I am not sure what kick started the party revolution in the South of Thailand, but the evidence of its existence is hard to miss. If you speak to the long termers here in Thailand, of which there are many, they will glaze over and tell you of the glory days of South Thailand's party scene. If you are to believe their rendition, then things really have changed for the worse. Gone are the days of the culturally sensitive hippy (they still exist, but seem to be slowly migrating to sleepy Laos, looking for a change of scene) and inn their place are 18 year old borderline alcoholics. I am not just an old man, ranting and raving about the better days, after all, I am technically part of this new scene. However, I have learned, through those I have met, cultural sensitivity and respect for the Thai culture has been replaced with a wanton attitude of boozing and drugs, with everything else taking a back seat.
So it was with much interest that I stumbled upon the abandoned mini Island of Ko Ma. I was searching for a good spot to catch the sunset and as I crossed the sand strip I saw the buildings, stagnating in the afternoon sun. There was graffiti everywhere, toilets and bedrooms were smashed up, empty cigarette packets and bottles littered the beach and buildings. It was a depressing sight and I must admit, it shocked me. I have begun to consider the impact of tourism more and more on this trip. How does my presence effect the life of the average Thai? Can I do more to lessen that impact? Or is it a hopeless cause, like trying to stop a cracked dam with my hands?
The scene I stumbled upon reminded me of 'The Beach' and the kind of heat induced mania and madness it manages to capture so well. Though Ko Ma has been abandoned for 5 years now, it has the same feel of an office gone into liquidation, beer bottles still lying on the bar, mattresses still on the beds, chairs sitting and waiting for the never arriving occupant.
My preferred medium is always photography, but for some reason I felt that I couldnt adequately capture the feeling of the place without filming it. I am still primarily a photographer however, this is reflected in the style I chose to shoot the movie in. A series of still shots with some movement, waves lapping the coast, palms swaying. I wanted to capture the stillness and loneliness of this Party gone wrong.
On a more positive note! Whilst filming I met some students who were measuring and mapping the area with an aim to take the small islet in a new direction. A sustainable direction with the principle of community at its heart, as opposed to the former atmosphere of disposability and irresponsibility. I must admit, I was very glad to see them and it meant I could walk away from the mess and dim atmosphere of the Afterparty with the sense that its never too late to change a place, and that fun doesn't have to destructive.
KO MA Abandoned from ReplicateLife on Vimeo.