The view of the beach in Phuket is wonderful. A vast, wide-open space. Far distant a brilliant blue sky descends to kiss the Andaman Sea, blue on blue. Closer, the beach sits like a skirt on a broad-hipped foreground. It is nearly empty. A few sea birds launch themselves, climbing slowly into the air. It is a scene early travellers to the island would recognise.
As ever, the fall of the wet season rain settles a quiet on the island. But this year is different. There are few cars and even fewer visitors. Business is on hold. For some people life has stepped back to the ways of a previous generation. For many it is hard to scrape by, sustained by the slim hope there will be enough to eat tomorrow.
In July 2021 on the island of Phuket, Thailand, the local economy was devastated by the global pandemic. To remedy the situation the local government trialled what became known as the "Phuket Sandbox." It pioneered a way to open to tourism.
But what of the people who lived on Phuket? What had conditions been like for more than a year as jobs and incomes disappeared? And what is there to learn from the situation? Who has adapted? Who has been successful? I wanted to find out. So I asked them.