Dec 06 2012

Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan power failure: What should I do?

Published by at 12:52 pm under Gulf of Thailand islands

UPDATE: Power has now been restored to Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan. We we woke up to the good news this morning, sleeping on the balcony for a breeze, surrounded by mosquitos. There was that tell-tale sound of the fridge buzzing, meaning that the power was on. Supply was restored on the mainland at 02:00 and on the islands at 04:00. Great news! What caused the rupture in the cable, reportedly at Taling Ngam on Samui? The Bangkok Post cites the Provincial Electricity Authority as saying it was a surge in electricity demand due to a surge in tourism for the current high season. The authority reportedly plans to start supplying electricity to the islands through a new underwater cable in March next year.

Early Tuesday morning Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan lost all electrical power. The islands receive electricity via an undersea cable, from Khanom on the mainland, about 24 kilometres away from Samui. This cable ruptured. There are conflicting reports as to why the cable ruptured, so we’ll refrain from quoting anyone. What we do know is that the powers that be, excuse the pun, are frantically working to repair said cable.

Solar power. Wouldn’t that be nice!

The Surat Thani provincial administration declared the two islands a disaster zone, due to a ‘force majeure’ or act of nature. Now we can’t really equate this to another sort of disaster, as no one appears to be in any real danger, but rather, for now at least, merely discomfort. It means that the province can access funds to buy supplies — such as petrol — to help those affected. The secondary power supply is distributing power on a rotational basis, with each district getting power for two hours once a day.

How does this affect tourists? Well, despite reports of tourists fleeing, not too much in fact. It’s the locals without access to generators and who have to work who are suffering the most. Most resorts have generators, and the PTT fuel stations have increased their supply in relation to the extra demand, because of fuel used for generators.

Locals and expats (like myself) are unlikely to have a generator at home. This means no power, no internet, no water (as water is supplied via electric pumps), and freezers full of food going bad.

Tourists who don’t have to work can laze on the beach, take a dip in the pool or ocean, and pretty much see life go on as usual – as long as they’re in a resort with a generator. Perhaps an afternoon snooze may be slightly disturbed by a hum of generators. Most restaurants cook on gas, so even the little ones without generators should be fine – they’ll use candles at night. But hey, nothing wrong with a bit of candlelight beachfront dining right?

One thing to be aware of, even if your resort has their own generated power, is that the ATMs are not likely to work, so ask your hotel for the schedule, and head out to draw cash when the power is on.

If you’re headed to Ko Samui, we would say at this point there’s certainly no need to cancel, but do check that the resort you are headed to has their own generated power. These hotels may also have an unusually high occupancy rate as many expats and locals have checked into the hotels with power to avoid sleepless nights of no air-con or fan.

Don’t be put off by the term “disaster zone” – I’m here and it’s nothing like that at all. We’ll let you know as soon as power is restored.

UPDATE (December 6 evening): I just drove from Big Buddha to Bophut and estimate that around 90 percent of restaurants I passed on the way were open; in fact the beachfront ones looked no different to any other night with lanterns and candles. The petrol station near Fishermans Village was open. It still has petrol, but no diesel — which I need. Hopefully they’ll get another delivery tomorrow as my fuel tank is running on fumes.

* The author name now appears correctly. The original author name was incorrect as Rosanne had emailed her copy to be posted by admin as she has limited power, of course.

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One Response to “Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan power failure: What should I do?” ...

  1. Chris edwardson 06 Dec 2012 at 2:23 pm

    That is the way it was in 1987- only generators and candlelight on the beaches!

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