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07/10/2009 - Phuket gold rush - Phuket villagers find gold  07/10/2009 - Phuket gold rush - Phuket villagers find gold

Villagers on the tropical island of Phuket, Thailand have struck gold.  

The local Thai community living in Mai Khao, on the north west coast of Phuket have been scrabbling to collect as much as they can of this lucrative and valuable substance.  One woman who collected over thirty kilos said ''I feel like I've won the lottery,I want to use the money to fix my roof and take my sick father to see a doctor.”

So what is this gold-like substance that villagers are scrabbling to collect?

It's Ambergris - a rare, sweet smelling and alluring substance which is used commonly in perfume manufacture and is extremely valuable.  It starts life as bile excreted from Sperm whales, after exiting the whale the ambergris solidifies and floats into the sea, washing up on beaches.  

Confirmation came from Suphot Jantarapornsin, a fisheries specialist at Phuket Marine Biological Center, ''The lumps are fresh and quite large so we can guess they are swimming close to the island.”  He also said that the quantity of ambergris meant there must be more than one whale near the island.

One lucky lady in Phanga Nga province recently sold her 'gold' for 70,000 Baht a kilo.  Less than the real stuff but still a healthy profit for beach-combing.

(c) Copyright Phuket Ocean Villas Co. Ltd 2009


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