Kanchanaburi rafts rock no more

Governor cracks down on loud music By Piyarach Chongcharoen

Peace has returned to the scenic Kwai Noi river after local officials took action to quieten the discotheque rafts, the source of ear-piercing noise and unlawful partying by many under-age people. To the surprise of Kanchanaburi governor Amnart Pakarat, who re-inspected the troubled rafts late on Friday night, the Kwai Noi river was unusually calm as only gentle music could now be heard from the rafts.

Tourists were singing karaoke and dancing slowly and there were no longer scenes of youngsters jumping about madly to the strong beat of loud music.
All 160 boat-pulled rafts have switched from being mobile river and are now playing softer music to entertain their guests.

''That's it,'' Mr Amnart said with satisfaction. ''Now the raft operators have given their cooperation.''
His crackdown on the noisy disco rafts, following complaints from riverside communities, has appeared to bear fruit after raids by his team on Monday when he saw young students, some from elementary schools, dancing madly to very loud music on the bamboo rafts.

Provincial governor Amnart Pakarat (far left of the boat) talks to teenagers as he takes officials on an inspection of tourist rafts along the Kwai Noi river in Kanchanaburi. PIYARACH CHONGCHAROEN

Some male students were also seen wearing nothing but bath towels and their teachers drinking alcohol close by.
The Education Ministry was immediately asked to punish these teachers after such inappropriate parties were found to be part of their study trips to Kanchanaburi.

During Friday's inspection, Mr Amnart said, he saw only students enjoying games and recreational activities. They took photos with officials on duty and there was no sign of any illegal acts, he said.

Mr Amnart vowed to continue controlling the activities of the rafts strictly. The province is going to establish a special centre to receive complaints about the rafts. All raft operators will be invited to draft regulations to control rafting on the Kwai Noi. Officials would also be stationed at eight spots along the river to carry out routine and daily checks between 10pm and 12am, he added.

Kanchanaburi is well known for its sight-seeing tours by raft along the Kwai Noi river. But the disco rafts have marred its image and it has become a gathering place for teenagers, who are barred from bars and discos because of their age. Their loud noise often disturbs locals and nature loving tourists. ''Tourists want to experience the peaceful nature along the river, not the disco rafts,'' said Mr Amnart.

Bangkok Post