* Saving and selling water

BANGKOK–No doubt government officials have treated the farmers of the Pai River callously, even shamefully. Dam construction firms will probably earn excessive profits. Some animals may suffer and yet more trees will fall.

But probably many compassionate nature lovers would nevertheless conclude that dams and diversion projects in the Salween Basin aren’t so bad in themselves; the problems are in the execution. Progress has a price. Irrigated farms, households and industries elsewhere need water. Mae Hong Son province has water but not many people. The few must sacrifice for the majority. Or must they?  Continue reading

* All about Thai caves

Some of Thailand’s biggest and most beautiful caves are all the more intriguing because they have been discovered only in the past decade. Yet all the superlatives must be couched in tentative terms (such as the “tallest known column”) because there are certainly more caves to be unearthed.

“Discovered” may not be the most accurate term. Frequently local villagers have known for countless generations that a nearby cave existed, but they had never ventured very far within because they feared ghostly occupants or lacked proper lights and equipment. The recent teams of foreign cavers therefore have often found themselves to be the first people to enter an underground chamber with a 15-metre high ceiling or to gaze upon a thousand-year-old flowstone resembling a frozen waterfall. Continue reading