Last week I had intended to travel to Chonburi, Rayong and Chantaburi to view the Thai fishing boat fleets that traditionally remain at port for the Queen's birthday celebrations. I made the trip but the opportunities for photography were not so good as the weather, which is inclement at best during this time of the year, did not really serve up suitable conditions. So a weekend of photographing fishing boats turned into weekend for relaxing by the sea and sampling the absolutely fabulous east coast seafood. Or so I thought.
What was supposed to be a relaxing weekend trip turned into quite an educational trip but for altogether the wrong reasons. The Queen's birthday weekend coincided with a particulary high tide and what was left on the beaches after the high tide was quite shocking. Serious pollution in Thailand.
Scuba divers know the scurge that is the plastic bag and the blight on dive sites it causes underwater. With help from its cousins the tire, the rubber shoe, and their other non bio-degradable family members, beautiful dive sites soon resemble city dumps.
But waste snagged on dive sites and coral outcrops represents only a tiny fraction of what is floating around out there in the big blue. This is the waste that no one normally sees. That is until there is an abnormally high tide and a lot of it is swept back ashore.
What was supposed to be a trip that took in the beauty of the east coast turned out to be a trip that displayed the ugliness of human waste and a lack of respect for the environment.
So who is to blame? All of us, every single last one of us because the source of these bags and waste is not necessarily localized. Think! A plastic bag is discarded from a car window in Bangkok, it's light, it gets blown around by the wind, it gets blown into a klong or stream, the stream takes it to a river, the river to an estuary, the estuary to the sea. And on a high tide some of the debris comes full circle and is washed back to the land. Only then can we see the destruction and ugliness we cause - when its maybe too late.
And its not just discarded waste. In many places shoddy and short term construction practices are also a major pollutants delivery. Take the example in the photo which is on Kung Wiman beach. Soil pipes and storm water delivery pipes are feeding pollutants straight onto the beaches and polluting the sea directly. Polluting the source of the food we eat, the marring the scenery of these natural places we want to visit.
What I saw, and the photographs here show, was in Chonburi and Chantaburi. But its all the same sea, the Gulf of Siam, be it Hua Hin, Koh Samui, Koh Samet, Koh Tao, Koh Chang or Sihanoukville. Where will be next? Is this the future of Asia and Thailand's beaches?
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