"How to Ruin Paradise" by the People of Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe Travel Blog

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Having checked out the Koh Lipe website we were really looking forward to another taste of paradise and hoped that it would be a glimpse of the Thailand years ago before mass development and the backpacker army (of which we are part, had stomped all over the local culture). Unfortunately that was not to be. We arrived by ferry from Langkawi and perhaps that was a part of the problem. Going from ultra friendly Malaysia may have been a bit unfair. But the attitude of the Koh Lipe islanders to tourists takes some beating. We were warned on the ferry over that we might be in for a shock by a really friendly German couple. The islanders seem to have created a system to ruin the experience that such a beautiful island has the potential to deliver. Make no mistake Koh Lipe is beautiful, as close to paradise as any island we’ve seen or visited. The palm and tree lined beaches have sand of the purest white with sea that is crystal clear. The whole island is lush and you can walk from one side to the other in 15 minutes. So what went wrong you might ask? As we say it comes entirely down to the islanders attitudes. They seem to have a rule book which they almost all adhere to;


Rule 1: All tourists must have riches beyond imagination. They must therefore be parted with as much of those riches as possible through foul means or fair. E.g. Instead of building a jetty or pier for them to land on we will anchor the ferry 50m from shore, then offload them onto a small longtail boat to take them ashore for which we will charge them 50 Baht each. (Our boat had 14 of us stuffed onto it which meant the boatman made 700 Baht for less than five minutes work)


Rule 2: The foreigners may be bringing in lots of money and increasing our standard of living but despite that we will at all times treat them with contempt. E.g. Feed them misinformation about room availability, sometimes speak perfect English and at others pretend not to speak a word etc. etc.


Rule 3: If you must take one of the new jobs in the service industry you must on no account try to offer any service. E.g. An ashtray will be emptied just once per day, menu’s will only be given at the third time of asking and then thrown on the table.


Rule 4: The local environment is of serious concern to foreigners, after all it is what has drawn them here. We will therefore continue to throw our rubbish everywhere and anywhere we choose and in particular as many glass bottles as possible into the sea so as to create a coastline of broken glass for unsuspecting feet!


Rule 5: Use any other means to frustrate and spoil the rich tourists time here!


OK some of this may be a little unfair, The island has undoubtedly developed way too fast for the population to adapt to the changes, we are comparatively rich, we are responsible for the insatiable demand for unspoilt paradise, which is an oxymoron really since the second a tourist arrives paradise is spoilt. We wern't expecting to be waited on hand and foot and we wouldn't ever want that but at the same time you don't expect to be constantly sneered at when buying stuff. It got to the point where extracting a smile became a challenge in itself and our charm offensive was relentless and unending. Eventually we managed it with one or two people but some were beyond the reach of even the most enigmatic of people.


Really we'd recommend you try other islands as the people we spoke to said this was the only place they'd had this type of experience.

erol123 says:
too right! Its only getting worse
Posted on: Feb 03, 2009
Virginiagoodings says:
Such a shame really...I will never understand that kind of attitude!
Mum xxoo
Posted on: Mar 05, 2008
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Koh Lipe
photo by: Mezmerized