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Apr 04

Koh Chang Electric-City – The Accidental Tribute to Earth Day

Koh Chang Electricity CutIt was Saturday night on the Koh Chang East Coast and we had the same discussion as thousands of households on a Saturday night – what shall we watch on TV tonight? These days we are spoilt for choice, the perfect programme is there recorded, downloadable, or on a DVD – if only you could find it before choice-paralysis sets in. But finally the pick was made, the show started and we settled down to watch the first season of House of Cards, ok, ok, so we are a little behind the times over here. Then just as we had relaxed, drinks to hand, watching Kevin Spacey playing the man who could have tutored the young Machiavelli, the lights cut out, the fan falters and the air-conditioner closes off its vents and sighs itself back to sleep. The electric city as the English word is charmingly mis-pronounced here on the island, had gone down.

This is one of the downsides of living in a remote location. It is a less frequent occurrence than it used to be but still pretty regular. High winds or severe rainstorms can swiftly bring the island to silence and darkness, broken only by the noise of the generators at the big hotels and the high pitched beep of the UPS. Almost everyone has a UPS, an uninterrupted power supply, which smooths out the fluctuation in the electricity to TVs and computers, to stop them from turning off abruptly but even they cannot save the day with a full-on power cut. And it’s not just the machines that cannot cope without electricity, humans suffer too, as the hot season, with it’s high level of humidity, needs at the very least a fan to make it bearable.

There was no rain and it wasn’t a windy night, so why had the electricity suddenly stopped? Puzzling over this for a while in the darkness, we remembered the date, Saturday 29th March which had been designated the day for the eighth WWF ( World Wildlife Fund ) annual Earth Hour, when the lights of many homes and some of the worlds greatest monuments are switched off for an hour to show support and raise awareness of conservation and environmental issues that the world faces today. Could it be that Koh Chang had decided to be part of this yearly event …? Well not on purpose, a phone call to a friend on the other side of the island – remember it’s a big place, the second largest island in Thailand – confirmed that this was not the case, they still had electricity. The power-down was not an island wide policy, the electricity company had not joined the good cause, it was just one of those things about living on an island off Thailand.

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