Don’t get me wrong, in no way am I trying to say in this article I didn’t have an amazing trip… because I did. Thailand was wonderful in so many ways but also disappointing in ways I wasn’t expecting.
I had been wanting to visit Thailand for years, from stories I’d heard from my brother and friends who had visited years ago it was a life changing experience. Everything from the beautiful scenery to the cultural differences, I was expecting a different experience.
Chiang Mai was the highlight of my trip, sitting in the Northern part of Thailand the culture was stronger, the food was tastier and the scenery was more historic. As this was the first half of my trip it set the bar pretty high when I traveled down South.
Arriving in the South it was a bit of a shock to me to see how Americanized it had become, with McDonald’s and Starbucks on every corner I no longer felt as if I was visiting a different part of the world. Reality is, this is how our world is changing everywhere and maybe it was naive of me to think this would be different.
As beautiful as the South still was the biggest shock came when I went to visit Koh Phi Phi. When we arrived our hotel was situated on the Northern part of the island, away from the main popular area and secluded from other hotels.
The resort was paradise, when our boat pulled in I was shocked by the clear blue water and vibrant greenery in the resort. This was my first impression of Koh Phi Phi and it was breath taking. Our resort was different then anywhere else I had visited in Thailand, they had a strict no littering policy and had banned straws from the resort. Instead they used bamboo which I thought was very creative!
It wasn’t until two days in when we decided to take a boat to the main area of the island, when we pulled in the shores were jam packed with long boats and big cruise ships. The pier was packed with people walking up and down. Large chain restaurants like McDonald’s and Subway were the first thing you saw once you got off the pier. Right away I knew this place had changed from the stories and photos my brother had shared.
Either way we explored the area, visiting an old restaurant my brother had visited and insisted we try. There were tons of little streets with local shops, small restaurants and cafes. We made our way to the other side of the island, there was a beach there which my brother had some of his favorite photos from. Due to the time of day when we were there the tide had gone in about 50 feet, as we approached the wet sand I was mortified to see how polluted the beach was.
Not only were there tons of bottles and garbage sitting on the wet sand where the water would normally be, there were tons of massive black spots in the sand from the oil polluting the ocean from the long boats. This is what alarmed me the most, not only is this horrible for the environment but people swim in this ocean daily, hundreds of people swimming in oil polluted water.
Thailand’s tourism has increased significantly over the years and they’ve failed to acknowledge the damage this is doing to the environment. A below is a photo of when my brother visited over 6 years ago and then a photo of the exact same location when I was there. You can clearly see the difference and it’s important its acknowledged that they need to find a better cleaning system to ensure the environment is cleaned and the species who live there can survive. This was one of the main reasons I have no interest in ever returning to Thailand, this broke my heart and I can’t forget how this made me felt even to this day.
My mother took this photo of me thinking it would be nice, not knowing I was upset but you can see the disgust on my face.
Living in Canada I know we are very aware of pollution and how it effects our environment around the world but this hit me harder then anything and I hope these devastating realities continue to encourage change so we can take care of our planet.