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Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Koh Samui - Has the rain stopped? We think so!

It is November. It is the rainy season. It is wet. ‘Nuff said!

That is how I opened last months Newsletter and I have included some of the articles from the Newspapers about “what happened next!” (If you want a copy of the full Newsletter email me at ) Well we did get a lot of rain for a couple of days and the problem was that the storm, instead of moving on, sat on top of us for those two days. Consequently the amount of rain that fell was so much and consistent that even with the new drainage that was installed after the previous floods a couple of years ago, it was falling faster than it could drain away. It is true that in some places there was some severe flooding, especially around the Laem Din Market, by the Chaweng Lake and along certain sections of the Beach Road, but once the rain stopped the water did actually drain away pretty quickly. In some areas the floods were worse than two years ago especially around the Reggae Street end of Chaweng Lake and the north end of the Beach Road but the big difference was that once it stopped raining the water went away very quickly. Now that did not make the situation any better for the people who had been affected as the damage had been done, but at least they were able to get back to business once the water had subsided. Clearly a lot more needs to be done to make the situation better when we get this level of flooding and hopefully the move towards Samui getting City Status can provide the additional funds to do this. In this respect a consultation document was issued in September (but only just reached my desk) explaining what the authorities were trying to do and asking for the views of the local population. There was no date by when submission had to be made but we will be making further enquiries to see how this progresses. In the meantime it has been warm and sunny and many locals believe the rainy season was short and sharp and is now over. Michael Fish – eat your heart out!

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics
This well-known saying is part of a phrase attributed to Benjamin Disraeli and popularized in the U.S. by Mark Twain. Doing research into an article I am writing I accessed the Tourist Authority of Thailand web site statistics page for Koh Samui. Whilst it is mostly in Thai, certain sections are in English and of particular interest to me were the figures representing the hotel occupancy rates for 2004 to 2006. Each year is on a separate page so in order to make a meaningful comparison I consolidated the figures into a single spreadsheet. It was only then that it became obvious there was a huge error. The figures quoted for the second half of 2005 in every category were exactly the same as the figures quoted for the second half of 2006. Statistically impossible – or am I being glib? The reality I suspect is someone cut and pasted the figures, no one updated them and no one checked them. I also looked at the figures quoted for hotel rooms in Koh Samui and tried to reconcile their figures with my own. Let us just say we differ significantly. So far they have not responded to my emails asking if we can resolve this. I am quite prepared to accept it if I have made a mistake but I somehow doubt I have missed several thousand hotel rooms. The problem therefore is having found two quite significant discrepancies in two separate tables, how accurate are the remainder, and if they are not accurate, how do they help in planning for the future? I have a strange feeling I will be running up a face saving issue here and rather than resolve the problem, it will just be ignored.

The General Election is due to take place on 23rd December and it is anyone’s guess as to how it will turn out. There is the usual bickering between the various factions with allegations and insults flying around. Par for the course I guess. Nevertheless it must be good for the country to return to civilian rule where legitimate actions and legislation can set the country back on course and not fall behind the rest of Asia where foreign business is being made more welcome every day. I am still surprised, although having lived here for so long I should not be, at the number of people who want to whisper in your ear that they know someone in Bangkok who has the inside track on how this is all going to turn out and the Ministries have already been allocated. The funny thing is of course, no one has the same story! All we can do is wait and see. Then perhaps we will discover who really did have “informed sources”!

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