Home to a population of around a thousand chao ley, tiny KO LIPE, 2km south of Ko Adang, is something of a frontier maverick, attracting ever more travellers with one dazzling beach, fifty or so private bungalow resorts and a rough-and-ready atmosphere. It’s technically a part of Ko Tarutao National Marine Park, but the authorities seem to have given up on the island and don’t collect an admission fee from visitors. A small, flat triangle, Lipe is covered in coconut plantations and supports a school and a health centre in the village on the eastern side. By rights, such a settlement should never have been allowed to develop within the national park boundaries, but the chao ley on Lipe are well entrenched: Satun’s governor forced the community to move here from Phuket and Ko Lanta between the world wars, to reinforce the island’s Thai character and prevent the British rulers of Malaya from laying claim to it.
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