Thailand's Kret island attracts visitors with its traditional charms

Channelnewsasia.com
By Indochina Correspondent Sarosha Pornudomsak

Just a short drive from the Thai capital, Bangkok, lies Kret island.

This is the place to be if you want to catch a glimpse of how it used to be in the old days.

And there is a young resident of the island who is making changes by ironically preserving some old techniques.

Kret Island attracts an average of 10,000 visitors a day.

Eighty percent of that number are Thais who do not have enough time to travel out of the country.

The architecture in temples and buildings has been preserved throughout the years.

For less than US$10, you can join boat tours which circle the island and stop at various points for you to take look around.

Or if you are the more athletic kind, you can rent bicycles to explore the island on your own.

Sen Karat, Secretary General, Local Administrative Organization, said: "The surrounding of Kret Island is very fertile. Nature remains unharmed here. We don't use cars, but bicycles. Most of our land is still used for farming and agriculture. Foreigners also come to experience the true Thai lifestyle."

Another highlight of Kret Island is its pottery industry.

It houses several pottery factories and it is home to one of Thailand's youngest and most famous pottery artists.

In 2002, the kingdom exported over US$67 million worth of pottery products to the United States alone.

But it was not until a few years ago that Thais, themselves, really took notice of this ancient art form and it was all because of an artistic teenager, Tanongchai Markai.

At the age of 22, he is already making his mark in the local pottery industry.

What started out as merely a way to make ends meet is now turning into a new trend to be reckoned with.

Tanongchai Markai said: "I wanted to be the first one to incorporate Thai art, not merely to increase the price. My work also tells a story. A pot is not just a pot. It also illustrates an ancient Thai myth."

Collectors have paid as much as US$2,000 for his work.

Industry watchers say Tanongchai has got what it takes to become world famous in the near future.

But for now, he just wants to develop his skills because he thinks he still has not reached his true potential.