things. When you've just paid the boat guy 1,000 baht to bring you and your family out to a secluded beach on your dream holiday, a bunch of bums just come crashing through the undergrowth and ruin the moment....
    And where the hell was Biggles.....?....when you needed him last Saturday....?

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    I can almost see their point, but why don't they expand or diversify their businesses to include things like ice-cooler service, or picnic service. I can understand the basic economics behind what they are doing, but by emulating the Tuk-tuk drivers of Phuket, or using 'hard man' tactics from the get go, they are making themselves a group to be avoided AT ALL COST. I know they must push this issue to make their point, but isn't this rather short-sighted?

    Seriously, people seem to be fixated on the idea that "You have to see it my way", and losing sight of the opportunity. Where is the creativity that is the basis for success in this type of market?

  7. #7
    Uber Star Soi wanderer Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน Zablive's Avatar
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    There has been so many cases of clearly illegal land grabs revealed on Phuket in recent years.
    Demolish and vacate orders have been issued.
    Can anyone enlighten me as to any action that has been actually taken.

    As things drag on then "possession rights" come into play.

  8. #8
    Uber Star Soi wanderer Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน Chob's Avatar
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    'Freedom Beach' is a somewhat ironic name.

    Just what we need , mafia on the water ....

  9. #9
    Uber Star Soi wanderer Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน justcruzing1's Avatar
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    ^^^ I agree Chob.
    What says they own the beach?? and how can they prevent the land owners adjoining the beach from accessing it, them or whoever they invite/let thru their property.

    Oh Yes, they have lost their income, same as retail business has to internet sales. They claim they have been fishing for 100 yrs then forced to go into tourism so now they have exclusive rights to a part of nature???

    They are saying one of the properties was given title illegally and want it taken back to parkland.
    OK but parkland is still open to access by anyone so no difference to them, a loss loss.

    Just another Mafia like action and another reason to stay away from Patong.

    My first and only visit 4 yrs ago was enough to convince me not to bother again. I wonder how many others have the same experience and decision???
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  10. #10
    Uber Star Soi wanderer Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน supersub's Avatar
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    I had no idea it could be accessed on foot. Shame people have to be so greedy and act this way.

  11. #11
    Uber Star Soi wanderer Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน MarcTwoSix's Avatar
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    It is beyond me why people who know of this issues even choose Phuket as a holiday destination anymore
    Why even put yourself in a position to deal with this crap

    Phuket is the only place in Thailand that you have to deal with this crap.

    It's funny I was in Lamai and being so used to Phuket....I always have a feeling I will get hassled when trying to pull into a space. But nope....It is a parking spot, if you need it park there. There isnt any asshole to tell you you can't park in a public space

    I was all over LOS this last trip and in not one city did I remotely come close to any of this crap you get in Phuket

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